Then he began trying to understand why the ring world would be that way if the humans allowed to travel to it were pre-selected.
“Offspring,” Pedro said as if reading his mind. “They feel trapped like any generation on old earth did and struggle to find reason among the tranquil passivity. There are no conflicts here that amount to, much more than a few men and women fighting an equal number opposed to what they fight over. Boring really. Warriors are often scoffed at since they represent a time in human history many here believe was purposeful and necessary. However warriors such as Taisie are deemed magical and walk among us with an air of mystery none other dare challenge. Well except for a few like those we just witnessed. And as you suspect, she would have bested them one by one or all at once.”
“I hate it when you do that.” Stanton retorted without a trace of anger.
“What know what you’re thinking? To me you are quite transparent.” Pedro stood and said, “Come let’s get you and Minerva settled in then we can see about a proper meal.”
Stanton woke as the sun began to creep over whatever the ring world used for a horizon. He felt uncertain if he should stay with Pedro’s people for a time or continue to the lake. A lake that was matched by a string of lakes that lay equidistant around the entire ring. He knew then that he was beginning to recall more of his past and wondered if he was alive when the ring world was constructed.
Why if I know about this world’s history as if I was born and raised here, did I travel to earth and live a life there? Have I done that repeatedly traveling back and forth? Will I remember thousands the years I’ve apparently lived? What is the purpose of whatever it is I do? How many people have I loved, watched grow old and die? Why does that thought feel like a significant burden? This life I’m experiencing now how much was and is real? Do I begin each one as an infant?
I should remember the answers. Maybe when I begin a new journey my mind creates a past so when I meet and speak with people who are adults I sound like one of them. I can tell them about a childhood that fits the time they live. Right now this is confusing. I must return and discuss in depth this with Julia.
He stood, stretched and discovered that his daughter was not in her bed or in the room they were given.
“I must talk to her about disappearing. Seems she thinks she’s invulnerable, or untouchable. Not a habit she should develop.” He washed his face by splashing cold water on it, dried and went out into the early morning sun. The air was dry carried odors of plants, and flowers, people cooking.
He heard laughter and walked that way, stopping when he saw Minerva standing in the center of the group of adults. She was waving her arms, gesturing as if to make a point, and she was talking like an adult.
For a second she looked exactly like Margaret and Stanton felt a serious stab of grief.
For an immortal guy who must’ve experienced hundreds of deaths like hers you still feel deeply, perhaps too deeply.
“No,” said a female voice. Taisie stepped alongside him. She was not wearing armor, but ordinary clothing. “You must feel what every other human feels.”
“Good god does everyone around here read my mind?” He stared at her.
“You project your thoughts and those of us adept at reading them know what you think, but it only happens when you feelings are intense. Otherwise we cannot read your thoughts.”
He continued looking at her eyes. “Have you and I traveled together in the past, um, distant past?”
“As we do now we have been together fifteen times. Each one ended when you or I were sent on a separate mission.” She grew quiet and then said, “Once we were lovers.” She glanced down at her feet as if to inspect her well kept boots.