Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 1 of 6

After 1562 A.D. The Caribbean

Kairos lifetime 115: Peter van Dyke: Captain Hawk

Recording …

Elder Stow saw that the horses were cared for, including his own horse, Mudd.  He hated to disturb them, but they had no choice.  Only he and Sukki escaped, invisible.  They would have to break the others out of jail as soon as they got the horses loaded.

He looked at his adopted daughter, Sukki.  She tied the horses to the line in order to bring them all at once to the ship.  Lockhart’s big horse, and Katie’s led the string, followed by Lincoln’s horse and Sukki’s horse, Cocoa, before Mudd.  Elder Stow paused to grin.  The Kairos, Hans, broke into his precious stores of cocoa come all the way from the New World.  He made hot chocolate for everyone.  Sukki, who never tasted chocolate before, said it was better than she even imagined.  Elder Stow found it watery and bitter.  It would take some serious experimentation before the chocolate got really good.

“Father?” Sukki got his attention.  He waved her off and went to sit on a bale of hay.

“Keep working.  I’m fine.”  He watched her tie the last of the horses.  Decker’s big horse followed Mudd, then Nanette’s horse and Tony’s horse.  Ghost, the mule came last, but over the last several time zones, the mule had gotten used to following Tony’s horse.  Elder Stow marveled at how helpful and faithful these animals were.  Their journey through time would have been nearly impossible without them.  He sighed.  He had to admit these Homo Sapiens were no longer the primitive, ignorant apes his people still called them.  They were clever in their way.

Elder Stow thought about the Gott-Druk planet, his home.  It was a good world, but still too many of his people could not see that.  All they saw was Earth, and they counted Earth as their real home.  Over more than fourteen thousand years, various groups attempted to retake the Earth and remove or enslave the homo sapiens that now covered the world.  Sukki, herself, was the sole survivor of the very first expedition.  It had no chance for success. The people on that Agdaline ship were still cave men in their level of technological progress.  Sukki was raised a cave woman, as Lincoln called her at first.  She had come a long way.  She learned a lot over their travels.  But then she wanted to fit in better with her fellow travelers.  The gods remade her into a Homo Sapiens as one of their last acts before the dissolution of the gods.  Sukki remained his adopted daughter, but her being human and no longer Neanderthal brought questions to his mind.

‘Sukki,” he called.  Sukki paused after tying Tony’s horse to the line and turned her face to him to show she was listening.  Ghost waited patiently for his turn.  “Sukki,” he repeated.  “We are only about a half-dozen time zones away from home.  I have been wondering if you will be going with me to the Gott-Druk world, or if you will be staying with the humans.”

Sukki looked pained.  “I don’t know,” she said, not willing to give a straight answer.  “I am not sure I would fit in the home world.  Even with the gift of Athena I don’t understand half of the technology you carry around apart from theory—things that you call mere toys.  I’m learning all of this human history and human culture.  I’m having a hard enough time trying to understand what the twenty-first century will be like.  I don’t know.”

Elder Stow nodded and waved her off.  “Something to think about,” he said.  She would not say it, but she was becoming more human than Neanderthal.  Adopting her all those time zones ago was a very Gott-Druk thing to do.  He had no doubt it kept her alive and mentally stable, having a family connection with the group.  His Gott-Druk people framed everything in terms of family.  But now, she had a mother and father in Katie and Lockhart.  He, himself, often referred to them as the mother and father of the time traveling family.  She no longer needed him to be her father figure.

“Ready,” Sukki said, and Elder Stow got busy.  He was supposed to be tuning discs to the invisible spectrum.  He only had six done.  He needed three more.

“Almost,” he said.  He got to work while she checked the door to the stables to be sure no people were coming to disturb them.

Elder Stow thought about how much further they needed to go to get back to the twentieth century.  Only a few time zones.  He certainly had more than enough experience.  He could abandon the human travelers to their fate and should easily make it back to his time and his people.  He still had his scanner tuned to the peculiar time distortion of the time gates.  He could find them easily enough and maybe get back to his proper time faster on his own.  Maybe these hated Homo Sapiens who stole the Earth, the planet of his Gott-Druk origin, deserved to be imprisoned… But no.  The travelers had become like family for him, too.  He would never abandon them.

“Ready,” he said, and he attached a disc to the mule and each of the horses in turn until they all went invisible.  “Take the lead,” he told Sukki, and they all walked invisible out of the stables and through the early morning streets to the ship.  The sun would be up soon enough, and so would the tide they would need to take them out of the bay.  Once loaded, Elder Stow could retrieve his discs and fetch the others from their jail cell.  He imagined that being invisible might prevent their escape being noticed until after they were well away aboard the ship.

Loading the horses was not hard.  He collected the discs, so the horse became visible again and then the crew helped.  Threatening the captain so he did not sail off with free horses did not take long.  Soon, Elder Stow and Sukki hurried across town to set the prisoners free.  Elder Stow would not abandon the others, no matter how tempting it might be to just get home.

They had indeed become like his family.  Elder Stow had to admit it, and they were correct to some extent.  They were all humans—genus homo—Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis.  They were not that different, though on a personal level, Elder Stow wondered if all this time in close contact humanized him.  Having gone through so much of human history, he now understood that the Homo Sapiens belonged on the earth.  He had also come to realize his Gott-Druk home world was actually a very good world.  When he got home, he would talk against the extremists that wanted to retake Earth for a home.  He did not imagine he would become a member of the other side—a friend of the humans.  He expected he would settle down with the vast majority of Gott-Druk for whom it was no longer an issue.


Lockhart, the former policeman, sat in his jail cell trying to figure out how he could pick the skeleton lock in the door.  He needed something big enough and metal-like strong. He looked at Decker, but Decker shook his head.

“I am combat trained.  I know a few tricks, but I am not James Bond,” he said.

In the cell next door, Lincoln pulled out the database and sat quietly to read.  Tony paced with his eyes on their jailer.  The fat Spaniard sat at his desk and looked ready for a nap.  Tony said one thing.  “Are you at least going to feed us?”  The jailer shrugged.

In the third cell, Katie and Nanette waited patiently and talked quietly.

“I am not going to be sold as a slave,” Nanette said with a slight growl.  “My grandmother was emancipated by Mister Lincoln, and I am not going back there.”

“Not going to happen,” Katie agreed.  “We will probably be hung as pirates long before that thought occurs to them.  Besides, Elder Stow and Sukki are out there.  After they secure the horses, they will come for us.”

The women looked at each other, and Nanette said the thing they both felt concerned about.  “Elder Stow checked with Lincoln.  He knows after this zone, there are only five more between here and home.  He can still track the time gates on his equipment.  I think he may abandon us.”

“No,” Katie said.  “We are family, such as we are.  Family is most important to the Gott-Druk.  He will come for us.  Sukki will make sure of that.”

“He is a different species,” Nanette said.  “No telling what he thinks, or how he thinks.  He might not see it as abandoning us so much as returning to his real family.”

Katie shook her head.  “It seemed that way at first, and I felt that way for a long time after, but he has proved himself.  Besides, I have been convinced that he is essentially human.  There are serious cultural differences and maybe some instinctive differences, but he is mostly human.  I trust him, and more importantly, the Kairos trusts him.  If I have learned one thing on this journey, it is to trust the Kairos.”

“Very well said.”  Katie and Nanette were startled to hear Elder Stow’s voice, though of course they could not see him.  The door to the hall was open, so they figured he came in while they were talking.  No telling how much he heard.

“Rodrigo?” the man at the desk looked toward the door and wondered who was talking.  The man started to rise before he fell back into the chair and wiggled like a man being electrocuted.  He appeared to go unconscious, and they all heard Sukki.

“He isn’t dead.  Please don’t be dead.”

“Stand away from the door,” Elder Stow said.  They did, and one at a time, he melted all three locks.  The doors swung open.  “Here.”  he handed each of the travelers a disc still tuned to the invisible spectrum.  As soon as they went invisible, they saw Elder Stow and Sukki.  She tied the jailer to the chair and gagged him.  The jailer moaned a little as everyone retrieved their guns and knives from the table.  Then they hurried across town to the docks and managed to slip out into the bay, going out with the tide.

Avalon 9.0 Pestilence, part 1 of 6

After 1312 A.D. The Alps

Kairos lifetime 111: Prudenza Doria D’Amalfi de Genoa

Recording …

Nanette stepped up to the porch out in front of the inn.  She paused to look on the streets of Lyon.  She came a long way from Rome—she and Tony.  He was Professor Fleming’s graduate student.  She was the Professor’s administrative assistant, but that was in 1905.  Decker insisted on the title of administrative assistant, though in truth, she was simply the professor’s darkie in 1905.  The professor taught antiquities and classics, but his special love was Rome.  He taught about the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.  In fact, he was speaking on that very subject when the whole house they were staying in got picked up from 1905 Rome and sent back to the days of Julius Caesar.  She lived in those days for seven years—she and Tony.  They would still be living there if the travelers had not come along.

Nanette sat down on a chair to watch the soldiers and the strange looking man that the soldiers talked to.  She pulled her fairy weave shawl tight around her shoulders against the chill.  She even told the shawl to thicken a little and marveled at the material.  She could change the size, shape, texture, color, and all with a word.   It was not any magic on her part.  The magic was in the material itself, and she understood in this way the travelers could dress like the locals no matter what time zone they entered.  Presently, they were somewhere in the fourteenth century.

Nanette paused in her thoughts.  She thought the man in the street looked familiar, but they had traveled a long way over the last year and a half, from 44 B. C., time zone by time zone, to the present.  Since this was now the fourteenth century A. D., of course the man could not be familiar.

Nanette shrugged it off and thought about Decker.  Lieutenant Colonel Milton Decker was now her husband.  Milton, with the other travelers, came from 2010, not 1905.  As a couple, they had things to work out, to say the least, but she had no complaints.  Of course, he dd not like the name Milton.  Everyone called him Decker, or Colonel.  She thought Milton was a fine name for 1905.  Nanette sighed.  They had things to work through, not to mention both being black Americans from what sometimes seemed like two different worlds.  Nanette’s grandmother was a plantation slave freed by the Republicans and that wonderful Mister Lincoln; God rest his soul.  Decker’s grandmother lived in the segregated south, and he grew up in the hood, whatever that was.  And he claimed to be a Democrat, the very ones who forced segregation, wore hoods, and lynched negroes at every opportunity.  A Democrat?  Nanette steamed before she changed it from “lynched negroes” to “lynched blacks”, and then “lynched African Americans”.  It was like learning a whole new language, but she was learning.

Wait…  She remembered Elder Stow and Sukki were not even human, originally.  Well, she was assured they were human, just not homo sapiens. They were Neanderthals who got taken off the Earth at the time of the flood.  She never heard of Neanderthals before.  Elder Stow was the result of thousands of years of learning, or evolution, as Decker said.  He had devices he carried around—Lockhart called them gadgets—which seemed miraculous.  He had a screen device which could make an invisible barrier that nothing could break through.  He had a scanner that could far-see and tell him what was over the horizon.  He had other things, including a sonic device, and a weapon—a powerful handgun that could melt metal or set whole buildings on fire.  And he could fly and go invisible.  She often forgot he was a Gott-Druk, as the Neanderthals called themselves.  He wore a glamour that made him look like an elderly human, well, a homo sapiens, and he seemed such a nice man.

Sukki was also a Gott-Druk, at first.  She actually got taken off the Earth at the time of the flood with Elder Stow’s ancestors and slept in a chamber of some sort where she did not age at all.  When she arrived on her new home world, she joined a small group of Gott-Druk determined to return to Earth and repopulate their ancient territory.  By the time they got back to Earth, it was thousands of years later, and she was the only survivor of that fateful trip.  The travelers took her with them knowing she would never survive in that day and age on her own.  Elder Stow adopted her as his daughter.  But then things changed.

Sukki said she never felt comfortable as a Gott-Druk traveling with humans through a human world.  When the travelers arrived in Rome and Nanette and Tony joined the group as the only relatively safe way to make it back to their own time, Suki begged to be changed, before the gods went away, she said.  Nanette saw the goddesses appear in her living room in that Roman house.  They transformed Sukki from Neanderthal to homo sapiens and gifted her with all sorts of special things.  She could fly, and produce her own heat ray, as Lockhart called it, and more.  Decker said the goddesses empowered the poor girl like a superhero.  Nanette was not sure what a superhero was, but she got the idea.  Sukki was sweet, shy, and a good girl, and Nanette imagined that was why the goddesses did not mind gifting her with so much power.

More curious from Nanette’s point of view, was the fact that she was not without some power of her own.  She reached in the side sack Alexis used to carry and touched her wand.  She understood her ability to do magic would come and go as they traveled though time, depending on the position of the Other Earth, whatever the Other Earth was.  But basically, she would be empowered for three hundred years, and then be without her magic for three hundred years.

Nanette’s hand touched something else.  It was Boston’s Beretta, gifted to her when Boston and Alexis made the jump through the Heart of Time back into the future.  They had to be elves to do that, but Alexis’ father, Boston’s father-in-law was dying.  They had to go.  The rest of them, the humans still had to get back to the future the slow way, time gate by time gate.

Nanette was not happy carrying around a handgun, but she understood that sadly it might come in handy during those years when she was without her magic.

Nanette paused when the man in the street pointed at her, or at the inn.  The soldiers all looked in her direction before one of them said something and they once again faced each other.  What was that about? Nanette wondered, before she thought again about Decker and her companions.

Come to think of it, of the eight people traveling through time, only four remained from the original group.  Colonel Decker was her husband.  Lockhart, the leader of this expedition through time, was the Assistant Director of something called the Men in Black.  He, and Major Katherine Lockhart, or Katie, an elect, which is a one-in-a-million warrior woman, were the other married couple in the group.  And then there was Lincoln, a former spy who carried the database.  The database had all the relevant historical information about the time zones they went though, including information about whatever life the Kairos was living where he or she stood at the center of the time zone, equidistant from both time gates.

Nanette considered the time jumps.  When they came through a time gate, they traveled usually between six and sixty years into the future in one step.  Then they crossed the time zone, about two to three hundred miles to the Kairos and another two to three hundred miles to the next time gate.  If only it was that simple, Nanette thought and rolled her eyes.  They inevitably ran into trouble in every time zone.

Lockhart came out to the porch.  “Are you coming in?” he asked.  “Katie and Sukki are comparing their amulets to figure out where we are going, and they are comparing it to the map in Lincoln’s database.”

Nanette glanced at the street.  The street conference broke up.  The soldiers marched away, and that strange man was not to be seen.  She glanced at the barn and stables just down from the inn.  Decker and Elder Stow had the horse duty for the day, and apparently, they were taking their time.

“Might as well,” she said.  “But I am more curious about who the Kairos is in this time zone.”

“Prudencia, no Prudenza,” Lockhart said.

“Prudence,” Nanette responded as she stood, and Lockhart held the door.  “Seven years of living in ancient Rome and speaking Latin every day has to be worth something.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Lockhart responded with a smile.  “One of the gifts of the Kairos when we started this journey was to be able to hear and respond in English to everything, and sound to the other person like we are speaking their native language.  Even the written word automatically translates to English in my head.”

Nanette frowned.  “I know.  I was kind of hoping we could get to a point where I could practice my French.  Now, that is not going to happen.”  Nanette stopped in the doorway and glanced once more at the street.

“What?” Lockhart asked.

Nanette shook her head as she spoke.  “I saw someone in the street talking to some soldiers and pointing at the inn.  I don’t know if it means anything, but I thought he looked familiar.”

“The Masters have repeat people,” Lockhart responded.  “It may have been one.  The Kairos told us if we see any repeat people and they are not one of the good guys, we need to consider them the enemy.”

Nanette nodded.  “But it might not have been someone I saw before.  Maybe I was just picking up a bad sense about him.”

“A bad vibe.”  Lockhart rubbed his chin.  “Alexis told me before she left us that apart from Katie and her elect senses, where she can detect danger and enemies in the distance, you know.  Apart from her, you are the only one we have to count on when you have your magic.  She said you have something near telepathy, not that you can read minds, exactly, but you can sense intentions, like what a person might be thinking about and how they feel about that.  I’m not sure what Alexis was saying, but do you understand?”

Nanette stared at the door before she nodded.  “That was it.  It was us, not the inn that he was pointing at.  I sensed he wants to hurt us in some way.  I wish I had thought of that.  Alexis taught me how to focus and concentrate.  I’m sorry I didn’t do that.  I just picked up the bad feelings—bad vibes with a casual glance.”

“It’s okay,” Lockhart said and smiled.  “Next time.”  Nanette agreed and went inside.  Lockhart followed.

Reflections Wlvn-7 part 3 of 3

When they arrived at the Pivdenny Brugh it had to be later than four in the afternoon, about an hour from the sunset at that time of year. They moved mostly below the hills and forest, though they had seen it for miles as they approached. The river ran as Badl described it, deep enough and fast-moving water, though not terribly wide. Badl knew one ford.

“Normally, I don’t go too near the wood elves. I just like the grassland better I guess.”

“Oh.” Moriah sounded a little disappointed. She had seen elves a few times when they came to trade in her village, perhaps some of these very ones, but she never had a chance to talk to any or spend any time at all with them. The prospect of seeing a real elf village, as she imagined it, intrigued her.

“Here we are,” Badl said, when they arrived at the ford. To be honest, none of the others would have ever guessed that this stretch of the river might be any different than any other, except perhaps it widened out a bit and thus slowed the current across that wider field. “Of course, I never crossed this time of year without ice. It may be deep, and it will be cold for them that feel the cold.”

“Make it across as quickly as you can.” Wlvn told everyone, and then he let Thred take him down into the water where he waited and watched. He figured the current had to be stronger than they were used to, and he wanted to be available in case someone got swept away. It turned out they came to a spot where the horses had to swim, but not for long before they could touch bottom again and walk out the other side. They found a field, not too far from the woods, but a long field where deer could graze and come to the water to drink.

“What is that?” Elleya became the first to speak, even as Wlvn nudged Thred ahead to join them on the far bank.

“I have never seen the like.” Badl said, as Wlkn interrupted with his loud voice.

“Helpers!” As he shouted, Wlvn felt hands grab him, drag him off Thred’s back and pull him underwater. The last thing he saw, as he looked to the sky, was his swan hurtling down toward the river.

Three of them wore what Wlvn assumed to be their space suits. He guessed they were waiting for him in the deep. He also guessed they did not know that he could breathe underwater, or that the god Thor had filled him with a strength greater than their own. He easily broke their grips and pulled out the nearest air hose. The swan paused just below the surface before imitating Wlvn’s move and yanking out a second air hose. She almost got nabbed but rose too rapidly and took to flight as she broke the surface. She may have thought to make another dive, but it would not be necessary. Elleya showed up to de-hose the third helper, and suddenly, the Gott-Druk were the ones in danger of drowning.

One grabbed Elleya and she shrieked underwater. She sounded not unlike a dolphin caught in a net, but Wlvn easily set her free. He grabbed the Gott-Druk by the hands and towed him out of the water altogether, and up on to the near bank. The second followed, but then Wlvn felt two massive Gott-Druk arms circle his throat from behind. Wlvn kicked off from the bottom as he grabbed the wrists and forced the arms open. He broke the surface of the water and surprisingly kept rising. Nanna, the moon, he thought, consciously identifying the source of his ability to fly. He stopped about ten feet above the surface of the water, and by then, he was in a position to toss the third Gott-Druk onto the riverbank to join his hacking and coughing brothers.

Helmets came off, and Wlvn recognized his Gott-Druk from that first day outside the electric fence. “I told you to leave this world!” He yelled at the man.

The man nodded. “Elenar,” he said, still gasping for air. “But if we kill you, we can come back later.”

“You can’t come back. You aren’t allowed.” Wlvn still yelled. He did not realize the Gott-Druk mother ship parked on that field of green, just up the way, where some trees blocked a view from the river. Now that he had crossed the river, he came within sight of their guns. They fired, and he got caught dead center and pushed back through the air until he crashed through tree branches and disappeared in the woods.

The others all saw it happen and were stricken with silence. They hardly believed their eyes as they made it to the nearest bit of trees. Elleya held on to Brmr’s mare for dear life since she had gotten wet, and her legs were not back yet. Andrea, the first to arrive at the trees, turned, but would not go far in. She preferred to stare at the aliens and their massive craft with dumbfounded eyes. Badl and Moriah spoke in hushed tones.

“He isn’t dead.”

“He can’t be dead.”

“I would know it if he was.”

A sudden distraction that gained all of their attention. Arrows poured from the woods and bounced off the metal hull of the ship. It kept the three suited Gott-Druk on the shore and kept their heads down, though one got an arrow in the arm. The Gott-Druk aimed their guns, but by the time they fired, they smoked only the trees. The archers moved.

Back among the trees, Wlvn moaned and shook his head. He thanked the gods for his armor, but he knew that the armor by itself had not saved him. The armor felt hot, and the edges of his cloak appeared singed. “Frigga.” He named the goddess that gave him the energy screen. Probably to fend off whatever titanic bolt of primal energy the titan might hurl at him, he thought. He sat up and found himself in a tree branch some ten feet off the ground. He ached and felt bruised everywhere, but nothing appeared to be broken. “Damn it!” He got angry, and his adrenaline started to pump. “I gave them fair warning.” He dove, or rather, flew to the water and submerged, glad to find his ability to fly proved strong enough to move him underwater, even against a strong current. He popped out of the water again at the ford and grabbed the Gott-Druk around the throat from behind, even as he had been grabbed, and he lifted the man up into the air.

“I warned you about the Elenar and asked you kindly to leave. This time I am not asking. I am telling. Contact your ship. You are leaving this world because if I catch you again, the Children of Layettee will end with this generation.”

The Gott-Druk did not argue. He proved powerless to break Wlvn’s grip around his throat, and while a human would have been in real trouble hanging there by the neck, such were the muscles in a Neanderthal neck; the Gott-Druk became restricted, but not incapacitated. He lifted his arm, pushed a button on his wrist and spoke into it, and he either forgot that Wlvn spoke his language, or he thought it did not matter. Wlvn immediately dropped him, and he fell to the ground below and twisted his ankle as he landed. Wlvn raised both arms and let loose with Odin’s thunderbolt before the Gott-Druk could fire, because what the Gott-Druk said was to sacrifice his own life for a shot at Wlvn with the ship’s main guns. The main guns of the Gott-Druk cruiser melted under Wlvn’s assault, and that caused a short circuit in the system which blew out the Gott-Druk weapon’s system. Wlvn floated down to the three on the riverbank and shouted as he arrived.

“Hold your fire! These folks are leaving, hold your fire.” He looked at the three on the bank, one with a twisted ankle, and one bleeding from the place where the arrow had pierced his arm. “You are leaving this time, aren’t you? Without weapons, I can’t imagine how you will stand against the Elenar when they come.”

“Elder?” The one without a wound looked at the one with the twisted ankle, and Wlvn realized that this was news to the man.

“Oh, yes,” Wlvn said. “They were called some weeks ago and should be arriving very soon.”

The two beside Wlvn’s friend got hastily to their feet, grabbed their comrade, and dragged him, ankle and all to the ship, talking into their wrist communicators on the way. They were not long inside before the ship started to rise into the sky, and Wlvn hoped that might finally be the last he would see of them, especially since there was nothing he could do about it if they decided to change their mind. At that moment, he had to collapse and pass out.



Wlvn and his crew reach Miroven, the home of the elves, but while there, Wlvn and Flern, two lives of the Kairos that are genetic reflections accidentally double trade paces through time, and now Flern needs to  find a way to kill theTitan, a task for which she is in no way prepared.  Until Monday, Happy Reading


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.