The Queen of Pentacles
The Veil of Isis
The first night found the troop forty leagues from Colchis. In the morning the Argonauts would be entering the temple to be sacrificed or obtain the fleece. The first night found Qblh and Persephone making love. Persephone also now knew who Theseus was, and insisted on a bout within the Pleasure Dome. Jim complied and the couple found themselves in Artemis within Persephone's nested Dome chamber.
Embroiled in love, Qblh and Persephone were soon disturbed by Gemini as they were extended invitations to the throne room.
Jim was a little uncertain as to how to react, but it definitely seemed appropriate to buy more time. Without hesitating, he commanded the Idiot to return him to ancient Earth. He knew he would have to return to the Dome to accept the summons to the throne room. He took Persephone as well.
"My queen wil be enraged that you ignored her summons, my lord Qblh."
"They will never know we left, my dear Persephone, because I must return us both to exactly where and when we left from."
"You may be wrong my lord, and what am I to say if she ever finds out? She always does."
"Simply that I abducted you. We must leave Castor and Pollux and go our own way though. I must find out why we are being summoned to the throne. It is quite unexpected."
Jim suspected the reason, and Idiot confirmed his suspicions. "There is a portal guarding the fleece, Jim. The Argonauts are to be transferred to Artemis for sacrifice. It is a trap, and evidently Isis expects you to be the guest of honor."
"And we need to close the portal."
"Suppose we assume both ends at the time the portal is activated. We can destroy the portal as we simultaneously conduct reverse passage, sort of burning the bridge from both ends.. The portal will have appear not to work as it folds behind us."
"Isis may be going for the ride if she enters with you, Jim. What then?"
"This may create a problem if she does so. We may need to prepare a stasis field to contain us and reject her thoroughfare. We can do this by creating an imaginary time field which will provide 'imaginary experience' to absorb her experienced time. We can maipulate a separation and return her through the Artemis gate in zero local time."
"I understand, Jim. I can create an imaginary space-time interval in between the gates to allow such manipulation."
"Yes, a sort of dream world, where events can be acted out with zero elapsed local time. "
"I envision that you will be on a date with Isis and Persephone then. How do you intend on handling them both within that imaginary space?"
"Perhaps we can prevent Persephone's displacement."
"That may very well work, Idiot. In this case , only I pass completely through both portals."
"Exactly, Jim, the portal is triggered to activate upon your presence, and Isis intends on meeting you when you trigger it. There is no avoidance of this. There seems to be no doubt that she intends to enter the portal with you. With you under her influence and in Earth past, she can reclaim control of Earth past and continue her influence."
" Medea suspects that I may be Jason, so she is leading him to the trap. I'll hand Isis her fleece once the portal is deactivated. There unfortunately will be no Argonauts to sacrifice. I'll give Jason a facsimile. Can you effectively support these objectives?"
"Have routines programmed. Affirmative, Jim."
"Excellent, Idiot. I assume we must join the Argonauts then?"
"Negative, Jim. I suggest we survey the fleece immediately and determine a strategy for appropriation. Invisibility mode is suggested as you previously suggested."
"Yes, I remember. Give me a few moments before displacement."
Turning to Persephone he smiled. She was really quite awestruck with the numerous changes of scenery.
"It's like a dream. Tell me, my Qblh, am I dreaming, or is this real?"
"What do you remeber, my dear?"
"I remeber the future, it seems. I remember coming back to Artemis on the Pegasus and being sent to the Pleasure Dome. Yet it seems that I leave the Pleasure Dome and find myself on the Pegasus, and here we are. This is the end of my life, my Qblh. I know my future, and I have no future when we step through the portal of the fleece. What dilemna is this that you have created for me? I am to live this loop for ever, yet it shall be such a wonderful loop, because I shall spend eternity with you, by doing so. I shall be quite happy, because I know that I will soon be your bride. Let us enjoy our romance once again, because I love the episode more each time I live it. It seems like an eternity. I love you so, my Qblh. Thank you for this precious gift of eternal life. Don't look so shocked. Yet my mistress Isis will desire me to stay in her presence as well. How am I to live in her world and yours as well?"
Jim was shocked. Evidently, he had placed Persephone in a near paradoxical time loop. The navigational route had demanded it, and Jim was somewhat uncertain as to what effect it would have on Persephone's psyche. Evidently, the effect was somewhat profound. Eternal life! She had mentioned it as a matter of fact and accepted it quite well. If she was in a time loop, then so was he. Yet he didn't seem to have that same deja vu feeling, or perhaps he did, and by now was quite numb to it. His pretzel logic pefectly understood the nature of this time twist and giving it some thought, he immediately discovered the solution. Eternal life was something he didn't quite understand as well as Persephone. She knew something that he didn't and he wondered why. His concern for Persephone's adaptability diminished somewhat as he considered how he was going to entertain his new companion.
It did make some sense somewhat. Persephone was never to pass completely through the portal but would remain Earthbound a while longer as his companion until he returned her tio the Pleasure Dome to continue their lives on Artemis. Idiot would interrupt her entry into the portal and return her to the Pegasus at that point, Yet Persephone Earthbound would go on living a while longer before she and Isis would experience the aborted portal activation. Jim felt a slight headache as he considered the ramifications. The solution would be more comprehensible as he experienced the upcoming situations. Still he had a little self-doubt and checked with Idiot.
"Are we on course?"
Idiot responded complacently. "On course, awaiting new instructions. Power reserve is at maximum potential."
Perhaps Idiot did not perceive the problem with Persephone. Jim speculated the possibility of Genie being in error because of ignorance. Perhaps to avoid furthering paradoxical complications, Idiot was prevented from mentioning the subject. Jim assumed the latter to be true. If the latter were true, then Idiot could assert that it had not made an error due to the higher priority of avoiding paradox.
Jim was approaching a time ripple. The destruction of this portal had left some major time quakes. Certainly reality would be somewhat nightmarish for the Argonauts as they approached the portal and the time of its destruction.
"Do you know the way to the temple of Artemis, my dear Persephone?"
"Of course I do. I too am a high priestess and have served several terms there. I am to bring you my Qblh to Isis for this sacrifice. Isis shall grant me a wonderful reward for bringing you to her. Shall we join the Argonauts. I shall be your escort. She gave him another kiss remeinding him that he was under the influence of her ambrosia."
Jim felt a shudder. He had been trapped, or had he? It did not matter. The best way to tame this dragon would be to confront it willingly face to face while the Box was "loaded". Jim considered the possibility that his own effort may be the source of this particular set of time disturbances. This could only mean that the portal would soon be destroyed. Time quakes could easily create time loops. Jim and Persephone would not be stuck in the loop as she believed. Once the portal was destroyed Persephone and Isis would both realize that their effort had failed and their lives would continue in a normal fashion on Artemis. Jim could not assign any treachery to Persephone. She felt she was just simply acting out a wonderful recurring dream. Why should he destroy the illusion, if it could be considered illusion?
Jim seemed to be entering a form of dual existence. He willingly found himself joining the rest of the Argonauts with Persephone as his hostess as they ascended the mountain which led to the temple and the portal. Part of him seemd to be experiencing an act which he would play countless times with Persephone. His conscious mind was concerned with his plan to destroy the portal without leaving a mess.
Helen would continue on without Jim, and he would be unable to join her anytime soon. Persephone was a perfect lover, and Jim could not have found a more enchanting captor. She could make no mention of her knowledge that he was Qblh. Jim had expressly forbid her to reveal that information to anyone. He offered to explain to her in scientific detail the need to keep the subject quiet in order to avoid paradoxes, but she declined his explanation. "I believe you, my lord, and I shall keep the secret as you ask, I promise." All Amazons were bound by oath to Isis to honor the commands of their lord Qblh. If her queen did not like what Qblh had commanded to one of her subjects, she would not punish the subject, but deal with Qblh instead. Persephone was still be faithful to her queen by taking Qblh to the portal guarding the fleece as she had been commanded.
The Golden Fleece
As the morning dawned, Persephone led Theseus up the steep incline that led to the temple of Artemis. Jim recognized the terrain as the site of Venetia's base camp. Apparently one of the origial portals had been successfully maintained. This was the location at which Isis had first landed on Earth, approximately 9,000 years ago. Not far ahead was the procession with the Argonauts. Persephone had managed to considerably outpace the human men, and had timed their arrival to the temple to be coincidental with the arrival time of Medea and her crew. Theseus smiled; he was starting to feel quite at home.
A ceremony was in order and Medea chose to have Jason as her champion who would run the gauntlet inside the temple and retrieve the fleece. "Take your champions with you, Jason. Within that cave find the fleece, but in order to do so, you will have to overcome the dragon within."
"That old dragon of fear and illusion," Jim thought. "Two can play at this game," he mumbled to himself. "Get ready for some fun, Genie."
To Jason, Medea offered a drink laced with an anti-hypnotic. This would nullify the hypnotic special effects within the temple. The rest of the Argonauts would be subject to the manifold of subliminal suggestion and illusions that lay within the manifold.
Outside the cave, lay a brothel where the group congregated in order to give courage to the heroes. Each man wanted to enjoy his Amazon now to the fullest, but to each man the answer was the same.
"I am yours when you have won the fleece."
Medea smiled at Persephone as she offered Theseus a drink of an ambrosia laced hypnotic. The men were then blindfolded stripped, chained and escorted into the temple via a secret set of tunnels. Idiot morphed and merged itself with Persephone's jewelery still maintaining an audio-video link with the master.. The temple was situated deep within a mountainside. In an even more secret location was the fleece. The temple and the base had by now been well established and had managed to self-subsist for many thousands of years. Inside were the huge floodgates which had managed to protect a remnant of the Amazons from the great flood.
Jim was shocked when he heard and recognized Morgana's voice. She was the supreme high priestess whom Medea called Hecate. Apparently she had survived the flood! As the blindfolds were removed, he noticed that Morgana no longer looked like Helen. She had her features restored to her maiden form. This underground site contained a huge cavern with a lush garden surrounded and energized by a virtual wall of light. In the midst of this garden was a tree containing the fabled fleece guarded by a "Veil of Isis". This task was going to be easier than Jim thought. Idiot had already performed a lobotomy on Shaltain, so it would be quite easy for the Genie to bypass the veil. It would be very easy for him to put the sentinel to sleep at his command, but this would trigger the veil and open the portal to the awaiting Isis. In order to retrieve the fleece the veil would need to be triggered.
The procession continued and Medea presented Jason the challenge of retrieving the fleece. The Argonaut's belongings were returned and they armed themselves to prepare to combat a dragon. Theseus by now regained Jason's side, and Jason was only too happy to have his friend back again.
"Fine mess we are in, Theseus. What do you know of the dragon that guards the fleece?"
"I know a lot, ask no more, and follow my lead."
With those simple words, Theseus led Jason and his hypnotized crew towards the tree as the Amazons bade them farewell. The veil and the portal were one and the same. The veil itself had an active stasis field which surrounded the power source and its artificial intelligence control system, the so-called dragon. Jason and company simply followed the tunnel which Genie created for them as they walked to the fleece. Jason retrieved the fleece, the company walked out, and the so-called dragon never awoke. Theseus grinned when he realized that the veil did not trigger the portal when the Argonauts left the field boundary. Persephone rushed in as the last man left, and the veil was triggered.