Yahtahei.net

 

Horologe

Ipsissima Verba

 

 

S. Yahtahei

 

Initiation Date 2048.6.22

 

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Copyright 2016 Yahtahei

 

 

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, scanned, digitalized, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without the prior permission of the author.

 

This manuscript is licensed for your personal enjoyment. This manuscript may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this manuscript with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this manuscript and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to yahtahei.net and purchase your own copy.

 

This novel is a work of fiction. The organizations, events, characters and their names are the creation of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Places and events are either the creation of the author’s imagination, used for literary effect or are entirely fictitious.

 

Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protected by all international copyright laws

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ipsissima verba

 

An ancient Latin phrase meaning "the very words"

 

In religious terms it refers to the sacred words spoken by a deity.

 

In legal terms it refers to material quoted from an established authority.

 

In political terms it refers to the populist claims of demagogues.

 

In human terms it refers to your spoken promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

First and foremost I would like to thank my beautiful wife for her love, support and patience. Without her input, expertise and encouragement, this story would not be possible. I am not an easy man to live with.

 

Secondly, but only numerically, I would like to thank my daughter for her valuable suggestions, my son for his indulgence, and them both for their consistent love and acceptance of my unconventional humor and imagination.

 

I would also like to express my gratitude to all the people who have been part of my life's journey, especially “J”, “M”, and “W”, who contributed an enormous amount of time and effort to my knowledge and understanding of the peculiarities of human beings.

 

I would especially like to acknowledge the insightful vision of my Great Grand Uncle Thaddeus J. Fenton III who once wrote:

“Everything in the universe, all actions by the beings within, follow from prior events and ultimately can only be understood in terms of the movement of time. So if you ignore any reality of time, it is at your own risk.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- To The Reader

 

I once imagined, as many of you may have, that traveling through time is impossible. But, do you fully understand time?


Time, as we know it, is purely a human construct. It is simply the proportional connecting factor comparing one moment with another.


We humans invented our definition of time by cataloging our observations of planet Earth as it travels around our star, the positions of the stars in the sky, along with the behavior of animals. Then we manipulated this ocean of knowledge, viewed through our human perceptions, into numerical references for clocks and calendars. In the process our minds were molded to associate these natural cycles into our construct of time.


We began using these instruments to organize and track events to synchronize our activities, such as classifying seasons to determine the optimum period to plant or harvest crops. As humans, we need those calculations to make sense of our place on the planet and to organize our individual lives as well as our societies.


As the age’s passed and human technology advanced, our understanding of time has become etched in our minds. We no longer possess the capacity to imagine living outside our established culture of time. However, human time is an illusion producing a false sense of the reality of the universe.


We know the history of the universe flows and we perceive the movement of time as linear, but time is not linear. A wise human must consider the fact there are millions of planets in the cosmos that have the potential for life. Maybe not life as we know it, but life nonetheless. Who are we, as mere humans, to declare our parameters of time and space to be absolute? Who are we to claim traveling through time is absolutely impossible?


It is very possible the understanding of time for inhabitants of other planets might either be faster or slower than our own, depending on their star, the prevailing gravitational fields and velocity of their planet. Without such movement any understanding of time would not exist.


Does anyone really know what time it is? Is there a grand clock that accurately measures the movement of time for every moment of every planet in the universe?


Obviously reality is what we perceive it to be, but please do not trap the cosmos inside your Earthly view of time and space.


As the future streams into the present, and the present slides into the past, think about how long it took to read this. Did you notice time passing? Did you just travel through time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Introduction

The history of the universe is bristling with ample examples of the struggle for power by those who would strip fundamental liberty from others.

 

Earth Standard Year 3124:


It was early morning on a late August day. The weather outside was brisk, brought on by the icy winds blowing off the glacier four hundred fifty miles north. Inside their cabin on Yellowstone Lake’s Molly Island, CW and Vienna lay naked, cuddled in each others arms. The heat of their bodies warmed the king-sized waterbed and kept them cozy. The roaring fire in the fireplace, last stoked the night before, had burned itself down to red-hot coals. The warmth emitted from the coals kept the upstairs bedroom pleasant, but not toasty hot.


“Shall we do it again?” CW asked.


“Are you up for it?” Vienna replied, her crooked smile playfully giving her words more than one meaning.


“Nah, I’m pretty comfortable here on Earth,” CW said jokingly.


“That’s not what I mean and you know it. Anyway, we can be comfortable anywhere,” Vienna willingly explains.


“Sure, but Earth is our home. I’m tired of saving manic-depressive aliens from other crazed aliens.”


“We can’t ignore the fact that the evil oppressor Sanduval Mule is still out there. You know his kind of evil never dies, it only withdraws,” Vienna noted.


“Yeah, I know he'll be back. But that's out there, not here and not now,” CW proclaims.


“And I’m tired of having to eat their strange alien food. Give me a hunk of dead cow and some potato root any day.”


“That’s not exactly a healthy diet,” Vienna instructs. With a sly grin she says, “You know you have to eat right. You’re not getting any younger.”


“Maybe not, but it’s better than the tasteless green or purple guano served on other planets.”


“Well then, how should we start the day?” Vienna flirts.


“I guess we could start with you finishing the final edit of my tome for the U.O.H., while I keep trying to decipher the ring’s symbols and learn more about the powers of our bracelets and rings.”


“Work, work, work, is that all you think about?” Vienna asks, looking at CW coyly.


“No,” CW says as he tenderly rolls over on top of her, “This old man can think of other things to do.”


Her voice almost musical Vienna asks, “Then shouldn’t we do them first,” as she arches her back.


CW gazed into Vienna’s green eyes. Her natural scent always kindled a fire deep within him. He leans his face close and they tenderly kiss.


Wrapping her legs around his waist, Vienna returns his kiss with aroused emotions. When CW slowly tastes her neck and breasts Vienna reacted with loving moans.


Starting the day off right is important no matter which time you are in or what planet you are on.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 - Born To Be Wild...

 

Sanduval Mule was born of no real standing in life. His father was unknown. His mother died in childbirth. His upbringing was that of a self-taught vagabond traveling the universe of populated worlds. His name was given to himself, by himself, and signified his immense cerebral psychogenic strength and stubbornness of purpose.

 

 

The glaring white sun slowly dropped behind a thick cloud of dust. It was midway between dusk and dark, the optimum conditions for a final assault. With the twilight came the ammonia-laden wind blowing across the surface planet Tuewat like it was alive. The wind ripped through everything in its path. It battered and cut away all vegetation to ground level, then spewed the remains like vomit from the mouth of a mammoth Ehecati wind spirit.

 

Sanduval was continuously being battered by sand, gravel and fist sized plant fragments. Even through his armored spacesuit he could feel the force of each strike of the flying rubble. The constant bombardment on his helmet caused his head to vibrate like it was inside a bass drum. He crouched low hoping to get the slightest relief from the pounding noise and bruising impacts.

 

Tapping a code into his suit’s controller on his left arm Sanduval activated his HUD display. The thick clouds of flying dust and debris were so dense his suit’s scanners were unable to detect where the enemy ground forces had escaped.

 

Another few taps on the controller and the image on his HUD identified his first destination directly ahead. The dark blue object signified a large boulder unmoved by the fierce gale.

 

Crawling on his belly he muscled his way along until finally reaching the base of the huge rock. Inching his way to the downwind side he finally got a moment of relief just as the command sounded in his ear.

 

“Arm and attack.”

 

Dutifully Sanduval unfastens the locking mechanism on the sheath holding his cobalt crystal saber. The saber was one of two standard issue weapons for a Washu warrior. The other weapon was his Kyln rifle. Charged by the Lutetium crystal within, the rifle fired repeated short bursts of three exploding projectiles equipped with adjustable seeking properties.

 

Even though Sanduval was the smallest of the Washu warriors at six-foot five inches in height and weighing 240 pounds, he was considered a formidable warrior. He was a surviving veteran of three previous battles where he had proven himself a master of the saber in close combat, and an expert marksman.

 

Earning a leadership position for Washu warriors always came through combat, and Sanduval's combat proficiency had propelled him to the honorable rank of Merag’don. At the age of one hundred eighteen life-cycles he was the youngest Washu warrior ever to reach such a high status.

 

“Ready,” he spoke into the helmet's communication mic. The HUD of his helmet scanned the area nearby hoping to get a mark on the other members of his team, Ta’xet Forty-Twenty. The scan showed a flicker of movement then nothing, then movement again. The electrical static produced by the wind was interfering with the positioning signals.

 

“TFT, on me,” he barked into his mic, trusting his team to find their way.

 

Within a split second he was fired upon from high within the howling wind. Several laser blasts struck the ground around him and ricocheted off the rock where he crouched. One impact caused a small rock shard to puncture the right shoulder of his space suit. Acting quickly, he reached inside his thigh pocket to retrieve a patch. Within seconds he had placed the self-cementing patch on the leaking hole. His suit rapidly regained pressure. Wheeling to his left he scanned skyward and saw one of the shooters soaring a hundred meters high within the blowing dust. The attackers menacing green eyes beamed brightly through the clear shield of his dull black helmet. It was a Tuewat Sky Warrior riding atop his wind sled preparing to fire another volley.

 

These fierce Tuewat Sky Warriors were known for their potent fighting capability. Numerous intelligence reports had described them as vengeful fighters who slaughtered every enemy they had faced, leaving none alive to retaliate. Their typical strategy was to fill the sky with hordes of warriors and ruthlessly pummel their enemy with unrelenting attacks until victory was achieved.

 

Sanduval raised his rifle and fired a burst of three projectiles directly into the flight path of the enemy, dropping him instantly. Uncontrolled, the warrior’s wind sled swirled and tumbled away, hurled haphazardly by the blowing wind. Keeping the rifle high he scanned the hazy sky looking for his next target.

 

A moment later Sanduval heard multiple laser blasts being fired from West of his location. In his ear he heard an unintelligible garbled sound as if someone was drowning, then nothing. Dropping to one knee he took aim and fired two more quick bursts at the enemy soaring overhead. Again, two enemies were swept away in their deaths.

Confident that nothing could survive their onslaught the Sky Warriors began to randomly dive toward the surface. Their eerie shouts and flashing laser blasts echoed within the wind-swept fighting of the front lines.

 

Sanduval could hear mixed sounds of laser blasts, the howling of the wind and the piercing victory yells from the Sky Warriors. The noise from their high-pitch screech sounded like an angry horde of killer insects swarming within the wind. Suddenly a torrent of laser blasts were being fired at him. Acting quickly he reactivated his spacesuit’s anti-leaser jamming frequency. It was the only thing that might keep him from scores of strikes.

 

For some reason the attack slowed. They must be regrouping Sanduval thought. Just then three members of TFT arrived, crawling on their hands and knees like frightened puppies.

 

“Where are the others?” Sanduval shouted.

 

“All dead,” Psaki nervously whimpered.

 

Crouched behind the boulder and under random fire Sanduval, Psaki, Tasos and Gival were the only remaining members of the original twelve that made up Ta’xet Forty-Twenty. Suddenly out of the sky came another blistering onslaught of laser blasts from hundreds of Sky Warriors furiously bombarding their position.

 

“Open fire,” Sanduval shouted.

 

The TFT team, each an expert marksman, began firing repeated bursts at the throng of attacking fighters. As they fired each warrior hit would topple off his sled, their dead body snatched up and swept away by the wind.

 

Gival, the newest member of TFT, suddenly rolled from behind the boulder, jumped up and shouted, “Die sky gunge,” as he randomly fired into the dust filled sky. Immediately dozens of laser blasts struck the ground around him. One shot ripped through his suit and grazed his right thigh, causing him to let out a howling grunt. He kept firing but the injury forced him to squat down on one knee.

 

Sanduval leaped from behind the boulder and grabbed Gival by his suit’s backpack. Roughly spinning him around he slung him to the ground and instantly sprang back behind the large rock.

 

Tasos, second in command, grabbed Gival by one of his flailing arms and pulled him back behind the boulder. Placing a patch on the rupture in Gival's spacesuit, he quickly injected him with a painkiller and told him, "Sit tight you mook; here, keep the pressure on."

Sanduval announced into his mic, ”Captain Nailo, enemy in position, fire the EMC, TFT deploy shelters.”

 

The EMC - Effect Metric Corona - is a biological disintegration ray. Typically launched from a hovering space ship, the device would rapidly dive toward the surface until it reached the predetermined altitude. When detonated it projected a circular ray of proton particles that quickly expanded to a range of four kilometers. The ray would annihilate everything organic within its range.

 

The Washu battleship Aavial was in stationary orbit twelve thousand miles above the battlefield. On board Captain Nailo turned to his weapons officer, “Pin the target on their signal.”

 

“Confirm Captain,” the weapons officer responded.

 

"On its way, Ta’xet Forty-Twenty,” Captain Nailo advised.

 

The onslaught of laser blasts continued as the TFT team huddled within their EMC shelters and waited. While they waited their shelter’s leaser jamming emitters were the only thing keeping them alive. While useful, the life saving jammers would devourer battery energy at an alarming rate. Just before their shelter’s jammers died Sanduval heard the crackling discharge of the EMC. He first felt the explosive jolt. Next came the vibration as the atmospheric wave passed.

 

Instantly the laser blasts from above fell silent. There was a rare moment of semi-stillness as the blowing fury of plant shards evaporated. Within seconds the constant pummeling of debris returned. Unmanned sleds flew randomly within the wind, breaking into pieces as they smashed against one another. The deluge of fragmented sled chunks ultimately became part of Ehecati’s projectile vomiting.

 

With the push of a button on his suit’s controller his shelter collapsed back into his backpack and immediately Sanduval gave the order, “Psaki, Tasos, spot me, Gival, rear guard.”

 

Psaki told Gival, “Don’t do anything stupid,” as he and Tasos brought their rifles to their shoulders and gave the ready sign to Sanduval.

 

Sanduval tapped a code into his spacesuit’s control pad and checked his helmet display. Shades of violet highlighted the cave entrance in the side of a knoll to the north, the portal to the Tuewat command post. Crimson digits tracked the distance to the entrance, exactly 45.328 meters from his location. Slate gray shadows on his display revealed two TaL-5 combat droids standing guard.

 

The wind was blinding, visibility was less than half of a meter. Fighting the howling gale was going to be difficult but not impossible, Sanduval thought. He had fought variations of the TaL-5 combat droids before. If their security routines hadn't been reprogrammed his expanded abilities should insure he could advance undetected as a hostile.

 

With intense concentration Sanduval shifted his appearance into a Tuewat Warrior. He hadn’t yet perfected his shape-shifting abilities to their full extent so he could only sustain it for short periods. He estimated it would take him four minutes to get to the entrance, so he had to move quickly. Stooping low, hidden by the dust and flying debris, he silently worked his way toward the entryway. The disguise kept him from being recognized long enough for him to creep within a few steps of the droids.

 

When he got within striking distance he quietly unsheathed his saber and executed his attack. Moving at blurringly fast speed his first blow beheaded the droid on the right. Instantly the droid’s body turned limp, its head fell backward, bouncing several times on the ground. Quickly swirling, he agilely side stepped to his left, bent low and with maximum force thrust his saber waist-high into the second droid. The force of the impact punctured through it’s armor and completely penetrated it’s torso. Following his blow with an upward motion he sliced the droid in half, waist to head. It emitted a dull mechanical wail as it ceased to exist.

 

"Droids down," Sanduval bluntly reported.

 

With the droid guards immobilized Sanduval made his way through the flying debris and collected the severed head of the first droid. Using his saber he hastily sheared off it’s left arm just below the elbow.

 

Positioning himself at the entrance, he stepped inside the mouth of the cave and approached a thick steel door. Holding the droid’s head in front of an orange light in the center of the door he heard a momentary hum then a dull beep. Using the droid's severed hand he touched a flat panel on the door and recognized the sound of a latch releasing. Forcefully pushing the door open he dropped the droid’s hand and retrieved a mobile EMC device from his utility belt. He threw it, along with the droid's head, into the cave and immediately stepped back. When the door automatically slammed shut he quickly deployed his shelter just as he heard the EMC detonate.

 

“Duty complete,” he said into his mic.

 

“Well done,” came the reply, “return to retrieval position.”

 

Sanduval fought his way through the flying rubble until finally making his way back to the team’s defensive position at the boulder. Once there, he and Tasos helped Gival to his feet. “We got-’em didn’t we Merag’don?” Gival asked.

“Yes,” Sanduval replied, “I think we got them all.”

 

It took another twenty minutes of fighting the crosswinds before the remnants of Ta’xet Forty-Twenty were able to make their way to the extraction point for transport back to the Aavial.

 

Once at the departure area the sight was staggering. Row after row of Washu corpses were stacked three high. Cyclone force dust devils haphazardly swirled through the rows of bodies like random coiling serpents. Multiple detachments of worker androids dodged the scrap filled spirals as they shrink-wrapped the corpses, preparing them for the voyage. Another group of androids wrestled their freight through the winds and loaded the packaged bodies of the dead into the cargo holes. Dozens of transport vessels were landing and taking off caring their ghoulish freight back to the Aavial for processing.

 

In space no resource could be wasted. All available material is useful to some degree and the bodies of dead warriors were no exception. Their wearable’s would be reused or repurposed. Their organic remains would be recycled as bio-fuel or nutrients for plants grown as foodstuffs in botanic modules. Maintaining such a large a fighting force required forward thinking and access to enormous amounts of useable materials.

 

Gival received the needed attention as the medical transport lifted off, fighting its way through the turbulent atmosphere. The rest of the team tried to relax after being embroiled in heavy combat. The fighting had been fierce and the number of Washu dead was massive, but the battle was won.

 

On board the Aavial the crew was celebrating their victory. When the Ta’xet Forty-Twenty survivors disembarked Captain Nailo along with several members of his staff were waiting. They stood at proud attention in their stiff maroon and gray uniforms. Their left arms raised as a salute to the triumphant fighters.

 

Captain Nailo was normally a pitiful, faded-looking being. His sorrowful face highlighted by a narrow oval head sparsely thatched with kinky gray hair, made him look sadly fierce. The nappy hair ran down his forehead ending just above his eyes. Presently he wore a beaming smile of jagged yellowed teeth in anticipation of the triumph and glory that will come with defeating the Tuewat.

 

Outwardly Sanduval was pleased with their success, but subconsciously he felt uneasy. He felt that instinctive gnawing he got when some minuscule detail he couldn't really describe, didn't seem right. He had been honing his unique extrasensory abilities for some time now and had grown accustom to listening to that inner sense. He didn’t know why, but he felt it now.

 

While the crew's celebration continued Sanduval remained vigilant. He still had that nagging sensation that something was wrong. He tried to ignore it, tried to convince himself it was just anxiety caused by the recent combat, but he couldn't suppress it. Fortunately for him his suppression efforts failed.

The haunting sense persisted for several minutes until it suddenly grew stronger. While he was watching his jubilant team members celebrate something caught his attention. He noticed an unexpected image moving on a nearby surveillance monitor. On the screen was an undetected Tuewat battle cruiser rising out of the dust cloud below.

 

"Enemy attack," yelled Sanduval, pointing to the monitor.

 

Suddenly round after round from the battle cruiser’s photon cannons rapidly bombard the Aavial. Inside the ship warning buzzers squealed and flashing lights ignited as the crew of the Aavial jumped into action.

 

Immediately racing to a communication stations Captain Nailo shouted, “Navigator, evasive action.”

 

It was too late. One blast hit the command bridge creating shock waves throughout the ship. The Aavial’s defensive screens radiated violet, flickered and faltered just as two more photon beams impact it amidships.

 

The force of the collisions caused the ship to reverberate and lurch violently. Multiple explosions were felt as different deck levels cracked and exploded. Two more blasts struck the engine room causing it to flare like a supernova. As the Aavial’s power levels fell she rolled starboard and pitched forward. The sudden attack had caused massive damage. Any protective actions by the crew were useless; the ship was crippled beyond repair. Without shields or power, it was doomed.

 

His voice raising to a shriek Captain Nailo ordered, “Vacate, vacate the Aavial.”

 

The devastating onslaught continued in never-lessening intensity. The ship’s crew and combat teams scrambled in all directions. They frantically tried to make their way to the evacuation hatchways and the escape pods.

 

Sanduval watched as Captain Nailo along with two crewmembers were struck by a falling kinetic coil. Blood and intestines gushed in all directions when the rapidly moving coil instantly gutted them all. The impact happened so fast it froze a stunned look on Captain Nailo’s face.

 

Through his spacesuit he could feel the heat coming from the intense violent eruptions. Muffled cries for help and screams of the dying could be heard from deep within the ship. The acrid stench of burning flesh combined with chemical vapors filled the air. His eyes burned from the leaking noxious gases. Inhaling the fumes scorched his chest causing him to hold his breath.

 

When another blast hit the ship lost artificial gravity. The force of the blast caused Sanduval to stumble, roll forward and begin to float. Still clad in his spacesuit his weightless body twitched and strained against the sudden change in gravitational force.

 

Thrown off balance, Sanduval struggled to regain his sense of stability while at the same time dodging flying rubble. Finally able to plant his feet against the bulkhead behind him, he bent his knees and pushed. This quickly propelled him away from the wall and he immediately shot across the room and began to thrash like a fish. Twisting and turning in the air he guided himself past buckled wreckage, the floundering injured struggling for life, and the floating dead.

 

Grabbing anything he could he pulled and heaved himself along a passageway nearly chocked with debris. He checked himself against another bulkhead and turned down a corridor, until finally making his way to the portal of an escape pod. Pushing more rubble aside, he slithered through the pod’s hatch and immediately pulled the toggle to close the access door. Blowing out his breath he gulped new air while hastily strapping himself into the pilot seat and promptly hit the eject switch.

 

There was a loud crack as another blast struck the ship just as the pod’s locking mechanism released. The pod jerked erratically just before the rockets fired. The propulsion accelerated the pod through the collapsing exit tube, powering its way into open space and away from the crumbling ship.

 

Rocketing away Sanduval watched out the pod’s porthole just as the Aavial’s oval shaped fuselage fractured. Nose down it gradually descended until ferociously exploding into clouds of bright crimson flames as it hit the turbulence of the atmosphere.

 

He had escaped just in time.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 - Dazed And Confused…

 

My eyes snap open.

 

Blackness, nothing visible but blackness.

 

Gradually my eyes become accustomed to the veiling gray shadows. The fluid in my eyes increased and I sense a lone tear creeping from my left eye on its way toward my cheek. A quick blink keeps it from going any further.

 

My awareness drifted upward, improving with each breath. I consciously draw in another deep breath to speed up the process. The air fills my gaunt lungs and moves more oxygen-filled blood to my brain. This surge of life-giving gases helps to sharpen my senses. My first conscious thought; “Ah, another day, another time in the life of C. W. Comstock.”

 

Little by little my range of vision grows. Through the grayness I notice a dim glow of white light looming overhead. As my eyesight clears I recognize the shining light above. It’s the moon of Earth in three-quarter cycle. Behind this familiar view lay the deep blackness of space beautifully sprinkled with millions of shimmering points of light. It was the dancing sparkle of Earth’s star-scape, the Milky Way.

 

I lay unmoving for several minutes letting my physical awareness expand. Compelling another deep breath, the cool air reminds me how the air on Earth always tasted sweet. When I try to move, a stabbing pain awakens my stiff back muscles. My senescent body quivers from the searing sting of newly awakened nerves. In a fraction of a second the pain shoots from the base of my spine to the top of my skull. The burning sensation of life gradually grows stronger, moving from inside my head until it completely embraces my entire body. Instinctively I reach to confirm that my bracelet and ring are still firmly attached. At the same time I struggle to gather my lone wit.

 

“Good,” I say aloud in a painfully dry raspy voice.

 

Widening my vision I focus on distant snow peaked mountains and the slate colored storm clouds rolling over them, slowly moving this way.

 

With my senses improving I can hear the splashing sound of fluid. Turning my head, squinting slightly, I can just make out the blurry image of a flowing stream. The rushing of the water against its rocky shoreline caused a bluish mist to rise into the air. The occasional breeze blew the refreshing cool mist across my face.

 

Like a spotlight through the mist, a beam of moonlight directed my attention to a nearby rock a few yards away. Casually thrown over the rock lay my Jyotti spacesuit. The spacesuit appeared to be intact and, I hope, still working. Resting next to it was my iJotter emitting its soft hue of activation.

 

With considerable effort I painfully force my stiff body into a sitting position, pause to gain equilibrium, then struggle to roll onto my hands and knees. Hesitating for another moment, I unsteadily push myself to a standing position just as another cool breeze wafts across my six-foot four-inch frame. With each new breath the damp dust filled air and familiar smells flow into my nostrils.

 

Finally upright, I balance myself on the tips of my toes and stretch both arms straight up as if to touch the sky. When I do every muscle in my body is pulled taut against the gravity, opening my worn joints. The strain on my muscles causes a surge of vitality to course through me, making me feel stronger. With my body needing every fraction of time to recover, I hold that position for several seconds before relaxing.

 

The approaching storm clouds arrive and a light drizzle begins to fall on my naked body. Little by little it turns into larger drops until an ever-increasing cascade of hard pouring rain washes down.

 

“Ah, I need a good shower,” I snigger to myself.

 

The cascading rain feels cool and refreshing as the steady downpour washes my body clean - Earth clean. Raising my face to the storm, I open my mouth wide, let it fill with rainwater and swallow several gulps of the much-needed liquid. Combing my fingers through my wet brown hair, it feels longer than I remember. When I touch my chin I feel the stubble of new beard growth.

 

The storm gradually moves on and the last of the deluge again turns to sprinkles. Still unsteady, I force my aching body to stagger through the trickling rain to the large rock, and plop down on the hard surface. Reaching out with my right hand I pick up the iJotter.

 

At that exact moment an eruption of data abruptly flashes into my mind. The sudden jolt of input causes my facial muscles to tighten and contort into a grimace. With intense concentration I force my mind to push back the mounting feeling of sensory overload.

 

Subconsciously my familiarity with the data source becomes obvious. It was originating from my Craft floating silently eighteen thousand miles straight up.

 

The surging data from the Craft continues to flood my mind, growing ever stronger, forcing its way into my memories. The intensity of the data stream increases until it feels like a railroad spike is being plunged deep into my skull, making my entire body jerk and spasm.

 

“That’s enough,” I yell hoarsely, and the data surge stops.

 

Focusing my thoughts I mentally gain control and moderate the tempo of the incoming data stream. “There,” I growl and the information begins to stream smoothly. As the Craft continues feeding me more and more details I feel the twinge of regret, consciously accepting the fact that my mind's sanctuary has ended.

 

The memories were returning more rapidly now. Yes, it was all coming back. It seems like it was only yesterday when this trip began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 - Thanks For The Memories…

 

It was Earth year 3124. Six months ago Vienna and I had finally returned to Earth. We were living an uneventful life in our log cabin on Molly Island on the southern tip of the southeastern arm of Yellowstone Lake.

 

It was a welcomed change following our most recent space-time journey to the planet Kr’galmaan in the Earth Standard year 2746. Space-time travel could be stimulating, but so could being together in quiet solitude.

 

That trip had taken several months of analyzing metadata alterations of the Kr'galmaan's archived history. We had poured over data records from the implanted memory chips in each individual being, as well as millions of recorded tomes and media transcripts. The findings from this massive endeavor resulted in both of us fighting in a merciless war.

 

Long before Vienna and I really knew each other I used the space-time traveling abilities of the bracelet to personally experienced various planetary societies. While on those trips I had acquired knowledge of the structural influences of history on a culture and the socio-psychological perspectives that drove societal behaviors.

 

That knowledge, along with Vienna’s excellent computer skills, had enabled us to untangle the chronological murkiness of the historical records of Kr’galmaan devilishly fabricated by Sanduval Mule. After the facts were made public it caused major societal unrest and ultimately a cultural rebellion. This led the Kr’galmaan beings, and us, into mortal combat against the tyranny of Sanduval Mule's puppet O'czardaa and his well-armed minions.

 

Partnered with TicTic R’gneraq and his brave warriors from the planet Otos, an long time ally of Pu-illeo and her Kr’galmaan army, we had taken the battle directly to O'czardaa’s forces. Side-by-side we fought many battles and killed many beings. We mercilessly eliminated them with the vengeance that comes from the necessity of continued existence. This meant the death or capture of most of O'czardaa’s ignorant pawns.

 

Not only did we defeat O'czardaa, we terminated Sanduval Mule’s scheme of manipulating their historic past and restored order to the matrices of their society. Our victory insured the Kr’galmaan beings a brighter future and the freedom and individual liberty they craved and rightfully deserved.

 

After that excursion Vienna and I swiftly returned to Earth. Deciding to take a sabbatical from space-time travel, we spent most of our days at the cabin. Treasuring our quiet time together. Only the occasional visit to civilization broke up this pleasant existence.

 

Once a month we would board my Craft and, floating like an invisible feather on a gentle wind, we glided south. During this leisurely two-hour trip we followed the rugged slopes of the winding Yellowstone River, along the twisting path of the raging waters of Trappers Creek, finally ending near the small cloister of humanity called Colter City.

 

I would land my Craft in a secluded grassy clearing just beyond the city. After commanding it to stay veiled until our return we unhurriedly left the meadow and descended the sloping ground the remaining two miles. Strolling hand in hand we followed the winding trappers path through the dense woods with its thick canopy of colored leaves. We would pass though a small clearing with wildflowers and buzzing insects.

 

After arriving at Colter City we mingled with other human inhabitants and purchased needed supplies. Typically, we stocked up on freshly grown vegetables, newly caught fish and the meat of small animals. After our shopping spree we returned to the Craft, stored our goods and made the relaxing trip back to the cabin.

 

As I remember, it was four-fifteen in the afternoon on a typical August day. Because of Earth’s ongoing glacial period the weather outside was cool but pleasant. Out the large windows the gray sky was beginning it’s ritual change to dusk. The towering trees swayed rhythmically as the crisp breeze blew through their bare branches. I had just placed a few logs on the fire to keep the room warm. The crackling sound when the logs flamed into action was somehow soothing. Vienna lay comfortably stretched out on the leather couch with a wool blanket thrown across her legs. She was engrossed in the final editing of my most recent tome for the U.O.H.. She would rotate between taking a sip from a cup of hot chocolate to chewing on the back-end of her dreaded red stylus.

 

I sat at my antique Oak roll-top desk continuing my quest of deciphering the ring’s intricate markings. Over the last few days I had used the space-time travel ability of the bracelet and taken a few brief trips that I thought were clues… they weren’t.

 

Unexpectedly, I vanished.

 

All of a sudden I was standing in the middle of the now familiar breathing chamber with those intense bright lights shining down.

 

“Welcome C.W. Comstock”, came the sharp telepathic communication from oojavan.

 

“I was hoping not to hear from you for a while,” I replied aloud.

 

“It is pleasant to view you again as well,” oojavan sent.

 

Oojavan was the only being of the board of the U.O.H. I had ever communicated with. If you can call the feeling of being repeatedly hit in the head with a hammer a form of communication. He, or she, I’m not sure which, had told me before that he was whispering. I’m just glad I’d never felt him shout. Had he screamed my head would most certainly have exploded.

 

“That’s not exactly what I meant. What do you want?” I asked harshly, as the brain-pain grew.

 

“To the point as usual. You wish to know the inspiration for this visit. We require your chronicle."

 

“You'll have it soon,” I said. This is strange. They’ve never pushed me for my story before. I wonder what these weasels are really up to?

 

"Excellent. It is with pleasure we also require your valued assistance."

 

I knew it. "For what purpose?" I say with disdain.

 

"There is a potential for severe verity disruption of the quantal ora’ that must be rectified,” Oojavan sent plainly.

 

“I’ve told you before,” I replied in a defiant tone. “I will not be at your beck and call to fix your problems. I will submit my chronicles as required, but that’s all.”

 

“The potential disruption is verified as instigated by Sanduval Mule. Naturally, we theorized with your acknowledged expertise in such matters you would be interested in assisting us toward the solution.”

 

“Sanduval Mule huh? That devil is at it again? What and where is it this time?” I asked.

 

“If we have satisfactory concurrence, the U.O.H. will deliver all that you require.”

 

“Yeah, right. I’ve heard that before,” the brain-pain becoming almost unbearable.

 

“Rest assured it is a certainty.”

 

“Right… Hey, can you tone down the pain a notch or two?”

 

“Please forgive me. I neglect consideration of your cerebral infancy. Is this more pleasant for you?

 

“Yes, thank you, that’s a little better,” I replied, as the brain-pain eased slightly.

 

“Then you agree to assist us?”

 

“No… I do not. I need information. I need details. Either tell me the whole story, or send me back and solve the problem yourself.”

 

“We can inform you that within this time parameter innocent beings are in the medial construct of societal manipulation. Their civilization is in peril. If this linear baseline continues, cultural disruption will surely be inevitable and the beings will suffer for many generations.”

 

Experience has taught me that the U.O.H. does nothing without an objective. Their strict rules for shielding the compositions of the past and their complex nexus for the future was not something I wanted to be involved with, again.

Yeah, they had given me the bracelet and ring time devices to help me write my stories. Their only requirement was that I chronicle my travels. The bracelet and ring have become invaluable tools for both my writings and my life. By turning the dials on the bracelet to the desired time, then touching the green gemstone, I could travel to any time in the past or future. Touching the red gemstone instantly brought me back to the time where I had started. Touching the blue gemstone on the ornately inscribed ring stopped time for a little over a minute. I’m fairly sure there was one fact they did not know. I had deciphered some of the inscriptions on the ring and gained additional abilities.

 

Anyway, my latest story for them was complete. Vienna was editing it now. The next documented chronicle would be much less dangerous for us both. Even though they had supplied the bracelet and ring time devices, they did not own me. I travel and write for my pleasure, not theirs.

 

“I'm sure you can make the necessary changes yourself. You have informed and shown me your powers. Why do you need me?”

 

This requires a more personal form of participation by someone dependable. Someone who will not take undue advantage of the circumstances.”

 

“I’m sure you know others who have the time devices that you could coerce into helping you. Why not them?”

 

“You have proven yourself a most reliable asset for such conditions.”        

 

“Do you think I will just solve your problem and go away? Are you offering me a choice?”

 

“Of course, as always it is your choice to assist us. Unlike Sanduval Mule, we believe you will do everything in your power to oblige those threatened and return to your life on Earth. You have proven both your abilities and your trustworthiness.”

 

Do these scoundrels think I will fall for their compliments? That just shows how senseless they think I am. Although, the least I can do is hear what they have to say.

 

“Okay, I’ll listen, but I will not commit to anything until I hear the whole story, all the details. If you are not going to tell me everything, forget it.”

 

I could hear, or rather feel, a mixture of murmuring conversations with other U.O.H. members, although none of it made any sense. It was just unintelligible prattle bouncing around in my head.

 

Finally oojavan sent, “It is customary for this body to eternally express reality. Accordingly on this issue you have a modest advantage. As you wish, we will be candid.

 

For the sake of the sequential chronology of acquired knowledge and to preserve the sustainability of the chronostream of the quantal ora’, we must correct this potential for disruption as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, we must equally exercise the secure operation of chronal continuity exclusive to preordained galactic beings such as yourself.

 

In keeping with the regulations accompanying the acceptance of the traversing instruments, specifically directive 14b.8.j.9c… if you do not assist us, the instruments and their possessor as well as all those with knowledge of their existence, will be terminated.”

 

“Let me get this straight, if I don’t help you, you will kill me. Is that it?”

 

“You are indeed highly perceptive. A trait not commonly found in all beings. If you desire absolute bluntness, yes! You and Vienna Pitts as well, as she too has ownership and knowledge of the existence of the traversing instruments.”

 

I had become fiercely protective of that feisty beauty I’d saved so long ago. Vienna had filled my meager existence with a passion more precious than my own life. I couldn’t let these alien bastards harm her.

 

I knew these arrogant weasels would do anything to get what they want. “Well then,” I say, loathing dripping from my words, “if that is my only choice, tell me what you want me to do.”

 

“So we are in agreement, you will willingly assist us.

 

“Willingly? I guess I have too if I want to live.”

 

“Your answer is affirmative?”

 

I hesitated. These slimy scumbags will do whatever it takes to get their way. Sarcastically I answered, “Yes, I will help you.”

 

“Excellent decision,” oojavan sent, sounding almost euphoric, “The first phase will be your cognitive preparation.”

                                                                                

“What kind of preparation? I thought you said I had all the experience and expertise that was needed.”

 

“Your known abilities are numerous and welcome, yet the requirements for this solution are not typical for your many strengths and additional preparation is a necessity to insure your chance of survival,” oojavan explained.

 

“Oh, my chance of survival, eh?” You deceitful scoundrels, I thought. If I don’t do what they want they will kill me and Vienna. If I do as they ask I’ll probably get killed anyway. Some choice these degenerate scumbags have given me.

 

“Okay, what kind of preparation, and where do I have to go to get it?”

 

“You must be prepared to resist cerebral harmonic resonance vibrations. This preparation will not be trouble-free for your limited psyche; although we are optimistic you possess adequate inner cerebral strength. You must travel to the planet Q’nine in the Earth year 3178. Once there, Noiiz Ringwattanajiinga will contact you for the preparation process. After you complete the training sequence further instructions will be available.”

 

“Cerebral what? You mean I have to suffer more brain-pain while some alien creature probes around in my head? I complained. Maybe I shouldn’t have agreed to this. Death may have been a better choice. But Vienna would also be dead. I can’t let that happen. I think I’m going to need a larger bottle of painkillers for this trip.

 

“The instruction is essential for your success. Here are the coordinates for Q’nine.”

 

With that, I felt a sharp pointed sting deep in my head. “Ouch,” I yelp. I’ll never get used to that.

 

Allowing some alien creature to play psychological Ping-Pong inside my head is not something I looked forward to. My mental capacity and thought processes are fine the way they are. But if it keeps Vienna safe, I’ll have to go through with it. I knew these wretched vermin wouldn't leave us alone.

 

“I have to return and inform Vienna of the situation before leaving,” I explained.

 

“Do as you must. You are required to begin your journey to Q’nine within 24 of your hours in the pre-stated Earth year. Noiiz Ringwattanajiinga must not be kept waiting,” oojavan demanded.

        

“Got it,” I agreed.

 

Damn those contemptible bastards…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 - Can I Get A Witness...

 

When I reappeared in the cabin, Vienna was still snugly sprawled on the leather couch engrossed in her editing, never noticing I’d been gone. Of course for her it was merely a fraction of a second.

Turning to face her I abruptly interrupted the silence, “Guess what,” I said in an irritated tone of voice.

 

Vienna paused from her work and looked up. “What?” she asked somewhat surprised by my sudden attitude.

 

“I’ve just had a visit with the U.O.H.,” continuing my irritated tone.

 

“Just now? I didn’t even notice,” she grumbled.

 

“Yeah, they sent me back just a second ago,” I growled.

 

Narrowing her eyes in a curious expression she asked, “What did they want?”

                                                                                             

“They asked for my help and I have reluctantly agreed.”

 

“Why you? Aren’t there others they could get to help them?”

 

“To be totally honest, they gave me no choice. Rather, they gave me a clear ultimatum. Do what they want or we both die.”

 

“Die? Both of us, why?” Vienna blurted out, raising both eyebrows in shock.

 

“Yes, both of us. Because we both have our bracelets and rings and, as oojavan put it, ‘have knowledge of their existence’.”

 

“Should I talk to them?” Vienna queried. “They’ve always been nice to me.”

 

“If you think you can change their minds, be my guest. Just remember, oojavan has the personality of a used coffin and we’ve been deceived by him before.”

She paused for a second recalling their last encounter with the U.O.H, and asked, “Wait a minute, exactly what do they want you to do?”

 

“They think Sanduval Mule is tinkering with the society of some planet again, or waging another war, or something even worse. I don’t know for sure.”

 

“I thought we had taken care of him for good the last time,” Vienna said sounding irritated.

 

“Apparently not.”

 

“What exactly are you suppose to do? Where do they want you to go? Did they say how long it would take? I hope it’s not as long as it took on Kr’galmaan. That took us months and we almost got killed several times.”

 

“So many question, so few answers,” I muttered in disgust.

 

“What do you mean? They must have told you something. Didn’t they explain anything?”

 

“Unfortunately not a drop of factual information. Just that I have go or else. Believe me, I tried to convince them of other options. But there’s no way I could refuse.”

 

“Well, when do we go?” Vienna added excitedly.

 

“Ah… I have to go alone. They said I have to go through some kind of mental preparation first, and then wait for further instructions. And if I didn’t go though with this training, I could be mentally harmed.”

“I don’t like it. It’s all very mysterious even for them. And why can’t I go? Remember my training with Pu-illeo, I’m much stronger mentally. The Mule’s mental attacks had no affect on me.”

 

“As I recall, we both fired at Mr. Mule. Wait a minute, are you saying I have a weak mind?” I said smirking.

 

“I didn’t mean that at all, your mind is as strong as ever,” She teased. Her voice was playful, but her eyes held a malicious sparkle as she smiled that crooked smile of hers. “I simply have some... insight that could be helpful,” she explained in her special cozy tone.

 

“Believe me, I wish you could come. I don’t like leaving you alone.”

 

“Hey, I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself,” She said proudly.

 

“I know you can. I just like being with you.”

 

Vienna tilted her head to one side, smiled, and stepped close, opened her arms and gave me a long hug. Burying her head in my shoulder she lovingly stroked the muscles of my back. Understandably, she was bothered about me leaving without her. I’m sure she hadn’t planned on being secluded in the cabin for any length of time. But, as usual, she was very understanding.

 

She was tougher than her appearance would have you believe. Life’s lessons had taught her to keep her iron-fisted ambiance well hidden inside a velvet glove of beauty and logic. If necessary, she could convey a facade of hardness towards life but always tempered by a deep pool of softness in her heart.

 

Anyway, if she really wanted or needed too, she could use her bracelet to travel.

 

Vienna bit her lip and pouted, “Well, I guess that’s it then.” Her face looking momentarily hurt. “Just be careful, and make sure you come back to me in one piece,” she pleaded, her eyes turning moist, “and don’t forget, that Mule guy is an expert deceptionist.”

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful,” I said with a smile.

 

We made small talk about supplies, the weather, and nothing important as I slipped into my Jyotti suit and gathered a few things for the trip, including a large bottle of painkillers. We became quiet. No words were necessary because we each knew what the other was thinking. The air between us was clear and loving. Finally, we walked out towards the landing pad and my Craft, letting our hands softly touch as we walked.

 

The Craft shimmered in the sunlight like a 80-foot long floating teardrop of quicksilver. When we said our good-byes I caressed her gently, hugging and kissing her several times before turning and stepping into the spaceship. Stopping at the entrance I turned and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back in no time.”

 

Vienna composed herself. A wide smile spread across her face as she gave an affirming wave. For her, CW’s promise was like another loving caress.

 

Once inside I turned left, walked down the hall into the control area and sat down in the command seat located just off-center. The seat was made of the same material as the rest of the Craft. When I sat down the soothing warmth was relaxing as it gently molded itself to the curves of my body. Placing both arms on the armrests, my hands disappear from view, sinking wrists deep into the flowing silverish material. The familiar feeling surrounding my hands was like a pair of warm gloves.

 

Dr. Jyotti Rabbet, with assistance from Kr’galmaan scientists, had designed and constructed my Craft in the Earth year 2746. As he explained it to me, the Craft’s core structure was a genetic variation of my own DNA. Somehow my DNA had been integrated into a nucleoplasm made of multi-walled graphene carbon nanotubes interwoven with some rare earth nanofibers. Amazingly, the material was super strong. It had withstood attacks from various advanced weapons from particle beams and lasers to ion plasma cannons. The Craft also had light absorbing and shape-altering capabilities. My connection to the Craft was my hands immersed in the armrests of the seat. My mind had total control. Whatever I thought, the neurons from my brain pulsed into the Craft, instantly converting brainwaves into commands. This electrical interaction was the same pathway that the Craft’s sensors and subsystems integrated with my mind. Jyotti called it the Conscious Cortex Looping system. On my last trip, I had taken a small piece of the Craft’s material and placed it inside my iJotter. This allowed me, with a simple touch to the iJotter, to have immediate cerebral communication with the Craft from almost any distance.

 

Jyotti had also designed the Craft’s propulsion system. He told me it was an electromagnetic converging ionized gluon plasmic drive. I have no idea what all that meant but according to Jyotti, the Craft was capable of varying and equalizing the frequency oscillations of magnetic fields. He called it the MagNIP drive. Basically Jyotti had been able to harness and allow my Craft, and me, to control the magnetic energy of gravity.

 

The Craft was mine and mine alone. Without my DNA no one else could control it, and its speed and precision were incredible. It would do anything I could dream up -- hover at any altitude from inches above ground to billions of miles in outer space. It could dive under water, change its shape, and even become virtually invisible by duplicating and reflecting its surroundings. The MagNIP drive enabled the Craft to travel at quantum light speed. It was a fantastic machine. I loved it.

 

Dr. Jyotti Rabbet was not merely a brilliant scientist he was also a friend. He had not only designed the Craft and its propulsion system, he had also designed my spacesuit, which I had affectionately dubbed the Jyotti suit. The hooded suit clung to my body head to toes like a second skin. Pulling the hood over my head immediately transformed it into an all-encompassing helmet, including a face-covering visor with a heads-up display. At the same time the suit completely sealed and pressurized. It has proven to be impervious too most weapons, saving my life many times.

 

After getting comfortable, I gave a quick thought and the Craft immediately shot twenty-four thousand miles straight up and stopped. I sat for a long moment using the Craft’s visual sensors to observe the Earth. In this time-space its northern glaciers extended down to the border between the U.S. and Canada. To the south, there were glaciers covering the southern tip of the South American continent. Even in this global glacial period, Earth was a beautiful planet. Without a second thought I dial my bracelet to the year 3178, took a deep breath and touched the green stone.

 

Instantly the Earth looked different. The space-time change was obvious. The slow moving northern and southern glaciers had begun to recede from their push toward the equator. With the coordinates oojavan had painfully stamped into my memory, I set the Craft’s course for the planet Q’nine. I was in a hurry to get started, and finished.

 

According to the Craft’s stats, the fastest I had ever traveled was ninety percent the speed of light. That was during my last trip with Vienna. But Jyotti had told me that because the Craft uses the gravitational energy of even distant objects in space, he didn’t know the limit of its speed. Although he had told me that according to his quantum photon experiments he estimated the Craft, traveling in the vacuum of space, could cruise at superluminal speeds. When I ask the Craft to calculate the total travel time to Q’nine using my last speed, it indicated exactly 2.26 parsecs. That was unacceptable, much too long to be away from Vienna. I directed the Craft to recalculate using its fastest possible velocity through every magnitude of gravitational field attraction and propulsion it could. This reduced the travel time to just 51.465 hours.

 

“Now that’s Star Speed,” I said with a smile. “Yes, much better.” Commanding the Craft onward toward Q’nine I snarled, “I mustn’t keep this Noisy Ringajinga being waiting.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5 - Who's That Lady...

 

Vienna lay sprawled across the king-sized waterbed in the master bedroom on the second floor of the cabin. Her emerald green eyes softly blinked open. Outside the tall east-facing windows the sun was slowly rising. The beaming radiance caused the tint of the windows to darken against the golden glare. It was 6:24 in the morning of another long day alone.

 

Gently turning her head, she snuggled deeper into the soft pillow and gazed out the windows. For a long while she lay looking at the radiant blue sky listening to the chirping birds. The clean gray sheets felt smooth and warm against her nude body. Occasionally the birds would flit past the windows as they busied themselves with their morning ritual of searching for food. Their fleeting shadows sporadically danced across her face. Her short auburn hair was mussed from sleeping. With a lazy gesture she brushed a stray strand of hair back from her forehead. Rolling onto her back the bed shifted, making a slow motion wave. Raising her arms over her head she arched her back and stretched, letting out a deep sigh in the process.

 

Her body lay quietly but her mind was busy. It was obvious she was getting restless. At first she had enjoyed the solitude, and had only taken one quick trip to town. But now she was tired of being alone, especially in bed. She pushed that thought to the back of her consciousness. Using her left hand she threw the bed coverings to one side. Swinging her legs off the bed she stood and rubbed the sleep from her eyes and slowly strolled into the bathroom.

 

After relieving herself of nature’s call she started the water and moments later stepped into the stone-walled shower. In no hurry to start the day she took her time, enjoying a long hot shower. The building steam rolled from the shower filling the room and fogging the clear glass of the shower enclosure. Emerging from the shower she casually dried herself with a large soft towel. After vigorously towel-drying her hair she shook her head from side-to-side so her hair flew freely to let nature do the final drying process.

 

Casually walking into the cedar-lined closet she scanned the hanging cloths trying to decide what to wear. Finally making her choice she threw on a pair of faded denim jeans and an old gray t-shirt with the face of a Ba'cho wolf stenciled on the front. Taking her time she strolled down the wooden staircase turned left and entered the kitchen. She filled a teapot and placed it on the stove to heat up, cut two slices of raw grain bread from a full loaf and placed them into the toaster.

Moments later the bread popped up from the toaster just as the teapot sang it’s whistling song of readiness. Mechanically she spread homemade cinnamon flavored cream cheese on the toasted bread. Showing no evidence of emotion she ate the toast and nibbled on slices of a Red Delicious apple. Washing it all down with a fragrant mouthful of hot ginger green tea.

 

In a pensive mood, she stared out the window at the distant mountains crowned with glistening ice and snow. Occasionally her eyes would roam across the living area at CW’s most recent tome for the U.O.H.. I should be editing, she thought to herself. No, that would be her third editing process. No part of her wanted to do it again. There was no need, the book was accurate, excellently written and did not need any revisions. Actually, she thought to herself, the story was no longer so very remarkable. She had lived it.

 

When she had finished her last mouthful she got up and tossed her trash into the waste bin and placed her used cup in the sink. She stared out the window above the sink for a few moments watching the active birds. I should be doing something more productive; she brooded, continuing her pensive state. She had certain capabilities she knew would be needed wherever CW had gone. Unsuccessfully she tried to push the thought of CW away, which was difficult. They went together like peanut butter and chocolate, she chuckled to herself.

 

Moving to the kitchen island she sat on one of the stools. For ten long minutes she sat looking around the inside of the cabin, wondering what to do next. Since meeting CW she had suffered with an increasingly dangerous case of curiosity and impetuousness. Those traits had always been within her but it had taken CW to bring them to the surface.

 

“Exercise” she almost shouted. Exercise, be it yoga, aerobics or gatka, was her form of stress relief and escape from the mundane. Most of the time, she practiced her own mixture of yoga and gatka.   

 

When she began her exercise routine her thoughts roamed from one thing to another until anchoring themselves on her experience during her visit to Colter City two day’s before. The memory had teased the back of her mind ever since. She again reviewed what had happened. Was what she saw and felt an illusion? Positioning herself in Sarugu Dhyana Mudra, she closed her eyes tightly as her mind traveled through her memories, examining the tiniest details of the moment.

 

While sitting at one of the outdoor restaurants enjoying a cup of black tea, a pattern of unusual disturbance nearby caught her eye. The distraction she noticed was the haphazardness of time stopping and restarting. Because she wore her bracelet and ring the time stoppage had not affected her. Even so, she stayed motionless when it occurred so as not to draw attention to herself. She had also felt an unusual murmur of thought so strong it made the hair on her arms stand tall. She felt it, lost her connection for a split second, regained it almost immediately, then lost it again. Frustrated, she had looked around the area at the people close by, and widened her search to survey the surrounding locale. But there was no trace of where the thought could have come from.

 

That incident continued to haunt her. Maybe she should go back to the market today. Yes she should, she thought, suddenly determined to solve this new mystery. Anyway, she needed something to do.

 

She transformed into the meditative Jalandhara Bandha position holding it for several moments as her mind continued to wonder. Altering her position to the plank pose she held it for several moments and began her daily fifty push-ups. Continuing her routine with the Bakasana, slowly converting into Balasana, she rested in that pose for several minutes.  

 

That’s enough, she thought to herself. Time is wasting.

 

Taking long strides she went back upstairs, again striped to bare skin and slipped into her Jyotti suit. Over her suit she put on a pair of jeans, a warm shirt with a hoodie attached and her favorite western boots, grabbed her overcoat and went downstairs. Standing in the center of the room, Vienna turned the dials of her bracelet to the exact latitude and longitude of the clearing where she and CW usually landed the Craft and three minutes into the future. She touched the blue stone on the ring to the green stone of the bracelet and stepped into the floating blue nothingness between time zones.

 

Stepping out she began the two-mile walk to town. As she strolled through the wooded grove she again thought of CW. During their combat on Kr’galmaan he had always reminded her that she must keep her situational awareness at a high level no matter the time or place. To always stay ready to confront the unknown with authority even if she didn’t fell threatened with imminent physical or mental danger. What was surprising for her is that she felt relaxed in this time-space. No sweaty palms and no suffocating fears. For the first time in centuries there was no fighting or wars anywhere on the planet. The people of Earth were in mutual survival mode due to the continued glacial period. Sadly billions of unprepared Earthlings had died of starvation or frozen to death during the change. Now they helped each other more than at anytime in history. Species survival was more important than territorial and tribal disputes.

 

After her short walk through the forest she arrived in town, strolled around for a while then sat down at an empty table in the outside seating area of one of the cafés. Customers of various classes, easily determined by their clothing, occupied several tables. A few waitresses sliced their way around the tables and chairs delivering their orders to and from the kitchen. The air was thick with the smell of baking bread and grilled meats. She watched with interest as the human traffic moved along the village street. The main street was somewhat busier today than her previous visits, she thought. She watched those moving along the walkway, couples strolling hand in hand, as well as single men and women. In a grassy yard down the street children laughed and chattered as they played. Her eyes continued to survey her surroundings, down the aisles of tables and chairs sitting outside the various eating establishments, and along the spacious rows of buildings. She tried to convince herself that whatever she had seen and felt before was only an illusion, that it was nothing she should concern herself with.

 

She waited for a while enjoying being among others until a waitress came by and asked if she wanted anything.

 

“Yes, I’ll have a cup of green quince tea please.”

 

“Is that all?” asked the waitress.

 

“Yes.”

 

Moments later the waitress returned with the warm mug of tea. Vienna paid her in coin and continued her observations. After two cups of tea she tired of sitting and started her stroll around the town, stopping on occasion to window shop. She leisurely walked first down one side of the long street then crossed over and did the same up the other side.

 

She repeated her trip down the street and back up the other side several times during the day. Occasionally she would get a slight murmur of thought but was never able to pin point the source. By the end of the day she had discovered nothing that would help her unravel the mysterious feeling of mind-to-mind communication. Returning to the clearing, she dialed her bracelet to the cabin’s location and three minutes into the future and again touched the blue stone of her ring to the green stone on her bracelet.

 

All that evening her mind raced as she pondered those strange thought occurrences. Something was going on and she knew it.