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With much pomp and circumstance, the three hundred thousand who had come to Giza gathered before the Sphinx and awaited the dawn. John had installed a sound amplification system to allow all to hear Isis as she spoke. All had seen the stars of the constellation Orion. Isis didn't call the constellation Orion; she had another name for it. John would use some of the sun's energy to sling his Box back into the future. Isis told the locals and the Amazons that John and the children were going to ride the sun to the stars.


Free food and drink was available to all as Isis wanted to ensure that all would find this a joyous occasion. John was even happier. He was going to be free again. He had promised to return to Isis, but with a time machine at your disposal, that could be any time.


John fully realized the implications of leaving Isis on earth in the past, while he and Jim had been acting so as to try to prevent her invasion in the future. Still Isis would know nothing about the great flood. Perhaps she was thinking that she had succeeded already in conquering earth and the future had necessarily already changed. Isis did not understand the mathematics of the space-time continuum, whereas Jim did. She had taken advantage of technology of which she did not have a complete understanding and had used it to establish herself empress of earth. She could envision no enemy strong enough to end her civilization, yet it would truly take a miracle to survive a complete cataclysm if such ever did really occur, but so far, Jim and Idiot had been batting 1.000. John resolved that he would drop the children off in Artemis and then he needed to have a chat with Jim in 1996.


Reflecting on these things, he watched this most impressive of ceremonies and was amazed at the remarkable show that Isis was capable of putting on. She certainly had a way with dazzling the audience. All the Amazons were very scantily and provocatively dressed. Rhythmic music was provided and all sorts of revelry was going on. The crowd had arrived the previous day and many had been up all night. Sleeping was forbidden during the Ceremony of the departure and all were advised so. A drug was given to any caught sleeping so that they would not fall back asleep. These same individuals would be given ninety days-forced labor at a later date for having committed this grievous error. It didn't take much incentive to keep the humans awake for the ceremony.

The proud Initiates who were to be part of the procession would actually enter the pyramids. An even more privileged few would be assigned to guard the interior chambers until the ceremony was over.


The night before departure John played a game with the children so they would not be afraid of becoming "entombed". Their mother told them a story about what they would do tomorrow. She then gave her daughter her prize necklace, which she had ever since being a child. John would then play with the children moving them around from box to box using his Box.. The children found the game highly amusing as they made a game out of guessing which box their sibling would leave. They themselves would be somewhat disorientated when they went in facing north and would come out facing north without ever turning around. They would of course leave from a different box than the one that they had entered.


The Pegasus floated overhead as the bottom of the ship lit up as a massive video screen. The locals were amazed that the image of Helen was displayed for them all to see magnified many times on the bottom of the spherical ship. The positioning of the great Pegasus was far enough away so that all of the spectators could see what the cameras would show them. Since the surface of the Pegasus was especially designed to absorb and emit light, the use of it as a giant video screen did not require too much effort on John's part. Every now and then, the camera would focus on a member of the crowd. The crowd would express massive approval.


Never again in earth's history would another spectacle of such occur. Yet the reason for the departure was still to avoid paradox and any calamity that may erupt. John knew full well that seeds for future paradox were still dormant as long as these future beings were tampering with the past. She still had the Pegasus, and that was most definitely out of time technology. Someone would have to retrieve the Pegasus and perhaps Isis as well. This would be Jim's task. John left a time marker so that Jim's Idiot would be able to do precise temporal jumps in earth's history. He laughed when he realized that Jim would have to steal Pegasus again and perhaps take her into the future. He pondered the possibilities.


Helen, the high priestess of Isis, because of Jim's child, would make the announcement to obtain the attention of the masses. She proceeded first out of the Sphinx as dawn broke it's early light. Her image appeared on the overhead displays.

Greetings to thee, as we celebrate the day when the children of Isis accompanied by their father will return to the stars and continue to rule. They shall sail over the sky into the celestial waters from which we Amazons came. They shall sail swifter than shadows to fulfill their destiny. The she-child of Isis shall return to rule as queen of the universe of her time. As the sun goes across the sky we shall send each of the three into their special chamber. They shall enter this chamber and leave by the secret way to the stars.


Helen then spoke and the video showed a display of the night sky that they had just recently observed, as the Pegasus simulated the rising sun going across the sky. With a little bit of special effect, a simulation was run to show three beams of light emanating from the three pyramids and projecting itself to the stars. The screen showed a very spectacular demonstration of a particle moving through space very rapidly then to find itself on Xanadu. Recorded images of Xanadu were displayed as the Amazons watched a moving display of life on their homeworld. The great palace of Isis was displayed with footage of her seated on her great throne alongside Jim. The Pegasus would reinforce the grandeur of the Venetian Empire by displaying very impressive live fireworks as well.


After an appropriate warm-up, John, Isis, and the children emerged from the Sphinx. The way to the pyramids was lined with guards. Isis would accompany each to the chamber and signal for the sealing of the sarcophagus after it had been occupied. With the coming of dusk, just before the sun had set, but at a time when the stars would be visible, all of the sarcophagi would be simultaneously opened to reveal that they were empty. All could not believe such was possible. After the ceremony, the pyramids would be available for public scrutiny so that all could try to understand how this feat was accomplished. John would leave behind the body weight as gold dust. The gold dust would be retrieved and delivered to Isis. In addition, there would be a camera situated on site within each chamber to bear witness that the sarcophagus had never been opened once Isis had sealed it shut. The use of multiple screens on the surface of the Pegasus would provide a continuous view of the inner chamber until they were ordered open at dusk.


Isis had never looked more attractive than she did on this day. She had the atmosphere sprayed with a minute non-lethal concentration of ambrosia, so as to intoxicate the masses with her charm. John himself was already under the effects of ambrosia, because of her private farewell just recently conducted. Little Isis was bedecked in a very light white gown and she was wearing her necklace. John carried his Box with him in the form of a staff, which he could always unfold with amazing speed. To touch his staff would mean death for any human or Amazon. John wouldn't let Isis near it, and Isis ensured that any one else who would try would die. Yet John was wearing the strangest of all outfits. He was dressed casually as the royal consort of Aphrodite, and was wearing her colors.


All being appropriately dressed, the great ceremony proceeded as the day went on. It was time consuming due to all the walking that the procession had to undertake. The timing had been carefully planned. By the time that Isis had returned to the base of the Sphinx, dusk was approaching. By the time that the chambers would be opened, the trio would be many light years distant. A synthetic light show was triggered to show a spectacular laser show at the opening, but these lasers had nothing to do with John's way to the stars.


During the entire procession music played and many hymns were sung. At least half gave praise to the queen for all the benefits that she had bestowed upon them. Food and ale being plentiful, many indeed had very favorable impressions of Isis. The ambrosia laced atmosphere made men eager to die for her. She smiled graciously all day as she touched the endless masses while she walked amongst them in her procession.


"Oh Shining One....Oh great king and queen, you will sail the stars for ever and rule. Make your way back to rule in Orion. We celebrate our role as children of the star warriors. We rejoice at the rising of these children as the stars accept them into their company. The children will join their father in the great solar boat as she sails across the sky. From there he will defeat the eternal night and carry her children safely to the other Land."


Helen narrated all day, giving an accounting of what was about to occur. Isis had reviewed and pre-approved all the script that was to be used during that day. As the sun passed overhead, the procession would work its way around the plateau from pyramid to pyramid.


After John was entombed, Isis referred him to as a great king.. Helen would then provide a somewhat misleading version of where the children and John were headed. With John gone, no one would question her will. She also still had the Pegasus. As she entered the second pyramid it tore at her greatly as she comforted her daughter as she lay down inside the box. This would be the last time she thought she would ever see her children.


Isis did not care much for Helen's son. She wanted another Amazon male other than him to father her future children. For the time being she would let him crossbreed with the humans. He worked quite well with Amazon-human females. She was certain that either John or Jim would be back for her.


As the cover was placed on her daughter's chamber, she felt his presence. John was invisible and next to her. She remembered feeling the same way on the Flying Dutchman when Helen came through the portal. She knew she had felt Jim. The Box could not fully shield their presence from her. She paused for a few moments and felt the movement inside the sealed chamber. Then she felt the presence ascend up the shaft out of the pyramid. The chamber felt empty. She quietly remembered that she always knew which box the child was in during the games of the night before. This fact she kept hidden from John. Being certain that there was nothing but a pile of gold in the sarcophagus now, she comforted her son, as she led him to the next pyramid.

She whispered to little Jim, "She's already gone for a ride with daddy in his Box.. You're next."


The little boy smiled with glee. He had been promised an extremely fun ride.. Upon entering the third pyramid, Isis could feel a large and a small familiar presence. She could feel them both. No one else seemed to notice anything unusual and they were all looking for a clue to the great mystery. She helped the little boy into the box, and watched and felt as the lid was sealed. No sooner had the lid cut out the last of the light when she sensed the large presence enter the chamber. She then felt the three at her side for a moment before their presence folded up into nothing. She felt the hiss of John's Box as the unit propelled itself into the far future.


John rematerialized in the queen's chamber on Artemis. He awaited Aphrodite as she would return from court. She would have been quite upset with him concerning his sudden disappearance. These two children would certainly catch her better side. If Jim was correct, he would have a chance to get away again. He folded his staff into a more conventional symbol of Venetian authority.


When Aphrodite returned to her chamber, her eyes went wide with expressed relief and anger. As she approached John, she saw the children.


"I have brought our children back from the past where they were entrapped by the future course of events. These two children will preserve the life of our empire. Guard them well, and treat them as your own, because they are royal blood."

Aphrodite being somewhat confused, but also wise, immediately took the children to her bosom. They both asked her if she was their mommy, because she looked just like her. John wondered as well, and noticed the similarity. He was afraid to speculate, but was grateful that the twins thought that it was the same mother. They had no difficulty adjusting to their new environment. John walked by his laboratory where he had invented the Box.


Currently carrying the new and improved version he remorsefully looked at his lovely Aphrodite and was sad that he could see her no more. Perhaps he could arrange something, because he loved her deeply. Their quarrel concerning earth's conquest placed an awful rift between them.


Before he left, he allowed Aphrodite to Yoni him. She conceived twins.


This caught John completely by surprise. He was not aware that Jim and Isis had a brother and sister. Would the instabilities never cease?


Jim never told him what happened to Aphrodite. Why was little Isis already queen after only forty years? Yet Isis on old earth needed a true-blooded Amazon male, and Jim needed a true-blooded Amazon female. He sought for a way to play the significance of these unknown children who were to be born. Perhaps these new twins were to be Jim and Isis after all. Certainly the upcoming newborns would inherit the empire.


John had a crisis trying to determine what to believe, but then he thought why not. This was his present, and Aphrodite's children were his future. To keep her children, Aphrodite would have to give up the empire to little Isis. Yet little Isis was an enigma.


To compound his problems, Aphrodite was about to demand an explanation. She motioned the captain of the guard to conduct the children out of the queen's private chambers.


"I can see full well that they are royal blood as the full court can see. Yet only after you showed up with these children do you impregnate me. You claim these children are also full blooded. If you are the father, who is the mother? She's not me, but apparently she is closely related. Who is she? None of my sister's can lay claim to such children."


Aphrodite deserved an explanation, and John didn't know what to say. She insisted that John return the children to the mother, whoever she was. She would not take the children.


"We have known for generations from the genotomes about these children from the past. Now John, my love, now that you have impregnated me, you must take them back in time to their mother. Jim and Isis are our children to be. These are not ours but belong to her. You must reunite them with their mother. Incidentally, our genetic tests show that you're not the father of these children."


John was confounded once again. History would show that he abandoned Aphrodite, but he was being sent away to further involvement in this paradox he was envisioning. So Jim and Isis were indeed the children of Aphrodite and himself. Isis would get her children back, and she could rule again. Jim would be free to do as he pleased. The children could maintain the bloodline. John felt trapped. He wanted to know how much Aphrodite knew.


She smiled at him. "My secrets for yours." She would prove to be hard bargaining.


"Very well, sweetheart," he responded, "you ask me to take these children back and you know they are from the past. What else do you know, and what suggestions do you have?"


"My spies tell me that these children have been sent from the past to assume my empire. I could scarcely believe such treachery could occur. Traders from ancient times had a legend of an ancient empire on earth, which reportedly had sent some children into the future to rule a great empire. I would have thought nothing of it, but Xanadu was mentioned. Now you show up with children, Amazon royal children at that. Were I not to have seduced you for my children, I would have found myself required to accept these twins as my heirs. Your reappearance has changed the need for these twins now, John."


John felt relieved. There was no treachery, only misunderstanding. She was correct, these twins from the past did not belong in this time.


"What are you going to tell the court about those twins. All Artemis knows already about them."


"Let me worry about what I tell my people."


"Suppose I tell you that these twins are your grandchildren? What would you say then?"


"How can they be my grandchildren, if my own children have just recently been conceived?"


John looked at her but said nothing and shrugged. He had a desire to go back in the future to find out what he decided, but he knew that his decision had to be independent of any such knowledge. He could imagine a way to swap off the twins without Xanadu realizing. This would require some more split second high energy maneuvering. He excused himself for a minute to consult with the Box's memory files concerning Aphrodite.


To his delight, Idiot had indeed transferred the needed information. Aphrodite supposedly disappeared the day after the twins arrived within hours after John disappeared. She reappeared again a few days later with no explanation formally given. The entire affair had been shrouded in secrecy, and not much information had been made available. Aphrodite would disappear again many years later under equally mysterious circumstances, at which time, Isis would assume the throne. John sensed an upcoming compromise with his queen. Apparently, he would be forced to extend her the courtesy of being his companion for his future journeys.


"How would you like to be my companion in time travel?" he asked her.



Chapter Forty-Two

The Departure

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