They entered the house through a normal looking door. Wood with four-pane window in the top half. There was no porch just three steps up a brick staircase.
Inside everything looked normal to his time except he saw no holo-displays. In fact he did not see anything that might have to do with entertainment.
Minerva walked to the kitchen where stainless steel and slate formed the cabinets and shelves. He smiled as he watched her tug in the refrigerator door failing to open it. He assisted. He gathered what was needed to construct a good meal as Attrea collected medical supplies for the coming morning.
After that they settled into a routine that made him feel at home. They talked and laughed. Then long after the sunset, got Minerva climbed into bed.
Attrea guided him into a second bedroom where they resumed what they’d begun in the green cabin.
An hour later, Stanton dropped into a deep sleep.
Attrea woke him. He rubbed his eyes and was about to ask the time. She was up and dressing.
Stanton joined her. Then he gathered the bag of medical supplies. As he moved to the door, Minerva stepped out of her room and walked to him. She was dressed.
Without a word, the three left the house and went directly to the portal. There were there less and five minutes. The blue light began like a distant throbbing ring, building and growing as it neared them. Seconds passed then Taisie appeared. There was blood running down the right side of her neck.
She dropped at his feet. She was semi-conscious. Stanton saw wounds everywhere. It looked like she’d been in a knife fight. Her right hand was locked around the hilt of her sword. It was covered in blood and slim pieces of flesh and muscle.
Stanton dropped to his knees. Carefully examining the worst of her wounds, the right jugular he pinched closed. It had been leaking blood steadily. Not ruptured so she’d immediately bleed out, but she’d lost enough blood to look pale and weak.
“The only way to kill an immortal is beheading. Whoever she fought knew this. Fortunately Taisie was quick enough to escape the worst of the blow.”
Attrea knelt alongside him. “We can save her.”
“There is nothing we can do here.” He announced. “We need to Healers.” He glanced over at Attrea.
Then he thought, I’ve lost Margaret I’ll not lose Taisie too.
She nodded, stood, and stepped away about fifty feet. She removed some small electronic device from a hip pocket. Blue-green light illuminated the air before it as she held it aloft.
Attrea moved it in a circle. The light blinked in what looked like a code. Then slowly, a gate appeared.
“You must carry her,” she told Stanton.
He nodded and struggling with her weight, lifted the warrior and staggered to the portal. Minerva joined him before he could tell her no. Together with Attrea they stepped through.
Stanton smelled the tree. The air around it. Smoke from a distant fire. Then he was kneeling on a round dirt platform. One attached to the tree. The sun was starting to rise setting shadows moving as if they were sent to greet them.
Carefully he lowered Taisie to the ground. He heard a familiar sound. He looked over the edge of the dirt disk and saw three healers rising on a small disk.
They reached his location in less than two minutes. Stanton still hand his fingers closing the arterial wound. The first healer trilled several tones. He looked at Attrea. She nodded, answered with trills. Then she said to Stanton, “They need you to keep the artery closed as you are until they can get Taisie to their infirmary.”
Stanton nodded. “Okay. I found it quite difficult carry her as well. I’ll need help.”
Attrea conveyed the message. The third Healer approached him. It waved one arm in a circle. Taisie floated upward.
The second Healer touched Stanton’s shoulder. The contact filled him with an odd sensation that relaxed his worries. Once he seemed ready, they moved onto the Healer’s disk. Minerva jumped on. The Healers smiled kindly at her.
The disk sank steadily. The lower it went the darker the area around them got. The disk sank into the ground at the base of the tree. They continued down for several minutes. Then it stopped. Stanton saw they were in a room that looked like the inside of a modern hospital. Except this one had jars of herbs and liquids he could not describe.
They moved the warrior to a clean shiny table. Carefully, the first Healer placed a pillow under her head. Then he waved his hand. A small laser appeared. Using it he moved its green beam along the edge of Taisie’s neck where Stanton had his fingers.
Briefly, he smelled burning flesh. After several seconds, the Healer tapped his hand indicating he should let go.
Stanton did so with much reluctance. But then saw the wound had sealed completely. Raw emotion ran through him. He stepped back, bumped into a chair and dropped into it.
Attrea walked over and told him, “The Healers need to give her blood. They believe yours in compatible. You are B+ and so is she.”
Stanton stood wearily. Removed his shirt, which exposed his many scars. The Healers moved a second table alongside Taisie’s. Stanton climbed on and lay down.
A minute later he was connected to the warrior by a device that drew blood from him and slowly pumped it into her. Stanton closed his eyes, drifted off.
When Stanton awoke, he was told he had given her two pints. He felt weakened, but pleased he helped his friend. He turned onto his side to study her. The paleness from blood lose was replaced with normal color. Her chest rose and fell evenly not as ragged as when she stepped through the portal.
He reached a hand to touch her arm, but felt too weak to finish. Attrea came to him and assisted. Now Stanton felt Taisie’s pulse. It was steady not reedy as before.
Nodding, he rolled onto his back and looked up into the tree. To Attrea he said, “Do we know at all what or whom she confronted?”
Attrea stood next to him. “She recorded the encounter on a cube.”
A cube?He thought and then recalled the method.
“Do you have a display device with you?” He asked.
“I do.” Attrea said, “but will need a power source. The Healers and tree people use only sunlight for energy. That is what feeds the life force of the tree and therefore sustains them all.”
Stanton could only nod. He knew there was not much they might currently do to seek revenge. Or to attempt a peace agreement.
“Peace or war?” Attrea asked. “Is that your thoughts?”
“I’m afraid I am feeling less tolerant than I once did. The way Margaret was murdered and the fact I could do nothing to revenge such a senseless death disturbed me rather negatively. When we brought her to the Healers I hoped she might be healed and saved. As it turned out they struggled to keep Minerva alive.”
“And for that you are blessed I believe.”
“I agree. She is growing fast. I suppose the DNA mix from me and Margaret created something very special.”
Attrea didn’t reply. Instead she stood. “I will get you some food and drink. They told me you would need a day and night to recover. You must eat more than normal too.” She left him alone.
After the second meal brought to him by a Healer, Stanton began to feel stronger. Yet he waited until he’d slept through the night before daring to attempt natural activities.
He felt a bit off balance, but after a few seconds that passed. Next he decided to seek Attrea and learn if she’d spoken to Taisie assuming the warrior survived.
Attrea was sitting at the edge of the disk. She was in what he’d heard called the lotus position. Her hands rested on her knees. Thumbs and first fingers forming a circle. She was humming a single sound that he could not decipher.
Stanton sat ten feet away and waited. Attrea finished and stood fluidly, turned and smiled. “How do you feel?”
“Stronger and ready,” he replied. “Have you spoken to Taisie?”
“No. The last time I tried the Healer told me she would be in a coma for at least another day.”
“So we do not know what happened to her then?”
“She recorded everything with her implant. The Healer was able to transfer the data onto a sim card.”
“Have you reviewed it?”
Attrea shook her head. “No, I thought it best to wait until you were ready and then we’d see it together.”
“I’m ready if you are.”
She reached for his hand. He grasped hers and instantly felt an emotional jolt of joy.
They walked to the base of the tree trunk where the disk attached. There was a small door wide and tall enough for Attrea but Stanton needed to bend over and then twist his torso to get inside. There he saw a small room filled with electronics.
Attrea sat before a monitor and tapped a keyboard with pictographic images rather than letters and numbers. She didn’t seem to need to look where her fingers landed as she tapped a code. The monitor filled with a moving image showing Taisie traveling through the portal. It was a bit disorienting with rings of brilliant colors throbbing and moving her from entry to exit. The entire event took less than ten seconds but seemed dizzyingly longer to Stanton.
Then Taisie walked though into a dense forest. Distantly he heard the sounds of drums and female voices singing about travel and freedom. Taisie slowed and squatted looking at a scene before her Stanton imagined might be some late night horror movie.
The tallest of the women danced naked, coated in what looked like blood. It dripped off her, pooling whenever she stopped. She stood about six feet tall, he guessed she weighed 150 no visible fat. She was hairless from the top of her head to her feet. Watching her was nearly hypnotic.
“I wear the blood of the men we slaughtered. Men who destroyed our homes, our families, our world.” She stooped and lifted a large metal container, poured blood over her head. It slid down her body like a slow moving waterfall.
Taisie leaned slightly to the left for a clearer view.
The dancer stopped in the center of the circle. A ring of low fire surrounded her, illuminated her, cast shadows that extended upward, which distorted her otherwise fine features. Her hair was red hung straight down to her waist. When she moved it enveloped her torso.
Now she squatted, sat back on her heels. Stanton actually felt a tinge of embarrassment at her exposure.
She looked skyward, pointed with both hands arms extended overhead. “We have arrived at the only safe destination for our kind. The men we left behind who still live will perish. Their world once ours is dying because of them. Our children died too. Except those we kept with us.
“This world we know is a massive ring, but no one will be allowed to enter our domain. If they try we shall eliminate them without prejudice. Never again shall we suffer injustice.”
Taisie rubbed her nose as if the smoke blowing in her direction was an irritant.
“We took the last two colony ships. We are free.” Slowly she stood, turned in a slow circle looking at each woman surrounding her.
Stanton tried counting, but they stood in concentric circle off into the growing darkness. He managed to count a hundred, but guessed there were, twice that number.
“Now we must begin establishing our new home. Unload the ships and assemble buildings. Those who stay here will clear areas for our homes and shops. Also bring all weapons. We cannot allow. . .”
Taisie sneezed. It was loud, sounded like a echo.
Seconds after, she was surrounded by a dozen women carrying long knives and crossbows.
“You will stand and approach. If you move to hold your sword you will be killed.” The leader said with command authority.
Taisie did as ordered. “Where have you traveled from?” she asked as she neared the leader.
“The planet Earth. Are you familiar with it?”
“Yes. I too originated there.” Taisie stopped walking directly outside of the ring of fire. “I left earth in 2234. How about you?”
“That’s impossible. The men destroyed everything with nuclear weapons in 2156. We saw it as our ships left orbit. Mushroom clouds covered every land mass.” The woman stepped outside of the fire. “Who are you and why do you lie?”
“I am Taisie. I am a warrior of this world. I do not lie.”
The woman punched Taisie hard enough to visibly stun her. Taisie stumbled back several steps and drew her sword. She was faster. Her blade slid from its sheath and with one swing easily decapitated the woman who hit her.
Then it seemed Taisie realized her error. She was attacked with knives. It reminded Stanton of a death of a thousand cuts.
But despite the wounds, Taisie fought with a vicious ferocity. Steadily moving back to where the portal left her. Once there, now bleeding badly, she tapped the pin on her chest. The portal opened. The women who fought her staggered back to where their leader lay dead eyes wide with surprise, maybe fear.
The portal opened with the usual sound of a hawk’s cry and Taisie fell through. The next event we saw was Stanton and Attrea waiting.Stanton shook his head once Attrea shut everything down. “Do we leave them alone? Or do you think that’s too much of a risk?”