Wars and Rumors of Wars
“It is mid-afternoon, and they have most streets cleared,” Sister Ahatu said, as she turned left onto Skinker Boulevard.
Batresh sat in the passenger side of the station wagon, looking over at the elderly nun. “I think you have worried Seth.”
“Really! How anyone could name an innocent child, Seth,” the Sister responded.
Batresh smiled at the old woman, “People at this time, don’t have the same associations with that name.”
“I mean, he killed Osiris,” she responded. She swerved left to avoid a large puddle of melt-water on the road.
“Some say we need the balance, the good with the bad. Without Seth how could we have the inundation and the growing season?” Batresh said, referring to the ancient legends of battle between Seth and Osiris; Osiris’ rising from the dead; the tears of the beloved mother flooding the lands; death, birth, resurrection. Osiris, the God of vegetation; of the annual harvest, the Inundation, the growing of grain and fruit.
“To Hell with the balance,” Sister Ahatu responded, grinding her false teeth together. “Good should outweigh evil.”
Batresh sighed, wondering if the Sister was becoming senile.
They turned onto Forsythe Boulevard and came to a stop behind several cars. A snow plow was working up ahead. Batresh looked to her right at a statue of the poet Robert Burns. Ahead, behind the statue, was a brownstone structure, part of Washington University.
“Evil can reach a long way, even across millennia, Princess,” the Sister continued. “Have you felt an unusual shift lately? A change in the timeline?” she asked, looking over at Batresh.
Batresh thought for a moment, and remembered the feeling she had, explaining to David that there were religious orders run by the Potacas. She had sensed two different timelines, one in which there were no orders run by hostile aliens. She looked over at the Sister, “Yes, the other day. I was explaining…”
Sister Ahatu interrupted her, “That’s right!” She inched the car forward a meter, raising her withered face to look above the steering wheel. “We received confirmation from the Jovian Portal. Many changes,” she pulled forward a short distance again, “…many changes.”
Batresh drew her brows together. “Can you tell me?”
“Mmmm hmmm,” Sister Ahatu responded. “One minute.” She rolled down the window to look to her left. She wanted to see what was going on ahead. What was blocking them. “Looks like the snow plow is stuck in the snow,” she sighed, and looked towards Batresh. “Of course, you came here from 1962, so you don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?” Batresh responded.
The Sister sighed, “My dearest Matriarch,” she began.
“I’m not Matriarch yet,” Batresh countered.
“Oh yes, yes,” the sister sighed, turning off the motor. “No reason to waste gas.” She sat back away from the steering wheel and looked at Batresh. “This Tlaloc War was not supposed to happen. When they came back, everything changed.”
Batresh was tired and hung over. Her head hurt. She wanted to sleep. She looked ahead and brought her left hand to her forehead, rubbing it hard, as if the increased pressure would lessen the ache.
“You know why some humans have blue eyes, don’t you?”
Batresh looked at her, feeling annoyed, of course she knew. “The same reason the Tayamni have blue eyes,” she responded, feeling thirsty now. She continued, “…decreased melanin production caused by evolving in restricted sunlight.”
“No,” the sister responded. “They have blue eyes because of their increased Tayamni DNA.”
Batresh looked at her with confusion.
“Back at your home, at Sekhem,” she motioned for Batresh to give her the large black purse on the floorboards in front of her. “Did any humans at Sekhem have blue eyes?”
Batresh thought for a moment, “No, I can’t remember any.”
“Exactly,” Sister continued. “Blue eyes entered human DNA from those areas where Tayamni activity is most present. Around the Black Sea, Mesopotamia, and so forth.”
Sister Ahatu opened her large black purse and withdrew a pack of Salem cigarettes. She pushed in the cigarette lighter on the dash board. Putting the end of the cigarette in her mouth, clamping down on it with her lips, she continued talking, “About 6,000 years ago, we had blue eyes showing up in Northern Europe.” She puffed on the cigarette aggressively. “Do you know why?”
Batresh waved the cigarette smoke away from her face. “Immigration?” she suggested.
“Wrong again,” the Sister responded. “Erish, did you know Erish? The Tayamni Captain who defended,” she paused and looked at Batresh over her glasses, “…and lost,” She puffed on the cigarette again, continuing, “…the Solar Temporal Portal?”
“What?” Batresh asked, turning sharply.
“Didn’t think you knew,” the Sister said. The cars began to move forward ahead of them. “’course, when you got the downloads, it hadn’t happened yet.” She stretched her neck to try to see over the steering wheel, “It was in early 1963, our great Captains,” she paused sarcastically, then continued, “We lost more than a thousand at the Lunar base, and all, every one of the ships under Erish’s command.” The Sister reached down to start the car again. She flung the cigarette she just lit, out the open window to her left. “We lost Erish too.” She pulled forward slightly, “Namazu and Amun are still fighting to take back Callisto and Venus 14 years later.”
“We lost Callisto and Venus?” Batresh gasped. “The downloads didn’t have this information.” She looked down at her hands laying on her lap. She realized she was wearing Seth’s trousers.
“Sure did,” the Sister responded, jerking the car forward, then breaking hard. “Sorry, hon. Old nuns can’t drive,” she laughed at her own joke, and continued, “Don’t worry, Amun and Namazu are fine. We have Mars now; bases at the Moon and Mars. They rebuilt Luna Station.” She eased forward, looking at the right to take a look at the disabled snow-plow as they passed. “Outdated technology,” she laughed at her own, private joke. “The few remaining Elders put out a call to send Tayamni from the far flung reaches of the Transit. And, they put in orders for more,” she laughed again. “We have triple the Tayamni now than we had in 1962.
“Anyway,” the Sister continued. “We found traces of Erish’s DNA, someone who was mixed human and Tlaloc, and several Potacas who took the Solar Portal back in time. One group went to your time at Sekhem, another to five years earlier, and others to four-time periods.” She looked at Batresh seriously.
“They abducted Erish?” Batresh asked astonished.
The Sister nodded, and turned slowly, carefully to the left, driving over rutted snow, pulling onto Big Bend. “We think they took her to Northern Europe, to Germany or Denmark. Anyway, the Saxons.”
“What are you saying?” Batresh asked incredulously.
The sister was driving very slowly down a steep hill, “Erish and that Tlaloc fella, they infiltrated the Saxons, and Bingo! Blue eyes in Northern Europe.”
Batresh couldn’t remove her gaze from the old woman. “So, they activated her reproductive system?” Batresh asked recoiling.
“Looks like it,” the nun responded.
Batresh knew that every Tayamni woman with a human-like body had the ability to produce eggs and have children. But, she also knew that Tayamni were created for specific purposes with desired characteristics. She had never heard of a Tayamni female with an active reproductive system.
They turned left onto Wydown Boulevard, then made a sharp right, pulling up into Fontainebleau’s campus. Pulling the station wagon into a snow drift next to the main building, the old woman sighed and turned off the motor. “Don’t know what happened to Erish, could be dead, could be alive. “We have whole populations of humans with Tlaloc, Potacas, and Tayamni DNA,” the old woman said sighing, her eyes turned to light grey in the snow reflected sunlight. “Some populations more predisposed to greed and war now,” she said looking towards the statue of the Goddess in front of the Library. “It wasn’t this bad when you left, back in ’62,” she continued.
“Wars and rumors of wars,” she whispered, grabbing the door handle.
The Clayton Coffee Company
Batresh walked downstairs from her dorm room and saw most of the snow had melted. Much of the parking lot was submerged under large puddles of water. Walking outside, she found she didn’t need her heavy wool coat. She saw Sister Ahatu standing at their station wagon with another nun. In the bright January sun, the rust on the fender of the station wagon was red against fading green paint. The other nun turned around, raising a muscular right arm, deformed by hard physical work. She waved to Batresh, showing all the 75 years, she was allowed to age. Her back was hunched, her black sweater stretched tightly across muscled shoulders.
Sister Ahatu shouted, “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty!” Then, she, gestured to the beautiful, blue sky, as if the warmer weather were a miracle. “So beautiful,” she proclaimed.
Batresh reached them and leaned down to the short, elderly, Sister Ahatu, hugging her. “Good morning, Sister.”
“Miriam, this is Sister Diotima,” Sister Ahatu offered. Batresh turned her palms upwards in greeting.
Sister Diotima looked left and right, placing her large hands over Batresh’s smaller ones, “We don’t really do that here,” she whispered. Her withered face wrinkled into a smile, and she continued, “We are in cognito.” Then, she rasped with laugher, as if she had made a funny joke, her shoulders twitching. The pitch of her voice was centered on the break between her falsetto and chest voice. If not for the modified habit she wore, she could be a living caricature of an elderly, upper crust British Lady.
“I am meeting someone out front,” Batresh offered, nodding at the older woman.
“I will walk with you,” Sister Diotima responded. Coming to Batresh, she took her hand and they walked towards a stairway leading up to the front of the college. Her eyes twinkled with delight. “You are next in line to be Matriarch.”
They reached the stair leading upwards. Then, Batresh looked into the nun’s face, frankly, “I am not ready,” she said.
Sister Diotima shook her head and opened her mouth as if she going to scold her. But, she stopped herself. Her mouth agape from the large breath she had taken, she responded exhaling, saying something entirely different than she planned, “We are never ready.”
They continued walking up the steps, holding hands. Batresh wondered whether the older woman needed to hold her hand to steady herself. The Nun added, “I knew your Mother well.”
Batresh looked at her with a confused expression, as they stepped into the dark shadow of the walkway covering.
Diotima continued, “She was not ready either.”
Batresh knew that Diotima wanted to calm her and help her to feel more confident. But, her words were annoying. She looked into the older Nun’s face with dismay but said nothing. She began to wish that she had taken an apartment. She was beginning to feel the Sisters were meddlesome and intrusive. At that moment, she saw another Nun, more ancient than Diotima approaching them from the Library. Batresh looked down at an evergreen bush to the side of the sidewalk and sighed with frustration. “Another one, “she said to herself.
Her gaze settled on a decorative stone laying on the ground beside the bush. She noticed a design pressed on to it. She assumed this symbol, which she had seen in various places on campus, was an Ankh. But, looking more closely, she realized it was the Chi-Ro, the ancient Christian symbol formed by superimposing the first two Greek letters, chi and rho of the Greek word Christos. Then, she looked again, and was confused. From one view the design seemed to be an Ankh, but turning her head slightly, it was a Chi-Ro.
With a spark of realization, she gasped, looking towards the Library. There, she saw again the statue of the Goddess. Her eyes widened. She had seen the similarities between the Christian images of Mary and the Tayamni Goddess. But, now, she saw them as being the same. She saw now, how these symbols, these Tayamni religious symbols had made their way into Christianity. She thought of the names for the Goddess that are used by Christians to describe Mary, The Holy Mother, The Queen of Heaven. She looked at Diotima with curiosity, looking into her face questioningly as the other nun approached them. Sister Diotima took the older Nun’s hand.
“Miriam, this is Sister Eudosia.”
Batresh looked at the elderly nun. She was small, thin, and hunched similar to Diotima, but she seemed infinitely ancient. White wisps of hair stuck out haphazardly from around her veil. Diotima continued, “You wouldn’t know it now, but Eudosia was a great beauty, and almost captured your Amun’s heart at Sekhem. Then, she launched into a raspy laugh again, entertained by her own transgressiveness. Eudosia drew her brows together and gave the taller Nun a dirty look. Then, Eudosia looked into Batresh’s face, taking both her hands in hers. With a very sweet, but wavering voice, she said, “We welcome you to our little school.”
At that moment, an old Peugeot with faded blue paint turned into the drive. Batresh was happy to see that Bob had arrived and was approaching the curve at which they stood. She was glad to have some relief from these ancient women. But, she had more questions. Why were Christian symbols almost identical to the Tayamni symbols? Eudosia turned round to see what attracted Batresh’s attention. Then, she turned back, looking into Batresh’s face intensely. “Your mother, the Matriarch, is here at St. Louis now.” Then, she leaned in closer, whispering, “This was all foretold. The Seven Hathors have planned it, all of it, even your being here, it was all planned.”
Diotima gasped and leaned down to her sharply, “Don’t tell her that! You know better!”
“It’s true! It’s true!” Eudosia hissed. Then, looking back into Batresh’s face, she continued, “Bring her here.” She looked around to see if anyone was watching. Then, she continued, “Your mother, I mean, the young man, Dennis, bring him here to study. We will help you. He must be guided, taught, he has a job to do.”
Diotima grabbed the ancient woman’s shoulder roughly. “You should not tell her that.”
Bob pulled up right beside them in his car. Batresh tried to pull her hands out of the old Nun’s hands, but she was holding on. “Bring him here!” she hissed once more. Batresh finally broke free and walked to the car. She opened the passenger side door and looked back at the women. The smaller, thin nun still held her hands outwards as if she were holding Batresh’s hands. Her mouth open, in mid-sentence. Diotima looked flustered. Batresh looked back towards the car and sat inside.
Bob looked at her smiling, “What was that about? Are they trying to convert you?” He laughed, as he turned sharply out of the drive onto the street.
Batresh sighed and looked at Bob. She reached over, taking his hand in hers. “Bob, I have to have a serious conversation with you.” She could see that Bob was tired. The area under his eyes was darker than the last time she had seen him. His face looked careworn. “I will get lunch,” she smiled at him. “I want to talk with you about Denny.”
Bob’s smile immediately vanished. He turned again, reaching down to change gears. He accidentally grated the gears against each other, “Damn this old car!” he said. Finally, after several tries, he changed into the proper gear, and they jolted ahead. “I am sorry to tell you, Miriam, but Denny and I are not together.”
“I know,” she responded. “That’s what I need to talk with you about.”
He looked at her suspiciously. He had experienced several close shaves with relationships but had never really made a commitment. He had his heart broken one too many times, and he found the whole process to be painfully awkward. He was not eager to risk his feelings with Denny again. He shook his head negatively, “It’s over Miriam.”
She looked to her right, at beautiful houses with stately, columned porches. “Do you know who he is dating now?”
He sighed, “I don’t really want to talk about it,” he asserted.
“Denny is in danger, Bob,” she said, gently, belying the urgency she felt.
Bob drew his brows together and turned right onto another street. “I’m listening,” he said.
“Denny is dating someone who does not have his best interest at heart,” she responded.
Bob pulled into a parking space and turned off the car. He looked at Batresh with sadness. “What does that have to do with me?” he asked.
“Are we here?” Batresh asked.
“Yep,” he responded. “The Clayton Coffee Company,” he looked at her and continued, “they have a great Salade Niçoise.”
They walked into the restaurant, through the store at the front with strangely shaped coffee and tea pots, decorative drainers, and cookware. They sat at a table near the window. Clouds were beginning to obscure the sun. The light outside looked cold and white now.
“We had better share a salad, they are pretty big,” Bob offered. “What kind of danger is Denny in?” he asked looking down at the wood grain in the table. He knew he couldn’t fight this request now. He knew he was in love with Denny and he would help him. He looked up at Batresh with resignation.
“The nature of the world and the Universe, are not what you have come to understand, Bob,” she offered.
Again, he drew his brows together, looking at her intensely.
“I am going to tell you some things you will find hard to believe,” she said, as the waitress, wearing one of the aprons for sale at the front of the store, emblazoned with the letters The Clayton Coffee Company on its skirt.
The waitress took their order and walked away. Bob looked at her questioningly.
“This never gets any easier,” Batresh said, sighing.
Bob smiled and shook his head negatively.
“My name is not really Miriam,” she began.
Another young woman brought glasses of water to them.
“My name is Batresh.”
Bob raised his eyebrows in curiosity. “That’s an unusual name,” he responded. “I don’t think I’ve heard it before.” He was beginning to regret coming to lunch with her.
She was focused on his face intensely. “You are not likely to,” she said. “If you were to research it, you would find that it is ancient Egyptian.”
The waitress placed glasses of iced tea on the table in front of them. “You study ancient Egyptian culture, don’t you?” he added, reaching over to take two sugar packets from a small, wicker basket.
“It is my specialty,” Batresh responded, “although I have never studied it.”
Bob looked up at her curiously. “How could…”
Batresh interrupted, “You have studied anthropology, haven’t you?”
Bob nodded, beginning to feel uncomfortable at the intensity in her face and her tone of voice. “How did you know that I studied,” he began.
“Have you ever wondered at the speed with which Homo Sapiens began to develop sophisticated architecture and tools, after suddenly appearing in the Rift Valley?” Batresh asked him, ignoring his question.
Bob noted that her accent had changed. She spoke in a more clipped, formal manner. She almost sounded British, “I just assumed that the changes were,” he began.
She interrupted him again. “The DNA of Homo Erectus living in the Rift Valley was spliced with that of another race, a race much more genetically advanced.”
Bob stopped stirring his glass of tea and looked at her with concern. Then, he looked down and resumed stirring his tea. “This sounds like something I’ve read, what is that book, what was it? Oh yes, Chariot of the Gods.” He looked at her and narrowed his eyes. “What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?” He asked.
She looked at him with a confused expression. But, then, regained her determination. “I am not familiar with that book,” she responded, reaching over for a packet of sugar. “But, the theory such a title suggests, is accurate.”
A slow smile began to spread across Bob’s face. He looked up at her, expecting her to smile in the same way. He expected to hear the punch-line of the joke now. He believed he was being set up for something. But, she wasn’t smiling. His merriment vanished as soon as he realized she wasn’t joking. He swallowed hard and looked into her face more directly. “Are you trying to tell me something?” he asked.
“Those advanced beings were from the star cluster you call The Pleiades.” She lay her tea spoon down on the table and continued, “From a moon called Mussara, orbiting a gas giant called Nirgal.”
Bob pressed his lips together and raised his left eyebrow.
“Nirgal orbits within a binary star system, the two stars of which consists of a red star called Sandu and another, white star, called Sig.”
Bob swallowed hard and took in a deep breath. “I suppose you are going to tell me that you are one of those people,” he said. Then, he began to smile again, expecting to hear her say the punch line. “Are you telling me you are from the Pleiades?” He asked, as if urging her to get to the point. Then, he looked towards his right, through the window. He observed a young man and woman walking together on the side walk next to the restaurant. Then he looked back at Batresh. She looked into his face with a ferocious intensity. He looked around him and began to feel uncomfortable. “Maybe she is a little nuts,” he said to himself. Then, he looked back into her face.
“Let’s change the subject,” he offered.
“Bob, there is more, but I should give you time to absorb what I have told you so far.”
The waitress brought a large, clear, glass bowl of Salade Niçoise and placed it between them.
“Do you like olives?” Bob asked her. She smiled and nodded. He tore off a piece of bread and continued, “So, you’re not studying at Wash U?”
His facial expression told her that he was simply engaging with her now to be entertained. He no longer accepted what she told him as being a sincere attempt to communicate.
“No, Bob, I am not studying at Washington University. But, you must not tell anyone that I have misled them,” she wondered how she could prove that what she was telling him is true.
He looked up at her again with a mocking smile on his face, “So, how do you know so much about Pre-Pharaonic Egypt?” He took a bite of salad. “I mean, I overheard you explaining some things to Seth last week.”
Then, she remembered. Telepathy had worked well with David. So, she sent Bob a message, “I grew up in Pre-Pharaonic Egypt.”
Bob kept the same smile on his face, and then looked to his right, then, to his left. Then back to her, “You are a ventriloquist,” he stated flatly.
Batresh sighed, but kept her eyes fixed on his face.
Then, she sent him images from the palace at Sekhem, the Matriarch on her death bed, and of Denny when he was a small boy.
Bob suddenly looked confused. Then, he looked into her eyes as if he were trying to peer into her mind. She sent him another verbal message. “Yes, I sent you those images. They are of Denny.”
Then, he froze. He had been in the process of putting tuna on his fork. But, he froze in the middle of the movement. Bob swallowed hard and drew his brows together. He lay down his fork. He looked again towards the window. The clouds had grown thicker, the light grayer. The winter sky becoming more threatening. When he looked back into Batresh’s face, she could tell he was afraid.
“I apologize for this…intrusion,” she offered, “but I need your help.”
Bob swallowed again, “I wish I could duplicate this dressing,” he added. “I have tried it several times, but I can never,” he did not finish the sentence. But, he looked straight ahead of him, towards the door to the restaurant. His face was suddenly pale. There, entering the restaurant, was the muscular man Denny was dating. Bob, sat back against the back of his chair and looked into Batresh’s face, then, back to the door.
“Who is there?” she asked him telepathically.
Bob opened his mouth to answer, as the large man walked to their table. He stopped, standing beside them. “Mind if I join you?” he asked, his voice a deep baritone. He stood with his pelvis thrust outwards, in a powerful stance.
Bob put a false smile on his face, and stood up, extending his right hand to the man. “Please join us, I think I have seen you in the Chorus. Is that right?”
“Indeed, you have,” the man responded. The waitress brought another chair to their table.
Batresh looked at the man coolly. “Did Denny come with you?”
The man suddenly looked concerned. “No,” he looked towards the door. “I have not been able to get hold of him. I saw you through the window and I thought you might know where he is.” He turned the small, wicker chair around backwards, sitting on the seat and folding his arms over the back. He rested his chin there. “I thought you were friends of his,” he continued.
Bob offered, “I am close to him,” Bob looked at Batresh knowingly. “We are dating.”
Batresh knew she had reached him. He was on her side. He would help her.
The man straightened in the chair, moving his hands down to his thighs. He looked at Bob with concern, “I thought I was dating him.”
Batresh looked down at the table. She pretended to stifle a laugh. She looked back up into the man’s face, “Well, I believe you two are engaged in, what I would call, a competition.” She smiled, “I am Miriam, and this is Bob. I’m sorry I don’t remember your name.”
“I gave you my name earlier in the week,” he responded, displaying aggression in his voice. He cleared his throat and responded, “Charles.”
Batresh looked down at her lap, pretending again to stifle a laugh. “I’m sorry,” she offered, “I thought I almost heard you pronounce a name that sounded vaguely Aztec, like Quetzalcoatl, or something like that.”
The man’s face changed dramatically. He suddenly lost all pretense at being social. He looked at Batresh with a coldness that frightened Bob. He nodded affirmatively. “That’s fine,” he said, his voice more aggressive, and lower in pitch. “I also know who you are.” Now, he looked sharply at Bob. “Take care who you associate with, human,” he commanded. “You may meet their fate.” Then, he rose roughly and left the restaurant.
Bob’s mouth was still ajar as he looked at the door through which the man had just excited. Batresh turned back around to face him. She sighed. Bob looked into her face with wild eyes. “Now, you know,” she added. She put her fork into the salad, and looked back up at him, “He was following us. That little visit was not coincidental.” She brought the fork to her mouth. “He is being punished, that is why he is here, among humans, appearing to be a human himself.” She placed an haricot in her mouth, and bit down on it, making a crunching noise. She continued, “This is really the ultimate humiliation for him. I don’t think we have much to fear. His words were probably mostly bravado.”
She reached down and tore off a piece of bread. “And, He really doesn’t know where Denny is.” She took a bite and chewed. “You know; this is really quite good.”
Bob didn’t know what to do. The information he had just heard and had confirmed so soon afterwards, was too much for him to process. He realized he was hyperventilating. Batresh reached across the table, taking his right hand in hers. “Calm down, sweetie, this will all make sense,” She took a sip of iced tea, and continued, “eventually.” She looked into his eyes with concern. “Denny is with my friend, David. He is helping us.” She took another bite of tuna, covered with dressing. She closed her eyes, enjoying the rich, tart deliciousness. “I’ll fill you in.”