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.


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.”


“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.”

Avalon 6.0 Monkey Brain Fever, part 1 of 6

After 939 BC, La Venta Island. Kairos lifetime 72: Ozmatlan (Ozma)

Boston and Sukki appeared in the village, having gone first through the time gate.  The little people that lived in the village called for their friends and neighbors. Some applauded for the visitors. Some cheered.

Lincoln and Alexis followed, and little children ran up with flowers for Alexis.

Katie and Lockhart came next through the time gate, and the little people began to dance in their joy.

By the time Major Decker and Elder Stow came through, the others were getting down to follow Boston and Sukki.  Boston and Sukki walked across what appeared to be a village square.  They went surrounded by cheering, happy little people, who led them to a platform where the village elders looked ready to welcome them all.

Decker cradled his rifle for the moment and Elder Stow put his things away before they followed.  Lockhart whispered a comment to Katie.

“If they start singing about lollypop kids, I’m leaving as fast as I can.”

Katie grinned.  It did sort of look that way.

Boston recognized most of the dwarfs, gnomes, and elves among the little people, though they dressed strangely and looked more tanned than she was accustomed to seeing.  She also felt unaccustomed to seeing them living together, side by side.  “This is the new world,” she mumbled, and looked at Sukki.  Poor Sukki looked distressed, not the least from having so much attention focused on her. Boston took the girl’s hand both to offer comfort and keep Sukki quiet.

“Welcome travelers from Avalon.”  One exceptionally small little person on the platform stepped in front of the others.  “Welcome friends of the Kairos.  We have waited for you through these long five years.  Welcome.”

“Five years?” Sukki softly wondered.

“How do you know we are the ones you are waiting for?” Boston asked, nice and loud.

The small one spoke.  “Well, you are the elf with the flaming red hair.  A very unusual color, you know.”

A tall man stepped up.  “And Quetzalcoatl the giant stands with his wife, the blonde elect, the one-in-a-million warrior woman.”  Katie touched Lockhart’s arm and they shared a smile.

One that looked to be all beard spoke next, sounding surprisingly like a woman.  “And the man who carries the future in a box stands with his dark haired former elf wife.” Alexis took Lincoln’s arm, but Lincoln looked surprised.  He carried the database that held all of the vital historical information they depended on, but he wondered how these people knew that.

Then the bearded one beside the bearded woman, who might have been her twin, except he sounded male, spoke.  “And you travel with two elders of the earth, one female and one male.” Sukki smiled, and Elder Stow raised his hand to identify himself, though he wore a glamour intended to make him appear human.

Finally, a brown-haired woman who might have passed for human, but for the bulbous nose, pointed at Major Decker.  “And the great warrior with skin as dark as a Shemsu watches over you all, and never lets go of his weapon.”

“Not to mention the horses were a bit of a giveaway,” the tall one added.

“Besides,” Lockhart smiled as he spoke to Katie and to all.  “How many people have come through the time gate to appear in the middle of this village, like out of nowhere.”

“Um…” the small man hedged.

“What?” Lincoln caught it, and he looked like he did not want to hear the answer.

“The witch came through…” the small man admitted, and thought.

“A real wicked witch.”

“Bad news all around.”

“And the Necromancer…” the small man continued.  He appeared to be counting on his fingers.

“He says there are plenty of dead people around, what with the fever and all.”

“But they rise-up still infected, so that is no good.”

“Then we had three men, outlaws, I believe,” the small man rubbed his chin, though he had no beard.  “They rode horses like yours and had six-shooters, but claimed to be saving their bullets, whatever bullets might be…”

“They came through about a month ago and said they are looking for a place where they can make gunpowder and take over.”

“Some place worth taking over, they said.”

The bearded lady spoke up.  “Don’t forget the wraith.”

“They said people,” the small man insisted.

“The wraith counts,” one of the elders said.

“But they didn’t ask about the creatures,” the tall man said.

“Can we eat now?” the bearded man asked, totally changing the subject.

“Yeah,” the woman with the big nose interjected.  “We are supposed to feast the travelers.”

“Yeah,” the little people liked the idea of eating, and they all cheered.

Someone started the bonfire which had already been set up in the middle of the town square.  It waited there for five years, as far as the travelers could tell.  In mere moments, corn and deer began to roast, while several little people started frying cornmeal bread.  Alexis, Sukki, and Boston got out some elf bread crackers.  They heated some water, and the crackers became hot, steaming loaves of the best fresh baked bread, which they promptly shared.

Lockhart, Decker, Katie and Elder Stow set up the tents where they were shown.  They took some time with the horses, but found some of the little people knew horses well and volunteered to watch them and care for them.

Lincoln went to ask about the creatures that came through the time gate, if he could get a straight answer.  He reminded Lockhart that the Kairos said if they could follow the travelers through the time gates, they had to treat them as a potential threat. Lockhart did not argue with that idea.

Alexis turned to acknowledge two dwarf wives as Sukki finally spoke her thoughts.  “These people all belong to the Kairos,” Sukki decided, but it came out like a question.

“Ozmatlan,” Boston nodded.  “She is their goddess as she is mine.  I can’t wait to meet her.”

“I think it is just Ozma,” Alexis said, over her shoulder.  To answer Boston’s curious look, she added, “Think Wizard of Oz.”

“But that makes us…” Boston thought for a minute.  “Hey!  We’re not munchkins.”

“What are munchkins?” Sukki asked.

Alexis shrugged, but smiled, as Elder Stow interrupted them.  He came over with his glamour removed, so he looked like the Neanderthal he was, or as they call themselves in their own language, Gott-Druk.

“You might as well remove your glamour,” he said to Sukki.  “No point in going disguised when they see right through you.”

Sukki looked at him and said, “Yes, father.  I forget that I have it on.”

Elder Stow came into the past from a distant future where the Gott-Druk had long since mastered space flight and all sorts of technological wonders. Elder Stow and the travelers were all making their way slowly back toward the future.  Sukki came from the deep past, and her thoughts and knowledge remained primitive.  She slept in suspension for more than eight-thousand-years on an Agdaline slower-than-light ship before she made it back to earth.  Elder Stow kindly adopted her as a daughter, and he started teaching her about modern Gott-Druk things.  They were all teaching her things about life in the twenty-first century.  She came across as a sweet but shy girl, especially in front of the humans, who she still thought of as stealing the Earth from her people.  But she seemed to be slowly adjusting.

Sukki removed her glamour, and Boston raised her eyebrows before she smiled.  With the glamour on, Sukki looked like a big girl.  Without it, the squat, muscular shape, brow ridges and sloped forehead of the Gott-Druk gave her quite a different appearance.

“Why do you always raise your brows?” Sukki asked Boston.  She sounded a little put off.

“It is always a surprise.  You look so different,” Boston admitted.  “Besides, you do the same thing.”

“I do not,” Sukki insisted, and Boston removed her own glamour to show her skinny elf figure, pointed ears and all.  Sukki’s eyebrows went up.  Sukki paused to touch her own forehead.  “Yes, I do,” she confessed, and they both laughed.

Avalon 5.8 Making a New Nest, part 4 of 6

“What guarantee do we have that we will not be wiped out the minute we return to space?” the commander of the Anazi force on Earth asked.

“None,” Nameless answered.  “The gods do not make promises.  But I have programmed the location of a pleasant world—a world flowing with milk and honey, as the expression goes.  The journey will not be easy, but if by the grace of the Most-High you arrive, you may begin again.  Perhaps now, having learned something about freedom, you may make a better start.”

The Anazi commander looked at Lockhart, Katie, Artie and Sekhmet, the family group that the young god insisted be witnesses to their departure.  Artie thought to speak, as Nameless knew she would.

“All life is precious.  In this broken universe, there may be times to defend yourselves and protect the innocent, but no life should ever be taken lightly.  Every person deserves a chance to see what good person they may become, how they may make a positive impact on this sad universe.  And yes, I will speak these same thoughts to the dominants and submissives you leave behind.”

The Anazi commander said nothing.  He turned and went into his ship.  People waited the better part of an hour to watch as sixteen massive ships left the earth and headed out into the unknown.  Lockhart followed the trail into the clouds, while Sekhmet and Katie comforted Artie.  Artie cried, because the revolution happened, but not in the way Artie intended.  Her people destroyed the Anazi home world, and in the end, killed Anazi wherever they found them.  Now, her people were diminished, in numbers and in life.  They had replaced Anazi cruelty and tyranny with a cruelty and tyranny of their own, becoming as bad as the ones from whom they broke free.

“It is a pattern repeated in the human race, over and over,” Katie said.

“The liberators in the end become the new oppressors,” Lockhart understood.

Katie nodded.  “With few exceptions, the slaves become the new masters.  Your people merely followed the pattern of life.”

“How very human of them,” Lockhart added, and Artie nodded and cried some more.


Boston sat and moped.  Kara of the Valkyrie found her an elf maid named Salaquia, and a fairy friend, named Acacia.  They were both very nice, but Boston was not in the mood for company.  She sat on a log in front of the fire and magically made the fire big and small; big and small.

“I cannot do any such magic,” Salaquia said.  “I believe you must be related to the queen of the house of Mirroway.”

“That would be Alexis’ mother,” Boston grumbled, “And my missing husband’s mother.”  She made the fire big and small, and then added another log.

“Of course, I don’t know exactly where Mirroway is, but I cannot do such magic.”

“In Elfholm.  In Avalon,” Boston grumped, and both faces of the little one’s lit up.

“I would love to go there someday,” Salaquia said, earnestly.

“Could you take us there?” Acacia asked.

Boston did not answer as she watched Alexis and Lincoln walk toward them, with another person, a woman, about forty and motherish round.  It took Boston a minute to recognize Nephthys, the goddess in whose house Boston and Roland had been married.  Boston began to weep on recognizing the woman.  Nephthys merely opened her arms and hugged the girl.  Acacia flew up to Boston’s shoulder, where she sat and joined the cry.  Salaquia, empathetic elf that she was, cried alone until Mother Nephthys opened her arm and included her in her hug.  Nephthys whispered in Boston’s ear.

“There, there.  You don’t want to upset your friends.  Robert and Katherine deserve a happy day.  It will all work out, you’ll see.”

Alexis could not help it, presently being elf empathetic herself.  Pictures of her brother and father came unbidden to her mind, and she also began to weep.  Lincoln held her, and loved her.  That helped some.

Nameless, his arm around Eir, and followed by Hildr and Kara walked up, and Nameless had to speak.  “No joy like a wedding day.”

Eir hit him gently in the chest.  “I am looking forward to a good cry myself, but I am saving it for the actual ceremony.”

Boston pulled back from the hug and wiped her eyes.  She almost laughed a little.  That is because it is impossible to cry for long when you are being held and comforted by a goddess, and Boston’s change helped pull everyone together.  Alexis blew her nose.

“We have work to do,” Kara spoke.

“Yes,” Nameless said.  “I need to borrow Lincoln, if Alexis can part with him.  We have a bachelor party to plan.”

“That’s right,” Eir said.  “We need to give Katie a bridal shower.”

“Oh, yes,” Nephthys agreed.  “I learned long ago how important these wedding rituals are.”

That memory almost got Boston crying again, but she sniffed and held it back.  “I’m ready,” she said, and tried to smile again.

Acacia flitted to Salequia’s shoulder and commented.  “This is exciting,” she said, as in the way of fairies, she switched from one emotion to another in a breath of time.  Salequia, still wiping her eyes, nodded and also tried to smile.


Decker chewed on the jerky the dwarf woman made.  He noticed, they were improving their jerky as time went on.  He figured by the time he got back to the twenty-first century, the dwarfs would just about have it perfected.

Elder Stow sat on the other side of the Gott-Druk female, Sukki, who only wanted to sit and cry.  Decker wondered what it was about female anatomy that lent itself to tears, but Elder Stow did not seem to have a problem with it.

“They are gone.  I am sorry.  The entire expedition has been wiped out,” Elder Stow said, harsh as it sounded.  Gott-Druk did not naturally coddle the truth.  “But you have survived.  The only question is what will you do?”

“I don’t know what to do,” Sukki wailed.  “Burrgh was the only light we had, and now he is gone, all is gone.”

“Hush, no.  That is not true.  All is just beginning.  You are young.  You still have a whole life ahead of you to accomplish great and wonderful things.”

“But our world is lost to us,” Sukki complained.  “We have no home, and I do not see how we will ever overcome these humans to regain our land.”

“But we don’t have to,” Elder Stow tried to explain.  “We have made the new world our home, and it is a good home, in my day, better than we could have ever dreamed of having.  You should come and see it.”

“But what if we are forced to move out again?  Burrgh said what has been done to us once can be done again.”

Elder Stow raised an eyebrow.  “That is true, but there are no others on the new world to compete or to give the world to.  We are the only ones there, and we make it what we will, and no one will bother us.”

“And what about these humans?  How long before they begin to move into space and claim space for themselves?”

Elder Stow nodded.  “Thousands of years to come.  But even then, there will always be a wide gap, a chasm between what we know and what the humans have not yet imagined.  After you and Burrgh left, we began to learn what made the ships fly.  We have not stopped learning.”

“But humans.  You travel with them.  You have been tainted.”

“I have learned,” Elder Stow said.  “These humans have their own ways, but mostly we are more alike than you may imagine.  We are all people, Gott-Druk, human, even the Anazi who came here, and their androids as well.  We are all people, and these people are good people.  I have learned that there is no reason humans and Gott-Druk cannot live and work together, side by side.  That was how it was done before the waters came, back when we all shared this world.  Burrgh may not have been entirely honest about that.  Back in the before time, we all shared this world.”

Sukki frowned, but did not know how to answer that, directly.  Instead, she pointed her thumb at Decker.  “But how can you be near this one?  He smells like too much winter meat.”

Elder Stow nodded and laughed.  “You know, I had not put that together.”

Sukki laughed a little.  It sounded human enough.

Nameless came to collect Decker for the bachelor party, and Elder Stow, if he wished to join them.  Eir came to let Sukki know she was welcome to join the women, if she wished.

Elder Stow shook his head.  “Not right now.  We still have much to discuss.”  He looked at Sukki and she agreed with her nod. “We may each be along later, if you don’t mind, but for my part, I am not much good at such an event seeing as I have sworn off alcohol forever… unless there is some fermented goats milk.  I had some in the last time zone and did not realize what it was until later, but it did not seem to bother me.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Nameless said.  “Decker.”

“You know, you may find the human mating ritual quite interesting,” Elder Stow said.

Sukki turned up her nose before she understood.  “You mean the joining ceremony, not the actual mating.”

Decker took that as his cue to get up.  “Good to meet you,” he said, and walked with the Nameless god and Eir.  “At least your people know how to make some good brew.”

Nameless nodded, but he started thinking of something else.  “So, do we have to change your name to Winter Meat?”  Eir hit him gently again in his chest.

Guardian Angel-14 Distress Call, part 3 of 3

When the one by the Main finished tapping, the screens around the building went down.  Ethan went immediately to hit the recall button, but the man by the Main stopped him.

“Your recall has already been sent.”  The man spoke as he lowered his hood.  He was an Elder, but not a Neanderthal.  The nearest Ethan could come up with was Cro-Magnon or early Homo Sapien of some kind.  Jill put her arm around Ethan as they waited for the man to speak again.  He put his hand near Ethan’s face for a minute as if gauging something before he spoke.

“You have made him as a Gaian,” he said.  “I would not have thought the daughter of the former Emperor would have been taken by such, but thus we have seen.  We are watching you.”

“He is my husband,” Jill said.

The man smiled.  He had very sharp teeth.  “But not until you share your personhood, is it not so?”

“Yes,” Jill said and looked away.

“And you have broken many rules here,” the man continued and Ethan felt the need to interrupt.

“These people could hardly reach their potential if they were wiped out.”

“Yes, but perhaps in this world these artificial persons were destined for greatness.”  The man shrugged.  “We will never know.  But I will not quibble over flesh and blood, only remember, we are watching.”  He turned slightly and spoke to Ethan.  “Child, we were traveling the space ways when the Gaian were still playing with sticks and stones, five thousand years before their vaunted steam engines.  Never forget that we are watching.”  The man pressed another button on his watch and he and the Neanderthal by the door vanished, and everyone, including Ali Pasha, appeared in the control room.  DeMarcos and his men appeared in their rooms down below where Doctor Augustus was waiting to treat the wounded.  Kera Ann, Devon and William appeared in their lounge, and Ethan found that they were not only moved back outside of the building, but his view screen showed a night gathering of humans in a town some twenty miles from where they had been.

Ethan looked at Jill.  It was not exactly concern or fear in her eyes, but it was something near enough.  He wrapped his arms around her as if to say it would be all right, and from her response, he guessed it was the right thing to do.

“What is this?”  Ali Pasha looked at the spot on the floor.

“You.”  Ethan said over his shoulder


When they were ready, Ethan let the doorway grow slowly near the bonfire where a large number of people were gathered, and he turned up the brightness to be sure people saw.  Some ran off, others waited quietly or stared in amazement, some pulled out guns but made no other hostile moves.  Fortunately, no one panicked.  Ethan projected Kera Ann, Devon and William just outside the door, and himself and Jill a step back.  Jill tweaked the projection so she and Ethan were a little fuzzy and glowed a little like the door.

“Billy, put down that stupid weapon.  We’re coming out in a minute and I don’t plan to be shot,” Devon shouted.

“We did it!”  William shouted even louder and threw his hands up in joy.  “Type ones are restored and the relay station is no more.”  Ethan had checked and the building was completely gone.  It took a few minutes for that word to spread before the cheers started, followed by music and dancing.  Billy came up to throw his arms around Devon, but passed through the projected image.

“Back up, ding-dong.  I said we will be out in a minute.  And make sure we don’t get shot.”  Devon was being extra careful.

Inside, Jill and Kera Ann hugged.  They had cried together, so it was only natural to hug as well.  “We will be here if something legitimate comes up.”

“I know.  I’m sorry.  I hope you don’t get into too much trouble with the princess.”

“Silly.”  Jill had to smile.  “I am the princess.”

“Can’t I have just one, only to protect Kera Ann, I swear.”  Devon was trying for one of the microwave rifles or handguns.  Ethan had to shake his head.

“Not a chance,” Ethan said.  “Besides, she has her own defenses against such weapons.  She will be just fine, and so will you.”  He shook Devon’s hand and William butted in with his own handshake and word of thanks.  In some ways, William was like a kid, like so many computer geeks that Ethan knew back home.

Ethan paused as he had a sudden, strange thought.  He had been changed with all that had happened thus far; irrevocably changed.  In a real sense, this earth was his home as much as his earth.  All the worlds were the earth, his earth, no more and no less regardless of the differences.  Even the world of the Elders, wherever that might be, was no more than another earth.  In that sense, they were all his home, and they were all his people; and all at once, Ethan no longer felt afraid or worried about the Nelkorians, the proverbial Chernobyl, or any others who had turned to hopeless wickedness.  Suddenly, he felt sorry for such people.  It was a major revelation, and maybe the one revelation that the Gaian hoped the guardians would have.  That would certainly explain why they took guardians in training out into the worlds.

“Keep in mind.”  Ethan spoke at last to Devon and William before he let them go, while Jill commiserated with Kera Ann.  “You still have work to do, yes, but maybe on this world the AIs would have achieved greatness in time.  Maybe it was what your world was meant to become.  We will never know, and we broke a lot of rules stepping in like this.  Now, the world will become what you make it.  Never forget that.”

Jill smiled at Ethan’s little speech, though Ethan felt foolish after saying it.  Clearly, it impacted their three visitors and gave them much to think about as they exited the ship.  Lars, Ali Pasha, Alexander and Manomar also paused to think.  Ethan felt a little embarrassed.  He was a man of words, but it was spin; it was not supposed to be profound.


Later that night, Ethan and Jill spent a little time together on the roof of the Ridgetop hospital before they went to their room.  There were some men who needed healing, and Doctor Augustus, good man that he was, was reluctant to turn them over to a bunch of early twentieth century hacksaws.  Ethan imagined the world of Peter Alexander and Colonel deMartin as early twentieth century.  “Hacksaws” was the Doctor’s word.

“You’re warm,” Jill said, pulled in real tight to his chest and held his arm around her with her free hand

Ethan had a thought.  “All right,” he said.  “So who is trying to kill us?”

“Probably agents of my ex-husband,” Jill said.  “Don’t worry about it.”  Jill did not want to talk about it.

“The present day emperor of the Gaian people and all the known worlds,” Ethan said.  She turned his face so she could look into his eyes.

“That’s the guy.  But it is getting chilly up here.  Let’s go down to our room and get warm.”

Ethan did not move right away.  He considered his situation.  Here he was with the Gaian princess, her former husband, the current emperor was trying to kill them, and she had a son, besides; but then she was nearly a thousand something years old, so maybe the only odd thing was that she only had one child.  He looked into her remarkable blue-gray eyes and all of those thoughts left him without coming to any conclusion.  He could not think of anything but loving those eyes, and he decided that maybe they should go down and warm up before his thoughts overheated.