From the 2nd book, the entire chapter "Needle in a Haystack"

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The entire 2nd chapter of the 2nd book, "Needle in a Haystack," where Amun, Namazu, and Erish have returned to 3800 BCE to relax before the war begins

Coughing, struggling to breathe, his body was wet with perspiration. His throat burned. Layers of blue haze floated above. Sitting up, he covered his mouth. Smoke burned his eyes. Standing, he ran to open walls and leaned against a lotus column. He gasped. He had awakened from a vision. Panting, taking deep breaths, his mouth agape, he could hardly believe it had been a dream.

He still saw them. Humans covered with dust, mindlessly trudging.  Gasoline powered engines spewing fumes, metal mixers in a cacophony of rock, sand and water.   

A tinkling of notes, strings plucked gently, dimly brought him back to reality.

It was Kaspum Day, celebrating the arrival of the First Ones. Servants struck drums and burned palm leaves. A toy boat made of fronds, set aflame floated down the canal, stopping here, at private chambers, sending blue smoke into the room.

The water glinted. Undulating river currents, images from the dream, took him back to the vision of humans trudging. A curving edifice taking shape around them, stones on scaffolds, buckets of sludge brought to boards, bricks held together by river silt. A primitive buttress joined to exterior walls. Supports in straight lines holding walls vertical. Pointed arches, windowed halls, plastered columns raised above the crypt.

A shouted command. A woman collapsed in mud. 

  Along the river, fields of grain, not for humans, but for prey, mammals to be dressed, deboned, braised, served one stuffed inside another. Cooks, slaves, preparing strange, mammal-like creatures in kitchens. Food for carnivores, food for their masters, reptiles.

Opening his eyes, he whispered, “Just a dream.”  

Directly across from him, a bed positioned at an angle. Crumpled coverings and pillows, clothes from the day before. A sheer tunic draped from the bed to the floor, thrown aside. She removed it hours before.

Still feeling the touch of her fingers, he smelled perfume on his hands. Lying down on his back, fabric twisted and crumpled under him, lost in her scent, thatched reeds on the ceiling. They’d had a few precious days together. Knowing she would leave on the second leg of her mission, her appearance modified to avoid recognition, darker skin, hair black and curled.

He had watched as she slept. Smooth brown skin reflected lamp light, lips parted. Her breast moved silently as she dreamed. He couldn’t sleep knowing she would leave. Young, innocent. Twenty-three now, he thought. He had stopped figuring out his own age millennia ago.

Days together, a respite, calm before the storm. Namazu and Erish were here too. They were safely at home, at 3800 BCE, where they would plan, strategize, having received enhanced technology, weapons, organic upgrades for ships and vehicles.

The dressing table within reach, imprint of fingers in small bowls of colored paste, an eyebrow brush from the 20th century, strangely not out of place.

He had chased the Tlalocs flying northwards, across Canada, over glaciers. Firing at the enemy, tearing engines off the starboard, escape pods ejected over icy crevasses, the exploding enemy ship embedding itself deep in ice. He didn’t stop. Flying on to Indonesia, they set down in a ravine a few miles from the lake, making their way through an abandoned rubber tree farm. A colonial mansion in deep decay, reduced to rubble. Vines and moss growing over once white walls. Rusted metal dippers hung from tree trunks.     

An enormous lake, surrounded by hills, shrouded by mists. They detected Tlaloc activity under the surface. Ptah opened a packet he took from the ship, withdrawing sensors. The tiny mechanisms dropped into the water, swimming towards their enemy. 

They sat under an abiu tree. Amun activated the display on his wrist and watched the sensors’ journey. A disturbance against a distant bank, dirt, plants and rocks tossed through water. In a cloud of debris, the metallic glint of robots pushed something into the bank. Twenty meters below, the green-gold shapes of a Tlaloc vessel.

“If we move closer, we can detect their communication,” Taharqo said.

The four made their way around the inlet. As they approached, the June version of Amun, looked at him. A temporal anomaly created by two versions of himself, one from three months earlier, so close, created a side effect. They understood Tlaloc telepathy. Closer now, Taharqo and Ptah comprehended hisses and clicks. Standing still, they listened to messages, sensed images.

The bots were constructing an underwater base, living quarters and laboratories. Soon, Tlaloc pumps would force water from the lake into the Sumatran fault, deep in the crust. The plan, to destabilize the fault, weaken the geology around the caldera, and reproduce the most catastrophic natural event in human history, leaving fewer than 100 alive.

They sensed a second plan, a mothership, hidden in an asteroid orbiting the second planet. Bots hovering in Venusian atmosphere, constructed more pumps. These would force poisonous gases into space, thinning the atmosphere. Amun looked at the June version of himself. They all saw it, images of the Potacas base at Titan, plans for colonies throughout the system.

A vision of their precious Terra, changed to a Tlaloc planet. 

He rubbed his forehead, pushing away disturbing visions. Turning to his side he breathed low breaths, filling his lungs, allowing air to escape slowly. Consciously, he released the muscles in his back. A thigh muscle on his right leg twitched and relaxed.

Opening his eyes, he swung his legs around, and sat on the edge. The reed mat felt good under his feet.

Late-morning sunlight streamed through small windows high in the wall, lighting the dressing table with spot lights, allowing him to see impressions of Batresh’s fingertips in makeup. 

An empty bottle of perfume lay on its side, a small puffer still attached. He had brought it to her from his time in Paris.    

His life had been one mission after another since the Matriarch brought him to Earth. Some lasted months, others for centuries. He traveled through time so frequently, the Solar-Temporal station felt like a second home. Even with all his journeys through time, his last trip was the first time he experienced an anomaly.

When he saw the earlier version of himself, he didn’t know what to expect. He knew both versions could simply wink out of existence or be frozen in time, ceasing to exist in the future or the past.  

On the hike back from Lake Toba, he heard human voices. Attempting to send a telepathic warning he was blinded by a sharp, loud screech inside his head. His duplicate self,  fell to the ground. The temporal anomaly increased the intensity of telepathy, like feedback between a speaker and microphone. The duplicate version looked at him sternly as though scolding a child. 

Amun was brought back to the present by a young servant standing at the door to the chamber. When she saw him, she nodded.

“Shala?” he asked, pronouncing her name in the royal dialect.

She nodded.

He could see she was intimidated. “Please, come inside,” he offered. He stood, allowing coverings to slide off his body, exposing his nakedness to her. He looked into her face and saw she looked at him.

She blushed, turning her gaze to the side.

“It is alright,” he smiled. “I am not ashamed to be naked in front of you.”

Still looking to her left, towards the wall open to the gardens, she stated, “The Vizier is here, with Princess Namazu.”

Amun rubbed his forehead, realizing he slept late.

“There is another woman with them, with yellow hair,” she said, slowly turning her head to look at him more directly. He stood and stretched his arms out to his side, feeling the blood surge through his body. He made a growling sound with the relief of stretching his muscles. Then, he reached down to touch his toes with his fingers. When he brought himself back up to a standing position, he saw Shala, now looked at his nakedness openly.

“Yellow hair?” he asked, thinking immediately of his wife. But, he remembered, her hair was dark now.

“Hey Prince!” he heard a low female voice from behind Shala. A slow smile spread across his face as he recognized Namazu. He walked over and opened his arms to embrace her.

“Uh, no,” Namazu said in English, as she stepped back, with a mischievous grin on her face. “You put that thing away first,” she smiled gesturing to his groin. He sighed and laughed aloud, walking back to the bed. He took a white, linen wrap from the floor and wound it around his middle, fastening it with a bronze clasp.

He turned around, facing Namazu. “What about now?” he asked jokingly.

“Well,” she laughed, looking at his face, still showing impressions from the pillow. “You are at least huggable.”

He walked over and threw his arms around her.

Amun looked behind Namazu and saw Erish, the woman with yellow hair. She was talking with the Vizier. “We better switch to Kemetic,” he said, knowing that the Vizier would suspect that they were gossiping about him.

“Shall I bathe you, my Prince?” Shala offered.

Amun looked at the young woman, “As much as I would enjoy that…”

Namazu rolled her eyes.

“I think I’ll let Namazu wash me,” he laughed.

“Like hell!” Namazu asserted in perfect, 20th century, American slang.

The Vizier walked forward, “My Prince,” he offered in Kemetic, bowing deeply.

Amun gestured to Shala, indicating that she might leave. She nodded and quickly left the room.

“How may I help you, Vizier?” Amun offered, dreading his request.

“My Prince,” he began. “Our Matriarch is gone to the next world.”

Amun nodded.

“Often, you and the Princesses are away.”

Amun nodded again, sighing. Looking at Namazu, he saw that she and Erish were engaged in conversation, paying no attention to him.

“There is no one aside from myself to make decisions.”

“My dear Rekhmire,” Amun responded. “The Matriarch appointed you to guide Sekhem, in our absence.” He looked again at Namazu and Erish who were apparently entertained by his predicament. He continued, “We have confidence in you.”   

Amun wrinkled his forehead, annoyed. He looked at the middle-aged man, dressed in formal yellow and white, carrying a staff.

The Vizier opened his eyes wide, realizing he had pushed too far. “Please forgive me,” he said, stepping back two steps.

“Please forgive me,” Amun responded. I am distracted by two gossiping women. He looked at Namazu with exasperation.

She smiled, daring him to insult her.

Erish looked at him with worry.

“I would not dare to interrupt you, my Prince, but…” he stopped, looking into Amun’s face, as if trying to discern his mood.

“Please continue,” Amun responded, suppressing impatience.

“We await fulfillment of the prophecy,” he added, looking more intensely at Amun. “It is now, three sunrises since a soldier in our army reported another star falling from the sky.”

Namazu and Erish stopped talking, looking at the Vizier.

Seeing their response, he felt important, straightening his body, knowing that they were listening. “The star fell in the valley, behind rocky bluffs, among the caves.”

Amun focused on him.

The Vizier felt important and could no longer hide his pride. “My Prince,” he continued.

Amun nodded, looking into his face.

“My Prince, has another come to us?” he said backing away one step.

“Is the Anubis prophecy fulfilled?”

Amun looked at him sharply.

Rekhmire continued, “Are we to have a high priestess from the Gods?”

Amun shook his head. “No,” he responded strongly. “Report immediately if anyone sees strange lights, or unfamiliar creatures.” He sighed suspecting another alien race had intruded into their paradise.

“But, the prophecy?” Rekhmire asked, his eyes wide.

“Under no circumstances are our soldiers, or anyone to approach a stranger who dresses like a foreigner, or who holds an unknown weapon,” Amun added, ignoring the Vizier.  

Rekhmire was concerned. He looked into Amun’s face with fear, convinced that, despite Amun’s assertions, another God had indeed come to them. He straightened himself again, looking towards the ceiling. He then closed his eyes as if in meditation, and repeated the phrase from the Abubis prophecy, “He will become she, the high-priestess of men.”

Amun sighed, “The High Priestess may not come from the skies, but rise from among those already here.”

Rekhmire, the Vizier, looked at Amun with doubt, as if he couldn’t believe such an important person as he who would fulfill the prophecy could come from among people he knew. He looked down at the floor, bowing deeply. “Yes, my Prince,” he whispered, backing towards the door.

Amun drew his brows together and looked down at the floor. The Vizier’s report could mean another race was here. It couldn’t be the Potacas. They would not arrive for another 1,500 years.

Namazu looked at them both coldly, assuming command. “Put on environmental suits, we are going.”

Amun looked at her questioningly.

She continued, “I’ll be damned if I am going to let them change the timeline!” She turned quickly and walked out of the room.

Erish looked at Amun. She inhaled to speak, but stopped, turning, following Namazu out.

Amun sighed. His rest was over. He turned and walked towards the bed. Kneeling down, he found a panel, and pushed two discs, causing it to slide open. Reaching inside, he withdrew his environmental suit, contracted to a wad of fabric he could hold in one hand. Placing the ball of fabric onto his solar-plexus, it began to spread and straighten, stretching onto his body. Moving with programmed smoothness, it covered his chest, groin and legs. Fibers slid up to his shoulders and around his back, sliding and expanding until his arms and torso were covered. It was a second skin, one that protected his body from projectiles and biological agents. He felt the fabric adhere, absorbing oxygen and moisture from the air, monitoring his health, aiding his body to function more efficiently.

Wearing the suit felt like relief. His body had everything it needed. It would absorb any waste he produced, breaking down unusable materials, and replenishing his body with everything that was recyclable.

Namazu waited in the courtyard. She looked at the stone tile beneath her, and saw a trail of ants, industriously, in two lines, coming from, and going towards the kitchens behind the exterior wall. They found a way into the kitchens again. Every year at this time, ants were a problem. She sighed, and tried to shake off the feelings of dread she felt. She had not been sleeping well. She looked up at painted designs on the wall, at a design portraying a woman with dark skin and long black hair. Not unlike Marquesha, she thought.

She had been awakened almost every night since returning home, by a recurring dream. She saw Marquesha, running through a field. Three men held weapons, chasing her. The man in front was wearing a stained, white, summer suit. He was shouting something. In the dream, she saw Marquesha lying unconscious. Namazu was bent over her. When she stood, she saw the three men lying on the ground, all dead. She instinctively looked at her hands and saw blood. Each time she awakened, she felt angry, frustrated, and powerless. She brought her right hand to her forehead, trying to remember what happened, trying to remember how the men died.

Erish came to the courtyard, dressed and ready. Even though their enemies were not supposed to be here at 3800 BCE, she had an uneasy feeling, the same feelings she had at Oxford. She could feel their attitudes, their sense of superiority. She had seen the feelings in Namazu’s face as well.

They believed the new Gods the Vizier mentioned, were Tlaloc.

Erish was ashamed to hope they were. She wanted to engage with them. She wanted to test her delivery systems, and to exact revenge for what they had done to Namazu. She knew it was wrong, it went against the Moral Code, but she had few opportunities to design, and even fewer to test advanced weapons in battle. She looked forward to the opportunity to perform the work she was created for.  

Erish heard that cyborgs had joined their alliance, bringing enhancements. Organic technology would heighten the feelings some had that their devices would obtain awareness. Her new weapons were programmed to never disobey an instruction.  

Amun, with new weapons on his belt, walked quickly to the courtyard. Without saying a word, Namazu turned and walked towards the wall. An electronic door slid open. They walked into an alleyway at the side of the structure.  The sun was setting. It would soon be night. The three of them walked to the back of the alley to what appeared to be a boulder stretching up, taller than structures on each side. Namazu walked right through it. It was not a boulder, but a projection used to hide an opening to the cavern at the foot of the cliffs.

They walked into an underground Tayamni base.  The space under the cliffs bristled with technology. Lighted consoles, electrical panels and small ships were scattered across a gleaming white floor. Tayamni workers in environmental suits, stationed at controls, monitored systems. Namazu pointed to a vessel that looked like an insect with cantilevered legs. It seemed to be perched on the floor of the cavern. As they approached, the ship lowered itself to the floor and transparent coverings slid open. Namazu took the driver’s position while Erish sat beside her. Amun sat in the back.

Namazu placed her hand in the receiver and the ship lifted silently. Flying upwards and then westwards, the ship flew through a projection and into the Kemetic night. The setting sun turned the sky red. Their ship banked, looking to any observer on the ground, more like an insect than a ship. They were headed towards a valley behind the bluffs, one with natural caverns. This was the hiding place of human rebels who regularly attacked Sekhem, stealing food, clothing, and metal.  

“Make sure your shields are activated,” Namazu commanded. Both Amun and Erish tapped their belts. Blue, dimly lighted, geometric shapes activated and disappeared around each of their bodies.  The ship slowed. They were approaching the valley. Amun could see the display on the console. Scanners swept the ground below. They could see objects with infrared light. Warmer objects appeared red against the darkness of the land. Erish pointed to a location on the screen. It was a human, sitting by a fire.

As if he were reading Erish’s thoughts, Amun offered, “If the Tlalocs are here, they won’t show in infrared. They’re cold blooded.”

Namazu nodded, and the scanner modified. Now, cool organic materials showed on the screen in blue and life with non-Terran DNA would be highlighted in green. In one location, they saw 20 rebels, gathered around a fire, apparently, feasting on a kill. An animal of some kind, impaled and turned over a fire. They saw different sizes of humans, some of whom were apparently children. But, no giants, no cooler organic material, no Tlalocs. They continued flying over the valley. Their technology would record the scanned surface for examination later.

The display homed in on an unusual condition in the air over the floor of the valley.

“See that?” Namazu pointed at the display.

“What?” Amun asked.

Erish was focused.

The ship banked towards the right.

“Right there,” Namazu pointed.

The display zoomed in on a highlighted gust of air, showing it in red. Amun could barely see the streak of warmer exhaust. According to the upgraded display, it had been blown from its original location, from the east.

“Could that be fuel exhaust?” Amun asked again.

“You damn skippy,” Namazu responded in American slang.

The display showed it was a spray of humid, warmer air. A vehicle burning hydrogen, as their Tayamni vessels did when flying close to the surface, emitting water vapor as a byproduct.

Namazu straightened in her chair and looked at Erish, “She’s telling me her systems detect something.” She said, referring to the ship. She looked again to her left through the transparent coverings. “She is telling me…” she paused and smirked at Amun, “yes, this ship is female.” She looked over her shoulder, “Another Tayamni ship is down there.” 

Amun looked at Namazu with surprise, “So, the intruder is Tayamni?”

Namazu sighed, “Our ship thinks so.”

Amun wished Namazu would stop anthropomorphizing the ship. They had enough trouble without maintaining the ships as living things.

“Does she give us permission to fly over the caverns tonight?” he asked sarcastically.

Namazu focused on the display in front of her, refusing to dignify his sarcasm with a response.

The ship banked to the left again, as they headed to the original location of the spent fuel. The display showed several cavernous openings in the dry valley.

Erish whispered a human phrase, “Like a needle in a haystack.”

Namazu looked at her and nodded, commanding the ship to use ground penetrating scanners. They examined the display looking for anything that could indicate an alien presence.  One cave was occupied. They saw pale light coming from its opening. The ship banked again to the right. They headed to a location a safe distance away. They would continue towards the caverns by foot. 

Namazu chose a flat rock just west of the caverns to set down. Cantilevered legs lowered the ship down. She spun around in her chair and stepped out. They crept, quietly, down the face of the bluff to the shallow Valley of Caverns. Loose sand shifted under her feet and small rocks scattered down the incline. She lost her footing and sat down heavily on shifting rubble, sliding down the hill.

Erish grabbed a clump of grass to hold onto.

Amun, went around the loose gravel, hopping onto larger rocks until he had reached the bottom.

Namazu’s face was red with annoyance, “Almost broke my damn neck!” she whispered aggressively. 

Amun could see her face and environmental suit were dusty.

She walked ahead, shaking dust off her arms, gesturing for them to follow. She tapped her solar-plexus and a light shone from her chest onto the ground ahead. Clumps of dried grasses and rocks littered the valley floor.

They held new weapons at the ready. Erish also improved shielding since they last encountered the Tlalocs.

During the riots at Mississippi, the Tlaloc beam penetrated Namazu’s shield. Now, Erish claimed, even though they had no opportunity to test them in real battle, nothing could penetrate the shields, not even a laser. Ahead on the right, they saw a faint glow from the mouth of a cavern. They walked slowly, careful to be quiet. Namazu turned off her body light.

They froze when they saw someone walk to the mouth of the cave. Amun sighed. It was a human who had recently been accused of stealing from a temple.

Namazu turned around facing Erish and Amun. “It doesn’t mean the Tlalocs are not here too.” She looked at the ground, her brows drawn together. Namazu was personally invested in defeating the Tlalocs after almost being killed herself. “I can feel those bastards here,” she said, gritting her teeth together.    

Amun withdrew a small case from a pouch at his side, and opened it. Invisible sensors within it flew towards the cavern. They would copy themselves and allow them to view the interior from a display at the palace. “Let’s return,” Amun said.

Namazu sighed heavily. Clearly, she wanted to find them now.

“We will get them,” Erish responded. They turned and headed back to the ship.

When they had walked far enough away from the cavern to speak, Namazu asked with frustration, “Have the Elders let us know when we can go to Lake Toba?”

Amun thought of his recent assignment there. At the same time, he could not refrain from thinking of the images he had felt from the Tlalocs. He had not intended to communicate these thoughts to his team yet.

Namazu seeing the images in his thoughts, froze in her tracks. “What?” she said aloud. “When were you going to tell me?”

Amun looked down, embarrassed. He had not wanted to worry her until he had further orders.

“You must tell me these things!” Namazu ordered him.

He looked at her with sadness in his eyes and communicated the rest of the information to both of them.

Erish turned around, looking back towards the cavern. 

Namazu grew angrier. He could see she was flushed. She straightened, and walked ahead, passing in front of Amun coldly.

Silently, the three of them made their way back up the steep incline to the ship. “I’m sorry,” Amun offered. “I didn’t want to make things worse for you.”

Namazu looked back at him through narrowed eyes, feeling guilty for allowing herself to take her anger out on her brother, one of the only males she had ever trusted.

They continued towards the ship.

###

The next morning, Namazu went over scans from their trip over the valley. She looked at data from the spray of humid air, wondering if the ship could have misidentified its source. Only one conclusion made sense, the vehicle it came from had entered the cavern where they saw the human.

She commanded, “Show me the cave.” A display materialized, showing a dimly lit cavernous interior. There was nothing except smoldering remains from a camp fire, no humans, no Tlalocs.

She didn’t want to bother Erish and Amun so early in the morning. She decided to investigate herself. Since it was daytime now, she would take a jet-bike to minimize detection. She would fly close to the ground.

In her chambers, she constructed a hidden wall, controlled by biometrics. She exhaled onto a sensor, and the door slid open. Her jet-bike hovered silently out of its resting space into the air. The southern wall of her chambers opened onto the garden. She sat on the vessel and coasted out, hovering over a small pond. Once there, the personalized vehicle lifted into the air, and flew towards the valley of caverns. 

She set down on the same rock as before, but used Amun’s path, hopping down rocks. She approached the cavern silently, stepping over clumps of dried grass. She scanned the ground with a device attached to her belt. Activating the sensor display on her wrist, she was able to see inside the darkened cavern. She switched to different views, and saw a glint of metal hidden behind a boulder towards the back of the cave. She commanded the sensors to fly to that location, but they were stopped by a transparent wall or a shield.  This was technology.

Another indicator on her wrist began to blink. She had a message. “Damn!” she whispered. She did not want to risk speaking aloud here. So, she decided to go back. Turning around, she froze. In the distance, she saw an object hovering over her bike; then an explosion. She moved behind a boulder, activating shields, hoping scanners could not penetrate electron sheeting.

She stood there, frozen, looking towards the explosion. The hovering object turned, headed towards her. It zoomed above towards the cavern, but continued past, to the other end of the valley. Whatever it was scanned the valley floor. She saw it was a small device, a sphere, half a meter in diameter, clearly, a weaponized probe. She watched as the object flew away. Since it destroyed her vehicle, she would have to return home on foot. She looked around to devise a route up the incline. It was hot, the sun was high in the sky. Luckily, her environmental suit kept her cool and hydrated. The indicator on her wrist continued to blink. She saw a route up the hill within a line of brush. She would creep alongside. She looked down and saw a scorpion hiding in the shade of a rock. She moved quickly.

Reaching the line of camouflaging plants, she spoke to the indicator. A display appeared above her wrist. It was Sagar. “Namazu and Amun,” the voice began. “I am sending this message from 1962.” She hesitated, swallowed and continued speaking aloud, “The Potacas have attacked the Solar portal. They activated the temporal-mechanism, using it several times.” She took a deep breath, “They took Erish with them.” The message ended.

Namazu bit her lower lip. “How could they take Erish, she’s here with us,” she whispered aloud. She shook her head negatively, and began to ascend the incline.  Her right foot slipped on a rock, and she fell. At that moment, a blast hit the ground beside her. She turned, and saw the probe hovering above. Placing her hand on her belt, a jeweled disk at that location adhered to the inside of her palm. She moved her hand above her, aiming her palm at the sphere. But, before she could shoot, the sphere fired another blast. Her shields activated. The weapon was not able to penetrate improved shielding, but the pressure of the impact pushed her hard against the sand and gravel, knocking the breath out of her.

The disk in her palm read her intentions and analyzed the sphere, shooting a blast of cold towards the object. She saw the orange defensive shield around it activate, but its technology was not equipped to deal with a blast of cold. The orange shield flickered. She fired again. The mechanism lowered, but recovered, raising in the air. She fired again, and the sphere fell to the ground. She clamored to her feet, looking down at the disabled probe. She shot it again with a laser, burning through it. The upgrades she and Erish made to their weapons, gave the jeweled disk multiple abilities. It now shone a blue beam onto the object, penetrating exterior materials, and recording its mechanism. She would use this information to improve Tayamni armaments. She raised her palm again, and shot several more lasers through it.  

She looked around at rock and dry brush. She searched for another probe, or even the Potacas who used the portal. She saw nothing. The sun was bright. The shielding in front of her face darkened protectively. She wished she had brought a jetpack. She struggled up the steep bank, holding onto the brush beside her to keep from sliding down. Regaining her balance, she looked up, and saw someone standing at the top of the incline. The figure began to move towards her. She moved her palm to a protective position, ready to fire, when she saw the figure turn his palms upwards. It was Amun.

She sighed with relief. Amun held onto the brush and made his way towards her. Stronger and more powerfully muscled than Namazu, he pulled her upwards, steadying her progress. He held a jetpack, and wore one on his back. He put his finger over his mouth, cautioning her not to speak.

She sent telepathic images, explaining what she had just learned.

He responded telling her he received the same message, plus an additional one from the temporal-portal orbiting the sun now, at 3800 BCE. The message said three Potacas appeared at the portal with two large human men. They attacked the workers, taking a ship from the landing pad. But Erish was not with them.  

He sighed, realizing they were here to change the timeline. They probably took Erish to an even more distant time in the past. Humans had not built up resistance to biological weapons. There were fewer Tayamni here, and the human populations much smaller. The chances of taking Earth’s system for the Tlalocs would be greater. The Tayamni mission was more vulnerable.

They must be alert to changes to the timeline.

Namazu sent him a message telling him that finding the three Potacas and large men is now their most important mission. They both knew there was a hidden Tayamni vessel in these caverns.  The large men could be modified Tlalocs. She asked him how could they have taken Erish.

Once they reached the top of the incline, Amun sent Namazu a message, scolding her for going out on her own. He told her she could have been killed. He explained their taking Erish means the Potacas will attack the portal sometime after the three of them return to 1962.

She responded to him with a short, sharp image of the Elders telling her that she was to lead the effort against the allied Tlalocs and Potacas. She turned her back to him, so that he could help attach the jetpack.

As he positioned the device on her shoulders, allowing bands to slide around her body, he sent her a terse message, explaining he would not allow her or Erish to put themselves in danger.

He reminded her of the fact that she was his sister, and he could not bear to see her hurt or captured. He could not hold back an image he feared he would find today, that of her wounded body lying in the valley below them, among rocks and brush.

She turned quickly to face him, explaining she appreciated his concern. She told him that she was open to his suggestions, but the final decision of any strategy was hers and hers alone.

He saw her face redden.

She touched a jeweled disk on the jetpack and lifted into the air in front of him. 

He repeated her gesture, touching the disk on his own jetpack. Now, he was floating in the air in front of her. “Should we tell Erish about the message?” he asked, whispering aloud.

“Scan the valley,” she said.

The jetpacks were not completely silent. Their mechanism made a high-pitched hum, not loud, but not silent. The mechanism read her intentions as she dove into the valley, flying just a few feet above the surface. The invisible beams from scanners at her belt, finding all organic and moving objects. Amun, followed her. He shook his head, knowing he could not stop her from putting herself in danger. He took no precautions against allowing her to know his thoughts. He told her they should fly directly back to the palace, and map out a strategy to take this new information into account.

 She was angry and frustrated. She felt his criticisms, and sent a message telling him to stop his thoughts, or risk having her drive him into the wall of the bluff up ahead.

He responded, obediently, “Yes, Admiral.”

Slowing as they approached the cavern, she focused scanners, then sped ahead, arching along a curved path as she approached the other end of the valley. She received a message from him to slow down.

He saw a metallic glint in the distance to the right.

She looked in that direction, and saw a white glow. Now, slowing, she moved closer to the ground, so close she felt stems and leaves from the underbrush strike her body.

Amun extended his right hand. Opening his palm, he cast a pale white scanner towards the end of the valley.

An orange beam shot past them causing their shields to activate.

Namazu increased speed.

Suddenly, Amun saw Namazu arch upwards, stop in midair, and open both palms towards the direction of the beam. He saw a red sphere appear at her target, and move outwards towards them. It moved so quickly, they had no time to maneuver. It hit them both like a shock wave. They were both momentarily immobilized by the force.

Amun shook the fog from his head, and arched upwards again, closer to her, turning and opening both palms, in the same direction, he fired.

Namazu regained awareness, and looked at him. Suddenly, they saw the same red sphere appear and begin to spread, then dissipate. Namazu, dropped sharply, and sped to the source of the sphere of light. Amun followed, not knowing what they would find. As they approached, they saw a machine, a device of some kind, silver, with curving pipes, gleaming in the sun, and beside it, two Potacas, unconscious. Three humans lay holding their arms around themselves, in the throes of small seizures, the result of the weapon Namazu fired.  

Namazu set down beside the Potacas, looking at them coldly.

Amun, landed beside her. Even though the day was hot, the land around them, the plants, and their targets, were covered with frost. Namazu, had fired the cold blasting weapon. She held her wrist up to her mouth, rapidly delivering commands to the Tayamni back at the base. She ordered two small ships and armed personnel to come at once to retrieve the prisoners.

The Tayamni would take not only the Potacas and human prisoners, but also the metallic device back to the base. “Stay here till they arrive,” she ordered him. The jetpack activated, lifting her into the air. He saw her turn, and speed towards the cavern.

He was worried, afraid she would lose control.

He wanted to follow, to check on her. But he had his orders, and he knew her well enough to know he must obey. He looked at the device. He didn’t understand much about Tlaloc technology, but he understood the Potacas well enough to know this was not their doing. They would have created a biological weapon. He hoped an analysis of the device would shed more light. Shortly, he saw two Tayamni ships speeding towards him, flying close to the ground in an effort to avoid human detection.

As soon as they touched down, Amun, left them to their work, and flew towards the cavern, to Namazu. On his way, he saw several humans, rebels he assumed, pointing up towards him. He wondered what they would think, seeing him, the Prince of Sekhem, flying through the air. He shook his head.

Namazu was not herself. She was impatient, not thinking things through. Something was wrong.

He slowed as he approached the cavern, arching upwards slightly, and then setting down on the sand in front of the opening. The cave was dark. Looking down, he saw Namazu’s footprints. He followed them into the cave. As he entered the darkness, his eyes adjusted. He saw movement about 15 meters ahead. Namazu was bent over something. As he came closer, he heard her cursing in American slang. “God-damned monsters!” she yelled.

He walked closer. She spun around quickly, “They cannibalized our ship to build that monstrosity.”

Amun knew Namazu saw the ships as living things, with personalities and feelings.

She read his thoughts, and spun around again, looking at him accusingly. “How do you know?” she yelled. “How do you know they don’t feel?”

He sent her images of the Tayamni arriving and retrieving prisoners. He also told her about the humans who had witnessed their flying about today. But, she was not able to hear or feel him. She was focused on the disabled, disemboweled Tayamni vessel in front of her. She knelt on the ground, caressing its remains. He felt her praying to Sekhmet. He saw her face, reddened with anger. She was weeping. She stood, ignoring him, turned towards the opening of the cavern and ran. He watched her as the jetpack activated, taking her to the air, arching towards Sekhem and the palace.

He looked around the cavern, noting the disabled, dismantled Tayamni ship. He had never seen Namazu so angry, so fragile. He spoke into his wrist, instructing Tayamni at the base to come here to the cavern to retrieve the vessel. He would send a message to the Temporal-Portal later, informing them that they had found two Potacas. He felt Namazu’s pain and frustration. Apprehensively, he walked back towards the opening of the cavern. The jetpack activated, taking him back towards the Tayamni base. They would look for the third Potacas and large humans later.

Amun walked to his rooms at the palace, and changed into a Kemetic kilt. Then, he walked to Namazu’s quarters. He heard something from behind the door, and opened it. There she lay, the strong, silent, toughened Admiral of the Tayamni. She lay on a pile of pillows scattered on reed mats, weeping. She wept with the strength of a warrior.

He went to her and touched her back.

She did not respond.

He tried to lift her by her shoulder, but she was completely limp. So, he lay down beside her and slid his right arm over her back. With his remaining arm, he lifted her onto his shoulder.

Her weeping strengthened. She sobbed, loud, whispering curse words in American slang and in the Royal dialect. “They killed her,” she wept; whispering again, “They killed her.”

Amun kissed her forehead, wiping the tears away from her face, pulling her hair back, away from her cheeks. He wondered that she would be so upset about the dismantling of a Tayamni vessel. He didn’t understand.

He simply caressed her back, and her neck, kissing her forehead, comforting her as she wept. He could feel images and words from her. He peered closer into her mind and saw a woman of mixed race, lying in a field of cut corn stalks. She lay there, unconscious, with bloody wounds on her head. Around her lay several men, all dead, all bloodied. One of the men still held a stick in his hand, a stick that had been fashioned into a makeshift cross, a Christian symbol. It was the weapon that had been used to strike and to kill the young woman.

He knew immediately the young woman was Marquesha, the woman Namazu loved in North Carolina in the 1950s. But, he knew Namazu couldn’t remember what happened after she had found the woman lying there, bloody and unconscious.

Amun could sense that now, she finally remembered. The encounter with the disemboweled ship must have triggered something, something that caused her to remember. The horror she felt at seeing the ship taken apart initiated a cascade of emotions.

Now, she knew she had killed the human men. She killed them in a fit of rage. She remembered. She ripped them apart with her hands. Bits and pieces lay over the field. She sobbed. Her chest heaved. Her body shook.

She had to struggle to control her desire to kill the ones who had dismantled the ship. She did not want to lose herself again. The rage she felt scared her. She was afraid her rage knew no bounds, that she would kill everything in sight. Like Sekhmet, the Lady of Terror, the Goddess created to destroy humanity, Ra’s ultimate weapon.

She was afraid she could become the destroyer, the embodiment of holy, sacred rage. 

He held her, and kissed her cheek, caressing her back and head, allowing her to weep and to mourn. “My dearest sister,” he repeated.

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