Avalon 6.4 Stories, part 2 of 4

“Nanette was his maid?” Alexis asked.

“Sort of.  Her mother served as a maid to his brother’s family.  Her mother’s mother served as a maid to his mother. Nanette was young, but the third generation serving the Fleming family.”

“You say was,” Lockhart pointed out.

“I mean is.  I hope she still is, but I don’t know where she might be.”  He held up his hands to forestall any further interruptions.  “The professor calls Nanette his personal assistant and secretary.  She has lovely handwriting, and the professor is rather absent minded.  She is as sharp as a whip.  I don’t imagine he would function well without her.”

“I can accept personal assistant,” Decker said, and cut a small piece of goat, though it really had not cooked well yet.

“So, there were four on the trip?” Lincoln asked.

“Six,” Evan said.  “We had two graduate students with us.  Charles Wallace Dodd, who goes by Wallace.  He fell madly in love with Nanette.  The other was Anthony Carter.  A good man.  Tony had an Italian mother, so travel to Rome felt like a trip home for him.  It was an exciting time for all of us.  There were several digs around the Roman countryside, and we had been invited to examine the artifacts and inscriptions and all that had been uncovered.  Plus, the church, Saint Peters, had an archive with documents dating to the third or fourth centuries that they were willing to let us see.”

“Point of information,” Katie interrupted.  “In 1905, knowledge was not fragmented like it is in our day.  All sorts of things, like history, ancient languages, archeology, sociology, political science, anthropology, and more, came simply under the heading antiquities, or often just history.  What was Professor Fleming’s area?” Katie asked.

“Theoretical.  But he was looking for evidence.  He wanted to understand how a functioning republic could devolve, as he called it, into a dictatorship so quickly and absolutely.  He claimed the fall from republic to empire made no logical sense.  I had to agree with him, in theory.  He is concerned about the United States, but especially concerned about Europe, where monarchy was not so long ago, and the fledgling democracies are not yet strong. He is looking to catalogue the warning signs.”

“Hitler,” Lockhart suggested.

“Mussolini,” Katie did not disagree.

“Does Nanette have a last name?” Decker asked, his mind on a different subject.

“Miss Jones,” Ethan responded. “She was a great help to all of us. I hope she is still out there and all right.”

“But, how did you get to be here?” Boston asked, betraying a bit of impatience in her question.

“We were all in the house we rented, one afternoon.  Lunchtime, in fact.  Professor Fleming was talking about his theories.  Mildred and I, and his students, and Nanette all listened intently, as you might expect, though he does tend to go on a bit, like a lecture, I suppose.  Then the whole house started moving.  We thought earthquake, but when the shaking stopped and we looked outside for the damage, we saw a real Roman marketplace, and plenty of people pointing and screaming. You see, we moved, and the whole house moved with us, to the exact time in history that Professor Fleming was talking about.”

“Ashtoreth experimenting with the Heart of Time,” Lockhart concluded.  “She must have looked back a hundred years, listened in to what these folks were saying, and moved them to the very place they were talking about.”

“Not to be benevolent,” Alexis said.

“No,” Katie agreed.  “She probably hoped these people from the future, with their knowledge and all, would start interfering with history and screw it all up.”

“Oh, no,” Evan said.  “Once we realized where we were and what had happened, Professor Fleming made us all swear to observe and take notes, but not interfere, or reveal anything about the future.  We all understood how dangerous that could be to future events.”

“Well, good for that,” Lincoln said, and Boston nodded vigorously.

“So, you lived in ancient Rome for nearly seven years before coming into the past?”  Alexis wanted to get it straight.

“Five years,” Evan said.  “We have been on the road for nearly two years, well, about eighteen months on the road and near four months in the last time zone.”

“You are wearing fairy weave,” Lincoln remembered.  “Where did you get that?”

“King Bodanagus,” he said.

“Lincoln,” Lockhart pointed, and Lincoln turned straight to the database to look him up.

“I’ll explain,” Evan said.  “We lived in the house for five years. People got used to us soon enough. Millie had some training as a nurse, since she was sixteen.  She and I made some small living working with the local physics.  Though I admit, I was not much of a chemist.  I am better now.  Tony found a potter’s wheel in the house, and made some good pots.  We built a working kiln out back, and he experimented with different glazes.  We opened the front room to be a small shop, since we were right there in the marketplace. Poor Tony was more interested in how the Roman Empire collapsed than how it came into being; but he said if he did not have the chance to study at the University, he always wanted to be an artist, so he seemed happy.  Wallace was not good for much.  He did some labor over the years.  He tried several things, but he never brought much into the house other than the occasional prostitute.

“Nanette?” Decker asked.

“Nanette became the toast of the town. The wealthy, even some senators, paid her to attend their parties, so they could hear her wisdom, and get their sons to propose to her.  She always brought Professor Fleming.  They were all a bit afraid of the professor.  He got credited with being a great magician, and soothsayer.  He fudged the rule about not talking about the future.  He said he was the only one who knew what would be safe to say, and what would not be safe.  He flat out broke the rule when he told Pompey and the senate that Caesar would not stop at the Rubicon.”

Lincoln interrupted.  “Bodanagus. About eleven zones in the future, after this one.  A king of the Nervii.  He fought Caesar to a standstill before they made peace.  He went with Caesar to Egypt and prophesied there about Egypt’s fall. He came to Rome and tutored young Octavian in the way of kings.”

“The Kairos gets in the middle of everything,” Katie said, and the others could not tell if she meant that as criticism or praise.

Boston defended her god.  “Only to make sure things turn out the way they are supposed to.”  She checked her instincts, in her mind and heart.  Some were different from her old human instincts.  Some were new, but one of the strongest told her she needed to not mess with history.

“Anyway,” Alexis made the conversation pause before she turned to Evan.  “Go on.”

“Not much to tell.  We survived.  We met Bodanagus after the first year, when Caesar came to town, briefly.  Bodanagus strongly underlined Professor Fleming’s rule about not revealing the future, but then he left us to our own devices. He made a contribution, so we wouldn’t starve.  He helped me join the physician’s guild, after he examined my chemistry and Millie’s medical knowledge to be sure, as he said, that we did not know anything dangerous. He got Tony into the potter’s guild, so we would not have to worry about some guild members coming and breaking all our pots.  Caesar himself signed the appointments.  Then he left us alone.  He went off with Caesar to Spain.  Then he came and said hi, but went off again to Illyria, and then Egypt.  I don’t understand.  Who is he?”  Everyone looked at Lockhart.

“The Kairos is a person,” he began, and stalled, so Katie picked up the story.

“A person born over and over, sometimes as a man, and sometimes as a woman.”

Lockhart continued.  “Sometimes, he says it is like being on a treadmill…or she. Sometimes he/she calls himself/herself just an experiment in time and genetics.”  Evan shook his head.  He had no idea what genetics were.

“The point is,” Katie said.  “The Kairos gets born as a know nothing baby, but inevitably at some critical historical point.  And like Valencia, she has to keep history on track, like it’s her job.”

“To make history come out the way it is supposed to come out,” Boston interjected.

“But how does the Kairos know how it is supposed to come out?” Evan asked.

“He remembers the future, or some future lifetimes anyway,” Lockhart concluded.

“Remembers the future?” Evan still shook his head.  “But you said the Kairos is born a know nothing baby.”

“Yes,” Katie said.  “And grows, and fits in with family and community, and becomes a solid member of the society, and learns and develops talents and skills, and has her or his own personality.  At some point after puberty, as the Kairos says, the walls of time begin to fall and memories of at least one past life and one future life begin to return.”

“The Princess and the Storyteller are nearly always there,” Lockhart said.  “Maybe always, and Doctor Mishka and Diogenes are often there as well.”

“Wait,” Evan said.  “I met a Diogenes coming here.  And I remember Bodanagus mentioning a Doctor Mishka.  I did not know who that was.”

“The Kairos,” Katie said, and they waited, while Evan thought it through.

“So, you are saying Bodanagus and Valencia are the same person, just different lifetimes.”

“Deep inside, the same being in two different persons,” Alexis encouraged him.

Another ship flew overhead, or maybe the same ship returned.  Lockhart said time to move, and everyone packed up lunch and headed out.

Back in the saddle, Lincoln had another question.  “So, you didn’t say how you came to be here.”

“Bodanagus, or rather a friend of his, Athena.  She seemed a fine Greek lady.  When Caesar went to Africa, as he said, to clean up the mess, Bodanagus came back to Rome to oversee young Octavian’s education.  I don’t know if he and Caesar had a falling out, or what.  But at that time, Bodanagus explained to us about the time gates and the time zones, and Athena gave us all chestnuts.  One side was green, and the other red, though we were the only ones who could see the colors.  Now that I think on it, that was rather odd.  Also, he asked Athena to stabilize the gates in their present location for us.  He called her Minerva once.”

“The goddess,” Boston interrupted with a smile and a nod.

“Hush,” Alexis shushed her.  “Go on,” she told Evan.

Evan took a deep breath.  Calling the woman a goddess almost made sense when it came out of the mouth of an elf.  “Anyway,” he continued.  “The green side always pointed to the past time gates, and the red to the future gate. It worked a bit like a compass, pointing green ahead and red behind.”

“What about the professor?” Lincoln asked.

“Professor Fleming did not plan on going anywhere.  He said he had to be there to tell Caesar to beware the ides of March.”

“Funny,” Lincoln said, though no one laughed.

Avalon 6.4 Stories, part 1 of 4

This episode is in four parts.  Don’t miss the final post on Thursday of this week.  Enjoy.

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After 702 BC The Levant. Kairos lifetime 76: Tobaka, Nubian Prince of Egypt

Recording …

The travelers moved five long days through Etruscan held territory to get to the next time gate.  They were seen, and sometimes watched, but not bothered, as long as they moved on in the morning and did not settle.

People left Evan alone to his thoughts for most of that time.  In part, because he told them about his wife, Mildred, and how they became separated in the time zone to which they were headed.  He got captured by the aliens, and their soldiers that he called wolves.

“Wolvs,” Lockhart said, pronouncing the word a bit differently, and shivering a little as he said it.

“Damn,” Lincoln used his word, and Alexis agreed with him.  They at least read, in the so-called Men in Black records, about the one they found in New Jersey after two thousand years in cryogenic sleep.  One Wolv shredded a dozen people and would have eaten the nearby town if the Kairos had not showed up and stopped it.  They would explain it later to the others.

Evan felt sure he would have been eaten, if a group of strange looking men had not rescued him.  He only just found out they were not men, but were creatures of fantasy, elves, dwarfs and an ogre, when they forced him through the next time gate.

“Where Millie ended up, I cannot say.” Evan wanted to cry, but forced himself to finish the story.  “The Etruscan lords and kings are not a tolerant bunch, but the ordinary people in the countryside were nice enough.  They slowly moved me south, over about a month, until I came to Rome, or what would one day be Rome.  Lord Tarquin said if I didn’t work, I didn’t eat.  But I met Valencia, a person I do not understand, and she gave me hope.”

He did cry.  They figured he wept mostly for his wife who he felt surely must be dead. So, they mostly left him alone with his thoughts.

The other reason they left him alone, and stayed generally quiet over those five days, is because they knew that he, and his companions, came from 1905, not 2010, like the travelers.  To that end, they did not know what might be safe to say in front of him, assuming he could one day get back to his own time. They feared every word they uttered might be too revealing about his future.

Alexis and Lincoln stayed with him. They taught him to build his fairy weave tent by commanding it into the right shape.  They found he already dressed in fairy weave clothing, so the tent did not surprise him.  Lincoln decided not to ask about that until everyone gathered to hear the answer. Then he forgot to ask for a couple of days.

Alexis taught Evan how to complain about the deer, deer, elk, and deer diet, though Evan said he did not mind the meat, even if he did not care for the gamey flavor.

“You get used to it,” Decker told him.

Evan and Decker went off for one long talk.  No one intruded, but the result seemed to be that they came to an understanding.  Evan only later confessed one thing privately to Lincoln and Alexis.

“I don’t know why he said to call him a black man.  We don’t call people white men, though I have heard the term used as a general description. But we don’t call Chinese people yellow men, or Indians red men, though I have heard those terms used, unkindly.”

“Native-American, not red men,” Lincoln said.

“You are right,” Alexis said.  “And you better not call Boston pointy-ears either.”

Evan looked.  He freaked, as they say, when he found out Boston was an elf.  But Lincoln got his attention back when he concluded, “People have a right to decide their own self-designation.  If Decker wants to be known as a black man or an African-American, that is his choice.”  That was where they left it.

On the third day, Evan asked about Elder Stow and Sukki.  “What kind of people are they?  Do they come from somewhere in South America or something?  I have never seen the like.”

“They are Neanderthals,” Lincoln said, plainly.  He waited for Evan’s eyes to get big before he said more.  “They call themselves Gott-Druk.  Elder Stow and Sukki are not related by blood, but they have adopted each other in their own way.  Sukki comes from the before time.  That is, before the flood.”  He had to wait again.

“You mean, n-Noah and all?” Evan stuttered.

Lincoln nodded.  “As I understand it, she is what you might call a true cave-woman.  The Gott-Druk at the time were still working in stone, and just using some soft metals, like copper and tin.  During the time of the flood, they got whisked off world and given a new home world.”

“Whisked off.  You mean like in the spaceship we saw?”

Lincoln nodded.  “Since that time, over thousands of years, they learned to build their own spaceships, like the one you saw.  Elder Stow is really just Stow, I suppose.  I don’t know if he has a second, family name.  He doesn’t talk about it.  Elder is a Gott-Druk designation, like an officer of a ship. He isn’t the Captain, which in Gott-Druk terminology is Mother and Father for co-captains.  You might hear Elder Stow or Sukki refer to Katie and Lockhart as Mother and Father now and then.  Elder is one step down from captain.  Elder is a ship’s officer, but to us, he has always been Elder Stow.”

“Wow.”

“I might add, after thousands of years, since the flood, the Gott-Druk have learned a bunch of things, not just about spaceships.  He has, what you might call, a bunch of gadgets with which he can do some pretty remarkable things.”  Lincoln waited until Evan appeared to get his thoughts in order. Then Lincoln had a suggestion.  “You should go talk to them.”

It took Evan a whole day, but eventually, he did.

By the time they reached the time gate, Evan settled on Lincoln’s horse, Cortez.  Lincoln rode behind Alexis on Misty Gray, where he said he could pull his handgun if needed, an idea she did not like, but where he could also read from the database without worrying about where his horse wandered.

“So, read,” Lockhart said.

“The Kairos is Tobaka.  A male.  A Nubian.  I assume he is black.”

“’bout time,” Decker said, as they came through the gate and he and Elder Stow split off to ride on the wings.  They understood less than four month ago, the area was full of Humanoid officers and Wolv soldiers.  They would be extra careful, and watch the skies as well as the land.

Sadly, the land offered little cover. It appeared arid and hot.  The travelers moved up and down little scrub-grass and prickly-bush covered rises in the ground, and only had occasional trees and groves of trees here and there to offer shade.

Evan offered a reminder, since he already told them about the wolv.  “My brief time here happened nearly four months ago.  I understood there were two competing space races here, but both in small numbers.  I imagine that trouble has been cleared up by now. At least, that was what my escort suggested.”

Lincoln nodded, and turned to the database.  He spent several hours of quiet just reading.

Major Decker and Elder Stow rode out on the wings and sometimes a little up front in order to guard their travels and extend their eyes further into the wilderness.  They could not hear what Lincoln reported from what he read, but Lincoln had gotten good at giving a summary of the information over lunch or supper, depending.  Katie and Lockhart rode in front and tried to keep one ear on Lincoln’s report.  Boston and Sukki rode behind, and as long as they kept up, Sukki could hear as well.  Of course, Boston, with her good elf ears, could hear perfectly well, even when they straggled out behind.

“The Levant,” Lincoln finally said, and explained for Lockhart.  “That’s Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel to us.  We are somewhere in there.”

“Yes,” Lockhart said.  “I figured that out.”

“I believe the British call it Palestine,” Evan said.

“Let’s not go there,” Alexis suggested.

Evan didn’t understand.  “But we are there, aren’t we?”

“Well, this isn’t Egypt,” Lincoln said. “But she meant that was a subject she did not want to talk about.  You see, in our day, the area is still in turmoil, with Jews and Arabs claiming the same land.  It’s a mess, and most people can’t talk about it without choosing sides, so plenty of people would rather not talk about it.”

“I see.”

“But you came this way before,” Alexis said.  “What did you actually see when you were here?”

They all paused, as a ship of some sort zoomed overhead.  It did not look very big, and it soon disappeared over the horizon.

“Apparently, things have not been cleaned up, yet,” Lockhart said.

“Remarkable,” Evan said.  “When we arrived in Rome, I read in the paper where Mister Wright from Ohio kept an aero-plane in the air for thirty-nine whole minutes.  I thought that was remarkable, at the time.  Somewhere in North Carolina, as I recall.”

“Yes, but what about this place?” Alexis asked.

“It might help me pinpoint the location of the Kairos,” Lincoln added.  “And maybe the more accurate time frame, here.”

“Hold up,” Lockhart said, and then spoke into his wristwatch communicator.  “Lunch.”

They came to a grove of trees fed by a small spring that made a stream, which soon petered out in the arid conditions. Someone planted an olive tree there, and Alexis found some ripe ones. That was at least something other than the dead goat Decker bagged and carried over the back of his horse.

When the goat started cooking, and the olives proved sour, Evan opened up.  “To be honest, there is not much I can tell you about this place.  Just plenty of scrub grass and occasional trees. My wife, Mildred, and I, avoided people as much as possible, especially when we came into a time zone that was not part of the Greco-Roman world.  Wallace came with us, at first, and Nanette followed Wallace, or the other way around, or so we thought.  It turned out it wasn’t Nanette, exactly.”

“Nanette?” Katie asked.

Lockhart added, “Who?” at the same time.

Evan waved off the questions, took a deep breath, and began again.  “We left New York at the beginning of the semester and arrived in Rome after fifteen days.  I turned twenty-four, just married, and just got my first job.  Professor Fleming kindly made room on this trip so I could bring my wife.  She just turned nineteen in August.  Oh, it was a wonderful time.”  He got lost in his thoughts for a minute, and people kindly waited.  “Anyway.  Professor Fleming liked a paper I wrote on the days of the Roman Republic, and how they reached the height of Roman civilization, and how the empire was doomed to fall apart from its inception.  I think I got hired on his word, and he insisted I come on this trip. It was a great opportunity.”

“Nanette,” Lincoln reminded him.

“Yes, sorry.  She was Professor Fleming’s darkie.” He paused to look at Decker and apologized.  “Sorry. Major Decker.  I guess things are different in the future.”