Once in the village, the travelers were told where to set their tents, but then they were mostly left alone. Alexis and Nanette bought some of that fruit while Boston and Decker worked on getting the bones out of the fish.
“I don’t see any option,” Lincoln said, picking up where they left off in their conversation the night before. “When we get to Al Baretoun, we will have to contract a ship to take us away from the coast and the Berbers. We can have them drop us as close as possible to the next time gate and hopefully move on before more soldiers find us.”
“No,” Boston protested. “I am not leaving this time zone without seeing Yasmina. I have hugged and loved every lifetime of the Kairos, and I am not leaving this place without my hug.”
Alexis looked at Katie and Lockhart, and the rest of the crew as she spoke. “We don’t know how to do that without giving her away.”
Lockhart nodded in response to the look and repeated what they figured out. “These Berbers are hoping we will lead them to Yasmina.”
Katie spoke in her most reassuring voice. “You want the Kairos to stay safe. If we find her and reveal her, these Berbers will try to kill her, or at least arrest her and maybe torture her.”
“They will probably turn on us at that point as well,” Decker added.
“They have to have figured out who we are,” Tony agreed with Decker. He repeated the feelings Katie picked up with her elect senses and Nanette confirmed with her magical senses. Boston, as a sensitive elf, felt the same thing but she would not admit it for fear they would make her go around, as Lincoln suggested, and thus miss seeing Yasmina.
Boston pulled out her amulet to see. She failed to tell the others that Yasmina was just over a day away, and still moving toward them. If Yasmina did not find a ship in Al Baretoun to take her away, maybe to Byzantium, that is, if she stuck to the coastal road, they would run into her sometime in the early afternoon. Of course, if she sailed off to Constantinople, there was no telling where the time gates might end up. It might take them several months to get to the next time gate
“I don’t want to think about that,” Boston said, out loud.
“What?” Sukki asked.
“I am getting my hug,” she insisted. “We just need to figure out how to do that.”
Sukki turned to the others. “I agree with my sister,” she said, to offer her support.
“Me, too,” Nanette added, and Boston grinned at Alexis, Lincoln, Katie, and Lockhart.
“I never had sisters before,” Boston said. “But mine are the best, ever.”
Decker shrugged for the others. “We can think about it. We still have time before we reach the port city.”
Lockhart shrugged with his eyebrows. “We will see what we can come up with.”
“Hold,” Elder Stow interrupted. He stared at his scanner, and shortly, the head Berber and three of his men came to the traveler’s fire.
“We have a long day tomorrow,” the man said. “You would be best to sleep while you can.”
Lockhart said, “Standard watch tonight.”
“That should not be necessary,” the man said. “I will leave my men to watch.”
Lockhart looked at the man. “You are a soldier.” It was the first time anyone said that outright. The man did not deny the accusation. “We stick to the routine and keep in practice. You and your men will not always be there to guard the camp.”
The man could only grunt. “Get some sleep,” he said, and walked off, leaving his three men to stand around and listen to whatever the travelers might talk about.
Katie had to make some effort but pulled up the Norwegian they spoke in the last time zone. “We could talk in this way,” she said. Lockhart shook his head.
“Headache,” he said, and did not explain if doing that would give people a headache or he already had one. “Tony and Nanette are up first.” He took Katie’s hand to go to their tent. Decker also went to his tent, but Nanette looked reluctant to let him leave. Decker actually looked reluctant to leave her, which was an idea the other travelers were still trying to get used to.
Around lunchtime on the following day, the travelers and Berbers came across some ruins they did not expect. An Ape warship, like the one they saw in Norway, had either crashed, or got shot down in that place. It rested off the road and was partially covered by sand, so it was not easily seen from the road. Elder Stow picked up the wreck on his scanner.
The travelers decided they needed to explore the wreck, especially when they saw a second ship, one they assumed was a Flesh Eater ship not far away. The Flesh Eater ship looked like the back end of the ship exploded and scattered pieces all over the area.
“We must stick to the road,” the head Berber said, but the travelers insisted, so there was little the head man could do other than accompany them. The travelers figured he was reluctant to reveal that he knew who the travelers were and feared if he arrested them and forced them to continue on the road, they might refuse to lead him to Yasmina.
“Definitely an Ape ship,” Lincoln said when they got close.
“I am picking up one Ape still inside,” Elder Stow said as they all dismounted by the door to the ship, which looked busted open.
Lockhart only glanced at the head Berber before he spoke. “Elder Stow. You and Boston need to go invisible and go inside to check it out.”
“I still have Father’s invisible disc,” Sukki said. “I can join them.”
Lockhart nodded and glanced once again at the Berber who decided to speak. “I will send three men with you.” The man looked back where forty of his men waited patiently on the ridgetop. He brought a dozen with him.
“Can they go invisible?” Lockhart asked. Elder Stow and Sukki vanished, and after a second, Boston vanished as well.
“We will check out the other ship,” Katie suggested, and again Lockhart nodded, but only because the other ship looked to be destroyed. It suggested there were not likely any survivors.
“We claim any weapons that are found,” the head man said abruptly. “Better if you can get this ship to fly again. The Caliph al-Qa’im would be very pleased with this gift.”
“So, you know who we are,” Tony said, and the head Berber acknowledged that fact.
“And you will take us to Yasmina, and we will have you all.” He drew his sword. His men followed his example. He pointed at the rifle Decker carried, but Decker spoke sense.
“Better let us keep our weapons until we see if there are Flesh Eaters who survived the crash. I doubt you want to face the Flesh Eaters with only a sharp knife.”
The head man paused a second before he nodded and said, “You lead the way.”
At the same time, inside the ship, it did not take long for Elder Stow to pinpoint the location of the Ape. He sat in the command center central chair and looked at the screen in front of him. Elder Stow, Sukki and Boston came into the room, invisible. Boston finally figured out how to make what she called a window so Elder Stow and Sukki could see her while she remained invisible to the rest of the universe. She got their attention and told them to stay and keep quiet. Then she removed her glamour of humanity, saw Sukki’s eyebrows appropriately rise, and she spoke.
“Why are you here? You do not belong here.”
The Ape pulled a handgun and pointed it at the sound, but Boston had moved. “Show yourself,” the Ape insisted.
“When you put down your gun. Do not be afraid. I mean you no harm.”
The Ape put his gun down surprisingly quickly, and Boston appeared in full elf glory. “The question remains. Why are you here? You don’t belong here.”
“I have already been told by one of your kind,” the Ape said. “One like you, but small and with wings. And a bunch of others with wings. They flew all around and I asked them not to touch anything. I have barely enough power for the scanner and long-range communication as it is.”
Boston smiled. “My name is Boston.”
“Captain Argh,” the Ape said. “My surviving crew got picked up, but I stayed. There is at least one Eater remaining. I have seen him, but I haven’t been able to end him. He blasted the hull, and I got a piece in my leg. I will find him and end him, then as long as my power source holds out, I will call and be picked up.”
“Lockhart. My father,” Elder Stow’s voice rang out in the room. “There is at least one Flesh Eater alive in the area. Be warned. Yellow alert.” The echo in the voice cut off, and Elder Stow spoke more softly. “Captain Argh.” Elder Stow became visible to a very startled Ape. “We may be able to help you with your power problem.”
“Gott-Druk,” the Ape recognized him right away, and Sukki, who put on her glamour to look like a Gott-Druk. The captain bowed his head slightly as a sign of respect for the elder race.