Welcome Back for Season 5 of South of Bikini. We rejoin the Empress as she deals with several family challenges on the home front and manages to finalize a previous mission satisfactorily.
Terra Neuvo, 10:01AM, Climax, Neptunian 14th, 437 of the New Era
“We’re going to miss you and Aunt Cami around here, Aunt Alex.” My great niece, Alexandra, said as she hugged me tightly. I felt that unmistakable tingle. It meant I was still part of this universe and dimension- something nice to know. “In fact, we’re going to miss all four of you.”
“We’ll be back in a few months, honey. I’m sure you have seen that.” I acknowledged. Without hesitation, I offered my hands to Cami, Cassie, and finally- with much internal conflict- my daughter Reilly.
“Mother, you can’t get rid of me that easily.” She dared with a little too much impertinence. “Aunt Alex or Alexandra would just transport me back to Reilly just to annoy you.”
I glared at my niece.
“Don’t y’all look at me that way, Aunt Alex! She said that, not me! Y’all know I wouldn’t do that. Besides, Alexia still needs a sitter while mother is on Earth with Grandmother.” Alexandra giggled as she motioned subtly to my…daughter.
Reilly had endeared herself to Grand High Counsel Tibius, his assistant, Heidi Wolmacher, my niece Alexis, and her husband, Nathan at a gathering of dignitaries two days ago. Although well behaved- to a certain extent- Reilly became embroiled in an inter-planetary trade discussion. To my horror, her opinion differed sharply from everyone else in the room and she made sure everyone knew.
The 209th floor in the Consulate building became home- Reilly Research Station- after the now familiar collapse and expansion of our surroundings. It felt good to be back in good old 2020BC!
“My thanks to everyone accompanying me on this journey.” I said, releasing Cami’s hand.
I retained a firm grasp on my daughter’s though!
My private domain suddenly appeared around the two of us.
“So what next, mother? I get ‘the talk’- just for expressing my opinion?”
“Honey,” I began, “expressing an opinion is one thing, but phasing half the room out of reality goes way beyond! What possessed you? Why would you choose to reveal the Empress and the sisterhood to the delegates of sixty-seven different planets just to prove your point?”
“So… this is about you. Why is it always about you, mother? Why is it always about ‘revealing the Empress’?”
“Cami spent two hours carefully deleting those visions from the delegates, Reilly- two hours she could have spent with Timus and Candice!”
“She didn’t have to do that! Now I’ll have to restate my concerns and stumble through all the beauracratic processes father and Uncle Tibius thrive on! Thanks for meddling, mother!”
“Ma Scott, could y’all talk some sense inta this youngin’?” I pleaded into the vast, dark void.
After several minutes, there still was no reply.
“Ruth Scott? Could y’all please help me out here?” I asked again.
Had I done it right? Normally I would just follow Alex Steinert’s example and think about the person I wanted to talk to here. For some reason that didn’t seem to be working. Why?
“Maybe she thinks I’m right too, mother.”
“Young, impetuous, Miss Reilly. I’m sure she does not think that at all.” A male voice responded as a shadow developed and took on more detail.
“Mr. Lincoln? Why are you here? I called on Mother Scott for help.” I replied in surprise.
“As you should be aware, Ruth Scott is no longer with us in this domain, Alexandra Reilly. She has been exonerated by your sister, Alexandra Steinert. Were you not present during that mission?”
“I was, Mr. Lincoln, but I hypothesized she would still keep a presence here as well.” I answered.
“I wish that it were true, Alexandra, but alas, Ruth no longer resides in our realm. May I be of service instead, Empress?” Mr. Lincoln asked courteously touching the brim of his tall hat.
“Mother is pissed that I may have outed her to the planetary alliance, Abe.” Reilly bulldozed in.
Abraham Lincoln began laughing as he reached up and rubbed his beard slowly.
“Miss Reilly?” Mr. Lincoln began, looking at my impetuous daughter. “How old are you, child- if I may be so brazen, that is?”
“I’ll be twenty-eight in three weeks. Why?” Reilly replied haughtily.
Mr. Lincoln closed his eyes and nodded twice.
“I see,” he paused to think a minute. “Miss Reilly, might you be familiar with the term ‘woodshed’ and its implied significance in this context?”
“What significance would a…a ‘woodshed’ have in this case, Abe?” Reilly sassed back.
Mr. Lincoln smiled and remained quiet for one full minute.
“Well, Miss Reilly, let me tell you a little story. This tale begins in a small, modest home in Illinois. A boy named Robert had just turned the ripe old age of fifteen. Realizing that he was now considered a man by the day’s society, young Robert questioned his father’s age-old wisdom having heard- partially, I would add- a certain debate between his father and another man- his father’s political rival. Young Robert, not experienced or versed in the cliffs and pitfalls of the somewhat heated conversation, developed his own thoughts on the topic and, rather unwisely, wished to expel them from his person.”
“Well, both his father and rival paid young Robert the courtesy of hearing out the young man’s words and both began to laugh feverishly- having heard nothing that remotely focused on the main topic of discussion. The younger man, thinking he had a valid argument, lashed out in anger striking his father- not hard mind you- but striking him just the same, in the jaw.”
“Why, the rival began laughing anew- and quite haughtily at that- this time at his long-time foe. Robert’s father though an even-tempered man, became infuriated with his son’s unsanctioned opinion and behavior, though to keep a modicum of respect, he immediately shed the dark emotions and continued debating the rival- completely refusing acknowledgement of the younger man’s further commentary. While the debate continued, young Robert refused to listen- his mind set that he’d used valid reasoning. He continued to brood as both elders revisited the main topic of the debate, yet he did not comprehend any of what was said through his anger.”
“Because of his inexperience in such matters, young, foolish, Robert still did not grasp the deeper meaning of the- at times- heated, discussion. His father continued to repel the younger man’s attempts to add to the conversation. This only made to bedevil young Robert further.”
“In the end, both elders amicably agreed to remain at opposite ends of the topic and calmly bid each other a good day. Robert doggedly accused his father of transgression and cowardice- he claimed fatherly abuse and prejudice toward him in the extreme. His father- still passive- insisted young Robert had not the complete facts and therefore should have remained neutral and silent. He reminded his son of overstepping his god-given right to free speech.”
Mr. Lincoln sighed and watched for a reaction from Reilly.
“So…what happened to Robert? What did he learn? How does that story mean anything at all, Abe?” Reilly demanded incessantly.
“Alexandra, bearing in mind there appears to be no woodshed available as concealment, would it disturb you terribly if I turned your disrespectful daughter over my knee? I guarantee the application of a strong, firm hand will enlighten her as to the respect she should show her elders, and give her cause to think about her actions before engaging that sassy mouth and spoiled disposition in their presence!”
My daughter’s eyes grew wide and she looked at the former American President in disbelief as I contemplated the outcome to such an offer.
“You can’t do that!” She hissed in shocked anger. “You can’t seriously be thinking of going along with this, mother?”
“I had fewer incidents with my Robert after I impressed upon him the value of proper respect toward his elders and peers, Empress. I can guarantee similar results now. If not for your satisfaction, for my own humiliation on her part, madam?” Mr. Lincoln urged and waited for my decision.
“Well…she was rather abrasive to her father and uncle while visiting…” I pondered.
“I hypothesize that if I were to turn around and inhibit sound from entering my auditory passages then I would not hear…”
“Mother!” Reilly screamed.
“I assure you, Alexandra, it is the best thing for such a spoiled child.” Mr. Lincoln added.
“You can’t do that, Mother!”
“Why shouldn’t I, Reilly? Why shouldn’t I take Mr. Lincoln up on his offer?”
“But you are the Empress, mother! The Empress protects her friends and family!” Reilly protested furiously.
“I may be the Empress, hun, but first and foremost, I am…YOUR…mother.” I countered serenely. I must do what I think is right to correct your behavior. If I conclude Mr. Lincoln to be truthful and forthright in his offer, why not accept?”
“But mother, he is just a construct- an apparition! He cannot possibly harm me as threatened!”
My daughters face lost all color as Mr. Lincoln placed his large hand on her delicate shoulder.
“Young Miss Reilly that is where you are wrong.” He said evenly. “I can be as real and tangible as Alexandra wants me to be. It is not your will that holds this domain, young one. Don’t be so naive.”
“Please, mother! I beg you not to allow him to continue! I have learned!”
“And what have you so suddenly learned, Miss Reilly?” Mr. Lincoln asked with a slight smile. “Compassion, prudence, patience? What?”
“Whatever you want to keep it from happening.” My daughter anguished.
Mr. Lincoln removed his hand from Reilly’s shoulder and began rubbing his beard again.
“On second thought, Alexandra, maybe a score or two in her father’s care could conjure and promote the required understanding?”
“I’m sure between Gillian, Tibius, and especially Nathan, some arrangement can be made, Mr. Lincoln.” I agreed.
“No! Mother, not that! I beg of you…show mercy, Empress!”
“You initiated the process yourself, Reilly. Had you not been so swine-cranium ed and impulsively phased out the assemblage when they unanimously downplayed your proposition, we would not be at this predetermined location.”
I looked to Mr. Lincoln sadly.
“Sir, I must take full responsibility for my revision’s insubordination. Despite her many instructors’ urgings, I have lapsed in my duties as a mother- instead allowing my missions to take precedence. It is my error Reilly has completed development in this mode; therefore, it is I who should suffer…’adjustment’, not her. It is I who should feel the humiliation for my revision’s incomplete education.” I said, walking closer to the tall, heavily bearded, man.
“Empress, you can’t do that.” Reilly argued in horror. “I’ll be good, I promise. Mr. Lincoln, please…do not allow her to take my place! I am the one deserving to answer for my transgressions, not the Empress!”
“But if you will not gain knowledge from these ‘transgressions’ would it not be a waste of time and effort on my part?” Mr. Lincoln motioned between he and I with his finger. “On our part, young Miss Reilly?”
“Please don’t do this, Empress! Not for me! The Empress of Time and Space should never be humiliated in any shape or form! She commands unquestionable dedication and respect!” Reilly cried loudly.
“If that indeed were true, Miss Reilly, would you have not chosen to repress your opinion and spared the Empress of Time and Space the embarrassment of exposure to the diplomatic gathering?”
“But my opinion was based on my foresight on the issue.” Reilly insisted.
“Even so, Miss Reilly, doesn’t proper Terran protocol require you to discuss your concerns with a higher ranking Terran official first- say, your Uncle Tibius or…your mother? She is still an official member of Grand High Counsel’s advisory staff, correct?”
My daughter dropped her head.
“And, Miss Reilly, are you still half Terran?” Mr. Lincoln continued.
“Yes, Mr. Lincoln, I am, but I still can’t stand doing ridiculous amounts of useless paperwork.” She replied.
“That would be your mother’s side, child- still, we all must do our share- no matter what our feelings and thoughts dictate. Isn’t that what you have been taught?”
“Yes.” Reilly replied quietly.
“Then I suggest you start acting on those wise teachings, child. Your mother’s somewhat enigmatic anonymity is what allows her to complete her missions, Reilly. Think of how the loss of such a coveted resource could jeopardize her effectiveness.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” My daughter responded at minimal volume.
“What was that, child? These old ears don’t work so well anymore.” Mr. Lincoln inquired as he partially cupped his left ear.
“I said I’m sorry, alright?” She said, increasing her volume to an above-nominal level.
“So, have we arrived at an understanding, Miss Reilly?” Mr. Lincoln pushed.
“Yes we have, Mr. Lincoln. We have reached an amicable understanding, sir.”
“Very well, Miss Reilly. Should the Empress require my counsel again on similar matters, I will first ‘enlighten’ you as to ‘woodshed protocol’ then ask questions. Do we have an accord?”
“We do, Mr. Lincoln.”
“Alexandra, I believe you will have no more discussions of this matter. If, in the future, you find necessity please do not hesitate.”
“Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. I believe my daughter will refrain and avoid placing us all in embarrassing situations from now on.” I thanked him sincerely.
“See that you honor our accord, Miss Reilly. By your leave, Empress?”
I nodded, adding a slight bow as Mr. Lincoln stepped back and faded.
Looking to my daughter, I silently offered my hand.
My office in Reilly Research Station appeared.
Reilly stood stationary and remained quiet for precisely one minute-thirty-two seconds.
“Mom, I’m…I’m…” She looked into my eyes. I could see tears forming in hers. “Mom…I’m…sorry. I…I didn’t realize how much of an ass I was- how mad I made Uncle Tibius or Daddy, or Nathan…” She paused again and let her head decline forward. “Or you, mom. I’m sorry for all the crap I put you and the others through.”
Reilly abruptly pivoted on her heel and slowly walked away- taking a few steps before stopping and turning her head back slightly.
“I’m really sorry, mom. I’ll try to do better, should you see fit to take me on any more missions…if you…”
Her head slowly turned back and she trudged out of my office then disappeared- phased out- in the conference room’s doorway.
Moments later, as I sat down to review and approve four general housekeeping projects, I heard two voices in my mind.
‘Aunt Camille? I think I really screwed the pooch on this one.’ I heard Reilly’s sad, withered, voice in my mind. Obviously, Cami was relaying the conversation.
‘That would be an understatement, Reilly. You nearly sabotaged all previous negotiations that Terra’s Trade Counsel had labored so hard on, AND revealed your mother, your Aunt Alex, and your cousin Alexandra in the process- not one of your better outings, young lady!’
‘Ya, I turned things into a real clusterf…’
‘I know what your Aunt Ricky Lynn calls these sorts of incidents, Reilly! My question to you is… Did you learn anything from these events? Did you learn anything from Former American President Lincoln?’
‘That I’m obnoxious, spoiled, inconsiderate of other people, pig-headed…generally a severe pain in the ass? Ya, I think he and mom made that abundantly clear…I just was too full of myself to give in and admit it. Now…now I’ve flushed everything down the shitter! Mom will never trust me to travel with her ever again!’
‘I wouldn’t assume that, Reilly. Alex has many facets to her character- holding a grudge is not necessarily one of them. Your mother is very angry with you at the moment, but I’m sure- given a little time- she will seek to mend the wound…unless you seek to do that with her first.’
‘But how can I possibly do that when she knows exactly when, why, and where I….’
‘Reilly, your mother is still your mother! Despite also being the Empress, she is primarily your mother! That being said, she quite possibly may refrain from looking into your future- to let you make your own decisions whether or not you seek her forgiveness before she becomes impatient and acquiesces.’
‘Acquiesces? You think she would do that- I mean humble herself to me…just so we could re-establish normal relations?’
‘Trust me, Reilly; a mother’s love will generate a great many ‘strange’ concessions- all meant to strengthen a sub-nominal mother/daughter relationship. Once you have your own revisions, I’m sure you will understand.’
‘You really think so, Aunt Camille? I’ve seen that mom will change her plans for upcoming missions because of what I did. I don’t think that’s exactly a good thing.’
‘I believe the Empress would insist you continue running the scenarios, sweetie. You might just have missed the most beneficial one.’
‘That’s exactly what mom would say, Aunt Camille. I’ll try again- this time, I’ll take my time and run most or all of the versions.’
‘That’s all the Empress would ask, sweetie! Just do your best.’
‘Thanks, Aunt Camille…and thanks for guiding me, Empress.’
Cami’s relay shut down. I shook my head in amusement. Reilly had obviously seen that I was being relayed their conversation. My daughter had definitely been paying attention to her aunt’s eccentricities.
1:30PM, Reilly Research Station, Kili Island, June 30th, 2020BC
“Director, if I may inquire as to the finite list of open items needed in the land of Pharaoh? When might the Empress decide to insert that into her schedule?” Cami asked after knocking and announcing herself at my officer door.
“Why the sudden formality, Camille Darough?”
“Formality, Director?” Cami repeated in confusion.
“Formality, Cami. What’s with the ah-ficial requestin’ an’ all? Y’all up ta somethin’?” I challenged, using my sister’s odd annunciations.
“I am not ‘up’ to anything, director. I only wished to inquire about our Sun Temple demolition.” Cami stated as she stepped further into the room. “Have you been delaying this particular mission because of what happened on Terra Nuevo last week? Has Reilly not approached you to make ‘amen’s’?”
“The word is ‘amends’, Sweetheart, and ya…she’s been ‘kissin’ up’ adequately.” I said as I glanced over to where I felt my daughter to be standing- though out of phase.
“…dequately!” Reilly cried, exasperated, as she rephased. “Mother, I’ve been trying to show you that I’m sorry for all that crap I caused on Terra Nuevo! What else can I possibly do to repair our friendship?”
Cami and I remained quiet and looked at my daughter intently. For me it was difficult holding back my laughter. Finally Reilly closed her eyes. They snapped open a split-second later.
“You did that on purpose!” She accused.
Still I fought to hold an emotionless face.
“Are you really allowing me to come along? To Egypt?”
“And you better be on your best behavior, Reilly! So help me if y’all make me look bad in front of Pharaoh…” I threatened before letting the statement drop.
“We both know that won’t happen, mom. But why tease me? Why act like you didn’t know I was here?”
“Because it’s rude, honey- no different than reading someone’s mind without their approval!”
“But Aunt Camille…”
“Hey, don’t get me involved in this, sweetie!” Cami argued. “I’m your mother’s assistant. I need to know what she wants of me so I can provide those services efficiently.”
“And that’s your excuse for breaking Terran protocol, Aunt Camille?” Reilly retorted sourly.
“I’m not Terran, am I, Reilly?” Cami countered.
“Enough. We leave in three hours. Reilly, I suggest you prepare for the hot and dry environment. Cami? Would you ask Cassi if she would like to have some fun also?”
‘I will be ready, Alex.’ Cassi’s voice sounded in my mind.
“But SHE’S Terran, mom,” Reilly snarked.
“Will y’all just get ready, Reilly?” I strongly suggested as I sat back down to finish reading the last two project reports.
“Mother and I are ready, Empress.” Cassi announced as she and Cami entered my private conference room.
“Good, Reilly’s lurking over in the corner again. Time to go, honey.” I said without even looking in that direction. Cami and Cassi just shook their heads three times.
Reilly appeared and silently took my left hand while Cami took my right.
“So. Any questions before we start the mission?” I asked my companions.
“Um…will we be getting shot at, mom? As I recall, you said that things in Egypt weren’t exactly peaceful when you, Aunt Alex, and Aunt Cami left.”
“What do you see happening when we arrive, honey?” I asked- an eyebrow raised to her.
My daughter paused a minute.
Reilly’s eyes snapped open!
I forced a smile and nodded.
Meridian 12 appeared before our eyes- its exterior illumination filling the huge ceremonial chamber with brilliant light.
“There is nothing sacred about feces, Reilly.” I told her as I pulled us toward the still unsealed entranceway. As we neared, I noticed our group beginning to glow.
“I remember this, director. Should we hurry and allow the Empress to supplement her power needs?” Cami inquired.
“Not necessary, sweetheart. Alex completed this by herself.” I responded sadly.
“But she caused great damage to herself, Alex! Emily said she almost deleted!” My assistant objected.
“Mother? Why are we glowing? What is this blue light emanating from us?” Reilly asked in concern as she looked between us.
Cassi gasped as she too began to look at the four of us.
“This is what happens when the Empress slows or stops time, honey. Those under her protection begin to emit a bluish light. I’m told it is similar to Meridian’s defensive shield emissions.” I explained.
As we exited the Temple gateway and looked down, there stood Alex Steinert in front of the royal family- her arms stretched to the sky! The intense light coming from my sister told me time was stationary for everything outside of Egypt at the moment. All around us the skies were black and ominous. The people below remained deathly quiet and fear-stricken.
“BUT…YOU’VE ALL MADE YOUR CHOICES. ONCE AGAIN THE GREED OF THE MINORITY HAS AFFECTED THE MASSES.” My sister’s angry, shouting, voice echoed out eerily and ominously from below us on the Causeway.
How was she doing this? The power draw on her must have been massive! Even though we were the same being, I was humbled by my sister’s display- a display I had missed the first time I was here. I retrieved her memories of this moment and gasped silently to myself.
With Jack and Cami doing their best to illuminate our immediate area, Alex Steinert continued.
“IN THE FUTURE, BE WARY OF THOSE CALLING THEMSELVES ‘PHARAOH’ AS NOT ALL WILL REPRESENT THE IDEALS OF THE GODS, AS THEY WOULD CLAIM. REMEMBER THIS DAY WELL, FICKLE CITIZENS OF EGYPT! REMEMBER THE DAY PUBLIC PRESSURE, VIOLENCE, TREACHERY, AND GREED MADE A GOOD AND FAIR LEADER RESIGN HIS OFFICE!”
“ALSO REMEMBER THAT I, ALEXANDRA, EMPRESS OF TIME AND SPACE WILL BE WATCHING!”
“FOR ALLYOUR SAKES, DO NOT ANGER ME FURTHER!”
“Mother? How can she be doing this?” Reilly asked as she looked around. I felt her hand trembling in mine.
“Mother?” I heard Cassi’s concerned voice ask. “I have never before felt such energy emanating from the Empress! Where has this power come from?”
“Anger, honey. By my recollection, Alex has had enough of the local insurgents attempting Pharaoh’s assassination. She is using every bit of her being to facilitate this display. It almost kills her.” I explained as Alex Steinert restored the flow of time, lowered her arms to her side, and turned. She calmly, silently, passed the royal family and walked up the steps. Not wishing to reveal our presence, I motioned my companions to the side as she nodded to Jacquelyn and the previous instance of Cami. My twin continued her quiet passage and entered the Temple Gateway. We followed.
“Meridian, medical emergency outside the ship.” My sister announced as she simply and quietly collapsed to the chamber’s granite floor.
Beside me, Reilly, Cami, and Cassi gasped.
“Shouldn’t we help her?” Reilly cried quietly as her grip tightened. I squeezed tighter in response.
“Emily has been alerted, honey. She should be here any second.” I said as I left out a large yawn.
“Alex? Are you going to be okay?” Cami asked with concern in her voice. “If you need more energy…”
“I’m just not used to countering my sister’s gift.” I admitted. “I’ll be fine.”
“Alex…take some energy from me.” Cami urged softly.
I began to pull the least amount from her- gaining an eye roll from her.
“I said I’ll be fine, Sweetheart.”
Cami nodded once in understanding.
We watched as Emily appeared from Meridian’s hatch and rushed to our sister. Khufu, Anna Beth, and Djedefre entered the Temple and all three gasped at Alex lying on the ground. Anna Beth ran to her side.
“Doctor, what happened?” Anna Beth asked excitedly.
“Meridian alerted me to a medical emergency outside the hull, captain.”
“How bad is it, Doctor?”
“I haven’t finished my examination yet, captain. She seems to be unresponsive though.”
Emily closed her eyes for forty-five seconds.
“Captain, her cerebral cortex. I’m detecting severe hemorrhaging in multiple locations!”
Khufu stopped behind Anna Beth. I watched my previous instance exit Meridian’s airlock. She stole a glance directly at us.
“What happened to her?” Khufu asked.
“She over did it, sir. Allie, we need to get her to sick bay on the double.” Emily answered.
“I’d like to, sis, but I can’t transit into Meridian, her shielding won’t allow me to phase through her hull.” My previous instance replied. Once again she quickly glanced at us.
“Yes I knew, Reilly.” I answered before she asked.
“So, did you know we were…?”
“Then we do this the old fashioned way.” Khufu decreed as we watched him effortlessly pick up my unconscious sister.
“Khufu, be careful! We need to immobilize her head to avoid further damage.”
My sister started to move. It looked more like her musculature was seizing uncontrollably.
“Alex, you need to remain still, sis!” Emily cried in alarm.
My Temporal twin’s spasms continued.
“I’m warning you, Alex, if you don’t relax and stop fighting us, I’ll have to knock you out!” Emily threatened.
My sister didn’t seem to be responding.
“I warned you, Alex! I told you not to move. Now its time to say nighty-night!” Emily frowned, closed her eyes, and began to concentrate.
Alex became motionless in Khufu’s arms and Emily directed him into the airlock with my previous instance and Anna Beth following. Had Emily actually caused our sister to drop into unconsciousness? Was that a part of her gift?
“We need to board Meridian.” Anna Beth said , but stopped.
“Mother?” Djedefre inquired.
“Camille and Jacquelyn refuse to leave their posts until our Empress is stable. I need to get to the infirmary for a report on her status. Excuse me.”
Anna Beth entered Meridian only to reappear four minutes later.
“What is her diagnosis, my mate?” Khufu asked with dread concern.
“We have to leave!” She said as she and Khufu turned toward Meridian. “We all must leave, my son.” Anna Beth called to Djedefre when she noticed her son was not moving. Khufu had continued on and entered Meridian’s hatch.
“No, mother. I’m afraid I won’t be coming. You and father must leave before the people begin their actual insurrection.” Djedefre told her in the most commanding voice the Empress could remember.
“Djedefre?” Anna Beth asked, not understanding. “You can’t be serious?”
“Mother, the people…they must be shown that Pharaoh is not to be trifled with! What Alex said was correct. The people must respect the ‘Living God’ among them. Their contempt for the monarchy must end…today! I strongly suggest you get aboard your spacecraft, mother. What I plan to do will not sit well with you OR father and I much prefer you to be in orbit by the time that happens!”
“I’m not going to leave you, Djedefre! You’re our son! I love you!” Anna Beth lamented, walking back to him.
“And that is the reason for you to be far away from here- so you will not think less of me, mother! Go! Now!” Djedefre commanded.
What’s wrong, Anna Beth?” Jack asked as she and Cami’s past instance walked into the chamber.
“My son! He refuses to enter Meridian. Jacquelyn, Camille, assist me in persuading him against this folly.”
Jack and Cami stood, looking sadly at Egypt’s queen for thirty seconds. Anna Beth’s eyes grew wide as she theorized the reason.
“You all knew of this? The Empress knew of these events and said nothing to me about losing my child?! How could you? You are my friends!” Anna Beth wrapped her arms around Djedefre. “My sisters. Please!” She pleaded as she broke down and cried loudly.
Djedefre looked to the two Mind Warriors in astonishment.
“You knew?” He asked. Jack and previous Cami remained quiet. I felt ‘present’ Cami tighten her grip of my hand.
“Alexandra…she knew…she knew all along?” Djedefre questioned.
“Your majesty…we have to get aboard Meridian.” Jack urged. “I’m sorry it has to be this way…I truly am.”
I noticed Meridian’s hatch reopen and Khufu stepped out and approached them.
“My mate, we must begin the departure count. There are things that are going to happen here that we must not see…things that the new pharaoh must do to ensure a successful reign.”
Anna Beth immediately grew quiet and lifted her head to stare at her mate.
“You knew also?” She accused. “Why? Why am I the only one not to be informed? Why, Khufu? Why?”
“I cannot offer reason, my love, for there was none given.”
“But you knew! The Empress had to have told you something.”
“Quite the contrary, my love! She told me by way of observation.” Khufu said as he motioned Anna Beth into his arms.
“When I went along into the future with our house staff last night, Alex showed me…us, what our kingdom was to become. I can say that it was not the same place we leave from today. Djedefre must at first be brutal in order to demonstrate his power- the true power of Pharaoh.” Khufu looked to his son in sadness. “It sickens me what you must do to assure Egypt’s place in history, my son. I wish you the best of our hopes and dream of your visits to our new home…Empress willing.”
Khufu tried to pull Anna Beth toward the airlock hatch, but she fought him.
“We must leave, dear Anna Beth. Time is of the essence.” Khufu urged as he looked around the chamber, looking for something- Cami, Cassi, Reilly, and I maybe?
“No. I can’t leave him here! We can’t!”
Khufu wrapped his arms around Anna Beth, kissed her quickly, then picked her up, placed her over his shoulder, and carried her toward Meridian.
“NOOOOO! Put me down! Put me down! Put me down!” She cried out in overwhelming agony as she began fighting him harder- pounding his back and kicking her feet frantically.
Khufu struggled to carry Anna Beth, kicking and screaming her son’s name over and over into Meridian’s airlock.
We watched it close for the last time in this temple chamber.
Tears were flowing unimpeded from Djedefre’s eyes as he turned and walked slowly toward the Temple’s gateway.
“Empress Alexandra, I know you are here and waiting. I pray this to be what is needed for Egypt. I pray that your foresight has not misled you.” He said to the granite walls as he reached and exited through the gateway.
“We follow him.” I said numbly to my companions.
“HEAR ME!” Djedefre shouted as he stopped at the edge of the Temple’s terrace. “From this day forth, I, Djedefre, will control this land! All dissention from this day on will be treated as treason and will be punished as such! For those of you that thought my father a tyrant I will show you what a tyrant truly is!”
Screams and shouting, along with small explosions echoed from the habitable side of the Ceremonial Causeway.
“Cami, tell Djedefre that we’re ready as soon as Meridian is clear.”
“Yes, director.” She answered emotionlessly.
Djedefre continued his address of ‘his’ people.
“As I speak to you, my representatives are sifting through the gathered crowd, searching for those known to be the instigators of this unsuccessful assassination attempt of Pharaoh and Queen of Egypt- my beloved mother and father! Those not believing my claim to power will now witness a fraction of Pharaoh’s power! Seal the Temple of Ra!”
Behind us several men appeared and began to ratchet the gateway slabs closed. Within two minutes a ‘thump’ emanated from the twin slabs as they met, and a metallic bang confirmed that the ‘doors’ were sealed- much to the laborers’ surprise.
From within, the muffled sound of thrusters warming up could be heard. Meridian had begun her prelaunch.
A grinding, metallic groan echoed through the air as The Temple of Ra began to open its concealed launch tube doors. The crowd below us quieted as hundreds of people started pointing to the Pyramid’s apex, which had split into four to open like a lotus flower. Several more similar groans again echoed around us as exhaust ports opened around the pyramid’s base.
“Cami, alert Djedefre that Meridian has finished her pre-launch.”
“Message sent, director.”
“My subjects!” Djedefre shouted. “At this time I will now send the previous Pharaoh and his loyalists back into the heavens! Let this be example of my power!”
The new Pharaoh turned around and forcefully raised his arms to the sky.
Meridian’s thrusters throttled up behind the sealed temple doors. A low rumble vibrated through the stone structure just as dust and debris started escaping from the many exhaust ports. Dust-devils whipped into existence around the base of the temple.
“Hear me, my fellow Gods! On this day I, Djedefre, son of Pharaoh Khufu, send back to you, my humble mother and father! Bestow upon them your blessings and graces! Welcome them back to their eternal home where they may again reign in peace for all eternity!”
The low rumbling vibration became more pronounced- the thruster noise, very staccato as it reverberated through the exhaust ports.
Gasps echoed across those gathered as Meridian 12- a vehicle no bigger than an Earth System Trading ship’s escape pod, something that couldn’t possibly hold all those seen filing into the temple- appeared from the blossomed summit of the Sun Temple pyramid in a belch of smoke and dust. The staccato of her thrusters now earsplitting!
“Keep them safe on their journey, Mighty Empress.” Djedefre said just above the noise. Tears again flowed from his eyes.
The thrusters again increased in volume and Meridian noticeably increased her velocity. Within twenty seconds she was well out of visual range- only her maxed out thrusters could now be heard along with several sonic distortions and a long, narrow column of smoke.
“Let him know we’re ready to continue, Cami.” I said sadly. It really seemed like a waste to destroy something that I had supervised construction of for five years. Still, the Sun Temple had served its purpose- and now it would serve to once again solidify Pharaoh’s rule.
Djedefre nodded very slightly in acknowledgement, wiped his eyes dry, and turned around. He began walking down the granite steps- head hung low in sadness. My companions and I followed. We didn’t stop until we were several hundred yards back from it on the causeway.
“I wish to never see this abomination in my eyesight ever again!” He shouted angrily as he pointed back to the granite encased structure “Be gone, cursed temple!”
Again Djedefre raised his arms to the sky. That was our cue.
“Indulge yourselves my sisters, but leave some of the foundation stones as a reminder to all of the great power of Pharaoh.” I said, tasking Cami and Cassi to the temple’s demolition.
Huge multi ton blocks of stone began explosively ejecting themselves from the pyramid. Thunderous explosions echoed from within. Hysterical shouts, screams, and cries erupted from the gathered throngs.
With almost nothing left of the pyramid’s superstructure, another tremendous explosion erupted out of its center. A mushroom cloud of smoke, dust, and debris rose from the now completely destroyed main chamber. What was still standing, collapsed inwardly, destroying and burying Meridian’s launch facility for all eternity.
For four and one half thousand years the Sun Temple, Temple of Ra, or simply ‘Djedefre’s Pyramid’ would lay undiscovered. And even after discovery, its purpose would be debated and argued for centuries longer.
Once the dust had cleared and the devastation revealed to the gathered public, Pharaoh lowered his arms.
“I thank you for your assistance, Cassi and Camille Darough.” Djedefre said just above a whisper. “I had hoped that there would be another way, but I must trust the wisdom of Empress Alexandra.”
Concentrating- and without warning, I released the hands of my sisters, and walked over to the new Pharaoh.
“Your Mother and Father are safe on Terra Nuevo, the new home of your mother’s people, Djedefre,” I whispered in his ear as I continued to concentrate on keeping my companions and I out of phase, “You know how to reach me if and when you want to go see them. Until we meet again, rule wisely, equitably, and fairly, young Pharaoh.”
Djedefre fought hard to keep his emotions in check as I turned and returned to my companions. Only Cassi and Reilly looked stunned by my releasing their hands.
“Might we return to base now, Empress?” Cami asked stoically as I reestablished contact with her and my daughter. I noticed all three of my companions had been crying.
“One item still remains to be rectified, sisters.” I said, feeling just as distraught as they looked.
Pharaoh’s residence appeared around us.
“Halt! State your business, lowly peasants,” a spear wielding man shouted- immediately pointing the crude weapon at us!
“You will address my mother in a civil manner!” Reilly growled as she took an instant disliking to the man.
“I am not intimidated by women! State your reason for trespassing in Pharaoh’s residence or face immediate execution!”
“Up yers, asshole!” Reilly again growled as she presented him with her right middle finger. “How dare you threaten Alexandra, Empress of Time and Space!?”
“Empress of Time and Space? Huh! You expect me to believe that one of you is this ‘Empress’? Do not take me for a fool, young whores!”
Reilly leaned forward and looked past me to Cami and Cassi. Both looked…angered.
“Your funeral, pal.” She laughed outright at our accuser. “Word of warning?” She paused with a smile on her face.
“Never piss-off a Mind Warrior!” she paused again. “Though with two pissed-off Mind Warriors, you might want to drop that knitting needle of yours and run like hell. You may just live through the next five seconds.” My daughter continued calmly.
“Huh! I am not afraid of your empty threats, foolish one! I am entitled by Pharaoh! He rules these lands, not some fair-haired woma…Huh?” The rude guard decried before he began to lift off the granite floor. “What is this magic?”
“Now you did it! Nice knowing ya, pal.” Reilly continued.
“Alexandra?” a man’s voice rang out from down the passageway.
“Alexandra! You have returned! It has been so long since I have seen you.” Djedefre’s familiar voice continued in excited salutation. “Lady Camille, please, he only wishes to protect me.”
“Mother is not accustomed to being greeted with words such as ‘fool’ or especially ‘whore’, Pharaoh!” Reilly growled to the approaching man.
“Is this true, Tolis?” Djedefre asked in surprise.
“They appeared out of thin air, my Pharaoh! I had to assume them hostile.”
“Did they not introduce themselves?”
“One of them claims to be some Empress of Time and Space, my Pharaoh. That cannot be, since there is no one more powerful than Pharaoh, M’lord.”
“Djedefre, the man did accuse us of prostitution, but we have heard far worse.” I said, answering his original question to the guard.
Djedefre regarded the guard then looked back down the passageway in the direction he had come. Several men were curiously observing us.
Placing his hand on the man’s weapon, Djedefre calmly took the spear from his guard. Then taking several steps back, he viscously thrust it into the guard. The blade passed straight through the unsuspecting man. Blood immediately poured from the fatal wound.
My sisters tightened their grips.
“You never embarrass my invited guests! You are dismissed from my service, Tolis!” He shouted, angrily pulling the spear from his victim’s back, though his eyes showed a different- sadder- emotion.
“Servants! Get this worthless trash cleaned up!” He commanded in a loud voice as a tear rolled down his left cheek. His face calmed instantly.
“If you would follow me, ladies?” Djedefre said politely before motioning us to follow. “I wish not to be disturbed!” He ordered as we walked past the other men.
3:00PM, Pharaoh’s Residence, Egypt, Day 2, 2489BC
“I’m sorry you had to see that, my friends.” Djedefre apologized after closing and locking the doors of what used to be Anna Beth’s suite. “I have found- to my dismay- that I must keep up appearances. I had hoped to return to something closer to father’s rule, but in the thirty-one years since their departure, things have not worked out as I planned.”
A knock sounded from the doors we had just entered through.
“Excuse me a moment.” Djedefre said politely as he went to reopen one of the doors.
“My mate, rumor has spread that you have ‘passed judgment’ on another protector. May I ask what this one did to receive punishment?” A young woman’s voice asked from behind it.
“We have special guests, Hetepheres. Come in and I’ll introduce you.”
Djedefre ushered a very young woman- I’d say a revision of fourteen or sixteen revolutions at most. The girl couldn’t have been more than one point five meters in height. She was definitely in her late second or early third trimester, though.
“Hetepheres, my I introduce Alexandra…” He paused, awaiting my sir-designation. I took the liberty- completely against Terran protocol- to introduce myself and my companions.
“Alexandra Reilly. To my right are my assistant Camille Darough and her daughter, Cassiopeia To my left, my own daughter, Reilly. I’m happy Djedefre has found a mate to give him heirs.”
Hetepheres’ eyes popped and her mouth dropped open having heard the word ‘daughter’ twice from my mouth.
Time awkwardly passed in silence for two minutes.
“Forgive me, Alexandra, you and Camille do not look old enough to both have grown daughters.” She awkwardly apologized. I doubted she even believed me.
Not wanting to waste more time, Djedefre looked to his mate and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Hetepheres, this is Alexandra?” He accentuated my name as if hinting that she should know me.
The young girl’s eyes bulged once again as understanding came to her.
Falling immediately to her knees, Hetepheres apologized.
“Apologies, Alexandra! I thought your existence a legend. Can you forgive me, Empress?”
“Please get off the floor, honey. I’d hate for you to lose your revision…baby because of me.” I told the girl.
“Thank you, Empress.” Hetepheres said graciously as she awkwardly tried to stand back up. Reilly and I leaned in to help her.
“My greatful thanks, Empress and Princess Reilly. Pharaoh’s heir grows heavier as the time nears.”
“Cami and I understand fully, honey.” I said looking to my own daughter. “The only saving grace was the slightly lower gravity on their birth planet.” I added with a smile.
Again the girl’s eyes popped and mouth dropped.
“But I thought there was no place other than Egypt, my Pharaoh? It was taught that Egypt was the center of all life- that there was nothing but the Gods in the heave…”
The girl suddenly stopped and fell to the floor on her knees again. That had to be painful!
“Why would someone teach you that, honey?” I asked in amazement. “Djedefre, what has been going on in the few decades since the start of your reign?”
I mentally asked Cami to help the expecting teen to her feet again. The girl let out a startled squeak as she began to hover. Looking terrified, she unfolded her legs with trepidation.
“That’s better, honey. Just so you know…none of my sisters- or me, for that matter- none of us are Gods. We’re just normal humans- some of us just hail from another solar system.” I giggled.
Djedefre snorted in disagreement. “You all are far from normal, Aunt Alexandra!”
“She is related to…”
“Simply a very important friend of my mother’s, Hetepheres. Alexandra and her sisters rescued my mother from the evil Hathor two years before my birth. I’ve always called her ‘aunt’ even though she insists I call her Alex. How are my parents, Aunt Alexandra?”
“I’d say they were the same as when we left the Sun Temple site, honey- since we just left there.” I answered frankly.
I didn’t give the expectant mother another chance to hit the granite. “And you better not drop to your knees again, honey! I travel through time…that’s my gift. Get used to it.”
“I thought ‘time travel’ only to be possible in one direction, Empress.”
“Usually it is, honey, but when I’m around ‘linear’ time flies out the window.” I gloated. Where did I pick up that coquelalism?
Of course- Alex Steinert.
Djedefre’s mate stared at me in confusion.
“Are you in need of nourishment, Aunt Alex?” Djedefre asked, changing the subject from my gift and Hetepheres’ incomprehension.
“That would be acceptable.” I answered politely.
Having spent the last two hours in Pharaoh’s residence, I got the distinct impression that the entire staff was ‘walking on eggshells’- another ‘Alex Steinert-ism’.
“So…Aunt Alex…what brings you ladies here…and why did it take so long to pay us a visit?” Djedefre asked innocently.
There it was.
I decided to play it ‘cool’.
Curse Alex Covington’s memories!
“I noticed that the guards have reverted to using manual weapons. I take it you have outlawed all particle and energy weapons- all holographic camouflage?”
“It was necessary to disarm the population, Alex. Only when unarmed could I enact my reforms.”
I nodded my comprehension.
“And what of the technical ‘conveniences’,” I continued, “Communication devices employing personal or governmental frequencies, computational devices, and multimedia?”
“Of what does the Empress speak, my Pharaoh? What are ‘technical conveniences’?”
Djedefre’s eyes narrowed and his face angered. Cami and Cassi started to fidget- constantly glancing to me to check my temper.
“So,” I began, but paused for twenty seconds. “If I were to request lodgings for the night, would there be enough room, Pharaoh Djedefre?”
“Of course there would be room, Alexandra. There will always be room for the Empress and her companions.” Djedefre smiled brightly.
“Of course, honey, of course.” I replied with a forced smile of my own. “But how many of your children and their mothers would you have to displace for that to happen, hmmm?”
My companions’ eyes widened.
Djedefre smiled broadly. “Of course you would already know, Empress,” Djedefre chuckled. “I knew I couldn’t put that past you!”
“So…your ‘plan’ was to take Egypt back to the stone-age- to make Pharaoh the sole owner and controller of technology for this side of the planet?”
“My Pharaoh, I am confused! Is the Empress accusing you of withholding items to make our live’s easier? I don’t understand!” Hetepheres asked in conflict.
“It is not your place to question Pharaoh, mate.” Djedefre growled- his eyes grew even angrier.
“Nor is it acceptable in some cultures to impregnate one’s daughter, ‘Great’ Pharaoh Djedefre!” I challenged calmly. My eyes were now fully locked on his, as were Hetepheres’.
“How far ultimate power has caused you to fall! I would have never expected the frightened little boy I once knew to become the planet’s biggest tyrant!”
“You know nothing of the problems I faced- the trials in my life after the departure of Khufu!” He snapped, glaring at me.
“I know all too well the problems of your own making, honey. How you masterminded the very coup that overthrew your father.” I said, calmly calling his bluff.
My sisters balked at my declaration.
“My Pharaoh, please tell me she is wrong! Tell her I am not your daughter! You must tell the Empress the truth! Please my…” Hetepheres cried in anguish.
She was interrupted by Djedefre pulling his knife.
“No.” I said simply as Djedefre stopped dead in mid thrust toward the girl’s bloated abdomen.
“Cassie and I were wondering how long you would let him go, Alex. Why wait so long?” Cami asked as we watched Hetepheres’ eyes once again pop out of her cranium. She instantly bolted from her seat and ran around the table to me where she wrapped her shaking arms around my shoulders.
“Empress! What did you do to Pharaoh? Why is he not moving?” Hetepheres cried out rapid-fire.
“He is unharmed, honey.” I told the quivering mother–to-be. “For him, time has stopped. Your murderous Pharaoh will be fine once I choose to restore it.”
“You stopped…time…for him? Just for him?” She questioned incomprehensively.
“Just for him, honey.” I acknowledged. “Didn’t you want me to? If that is your decision, simply tell me and retake your seat next to him.”
“But if time is restarted for him, then he will continue with his attack!”
“True.” I admitted. “But I cannot keep you from your decision, Hetepheres, youngest daughter of Pharaoh Djedefre.”
“I may have been…be naive, Empress, but I choose self-preservation.”
“Good girl. Now, we give you a choice, Hetepheres. Stay here to ultimately face Pharaoh’s wrath, or…” I paused to look at my daughter a minute. “Or take my hand to go meet your Grandparents.”
“I chose self-preservation, Empress. How could that come to pass if you took me to meet the deceased Khufu and his queen Anu’bth?”
I looked to my three companions. “Did I say anything about going to see deleted revisions…dead people?”
“But Pharaoh…he told me that Khufu and Queen Anu’bth departed this Earth from the Temple of Ra shortly before he, himself laid waste to it!”
“First off, sweetie. Djedefre could no sooner destroy that temple than I could port myself through that wall.” Cami told the girl.
“Secondly, Mother and I are responsible for the Sun Temple’s demise, thank you very much!” Cassi continued.
“And finally,” Reilly concluded, “My mother never said anything about Khufu and Anna Beth being deceased! We just talked with them three weeks ago on Terra Nuevo!”
“Terra…new-vo? Is that what the heavenly temple is called?”
“No, you twit…” Reilly hissed angrily before I resumed answering her question.
“Terra Nuevo is the new planetary home of your Grandmother’s people. Anna Beth- not Anu’bth, mind you- was the commander of an intergalactic exploration starship that crash-landed here in Egypt. What was described as Pharaoh Khufu and his ‘loyalists’ shootin’ inta the heavens was that starship takin’ off from the temple’s launch platform.” I explained as I smiled brightly. “Would y’all like to meet your Grandparents, honey?”
“Would I then be brought back here?” She asked.
The girl was finally catching on.
“Only if y’all wish to, Hetepheres.”
“Alex, your nose has experienced an aneurism.” Cami caught my attention.
Hetepheres noticed as soon as Cami told me.
“Empress? Why does your nose bleed?”
“Holdin’ time in check ain’t as easy as it looks hun. Could y’all please hurry this along?”
“Mother…” Reilly started to say.
“Ah know! Uhm startin’ ta sound like muh sister! Hun, if y’all wanna see yer Granma an’ Granpappy, y’all better take a hand! This trip might hurt a bit.” I said making her mind up for her.
“Director, the house A.I?” Cami reminded me.
“Fine. Y’all keep yer eye on ol’ ‘caint-keep-it-in-‘is- pants’ there an’ I’ll transfer Meridian.” I tiredly grumped.
Time, for Djedefre, restarted. His knife thrust garnered no flesh, though.
“Aaaahhhh! Why do you take away my satisfaction?” Djedefre growled after realizing what had happened!
“Killing your daughter and your unborn heir? That’s real adult, hun! Ma an’ Pa would be so proud ah y’all!” I told him. “So, Ah guess its time to do what ah come here fer. Meridian! Code Alpha, Alpha, Gamma, Transfer, ReillyDirector4386, Nebula, Destruct, Beta, Confirm!”
“Orders confirmed, Empress. High-Gain Transceiver now online. Handshaking. Connection with Reilly Research Facility confirmed. Transfering OS and all databases for archiving.” The residence A.I. acknowledged.
“What are you doing?” Djedefre screamed in hatred as he tried to leap over the table at me! He found himself hovering horizontally in the air.
“What’s good fer the goose is good fer the gander, hun.” I said with no emotion.
“But I am Pharaoh!” He hissed.
“So what, ya ignorant putz!” Reilly sassed back. “Anyone that would kill a defenseless, expectant mother isn’t worthy of calling himself Pharaoh- or any other kind of honorable Ruler for that matter! You are despicable, cowardly, and inappropriate for commanding thousands of people!” Reilly dropped my hand and disappeared, only to reappear next to Djedefre. She forcefully pried the knife from his hand and tossed it across the room. It stuck in the hair-thin seam between two wall blocks. “You won’t be needing this until after we leave, you sorry, failed revision!”
“Transfer complete. Systematic detonations will commence on completion of contact activation sequence.” The A.I. informed us. Reilly reappeared next to me and gently took my hand again.
“Cami, if you will do the honors?” I said sadly.
“Cassi, you take interlocks twenty through forty-five, I’ll take Alpha-one through nineteen.”
“Whenever you’re ready, mom.” Cassi nodded back.
“Empress? What are they doing? What are interlocks?” Hetepheres asked innocently.
“Interlocks are points in any given system that must actuate in order to do something. They make sure that something- or someone in this case- is sure they want the sequence to proceed.”
“And ‘systematic detonations’, Empress?” She continued, just as innocently.
“All modern conveniences will be destroyed in this residence, hun. In effect, Djedefre will now be no better off than his people. He will now have to suffer without technology like they have for thirty years.” I told her.
“Sequence Alpha complete. Go for sequence Beta, Cassi.” Cami announced.
“Rodger that, mom.” Cassi acknowledged. “Hetepheres! Look out!”
A knife spun through the air toward the young mother-to-be from our left. It immediately stopped in space and spun back where it came from at a much faster rate. The unseen thrower groaned in agony as the blade hit its new mark.
“Sequence complete, director.”
“Detonation interlock sequence has completed successfully. Detonation to commense in two minutes and thirty seconds. Two and twenty-nine, two and twenty-eight, two and twenty-seven…” The AI began.
“Time to go, y’all.” I said as I set our destination in my mind. “I’d run, Djedefre. Run like y’all never run before!” I strongly suggested before pulling my mental trigger.
I swear, I will never get used to this sudden collapsing! The fast moving stars were impossibly beautiful when I was the one ‘driving’ though.
Within a few seconds, we found ourselves on Terra Nuevo- New Memphis, specifically. Around us, in the main market center, people went about their daily routines. I hadn’t rephased us yet, thanking my sister, Alex Steinert, for suggesting we do that until clear of obstructions or danger.
“Rephasing in three, two, one.” I announced as I saw an opening in the pedestrian traffic.
Several people stopped what they were doing as they noticed us appear.
“Empress, you bring us more refugees from Egypt?” One man asked as he came nearer to see who we brought.
“Am I imagining this, Empress? Are we really on a different planet- in the heavens?”
“Welcome to New Memphis, Terra Nuevo, Hetepheres.” I told the flabbergasted girl.
“Could I bother you to alert Khufu, Anna Beth, or both? Tell them I bring them visitors.” I said, walking over to another man, this one dressed in official state covering.
“At once, M’lady!” He said quietly placing his left index finger to his ear. “Councilman Azwan to Councilman Khufu. Grand High Council Advisor Alexandra has just arrived in the main thoroughfare and requests audience with you or Councilwoman Anna Beth at once.”
He paused as if listening.
“Five ladies including Grand High Council Advisor Alexandra, sir. She claims to bring you visitors.”
Again he paused.
“Right away, sir. ETA: five minut…” He started to reply only to be interrupted by Cassi extending her hand to him.
“Where to, hun?” I asked interrupting him again.
“New Memphis Council building, M’lady. The counselor’s office.”
A large business office appeared around us. Khufu and Anna Beth sat at separate desks looking anxiously around the room. Making sure everyone was clear of obstacles, I rephased us.
Khufu and Anna Beth stared at us sadly for a moment. Anna Beth giving her husband a forlorn shrug of her shoulders.
“Greetings, Alexandra! To what do we honor this visitation?” Khufu greeted as he stood and walked around to us. While doing so, he appraised Hetepheres.
“We bring you important visitors- visitors that have expressed interest in residency here in New Memphis, Councilman.” I explained.
“Visitors, Alexandra? Oh, I see. What is your name, young lady, so I might address you properly?”
“Wow, Uncle Tibius sure put the protocol screws to you, didn’t he?” Reilly interrupted rudely.
I squeezed her hand harder.
“Alright, mother!” She whispered angrily.
“I am called Hetepheres, Councilman. The Empress has brought me far across the heavens- to sanctuary from m…”
“We rescued Hetepheres from a bunch of cutthroats, Councilman. Lady Cassi had to ‘deal’ with one of them, sir. She seeks asylum with her Grandparents here in New Memphis.” I interrupted before the girl could spoil things.
“Oh? And what would your Grandparents names’ be, Lady Hetepheres?” Khufu asked, politely.
“I am told their names were Khufu and Anna…Beth, Councilman.”
“Khufu’s mouth dropped open- as did Anna Beth’s.
“Did I miss them?” Hetepheres asked in confusion. “Are they no longer of this world?”
Khufu gulped loudly. Anna Beth looked ready to lose consciousness.
“They are indeed still among us, young Lady Hetepheres.” Khufu assured her.
Anna Beth staggered from her desk slowly.
“You are our granddaughter?” She asked quietly. As she stopped in front of the expectant mother, she looked to Khufu aghast.
“I…I am Khufu and this is Anna Beth, Lady Hetepheres. We…we…wwwee are your Grandparents.”
Without warning the girl dropped to her knees!
“Forgive me, Pharaoh! I have never been given description…I…”
“Get off the floor, child. We kneel to no one here!” Anna Beth told her lovingly.
“Councilman Azwan, thank you very much for providing service to Grand High Council Advisor Alexandra and her staff. Alexandra, could you reposition the Councilman, please?”
“Of course, sir.” I said happily as I offered my hand.
To everyone in the office, I shimmered for a nanosecond. I had, in fact, had a very interesting conversation with Councilman Azwan when we arrived back at the central market. He seemed interested in Hetepheres. There would be more than ‘interest’ in the girl after she gave birth, my foresight told me. I smiled.
Anna Beth immediately raised an eyebrow to me as I arrived back in the office. She obviously noted my change of expression.
“So how is my son? Is he healthy?” Khufu asked Hetepheres.
“I’ll say he’s healthy.” Reilly said from the side of her mouth.
I again took and squeezed her hand tightly.
“He is well, but conflicted, Pharaoh. We are due in less than five weeks.” She answered.
“Oh shit.” Reilly again mouthed quietly.
I squeezed tighter. My daughter turned her head and glared at me.
I quickly shot her a glare of my own.
“Oh dear! And you told Alex you were attacked? Have respect or decency become extinct in Egypt?” Anna Beth gasped.
Hetepheres looked at Anna Beth as if she did not know the two words.
“I’m afraid Egypt is not the land you left.” I said heading off Hetepheres’ expected answer. Anna Beth raised a single eyebrow.
‘Alex, she is probing the girl’s mind.’ Cami alerted me.
‘Saw it coming, sweetheart. Get ready for a large fusion giant flare.’ I thought back.
“She carries Pharaoh’s child, Khufu.” Anna Beth abruptly informed her mate.
“So the royal line is continued? Good!” He answered, not completely understanding.
Anna Beth rolled her eyes at her mate.
“She carries Djedefre’s child, my mate.”
Khufu slowly turned his head to her then slowly turned it back to Hetepheres.
“Shit. Here it comes.” Reilly whispered her warning.
I again tightened my grip on my daughter’s hand.
“But you claim to be our Granddaughter…” Khufu said as his mouth dropped open.
“That is what the Empress informed me right before Pharaoh tried to kill me and his yet-to-be-borne heir, Councilman.” Hetepheres said as she lowered her head in shame.
“Empress! We must go back to Egypt! I have a great many questions that Djedefre must answer!” Anna Beth growled in red-faced anger. In all the Empress’ memories, I could not remember her looking this enraged. “Khufu, ready Meridian for immediate departure!”
“I will make no such journeys back to Egypt in the near future, Anna Beth. Pharaoh Djedefre will be but a historical figure when the Empress revisit’s that region of Earth.” I told them firmly. “Before leaving, we enacted ‘Code Alpha, Alpha’. You know I would only do that if absolutely necessary.”
“You blew up my residence?” Khufu raised his voice in angry surprise. As Anna Beth’s face turned another shade of…how did Reilly put it? Ah…’pissed-off’.
“He claimed he needed to destroy all technology to better control the peoples of Egypt, Councilman. When we arrived there- thirty-one years after your departure- Egypt had fallen back into the Stone Age- nothing more advanced than a knife and spear.”
“But you destroyed my residence!”
“I’m very sorry about that, councilman, but he laid claim to the only tech in North Africa. Why should he live in absolute luxury when his people live in poverty and squalor?”
“Councilman Khufu, on our arrival, Djedefre speared one of his protectors through the back for not greeting us properly. I believe it was in response to other’s watching a short distance away.” Cami informed him.
“My son…my son…he stabed someone in the back? What has become of our son, my mate?” Khufu asked as he looked again to Anna Beth.
Instead, Anna Beth looked toward Hetepheres.
“Are you positive this child is of our blood, Alex?”
I nodded. “The genetic test you will now order will confirm it, my sister.”
“But Pharaoh said you were a friend of Queen Anna Beth, Empress. Am I to believe anything I have been told?”
“Alexandra is more than just a ‘friend’ child! She is my rescuer…my benefactor; my…she truly is my sister, young Hetepheres. I owe Alexandra- all three of them- my life!”
The door to the office slid open with a ‘whoosh’ sound.
“You called for me, Councilwoman?” Another familiar female voice asked as Heidi Wolmacher entered.
On seeing my companions and me, she immediately bowed, placing her right fist over her heart.
“Empress, I didn’t know that you had arrived. Welcome back to Terra Nuevo, M’ladies.
I laughed. At least she hadn’t dropped to one knee like all my other sisters.
“It’s nice to be back, Lady Heidi.”
“I shall alert Tibius to your arrival, M’lady, though I believe he already knows.”
“I’m sure that Gaillan and Timus have already sensed our arrival.” I hinted as to which Empress I was.
“I’m sorry, Empress. I still cannot tell the three of you apart.” She apologized then looked at Reilly. “I trust you and Lady Reilly have had a good heart to heart, Empress?”
“For all the good it did.” I answered with a giggle and a sideways glare to my daughter.
“So how go trade negotiations?” I asked wishing to rub Reilly a little more in the wrong direction.
“They have been salvaged, M’lady. Lady Camille’s gift produced wonderful results. I am happy to say that interplanetary trade will benefit all who attended the summit. My thanks to you, Ladies Camille and Cassieopia.” Heidi answered before turning slightly and bowing to my two Mind Warriors.
“Well, so much for me pointing out the pitfalls.” Reilly griped under her breath.
“Quite the contrary, Lady Reilly! Your concerns were resubmitted- properly this time- and we- High Council- found merit on all points. Your Uncle, Grand High Council Tibius incorporated them into the final proposal. I believe they were what brought about a successful ratification. I have been authorized to pass along thanks from your father, your uncle Tibius, and Nathan.”
I heard my daughter let out a deep sigh…or was it her stagnant breath?
“As to your reason for calling me here, M’lady?’ Heidi enquired.
“Yes, Heidi, I wish to formally request genetic comparison of this young lady to my and Councilman Khufu’s organic code.”
“I will assign a healer as soon as I return to my office, M’lady. My I ask if there is any noteable problems you suspect to be inherited?”
“Not at all. We simply wish to confirm the Empress’ theory that she is our Granddaughter. We also would request genetic comparison of her child.” Anna Beth replied.
“I shall start the proper forms and send them to you, Lady Anna Beth. They should arrive by midday.”
“Thank you, Heidi. I don’t know how we would have survived all the bureaucracy without your formidable experience!” Anna Beth said as she walked over and embraced the professionally dressed woman.
“It is my pleasure, M’lady. Empress, may I enquire as to how long you and our sisters will be staying?”
“I think a few days- provided our mates control themselves,” I paused to glance at Cassi and then Reilly. “Or, unless Cassi and/or Reilly find mates this time.” I giggled.
“Oh, ha ha, mother! You know David Cummins is my soul mate. We’ve both seen that quite vividly.” Reilly protested, but her expression changed immediately. “Well…maybe I saw it more vividly anyway.” She added sheepishly.
Terra Neuvo, 9:10AM, Climax, Neptunian 30th, 437 of the New Era
“Alexandra, thank you for bringing Hetepheres to us. We will do our best to teach her everything that has been kept from her.” Khufu said as we prepared to leave. He and Anna Beth each had a hand placed on one of Hetepheres’ shoulders. The girl, though looking awkward and uncomfortable, seemed happy.
“So where to now, Aunt Alex?” Alex Steinert’s Alexis asked. She had traveled to New Memphis to visit yesterday and stayed the night in Khufu and Anna Beth’s guest quarters with us.
“I was thinking we should spend some time at home, honey. I probably have reams and reams of paperwork to do by now.” I replied.
“Mom, you haven’t used paper in well over nine hundred years!” Reilly countered. My niece politely covered her mouth and giggled.
“It was a figure of speech, Reilly!” I groused.
“I know that, mother.” Reilly giggled back.
“Cousin? What we talked about late last night- that topic? You remember it, right?” Alexis asked Reilly cryptically.
“I have not forgotten, Lady Alexis.” Reilly answered with a wink.
“Then we are square, cousin?”
Reilly nodded. “We are. Tell Nathan, Father, and Uncle Tibius I am sorry.”
Alexis nodded with closed eyes. “Travel well, Empress.”
It was my turn to nod as I offered my hands to my travel companions.
New Memphis collapsed to black instantly and a universe of moving stars surrounded us then everything went black again before my Director’s conference room at Reilly reappeared.
“Welcome, Empress. It is 12:13PM, July 2nd, 2020BC. Billie Sangiere has been expecting you in her office, director.” RVP informed me as soon as we rephased.
I thanked Reilly, Cassi, and Cami for traveling with me and turned to walk into my office. Walking behind my desk, I noticed Reilly hadn’t gone on her way- instead, she had followed me.
Is there something I can do for you, honey?” I asked with a neutral expression.
“I think we need some time to ourselves, mom. Take my hand, please?”
“If you just want some privacy, we can go to my domain, honey.”
“No, this time I’m driving, mom.” My daughter smiled as we changed locations. I hadn’t even touched her hand yet.
Kili’s south coast appeared around us.
“Reilly? How did you do that, honey?” I asked before consulting my gift.
“I’ve been experimenting with my gift, mom. I can’t go real far forward or back in time, but I found I can shift locations pretty easily- after just a few days of practice.” She replied happily. “What do you think, huh?”
I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her tight! “I’m very proud of you, honey,” I said as I squeezed tighter. “I have improved my revision.”
“That’s a little cold isn’t it, mom? I mean…I prefer ‘daughter’ over ‘revision’. Reilly asked gently.
“I didn’t mean it like that, honey. That’s just the scientist portion of me.” I explained as I released her. “So you moved us back a day?”
She looked surprised that I knew.
“If I tried hard enough I could probably manage two in either direction, sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, honey! You’ve done something that your cousins haven’t. I think that’s absolutely wonderful!” I said wrapping my arms around her again. I was so proud!
“Actually…Alexis showed me how to do it, mom.” My daughter admitted shyly. “But she asked me not to let on to Aunt Alex or Alexandra. She wanted it to be our little secret.”
I closed my eyes a moment to consult my gift.
“You do realize that your cousins Cassandra and Samantha are also compatible?”
“And if they can do this, so can our Cassie and Sam.” Reilly added logically.
“So can Cassandra, Samantha, and Alexis on the Homeworld…or any other universe where they exist.”
“Mom? You didn’t tell me anything about the Homeworld. I thought that wasn’t habitable yet?” Reilly looked surprised and stared at me with interest.
I took a minute to think of how I wanted to break the news, deciding to follow Alex Steinert’s model.
“Your Aunts Alex, Cami, Jacquelyn, Yuuka, and I visited the Homeworld a few weeks ago…” I started to say.
“A few weeks by you’re standard or mine, mom?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“Yours, but does it really matter, honey? Just know that we visited the Homeworld and I met my Grandmother.
“You met Great-grammy? Why didn’t you tell me? When can we go meet her?” Reilly asked excitedly.
I nodded to the first question but remained silent to the rest choosing to smile instead.
Reilly keyed up her black bikini and her modern sunglasses from the early twenty-first century.
“Tell me all about it! What was she like? What was the Homeworld like?”
I paused a minute.
“Weeeellll…your Great-grandmother…she looks a lot like me- like your Aunt Alex actually…as a matter of fact…she was Alexandra Steinert…”
8:30PM, Reilly Research Station, Kili Island, July 3rd, 2020BC
“So how is Reilly taking the news?” Billie Sangiere asked as we met up in the passageway outside the level two, recreation room.
“About as well as I expected, and as well as you have seen.” I responded.
“I saw no such thing, I’ll have you know!” She protested.
I rolled my eyes at her and entered the Rec Room, heading straight for the food dispenser. Billie’s constant denial of her gift had started getting old almost immediately upon her restoration, now it was just aggravating beyond description.
“Four buttermilk pancakes- stacked- butter between each level; maple syrup on top- heavy; Empress-blend coffee- black.” I ordered.
Picking up my tray, I headed over to my traditional seat and table. I sat down at the vacant table and began eating in silence. How I missed my sister Alexandra Steinert, Jack, and Emily. We had spent so much time together the last few months…
“You know…sullen doesn’t work for you, Alex.” Jack…I mean Billie said from beside me.
“Let me guess…that’s your forte and you alone hold the patent?”
“More or less. I just meant that you look better when you’re smiling, Alex. You seem to glow when you’re happy.”
I snorted quickly. “You haven’t seen me when I get angry, Billie. If you had…you would know how corny that line sounds…and how wrong you actually are.” I replied as I pictured Alex Steinert’s frightening demonstration in Egypt on our previous mission. It was more of a test to see if Billie was using her multifaceted gift despite her vehement denunciations.
Her face paled and she gasped while her eyes grew larger.
“Couldn’t resist, could you? What happened to ‘I don’t use my gifts, Alexandra’, Billie? I thought the ‘virginal queen’, cold and infallible?”
“I still don’t like to use my gifts, Alex. It just doesn’t feel right- it’s like an abuse of power.”
“It’s not abuse if you use them for the right reasons- such as for helping others, Billie.” I reminded.
“I just don’t like to use them, Alex.” Billie sighed. “Look, can we just converse as we did before the Homeworld incident? Before the arguments…the confrontations…you know…the good times?”
“Need I remind you that we are not the same people we were then?”
“I get reminded of that every month now, Alex.” Billie giggled nervously.
I smiled back tensely.
“So just how far can you go now?” I asked innocently as another fork of pancake entered my mouth for consumption.
Billie stared at me with a mixture of fascination, anger, and understanding.
“How long have you known?” she asked calmly.
“I guess I always have.” I replied honestly while subtly tapping my forehead with my finger.
Billie closed her eyes and sighed loudly again.
“And, I suppose, you also know that Reilly has just arrived, but out of phase to our right?”
I nodded as the seat to our right moved away from the table on its own.
“Care for a seat, Ms. Reilly?” Billie asked neutrally.
“Thank you, my queen.” Reilly replied graciously as she rephased and sat down.
“So,” Billie asked, “What is it like…traveling through time like your mother?”
“Enticing, my queen. How about you?” Reilly reciprocated.
“I can’t travel through time, Reilly. That isn’t part of my gift.” Billie answered sadly.
Reilly only nodded once and glanced to me for a second.
“I think I’ll get something to eat. I feel hungry today.” Reilly said as she got back up and headed for the nearest food dispenser. She came back with two waffles smothered in butter and maple syrup: a cinnamon pastry, four strips of bacon, and a cup of black coffee.
I looked at my daughter strangely. I noticed Billie do likewise.
“Did something happen on Terra Nuevo, Reilly?” Billie inquired.
She looked at us with a forkful of waffle and the fork still in her mouth.
“Nnnnnno? Why do you ask, Highness?” She answered, confused, yet stuffing another forkful in her mouth.
“Looks to me like you’re eating for two.” Billie said nodding at the two full plates.
Reilly immediately dropped her utensil and stared.
“Oh…I get it…ha, ha.” Reilly stuck her tongue out at Billie. “At least I’m not dead set against it ever happening to me!” She continued before resuming her feeding frenzy.
“So how long did you go this time, honey?” I asked just to change the subject.
Two days! Can you believe it? I went ahead two days!” She answered in between forkfuls.
“Honey,” I began, “We’ve only been back from Terra Nuevo for twenty hours…or might you be counting you taking us back a day when we first got back. Remember we lounged on the south beach for half the day?” I concluded with a wink between us.
“Crap, it didn’t work!” She exclaimed as her fork dropped to her plate.
I giggled, despite feeling sorry she had not achieved her intended goal.
“So that’s why I sensed you the other day.” Billie let slip.
Reilly and I rolled our eyes as Billie blushed deeply.
“Nooooooo! I don’t use my gifts!” Reilly said to Kili’s reigning queen. “You do realize we all know you use them, Billie! Why not just come out of the closet- so to speak- and admit it?”
“But I don’t like to use my gift! I don’t feel right doing that.” Billie repeated what was becoming her mantra as Reilly mocked her every word. “That is not nice, Reilly! I wish you would stop mimicking me!” Billie continued with Reilly still matching her, word, inflection, and tempo. “I’m serious, Reilly! Stop it, this instant!”
Billie Sangiere disappeared. Only then did my daughter stop her tormenting.
“Well, she won’t be back for awhile.” Reilly chirped as she reached for Billie’s barely touched breakfast. “Can’t let this go to waste, can we?”
“You do remember that all unfinished nourishment is recycled, right?” I asked in amazement of my daughter’s blatant action.
“In one way or another, yes mom.” She giggled.
I rolled my eyes at her.
“Did you really have to do this, honey?” I asked as I sighed. “We just got back and I had thought of a little shore leave.” Shoreleave? Why had I used one of Alex Steinert’s axioms?
“I miss Aunt Alex too, mom- her and Aunts Emily and Jacki.” Reilly comforted. “So when do we leave for Greece?”
“I’ll leave when I’m good and ready, Reilly. I think Billie needs to handle things by herself for a while. She’s the one who lost her temper and her concentration after all.”
Reilly closed her eyes for thirty seconds.
“So you, Lily, and Fay? Can’t I go along, mom?” Reilly smiled deviously.
“Go tell Yuuka to requisition enough honey for three weeks, but I want you on your best behavior, young lady!”
Reilly vanished from beside me. Her plates had also vanished.
“So Billie finally had enough, Alex?” Cami asked as she walked over carrying her own breakfast.
“So what’s the occasion, sweetheart?” I asked as she sat down.
“Huh?” Cami asked, oblivious. “Oh! I just decided to give my gift a break for today.” She said, finally getting it.
“Okay…just for breakfast.” Cami giggled brightly. “So, should Cassi and I get suited up?”
“Alexandra is arriving in two hours to borrow you and Cassi for a mission that will require a Mind Warrior trio, sweetheart- and before you say anything- it’s just to stop some planetary despot from blowing up his own planet- nothing like our Homeworld experience.” I informed her. “I hope.”
“Will you and Reilly be able to keep from strangling each other, Alex?”
“We’ll be fine. Billie, on the other hand, may want to exercise part of her gift on Reilly. I’ll try to keep that from happening.” I said with a giggle.
Cami nodded as she ate.
“So, what did Billie just get herself into?” She asked.
“I saw that she started a range war between Ithaca and Sparta.” I replied.
Cami almost choked on her meal!
“Our Billie…started a war? Really?”
“That’s what I’ve seen, sweetheart.” I laughed.
“And I’m going to miss all the fun.” She commented, sadly shaking her head sideways.
“Trust me, Billie is the one having ‘fun’ this time, sweetheart. “In fact, she’ll be having twice as much fun as you and I!” I giggled as I pictured what our ‘queen’ had gotten herself into.
Cami’s face was at first horror-struck then an evil smile appeared.
“Serves her right!” She giggled. I agreed whole-heartedly as I joined in.
I was surprised to find only Reilly and Yuuka seated at the table in the director’s conference room when I arrived. Deciding I needed more time to unwind, I had traveled back to Kili Island four years before Alex Steinert had appeared with the Facility. I made it a point to collect and prepare some things I knew were here when I accidentally arrived from the Homeworld’s universe.
Accidentally? I had found it ironic that a small pavilion had been conveniently assembled near the clearing Reilly would occupy four years hence.
“So where are Lily and Fay? They usually are early and filled with anticipation.” I knew…had a feeling something was wrong here. My daughter was never early for anything- except maybe meals.
“I’m here, director.” Fay’s voice chimed from overhead. She had been hovering over the conference room’s door reading her mobile secretarial device. She now lowered herself to the floor and gracefully took a seat. Reilly giggled quietly.
“Hi, sorry I’m late…I am late, aren’t I?” Another Reilly said as she appeared next to me.
Yuuka immediately looked between the two in confusion. Without warning she went into pixie mode then back to ‘normal’ mode. Her confusion waned.
“That explains things! Lily, why the charade? Alex knew it was you.”
“But you didn’t at first, honey. I think that was the whole point of the exercise.” I smiled.
A breeze and a blur entered the room. Hoshi Takara now sat beside Yuuka.
“I was wondering when you’d show, Hoshi.”
“I was wondering if you would inform me of our pending mission, Yuuka! Apparently not.” Hoshi responded with an angry frown.
“Must have slipped my mind.” Yuuka grinned tensely.
“RVP, we’ll need programmed for Mycenaean Greek.”
“Compilation complete; transmitting. Download complete, director.”
“Thanks, honey. We’ll be back in three weeks.”
10:06PM, Athens, Greece, June 23rd, 1199BC
A dim, stone room appeared around our group and I immediately noticed what seemed like very animalistic noises coming from behind the heavy looking, wooden door just ahead of us. In the dim oil lamplight the door looked foreboding, yet the noises emanating from behind…
“Sounds like somebody’s havin’ a gooooood time!” Reilly commented.
I remained silent and pulled our group closer. Reilly suddenly released my hand and she disappeared.
“Oh, by the Lords and Goddess! You are not going to believe who’s in there!” My daughter gasped between giggles as she reappeared and took my hand again. Had she just synchronized her phasing with mine?
“Of course I know who’s in there, honey. That’s why we’re here.” I responded as I closed my eyes briefly.
“So you know that we arrived about eight months too late, right?” Reilly asked as she continued to giggle evilly. Our sisters, Lily, Fay, Yuuka, and Hoshi all looked at her…at us, in confusion.
“Yes.” I answered in annoyance. “I told you I was going to let Billie handle this one on her own.”
“Well,” Reilly laughed outright, “She seems to have handled ‘it’ alright!”
“Empress?” Fay asked- looking over to me- still confused as ever.
“Billie has finally taken the ‘plunge’, ladies.”
“Good one, mom!” Reilly chirped at my small quip.
I pulled us through the door. What we saw once on the other side…well…it was…embarrassing!
Billie sat atop a man. In and of itself completely out of character. Moaning, grunting, and gasping, she moved up and down vigorously while arching her back backwards in ecstasy- completely naked. I began to remember similar activity on Terra about twenty-nine- relatively- okay…thirteen years ago. The dim lamplight in this room revealed Billie’s very bloated abdomen.
A collective gasp sounded from my companions- all except Reilly- she just stood next to me snickering contentedly- a wide smile plastered on her face.
“Should we really be in here, Alex?” Lily asked as Fay, Yuuka, and Hoshi nodded their concern.
Billie suddenly screamed out then fell forward clumsily on her partner. Both were panting and breathing heavily. Again, visions of my first…and second…visit to Terra filled my mind with fond memories. Was it getting warm in here?
Before I had the chance to answer my sister’s question, Billie grew quiet for two full minutes then slowly looked around the room for something.
“What is wrong, my love?” The man asked in a husky baritone. Our translators had evidently engaged. “Was this not what you expected? Was it not to your liking?”
Billie didn’t answer. Instead she continued looking around before stopping and staring directly at my daughter!
“We have company, my king. Apparently my sisters have finally arrived. Show yourself, Reilly!” Billie commanded as she clumsily raised herself off of her partner and eased off the bed to her feet.
To say the man was completely terrified that six strange women suddenly appeared in his private domicile was an understatement as he quickly and smoothly rolled from the bed in the opposite direction and produced a sword, aiming it right at us!
“Who are you and why have you appeared in my bedchamber? Get out or I shall dispatch you all to the underworld!” He threatened.
“Is that a weapon or are you really happy to see us, Studly?” Reilly antagonized. She released my hand again and appeared beside him looking down.
“Oh, wow, he’s both! You picked a good one, Billie! And apparently he’s good with both types of swords!” She giggled before disappearing and reappearing next to me again.
“It certainly took you long enough, Alex!” Billie growled, completely ignoring my daughter’s taunts, as she reached for a pile of cloth on a nearby chair and wrapped it around herself.
“What are you?” Billie’s partner asked. “You are dressed too strangely for Goddesses.”
Ignoring him, Reilly pointed to Billie’s right leg.
“You might want to take care of that, Highness.” She giggled evilly.
Even in the dim lamplight, I could see my assistant director blush profusely before she hurried into a smaller room opposite of where we had entered.
“I am Alexandra, Empress of Time and Space. These are some of my sisters, Lilly, Fay, Hoshi, and Yuuka.” I motioned to each. “Oh, and this is my daughter, Reilly.” I motioned nonchalantly to my right. “We came to check up on our sister, Billie Sangiere.”
“I know of no ‘Billie Sangiere’.” He huffed in response.
“Sure ya do! Quite well too!” Reilly snorted as she pointed to the room Billie had retreated to.
“Helen is my conquest! I alone swept her away from her native Sparta! I alone opened her eyes to the splendor of Theseus! And I alone took her purity! I know not why you choose to call her this Billie Sangiere.”
“Wow…not too full of himself, is he?” Yuuka giggled.
“Ya, but Billie was…of him, that is.” Reilly added as she pointed to the man’s lower region with one hand then began waving her other hand, fan-like, in front of her, and silently said ‘WOW’ while rolling her widened eyes.
“Sorry to break this to you, honey, but the woman in the other room- the woman apparently carrying your child? She’s not Helen. Her name is Billie Sangiere and she is my Assistant Director at Reilly Research Station in the next hemisphere over.” I told the naked man- still wielding his sword in front of his phallic peripheral.
Yuuka, without warning- went to Pixie mode and flew to the man’s face.
“You better believe her, buster! Alex never lies about her family and friends!”
“Get away from me, nymph!” He ordered.
“Hey! For your information, I’m a Pixie!” Yuuka countered as she slapped his nose before quickly dodging the man’s left hand.
“Want me to engage and disable, Alex?” Fay asked permission as she quickly flew to the room’s ceiling. Long, thin, dart-like projectiles appeared out of and around the metal guantlets on her forearms. Each and every one of them independently tracked selected targets on her perceived adversary with uncanny precision.
Hoshi, in a blur of dim light circled the angered man and disarmed him. Again standing beside Lily- she now rested her arms on the hilt of his down pointed sword.
Lily whistled. “I see someone has been practicing.” She deadpanned.
Theseus stood before us, completely exposed.
“Looks like its time to go to your secondary weapon, sweetie, but I don’t think it’s loaded at the moment.” Reilly taunted.
“Everybody please stand down!” Billie ordered as she reappeared from the other room. “Theseus, these are my sisters and I will not have you embarrass yourself by they’re hands.”
“But they claim you are not Helen- that your real name is ‘Billie Sangiere’.”
Billie looked at me in confusion. Having seen the problem, I switched off my translator and addressed her in our native language.
“I take it that your translator does not contain the Mycenaean translation archive?”
“It does not, Director, why?”
“The poor man seems to think your name is Helen, honey. As in, ‘Helen of Troy’?”
Billie gasped loudly as she apparently recognized the name from Reilly’s Earth history archives.
“By the Goddess! I thought they understood me when I introduced myself three years ago!”
“Evidently not, but you seem to have picked up the language quite well on your own, Billie. Would you like me to upload the proper archives?”
“At this point it wouldn’t make any difference. My Reilly has long since discharged.” Billie said as her head sagged in shame. “I concede and defer to the Empress for my punishment.”
I just stared at her for a minute.
“By the Goddess, what are you talking about?” I finally asked the disheveled- and very impregnated- woman.
“I…I have disrupted the time stream. Now you must work all the harder to right what I have so wantonly spoiled. I am yours to reprimand, director.”
As when she was William, Billie quickly threw in the towel.
“Did you have fun?” I asked as I stared into her eyes.
“What?” Billie asked in surprise.
I saw Reilly’s mind working, but a momentary glare made her think twice and remain silent.
I pointed to her distended abdomen. “Finding your female self…has the double ‘X’ genome proven itself beyond all doubt?” I said in more technical terms. When she just looked at me, I decided to simplify further.
“Feeling a man…is it what you had expected, Billie? Apparently, you are more accepting of your carnal desires at least.”
Billie blushed- even in the dim lamplight I could see it plainly.
“I never thought it could feel like this…I never expected…I have become addicted.”
“I’ll say!” Reilly snorted as she burst out laughing.
I rolled my eyes at my daughter in annoyance.
“Sorry, mom, that one was just there.”
“And it should have stayed there, honey.” I said again rolling my eyes. I had unconsciously given her more ammunition.
“Billie was hoping the same thing, I’m sure.” She snorted again.
“Was it a mistake to bring you along, Reilly?”
“Got it, mom. I’ll tone it down a few notches.”
It struck me that Fay was still hovering over us, still deployed.
“Freya. Disengage, honey.”
“As you wish, Empress, but I WILL stay on alert all the same.” She said as her uniform heels touched the floor gracefully. “This man is dangerous and cunning.”
I waggled my finger at Reilly to stave off the remark I knew was coming.
By the Goddess, she had me doing it now!
“I’m ready to leave, Empress.” Billie said sadly- reminding me she was still our mission objective.
“Nope. Sorry. Not happening, honey.” I said with a smile. “You’ve gone and made your bed, time to lie in it.”
“But mom, she already has…”
“Reilly! Enough with the inuendo!”
“Billie, how many weeks are left before the revision arrives?” I asked, turning my attention back to our objective.
“Then we will return in four weeks. Sisters, let us leave our sister to her self-imposed labor.” I said as I offered my hands.
“Alex! You’re just going to leave me…here…to give birth…in this place?” Billie screeched in disbelief.
“Theseus, do you have physicians?”
“We do, Empress.” The still embarrassed and ‘bare-assed’ man answered. I was glad he caught the whole ‘Empress’ thing and paid me the proper respect.
“My sister requires the foremost maternity care. Be warned that this woman is more than she appears to be. She possesses power far beyond your comprehension and belief. Provisions should be made to protect the populous of this city from the energy expended during the birthing process.”
“Will it be that laborious, Empress? Is the child in danger?”
“Have you ever felt the ground move, Theseus?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Earthquake? I have lived through many, Empress.”
“Not like this one you haven’t, honey! Once in the final stages of labor, the earth will move violently. Buildings will crumble in homage to Iphigeneia’s arrival.”
Billie stared at me in terror.
“Until that day.” I said as I jumped my group to that exciting day.
7:03AM, Athens, Greece, July 22nd, 1199BC
The ground shook and a building off to our left yielded to the severe vibration as we arrived. All around us people ran, shouted, and screamed in fear of the violent ground shocks.
“Looks like we’re just in time, mom.” Reilly needlessly informed us.
“Are we to witness this magical event, Empress?” Lily asked curiously. I was the only one of our group to have experienced a revision’s emergence.
“If you wish it, honey.” I said as I rephased us.
Billie’s scream echoed through the streets three minutes later. The door I was about to open suddenly lost its frame, its wall, and even it’s building.
“Empress? Why are we luminescent?” Lily asked as she looked curiously at the rest of us. I noticed we were standing waist deep in rubble from the building we were trying to enter.
I wasn’t holding my sisters hands!
“Mom?” Reilly inquired in a concern-laced tone. She was also looking around us in confusion.
“Something you’re Aunt taught me on our last mission together.”
“But…but I thought you…”
“Surprise,” I said with a tight smile in response and motioned my sisters to follow me. We easily waded through the brick, stone, and splintered wood that had been the living quarters of the physician now attending our sister.
I stopped to consult my gift. Yes, he was still alive.
Ahead of us, I saw what memory told me was a familiar glow. Billie had erected her shield to protect her revisi…baby.
“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” Billie screamed in pain as dust shot into the air all around us. The physician stared open-mouthed at the destructive forces at work around him. My sisters too, observed the ‘hell’- as my sister Alex Steinert called it- breaking loose.
“I must say sister, this is by far the most aggressive side of you I have ever seen.”
“Shut it, director!”
“Seems like Billie finally found her backbone, mom.” Reilly cracked.
“Don’t make me hurt you, Reilly Reilly! I am in no mood or temperament! You have no idea how much this hurts!”
“You are absolutely correct, honey. Had she an ‘idea’, I’d be a grandmother right now. I, on the other hand, know exactly what you are facing and have survived. And as you have found out, this is one thing you cannot run or lock yourself away from, William Sangiere.” I said as I effortlessly passed through her shield and took her right hand gently in mine. “We are here for you, sister. Iphigeneia will arrive in this world surrounded by her aunts…her sisters. She will be welcomed with love- as all new revisions should be!”
I motioned for our sisters to join Billie and I while the physician continued to stare in horrified amazement. Had he never seen the Empress or any of her sisters before?
“Reilly, would you transport our friend to a safe location? His welcomed services are no longer needed. I’d much rather keep all non-gifted well away from the delivery site.”
“As you wish, Empress.” She replied then looked at her new charge. “Please, do not panic. I will get you well away from danger. On behalf of the Empress of Time and Space, we thank you for attending our sister.” Reilly said handing him a cloth bag before they vanished.
Instantly my daughter was back with us.
“I’m very surprised the guy didn’t freak out. In fact, he thanked me for the seventy-five Drakma and calmly went on his way. I would have run for the nearest, safest, drinking establishment myself.” Reilly quipped as she took her place next to me in the circle we formed around Billie.
Another contraction hit and after the smoke and dust began to clear, we found ourselves on the only remaining piece of floor- a pedestal in the center of a huge crater.
“Damn girl! That one must have really hurt!” Reilly gasped as she tried to clear her ears with her finger.
“Goddess! Will you shut it!?” Billie groaned as the pain subsided.
As I had positioned myself at her feet, I carefully lifted her covering to observe the baby’s progress.
“Good, Billie, you’re crowning. When you feel the next contraction coming, I want you to push.” I told her calmly.
“Gee…I didn’t know to do that, Alex!”
“Did you really know that, Billie, or is that one of Jacki Cummins’ memories from Connie’s birth?” I asked skeptically.
“I really don’t care, Alex!” She replied angrily right before taking in the largest breath of air yet.
“This is it, Billie, push.”
Revision attached to mammary, Billie looked at her new daughter. As with my sister’s remembrance of Constance Cummins’ birth, Iphigeneia couldn’t wait for her mother to figure out the dynamics of feeding and took matters into her own hands- so to speak. Billie found out first-hand that her child would not be denied as her left nipple stretched painfully until it contacted the child’s mouth. And, as with Connie’s birth, all earthquakes, ball lightning, and apocalyptic rumbling ceased.
Lily and Fay looked quite pale from the experience. Reilly, Hoshi, and Yuuka seemed unaffected. My daughter, as expected, made a comment about the heavily armed Freya almost passing out from a little blood.
“My projectiles are only intended to disable specific functions, not delete.” She reminded Reilly. She could, of course, completely delete if necessary.
While Iphigeneia contentedly nursed, Billie looked to me with tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Alex,” she sniffed before again glancing down at her new daughter then back up at me. “I’ve been so deadset and prudish about a great many things. I feel like such an arrogant, erroneous, hypothesizer!”
“Fool is a much more convenient Earth term, Billie.”
“Arrogant, horse’s ass or bitch would be a closer match though, mom.”
Lily, Fay, Hoshi, and Yuuka began laughing as they shook their heads in agreement to Reilly’s assessment.
“Jacki Cummins’ memories do seem to confirm that, Reilly. I’m sorry for being such a…” Billie looked to Reilly several seconds. “A horse’s ass.”
“You forgot ‘arrogant’.” Reilly quiped.
For whatever reason, I reached up and slapped the back of my daughter’s head.
“Hey! What was that for?”
“I don’t know, but it felt good to do, honey.” I replied with a giggle.
“Alex. The residents are beginning to return.” Lily informed as she looked around the perimeter of the massive crater. Those arriving first began to point and murmur.
Yuuka immediately went to Pixie mode and flew off on reconnaissance.
“Alex? You can drop whatever shield it is that you have deployed. I assure you that the danger has passed.” Billie said as she first looked at me then around us.
Shield? I hadn’t realized I even had ‘shield’ capability. Only my sister had that capability through her custom designed, tiara. Yet when I examined my fingers and arms, I indeed gave off a brilliant bluish-white luminance.
“Is this the glow you mentioned before you left me to suffer through my greed-induced ignorance?” Billie asked, pulling my attention back to her.
“Partially. It is a new facet of my gift that Alexandra Steinert passed onto me via our synchronization. From what I have observed, this in nothing compared to what happens if and when I become severely infuriated. Theorizing, it would completely and utterly overshadow your latest ‘outburst’, Billie. I have witnessed her stop and even begin to disassociate time…and all existing matter and anti-matter as well! Apparently, the Empress has complete…and I do mean complete, control over time-space! The display horrified my sister and I…and I would not wish to enable that facet of my gift ever again!”
“What have we become, Alex?” Billie asked as she continued to observe the small lifeform at her breast. “After your arrival that night, Theseus appeared to lose interest in me. When asked, he insinuated that I was some sort of Goddess- that I did not deserve him- that he would likely face some terrible punishment should he make any further advances. Alex, I do not want to have the added responsibility of worship attached to my dossier.”
“Alex. The father of the revision arrives.” Fay alerted.
“WHAT? Put me down! I plead with the Gods to release me!” A man’s voice boomed in protest and I turned in time to see Theseus floating across the deep crater toward us. I motioned for Fay and Lily to make room at Billie’s side.
“I thought I told you to keep away until all was safe?” She asked as he floated nearer.
Theseus landed gently- fear still etched on his face. It quickly melted away as he gazed upon his new daughter though. We all remained quiet for five minutes while mother and father ‘doted’ over Iphigeneia.
“Time to remedy that ‘little’ language gap, sister.” I said quietly as I touched Billie’s shoulder, engaged my suit’s supplemental energy transfer, and used my executive override to install the necessary translator archive file.
“Oh, Helen, truly you are a Goddess! The child…she is…she is an absolute miracle! A gift from Zeus directly! I thank you for counting me worthy of your favor!”
“I am not a ‘Goddess’, Theseus. I am just as normal as you…though I do have ‘gifts’- gifts that I am reluctant to use for fear of harming those around me.” Billie told him as she looked between her revision and its male donor…her baby and the father.
My sister, Alexandra Steinert, was correct in her constant harassment that I should augment my speech patterns. Up until now I had never realized how cold- how ‘clinical’ Reilliese sounded when describing such a beautiful occasion.
“How can you suddenly and completely learn our tongue, Helen? Have you been simply hiding this knowledge for your entertainment?”
“Theseus, I would never draw ‘entertainment’ from you or your people! Up until now I didn’t thoroughly understand you. It is only through the technology I wear that I can now understand completely. Alexandra has just downloaded a translating algorithm to my covering…Wait! Empress…my covering has been completely discharged for three years! How have you managed to recharge it in the few minutes you have been here?”
“Assistant Director, according to my chronometer we have been here for over three hours,” Lilly informed our sister. “In that time one or more of us have been in contact and supplying energy to your covering. Enough to re-establish basic system reactivation and translating functions.”
“Helen, the settlement has been under your siege for well over a day. I understand that time, for you, has less meaning, but how could you not know?” Theseus asked with his head bowed.
“Labor has a way of distorting time, hun. It’s not like she could really think of anything else.” I answered. “Besides, I’m the one that affects time and space.”
“Why draw out the arrival, mighty Empress? Was it to punish us…punish me for what I have done to your Goddess?”
Theseus suddenly rose three or four feet into the air, assumed a faced-down, horizontal attitude, and floated over Billie and her still nursing child. He stopped face to face with her.
“We…are…not…Goddess’! Alex and I, and all my sisters are just as human as you, Theseus! I see now that Alex is correct in her sensitivity toward being deified- and for the last time, my name is not- nor ever has been- Helen! My name is Billie Sangiere. For over nine hundred and fifty years that has been my name!”
“Nine…hundred? You have been among us for nine…”
“Not here on this planet, hun. Most of it we spent in our own universe. Billie here has also spent a lot of time in another dimension entirely.” I added casually while watching the handsome man’s expression.
“Alex, is it wise to tell this man so much about our sisterhood?”
It isn’t just him, Lily.” I said as I motioned around us. All around- just past the deep crater’s edge Iphigeneia’s birth spawned, townspeople gathered to observe the catastrophic destruction. “They all need to know that this is not their fault, nor the ‘Gods’ anger, but a natural result of the Queen Mind Warrior’s birthing process.”
“Queen Mind Warrior?” Billie screeched in a higher octave as she suddenly looked over at me.
I nodded. “You have the gift of a Mind Warrior- like Jacquelyn, Constance, Camille, Cassiopeia, Liz, or Sarah, Billie,” I pointed out, but did not stop. “But, you also share some of my gift too. Those facts alone indicate that you are truly ‘one of a kind’- neither Mind Warrior, nor Empress. Therefore, a new designation- that of ‘Queen Mind Warrior’, would seem appropriate.
“Alex, what of the people? Should they know of us or should Billie remove the incident?”
“Theseus? What would you have us do?” I asked the still hovering man. He seemed dumbfounded by the question.
“What would I do, Empress? You would ask what I would do?”
“We don’t have all day here, hun.” I said with a giggle. “I’m giving you the chance to decide how your people will remember this day. Either you request that they remember the truth or…or they remember it some other, less truthful way. How do you think they would handle this? Good or bad? And…would they honor the Empress’ anonymity?”
Theseus looked down into Billie’s eyes.
“Would I too remember something other than what has happened? Am I to lose all memory of my daughter and her mother in this ‘decision’?”
“It all depends on you, hun, but don’t count Billie out of the calculation! She and Gena won’t be separated easily. Gena will need patience and understanding as she matures. Mother and daughter must share the learning experience- and given their gifts, must be taught proper control and responsibility. Don’t think that you will individually tutor the child. That scenario is doomed from the start, Theseus. No ungifted man or woman can restrain an adolescent Mind Warrior when her mind is made up!” I warned.
“Empress, I request that you pay a visit to your domain for a minimum of twenty minutes.” Billie suggested, turning her head to look at me. There was a pleasant smile on her face and in her eyes. “Take the Empress’ hand, Theseus. There will be no consequence, I assure you.”
Billie’s mate slowly floated back and settled on his feet where he had been standing. He immediately took my hand.
My private domain quickly appeared around the two of us.
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