New Beginnings – Pt 4 Ch 09

New Beginnings – Pt 4 Ch 09

Sorry if I disappoint the horny whiners who try to get off on this stuff, but the only reference to people having sex here is a few naked, sperm-spattered bodies. Oh – and I do mention that hot bosomy blonde, Tanya, in an 'air-tight' situation. Ha, ha.

“I called you all here to announce the opening of our new venture,” Macario called out over the little group of Earthers. “Paleo-Hunt, Incorporated!”

A smattering of applause greeted his announcement. Amongst the group attending his grand opening, though, there was more confusion than approval in their faces.

Frank decided to help his friend out by asking what was on everyone’s mind; “What’s a Pay Leo hunt, Mac?”

“Anything it wants!” Macario laughed. “No. Actually, folks, the whole idea is that whenever a group of people want to go hunt some really dangerous prey, like saber toothed tigers, that person can contact us and we’ll arrange a party to go back through time – into pre-human history so we don’t mess up our future.

“I’ve just spent several months in the far distant past with my hot, fiery wife, Lisa,” Mac proclaimed, grinning widely, “and Earth, back in prehistoric times, is a wild and beautiful land, full of danger and excitement! It was like a second honeymoon for us.”

“But how did you come up with the idea of hunting extinct animals?” Jake asked.

“To tell you the truth,” Mac replied, “I don’t care if you don’t want to hunt. But ancient Earth is so beautiful and exotic, I came up with the idea of hunting parties just so people could experience the far distant past. Whether you hunt or not, any party we take into that past has to be well armed in order to defend itself against the wildlife. There aren’t any humans there for them to be afraid of. Yet.”

“It sounds like a good idea…” someone started to say.

“That’s the lamest excuse to butcher extinct animals I’ve ever heard,” someone else shouted. “Somebody outta hang you out to dry for coming up with some asshole idea like that!”

Annalisa climbed up on the little podium next to Mac and Lisa. Using her mental powers to speak to everyone in their heads, she also spoke her words out loud, quelling any disorder that might erupt.

“All right! That’s enough! You Earthers are new to this station and you need to learn and learn fast! The justices of this land, of which I am one, do not tolerate dissidence! Any disorderly conduct will bring you to face a justice in whatever district you find yourself. Also, any complaints, and I will admit that your complaint about murdering wildlife is certainly valid, are to be brought before the justices, and not acted on by any of you. Vigilante tactics are simply not tolerated here. You got that?”

“Yer just one girl,” another newcomer yelled. “How’re you gonna enforce against Vigilante justice? Majority rules and always has! Twenty men would just walk right over you and do what they want!”

Grinning happily at the challenge, Annalisa leaped down off the stage and pushed through the crowd toward the man who had yelled out his challenge. Several of the men in the crowd who were with him decided that this young goddess, although she was incredibly sexy, needed to be taken down a notch or two, and formed a human barricade in front of her.

When she was close enough, one man grabbed her by the arm and yanked Annalisa off her feet, pulling off her top as he did so. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground and Annalisa was casually sliding a new, un-ripped garment over her bare breasts. Before she could get it on, however, another man ripped it out of her hands and tossed it away.

The garment whipped around in his hand and wrapped itself around his neck, then pulled him about ten feet up in the air before releasing him and letting him drop back down to the ground.

The other men were frightened, now, and also very angry. This young slip of a girl was showing them all up. A general surge of angry hands and faces assaulted her, now, and she was forced to form a mental shield around her body. Rapidly expanding it, she shoved all the men backward and they fell to the ground.

“I can do this all day,” Annalisa grinned at one aggressive man who leaped to his feet and started forward to attack her.

As he strode forward growling with anger, he vanished into thin air. Several others who had thought to join in the attack, backed away, instead.

“Where’d he go?” someone cried out.

“I will have order in my district,” Annalisa proclaimed. “And I will insist on peaceful, civilized behavior.”

With an over-accentuated gesture of her hands, she rematerialized her primary attacker on the ground in front of her. He was unconscious and bleeding from his ears and eyes. His tongue was swollen and half out of his mouth.

“It’s amazing what ten seconds in outer space will do to an unprotected man,” Annalisa mused, loud enough for her captive audience to hear. “If one of you knows CPR, perhaps you can revive him. His heart’s still beating – he just needs a little help getting his lungs going again.”

Picking up her blouse from where it had fallen, she slid it over her head and adjusted it around her bodice in the silence surrounding her. Then she turned and walked back toward the stage. No one bothered her this time. In fact, most backed away, giving her a wide path.

“I guess I ruined your announcement,” Annalisa said, apologizing to Mac as she approached him. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Macario replied. “At least with you reprimanding them, no one got fried. I can imagine what would have happened if Lisa found it necessary to defend me.”

“Ha, ha,” said Lisa. “You don’t think I have any self-restraint? I didn’t interfere with Annie, did I? Huh? I let her handle the whole show. So go pick on somebody else or next time I’ll let that monster bear eat you.”

The group broke up shortly afterward. There were several men that still grumbled, but there were others who were interested in going back and visiting the distant past. Macario talked to them for some time, basically explaining about wormholes, time travel and his exotic pet phoenix and her special capabilities that made it all possible.

“It looks like you may have a little trouble with this group,” Tanya said, coming up to greet Annalisa and Jake. “Most of those guys were factory workers back on old earth, and they have a kind of an attitude about uppity females.”

“I’m not a female,” Annalisa said, smiling. “I’m a goddess, and a justice. The sooner they make that distinction, they more readily they’ll accept the fact that I’ve pretty much run this entire district by myself for nearly a hundred years, and they don’t stand any chance of running me out. I treat my people well, and my people love me. These newcomers will learn to do that, as well. If not love, I insist on their respect.”

“They weren’t being disrespectful of just you,” Tanya replied. “They’re disrespectful of females in general – especially those who are in charge. I’ve had trouble with them before. You’ll need a tight rein to control them.”

“Thank you for your advice,” Annalisa told her. “I will keep your words in mind.”

Tanya smiled back, knowing that she was being politely dismissed – perhaps not in such a way that she thought Annalisa wanted her gone, but she didn’t really want her advice, despite the fact that Tanya thought it was needed. But perhaps Annalisa had handled men like them before. There was some industry and logging in this northern district, as well as farming, and Tanya knew as well as anyone that the harsher the environment, the more independent (and unwilling to be controlled) men tended to be.

One thing was certain, Tanya realized – Annalisa handled people a lot differently than Béla ever had, as far as she knew, anyway. Béla had always been interested in finding out why people did the things they did and tried to correct problems on a personal level. Annalisa didn’t seem interested in other people’s personal affairs so long as they were quiescent and didn’t hurt each other.

Of course, Tanya didn’t know that Annalisa’s fierce independence derived from ruling by herself, aided only by the distant praetor at university. At one time, the goddess Beth had been co-justice with her, but had long ago abandoned her post to journey to Earth with her sister goddess, Béla. Now that Beth had returned (in the form of Lisa), she showed no interest in resuming her old position, even though Annalisa would have welcomed the help despite the fact that Lisa seemed as caustic and difficult as Beth had ever been.

In the meantime, Annalisa was really pleased that Macario and Beth, or rather, Lisa, had come up with a way for her half-wild humans to blow off steam. Hunting parties to Earth’s distant past seemed to be a good idea to her. Real adventure and excitement – “Man Against the Elements” – always seemed to make people happy, and, to be truthful, not much ever happened in New Eden. Paradise was really a very, very dull place to spend eternity.

Word spread around the little moon like a wildfire (which they had never had, by the way, so that concept was alien to them) about Macario and Lisa’s new hunting project. As soon as the spring planting was done, a party of fifteen men was put together to go into the past and bring back a dinosaur to stuff and mount. More expeditions were in the planning stage for when this group got back.

Tanya and Tabatha decided to join the first group, giving Lisa some much-needed help with organization. She didn’t need any help in creating a wormhole that would penetrate millions of years into time – she had plenty of power for that. Tabatha, of course, was really helpful when it came to aiming the other end of the wormhole so that it actually hit Earth someplace where dry land occurred.

Tabatha and Tanya went through first to make sure their projected campsite would actually be habitable.

“Wow! It’s hot!” Tanya gasped as she stepped through.

“And the air’s so thick, too!” Tabatha mentioned. “I wonder what makes it so heavy? I feel like we’re way below sea level.”

“I don’t know,” Tanya replied, gazing skyward. “But the sky seems a lot… deeper, you know? There’s a lot of air up there!”

“The atmosphere pressure here is definitely greater,” Tabatha said. “That would account for the heavy flow of hot air we got when Lisa opened the wormhole.”

“Wonder what happened?” Tanya mused. “I mean, between now and the future? There was a lot less depth to the atmosphere in the twenty-first century, you know.”

“Dunno,” Tabatha replied, looking around at her first view of prehistoric Earth. “Close encounter with something large, I imagine… maybe something that blew off the entire atmosphere. Remember those wooly mammoths they found at the North Pole with tropical plants in their stomachs? They were frozen solid in a matter of just minutes. A sudden lack of atmosphere could account for that.”

“But that’s unbelievable!” Tanya exclaimed, staring at her reincarnated daughter. “What could cause such a thing to occur?”

“I dunno,” Tabatha grinned at her dearest friend and once mother. “Wanna go find out? Whatever blew off the atmosphere also tilted the whole planet so that what was the equator became the North and South Poles.”

“I’m not sure I want to try living through that,” Tanya conjectured. “Do you mean to say that for a time, Earth didn’t have an atmosphere?”

“Well, it probably had some,” Tabatha replied. “Not everything on the planet died – and the oceans would evaporate enough to create a new atmosphere in just a few weeks.”

The girls walked along for awhile, chatting amicably about many things – the obviously violent beginnings and endings of life cycles on what they’d always considered their tame little world; where a good campsite would be; what bagging their first dinosaur would be like. And what would happen to all of them in the future of New Eden if something so drastic as casually flipping a planet off its axis and blowing off its atmosphere could happen as recently as fifteen thousand years ago and nobody even knew about it.

“I think we should relocate the wormhole exit to that mountain over there,” Tanya said, changing the subject to something more comfortable to think about. “See that stream? It’ll be a good source of water for our camp.”

“I’ll race you there!” Tabatha grinned and disappeared.

An instant later, both girls appeared next to a magnificent waterfall. They both fell in love with the place instantly.

“This is it!” Tanya cried out joyfully. “Oh, Katie, I could spend the rest of my life here and be happy! That waterfall must be a thousand feet high! My house can be right there, and a little garden…”

Tabatha laughed in agreement. “I think we should look around a little more, though. We’ll be infringing on an already existing ecology. There may be wildlife here that wouldn’t appreciate our intrusion onto their turf.”

An hour of exploration convinced the girls that this was indeed an ideal campsite and there were no animal trails or leavings to indicate that the area was inhabited at all.

Returning to the edge of the wormhole, Tabatha mind-linked with Lisa, one hundred and thirty million years ahead of her, but only a few feet away on the other side of the wormhole. Between the two of them, they centered the rear end of the wormhole on Tanya, who suddenly found herself back in New Eden.

“Well, it’s really beautiful!” Tanya exclaimed to the group that was waiting. “You’ll love it!”

And with that, they all walked into the hazy opening and disappeared, dragging their extensive camping gear with them.

It was late afternoon before the camp was completely set up. It was decided to leave the wormhole open in case a hasty retreat was required. The Necrotwins, all six of them, popped in before nightfall, sensing an exciting evening of fun and games. Of course, they intended to provide the fun with odds of two guys for every twin.

“Lisa invited us!” Holly said when someone queried why they were there. “She said we might be needed to help maintain order with so many single guys throwing their weight around.”

“We’re supposed to keep the edge off them, whatever that means,” Haley added, and winked.

“There’re going to be a lot of ‘edges’ to keep off with you girls running around with no clothes on,” Tabatha remarked.

“Hey, leave da broads alone,” one of the hunters yelled. “We like ’em naked!”

“Sorry,” Haley chirped, grinning wickedly at Tabatha. “You’re outvoted!”

She turned and slinked into the arms of the man who’d yelled out to defend her and squealed as he began mauling her pert, young breasts.

“A little help here,” Haley called to her twin.

Then all three disappeared into the common tent – a barracks it would be – where each explorer had his own bunk around which all his equipment was piled. Tia and Tara were already inside with Lisa. They were very busy with six or seven guys in various states of undress.

“This is going to be an orgy,” Tabatha complained to Tanya. “Think we ought to do something about it?”

“Yeah,” Tanya grinned, “the girls are gonna need help. Let’s join ’em!”

“Mom!” Tabatha cried out plaintively. “I meant in regards to ‘controlling’ them!”

“Wear everybody out!” Tanya quipped already shedding her blouse and slacks. “Then they’ll all fall asleep – perfect control, I say!”

Tabatha watched, realizing she shouldn’t be shocked at her pseudo-mom’s behavior. All her life, Tanya had been willing to lead with her tits. This scenario wasn’t any different. But she also felt that someone should stand guard.

“Why?” Murielle asked, coming up behind Tabatha and entering the large tent. “Why should anyone stand guard? If anything happens, Lisa can go back and warn everyone.”

“Yeah,” Miranda added, suddenly appearing on Tabatha’s other side. “This night is for getting royally screwed by fifteen horny guys! Lisa’ll watch out for all of us – she always has. Come on! They’re getting ahead of us!”

The two twins waded into the growing group and found themselves being stripped naked. Squeals and moans emanated from the ever-growing body pile of naked flesh as Tabatha watched. Then a strong pair of familiar hands wrapped themselves around her waist, squeezing her tightly.

“Hi, Daddy,” Tabatha grinned up at Frank as he hugged her and watched his wife performing for two guys.

“Don’t you want to join the fun?” Frank asked, gently caressing her nipples so they would grow nice and hard.

“Well, I didn’t,” Tabatha confessed. “But if it’s with you or Jake…”

“How about with both of us?” Jake Hedron, her husband said from behind the pair.

Tabatha laughed as she turned around and kissed her husband in greeting. “I thought you two were going to stay on the farm. What changed your minds?”

“Well, Macario was talking about Lisa’s plans for an orgy that included all of her twinned blood-sisters,” Jake began.

“And we thought you might want us to join you,” Frank finished the sentence his grandson had started.

“You guys are wonderful!” Tabatha exclaimed. “But let’s go to my tent. I don’t want to share you two with anyone else!”

“Not even Tanya?” Frank asked rather loudly, attracting his wife’s attention.

Tanya looked up, spitting out the cock in her mouth and grinned at him. Then she went back to work as the guy grabbed her hair and began fucking her mouth.

“She looks pretty busy to me,” Tabatha grinned. “Maybe she can join us later.”

Tabatha and her two guys, her current husband and her father from her last life, went out the tent flap into the warm night air.

“Wow! Look at those stars!” Jake said softly as he gazed skyward. “You know, we’re the first humans to ever see those stars looking exactly like that…”

“There’s Sirius,” Frank called out. “It’s the only star with that brilliant coloring… But what’s it doing over there? And where’s Orion’s belt?”

“It hasn’t formed, yet,” Tabatha told them. “And we decided that Earth’s spin is a little different now than it will be in the future.”

“You’re telling me!” Jake agreed with wonder in his voice. “Look at that! The moon is sideways!”

They all looked up. Near the horizon, the moon loomed, large and crescent. But what they could see of its face was all wrong.

“There may be some meteor impacts that haven’t occurred, yet,” Frank suggested. “We’re pretty far back in time, after all.”

A loud wail from inside the main tent interrupted their tranquil walk toward Tabatha’s tent.

“Well,” Tabatha mused, “There goes my chance to be the first girl ever to have an orgasm.”

“Darn!” Jake grinned. “Well, we’ll just have to make another world record, won’t we?”

“What do you have in mind, lover boy?” Tabatha asked, knowing that look Jake had whenever he was planning something special.

“You remember a month ago when you and Annalisa drew down on each other?” he asked.

Tabatha felt her stomach tighten in anticipation. “I remember that you were so horny you couldn’t wait ’til Tanya had the bullets out of me before you starting raping my bloody, dying corpse.”

“You naughty boy,” Frank interjected, cheerfully chastising his grandson.

“Don’t you talk!” Tabatha replied, playfully defending her normally mild-mannered husband. “Mom’s told me some of the things she lets you do to her!”

“Uh-oh, busted!” Jake laughed at his grandfather. “Now Cat will want you to do that stuff to her!”

“And you’ll want to watch,” accused Tabatha, grinning at both of them.

Then she dropped her blouse on the ground. “Gentlemen, I’m yours for the evening. There will, of course, be a perfunctory gratuity expected in the morning for your pleasure – and mine, as well.”

Inside the tent, Tabatha’s heavy denim’s disappeared off her lower half and she sensuously slid across the narrow cot, somehow making both men believe that it would be large enough for all of them at the same time.

“Who wants to be first?” Tabatha grinned up at them.

“Well, she’s my wife, so I guess I’ll go first,” Jake replied, stepping forward somewhat awkwardly.

“Wait a minute,” Frank whispered anxiously, sounding half-conspiratorial. “What about the… You remember what I said about always having a little… something? … The surprise… Remember?”

“Ooh! Yeah!” Jake said, remembering his discussion with his grandfather after he discovered his necrophilic desires regarding his wife after she and Annalisa gunned each other down. “That… It’s in my tent! I’ll go get it. Don’t wait for me, I want to watch you guys go at it for awhile.”

“Ooo, a surprise?” Tabatha cooed, sitting up and jiggling her breasts. “Daddy, what have you been telling my dear, sweet husband?”

“I told him what he needed to hear,” Frank replied. “The vampire blood in his veins brings out wanton desires in men just like it does in you and Tanya. Those desires must be met, or one partner, sometimes both, will be left frustrated and unfulfilled.”

“I haven’t been too frustrated with Jake,” Tabatha replied. “I love him very much, Daddy.”

“I wish you wouldn’t call me that,” Frank told her, smiling to soften his words. “Especially when I’m about to make love to you.”

“Jake makes love to me, Daddy. But I let you fuck me,” Tabatha informed him.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Frank replied, not missing a beat at Tabatha’s implied insult. “Frustration.”

“I work off any sexual frustration on my job,” Tabatha informed him.

“You may not have noticed, but you’ve been out of a job for almost a year, now,” Frank told her. “What have you been doing to relieve your roaming desires that Jake refuses to believe you have?”

“Well,” Tabatha mused, being serious now, “Shooting at Annalisa was really rewarding – sexually, I mean.”

“And besides that?” Frank wanted to know. “You and Tanya have had pretty much the same schedule for the last few years. I know that when Tanya starts prancing, she’ll fuck anything she sees that looks interesting. I always try to have a little surprise waiting for her whenever we’ve been apart for a day or so.”

“Is that what you told Jake?” Tabatha asked, somewhat miffed that Frank would butt into her private affairs regarding her husband. “Did you make him feel like I might fly off and desert him if he doesn’t keep me happy?”

“Well,” Frank replied, “I know for a fact that you’ve flown off dozens of times to experience some ultimate thrill and never said a word to him about any of it.”

“That’s my affair,” Tabatha informed him. “And I stay by Jake’s side whenever I can. It’s not fair to worry him like that. Besides, how do you know all this stuff, anyway?”

“Tanya tells me everything,” Frank grinned, trying not to brag. “We decided ages ago not to keep any secrets from each other. She tells me everything. And I tell her everything, too. We talk all the time. That’s was real companionship is all about – talking, communicating and being there for the other person. Secrets are what destroy relationships, baby girl. Don’t tell me you don’t work hard at loving Jake. You have to, to overcome all the private stuff you’ve never shared with him.”

“As I said,” Tabatha replied, feeling like a child caught up in a web of lies, “my relationship with Jake is my affair. Leave it be. In fact, if you don’t want to stay, you can go. You’ve completely ruined the mood for me.”

“Tabatha,” Frank said, sitting down on the bed and placing his hand on her bare knee, “out of all the women I know – you, Tanya, Béla, Alicia – everyone, you are the moody one. Well, you and Alicia, because of your unwillingness to share your thoughts, your secrets, with those you love.

“Please believe me when I tell you that sharing is the secret of happiness,” Frank continued earnestly. “Well, next to personal hygiene, anyway.”

“Hey! You guys haven’t started yet?” Jake called out as he came through the tent flap, then stopped in his tracks and looked closely at them. “I… Uh-oh, who died?”

“At least I didn’t kill myself,” Tabatha replied to Frank in a soft whisper that Jake didn’t quite hear, her whispered voice angry and unrepentant. “So your theory about happiness and joy goes up in smoke just like Béla did.”

“Tabatha,” Frank implored her, “She hurt all of us when she did what she did. I don’t know what happened to make her do that. Two hours earlier, she was fine. She was with Jake and seemed perfectly willing to share Jake with Annalisa. Whatever made her walk out into that sunlight – I don’t believe it had anything to do with Jake.”

“Well, actually, it did, Grandpa,” Jake Hedron interrupted, moving across the bed and sitting down with the others.

“What do you mean?” Frank asked.

“I study with the Praetor for several hours every day, Gramps,” Jake told him. “The praetor has Béla’s soul – her personality stored inside it, somehow.”

“So you have a direct line to Béla?” Tabatha asked, suddenly anxious to know more about her dear friend and lover who abandoned her by dying and taking all her secrets with her.

“No, not exactly,” Jake replied. “I didn’t talk to her, but I could feel her presence when I was in close communication with the praetor. She really isn’t Béla anymore. By that, I mean… she’s…

“Well, in order to understand it,” Jake continued, “I’m going to have to tell you what I’ve learned about the Viragoan people and what happened to them when they arrived here in our solar system.”

“What does that have…” Frank started.

“Just wait, Gramps, and I’ll explain. Okay?” Jake asked, really wanting to make himself clear.

“It’d better be a good explanation,” Tabatha growled. “I haven’t even come close to forgiving her, yet.”

“Alright,” Jake sighed. “Thousands of years ago, their ship entered this solar system. They were being chased by another species that was trying to eradicate all of Viragos. There was a battle, just like you might see in Star Trek or something, and the enemy ship was destroyed. But the Viragoan ship was damaged and couldn’t leave the gravitational pull of this sun.

“In addition, all the females began to die off because of the weird radiation our sun emits – don’t ask me what it is because I don’t know. But it killed off all the female crewmembers. The Chief Engineer, Sibilius, manufactured special bodies by mixing Viragoan and human DNA and was able to transfer the souls, the life essence of the last thirty females into these manufactured bodies.

“You with me so far?” Jake asked.

“Are these manufactured bodies the ones that fly around and have all these mental abilities?” Tabatha wanted to know.

“Yep, they’re the same – well, not exactly. For all of the female crewmembers, they’re on their second set of bodies, but that’s another story,” Jake told them.

“So all these goddesses running around New Eden – these are the female crewmembers from the spaceship,” Frank conjectured.

“Yes, again,” Jake confirmed. “By now, they are pretty much the sole survivors of that ancient ship.”

“So why don’t they build another ship and go back where they came from?” Tabatha asked, her basic curiosity getting the better of her.

“Well, I asked the praetor that,” Jake replied. “It seems that reincarnation – moving a life unit from one body into another, can really mess with your memories. There are memories that the being itself, either him or her, is capable of carrying along into the new body, but the old body seems to have its own set of memories that are pretty much lost to the transferred soul when he leaves that body.”

“Kind of like ‘enforced’ amnesia?” Frank wanted to know.

“I guess,” Jake replied. “Plus, the praetor mind-wiped the crewmembers so they wouldn’t spend all the efforts of their new lives on Earth trying to get back to the comforts of the spaceship.”

“So the females were more or less abandoned on Earth by Sibilius and the male crew members,” Frank guessed.

“Yeah, but the Praetor made the men forget, too,” Jake added.

“That fucking praetor is a devious little sucker, huh?” Tabatha snarled, angry that it had done that to her now-dead friend. “I’ll bet Béla found out and it hit her so hard that she couldn’t stand it anymore, so she…”

“No, I don’t know about that,” Jake interrupted. “But one of the things she was doing, and wasn’t really aware of, and Elaine verified this with the praetor – Béla was collecting the crewmembers she’d lost during the space battle. Some of the humans she brought back had once been members of her crew. But she was programmed, you see.”

“What do you mean ‘programmed’? What was she supposed to do?” Frank asked, goosebumps starting to rise on his neck and arms.

“Bring her lost crewmembers to New Eden,” Jake replied simply. “She completed her task. She did what she was supposed to do, then she just… shut down.”

“I can’t believe that!” Frank fumed. “Béla was a living, breathing…”

“Automaton,” Jake interrupted. “She was an artificial life form. They all are. Elaine, Annalisa, all the rest of them. She self-destructed when her task was complete.”

“Oh, God,” Tabatha whimpered. “I can’t believe that. She was a real person, not some stupid robot. I don’t believe you!”

“Praetor!” Tabatha cried out. “Answer me! Tell me the truth!”

“It can’t, Tabatha,” Frank said softly. “It won’t arrive in this system for millions of years, yet.”

“Fuck, I forgot,” Tabatha grumbled.

‘Timewalker,’ they all heard in their heads. ‘I wondered if you would come…’

“It’s the praetor!” Tabatha yelped. “It’s here! In this time!”

“That’s impossible!” Frank scowled. “Isn’t it?” he asked Jake.

Jake shrugged.

‘You go where you are needed, as usual, I see. I need not have been so concerned, but I have waited eons for your arrival, hopeful of your rescue…’

“Where are you?” Tabatha cried out.

‘I am in orbit around your sun, between Earth and the planet you call Mars.’

“What the hell’s going on?” Lisa hollered, suddenly materializing next to the three on the bed. “I thought I heard you talking to a fucking Praetor? Here?”

She stank of pure, raw sex, and sperm was easily evident around her pelvis as it trickled down her legs.

“We found the missing praetor from the ship!” Tabatha yelped, her emotions running from anxiety to glee. “We have to go get it! It’s in outer space!”

“Whoa, girl!” Lisa said, trying to calm Tabatha down. “We can bring it right to us. We have enough power to make a circle. In fact, I don’t need a ‘finding’ circle. I’ll just teleport it down to us. Where is it, exactly?”

“I don’t know,” Tabatha replied, upset that she couldn’t answer so vital a question. “It said it’s in orbit somewhere.”

“Okay,” Lisa replied. “You just think of it, and I’ll track you, okay?”

“Alright,” Tabatha agreed, and closed her eyes, concentrating on her brief contact with the distant praetor.

“Got it!” Lisa grinned after a moment.

Then it was hovering in front of her as Lisa held it suspended in the air.

“Welcome back,” she said to it. “When neither Elaine nor I could find you, we gave you up for destroyed. How is it that you are here, and yet you were able to send messages to us after the destruction of the great ship?”

‘I was blown back in time by the explosion which breached the ship,’ the praetor informed them. ‘A wormhole stayed open for a time and I was able to communicate through it. But I did not understand my situation at the time, and was unable to communicate my actual position in time and space before the wormhole lost its cohesion and faded, leaving me stranded in this time.’

“At least something besides gravity plating is salvaged from the ship, now,” Lisa muttered, not wanting to be upset by the tremendous loss the ship represented to them all. “We have the praetor back.”

‘That is not all, Phoenix,’ the praetor replied. ‘I carry the life forces of almost half the crew that I was able to collect before I lost contact with my own time.’

“You have Raman?” Lisa asked, tears coming to her eyes.

‘Raman is here, inside, dreaming,’ the praetor told her, ‘as are twenty others.’

“My mother would be happy to hear that,” Lisa murmured, more to herself than to anyone else. “Losing him was one of the great wounds that killed her.”

“What do you mean?” Tabatha asked, tears in her own eyes as well. “My husband says that she was artificial and that her programming killed her when her ‘tasks’ were completed. Tell me the truth, blood-sister.”

“Only the praetors are artificial life forms, blood-sister,” Lisa told her, “and even they have a life-essence that will continue on when their forms expire. My sisters and I are created life forms, but we are not artificial. Jake is confused from science fiction stories he’s doubtless read somewhere. We have no machine parts in us and our minds, while they can be influenced, cannot truly be programmed like a computer.”

“My mother suffered three extreme losses over a very short period of time,” Lisa continued. “After seeing Raman’s dead body and laying the crew to rest, we arrive in New Eden just in time for Father to pass on. His loss weakened us all, and no one noticed how strongly my mother was affected by his eminent passing.

“But when she turned to Jake for solace, she discovered that Annalisa had claimed his soul, and that he and Annalisa were true lifemates in a way that she could never be to him. That was what finally killed her.

“But she didn’t commit suicide,” Lisa promised them all. “Her death was an accident. She didn’t even realize she was being burned alive until the very end, and then it was too late. I won’t deny she welcomed her ending, and she went to the Praetor, happy that it was finally over for her, and asked it to succor her until her soul was healed.”

“How do you know all this?” Jake asked, surprised that Lisa was so well informed.

“I went back in time and watched her die,” Lisa told him. “My sister Elaine forbade me to rescue her, and insisted that it was for the good of all. But I had to see for myself. In the end, I had to agree – once she was with the Praetor, my mother was content.”

Lisa continued, “She was ‘Carte Blanche’, you see, and was above my interference in any decision she made. Since Mother hadn’t asked for help, I was not permitted to help. I was angry for awhile, but the praetor helped me to understand what really happened.”

“Wow,” Tabatha sighed in wonder. “And I was pissed at her for deserting me. How selfish is that?”

“We were all upset, Darling,” Frank replied, hugging her for a moment before realizing that it was her husband’s job to console her.

“Well, I’ll take the praetor back to the present,” Lisa said, “I mean back to the future, so we can get some more hybrid bodies started for those crew members who wish to rejoin us. This will cheer Elaine up a bit, I imagine.”

Lisa lifted the praetor out of the air, tucked it under her bare arm, and turned toward the door before turning back.

“You know, Jake,” she said, “Your misconceptions about us goddesses are pretty common, so it’s not really your fault that you think of us as less than true beings. Even my father’s people were xenophobic enough so that many of them willingly perished at the ends of their lives and entered into another planet’s ecology rather than be reborn as hybrids. They didn’t understand, either.”

She and Jake gazed at each other for a moment, then Lisa turned and left, taking the praetor with her.

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