Book 17. Part Two. 3

Here I begin to go down a rabbit hole I had no intention of ever – ever – exploring. Time travel stories are not hard science fiction and also very dangerous from a causality standpoint. Time travel into the past is boring and stupid; as Larry Niven once noted, it is just a child’s wish fulfillment of “make it didn’t happen!” Into the future, with a presumed return to the present? Similar “Sound of Thunder” problems.

My work-around is my faith. As a Catholic, I believe God sees everything in His “unbounded now.” Past, present, future, to a mortal mind is just NOW to Him. So long as I keep close track of what I’m writing over the next few installments, I should make it out of this without sounding like a complete idiot.

BTW, “Lest Darkness Fall” is a spectacular book.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! 

The remaining eleven returned to their feet.  Aurelia turned to her mother, Henge.

“If you would, please speak with your father and Ai if they have anything which might aid us.” She held up her hand.  “I know, he doesn’t like to bother, but my Great Aunt Ai loves us still.  Hmm.  Speaking of, turning Fausta loose to look for her goddaughter…”

“I’d rather not have an entire planet, one we are trying to make a new home on, reduced to rubble, my daughter,” Henge chided her.  “Oh!  Thaad says he’s thinking about it, but Fausta has already ordered Nichole 5 to full alert.  She’s on her way to her ship in Okinawa.  As an android, she can manage over fifteen Gs and should be to Mars, presently.”

Aurelia dropped her formality to walk over and kiss her mother’s pale, ethereal cheek.

Couldn’t hear the whisper, Bob thought, but the emotion was honest.

“Anyone else?” the Regent asked the room.  “In that case, I want us dispersed for our safety.  My husband, Robert, and his guest remain with me.  For now.  Thank you all and Deus vult.”

The younger all saluted – minus Eloise, of course – and some of the older, like granddad, shook their heads and made for the doors.  With a touch to her shoulder, Bob had El follow him to the table in the center of the hangar.

“Prince James,” he said with a nod of his head to the Regent’s husband of likely only a day or two, Jimmy Burns, a refugee from Nova Scotia.

“Crown Prince Robert,” the man a few years his senior, replied, obviously unhappy at the mess he had found himself dumped into.

“As you heard, this is a friend of mine, Eloise Patel, possibly of the Canadian Army…”

“Possibly…!” she raised her voice again.

“…but for now, our guest.  Due to my involvement in your extraction, and your entanglement into this family, her safety is in doubt.  And, as such, she is my responsibility,” he concluded.

“Big of you,” Aurelia muttered, eyes back on a map they could all likely redraw blindfolded at this point.  “Does anyone have the slightest idea what the Prophet meant?”

No one spoke up.  Until…

“What was it she said?” Eloise asked.  “’They slid?’  Like down a hillside?  Hitting their heads?”

“Her exact phrase,” the Regent corrected, “was, ‘they slipped.’  The verb use is slightly different and I think significant, but it eludes my searches of the Void right now.”

“Ask Alex,” Bob said, once again catching her off-guard.  And you people say we humans are not fit to rule!  Egotists!  “She holds herself aloof from our family and we need outside ideas.  Oh, and see if Helena will talk.  Something, anything, about her godmother.”

“Done.  And I get you, Bob.” Any demi knew what a human was thinking.  Family more so.

“Uh…” Eloise made a sound and they all looked at her.  She flinched a little at the attention.  “A book I read, as a kid…”

“An officer should speak clearly, Lieutenant!” The Regent nearly shouted.  From long experience, Bob felt sick some of the sonics in that yell.  Machines do it better, but Mom and Aurie are very dangerous.

“’Lest Darkness Fall,’ I don’t recall the author,” she sputtered out.  “An archeologist went into the past.  I remember clearly he said something about ‘slipping down the tree-trunk of time.’”

“L. Sprague de Camp,” Jimmy contributed.  “I have that one back on my shelf.  Well, I did.  Hey!  Aurie!”

Her face was into her hands and he put his arm about her shoulders.

“I think she has it right.  Eloise.  I don’t know why I think that.” She dropped her hands and an angry look sat on her young face.  “My mother manifested a physical body through the flux point of a fusion reaction.  No one knew of that tech a generation ago, not even the Machines.  What will we have to invent, this time?”

Aurelia abruptly spun about and ordered her husband to follow her, shouting for Bob and Eloise to confine themselves to base for the time being.

The door slammed shut and they were alone.

“Is… is your family always like this?” Eloise asked in a quiet voice.

“Generally.  They, the demis, like to get things done right-freakin’-now, no matter what it is.” He gave a single, spiteful laugh.  “It can be far, far, worse, El.  Let’s find a bathroom and then where the food is here.  I hope the distillery just down the road has stock at the cafeteria.”

Finding toilets, with Eloise asking, “Aren’t you coming in?  I might try to escape!” led them to the cafeteria two buildings over, but she paused him at the door.

“Bob?  I think I should check in with my HQ,” she said, looking north.  “I’d like them to let my team know, if not where I am, that at least I’m safe.”

“So much for getting you drunk,” he smiled, taking her arm and guiding her west.

“Maybe later,” she said right back.  “Been here much?  You sure seem to know your way around.”

“This is the technological heart of the imperium.  It’s one of the reasons everyone is looking at you:  we do not trust our neighbors to the north,” he explained.  “As a legionary, I’d be nowhere near this place unless assigned as security.  As a crown prince?  Been here a dozen times.  Hey!”

He caught her as she stumbled.

“That’s… that’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around, Bob,” she admitted.

“Accident of birth, I assure you,” he replied, holding a door open for her to a nondescript building.  “Just in case, let me do the talking, El.”

“Not this dangerous secret agent?”


There was a desk just ahead with a man and woman at laptops.  Both had sidearms.  They looked up, surprised to see a legionary centurion and shocked to see a Canadian officer.  From the breast pocket of his uniform jacket, Robert pulled out an ID he hated using.  The other two froze.

“I’ll… I’ll have to call this in, for verification, Sire,” the woman said in a shaking voice.  “A moment, please.”

He nodded and led Eloise a few steps away.  Behind them, they heard the woman scan his badge and make a call to Security.

“Sire?  Really, Bob?” El muttered.

“Please don’t start.”

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