Guardian Angel-22 Paradise, part 3 of 3

It was nearly noon when they selected a case for the laptop and dimensional watch.  Ethan was reluctant to part with the equipment, but he understood that it ought to be preserved as a piece of history.  No one had ever done such a thing before, and Jill said she wondered if her baby brother Devon might still be out there somewhere, only in a world that was not advanced enough for him to escape.

“Isn’t there a way to contact him?”  Ethan wondered as he pulled the dimensional watch from the briefcase.  Jill had explained that she came up with the idea for the dimensional watch by considering how the elders moved around by tapping their wristwatches.  This was a technology no Gaian ever tried before, but it worked, Ethan was happy to say.

“Now there would be, yes.”  Jill answered the question about contacting Devon.  “I can leave a chit with the coordinating committee and contact them if I get stranded somewhere.  Their chit will download the necessary information to pinpoint the exact Earth.  But that is something that has only been developed in the past fifty years, or so.  We could contact ship to ship, or ship to home, of course, but a general wave direct contact person to ship, or to person, or to home never came to mind.  I guess we thought no one would ever be foolish enough to be out there separated from their ship.  Personal tracking did not exist when I was stranded on your Earth, and it certainly did not exist when Devon disappeared nearly two hundred years ago.  An incredibly obvious oversight, I am sure, but no.  There is not any more chance of contacting him than there was to contact me on your world.”

“But the guardians can contact their Gaian, like Kera Ann contacted Lela,” Ethan said

“On a single direct wave only.  It was an oversight.”  Jill spoke sharply, before she took Ethan’s hand and calmed herself.  “No one thought that way until Devon got lost, and then me.”  She changed the subject.  “You know; I was not even supposed to go to your world.  It was not on my route.  I was sidetracked, somehow.  I don’t know how.  Of course, that meant that no one could find me by tracing my route, which is the way they tried to do it, because I was not on my route.  When my ship exploded in the London blitz, though I still cannot understand how that was possible, I got stuck until I could repair the transitional unit.”  She held her hand out and Ethan gave her the watch.

“Sounds like someone wanted you out of the way.”  Manomar suggested the obvious.

Ethan nodded and pointed at Manomar.  “What he said.  Someone has certainly been following us and firing at us, and they might have gotten us, too, if the Elders had not shown up.”

“Yes, that did happen once,” Jill agreed.

“Twice,” Manomar corrected.  “The Elders were first on my world and then on Alexander and deMartin’s world.”

“Yes, twice,” Ethan agreed again as he took the laptop from Manomar and turned it toward Jill.

“Still.”  Jill shook her head.  She touched the laptop, but she did not take it.

“Someone blew up your ship, and I doubt it was the Germans.”  The idea of that was absurd, given the fact that the ship was in another dimension and shielded by screens powerful enough to ward off an atomic blast, or several atomic blasts and then some.

“But who would do such a thing?”  Jill pulled her hand back from the laptop.  “And how could they find me when no one else could?”

“I would guess it was the same person who misdirected you,” Manomar said.

“Exactly,” Ethan agreed again and held out the laptop again.  “The person that misdirected you would be the only person who knew where you were.”

Jill touched the laptop again and pulled her hand back again.  “But that is impossible,” she said.  “The ship was keyed to my person.  No one could enter alternate coordinates, at least not without me knowing.”

“Unless your ship had two keys like Lela’s ship.”  Ethan thought out loud.  Jill’s eyes got big and they heard a voice echo through the room.  It said, “Bingo,” before there was an explosion and fires everywhere.

Guardian Angel-22 Paradise, part 2 of 3

“Jillian.”  The woman spoke first in a rather haughty voice.  “Can’t say as I’m surprised.”

“He had me declared dead!”  Jillian shot the accusation as sharply as any weapon ever thrown or fired.

The woman’s eyes turned just as sharp.  “Your son.”  She started to speak, but Jill interrupted.

“I’m not talking about my son.  This is about Barf-on,” she said.

“Jillian!  You should not talk about the Tyrant in that manner, especially now that he is a poor widower.”

“He is nothing of the sort!  We were formally divorced!”  Jill’s anger reached a peak.  Ethan wanted to hold her, to help her calm down, but he feared for his life.

The blond woman shrugged.  “You know people.  Most people believe what they are told and reality rarely interferes with that.  Who remembers your divorce?  That’s ancient history.”

“But it hasn’t been a hundred years.”  Jill’s approach turned from anger to clever.  “I can’t be declared dead until I am missing at least a hundred years.”

The woman shrugged again.  “The Senate went along with it.  I suppose you could take it to court.”

Jill picked up a vase and threw it at the woman.  It went through and shattered against the floor and far wall while the woman merely shrugged.  “Still the same old Jillian.  You were always one for physical violence.”

“And don’t you forget it or I’ll find where you are and come and knock your brains out.”  Jill waved her fist at the woman and Ethan finally felt it was time to move.  He caught her in his arms, and she turned into his chest and cried a little.

“And you are?”  The woman looked at him, and Ethan was not about to be nice to her even if he figured out who she was.

“Ethan Hill.  Jill’s husband for real and forever,” Ethan said.  “And that makes you my little sister, doesn’t it Viviane?”

The woman was almost fazed by that.  It took her a second to regain her haughty composure.  “I suppose, if marriage to a non-person can be counted as valid.”

Jill swung around again, a lioness defending the pride.  “He is one of us by every chit of adoption and inclusion.  That case was decided by the courts ages ago, and if I choose to marry him, what is it to you?”

The woman shrugged a third time as if to say it meant nothing to her.  Then there was another shimmering image, and a younger woman, dark haired like Jill but with bright green eyes came into focus, and this one took on some substance, ran to Jill to hug her, and cried as she ran.  “Jillian.  I knew you would come.  I never quit hoping.  Oh Jillian.”  The poor young woman wept.

After a minute of Viviane rolling her eyes at the domestic scene, Jill introduced her youngest sister, Diana.  Ethan said hello and he was going to shake hands after his fashion, but he decided a hug was better.  As he hugged this little sister, she whispered in his ear.  “Don’t let Viviane bother you.  She is really a witch in disguise, you know.”

Ethan nodded.  “I figured that out.”  He returned her whisper.

Diana turned, then and took both of Jill’s hands.  “I am so happy for you.  He seems very nice.”  She hugged her sister and cried some more until Viviane had enough.

“Is there anything else?”  Viviane interrupted.  “I mean anything important?”

Jill set Diana in Ethan’s hands and stepped up to confront her sister.  “Yes,” she said.  “I have restored my presence in the house banks and sent my presence to a large number of friends with instructions to catalogue the truth so no amount of cleaning the house banks will change things.  You go back and tell Ass-on that he has ninety days to have me declared undead or I will take his throne and give it to Ethan.  And you know me, Viviane.  I don’t make idle threats and I don’t kid about things like that.”

Viviane drew herself up to her haughtiest height and vanished.  She left only a smoky image for a second before she was gone altogether.  Ethan swore he could smell the sulfur in that smoke.

Jill reached back for Ethan’s hand, which he gave, even though he was going to have something to say later about this throne business.  Diana faced her sister again and spoke first.

“Did you really mean that?  Do you really love him?”

“Yes,” Jill said.  “To both questions.”  She came close to Ethan and touched his cheek.

“Maybe someday.”  Diana sighed, and looked longingly at Ethan.

“But where are you?”  Jill asked her sister.

“Ah, I left the house bugged for your return.  Right now I’m on another world.”  She rattled off the information like a machine gun in operation.  “And you were right.  You were very, very right.  There is so much going on in the worlds, and some of it is very bad and needs to be stopped.  I am almost finished with my trip line, but I am going to go back for more.  So far, you should be proud of me.  I have only had to remove two guardians who turned the wrong way.  That’s not bad at all.”

“I am proud of you,” Jill said without comment on the removed guardians.  “But I worry about you, too.  It is dangerous out in the worlds.”

Diana nodded and looked serious for all of a second before her perfect smile popped out again.  She was just too happy to contain herself.  “I have to go, but I’ll be here in ninety days.  Did you really mean it?”  She asked again.

“Yes, sweet.  I really meant it.”

“God!  I can’t wait,” Diana said, and she vanished too, though Ethan imagined the smell of rose petals in her mist.

“Bundle of energy.”  Ethan described the woman as Jill turned into his arms.  With that, all thoughts of the sisters vanished.

“You said you were my husband already,” Jill softly reminded him.

“I will be, as soon as football season is over, if you will have me,” he responded.

“Football season?”  She looked up into his eyes.

Ethan nodded.  “I thought you might let my dad give you away, unless you have a favorite uncle or something.”

“Oh, Ethan.”  She spoke in a rather foolish voice, and the two became lost in each other’s arms while Manomar looked quietly out the parlor doors and studied the gardens.

Guardian Angel-22 Paradise, part 1 of 3

Ethan woke up when he felt Jill rise.  The overhead showed the dawn just coming up, and while in days past he would have grumbled at the early hour, he now felt rested and ready to rise, and loved.  What could be better than that?  Jill had told him with the chits he needed less sleep than he used to need, and with the Gaian built bed, he needed even less sleep to be rested, but he still enjoyed his time in bed, and he might have lingered if Jill had not thrown clothes at him.

“Hey!”  He shouted, but there was love in his voice.

“Up!”  Jill shouted back, and her love sounded just as strong.

Ethan sat up and looked.  Jill was dressed in a white linen mini-skirt and sandals.  It suited her, and he got all sorts of thoughts just looking at her.  They must have reflected in his eyes.

“No time,” Jill said, as if she read his mind.  “I decided you need to meet my family as well, dysfunctional as they are.”

“What?”  Ethan sat all the way up and saw that Jill had tossed him a kind of white mini-skirt of his own, and sandals that tied up to just below the knees.  He dressed while she got breakfast from the ship’s system.  It was bread and olive oil instead of butter, a kind of oatmeal mush with some unknown fruit, and milk for herself.  She allowed him his coffee.  He thought that this could not be the food of paradise, but she assured him that it was.

“Welcome to my Earth,” she said.

When they went to the control room, Ethan found Manomar tugging at his short skirt.  He did not mind wearing a dress, so much.  That would have not been too different from what he wore back home.  In his case, it was the shortness of the dress that bothered him.  Ethan was not sure about the dress itself, even if Jill said he had nice legs.

“So where are we?”  Ethan asked generally as he looked out the screen.  He saw pine trees and palm trees side by side, and just beyond those, he saw the ocean crash up against a bolder strewn shore.  When he squinted, he imagined another landfall in the distance, but there had to be miles of ocean in between.

“Lyoness,” Jill said.  “My private domain.”  When Ethan and Manomar looked at her, she said more.  “My father was tyrant, remember, and I was his eldest.  My ex-husband is now tyrant, what most people call Emperor, and he has been for the past two hundred or so years, though his power is very limited.”

“Yes,” Ethan interrupted.  “Aren’t you on the most wanted list?  Isn’t your picture in the post office?  I mean, is it safe to be here?”

Jill came to stand beside him.  “Archon’s power is limited.  We are a representative republic, very complicated, but there are certain things Archon would not dare on his own.  He would not even be in his position if we had not married and if my baby brother Devon had not disappeared.  Even now, he leans on the fact that we were married.”  She took Ethan’s hand and spoke to Manomar.  “I married him when I was a hundred years old, when the people were beginning to wonder if I was ever going to marry.  We had a son, but by the time my son was twenty-one, I had long since realized what kind of man Archon really was.  We were not together since then, and within days of my father’s death, Archon and I formally divorced, but by then he had already set himself up as Tyrant, and I was too busy with the guardian program to do anything about it.  I guess I didn’t care, since he seemed to represent the feelings of most of the people, I thought it was only just to let him have most of the headaches.”

“So your private domain?”  Ethan brought her back to the present.

Jill turned their view angle and they saw what could only be called a magnificent palace resting on a hill.  The land fell away on both sides to the ocean’s waters.  “We are at the tip of the peninsula,” she said.  “And this is my home.  Much of the guardian program was conceived and directed from this place.”

“And Archon did not shut it down?”  Ethan asked.  He knew the guardian program was technically illegal

“No,” Jill said.  “I told you, there are certain things he would not dare do on his own.”

Ethan slipped his arm around Jill’s shoulder, and she responded with her arm around his waist.  He spoke.  “I am only sorry I did not have a chance to meet your mother and father,” he said.

“Me, too.”  Jill sniffed back some tears.  “They would have liked you.”  She broke free and returned to the Main.  In a second or two, their door rested in the front hallway of the palace.

“Manomar?”  Jill turned to look.  Manomar lifted Ethan’s briefcase without a word; but Ethan looked curious, so she spoke.  “I thought we might find a display case of some kind.  It was a remarkable feat to escape your world as we did.”  She finally admitted it.

“So where is everyone?”  Ethan asked.  He changed the subject and looked at the emptiness of the hall.

“That’s what I was wondering,” Jill said.  “They should have picked up our approach last night, and surely by now they should be filling the hall to see us and welcome us.”

“They?”

“We employ servants.  They are well paid and come and go as they please.  Most don’t even need to be servants, but many choose that profession, often because their families have served the royal house for centuries.”  Jill flipped the view to any number of places in the building, all empty, before she landed on a living room—a sort of lounge area with plenty of books in bookcase walls, soft and inviting furniture, a couple of desks, and a few trophy cases along with various works of art scattered about.  Everything looked expensive, and the art, in particular, was no doubt priceless.

“I don’t like this,” Jill said.  “The Guardian team ought to at least be on hand and watching.  Come on.”  She took Ethan’s hand again and they stepped out on to a luxurious rug, Manomar in their wake.  Ethan took a moment to pinpoint the source of the lighting.  There were windows, or parlor doors of some sort along the far wall, which led out to a patio, which overlooked one of the garden areas.  They were well tinted to limit any possible glare from the sun.  Instead, the light seemed to be diffused sunlight, and it came in through the ceiling tiles.

“I imagined your ultra-futuristic world would be white and sterile looking somehow,” Ethan said.

“Hollywood!”  Jill scoffed.  “And boring in the extreme.”  She took him over to one of the desks.  Manomar followed quietly and looked around at everything like his old Master Ali Pasha would have done.

“And so?”  Ethan asked, after Jill touched the screen on the desk.

“I don’t understand.”  She shook her head and dragged him to a couch where she plopped down and drew her legs up to her chin.  “I thought the library annex would be a good place to rest for an hour.  Our chits have been updated, but it will take a little time to integrate everything, like when we upgraded in Lela’s ship.  We now have the most current information available.”  She paused to think.  “I see the exploration of the Horsehead Nebula is continuing, and one group plans to make the first venture to Andromeda.”

“That will be a long trip.  Hope it is worth it,” Ethan said.  He saw the same information in his mind, even as she mentioned it.

“But there is nothing on why this house is empty.  Even the house banks have been cleaned, but.”  She stopped and Ethan watched her face turn dark red.  He almost backed away.  “Why that Ass!  That creep!”  She jumped up and returned to the desk where she ran her hands with abandon across the screen.  She paced and would not talk either to Ethan or Manomar until there was a shimmering beside the desk.  A woman, a beautiful blond woman took form there, and Ethan immediately noticed the family resemblance.

Guardian Angel-15 Lars Hjorth, part 3 of 3

Lars and deMartin had their men cease firing and watched as men in strange green uniforms with high collars and big brass buttons began to round up the cyborgs.   They looked to Ethan like the Prussians when they fought against Napoleon.  They touched the cyborgs with a portable vibrator of some sort and then bound them at the wrists.  When it was safe enough, deMartin noticed and later remarked, the ship’s cowardly Captain and First Officer, escorted by several men with weapons at the ready, came to speak to the human defenders.

Lars, meanwhile, had his eyes on the farmhouse, and when he saw Angelica and Kirsten emerge, unhurt, he was greatly relieved.

“I doubt they will be able to understand us.”  The First officer remarked as the foreigners approached the people on the edge of the little woods.

“Nonsense.”  The Captain responded.  “Certain things transcend language.  These people need to be commended for holding their own against impossible odds.  I only hope they aren’t too overawed by the battleship and our sudden appearance.”

“The Cybees didn’t overawe them.”  The First Officer pointed out, but the Captain was not really listening.  Lars and deMartin came to meet them.  Yohanson and Jill’s favorite Sergeant and his ever present two troopers followed.

The Captain immediately smiled and held out his hand.  “Very good show.”  The Captain said as Lars and the Colonel willingly shook that hand.

“Early gunpowder.”  The First Officer made a spot assessment.  “No later than twelfth century, I would guess.  That was something we had not considered in the cyborg design.  Good thing the Vordan did not figure that out.”

“These Cyborgs are yours?”  Lars spoke.

“Ah.  Well said.”  The Captain praised Lars and shook his hand again while he turned to his officer.  “The man speaks the Lord’s tongue.”

“Are these Cyborgs yours?”  Lars repeated the question

“The Cybees?  Yes, I am afraid they are.  Renegades though.”  The First Officer was kind enough to answer the question.

“I am Lars Hjorth.  This is Colonel Orlando deMartin.”

“A military man.”  The Captain spouted and shook deMartin’s hand again.  DeMartin’s translation chit was slowly catching up with the conversation.  Lars, with far more sophisticated chits understood the Captain and his officer from the beginning.  “But, of course, you would have to be.”

The First officer interrupted with the introductions.  “This is Captain Rawlings and I‘m Lieutenant Chin, Naval designation if that means anything to you.”

“Chin?”  DeMartin noted the man’s features.  “Nestorian?”  He asked, and then he wanted to take back the word.  The Man could be anything, being from a different Earth.  Lieutenant Chin shook his head.  He did not understand the reference.

“Well.”  The Captain interrupted that awkward exchange.  “Good thing we came along, eh?  No telling what you would have done if we hadn’t.”

“Called in back-up,” Lars admitted.  “Though I would have felt bad about having to do it.  Keeping this world free of other world pests is my job.  Well, our job.”  Lars looked around at his militia unit.  He felt very proud of the men who fought at his side.  “To be blunt, we were in the process of throwing these Cyborgs out when you came.  I hope your intention is to collect them and leave.”

“Rather cheeky, eh, Chin?”

The Lieutenant nodded.  “That is our intention, and I, for one, apologize for their being here in the first place even if it could not have been helped.”

Lars accepted that.  “You are welcome to visit if you come quietly and without a show of advanced technology.  You can even settle if you wish to live a so-called primitive life.  This world is not yet overcrowded.”  Lars looked at Chin and glanced at the Captain.  “But you cannot bluster in here with airborne battleships.  This world needs a chance to rise or fall on its own merits, and I will not permit any outside interference on that score.”

“Permit?”  The Captain started, but waited when Chin touched his arm.

“You are the Gyan Guardian for this world, aren’t you?” he asked.

“Gaian.”  Lars corrected the man’s pronunciation.  “And yes, newly appointed.”

“That’s three for three.”  The Lieutenant told his Captain who suddenly appeared to take things a bit more seriously.

DeMartin took that moment to try his grasp of the language.  “I was just passing through myself when I thought my friend Lars could use a little help.”

The Captain rubbed his jaw.  “A fellow traveler,” he said.  “There’s a first, but I would not think your people would be sophisticated enough to travel in these parallel dimensions.”

“The worlds,” Lars interjected.

De Martin shook his head.  “Just a passenger, I’m afraid.”  He let his voice rise.  “And one who I hope is not in too much trouble with a certain gracious lady.”

“He’s not,” Jill said and looked up at Ethan.

“Tell me about these Gaian.”  The Lieutenant asked, taking the trouble to pronounce it correctly.

“Yes, what is a Gyan?”  The Captain asked as well.

“Gya was the ancient Goddess of the Earth,” Chin said.

“Mother Earth,” Lars added.

DeMartin shook his head, gravely.  “A wise and mysterious people as far beyond your understanding as you are from us,” he explained.  “They have taken one native from every world and made them guardians to be sure that every world has a chance to pursue its own destiny.  They are a heavenly people, quick to love but fierce to their enemies.”

“There is undoubtedly a guardian on your world, only you don’t even know it,” Lars suggested, and the Captain and Lieutenant Chin both paused in surprise.  They had not considered that possibility.

“And how long have you been traveling in the Worlds?”  DeMartin asked.  Their ignorance about the Gaian had raised his suspicions.

“This is our third world since decoding the Vordan registers.  You see, it is not even our technology.  It is alien, but the cyborgs stole it during the war, and when the war was over, they used it to escape and avoid being dismantled.”

“Why must it always be war?”  Lars asked, grumpily.

“We fought the Vordan to a standstill.”  The Captain’s pride was evident.  “Thanks in large part to the development of the cyborg regiments, but when the war concluded and the peace was signed, some refused to be returned to normal life.  The cyborgs, some anyway, actually considered their monstrosities to be an improvement and refused to give them up.”

“They escaped with the stolen Vordan equipment,” Lieutenant Chin interrupted.  “But their milti-destination codes were captured in the system.  It took us a long time to figure out what happened, but now we are trying to clean up our mess.”

“And we imagined the Vordan were the most brilliant creatures in the galaxy.”  The Captain laughed.  “I can’t imagine these Gaian you speak of.”

“Time to go,” Jill spoke to Ethan.  She tweaked the projector so their images would be dressed in heavenly white, as she called it, even as she said, “Bless deMartin.  I think if we put a little of the fear of God into these people right at the beginning of their journey through the worlds, it may save us considerable trouble somewhere down the road.”

“Don’t laugh.”  Ethan threatened Ali Pasha, Manomar and Peter Alexander.

“Don’t stick your foot in your mouth,” Jill said.  “I’ll be giving our projection some substance and your foot won’t taste very good.”  It was something like an out of body experience.  There was a flash of light and two figures appeared as if out of nowhere.

“Captain Rawlings.  Lieutenant Chin.  How good to meet you,” Jill said ever so sweetly.  “May I present my husband, Ethan.  I am Jillian of the Gaian.”

Even the gregarious Captain did not offer his hand for a shake.  He was too busy staring, as was the Lieutenant, and in fact people all over the field stopped and stared at this vision of purity, almost holiness.  Lars, deMartin and some of deMartin’s men knew better, but they kept quiet.  Angelica, who was just coming close, knew better as well, or thought she did.  Kirsten cried out and came running.

“Oh Jill, he’s gone.  Jill, he’s gone.”  She flew into Jill’s arms and Jill hugged and hushed the girl quietly.  Ethan picked up the slack.

“Colonel deMartin.  It is time for you to take yourself and your men back into the doghouse.”  Ethan tried to look stern.  DeMartin tried equally hard to be humble without laughing.

“Gracious Lord,” he said, affecting a terrific and most chivalrous bow.  “Most kind and gentle Lady.”  He did the same for Jill while Ethan, who was actually still back in the ship, touched the main and a white light shimmering door opened close by.  DeMartin made a show of turning to his troop that had already gathered up the dead and wounded and he marched proudly through that door of utter whiteness to disappear from the world.  When the last one entered, the door vanished.

“Lieutenant.”  Ethan spoke in the meantime.  “Please tell your Captain to close his mouth.  I am afraid he may start attracting flies.”

Jill had just finished reassuring Kirsten that everything would be all right, and just finished returning her to her mother’s hands, when Ethan spoke, and she wanted nothing more than to stomp on Ethan’s foot with all her weight.  Instead, though, she said a last word to Kirsten.  “Your father needs you, too.”  She shooed her off.

“Lars.”  Ethan called him over after the man had a chance to hug his daughter.  He shook Lars’ hand.  “I guess I have to speak for everyone when I say Godspeed.”

“I was thinking I might try to convince the powers that be to make peace with the Anglish before it is too late, that is if my wife will go with me.”

“I think that would be a wonderful idea,” Jill said, and she stepped in to give the man a hug.  “You did well.”

“Er, I think next time I will study the enemy a little more carefully and move a little more cautiously.”

“Wise.  But we will never be far away,” Jill said, and she held out her arms for Angelica who thought for a minute before she accepted the hug.

“Peace is better than war,” she said.  “And I was Anglish once myself.”

With that done, Jill turned to the Captain and his first officer.  “Now gentlemen, we know of the Vordan technological prototype by which you travel.  It is not our way to condone stealing, but since you have let your ill begotten creatures out into the worlds, we will not interfere, provided you collect them and remove them from their many earths.  Yes, we know the worlds to which they have gone, so we will be watching.  After your work is finished, you will not bring a warship into a world whose technology does not equal or better your own.  Am I clear?”

“Godspeed to you too.”  Ethan said, and the projections of Jill and Ethan began to rise from the ground, shrink and glow more brightly until they touched the nickel spot of their ship, and in one final flash of light, their nickel-sized ship vanished from that world altogether.

************************

Monday–only 1 post next week–Monday

Guardian Angel-16 Dealing with the Details:  One quick trip the cyborg world, and only 1 post for the week… Happy Reading…

Guardian Angel-13 Gaian and Guardians, part 2 of 3

Jill was exceptionally quiet during lunch.  She had a lot of information to process through her chits.  Upon entering Lela’s ship, Ethan’s chits also caught up with all of the most up-to-date information of the Gaian people, or at least what Lela had processed since her last contact with home.  That current history triggered the whole recent history of the Gaian people in general which went running through Ethan’s mind at a rapid pace.  Jill, however, had swallowed Lela’s back-up work chit, so besides getting up dates from home, she had to process through all of the worlds Lela had been to, all of the Guardians she had established, and all of the work that was left undone.  Fortunately, the others were occupied, being very animated about their adventures, though poor Captain deMarcos was hardly able to follow most of it.  Inevitably, the question came.

“Who are these Nelkorians?”

“A people the Gaian destroyed long ago.”  Ethan answered for Jill.  He took her hand and let her rest her head on his shoulder.  “Only they missed a few.”  He considered that revelation.  The Elders was the name he now knew belonged to his Neanderthal and, to his surprise, some other proto-human people; but apparently those Elders missed a few Nelkorians as well.  Ethan understood that in general, the Elders, like Jill’s people, felt that the people in the worlds should rise or fall on their own merits and thus they stood firmly against the importation of technology for which the local world might not be ready.  Curiously, they were less inclined to stand against one world invading another, but in the case of the Nelkorians, they agreed that the risk of destruction to the worlds was too great.  But the Elders missed a few as well, and that told Ethan that even they were not infallible.

“Gaian?”  Alexander was asking.

“Lord?”  Manomar nudged Ethan.  Somewhere along the line, Manomar decided that Lord and Lady were appropriate titles of respect for Ethan and Jill.  To the others, they were still plain Jill and Ethan, but the others did not object to Manomar’s designation.  “Lord?”

Ethan shook himself free of his own thoughts and looked up.

Alexander tried again.  “Gaian people?”

Ethan nodded slightly and looked at Jill before he spoke.  She had her eyes closed, but she was not sleeping.  “Like everyone, they simply call themselves human beings and their world earth, but in the worlds they are known as the Gaian people.”  He looked at Peter Alexander who probably got enough information from Lela to ask the question.  Ethan looked around at the rest of the strange collection of people and ended with a look at Manomar.  He noted that the others knew nothing about it at all.  “Her mother’s name was Gaia and her father was what you would call Emperor of the known worlds.  Jillian was born on the same day they discovered the alternate earths.”

“Known worlds?”  Ali Pasha wondered if he misunderstood the phrase.

“Not alternate Earths.”  Ethan pointed up toward the ceiling and Lars got it immediately.

“The Stars!”  Lars shouted.  “I always wanted to travel,” he said, confidentially to Manomar.  Ali Pasha looked distressed.  Up until then, he had continued to think of the stars as Allah’s windows to heaven whose light was allowed to shine into the darkness.  Ethan knew that Ali Pasha would have some processing of his own to do.  Thus far, Ethan thought he had done rather well, considering he had the furthest to go in restructuring his mind and the way he always understood the world to be.

“But Gaian?”  Colonel deMartin took up where Peter Alexander left off.

“Yes.”  Ethan said and pulled himself together to speak.  “When the explorers first went into the worlds, they called themselves Gaian, the explorers of Gaia in honor of their queen.”

“I’m glad they did not call themselves Jillians,” Jill mumbled.

“In honor of her birth,” Ethan told the others, and then he answered the unspoken question.  “The Gaian discovered the Nelkorians about three hundred years ago.  The Nelkorians were preparing to spread across the worlds, and Jill’s people understood that they had to be stopped.  The Emperor gathered the fleets from the frontiers.  The ship.”  Ethan pointed to the picture of the door on the wall.  “It is a class three fighter-destroyer, much bigger than the little control room we saw.  The Gaian tracked the Nelkorians across the worlds, and concluded the war after about a hundred years, though some say there are still searchers in the far-away places.”

“They missed a few,” Alexander said.

Ethan nodded.  “I guess those far-away searchers suspected as much.”

Jill sat up and looked at the Cherokee and the colonel.  She spoke sharply, but her eyes were not exactly in focus, like a person speaking out of a trance.  “Beware of any children born without faces.  You must watch carefully over the next year, and destroy any you find.  Do not be tempted to believe they can be turned to good, no matter what they say.  Such power inevitably corrupts absolutely.  They must be utterly destroyed.”  She closed her eyes again and leaned back into Ethan’s shoulder while Alexander and deMartin passed a look.  They had not considered that there might be others, and in fact they both pictured that there might be one or more presently in the Old World even as they spoke.

“So, Gaian is a name in honor of Jill’s mother.”  Lars brought them back to the subject.

Ethan confirmed that, and then fell again into his own thoughts while the others began to speculate on what other challenges might be out there in the Worlds.

Ethan considered that at the conclusion of the war, Gaia, the one who led the charge against the Nelkorians got killed, and Jill’s father virtually shut down the explorations of the Worlds as a result.  “It is too dangerous,” the man said.  “And it is not our place to dictate who can and cannot live.”  He was the one who originally instituted the complete hands off policy, and then he promptly died of a broken heart, or so they said.  Nothing else was ever proved, despite the conspiracy theorists.

Jill’s first husband took over, but then Jillian and Archon divorced over the issue of the worlds; but no, that was not strictly true.  In the scan of a thousand years of history, and as near as Ethan could figure things out, Jill and her husband separated when their son turned twenty-one.  That meant they were really only married for twenty-two strained years.  It also meant they had been separated for some eight centuries before being formally divorced.  The worlds issue had just been the excuse to finally end things.

Ethan reached down to softly brush Jill’s lovely black hair, to keep it out of her eyes.  She shifted a little to acknowledge his gentle, loving touch, but her eyes remained closed.

Meanwhile, Ethan’s mind kept him on track.  Her first husband continued her father’s policy of hands off, isolationism, but Jill took after her mother.  She knew there were some people finding their way into the worlds, like the Nelkorians, and they had to be stopped, because if they did nothing, one day it would come back to haunt the Gaian.

The guardian program was conceived.  The guardians could do a lot on their own, and stop most threats, but they also served as watchers for the Gaian who could not be everywhere.  The Gaian rebels, and that was what they were considered being involved in an essentially outlawed activity, managed to get their hands on a large number of warships that were brought in for the war.  There were many in the military that understood the seriousness of external threats and secretly agreed with Jill.  With those ships fitted with the transitional technology developed for the war, Jill and her rebel followers were able to begin establishing guardians across the worlds.  Suddenly, Ethan felt Jill’s uneasiness in a new way.  She looked up at him.  They were truly becoming a couple, becoming unbelievably close and growing to read each other well, and their chits went a long way to bring them into sync with each other.

Avalon 2.9 Healings

            Obstacles and enemies overcome, and it looks like the travelers may have an open route to the young couples trapped on the riverbank.  Getting them out of there safely is a whole other proposition, especially when there are wounded who do not look at all well.

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            Everyone looked up when they heard the loud cracks in the distance.  “What is that?”  Vinnu asked.  She was easily spooked and said she felt claustrophobic being trapped between the Jaccar warriors and the Danube.

            Flern stood slowly and walked toward the sounds.  “The cavalry,” she said, and then thought to offer a better explanation.  “Friends of mine, and maybe help to get out of this mess.”  Vilder and Pinn stepped up to flank Flern and they waited, but not for long.

            “Flern?”  The call came from a man on horseback.  Flern waved as the man stopped and dismounted.

            “Lockhart.  Good to see you.  You don’t want to be here.”

            “Lady!”  Roland interrupted and came up quickly.  He dismounted before his horse completely stopped and untied Boston’s stretcher from the back.  He floated it gently towards the waiting trio.  “Lady.  It’s Boston.  She’s been shot.”  Boston was presently delirious with fever.

            “Let me see.”  Flern stepped up as Roland butted in front of Lockhart and stepped down on the small beach. 

            “Elder Stow got the arrow out of her middle, but she appears to be getting worse, not better.  Is it an infection?  Is Alexis near?”

            “Bring her,” Flern said, but as she turned, Kined spoke up.

            “Flern!”  He called to her and lifted a hand to reach for her.

            “He has a bad fever,” Riah reported.

            “Make a place,” Flern said, and Vilder and Pinn helped so Flern could set Boston beside Kined.  “My husband took an arrow in the leg.  Doctor Mishka treated the wound so it can’t be an infection.  I don’t know what to do.”  Flern looked up at Thrud and Kiren, Gunder and Vinnu, but they were keeping back, wary of these strangers.

            “Slow poison?”  Pinn suggested.  “That is all we could think of.”  She looked up at Vilder who nodded. 

            “What is the situation?”  Katie asked as she, Lincoln and Lockhart came up.  Captain Decker was already in among the trees that grew along the riverbank, trying to see some evidence of the enemy.  There were campfires, but well behind a rise in the grasslands.

            While Roland and Riah passed some unspoken elfish words, eye to eye, Flern squeezed Kined’s hand and stood.  “Katie.  We got bronze.”  She pointed to the idle wagons out in the field. 

            “What?  No.”  Katie, the group expert in ancient cultures and technologies was impressed.  This was a big step in the development of civilization.

            Flern just nodded and fought the tears in her eyes.  “We got it to arm our people against the Jaccar.  Our village is captive to the Wicca.”  She broke down and fell on Kined.  “We have only been married a month.  I don’t want to lose him.”

            Lockhart looked at Elder Stow who was the last to vacate the edge of the grasses for the beach.  He just shook his head, sadly, to say there was nothing he could do against slow poison.

            “Alexis could pull it out the way she and Anenki’s daughter did back in that time zone,” Lincoln said.  “Maybe one of the gods?”  He looked at Flern but she sadly shook her head.

            “The gods are not permitted to interfere or Mother Vrya or Artemis would have done so.  And as for me, this is not exactly time threatening.  These are human problems and must be solved in a human way.”  Flern sniffed.  “Or not.”

            Goldenwing chose that moment to rush up.  He fluttered briefly out over the river and returned  “My lady,” he said.  “Beware.”  The water began to roll, and close to shore.  “Black sea snake.”  And the snake rose out of the water some fifteen feet in the air to hover over those on the riverbank.  It began to weave and spread its cobra-like head in preparation for feeding.  The mouth was easily big enough to swallow a person whole.

            Thrud, Vinnu and Lincoln all screamed, and Lincoln added, “I hate snakes.”  But then the snake struck.  It dropped straight toward Vinnu and big Gunder was barely able to pull her out of the way in time for the snake to eat dirt.  The snake tried to move laterally with the young woman, but there were several, sudden loud cracks, and the snakes eye poured out blood.  It squirmed more rapidly than its strike, and even as Lockhart unloaded his shotgun which turned the snake’s neck to mush, the head caught him in the shoulder, bowled him over and scratched his forearm.

            As the snake sank back into the water to die, Katie knelt down.  “Robert.  Are you all right?” 

            “Just a scratch.”  He tried to shrug it off.

            “Oh,” Riah spoke up before Roland could.  “But they are deadly poisonous.”

            Elder Stow shook his head.  “You would think being so big and all they would not need poison.”

            “Wait,” Lincoln and Pinn both spoke at the same time and pointed.  Something green and pussy formed in the cut on Lockhart’s arm.  It dripped to the ground, and then the cut began to close.

            “How is that possible?”  Vilder asked and looked at Pinn.

            “Yes!”  Flern saw and jumped up even as Lockhart explained.

            “I must still have plenty of functioning Gaian healing chits.”

            “And what are Gaian healing chits?”

            Flern took over the explanation as she examined Lockhart’s vanishing wound and his hands.  “The Gaian are humans from a parallel universe and more advanced technologically than you, Elder.  Far more advanced.  The chits are organic and microscopic and were given to Lockhart to heal his crippled back and legs.”

            “They liberated me from my wheelchair,” Lockhart confessed.

            “Lockhart.”  Flern got his attention as she made him get up and follow her to Boston.  Roland looked up at them with tears in the corners of his eyes.

            “She is passing into a coma,” he said. 

            “Do you love Boston?”  Flern asked.    

            “Yes,” Roland said, but Flern was talking to Lockhart.

            “You know I do.”

            “I don’t know if yours can be reprogrammed.  You don’t really have the seeds to grow more when yours are gone, but here is what you must do.  Think about how much you care about Boston and want to see her well.  You want the poison and infection out of her and her wound healed.  You must think that very hard and think that some of your chits go to your pinky finger.  I am going to try a transfer.”

            “Will that work?”  Lincoln was the one who asked what everyone wondered.

            Flern became flustered.  “I don’t know.  I just don’t know what else to do.”

            “I’m thinking,” Lockhart said and held out his hand. 

            “Unwrap her,” Flern told Roland and she pulled out her long knife.  Boston’s wound had festered under the bandage.  It was yellowed and wrinkled like it was too long in the tub.  Flern cut it and set it to bleeding again.  Most chose not to watch.  Then she brought Lockhart’s hand close and told him to keep thinking about healing Boston.  She gave his pinky finger a poke and a few drops of blood dripped into Boston’s wound.

            “Clean bandage.  Cover her back up,” Flern said, before she turned back to Kined and began to cry.  He was delirious, not yet at the coma stage.  She imagined it took longer for the poison to travel up from his leg.

            Lockhart leaned over to comfort her.  “I have another pinky, you know.”

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Avalon 2.9  In the Night, Dark and Light … Next Time

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