After 1562 A.D. The Caribbean
Kairos lifetime 115: Peter van Dyke: Captain Hawk
Elder Stow saw that the horses were cared for, including his own horse, Mudd. He hated to disturb them, but they had no choice. Only he and Sukki escaped, invisible. They would have to break the others out of jail as soon as they got the horses loaded.
He looked at his adopted daughter, Sukki. She tied the horses to the line in order to bring them all at once to the ship. Lockhart’s big horse, and Katie’s led the string, followed by Lincoln’s horse and Sukki’s horse, Cocoa, before Mudd. Elder Stow paused to grin. The Kairos, Hans, broke into his precious stores of cocoa come all the way from the New World. He made hot chocolate for everyone. Sukki, who never tasted chocolate before, said it was better than she even imagined. Elder Stow found it watery and bitter. It would take some serious experimentation before the chocolate got really good.
“Father?” Sukki got his attention. He waved her off and went to sit on a bale of hay.
“Keep working. I’m fine.” He watched her tie the last of the horses. Decker’s big horse followed Mudd, then Nanette’s horse and Tony’s horse. Ghost, the mule came last, but over the last several time zones, the mule had gotten used to following Tony’s horse. Elder Stow marveled at how helpful and faithful these animals were. Their journey through time would have been nearly impossible without them. He sighed. He had to admit these Homo Sapiens were no longer the primitive, ignorant apes his people still called them. They were clever in their way.
Elder Stow thought about the Gott-Druk planet, his home. It was a good world, but still too many of his people could not see that. All they saw was Earth, and they counted Earth as their real home. Over more than fourteen thousand years, various groups attempted to retake the Earth and remove or enslave the homo sapiens that now covered the world. Sukki, herself, was the sole survivor of the very first expedition. It had no chance for success. The people on that Agdaline ship were still cave men in their level of technological progress. Sukki was raised a cave woman, as Lincoln called her at first. She had come a long way. She learned a lot over their travels. But then she wanted to fit in better with her fellow travelers. The gods remade her into a Homo Sapiens as one of their last acts before the dissolution of the gods. Sukki remained his adopted daughter, but her being human and no longer Neanderthal brought questions to his mind.
‘Sukki,” he called. Sukki paused after tying Tony’s horse to the line and turned her face to him to show she was listening. Ghost waited patiently for his turn. “Sukki,” he repeated. “We are only about a half-dozen time zones away from home. I have been wondering if you will be going with me to the Gott-Druk world, or if you will be staying with the humans.”
Sukki looked pained. “I don’t know,” she said, not willing to give a straight answer. “I am not sure I would fit in the home world. Even with the gift of Athena I don’t understand half of the technology you carry around apart from theory—things that you call mere toys. I’m learning all of this human history and human culture. I’m having a hard enough time trying to understand what the twenty-first century will be like. I don’t know.”
Elder Stow nodded and waved her off. “Something to think about,” he said. She would not say it, but she was becoming more human than Neanderthal. Adopting her all those time zones ago was a very Gott-Druk thing to do. He had no doubt it kept her alive and mentally stable, having a family connection with the group. His Gott-Druk people framed everything in terms of family. But now, she had a mother and father in Katie and Lockhart. He, himself, often referred to them as the mother and father of the time traveling family. She no longer needed him to be her father figure.
“Ready,” Sukki said, and Elder Stow got busy. He was supposed to be tuning discs to the invisible spectrum. He only had six done. He needed three more.
“Almost,” he said. He got to work while she checked the door to the stables to be sure no people were coming to disturb them.
Elder Stow thought about how much further they needed to go to get back to the twentieth century. Only a few time zones. He certainly had more than enough experience. He could abandon the human travelers to their fate and should easily make it back to his time and his people. He still had his scanner tuned to the peculiar time distortion of the time gates. He could find them easily enough and maybe get back to his proper time faster on his own. Maybe these hated Homo Sapiens who stole the Earth, the planet of his Gott-Druk origin, deserved to be imprisoned… But no. The travelers had become like family for him, too. He would never abandon them.
“Ready,” he said, and he attached a disc to the mule and each of the horses in turn until they all went invisible. “Take the lead,” he told Sukki, and they all walked invisible out of the stables and through the early morning streets to the ship. The sun would be up soon enough, and so would the tide they would need to take them out of the bay. Once loaded, Elder Stow could retrieve his discs and fetch the others from their jail cell. He imagined that being invisible might prevent their escape being noticed until after they were well away aboard the ship.
Loading the horses was not hard. He collected the discs, so the horse became visible again and then the crew helped. Threatening the captain so he did not sail off with free horses did not take long. Soon, Elder Stow and Sukki hurried across town to set the prisoners free. Elder Stow would not abandon the others, no matter how tempting it might be to just get home.
They had indeed become like his family. Elder Stow had to admit it, and they were correct to some extent. They were all humans—genus homo—Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis. They were not that different, though on a personal level, Elder Stow wondered if all this time in close contact humanized him. Having gone through so much of human history, he now understood that the Homo Sapiens belonged on the earth. He had also come to realize his Gott-Druk home world was actually a very good world. When he got home, he would talk against the extremists that wanted to retake Earth for a home. He did not imagine he would become a member of the other side—a friend of the humans. He expected he would settle down with the vast majority of Gott-Druk for whom it was no longer an issue.
Lockhart, the former policeman, sat in his jail cell trying to figure out how he could pick the skeleton lock in the door. He needed something big enough and metal-like strong. He looked at Decker, but Decker shook his head.
“I am combat trained. I know a few tricks, but I am not James Bond,” he said.
In the cell next door, Lincoln pulled out the database and sat quietly to read. Tony paced with his eyes on their jailer. The fat Spaniard sat at his desk and looked ready for a nap. Tony said one thing. “Are you at least going to feed us?” The jailer shrugged.
In the third cell, Katie and Nanette waited patiently and talked quietly.
“I am not going to be sold as a slave,” Nanette said with a slight growl. “My grandmother was emancipated by Mister Lincoln, and I am not going back there.”
“Not going to happen,” Katie agreed. “We will probably be hung as pirates long before that thought occurs to them. Besides, Elder Stow and Sukki are out there. After they secure the horses, they will come for us.”
The women looked at each other, and Nanette said the thing they both felt concerned about. “Elder Stow checked with Lincoln. He knows after this zone, there are only five more between here and home. He can still track the time gates on his equipment. I think he may abandon us.”
“No,” Katie said. “We are family, such as we are. Family is most important to the Gott-Druk. He will come for us. Sukki will make sure of that.”
“He is a different species,” Nanette said. “No telling what he thinks, or how he thinks. He might not see it as abandoning us so much as returning to his real family.”
Katie shook her head. “It seemed that way at first, and I felt that way for a long time after, but he has proved himself. Besides, I have been convinced that he is essentially human. There are serious cultural differences and maybe some instinctive differences, but he is mostly human. I trust him, and more importantly, the Kairos trusts him. If I have learned one thing on this journey, it is to trust the Kairos.”
“Very well said.” Katie and Nanette were startled to hear Elder Stow’s voice, though of course they could not see him. The door to the hall was open, so they figured he came in while they were talking. No telling how much he heard.
“Rodrigo?” the man at the desk looked toward the door and wondered who was talking. The man started to rise before he fell back into the chair and wiggled like a man being electrocuted. He appeared to go unconscious, and they all heard Sukki.
“He isn’t dead. Please don’t be dead.”
“Stand away from the door,” Elder Stow said. They did, and one at a time, he melted all three locks. The doors swung open. “Here.” he handed each of the travelers a disc still tuned to the invisible spectrum. As soon as they went invisible, they saw Elder Stow and Sukki. She tied the jailer to the chair and gagged him. The jailer moaned a little as everyone retrieved their guns and knives from the table. Then they hurried across town to the docks and managed to slip out into the bay, going out with the tide.