They were showing wear scuffed at the toes he saw when he too looked. “Okay,” he said not knowing how to address her words and the obvious feelings speaking them aloud made her relive.
Doesn’t seem like she thinks badly of our being together. He thought.
“Do you understand what is Minerva doing?” he asked to change the subject as he thought as calmly as possible, the warriors are immortals too.
He glanced at her, caught her eyes and she smiled kindly as if to acknowledge this thought without adding to it verbally.
“Minerva grows quickly. We believe that is because of her parents contributing to her DNA mix. Margaret was somewhat of a creation using ancient DNA manipulation technology. Forbidden since her century. Very crude and inhumane. Any scientist since attempting to duplicate what was done to your Margaret was executed without trial. As you might imagine that abusive behavior ended quickly.”
“But Minerva is so small.”
“She will grow. We do not know yet if she is one of us.” The warrior tapped her own chest and then his letting Stanton know she meant immortal.
“How about breakfast? I’m hungry. Has she eaten, have you?”
“Minerva was served like a princess. I am hungry and would be pleased to join you. Perhaps we can try to learn what your mission is here…mine too since I’m to travel with you again to your destination.”
They found a stand-alone brick and mortar building that housed a restaurant. It had a row of windows along the street side with an entry door in the middle. They entered sat on padded benches with a wood slab table in the middle and ordered breakfast of scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, buttered toast, and coffee.
They ate in silence. Stanton savored every bite, sipping his black coffee as if he believed it was the last cup he might receive for days or weeks to come. Of course, he knew better. They had reached a reasonably civilized part of the ring world.
“We need a boat to cross the lake,” Stanton told her as he pushed his empty plate aside. “One with cabins and that can withstand the storm cycles.”
“I will work with Pedro to locate and secure one.” She stood, leaned slightly, smiled warmly and added, “I have always enjoyed being you companion. The missions you are on are convoluted in ways no one could easily imagine, which to me makes living more exciting.”
She straightened and left the restaurant.
Stanton felt ready to get on with the mission. And as he thought that he knew something he’d not thought about in detail. He had never known Attrea in his past. The green cabin and his time there, her affection and then his leaving through a time portal to arrive on the ring world did not match any previous experience he could recall. She was an anomaly and that was troubling and too exciting.
Who are you Attrea? What is your interest in me, and my child?He thought as he recalled the massage sent him through William. He walked from the restaurant and stood just to the left of the door looking at the small town where Pedro lived comfortably. Everyone he saw seemed to be smiling as they stopped to talk to a friend or neighbor. No one hurried the way he’d witnessed on earth. No one looked like they felt neglected.
Yet again this is not a place I can remain and Minerva cannot grow up here. It doesn’t seem like a peaceful existence can be mine. But I must find somewhere that Minerva can live out her childhood safely.
In the distance he saw Taisie talking with Pedro and another man who he did not recognize. The stranger was waving his arms as he spoke and pointed frequently in the direction of the lake.
Stanton began walking in their direction, but stopped when he felt a small hand wrap fingers around his thumb. He stopped and squatted to look in her eyes on her level.
“Are you ready to ride in a boat for a few days?” he asked.
“Maybe I am,” she said in her little girl voice, which was seriously different that the voice she’d used when speaking with the crowd of adults.
“Good,” he said and then asked, “What did you talk about with those people this morning.”
“Some said they knew you, I, um, I wanted to know too.”
Stanton nodded, stood and held out his hand. She grasped it and they walked to intercept the warrior heading towards them.
Taisie met him and said, “We have arranged for the use of a large boat with two cabins, a head, which I’m told is a bathroom, and a small fully stocked kitchenette. We can leave as soon as the fuel tanks are full.”
“Fossil fuels?” He asked recalling his conversation with Margaret. He hadn’t really known about their use in the past, and now wondered if when he recalled more of his long life, he might.
“It is different not fossil fuel but a safe synthetic that will burn slower so it won’t need refilling until we reached out destination across the lake.”
“Good, I suppose. I’m not recalling much regarding energy producing products.”
Taisie smiled and nodded. “You never did care.”
“We should gather our gear and head down to the dock.” He said to change from a subject that was oddly making him uncomfortable.
She laughed lightly and nodded her agreement.
Fifteen minutes passed before they again stood by the large boat. Taisie had her armor and weapons stacked on the dock, along with a canvas travel bag nearly as long as she was tall. Stanton carried his gear and Minerva’s pack. His daughter carried a doll dressed as a warrior with a cloth helmet and boots up to mid-thigh.
They climbed aboard. Stanton took the cabin closest to the stairs up to the deck. The warrior led Minerva to the cabin closet to the bow. As Stanton climbed into the captain’s chair, he saw that Pedro and several others from town had come to the dock to see them off.
He waved at Pedro and his friend untied the boat from the dock. As the boat began drifting into the lake, Taisie appeared and ignited the engines. With a simple twist of the wrist, Stanton turned the rudder aiming the boat into the center of the lake.
A final glance over his shoulder showed him that the docks were empty. Everybody had returned to the daily routines. He was unsure how he felt. Part of him regretted leaving the village’s safety. Another part of him was anxious to strive for a successful voyage and reunification with Attrea. But that too caused him a brief flash of trepidation since he felt he had no knowledge to guide him when he arrived across the lake.