I'm a What?
7. I'm a What?
With possibly the most graceful and easiest warp Joe had ever experienced, the trio landed on their feet in the middle of a massive, round room. The front half of the room was lined with twelve enormous thrones. The seats were lime green and edged in black. Before the thrones was a seamless, curved counter made of dark wood. At the back of the room, a stone spiral staircase waited and disappeared into whatever laid below. The space had no ceiling and exposed the blue sky above. If you looked close enough, you could see tendrils of green mixed in.
On the floor, sat an odd-looking symbol that Joe had never seen before. It looked like a crest or coat of arms. It was made from several brightly coloured jewels set into the floor. The center of the image was a neon green shield with a purple 'T' cutting through the top and middle. Half of a clock sat on top of the shield with a golden hourglass in the middle. Lighter green gems branched out at the sides and resembled the green time mist that appeared every time they warped.
"Where are we?" Joe asked breathlessly, his eyes never leaving the sky.
"Draylon." Kayla smiled proudly and spoke as if she were their tour guide. "Specifically, the council room. Located in the fourth dimension, this is the home to all the time gods and goddesses as well as the Warp Academy. I'll have time to explain more later. Right now, there's someone you need to meet."
Kayla paced over to the spiral staircase. She got halfway there before she realized Sydney and Joe weren't following her. She faced them. "Well? This way please."
Sydney put her hands on her hips and scowled at Kayla. "Oh no. I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers. You don't get to pull me away by just saying it's for my safety. What is going on? Why has today turned into the day everything I know goes out the window?"
Kayla sighed. "I'd love to answer your questions, but we really need to go-"
"No," Sydney stubbornly interrupted. "Answers first. Then we go to wherever you think we need to go."
Kayla straightened her posture and patiently clasped her hands behind her back. "Very well. If this is the only way you'll come with me, then I will gladly clarify any concerns you may have. What would you like to know?"
"You called me a time goddess, and so did that creepy guy in Corfu. You also said you were a time goddess. What does that mean?" Sydney eyed Kayla warily, almost as if she was afraid of the answer.
"You know you were adopted, correct?"
Sydney clenched her jaw. "Yes, thank you for the reminder that my real parents didn't want me so they abandoned me on someone's doorstep."
Joe turned to Sydney with a start. She was adopted? The fact made Joe realize how little he knew about her. He had just met this girl. He could barely call her a friend. So then why did being with her feel like they had been together for years?
Kayla shook her head and offered her a sympathetic smile. "Child, that was hardly the case. Your mother wanted very much to keep you, but the circumstances surrounding the night of your birth were tempestuous to say the least. You were born in New York and released into the care of a couple of time agents for the safety of your wellbeing. You have been carefully watched over the years by myself and your mother. We wouldn't intervene in your life until it was absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, the events in Corfu today proved that it was time you came home."
"Home?" Sydney swiveled her head in all directions, taking in the area as if she was just now seeing it for the first time. "Your answers are only giving me more questions. How do you know my mother so well? What about my father? And you still haven't told me what a time goddess is."
"I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance. I'm sure this must be a lot to take in." Kayla glanced over her shoulder at the stairs and only exit to the room. "We should be on our way to meet your mother now."
Sydney paled and her face softened. "My mother? Like my real mom?" She quickly shook her head and resumed her hardened look at Kayla. "You still have questions to answer."
"All right." Kayla took a deep breath. "I know your mother because I am one of her sisters. We've both been around since the dawn of time along with the rest of the family, the other time gods and goddesses, including your father. I can't reveal his identity to you just yet, but he has no idea you exist. As for what a time goddess is, technically you are a time princess who has not yet achieved time god status, but that will come in time and after a little training. The definition of a time goddess is quite literal. It is a goddess, the immortal, all-powerful kind, that wields control and rules over time. Does that answer all your inquiries?"
Sydney's face paled once more and she mutely nodded her head. Joe felt a wave of pity wash through him. Without thinking about it, he reached out, grabbed her hand, and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Sydney didn't respond. Joe assumed it was because she was too numb from all this information getting thrown at her all at once.
"Now, your mother is waiting for us and we really do need to get going. The other time gods and goddesses cannot know about you quite yet." Understanding the urgency of the situation, Kayla shuffled out of the room, not giving Sydney and Joe the option to stay behind.
Joe stayed by Sydney's side as she dragged her feet along behind Kayla. Her head hung low, but her eyes were wide and somewhat vacant. "I can't believe any of this is happening," Sydney mumbled. "Not only am I apparently a god, I'm about to meet my birth mother."
Joe bit his lip. He wanted to help her, but he didn't know how. It wasn't like he had experience with this sort of thing. "Isn't this something you always wanted? You're going to meet your real mom."
"I mean, I should feel excited, right?" Sydney looked at him. "But I just don't. I always accepted the fact that my parents didn't want me. I resented them for a while, but then I sort of stopped caring. I never really had a strong desire to meet my biological family. My adoptive family was all I needed."
"I wouldn't mention that in front of your mother," Kayla said, showing that she had been eavesdropping the entire time. "Even if you feel no strong attachment to her, she has one for you. She has been looking forward to this day for a very long time." She glimpsed at them. "A child should always appreciate their mother even if they haven't always been there."
"Do you have kids?" Joe asked with a tilt of his head.
Kayla's smile dropped and she turned her head forward. "No."
They didn't question her further and spent the rest of the journey in silence. They made their way through the halls of Draylon. It was mostly stone and gave out the feeling of an old castle. Joe wondered what the outside looked like. Banners and flags were strategically placed throughout the building. They had the same symbol on them that had been on the floor of the council room.
The walk had only taken a few short minutes, but to Sydney and Joe it felt like hours. They turned one final corner and found themselves facing a single wooden door.
"This is one of our smaller meeting rooms," Kayla explained. "We should be able to talk here without any disturbances or intrusions. Your mother will answer any questions you still have. Are you ready?"
"Do I have a choice?" In spite of her words, Joe could hear the nervousness in Sydney's voice.
"No, but giving people the illusion of choice usually helps them feel better," Kayla responded, not realizing that Sydney's question had been rhetorical. "But I can promise your mother will do anything in her power to make you feel welcome and at home here."
Without another word, Kayla pushed the door open. Joe felt a surprising pressure on his hand, and looked down to see Sydney was squeezing it with her own hand. Just as quickly as it had happened, Sydney was made to let go as a new woman wrapped her up in a tight embrace.
Sydney gasped as the air was forced out of her lungs and tried to shift away from the hugger. The only thing Joe could see of the woman from this angle was her shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, similar to Sydney's hair colour, and her tanned skin.
After what seemed like forever, the woman finally let go and took a step back. She smiled warmly at Sydney and her dark brown eyes, which like Sydney's and Kayla's had a bright green ring around the iris, dazzled with affection. She looked like an older version of Sydney and Joe knew without a doubt that this was her mother standing before them.
"I'm so sorry we had to meet like this, but I am ecstatic to finally meet you. It's been far too long since we were last together." The woman maintained her pleasant smile.
"So I'm guessing you must be..." Sydney carefully kept her distance from the strange woman.
"Yes, my name is Nicole, and I am your mother." She smiled and hugged Sydney again, but kept the hug brief this time. "Oh, there is so much I have to show to you. So much you and I have to do."
"Too many things to list at once." Nicole clasped her hands. "And it's too late to start now unfortunately. But tomorrow is going to be a big day for you! I'm so glad we found you and got you out of Corfu before things escalated. That nasty man will be dealt with. He should know better than to put his hands on a god. Be grateful it was only him. Others would try to kill you or take away your special abilities for themselves."
"Come again?" Sydney's whole body tensed up and she stepped back. "Kill me? There are people out there who want to kill me?"
Nicole waved her hand dismissively as if it were no big deal. "Do you think that man you two encountered is the only one who wants you? He's not even the worst of the bunch. But now that you are here, we can train you to protect yourself and achieve your full potential."
"My full potential?" Fear still showed in Sydney's eyes, but she wasn't able to hide the curiosity in her voice. "You mean like that stuff I did back in Corfu? The whole freezing and green glowing hands thing?"
"That as well as many other things." Nicole placed a gentle hand on Sydney's cheek. "Child, you are capable of so many things that you don't know about, but you will soon. You are destined for great things. You will be a full-fledged goddess in no time. Oh, I almost forgot." Nicole reached behind her and grabbed a slim white box. She held it out for Sydney to take and when she opened it, a pair of contact lenses were revealed. "We'll have to disguise your identity for now. The fewer people who know about you, the better. Those eyes are a dead giveaway of what you are."
Sydney slipped the contacts in and blinked a few times to let them settle. When she opened her eyes again, the emerald ring was gone and only the sky blue colour remained. "Is there anything else I should know? If we're going to flip my entire life upside down, might as well do it all at once."
Nicole let out an amused chuckle. "I think that's enough for today. Kayla will give you a tour of your new home and show you to your temporary room while I'll get everything set up for tomorrow."
"What about Joe?" Sydney pointed to Joe, who weakly waved at Nicole.
"Oh." Nicole blinked like she had just now noticed him. Her eyes drifted down to The Book in his hands and she nodded in recognition. "Well, if you like we can make some accommodations for you to have the next few days as well."
"Um..." Joe paused, not quite sure what to say. This wasn't what he imagined happening once he warped with Sydney to Greece. He glanced at Sydney who was looking at him expectantly. He knew he should head home, but he couldn't leave Sydney in a time like this, not after everything that had happened to her today. "Sure, that would be great. Thank you."