Guardian Angel-11 Trouble in Paradise, part 3 of 3

Things improved between Ethan and Jill after that, though there were still some difficult moments.  Ethan could not shake the idea that as soon as he was in place at home, she would leave him.  At this point, though, he did not let it control him.  He felt that every moment he had with her was blessed.

“Vulnerability is from the neck up,” Jill said in her teaching.  “We have a saying in my universe that everyone has to die sometime, but you can even survive a wound to the heart if it is not too extensive.  If your chits have time to repair the damage and keep the blood circulating to the brain, you will survive, but from the neck up you are irreplaceable.  Understand this.  Brain cells can be regenerated and memory can be restored, but only as long as your brain continues to receive blood and oxygen.  Four minutes is about as long as you will survive otherwise.”

“Princess Jillian.”  Peter Alexander had a question.  He often referred to her in that way, but everyone imagined that he was referring to her by her quarter of Cherokee blood.  “I am still unclear about the screens you speak of.  I understand how a particle screen can ward off small particles, but the energy screens confuse me.  I do not understand their purpose.”

Jill nodded.  “We have already been protected against the low level of radiation that lingers in this place since the war, but I know you cannot see that.  That is something I was concerned about, and so I concluded that another demonstration was in order.  Doctor?”

The Doctor got up from his seat as a student and turned to help teach.  “I was hoping we would not have to do this,” he said, as he picked up what everyone recognized as a rifle, though none had seen its like before.

“This is a Legionaire-47, a state of the art weapon in the war.  It fires a high concentration pulse of microwaves guaranteed to turn your enemy into toast.”  He lifted the weapon to his shoulder and pointed it at the target that had been set up.  The target was a straw man, like a scarecrow, dressed in clothes and a kind of makeshift armor.  “I hate these things.”  Doctor Augustus mumbled as he took aim.  When he pulled the trigger, the straw man burst into flame, and even the armor melted.  “As you can see, it works all too well.”

“And now the demonstration,” Jill said as she stepped forward, while Ethan put out the fire.  The Doctor checked to be sure the rifle was charged for another round, and then he aimed it right at Jill’s heart while everyone held their breath.  He fired.  Jill merely smiled.

“Even if you cannot see the microwaves, you can see that I remained unaffected by the weapon.  This is a rather simple weapon.  The energy screens will protect you from far more sophisticated and powerful energy sources, but do not depend on them.  There are some weapons strong enough to fry you like the straw man, despite the screens.  My own people have such weapons, and there are a few others we know of.  The nano-chits can only generate so much power.  Even the particle screen cannot deflect an arrow, spear or bullet head on, nor can it stop a knife or sword delivered directly with strength.

“Still, that is remarkable.”  Ali Pasha spoke up.  “May I see that rifle as it is called?”  Everyone laughed a little.  Ali Pasha wanted to see and touch everything.

When the morning session was over, Ethan found Jill in his arms.  “Are you ready to go?” she asked.  They intended to go to Peter Alexander’s world and attempt to retrieve Lela’s ship.

“Tell me again why I am going?” he responded with a question.

“Because I can’t do this without you,” she answered.  She was getting tired of answering such questions.

“Yes you can,” he said and gave her a little kiss.  “You made a transitional unit on my world out of paper and string.  I think you can do anything you set your mind to.”

“All right.”  She accepted the compliment.  “Then I don’t want to do it without you.”

“And I don’t want you to do it without me.”  He kissed her again.

Jill returned his kiss and then went to get her things for the trip and wondered why he could not just love her without hesitation and without all the questions.  She needed him, even if he thought she did not need him.  She loved him.  How many times and in how many ways did she have to say it?  She had been alone for centuries before finding Ethan.  In him, she found someone she could love again.  That was something she once thought she would never be able to do, after Archon.  She knew there was no explaining it, him being from a middle high Earth and her being from paradise, and as hard as she tried, she could not seem to convince Ethan that it was true.  But it was true all the same.  She loved him.  Why couldn’t he just love her in return?  She wiped her eye and put her smile back on before she turned to face him.

In a short while, Ethan and Jill were in the front seat of a hovercar driven by Doctor Augustus.  Peter Alexander and Colonel deMartin were in the middle buckets, Lars and Manomar with Ali Pasha squeezed between them were seated in the back, and they were all headed toward somewhere on the Maryland shore.


“This is a red area.  That is, a heavy radiation area.”  The doctor spoke as they searched around for some landmark, which might help Alexander get his bearings.

“I’m trying, but the landscape seems so changed,” Alexander said, and not for the first time.  “Even the coast looks altered.”

“I’m not surprised,” the doctor responded.  “The North Augustine Imperial Capitol was not far from here, up the Pontus River.  This place took a real pounding during the war.”

“There.”  Alexander pointed suddenly, though the Doctor could not see his finger.  “Those rocks are known to me.”

“That jetty?”  The Doctor asked.  It looked to him like a thousand others that stuck out into the sea, but he nodded.  It was almost directly over what had been the city of Balteninus.

“The Port of Balazarius,” Alexander said.  “The whole coast is covered with Byzantine farmland.  We will have to go inland to come down unobserved.”

“How far?”  The Doctor asked.

Alexander quickly calculated and translated at the same time.  “Ten miles should be enough.  We should arrive on Cherokee land.”  The Doctor turned the car and headed due west.  He brought them down to a point where they drove a mere ten feet off the ground.  There were no trees, bushes, or life of any kind to obstruct their progress.

“I can hardly imagine how you can see anything familiar in that landscape,” Colonel deMartin said as he sat back against the comfortable cushions.  The others nodded, but Alexander assured them of his certainty.

“I am positive,” he said.  “But even if I am a bit off, I know this is the right area.”

Ali Pasha tried to look out the windows, first around Lars and then around Manomar.  He could not see much, but it all looked like empty desert to him, and it all looked the same.

When they landed, Doctor Augustus hugged Jill and shook everyone’s wrists in his fashion.  “It was lovely having company.  I wish you good luck and Godspeed.”

“Are you sure you won’t come with us?”  Jill asked once again.  “There is no reason you should have to stay in your dead world.  I could find you a guardianship elsewhere, and it would save me the headache of having to find someone local and risk making a poor selection.”

“I am sure,” the Doctor said.  “There are more survivors than I let on at first.  There is a small farming community of some forty families northwest of the hospital, by the Darius River.  They survived the thirty-year winter with me in the hospital and only just moved to begin again.  I think I should visit them and see how things are turning out.  There are others scattered here and there.  I will be all right.”  He kissed Jill on her forehead like a loving father and turned back to his vehicle.

Jill wiped a small tear from her eye and found that Ethan had already wired the dimensional watch, as he still called it, and booted up the computer.  It only took a moment to type in the information.  “Everyone hang on,” she said, and when they were ready, she hit the enter button.


Next week: Guardian Angel-12 Nelkorian…a person more creature than human… Don’t miss it.


Guardian Angel-10 End Game, part 2 of 3

Everyone stopped walking.  It was a very hard concept to grasp for anyone who had not at least seen old film of an atomic blast.  Jill continued to explain while everyone contemplated the magnitude of such a weapon.

“Of course, that bomb fell eighty years before I got here, and I was here about eighty years ago.  No telling what happened since, but keep in mind the increase in their destructive capabilities, given another hundred or hundred and fifty years to work on things.  I hope it never came to war.”

“Hoping?”  It was Ali Pasha who verbalized for everyone, even if he could barely frame his thoughts into the Englander tongue.  “Such war is not for thinking!  Madness!  To destroying with such greatness, it is not war.  It is madness!”

People nodded, including Ethan, when they heard the dim sound of a slight whine in the distance.

It turned out to be a ship of some sort, or maybe a flying car or truck, or an ambulance, Ethan decided as the vehicle came closer.  There was something like a red cross on the side of the vehicle, and he associated the snakes on poles with the medical profession.  The vehicle was definitely air-born and moved like a helicopter despite having nothing as crude as rotor blades.  It set down in a clearing not too far from their location.  Jill led them straight to that place where they saw a man in the same kind of white lab coat Jill used to wear.  He got out and waved to them.  He invited them to join him.

“Come.”  The man said in a language only Jill and Ethan understood.  “This area is still designated orange and I only have a limited supply of Ronolion to treat radiation sickness.”

The man opened the back of the ambulance and Ethan motioned for the others to get in since Jill’s arms were both still busy holding him upright.  “And don’t touch anything!”  Ethan commanded as a precaution.  He looked especially hard at Ali Pasha and sought Manomar’s agreement, which the man gave with a nod of his head.  Jill helped Ethan get into the front seat where he sat between her and the man who drove the vehicle.  He did his best to remain upright without leaning on her too much.

“Good to see you again.”  The man started up the conversation right away.  “I expected you to come back about sixty years ago.”

“There were complications,” Jill said.  “I got stranded in another world for a time and lost my ship.  I picked up a husband, though.”  She hugged Ethan and Ethan hardly knew what to think, except that maybe this charade had gone on long enough.

“I thought you said one husband in a lifetime was enough,” the man responded with a fatherly glance in her direction.

“I changed my mind.  Ethan, this is Doctor Flavius Augustus, surname Galias.”

“Flavius is sufficient, or Doctor Augustus,” the Doctor said, and he stuck out his hand.  Ethan reached for the hand, but the man shook his wrist so Ethan responded in kind and tried not to feel foolish at having gotten it wrong to start with.

“Doctor?”  Ethan made the word a question.

“Medical.”  The man gave the one word answer.

“I selected Doctor Augustus to be Guardian for this world.  It was one of the last contacts I had before being stranded on your world.”

“I take it Ethan’s world did not have the technical expertise to repair whatever happened to your ship,” Doctor Augustus said.

“No more than your world,” Jill responded.

“But we have advanced in the years since you have been gone, you know.  And we proved it by nearly wiping out the human race.  I am glad you did not come back sixty years ago.  The war happened.”

Jill and Ethan sat in stunned silence for a minute.  They tried hard to absorb the news.  Doctor Augustus spoke again after a moment.

“What the war did not kill, the thirty-year winter did.  I can safely say that this was a war without winners.  There are some people still alive, mostly in equatorial regions like deep in the Amazon and the Congo where the winter was not so bad and where the level of civilization did not warrant destruction, but most of them cannot read or write.  Civilization is completely wiped out.”  With that comment, he brought the ambulance down to a dock on top of a large building in what was obviously a ghost town.  Jill spoke when he turned off the engine.

“Doctor, you can come with us to another place if you like.”

“No.”  The Doctor shook his head.  “There are still people here to protect, and who knows, perhaps over the centuries they may make a better show of things than we did, if there is someone here to give them that chance.”   He got out like an old man who had spent too much time in the ambulance service.  Jill and Ethan got out as well.  Neither knew what to say.  They let the others out without a word and went down into what was obviously a hospital.

The building appeared well kept, but most of that was automatic.  The doctor had rigged up some long-life generators that he said would run for ten thousand years, and he seemed to spend a lot of time repairing and tinkering with the mechanicals, as he called them.

When they went down off the roof and went inside the upper reception area, Jill spoke again.  “Doctor, two of these men are volunteers for their worlds.  I need two serum preparations for nano-chit injection.”

“I can do that,” the doctor said, and he added a note as he walked off down the hall to the lab.  “I wish them better fortune with their charges than I have had.”

With that, Jill had to tell the others what happened.