Jai the Mongol became substantial again as soon as Sung Ao fired the photon canon. He leaped to cover Sung Ao when the canon got crushed just in case it exploded. Sung Ao quickly checked it, but Gan Ao spoke. “I thought it best that the weapon not explode. I turned it off before it got crushed. Sorry if I overstepped my bounds.”
“You did right as always. I am very proud of you. But what are you doing here?”
“I reserved a time for coming back should I be needed. Apparently, I am needed now.”
“Sung Ao?” Lincoln asked. He always had to know.
Sung Ao nodded, but then Lockhart had a question for Gan Ao. “Who are you?”
The old man smiled as men started to revive all over the field. They had headaches but would recover. “I am not surprised you did not recognize me. I am much older than I was when I traveled with my master, the great lord Zhang She of Xi’an, servant of the Great Emperor Guangwu of Han.”
“From Lydia’s day,” Boston remembered, and smiled, knowing who Gan Ao really was. Sung Ao reached out and gently hugged Boston, then he said something strange.
“I am going to miss my hugs.”
Alexis and Katie knew who Gan Ao was and Alexis spoke before Boston could ask. “Didn’t you go over to the other side?”
“I did,” Gan Ao said. “But I can’t remember anything about it while I am here. Funny how that works.” He let go of the old man and became Tien Shang-di, king of the ancient gods, and son of the Kairos, the Nameless god of the north.
Lockhart nodded like he had forgotten. He looked quickly, but the wagon was close by and Ghost, for once, was minding his own business. Decker and Nanette were busy being lost in each other, and Lincoln and Tony were failing to comfort Sukki, who looked teary-eyed but maybe finally realized there were times she had to act even if it meant people had to die.
“The cyborgs are all dead,” Tien said. “The super soldiers are all dead as well. They were possessed for a long enough time so there was not enough of them to come back. The rest should recover. Their time of possession was brief. So, you see, Elder Stow. Now, you can report to your people that possession by an abomination does not kill a person right away. The consciousness hangs on for some time, and the body continues to live, though yes. I see how terrible that must be.”
“Anyway,” Sung Ao interrupted everyone. “Boston. I have someone for you to meet. Jai. He came a long way just to find you.”
Jai stepped up, and Boston knew he was an elf, like her, but she did not know who until he removed his glamour that made him look Mongolian. Roland said nothing. He did not get a chance. Boston screamed and tackled him. She kissed his face all over. Then she began to weep great big tears, and Roland was not against weeping himself. They stood as Roland’s sister, Alexis came up weeping as well, and joined the hug. They might have continued for a while, but Lincoln shouted from a distance.
“Alexis. Nanette. We have wounded here who need help.”
“May I?” Alexis asked Sung Ao. She felt a slight curtsey was appropriate.
“Of course,” he said, and turned as three men came to ask what they were doing. Sung Ao put Niccolo, Maffeo, and Marco in Katie’s hands and said she could talk to them as long as she kept her mouth shut. He went to find Timur the chief and the servants of the Masters. Tien went with him and waved his hand while they walked. All the cyborgs and super soldiers, the ship inside the cave and the busted photon canon with the wet spot that had been the abomination vanished.
“Sent to Avalon,” he said. “To the alien island and museum,” he explained.
“Yes, thanks, but that does not explain why you are here.”
They found Chin Li alive and checking out the bandits. He had a half-dozen men with him, just to be safe. Timur, Bozarius and Hakim the Berber were all dead. Timur got blasted with a super soldier gun and the other two were killed by the travelers. Bozarius got a shotgun slug in his middle. Hakim got crisped by Sukki. “No idea what their names were in this life,” Sung Ao mumbled to himself.
Timur’s son, Kohja, knew better than to stick around. He promised to take the bandits home and not bother them again. Sung Ao let them go. Lincoln, who came up to watch the exchange, commented.
“He knew they were out gunned,” and added, “Sorry.” He knew the Kairos was not a fan of clichés.
In this case, Sung Ao responded, “You were out gunned, but I am glad you butted into a bad situation anyway.” Lincoln said no more, as they watched the bandits leave. They took their dead and wounded with them, so that was at least one thing they did not have to worry about. Even so, Sung Ao thought to say something to Lincoln. “You better go and check on your wife. You don’t want her working herself to exhaustion.”
“Right.” Lincoln jogged ahead to the camp.
The travelers stayed that night with the Polos, but Sung Ao said it was best if they leave in the morning. “We will head south, two days to Khotan. We will rest there a week while our men heal. You should be able to reach the time gate before we move on again.”
“But Father,” Alexis said, and Sung Ao and Tien took Alexis and Lincoln aside to speak with them privately.
In the morning, Roland stood beside Boston, holding her hand, and repeated what everyone already knew. “Father is dying. He never really recovered from his struggle with the ghoul master of the hundred. Now he is dying. I came to fetch Boston and Alexis so they could be with him in the end.”
Alexis came out of her tent, an elf again, and she explained for everyone. “Time is still broken with the Storyteller missing. Lady Alice can only move her own through the Heart of Time. I have temporarily become an elf again so I can go and say good-bye to Father.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Lincoln said. Alexis gave him a kiss and said she was ready.
Tien stepped up, and Sung Ao traded places with the Nameless god, Tien’s father, so the two gods could work together.
“I’ll miss the wagon,” Tony said. Most of the travelers shook their heads. They would not miss it.
“I’ll miss my hugs,” Boston said suddenly. “And Strawberry, and Honey, but I will see you when you get back. Sukki, sister, take care of the amulet and remember, I’ll be waiting for you.”
Sukki nodded, and Nanette said, “Good luck.” Nanette carried Alexis’ bag, the one with the vitamins and medical supplies.
Boston said she was ready and looked up at Roland who merely nodded. They vanished along with the wagon, their Roman saddles and most of their things. Ghost stood with saddlebags that carried their spare horseshoes and necessary equipment. They went back to carrying things in saddlebags and having their tents and extra blankets strapped to the back of their western saddles. The Kairos said they could ride them again. They were well into the Middle Ages by then.
Tien said good-bye to them all.
Nameless smiled for them and Sung Ao came back to wake up the Polos.
Lockhart spoke as they headed out. “Sukki, you have the point. Be careful. Decker and Elder Stow still have the wings.” He paused to look at Katie before he turned his head back to talk to Lincoln. “So, where are we going?”
Lincoln had to look it up, while Katie shouted back to the ones behind. “Tony and Nanette. You have the rear. Keep your eyes open for whoever or whatever might be following us.”
“Yeah,” Lincoln interrupted his reading. “Watch out for dragons, little green-men, werewolves and vampires, ghouls and genies, witches, displaced people, space aliens and servants of the Masters, and whatever else I can’t think of right now.” He returned to his reading.
Nanette took his words seriously, but Tony smiled and said, “Hut, hut.” Ghost, who had his long lead tied to Tony’s saddle stepped up. Tony did not want to have to drag the mule all the way back to the twentieth century if they should live so long.
END of Avalon, Season 8.
Introduction to the twin tales of Wlvn and Flern, two lives of the Kairos separated by a mere 500 years. They are genetic reflections, or as they say, identical twins of the opposite sex, and it gets them in big trouble.