Bodanagus looked at Millie and Evan, while he thought about it, and everyone else looked at him. “Here is the thing,” he finally said. “When I pass on, this time zone may reset to the time of my birth. You may find yourselves suddenly sixty years in the past, and maybe in Rome, or maybe among the Nervii, my people. Then again, you may be automatically translated to wherever I am born next, and who knows when these travelers may show up, though that is the least likely scenario. More likely, you will stay here, unmoved, and continue in this time, but if you change your mind, and even if you still have Minerva’s chestnuts, the time gates may be on the other side of the world, for all I know. And Lincoln, don’t you dare look it up in the database.”
“We understand,” Evan said. “We considered all these possibilities. We have friends here. We didn’t think that way when we set off to see how the Roman Republic got started, but now we know. We have a good living and a good life here and can make a living wherever we end up. We even met young Octavius on several occasions and helped him with his allergies.”
“Don’t tell me the future,” Bodanagus said gruffly, before he looked again at the couple. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Millie said out loud, and looked up at Evan, who nodded.
Bodanagus also nodded and went away when Doctor Mishka traded places with him through time. She came to sit in his seat, her arms where his arms were, but with her own smile, and his armor, the armor of the Kairos, adjusted instantly and automatically to fit her shape and size, so she appeared properly dressed.
Tony jumped, though he had seen Bodanagus do that before. Nanette let out a little peep, though she was also no stranger to that particular transformation. She even got to know the good doctor. Millie and Evan hardly moved, and the travelers did not look surprised at all. The professor only moaned a little, like one tired of doctors and bad news.
Mishka spoke right away to the couple. “I, also, do not know what will happen when Bodanagus dies, but I must also warn you of this. Any children you have in this time zone will be time-locked in this time zone. Also, I will not likely be around if there are complications in childbirth. Here.” She reached into the secret pocket of her armor and drew something out. “I give you this pill. Take it with water, not that bilge you Romans call beer.”
“Thank you,” Millie said, and looked again at Evan. “She called us Romans.”
“I know,” Evan said, and smiled broadly, while he patted Millie’s shoulder.
“But what is it?” Millie asked.
“It will remove your birth control,” Mishka said. “After this, you will be on your own.”
Millie took it right away.
Doctor Mishka smiled for the couple and went back into the future while Bodanagus returned to his own time and place. “And that is that.” He looked out the window. “I suppose you should spend the night, but you must leave first thing in the morning. You take Nanette and Tony. They can take Millie and Evan’s horses, so that works out. Now, I should be going.” Bodanagus stood.
“But wait,” Lincoln said. “There is a complication.”
Bodanagus sat back down. He did not appear surprised.
“Philocrates and Mylo, from the days of the Princess, are Roman soldiers, and following us,” Katie said.
“I saw them in Capua,” Lincoln admitted. “It took me four days to figure out who they were, but I am ninety-nine percent positive.”
“Ivory soap,” Lockhart quipped, and explained. “Ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent sure.”
“Of course, you shot them,” Bodanagus said.
“No,” Decker said, with the impression that he wanted to do that very thing.
“General rule,” Bodanagus said. “Any repeat people you are sure are repeats, if they are not the good guys, like Arias or Sophia, shoot them. They are of the Masters and have no good intentions or plans.”
“Got it,” Decker said. The others said nothing.
“This is their third term,” Bodanagus added, about Philocrates and Mylo. “They were with Xitides around Athens and tried to make off with some of the guns. They assassinated Mattathias, Judith’s grandfather in Jerusalem. Luckily, Judith’s father got them first. Now they are here, as Roman soldiers. That means I have to find one in fifty thousand. The old needle in the haystack.”
“Two,” Lincoln said. “Two in fifty thousand.”
Bodanagus said, “Two. It gives me something to do in my old age, so I don’t die of boredom.” He stood, and this time took one step toward the door before Sukki shouted, real loud.
Everyone stared. Sukki was such a shy and quiet girl. Her shouting seemed unnatural.
“I have a request. The Princess and Anath-Rama, the goddess, and Sekhmet all said the time of the gods is coming to an end. I don’t know where else to turn, or who else to ask. I think only the gods might do this. I don’t know. But Alexis said you made her change from an elf to a human so she could marry Lincoln. And then you changed Boston from a human to an elf so she could marry Roland. I don’t know if I have to get married, but I will if I have to…” She stopped speaking, and the silence stretched out until Alexis kindly asked.
“What is it you want?”
“I want to be human,” Sukki said in her loud voice, and turned to Elder Stow who did not look surprised, like maybe they discussed it. “I can still be your daughter,” she told Elder Stow, and turned again to the others. “But I want to be human, a real girl. I can’t go back to the past, before the flood. I can’t go to the new home world. There is too much science and technology I could never understand. But I can be human, maybe. I can like Beethoven and the Beatles, and learn about guns and cars, and learn to read the database, and history, I am already learning human history. Please. I want to be part of the family, the human family. I don’t want to be an outsider anymore.” She started to cry again.
Every heart in the room went out to the poor girl, and Bodanagus surprised a few when he said, “Believe it or not, I anticipated this. If Elder Stow does not mind.”
Elder Stow said, “All we really want for our children, including adopted children, is that they be happy. I don’t mind.” It was a long way from the Gott-Druk who began the journey wanting to kill all the humans so his Neanderthal kind could retake the Earth.
Bodanagus turned toward the door. “Minerv… Oh.”
“I heard,” Minerva said, as she appeared out of thin air. “First the Nanette clone, and that did not work out too well. And the chestnuts, and that was not easy. And now this. I think you ask too much.”
“Please,” Bodanagus said, and batted his eyelids in jest.
Minerva frowned. She stepped forward and circled once around Sukki like an artist examining a piece of marble, wondering where to lay the chisel. “I can’t,” she said. “Like all of you travelers, she is hedged about by the gods. I can’t by myself. I would need others.”
Bodanagus nodded and stood still for a minute, communing internally. Then he said, quietly, “Mother, I need you.”
“You are invited and welcome in this jurisdiction,” Minerva added, as if Bodanagus forgot that part, or it was not up to him to say that.
Doris of the sea, Amphitrite’s mother appeared first, like she was just off the coast awaiting the call. Bast, mother of Danna, the Celtic goddess, came from Egypt, and Vrya, the Nameless god’s mother, came from Aesgard. Bodanagus waited before he added, “And not my mother.”
Ishtar, Junior’s mother, arrived from the middle east with a word. “Not my son.” she smiled and patted Bodanagus on the cheek before she joined the others. The women appeared to be commiserating telepathically. No one heard a word, until Athena began to explain.
“She does not need to change much at all internally, though some DNA adjustment would be good. It is mostly just cosmetics and the outward structure. We have agreed on the way she presently looks with the glamour she wears, only now it will not be a glamour. Everyone wants to give her something to help her fit in better in the human world, but for the most part, you travelers will not notice a big difference. Only now, she will not be able to take off the glamour. She will no longer be Neanderthal underneath. She will be fully human. There. It is done.”
All of the women vanished except Minerva.
Sukki opened her eyes. No one noticed she had them closed. “I don’t feel any different,” she said.
“Here,” Minerva said, and produced a floor length mirror out of thin air, and a good one at that.
Sukki stared, until Boston said, “Try to take off your glamour.” Sukki tried. Nothing happened. She still looked the same. She began to cry, but this time they felt like happy tears, not tears of desperation and despair. “We still get to be sisters, right?” Sukki spun and hugged Boston, and Boston said, “Ugh. You are still as strong as before.”
Sukki laughed a little and wiped her nose. She turned again to Elder Stow. “Father?”
Elder Stow nodded. “Daughter,” he said, and Sukki cried again. No one noticed, but Minerva, her mirror, and Bodanagus were all gone.