Authors: Glenn van Dyke,Renee van Dyke
Enlil gasped, a scream escaping him as Ash thrust her sword into him, piercing his heart. Enlil dropped to his knees. Blood streamed down the length of the sword, turning the charred wheat red. His eyes lifted to Ashlyn’s, her act of motherly betrayal confirming all he believed about her. Ashlyn would never forget the look of sadness and disappointment upon his face as he fell over dead to the ground.
Ash crawled to him and took him in her arms. Tears streamed down her face. “Forgive me, my son—but it was the only way I could save you.” Holding him tight to her bosom, Ash kissed his forehead, her tears falling upon his cheek.
Steven’s image appeared next to them. Taking a knee next to his son, his voice soft, he said, “I’m sorry, my son. I never wanted this to happen.”
“Is what he said true, Steven? Did we do all that too him?” Ashlyn’s voice cracked, the question not needing to be answered. She had sensed no deception from him.
Steven nodded. “Much of it was true, mistakes were made—but there is two sides to every story. He couldn’t move past the pain in his heart.
“What’s important now is that we’ve been given a second chance to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Ash spotted the men defending the city waiting at the edge of the burning field, wanting to thank her, their faces appreciative for what she had done. “Get me out of here, Steven. I’m done with this damned netherworld. I never want to see it again.”
“I too am anxious to put the years of sadness behind me.” Steven rose, “Your Steven is waiting for you at Olympus. Remember, once you leave here—only you know the potential that you and Steven have for the future. That puts you in the best position to reshape it to what you want it to be. Utilize the Keeper, his knowledge is your most valuable resource to make the future a better place for us all. He won’t let any of this happen again.”
Steven gave a small chuckle as his image began to fade. “See you on the flipside, Ash.”
Staring down at the face of her son, Ash brushed his hair back. As Enlil disappeared from within her arms and the world around her turned grey, the rumbles of distant thunder once again surrounded her. A moment later, she found herself sitting on the grand walkway in the temple on Olympus.
Ashlyn gave a small chuckle as she saw Steven and Solon sitting atop Anu’s giant sized throne. Like little kids they were dangling their legs over the edge, kicking their feet.
Hearing Ashlyn’s laugh, Steven looked up, his excitement uncontainable. “Ash!” His scream echoed through the room as he jumped down to the floor and ran to her. Overwhelmed by his joy he scooped her up in his arms and swung her in a circle. “When I returned and saw Eridu and Destiny 1 destroyed, I’d thought the worst—and when I couldn’t connect with you in the fugue…”
“Shut up and kiss me.” Ashlyn gave Steven a long, deep kiss.
Sensing there was more behind it than just having been apart for a few days, he felt compelled to ask, “What was that for? Is everything okay?”
Ash nodded. “It’s for not giving up on me, for waiting. It’s for loving me so much.” Ash buried her head in his chest, just wanting to be held. The last days had been harrowing, and she was in no rush to leave the comfort of his arms. “It feels so good to be back.” Though burning to ask her questions, Steven held her until she was ready to talk.
“Steven, I killed Enlil.” Ashlyn’s voice was soft, barely above a whisper. Tears began to fall as she recalled the look upon her son’s dying face, unable to believe that his mother had again betrayed him. She so badly wanted to tell Steven that Enlil was his son, but knew she shouldn’t. The knowledge would only cause him pain.
Steven tightened his arms around her. “It’s over now, Ash. It’s all over. You’re safe.”
“None of us are safe. Not yet.” Ashlyn knew she would soon have to tell him about the darkness residing in their unborn child. In light of all the events that had taken place, Enki’s haunting words of ancient Anunnaki history could now be seen as prophetic.
The war between the dark and the light was said to have nearly consumed the galaxy.
Ash knew that a battle was coming.
Concerned, Steven leaned back wanting to see her face, wanting her to explain.
“Not now. We’ll talk later, I promise.” Seeing Solon waiting patiently a few feet away, Ashlyn broke her embrace and went to him, giving him a hug. “Thank you, Solon. I couldn’t have done this without you.”
“I’ve come to believe that there is nothing you cannot do,” answered Solon.
“I’m glad to hear you say that.” Ashlyn turned to look at Steven. “Because there’s a lot we have to do.”
“Maybe, but first, I have a surprise for you, Ash.” Steven was exploding with excitement to tell her. “I have all of our friends aboard Destiny. I went back to Hadaesia and saved them before the timeline changes erased them. I brought Novacek, Brooks, Stratton, Tomlinson—all of them back with me. Even Defender. They can’t wait to see you.
“The only one who didn’t come is Enki. He declined, saying that his destiny was different from ours. He stayed behind on Hadaesia.”
Ashlyn gave Steven a hug, not divulging that she already knew. She even understood Enki’s refusal. Had he returned with Steven, it would have created two of him, endangering all that had been accomplished. “There’s my noble knight again. I should have known you’d pull a crazy stunt like that.”
“So—what’s first on your to-do list?” asked Steven. “It sounds important.”
Ashlyn smiled. “You came by shuttle?”
Steven tipped his head.
“Perfect, we need to make a quick stop.”
Ashlyn, happy to again be in the pilot’s seat, took them to a small house, north of the city of Ur. Setting the shuttle down in the field near the house, Ashlyn, Steven and Solon exited.
Tara and her family had heard the whir of the shuttle’s engine and come outside. Seeing Ashlyn, Tara ran to her, the children close behind. Gorok, Steven, and Solon shook hands, making introductions.
While the men were talking, Ash explained to Tara that her family was in danger, and that for their safety, they needed to come with her. Without hesitation, Tara told her husband and the children to pack whatever belongings were important to them, and that they had to leave, immediately.
Ten minutes later they were underway, headed to Destiny.
“You look tired,” said Tara’s daughter La’nel to Ashlyn.
Ash smiled and tweaked La’nel’s nose, “I am, but it’s nothing a shower and a few hours of sleep won’t fix.”
“What’s a shower?” asked La’nel.
“That’s enough La’nel,” said Gorok. “Leave the poor woman alone.”
“Are you poor too? Sometimes Daddy says we are,” said La’nel.
As the eight of them exited the shuttle onto Destiny,
“Welcome back, Lady Ashlyn. You have been missed,”
said the Keeper.
“As have you, Keeper.”
“Is there anything you need? Any instructions or orders?”
Ashlyn could sense the Keeper leading her. They needed to talk. “Just one. Tomorrow, I want you to give me all the information you have on the Draconians.”
“Very well. I will be waiting, and again…it’s good to have you back.”
Only Ashlyn knew the full meaning behind the Keeper’s words.
“Ash, what was all that about? Who are the Draconians?” asked Steven.
“They’re up next on my to-do list. I’ll tell you about them tomorrow.”
Solon spoke, “Lady Ashlyn, why don’t you and Lord Steven go get some rest. I’ll see that our guests get settled into their quarters.”
“Thank you, Solon,” said Steven.
Ash watched them walk away.
“Come-on,” said Steven taking her hand.
In their quarters, Ash tossed the sword onto the sofa and plopped onto the bed. “You have no idea how good this bed feels. I’ve been sleeping on the ground for days. I even spent one night in a river, hidden beneath a waterfall from bloodthirsty mutants.”
“You should write a book about it,” said Steven laughing as he flopped down next to her.”
“Maybe I did. I found a library in a robot world with a book that had my image on the cover. The robot librarian was reading it. I was even wearing the same chain necklace from the day you and I first met. We were so naive back then. Almost nothing is what we thought it was, and now, most of what we knew won’t ever exist.”
“Now I really want to hear the story.”
“You will, but the story isn’t finished yet.” Ash rolled over and cuddled up to his chest. “Steven, can I pick the name of our son?”
“That was brisk. You could have warmed me up with a little pillow-talk first,” said Steven lightheartedly.
“Oh, baby—it’s sooo big…and I want it sooo bad,” said Ash, playfully smacking her lips and talking like a cheesy hooker.
“Okay, okay … I get the point. What name do you want?”
“Ja’kal. It means little wolf,” said Ash.
“Ja’kal. I like it,” said Steven. “Where did you get it?”
Ash smiled. “It’s from a story Gorok told. He became a hero to the people of Earth.”
“Sounds interesting. I’d like to hear that story,” he prodded.
“It is, and you’ll do more than hear it—you’ll live it.” Ash rose from the bed. “I’m going to take a shower. If you want to join me, I promise to drop the soap.” Turning on her 1920’s Atlantic City casino hooker’s voice, her leg wrapping around the doorjamb, “And I really want it sooo bad, Stevo. Whadda ya say? You gonna give it to me, or do I gotta go looken for some action out on the street?”
Steven jumped from the bed. “I love a story with a happy ending.”
Thanks for reading,
Glenn Van Dyke
Renee Van Dyke
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