Freyja glared daggers at her daughter. “You’re so ungrateful. All I’ve ever done for you. All I ever will do for you.”
“Like kidnap me?”
“Kidnap you!? I am your mother! All I did was bring you home!”
“My home is here,” Tilly shot back. “You took me from my home.”
“And I’ll never let you do it again,” Jamal told her.
“Ok,” I said, stepping in before it got out of hand. “I think we all need to settle down. This isn’t helping anybody. Kink, just give me back the horn, then you and Freyja can…”
“No,” Tilly interrupted. “You don’t get the horn.”
“No? Then who does?”
“No one. We destroy it.”
“Destroy it?” her mother laughed. “All that power and you’re just going to throw it all away?”
“Better than giving it to you!”
Freyja nodded. “Fair enough, but think of all the good you could do with ti. Look at all the good your friend has already done. He’s brought a man back to life and reunited a family. He returned your father to his natural state. How many other people could you save? How many other people could you help? Think about it. You could cure diseases.”
“You could cure diseases,” Tilly returned. “You wouldn’t even need the horn. You’ve already immunized me from them.”
“Ah, but that would be meddling with time.”
“Like that’s ever stopped you before.”
“Would you like to travel back to the middle ages and cure the Black Death? Your current level of medical technology will suffice. Would you like to go back and stop the Spanish Flu?”
“No, ‘mom’. I’m not the one who wants to fiddle with reality. I think we should leave everything how it was.”
“Child, your very birth was a ‘fiddling of reality’. If I were to follow your rules, I would never have traveled in time and met your father. You would never have been conceived. Do you want me to undo that? Make it so I never met your father, so that you were never born, is that what you want?”
“Stop it, Freyja,” Jamal said. “You know what she wants. She wants you to leave.”
“I’ll leave as soon as the time pirate give me the horn.”
“You’re not getting it from me!” Kink said before vanishing.
“Where’d she go?” David asked.
“Don’t you mean when?” Doc corrected.
“Where? When? It doesn’t matter!” Freyja said. “There’s nothing she can do to escape me!” Then she suddenly vanished into the aether in pursuit of Kink.
“Oh, god,” Doc said. I could see the horror in her eyes as she realized what had just happened and what was going to be happening. “What do we do now? They’re going to be waging war across time and we don’t have the ability to go after them!”
“Worse than that,” I said. “They’ve got the horn. And no matter who ends up with it, they’re going to ruin history!”
“And that’s why I’m here,” Lu Wu said as he came into being. “As the gatekeeper of this reality, it is my responsibility to protect it.”
“Lu!” I exclaimed. “How’d you get here?”
“With the amount of magical energy the horn was giving off, I could find it anywhere.”
“As long as I remain the gatekeeper, I can follow the horn no matter the time, place, reality or dimension.”
“But they’re already gone,” Tilly said. “If you could travel through time, why’d you miss them?”
“All I do is follow a trail. Perhaps that is not as accurate as you’re used to, but it is the best that I can do. If you have anything better, then please use that.”
“We don’t,” I admitted. “So we appreciate your help, Lu, but I’m just curious, where’s the Sharkwoman?”
“The Sharkwoman? You know, Shayu.”
“Shayu?” he stuttered. “How do…but you…that’s not…” He let an angry sigh. “I hate altered reality. It’s so frustrating having to deal with two separate timelines in my head. They’re just sitting there on top of each. It can get confusing. All right. Maybe this can help explain everything. As the timeline currently stands, General Zlodeyskiy never came to power so we never had to band together to fight him. And since we never fought him, I never had to take you to the other dimension, which means that you never met up with Shayu and she never came back to our dimension with you in pursuit of Maqesh.”
“But that should mean we never took the horn from the Tarrgair Beast.”
“Yeah, it doesn’t work like that. The horn doesn’t affect itself, at least not inadvertently. The horn-holder isn’t going to accidentally wish themselves out of control of the horn. The only way we’re going to be able to retrieve the horn is by going out there and getting it.”
“All right,” I conceded, “then I guess we better go out there and get it.”
“I think I should stay here,” David said. “This does not seem…like my thing. I don’t…”
“You’re not coming, Dad,” Doc reassured him. She then turned to me. “Should I boot up ALAN?”
“No,” Lu said, quickly “Getting more people is not a good idea. There’s already too many of you.”
“Oh,” Doc said, trying to hide her disappointment. “I guess I can stay here.” I can’t say I wasn’t relieved to hear that, though. I didn’t want to put her in more danger than necessary. I just brought her father back, I didn’t want to have to worry about losing her next.
“I’m going,” Tilly said. “She’s my mother.”
“You’re not going without me,” Jamal added.
“Then the four of us it will be,” Lu said. “No more time to waste, prepare for the transition. It is not always pleasant.” Lu began to chant and his hands began to glow. “The chase begins,” he said and we disappeared in a flash of light.
to be continued…