Authors: Glenn van Dyke,Renee van Dyke
“I do,” said Steven.
Enki said nothing. His posture straightened as he clasped his hands behind his back and patiently waited for Steven to elaborate.
“I have telekinesis. I can move objects and gather energy from the air. I used it as a weapon against Enlil,” added Steven. “But there are times when I struggle. Accessing it is not always easy.”
“Then the rumors are not exaggerated,” said Enki. “The two of you are very unique—to say the least.
“Like Ashlyn, your abilities are those of legend. It belonged to the order of the Magori. They were very, very powerful. They were respected almost as much as they were feared. The rumored war between the dark and the light was said to have nearly consumed the galaxy. It was a time of great upheaval and chaos.” Enki began pacing contemplatively. He again turned to face them. “I expect that such things are not learned overnight. I also know that your abilities have not yet been fully unlocked, however, the Keeper will soon be rectifying that.
“In fact, your abilities may prove useful for what lies ahead.”
Whether it was for their safety or that of others, it was obvious to Steven and Ashlyn that Enki knew much more than he was telling them.
“I must caution you to be careful, Lord Steven, and Lady Ashlyn. There are those that would want to see you dead for having such abilities. It makes you a threat to them.” Enki continued, choosing his words carefully. “You will find that the time of mysticism is long gone from Heaven. The legends say it was a time of barbarism and cruelty. We had not been ready for such powers. Perhaps no civilization ever can be.
“At some point in time, the council will be faced with a difficult decision. Because you are pure Anunnaki, perhaps even more pure than my own royal bloodline, by law you have the right to enter Heaven. And yet, many will be frightened. They will argue that it is too dangerous to grant you entrance.
“Yes, the council will have a difficult decision. But today—is not the time to give consideration to such things. Both of you have a destiny that must be followed. In many ways, I am jealous. The universe is still new to you and full of wonder.
“I can tell you this, Lord Steven. You are the light. You are the man born from the ocean but who commands the stars. You are the savior of your people. And yet, the light that leads you is no brighter than the darkness that trails behind it. You have many hardships to endure, many enemies to face, and many sacrifices to make. And your life will be legendary.”
“I heard those words from the people on Hadaesia,” Steven said. “They said I was fulfilling a prophecy.”
“They were right, Lord Steven. The prophecy concerning you is very old, perhaps millions of years. But it has never been forgotten—the universe itself will not allow it to be. The time of fulfillment has begun. I am quite honored to see it unfolding.”
“Apologies, Lord Enki,” Steven interrupted. “But while you’re confident in making such statements, please understand that we do not see ourselves as such. Quite the opposite. We are merely two people out of many people that survived a vicious attack upon our planet. We were lucky and nothing more. We’ve actually done very little. In fact, since it was really you that killed Enlil, I can’t even take credit for that. You’ve accomplished far more than we did. No disrespect, but your assertions are unfounded.”
Enki gave a warm smile. “Your people have a saying that I am fond of, ‘you are too close to the forest to see the trees.’ You must trust that I have knowledge which has not yet been made available to you. Your hesitancy to believe is understandable, but I can assure you, you will not have to wait long to see things unfold.”
Without a moment being lost, Enki added, “And you, Lady Ashlyn, are the sword. Your path from Lord Steven will soon separate.”
Enki’s words were ominous, unsettling. Ashlyn moved closer to Steven, her grasp upon his hand tightening.
Enki continued, “It is you who will unite the people of Tiamat, of Earth. It is you that will bring order from the chaos, and it is you that will provide guidance to the survivors. As ruler of Tiamat, you will make many hard decisions, and you will wield the power of the sword with a heavy hand. Worlds will die. You will travel into the darkness to find the light within you. You will be tested beyond what you believe you can bear, and your sacrifices will be great. And like Lord Steven, your life will become legendary.”
“I won’t leave Steven’s side. Ever!” A quiver stilted Ashlyn’s voice.
“You will. You must—or none of this will have ever happened. The Earth that you knew will never have been,” said Enki.
“How is it that you know so much about us?” asked Steven. “It’s as though you’ve witnessed it all.”
“Some of it, I have. But only now are the pieces starting to make sense to me. Your abilities do more than give confirmation to the legends. I guess you could say—I am beginning to see the trees within the forest. But I can say no more,” said Enki. “It is too dangerous.”
Ashlyn wiped away tears from her eyes.
Steven’s chest heaved through a heavy sigh. “Lord Enki, how much time do Ashlyn and I have together before this happens? Can you tell me that?”
“Two days. I wish it were more. But even as we speak, a jump-gate is being programmed for you. Upon completion of our discussion here, the Keeper will give you further instructions and guidance. You have much to learn and prepare for,” said Enki.
“Programmed? I take it we aren’t going to Heaven?” said Steven.
Enki shook his head. “You are going home. The gate is being programmed to take you back to the Earth of almost seven-thousand years ago—to a time before you were born.”
As the image of Lord Enki dissipated from before them, Ashlyn collapsed into Steven’s waiting arms. “I’m scared, Steven. I’m scared of what’s going to happen to us.”
“Me too. But if I have any choice in this, I promise that I won’t let it happen.” He fell back on the bed, pulling Ashlyn with him. Ash cuddled up to his side and laid her head atop his bare chest. After a moment of silence, Steven added, “No matter what happens, even if we do get separated—we’ll be together again. I swear it.”
said the Keeper over the ship’s com system.
“Not now, Keeper,” said Steven. The anxiety and frustration in Steven’s voice was clearly evident. He wanted time alone with Ashlyn, as much to comfort her as to be comforted. He wanted to hold her in silence.
“I am sorry, but per my instructions, it cannot wait.”
“Instructions from Enki?” asked Steven.
“No. The message waiting is from you, Lord Steven. You gave it to me almost seven-thousand years ago—and told me to deliver it to you at this precise moment in time.”
“Dammit, Keeper,” said Steven, more to himself than anyone.
“And then the guillotine fell,” said Ashlyn, rolling away from Steven so he could sit up.
Swallowing, amidst a heavy breath of anxiety, he asked, “What do you mean it was sent by me seven-thousand years ago? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I believe the message itself will answer your question.”
Without hesitation, a holo message of Steven with Ashlyn standing at his side, appeared before them. “Hello,” said the hologram of Steven.
“Cocky little shit. Like he expects me to answer him back,” said Steven leaning forward at the end of the bed.
“Cocky little shit. Like he expects me to answer him back,” parroted the Steven in the holo, following it with a broad smile. “Yes, I remember speaking those words. Like we’ve both said many times before—time paradoxes are a damned nasty thing to try and figure out.” The holo Steven gave a grin. “Believe me, I understand the frustration. At the Keeper’s request, I’m standing here recording a message to be given to my past self, and I still have no clue as to how all this damned stuff works. It’s all just theories at this point. I’d sooner get an answer to which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
“I wonder?” Steven slipped his hand inside Ashlyn’s loose, silk robe and grabbed her bare breast, squeezing it hard.
“Ouch,” Ashlyn screamed. “You pinched me.”
Right on cue, the holo Steven blurted through a wide grin, “That makes us even for when you bit me last night. Remember, Ash?”
“I’ll be damned,” said Steven. “What I did just now, changed the future for him. I could have fun with this.”
“You’re right, you
a cocky little shit,” said Ashlyn, jabbing Steven hard in the ribs with her elbow. “And I didn’t bite you that hard.”
“Says you,” the two Stevens said simultaneously.
The holo Steven smiled as if he had been listening to them speak. “If you look outside, you’ll see that the Keeper has already altered course for the gate. Like Enki told you, the two of you are on your way home.”
The eyes of Steven and Ashlyn turned outward to see that Destiny was beginning to turn away from the nebula and that she was increasing power to the main thrusters.
Ashlyn interjected, “Steven, bear with me a moment. I’m trying to follow this, but it doesn’t add up properly. He records a message. We watch the message. And because we watched it, he’s now responding to our physical and spoken reactions to it. Our responses are changing history for him.
“But isn’t it different for us? We won’t have a need to record the message like he did—ever. His past is different from our future. They’ve split. How is that possible?”
“I can’t fault your logic of the known facts, and yeah it’s damned confusing. It’s like a puzzle with a key piece missing,” said Steven.
Holo Steven chimed in, answering her question, “You’re correct, Ashlyn, that does seem to be the case. It appears that your actions are changing my past. I see no other explanation for why I’ve got memories of having spoken in the third person vernacular.” Giving a small chuckle, “Quite honestly, you’re giving me one hell of a headache.
“As you said, it implies that our futures are split along a different path. The thing is—I believe that too is an incorrect assumption. It does feel as if there is a missing piece to the puzzle. The human mind has a hard time comprehending concepts that it cannot quantify. And time is perhaps the most difficult concept of all.
“One of the few things I am sure of, is that everything Enki shared with you is correct. In two days, each of you will be at war for the survival of mankind. The picture is much, much bigger than you can possibly imagine. Once the Keeper has downloaded the knowledge of the upcoming events to you, you’ll understand what must be done and why your paths must separate.”
The Ashlyn in the holo then spoke, “It’s true. All of it. I will soon be heading to Earth. I have my own destiny to fulfill. I do not know if my path with Steven will cross again. Like you, those answers still lay in the future for us.”
Steven took the hand of the holo Ashlyn who stood at his side. “But we will do all we can to make it happen—or we will die trying.”
“Steven?” asked Ashlyn, turning to face him on the bed. “Are there two sets of us? One who exists now, and one who is a few thousand years ahead of us? If so, why are we needed? Why are we going back in time at all?”
Steven shook his head. It was all too much to fathom.
The Steven in the holo responded, “Good questions, Ash. Very good. I asked that question too, when the Keeper requested we make this recording.”
“The Keeper told us that it was to test a theory. He said that in a life or death crisis, even small nuanced bits of information can make a difference. For example, we’ve learned from Enki’s manipulation of time, that time is fluid like a river. Its direction can be changed and altered—yet, I believe, it remains one river.
“If so, then we have an amazing, even godlike opportunity. We can change the course of the future for everyone, everywhere—forever. Ask yourself, what if Enlil hadn’t destroyed Earth? What if you could stop him before he killed the billions of Earth’s people? In its simplest form, since we have access to time travel, it seems like an easy solution to fix a major problem—but then comes the morality of making such a decision.
“Ask yourself—would you sacrifice your own children to save Earth? Would you kill a thousand people, a million? Would you destroy a world with billions of men, woman, and children to save your own world? Enlil will not be easy to kill, and it is likely that many lives would be lost. At some point, we must ask ourselves—when does the cost become too high?
“They are tough questions, but after receiving the information from the Keeper, it is now obvious to us, that we must be prepared to act upon any such opportunity. We’ve also not forgotten Enki’s words that our sacrifices would be great.”
“They are hard words to forget.” Ashlyn’s anxiety was evident.
Seeing her concern, Steven in the holo spoke. “We too are concerned, but I am also heartened by the divergence of our futures. However small the changes, it proves that we are not ruled by fate. We have free will over each decision. The fate of Earth is in our hands.
“In fact, you have a unique perspective. One which, we may not have access to. It’s theoretically possible that you may be able to learn from our mistakes. Only you can see the results of our successes or failures. I suspect the Keeper will make adjustments as necessary to the information he can safely provide to you.
“Freewill puts you in charge of your own destiny. This is your chance to make the universe into what you want it to be.”
Steven looked at Ashlyn as he contemplated yet one more test.
“Don’t you dare squeeze my breast again. Once was enough to confirm his hypothesis,” said Ash, folding her arms over her breasts protectively.
Steven gave her a smirk. “It was worth a try. He’s right though. Changes we make to the timeline can change the entire course of the river,” said Steven. “We could fix everything.”
Ashlyn in the holo message interjected, “Admittedly, when I first heard all this, I didn’t know why this was our fight. I thought about running, turning my back on the whole thing and leaving this all behind.
“But I was reminded of our own words of support to Enki—that doing the right thing often comes at a price that is not easy to pay. And now that I know what’s at stake, I believe whole heartedly in what we are doing.
“As a last bit of advice, spend what time you can together. Each moment is precious.”
Holo Steven then said his goodbye, “The two of you will soon realize that it is pointless to grieve over who you were, for it will only get in the way of who you must become.” With a last comforting grin, their holo faded.
Steven and Ashlyn somberly looked at the vacated spot where the holo had been, in silence. They were at a loss for words. Apparently, the two of them were going to willingly separate, just as Enki had said they would. Their destiny, while fluid, seemed written in stone, their future together, uncertain.