After 1437 A.D. Aragon and Castile
Kairos lifetime 113: Catherine, La Halcon
The sun rose over the Mediterranean gleaming golden bright and reflecting off the water of the bay. The travelers came out squinting, facing the water, and had to turn quickly to put their backs to the glare. The spires of the cathedral nearby reached up into the cloudless sky and also glared in the early morning sun, but the cathedral itself, though hardly a stone’s throw away, was hard to see through the narrow streets and buildings that surrounded it. There were people around at that early hour. Poor fishermen were preparing for a day at sea, and merchants of all sorts were headed for the docks and getting ready to open their stalls and begin hawking their wares. Fortunately, the travelers came out of the time gate in a garden, which was actually a cemetery, so they had room to move, and as the time gate faced the sea, it might have looked like they came riding out of the sun itself.
Only one priest faced them. He stood nearby in the shade of a tree, speaking to several families, presumed parishioners. It seemed likely only the priest saw them appear out of a hole in the air, and he only stopped speaking and looked up when Ghost came through and bucked, something the mule never did. The priest certainly saw something, but by the time the people with him looked, the travelers were through, and the time gate quickly closed.
The priest pulled his cloak tight against the cold winter wind. “Pardon me.” He told his families to wait and came right up to the travelers with an odd question. “And what planet have you come from?” An old man followed the priest.
“Earth,” Lockhart said.
“Planet Earth,” Katie echoed.
“Human,” Lincoln raised his hand like he did in France while his eyes stayed focused on the database.
“Why would you ask such an odd question?” Elder Stow wondered even as Tony tried not to curse at Ghost in front of the priest.
“You are not more Galabans from the planet Galabar?” He seemed to indicate the people behind him.
“No,” Lockhart said. “We are human. Who are the Galabans?”
The old man who stepped up to join the priest spoke. “We are,” he admitted in a friendly tone. “We are refugees from our world and hope we may be allowed to make a small settlement on your lovely planet.” He smiled a human enough smile as Elder Stow turned his scanner on the families. “Our world became a battle ground between two peoples. They ruined the world and not many of us survived, but we learned something from the wreckage they left behind. We saw images of your world and the people here, and thought, you are very much like us. We came here. We have nowhere else to go.”
The Galabans appeared light red, leaning toward a light violet in skin color but they wore mostly yellow or pale blue or pale green clothes which further washed out their skin color making them look human enough. There were no doubt other differences that might be picked out on closer examination, but Elder Stow spoke up to resolve all doubt.
“Definitely not human,” he said. “Appearances can be deceiving.”
“Where is your ship?” Lockhart asked the logical question as Lincoln looked up from his reading. Only Sukki kept her eyes on the people in the streets. Katie stared at the old man. Nanette focused her attention on the Galabans waiting for the priest. They appeared to be mostly women and children.
The old man pointed toward the sea as the priest spoke. “They arrived in the northwest of Aragon. The Countess of Chaca, the Lady Catherine sent them here, to my bishop, with papers concerning their need for temporary settlement until she can make better arrangements. Her attention is first taken with the war with Portugal over the Castilian throne. My bishop has provided food, shelter, and work for the men. I have been tasked with teaching the faith to these Novo Christians to keep them out of the hands of the inquisition.”
“Your ship is parked underwater?” Lockhart asked, stuck on what he imagined was the important point.
The old man sadly shook his head. “Of the three ships that brought us here, two have returned to our home world with word of our discovery. We brought the third ship to this place, but we had difficulty flying the short distance. There was an accident. We managed to escape, but the ship sank in the waters. It is now ruined. We are cut off from home until our other ships return.”
“You know this planet is off limits to outsiders,” Katie said.
“So the Lady Kairos explained to us, but we have nowhere else to go and now, no way to get there.”
The travelers remained silent, looking at one another, not sure what they could say. Even Lincoln seemed to be at a loss for words. The priest and the old man waited, stomping their feet a bit against the cold. The priest, because he saw them appear out of nowhere, and while they claimed to be only human, he was not so sure. The old man because he saw enough to recognize these were people who had power well beyond his understanding. He saw the women with only a word adjust their clothing to the local styles they could see. He wanted to ask how they did that, but he dared not.
Katie finally broke the silence. “You must learn and practice the faith. In this time and place it is vital for your survival.”
Lockhart spoke again. “We will be seeing the Kairos, shortly. Do you have anything you wish us to tell her?”
The priest shook his head, but the old man had a thought. “Only to remind her of what we told her at the first. The Nameada—spiders may have followed us to this world. Such was not our intent, but we are new to space, and they may have followed without our knowing. They breed fast and are deadly. I hope—pray they did not come here.”
“Space alien spiders?” Sukki heard and let out a little shriek before Lincoln could respond. Lincoln frowned, like she stole his line. Tony, having gotten Ghost under control, laughed. Nanette sealed her mouth and looked at Decker, who remained as stoic as ever. Elder Stow fiddled with something on his scanner. Katie and Lockhart stared at one another once more before Katie again broke the silence.
“Priest. What city is this?”
“Barcelona,” the priest said.
“What is the year?” Lockhart asked.
“1476. February. Why?”
“Not your concern,” Lockhart said. He looked at Katie without a word. She pointed the general direction and he said, “Move out.” They turned and started through the narrow streets of the city.
That night, having made it out of the city, the travelers sat in a quiet village inn. While Lincoln and Elder Stow both seemed preoccupied with their reading, Lockhart finally asked what everyone appeared to shrug off. “So, why did Ghost object so much when we arrived?”
Tony looked at his food for a minute and it gave Sukki a chance to interject her thought. “I guessed it was because we came out facing the sun, and the sun was so bright in the way it reflected off the water. I had to close my eyes.”
Tony nodded a little before he shook his head. “It is only a guess, but you know Ghost is not good with strangers. Back in the Khyber Pass, the bandits got him out of the harness, but he would not move for them, not even to get put in the fenced in area where they put the horses.”
“The horses did not cooperate either,” Katie said. “I assume that is why they were still saddled and ready to ride.”
“Maybe,” Tony said. “But Ghost is normally okay with strangers as long as he can ignore them, like when we move through a town. I have noticed, though, he reacts to strangers when they are not human. I don’t know what it is, or how he can tell, but this is not the first time. He did not mind the Apes so much, though he let me know not to get too close. The Flesh Eaters made him nervous.”
“He didn’t want to be eaten,” Lincoln said under his breath while he read. He looked like he did not blame the mule for that attitude.
“He did not seem to like the Galabans either,” Tony continued. “I don’t want to read into it. We are talking about a mule, but it seems like he has a sense for aliens that are a danger.”
“Like children and puppy dogs,” Lockhart said. “They can sometimes tell the good ones from the bad ones.”
“And elves. They can sense such things,” Sukki added, thinking of her adopted sister, Boston, whom she missed.
Katie nodded. “I wouldn’t trust the mule entirely, but I also felt something not quite right with the Galabans from the start. The old man and individually they seemed nice enough but, I don’t know. My elect senses flared.”
“I know what you mean,” Nanette agreed. “I looked with my magic if I did it right. The old man was not lying, as far as I could tell, but it seemed like he did not tell us the whole truth.”
Elder Stow spoke up. “Like, if their ship crashed in the sea, how did they escape and get safely to shore? Do they have shuttle craft and escape pods hidden somewhere? And what is their weapons technology?”
“It almost makes me want to go back and ask some more questions,” Lockhart said, but Decker interrupted.
“The Kairos met them and brought them to Barcelona. We should trust that she knows what she is doing, and she knows what these Galabans are capable of. Our job is to get back to the future. It is hard enough staying focused on that without all the interruptions.”