TC-F

After Israel is restored to hyz full faculties in the house of Haziel near Mt. Anshar hy is supremely angry, because hy knows Chokhmah has contrived a final end to Milcom’s scheme of setting aside a private harem of elohim females. Something has happened. Chokhmah’s new maleness cannot be ignored. There is no direct link between Thaumiel and Chokhmah’s newborn eloah named Binah, yet Binah’s link comes through his own link with Chokhmah and terminates on Barbelo, as he agreed beforehand that it may.

It is not exactly what Thaumiel expected when he made the agreement, but such hairsplitting might not be accepted by El later if the whole thing blew up. The conspiracy is already unraveling and Thaumiel does not wish to compound his crime. Thaumiel says nothing to Milcom about what has just happened. Going forward he would only tell Milcom that Chokhmah remains intransigent and refuses to mate.

The truncated sex is what angers Israel the most, and hy only refrains from burning Haziel’s house down when hy sees that har avatar is parked nearby and it is hyz only way home. Haziel gets one final dig in by debouching Israel in full view of hyz subjects in the center of hyz own city. It cannot be hidden that Lord Israel has hitched a ride in his rival’s avatar.

And though Thaumiel cannot renege on his oath to keep a fold-door open on Barbelo for Binah, he selects for the endpoint a nearly uninhabited piece of land isolated from the House of Sala to the west by Thalury, the largest body of water on Barbelo, and isolated from the House of Larund to the east by a vertical wall of rock some 19,000 feet high. Haziel goes about immediately importing colonists.

On Earth Samaria is comprised of ten tribes of Israelites named Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Ephraim, Reuben, and Simeon, each led by their own chieftain. Ostensibly worshiping Chokmah under the name El Elyon, they gradually come to accept the polytheism of their pagan neighbors, and grow steadily weaker until the king of Assyria, Sargon II, finally conquers them.

Sargon deports most of the people of those tribes and settles them far to the east in Medea, where they slowly lose their tribal identity through interbreeding with the people of that land. Some of the people of the ten tribes escape to Judah and unite themselves to the people there, who later become known as Jews. Only a remnant, which Chokhmah brings to Barbelo, retains their original identity and forms of worship. Saving this remnant of Israelites is Chokhmah’s first change to the timeline of human history made possible after begetting Binah. This act establishes Reality Two. Chokhmah does it to keep the original promise to Abram.

Of the ten tribes, Chokhmah selects only those families who reject the worship of Baal, reject the golden calves that were set up in Bethel and Dan, and also reject cult prostitutes and all other such forms of idolatry. Only those with zeal for God alone, some seven thousand persons, are permitted to colonize Barbelo. The colonists name the place where they settle Haaretz.

Back on Earth the first true king of Judah, King Hezekiah, removes every vestige of polytheism in his kingdom, including the high places that had existed under every chieftain since Rehoboam. He even destroys a bronze serpent that some said was made by Moshe himself, because it too had become an idol. In Judah, Chokhmah is known under the name of Yahweh.

Hezekiah refuses to serve the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who is the son of the Assyrian king who destroyed Samaria. Sennacherib therefore lays siege to Jerusalem and forces King Hezekiah to pay a tribute of thirty talents of gold, eight hundred talents of silver, gems, antimony, and many jewels. Also paid in tribute is carnelian, couches and chairs inlaid with ivory, elephant hides and tusks, ebony, boxwood, and other rich treasures, along with Hezekiah’s daughters, his wives, his musicians, and servants both men and women. King Sennacherib takes all of these things to Nineveh.

To prepare Jerusalem in the event of another siege, King Hezekiah constructs an aqueduct to bring fresh water into the Pool of Siloam inside the city.

After the death of Hezekiah, when Pharaoh Neco marches toward the River Euphrates to link up with the Assyrian Empire, King Josiah goes out to confront him, but he is slain on the plains of Megiddo. His son Jehoahaz succeeds him, but he reigns only three months in Jerusalem. Pharaoh Neco takes him captive at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and demands a tribute of much silver and gold. King Jehoahaz dies in captivity in Egypt, the first king of Judah to die in exile. But not the last.

Neco then appoints Eliakim, another son of Josiah, as king of Judah. Eliakim changes his name to Jehoiakim. After his defeat at the hands of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and serving as his vassal for three years, King Jehoiakim revolts against Babylon. But Johoiakim dies before the combined armies of Chaldeans, Arameans, Moabites and Ammonites can reach Jerusalem. His son Jeconiah succeeds him.

At this time Binah withdraws the Ark of the Covenant from the temple in Jerusalem, lest it fall into the hands of the Babylonians. Both Binah and Chokhmah, like anyone else with a modicum of wisdom, can easily guess that Jerusalem itself will soon come under direct attack. The prophet named Jeremiah makes great hay stating the obvious in his scrolls. The Ark is relocated to the kingdom of Nath in Haaretz.

During the reign of King Jeconiah, Nebuchadnezzar personally lays siege to Jerusalem. Jeconiah surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar and is taken captive to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar takes all the treasures of the temple of Yahweh and deports the army, the craftsmen, and all the leading citizens of Jerusalem. Only the very poor remain behind to till the land. Nebuchadnezzar appoints Mattaniah, the uncle of Jeconiah, as king and changes his name to Zedekiah.

King Zedekiah also rebels against the king of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar gets truly pissed and his whole army advances against Jerusalem to lay siege to it. King Zedekiah attempts to escape the city but he is captured and brought before Nebuchadnezzar. The sons of Zedekiah are slain before his eyes, and then Zedekiah himself is blinded, bound in chains, and taken to Babylon to live out his remaining unhappy days.

The Babylonians burn down the temple of Yahweh, the palace of the king and every house in Jerusalem. The walls of the city are also torn down and the surviving people of the city are taken into exile in Babylon. From that day forward the kingdom of Judah ceases to exist.

Nebuchadnezzar deports about fifty thousand Jews to Babylon. Only a very few of the poorest people and a handful of renegade army officers remain behind in the Judean hills, and these soon flee to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians, leaving the land entirely vacant.

At that time a man named Lael, a scion of the house of David from the tribe of Judah, goes about the countryside in Egypt claiming that he has been taken in the flesh to see the other world with his own eyes. He also says that servants of Yahweh have given him a task that he must carry out to the letter. From among the exiled remnant of the tribe of Judah, Lael is commanded to seek a man with four unmarried daughters who is willing to allow them to be trothplighted to his four unmarried sons, even though two of Lael’s sons are yet young boys.

From the tribe of Benjamin, Lael is commanded to find another two couples to match yet another four young men with intended brides. All of these couples, six from Judah and six from Benjamin, are to travel to Barbelo, as the world which Lael has seen is named, where they will grow and thrive safe from the Babylonians and the Egyptians.

This is the full tale of the exiles from the tribe of Judah chosen to journey to Barbelo. There is Lael and his wife Sariah, Zethan and his wife Atara, Elam the eldest son of Lael and his new wife Serach, Jemuel the second son of Lael, and his new wife Iscah, Rosh the third son of Lael and his betrothed Sela, and Rimon the youngest son of Lael and his betrothed Dinah.

From among the remnant of the tribe of Benjamin, Lael chooses Abner, who has four sons, and Jabez, who is willing to allow his four daughters to marry them. And so this is the full tale of the colonists from Benjamin: Abner and his wife Tabitha, Jabez and his wife Keziah, Asa the eldest son of Abner and his new wife Jemima, Josiah the second son of Abner and his new wife Keturah, Tobiah the third son of Abner and his betrothed Susannah, and Asher the youngest son of Abner and his betrothed Leah.

And it came to pass that the twenty-four colonists sojourned from Egypt to the downfallen kingdom of Judah, which is completely vacant, and every dwelling has been looted by the Babylonians and completely cleaned out by robbers from the neighboring kingdoms. The Judahite and Benjaminite colonists make their way through the charred debris littering Jerusalem and stand in the place built by Hezekiah that is called the Pool of Siloam.

Lael leads the way. He wades into the Pool and descends the underwater stairs until he is completely immersed, and he comes not again out of the water. One by one, the people following Lael overcome their fear and enter the water.

There is a sensation of a twist under the water, and they emerge from the pool again, but things have changed. Instead of an underground cavern, they are now surrounded by many trees, and the sky is violet. Men and women attend to them with dry clothing to replace their soaked rags. These people say they are from the tribe of Issachar, and there is great rejoicing, for Lael and his own people know they are all common children of Israel who have been sundered one from the other for more than a century.

The Issacharites tell the colonists that Barbelo has been home to the ten tribes for some years but now God commands that Barbelo be settled by remnants of the house of Judah and the House of Benjamin as well. In this way the covenant God made with Abraham would be fully restored, and they would never again be faced by Egyptians nor Babylonians nor Assyrians nor Philistines.

They reveal the tribe of Issachar founded the city of Nyduly in the forest known as Canterwood, which stretches along the southern bank of the river Sabik, and they are skilled in felling timber and all manner of woodcraft. But their women were the first to fall away from the exclusive worship of God, for they listened to the women of the House of Sala who seduced them to the worship of Binah, and the Issacharite women in turn enticed their men to worship Binah as well. The sacred pool of Binah in the heart of Canterwood is the location Binah herself has selected for the open portal to Earth.

As gently as possible it is revealed to Lael and his group from the southern kingdom that not all of the children of Israel in Barbelo worship God alone. For God, so they claim, has a daughter, and some, including the tribe of Issachar, worship this eloah they named Binah in addition to God. Lael listens to the words of the Issacharites, but he makes no reply to them, for such words required much consideration.

On the second day people of the tribe of Asher join them, having traveled down the vale of the river Nanki from their city of Alnitar. The men of Asher provide shields for the men among the colonists crafted from outlandish trees that grow in the south. These shields are hard enough to withstand the strokes of any axe or blade, for the trees they had been fashioned from can be cut only by fire, yet they are much lighter than comparable shields made of bronze or iron.

The Asherites reveal that they, too, have broken away from the sole worship of God and worshiped his daughter as well. This especially troubles the colonists of Judah and Benjamin, who had not thought it possible that Yahwah would accept some children of Abraham falling away from worshiping him alone. Yet their presence on Barbelo is obviously a divine miracle, and the efforts of the remnants of Samaria to help restore the fallen southern kingdom in another world cannot not be denied.

In all truth this apostasy troubles Binah, for she greatly honors her father herself, obeying him in every thing he asked. Binah never commands her Samaritan or Jewish followers to abandon Chokhmah nor his law, although in later centuries her Gentile followers are released from observing the purely ceremonial aspects of the Code of Moshe.

There are more visitors to be received before Lael’s journey can begin, and like the Issacharites and Asherites they are also considered by some of the other tribes to be heretics. On the third day men and women travel down the river from the city of Eltan, home of the tribe of Zebulun, bearing many small tools and other goods that will be useful for Lael’s group to start their colony in Haaretz.

Fish migrate from Thalury to the source of the river Nanki, and many men in Alnitar make a living catching them. The tribe of Zebulun built the city of Eltan far up the valley of the river Nanki, and it is a crossroads in the trade between Kurgan and Hamar. There caravans unload their goods to be set on rafts made from logs felled from the endless forests covering the mountains to the south. The rafts then are allowed to drift down the river to Alnitar or to Sadl, and after they were unloaded the rafts themselves are sold as raw timber. Eltan, too, has converted to the worship of Binah.

On the morning of the fourth day Lael and his group are led on a journey east until they reached the river Sabik, where they made camp. There Hadraniel the king of Hamar arrives from the city of Menkant to speak with Lael, accompanied by members of his court. King Hadraniel tells Lael that the tribe of Manneseh was, in the beginning, faithful to God alone, but that after a century and much convincing evidence they have converted to the worship of Binah like most other tribes in Hamar did.

The king says the tribe of Manessah built the city of Menkant in the valley of the upper Sabik between Mount Rasal and Mount Menkant, and it is the leading city among the five tribes in the south, which form the kingdom of Hamar. And the king has brought with him a small flock of livestock, which he orders slaughtered, and a great feast is prepared in honor of the newcomers from Judah.

On the fifth day the steadily growing group crosses the river Sabik and are come to the foot of Mount Menkant. There they are met by travelers from the tribe of Naphtali who came from the city of Wazol at the foot of the Wall of God. The Naphtalites bear gifts for Lael’s group in the form of precious stones for the women and girls to wear and also to serve as easily portable tokens of wealth to be used to purchase the things Lael will need when his colonists reach their destination.

The tribe of Naphtali built the city of Wazol at the very headwaters of the river Sabik, and the Wall of God looms over it. Wazol is a rival city to Fatho, for it is engaged in mining as well, and if ever one city tries to corner the market in one metal or another, the other city undercuts their prices. Yet the city of Wazol retains El Elyon as their only God, and looks with disdain on the heretics surrounding them who follow after Binah as well.

Then there was more fellowship and rejoicing, for since the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians the “lost” tribes in Barbelo had enjoyed no contact with their kin from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin of the former southern kingdom. All the long history of their misunderstandings and conflicts since the first division of the family seemed to be forgotten.

On the sixth day King Hadraniel and his entourage take their leave, and Lael’s group is led further west, until the Wall of God begins to loom over them. They cross the upper reaches of the river Arhena and enter the lands of the tribe of Dan in the kingdom of Nath. At length they come to the city of Fatho, where Lael and his group are given much silver and gold.

The tribe of Dan built the city of Fatho at the foot of the Wall of God, where there were many natural caves and mines dug by men, and they reap many underground treasures buried there.

Turning then north and west, Lael’s group cross a shoulder of Mount Fatho until they arrive on the evening of the seventh day at the city of Kabark, home of the tribe of Gad. The city folk bring forth the bounty of the rich farms of their land that was watered by canals leading from Lake Enkaa like the threads of a spider’s web.

The tribe of Gad built the city of Kabark on a rich plain south of the river Armak, but here also the land lacked for water. So they built a mighty work, a dam of cunning stonework upon the river, which backs up the river into a man-made lake called Enkaa. Then the tribe of Gad dug many canals and ditches from the lake toward Kabark, and using this water they have planted farms that are the envy of Haaretz.

On the eighth day Lael and his group arrive at the massive stone wall that is Enkaa Dam. From the west, people of the tribe of Reuben come forward bearing baskets of delicious fresh fruit of a kind none of the colonists from Judah have tasted before, for they are native to Barbelo.

The tribe of Reuben has built the city of Mizal at the foot of Mount Narutha, but the land about is dry and impoverished, for the mountain cast a rain shadow. And ever in years past the tribe of Reuben made war upon the Gold Beards of Linan to the north for the rich fruit of the orchards near that city. At length the new colonists prevailed and drove all of their native rivals out of Linan and extended the borders of Nath thither.

On the ninth day when Lael reaches Adjara, men of the tribe of Simeon provide pack animals for their goods, and two of these animals bear sufficient arms for twelve men. Chokhmah did not wish to leave the followers of Lael defenseless against the yeng or men they might meet in their new colony, whether they be from the House of Sala, or the House of Larund, or even their own brothers from the House of Israel.

The tribe of Simeon built the city of Adjara on the western edge of the Shaula Wood and it was a great crossroads in that land. Adjara was the center of the weapons trade that came to be important in later years. Another Temple of God was constructed nigh to this city, very much like the one in Jerusalem, and there the Ark of the Covenant was safely brought to rest within the “heavenly” Holy of Holies.

On the tenth day Lael’s group went a short distance to the west of Adjara to the site of the temple of God on Barbelo, which men of the whole House of Israel have been working on for more than a century, and it is still under construction. Yet Lael and his people weep with joy, for it was already nearly as glorious as the original temple constructed by Solomon had been, and the people traveling with Lael speak to their hosts of how Nebuchadnezzar had pulled the first temple down to ruin.

King Thausael of Hadal arrives then with his entourage from among the tribe of Ephraim. That tribe has built the city of Hadal far in the north and east of Haaretz, in a cool vale between Shaula Wood and the very face of the Wall of God. Hadal was the leading city in the kingdom of Nath.

The Ephraimites bear with them the authentic Ark of the Covenant which had been given into the keeping of Solomon at the time when he was the leading chieftain of the House of Israel. The Ark was withdrawn many years later when Chokhmah feared Judah was too weak to protect it, and lately the line of Kings in Hadal have been appointed to be the guardians of the relic.

Yet it was now God’s command that the Ark should pass into the safekeeping of Lael and his sons to preserve the commandments of God among the colonists, and also to preserve the history of all the children of Israel in Barbelo. Included within is the White Scroll with the Code of Moshe and many writings besides. And King Thausael says it is appointed for Lael and his descendants to preserve on the White Scroll the new history of his colony.

The task is given for Lael and his family to bear the Ark on two staves through rings in the corner of the artifact. And when they were not bearing the Ark Lael’s four sons set the ends of the staves through four stones given to them by King Thausael. The stones have been drilled through with holes. Every time the travelers pause, says the king, these four stones are to be set on pillars of greater stones gathered from the ground around the encampment. The king says the Ark must never touch the ground, and save for the lid the Ark must never be touched by human hands nor brushed by the hide of beasts.

Then the king commands Lael to journey alone with his twenty-four kin and followers to the west until they reach the far side of Eliath Wood, where a choice land has been prepared for him. But Lael will never be abandoned or forgotten, for the oracles of God come only through the Ark, and ever men of the House of Israel would come seeking for them.

The Army is still scouring Hanford for Robyn and Hunky. It does not occur to DECON to watch the bus stations out of the nearest three towns until later that afternoon. The river has carried the girls much farther downstream than anyone could have walked in the same span of time, all at the relatively small expense of some wrinkled prune fingertips for both of them and a ruined dress for Kim.

By noon the girls are on a bus and well on their way back home to Greendome. Robyn’s greatest desire is to rush into the arms of her mother, but her new precognitive abilities tell her the authorities would go there first, and in fact they already have her house staked out. The same is true for Hunky’s house. They would be caught and it would be right back to Hanford. So while they sit on the bus making their way east at the wartime top speed limit of just 35 MPH, Robyn spends the seemingly endless time turning the dwindling options over in her mind.

Peter Twofeathers sits in his office in the Green Dome Temple pouring through the Buron, trying to find spiritual guidance on what he should do in the present circumstances, with the Church itself on the very cusp of schism. Then he remembers how Yeshua commanded his followers constantly to pray, so he pushes the Buron across the desk, clasps his hands, and leans forward in silent conversation with God.

A yin knocks when he’s in the middle of his prayer and stares at him, as if sha’s afraid sha’s interrupting something. Sha has white hair, as though she were elderly, yet her face is much smoother, as though sha were only in her forties. Sha says, “God prefers it when you pray out loud, Peter Twofeathers. It takes more faith to do that, and truth be told, God can’t really read your mind.”

He seems a little annoyed at this. “And you are?”

She comes further into the office and stands directly in front of his desk. “God.”

“God?”

“Or Haziel, if you prefer.”

“Sure lady.”

“It is a wicked generation that demands a sign,” sha says, and reaches into the second drawer down in his file cabinet, where he has stashed the Golden Gift, and retrieves it, despite the fact that it was locked. “The one and only Golden Gift. Please come in, children,” Haziel says, and soon she is flanked by Dory and Jerry, who come into the office carrying their own chairs. Haziel pulls up the chair in front of Peter’s desk and all three of them have a seat.

“Give the relic back to me or I will call the police!”

Haziel shakes her head. “I gave this gadget to Chief Wanica personally and now I’m giving it to his
descendant. Do the magic trick I showed you, Jerry.”

She hands the Golden Gift to the boy, who is wearing short sleeves. He wiggles his fingers and the weapon is gone. Jerry opens his hands to show Peter they are empty.

Peter is now convinced Haziel really is God and starts a comedic struggle out of his seat to find some floor space to drop to his knees before har. Sha says, “Belay that, Peter. Sit back down.”

He does so, and says, “Command me, Lady Haziel.”

“Do you know these children?” she asks him.

“Jerry Shybear I do know. The girl, no. I mean, I’ve seen her face, but I can’t put a name to it.”

“This is Dory Fuchs. Dory and Jerry are friends of Kimberly Zinter and Sofie Krause. Kim and Sofie have been held against their will by the American government, but they have escaped, and they are coming home, but they are going to need your help. I’ll let Dory explain the particulars of that to you. Also, I have an idea about what you should say in your next sermon. I happen to think your doctrine of only letting cousins get married is stupid, but I’ll let Jerry explain the particulars of that to you.”

And with that, Haziel is just gone, taking her chair with her. Dory and Jerry scoot their own chairs closer together in the sudden gap, fold their hands, set them on the desk, and smile at Peter.

In Pocatello when she and Hunky transfer to a bus that will take them into Wyoming, Robyn realizes the homes of everyone who had written to her and Hunky must also be staked out. Both girls remember that their mail was always opened and read before it was given to them, so they have no doubt DECON has logged the address of each sender. That rules out going to see Dory and Jerry, at least directly. And Robyn guesses DECON has the bus station in Greendome staked out as well, waiting for them.

If you get off the bus any closer than Caspar you’re going to get caught. Robyn hears that in her mind. Hunky must have heard it too. They suddenly catch each other’s eye.

Dory? Robyn thinks.

Yeah, me and Jerry are like you two now.

Hunky suddenly smiles at something Dory is telling her that Robyn can’t hear.

Then to Robyn Dory says, Jerry says he’s missed you terribly and he wants to know if you will marry him.

After a long pause Robyn replies, Tell Jerry he’s very sweet but he already knows that’s against the rules.

Dory answers, What if the rules were changed, would you agree to marry him?

A longer pause here. Robyn thinks on how so much has changed for her and her friends over the last few weeks. Why would it be so hard to believe the Church would change its rules and let anyone get married, not just cousins? Then Robyn sees it. It’s much easier to just coast along and assume the Church will never change than to face the scary possibility that Jerry loved her, or the even more scary possibility that she loved him too. She takes a leap into the dark and thinks to Dory, If Jerry can get me and Hunky out of this jam and convinces Twofeathers to let us get married, then he will have proven to be my champion and yes I will marry him!

In the United States of America in World War II there is wartime rationing of gasoline. Most people are entitled to only four gallons of gas a week. But Peter Twofeathers is an important clergyman who has to tend to his flock. He is allowed a Supplemental Mileage Ration C sticker which gives him up to an additional twelve gallons a week, the same bonus as doctors and mail carriers. That’s a lucky thing, because his Chrysler Town and Country wagon only gets about fifteen miles per gallon, even with its relatively lightweight wooden doors. But it’s enough to get over to Casper and back. As soon as Peter makes his decision to do it, Robyn sees the way out of the trap as a vivid daydream in her mind.

But Robyn can’t see any following events stacking up leading to her getting married to Jerry. At one point she sees Jerry lying on his stomach in the hospital. Soon after that there is a big blank nothing and no daydreams present themselves to her at all.

That Sunday morning in Temple, Prophet Peter Twofeathers relates testimony on how he was immersed in prayer over the struggles of the Green Dome Church and God appeared to him personally. A quiet murmuring comes over the congregation as the flock tries to determine if he is joking or quite serious. They realize Peter is very serious when he describes how God went straight to where he had hidden the Golden Gift, retrieved it, and gave it to the Church’s new Extraordinary Lay Minister of Final Rites, Jerry Shybear. And Jerry takes that as his cue to come walking out onto the raised area before the altar carrying the gold relic on a plush green pillow.

Bunners start standing up in their pews and making their way to the aisles so they can leave the service.

Twofeathers goes on to say that God thinks the Church doctrines on consanguineous marriage are, in Haziel’s own words, “stupid”. The trickle of departing Bunners turns into a flood. When Peter Twofeathers declares that he is setting aside that doctrine in a single case, so that Jerry Shybear may marry Kimberly Zinter, the Apostle Klaus Hansen stands up at last and joins the rest of the Bunners in leaving the sanctuary, never to return again.

That afternoon Jerry wakes up outside the town somewhere with a sore bump on his head. He’s naked, lying flat on his stomach, and each hand and foot is roped off to stakes buried in the ground. Three men surround him, all wearing hoods to hide their faces. “Where’s the Golden Gift, Jerry?” one of them demands.

“In the temple.”

There’s a whistle and a crack. Jerry grunts, more from surprise than pain, although there’s enormous pain. He’s not too terribly frightened, though, he already volunteered to be flogged by his mates on his vision quest just to see how much he can take. Jerry thinks he can take about five lashes.

“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of! Of course it’s in the temple. Where in the temple is it?”

“I don’t know, Johnny. Twofeathers gives it to me.”

“Bullshit!” The whip falls again and the skin on Jerry’s back splits with a cloud of red mist.
“And you don’t know my name!”

On the backstroke Johnny Sunkel’s whip hits one of the other boys and the kid screams, even though it just hits the back of his leg and he was wearing blue jeans. When the boy curses, Jerry recognizes the voice as belonging to Larry Porter.

“You don’t get to marry our white girls, Jerry,” says another voice that Jerry pins down as belonging to Scotty Hilling. “That was the arrangement going way back.”

“Your white girls, Scotty?”

That earns Jerry another stroke. His grunt lasts a while longer this time, but then he almost laughs when the whip comes back and bites Johnny across the chest and it’s his own turn to scream.

“You ain’t marrying that Zinter gal. Tell us the wedding’s called off Jerry.”

Jerry says, “After I pass out make sure you keep going, Johnny. Make sure I’m dead, and hide my body, because I’m in this club, see. We look out for each other. If they know you did this to me they’ll pick over your feet for two or three days with a sledgehammer, blowtorch and knives like they were leftover turkey.”

“This is gonna pinch some.” And Johnny hurls the business end of his whip down on Jerry’s back again, two more times, whistle and snap. They keep waiting for Jerry to scream, but instead they see the white layer of fat underneath the split skin on Jerry’s back and two of the boys start puking.

Time to make his move. With his right hand Jerry reaches into the new “space-time pocket” that always goes with him now and comes back out of it holding the Golden Gift. He extends the blade long enough to cut the rope binding his left hand. Then with his left hand he takes the Golden Gift and frees his right hand.

Johnny hurls the end of the whip at him one more time but Jerry cuts it during the downstroke, leaving little more than a riding crop for Johnny to swing. Then he cuts his legs free. All three of the boys star running, but Jerry, with his back feeling like it is on fire, is too damn sore to run after them.

Later, in the hospital, Jerry tells sheriff Roddy Walker the boys wore hoods and he couldn’t see who did it to him. He does tell the sheriff the boys said they wanted him to call off his wedding with Kim.

Peter Twofeathers is ready to go pick up Robyn and Hunky. He brings his wife and Dory along, but first they stop at the hospital to see how Jerry is doing after his whipping. “How do you feel?” Dory asks, the obvious, stupid question.

“Not any better than the last time it happened.”

“The last time? You’ve been flogged before?”

Jerry nods, and stares at Prophet Twofeathers. “It’s a boy thing, Dory. The Prophet knows.”

Peter rolls his eyes. “Vision quest?”

Jerry nods again, and Peter rolls his eyes again. “Come on, ladies, we’ve got a rescue to do.”

After Dory, Peter, and Deborah leave, nine Kaleetan braves about Jerry’s age pay a visit. Jerry’s a popular fellow. River Rawdon gestures at Jerry, lying all bandaged up on his stomach, and asks, “What’s this?”

“The gift that keeps on giving,” Jerry tells him, wincing a bit. “Keystone Cops, with a whip.”

“Who did this to you, Jer? You know the rules. We gotta keep this from happening again.”

“It was three Bunners. Johnny Sunkel, Larry Porter, and Scotty Hilling. I told ’em Thanksgiving is coming early this year.”

River unsheathes his blade and holds it up, smiling. He says, “Gobble gobble.”

In Casper, Wyoming Robyn and Hunky get off the bus and make their way over a little footbridge to a wooded bend of the North Platte river with dirt roads and trees where they can hide and minimize the number of homeless girl sightings until they see the Prophet, his wife, and Dory. It would be just their luck to be busted by a cop for vagrancy on the very cusp of their freedom.

DECON, or Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization, does indeed have the bus station and Clara Zinter’s house watched, but they do not have enough resources in place that early in the game to tail any of Robyn’s friends. Later when reported sightings of Robyn and Hunky come in from the public (their bedraggled appearance after the river swim at Hanford made them stand out), DECON has people crawling all over Greendome, Lusk, and Crawford, but Casper, Cheyenne, and Rapid City are too far afield, they figure.

When Twofeathers, Deborah, and Dory arrive they split up and search the woods, calling Kim and Sophie by name. Robyn hustles out of a bush she’s hiding in and faces Dory.

“I’m not Kim Zinter anymore, Dory. Call me Robyn.”

“I don’t care what you want me to call you, Robyn, or Kim, or pick a name out of a hat. It’s good to see you again girlie girl!”

They embrace tightly. Then Dory sees Hunky and rushes into her arms as well. Dory hasn’t seen either of them for more than a year. Robyn asks about Jerry, and Dory mentions the hospital, which causes Robyn to make a strange face. Then Two Feathers starts his car and drives a half-circle around the little green space to the point closest to the Boda, where he throws open the doors and tells them all to get in.

“We escaped from the Army,” Robyn tells them as Two Feathers steers his vehicle towards the outskirts of the city. “Hunky and I. So now we’re fugitives, I guess.”

“What do you mean a fugitive?” Dory asks. “So you left without checking out with them, big deal. This is a free country, mostly.”

“They took rifle shots at us,” Hunky says, to underscore Robyn’s assessment of being fugitives. “I lost count how many.” After she says that there is silence in the car until they pass the city limits.

“You’ll have to go underground,” Peter Twofeathers finally tells them. “Literally underground. Jerry is prepared to help you do that, Kim, and you too Sofie and Dory, but this is the end of your life as you have known it.”

“I’ve already taken a big step on my new life, sir,” Robyn says. “I’ve discarded the name ‘Kim’ and now I answer only to Robyn.”

“Robyn what?”

“Just Robyn, sir. A single name, like Hunky. Sofie is just Hunky.”

“I feel a little left out,” Dory says. “Okay, so I’ll make it official, I’ll drop Fuchs and just go by Dory now.”

“Klaus Hansen made his move,” Peter says, referring to the second ranking clergyman in the End Dome Church, the Apostle he appointed from among the Bunners and now deeply regrets doing so. “He’s helping the Army or the FBI or whoever it is that is trying to find you two girls. You won’t be able to show your face anywhere near Greendome for a very long time.”

“Why don’t you just fire him, sir?” Hunky asks. “You are the Prophet, after all. He’s just the Apostle.”

“I did, but the schism is already in full bloom. He’s leading the Whites to go their own way and he’s already made himself the Prophet of something he calls the Reformed Green Dome Church. There’s a large faction of the Church that has never been able to stomach equality with the Red Wing. I thought making him Apostle would hush them.”

“I figure the mandatory cousin marriage thing has always just been a bone tossed to the Whites,” Kim says.

“That’s correct,” Peter agrees. “No Red will ever be able to marry a White as long as that rule exists. But rules can be changed.”

So here is the change Robyn was hoping for, coming from the mouth of the prophet of the Church himself, but looking inward and ahead with her new powers, Robyn still can’t see her wedding to Jerry. It is just a big blank, and she has no idea what that means.

Klaus Hansen, the former Apostle of the Green Dome Church and prophet of the Reformed Green Dome Church, comes to the hospital to visit Johnny Sunkel, Larry Porter, and Scotty Hilling. The doctor is still muttering about the “animals” who had slowly turned their six feet into just so much ruined hamburger, requiring a clean amputation of each one. Every time the boys are awakened, first by the sheriff, and now by Klaus, they take to sobbing miserably, not so much from the pain they are now suffering but from the memory of the pain they had already suffered, for two days and a night, as the tormentors worked in shifts. Unlike themselves, who had been hooded and disguised when they tortured Jerry, yet were still identified, the ones who retaliated on behalf of Jerry wore no hoods at all, yet the victims refuse to identify them at all, other than to say they were “Indians”.

“Where’s the Golden Gift?” Klaus Hansen demands.

“Jerry had it all the time,” Johnny moans.

“You knocked him out, stripped him naked, hogtied him, whipped him, but Jerry had it, all the time.” This last was in a mocking voice. “Where did he have it all the time? In his asshole?”

“I don’t know!”

“Did you mention he ought to call off his wedding to the Zinter girl?”

“I did, but I don’t think he listened to me!” Johnny whines in a sing-song voice. “What’s the world coming to when you can’t even get a little respect?”

“Jesus H. Christ on a crutch!” exclaims the Prophet of the Reformed Green Dome Church and spiritual leader of the Bunners. “I guess it is true what they say, if you want something done right, you got to do it yourself.”

The man’s name is Tashunka and he remembers helping to field-dress bison that had been killed by Chief Wanica when the Golden Gift made its first appearance in North America. After he tells the Sheriff what he found, the Sheriff tells one of his deputies to get a flash camera and come along to the scene.

Outside of town, about a mile north and west of the hill of Green Dome, Tashunka walks them right to the body inside a little fenced-off area nigh to the road. The body is naked, clearly female, with rolls of flesh that say she has been amply fed. The body is elevated, in a position that reminds the Sheriff of being crucified. Her feet are about six inches off the ground. Palms facing up, her arms droop back as far as they can go. Her head is also drooping back. There is a wooden post about six inches square, embedded in the ground, but cut with a sloping top, and her back rests on this.

The Sheriff tells the deputy to start taking pictures, while he goes back to his car to get pictures he already has. When he returns, he compares his photographs to the face of the dead girl and says, “Sure enough, it’s her.”

Kimberly Zinter. DECON had been looking for her, but now she is dead, the victim of murder, so whatever business DECON had with Kim died with her, and it is his business now to find out who did this to her and bring whoever it is to justice.

After the deputy finishes taking his pictures and writing down notes about the crime scene, he and Sheriff Roddy and Tashunka all pitch in, grab Kim’s body, and lift her off the post to be laid gently on the ground. That’s when the Sheriff sees what she had been pinned to and says, “Fuckitty fuck fuck fuck!”

It is the Tri-State marker, a little plaque where surveyors had decided the corners of two different states ran smack into the border of a third. That simple fact takes the investigation right out of Roddy Walker’s hands. It is back to being Federal.

Thaumiel has always delighted in terrifying the people of Barbelo with his flying avatar, but nephilim are nothing if not adaptable and after a time they began to think Thaumiel’s gig was getting a little corny. Yet not even Thaumiel was given to doing anything without a deeper purpose. He was still riding that hobby horse, his dreary old thesis that all of the planet-dwellers who had dealings with the elohim cannot follow the simplest set of arbitrary rules without screwing them up.

From the beginning many beasts were brought from Earth. For the most part these creatures were benign, and fitted in well with the ecology of Barbelo, or they were herd animals men had tamed from time immemorial. Thaumiel saw that animals would soon breed far beyond the ability of Barbelo to support them, and chief among these animals, he knew, would be the nephilim themselves. So Thaumiel introduced to his planet monstrous predators from the darkest dreams of mankind to keep them in check. Then was seen on Barbelo many monsters and trolls and goblins as well as Leviathan, the monster under the sea who devoured those who foundered therein. After that Thaumiel introduced flying dragons, and thereafter all who went about on two legs had to keep one eye on the sky, for they became the dragon’s prey, as surely as the small creatures who go on four legs are ever the prey of eagles.

But all the predators created by Thaumiel were merely taken by the nephilim to be strong threads woven into the growing tapestry that was Barbelo. The nephilim honored the wisdom of Thaumiel in creating them, and they were not really very afraid of them. For it is man and not any other beast who are the most terrible predators the universe has ever known, by utter necessity, from the first day that fangless, clawless big-brained monkey came down from the trees in the East African Rift and decided to compete on the savanna with lions and tigers and bears for meat. And now that man was unleashed on an entirely new world so much the worse for that world, dragons or no.

The dragons made by Thaumiel were immortal if they remained safe in their aeries, and they bred only very slowly, but they could still be slain, and lays commemorating the deeds of many dragonslayers, would-be or otherwise, are still sung in the roadside inns dotting the land. In the end only one dragon remained alive, and this worm yeng found much too difficult to kill, for it was the greatest dragon of all. Thaumiel had parked his entirely mechanical avatar and decided to drive a living avatar that would resonate with the darkest nightmares of yeng. Thaumiel named it Demonstroke.

In the days after Thaumiel unveiled his new toy, using his dragon avatar to burn portions of several cities in all the lands, he fashioned a sword made from a single large diamond and called it Dragonthorn. Thaumiel declared through prophets that he had infused the blade with a powerful spell binding the beast. And Thaumiel also declared that the eldest daughter or niece of the ruler of the Red Beards of the House of Antero would wield the blade, and the spell would remain unbroken for as long as she remained a virgin.

When the virgin held Dragonthorn in her hand, whatever she bid Demonstroke to do, he would do it, even to allowing the virgin to ride upon him in the air as though he were a winged steed. The role was a great honor and privilege, but it was also a serious duty. Unleashed, the dragon could lay waste to all the cities on Barbelo. Control of Demonstroke hung by the slender thread of the girl’s virginity.

The current Patriarch of the Red Beards, Brogan Antero, loved hez daughter Kari very much. Princess Kari was not nephilim but fully human, the result of King Brogan, a jen, crossing with hez human wife, who is now deceased. Kari has the full beauty of youth and long, bright red hair, and she is on the very cusp of womanhood. The King is almost supernaturally patient with Kari, and denies her not the least thing. Even during the frantic preparations for the Royal Council in Rumbek che is willing to stop and make time to listen attentively to Kari as though she were the only thing that mattered on Barbelo. The King sits close to her and nods hez head up and down as she describes for hem the seemingly random images of last night’s dream.

Kari said, “Parent, I dreamed it was night, and I could see the ground was covered with sleeping little metal people. Other people came out of the sky in two tall metal engines of war that spouted fire, but they wore strange armor, and I could not tell if they were men or women, yeng or yen, boys or girls, dolls or dirks. The first person picked up one of the small metal people and took it into the first metal tower, and somehow I knew that little metal person was myself, in the strange way of dreams. That first person took us into the sky and we were safe. The second person stayed behind to pick up as many of the other metal people as he or she could find, but that person was caught by strange men and killed. Then I awoke.”

King Brogan stops nodding hez head and smiles at Kari. Che says, “Shall I interpret the dream for you, child?”

“Please do, Parent.” To Kari, the King is the wisest jin who ever lived.

“The first person in your dream is myself, who am both male and female. You feel protected around me, which is indeed a good thought, because my entire will is bent toward keeping you safe. The second person in your dream is your human mother, who wanted to have other children by me, and those were all the other little metal people. But she fell victim to poison in her drink, and was killed by the palace intrigues that never cease here in Vaska.”

“As simple as that, Parent?”

“As simple as that. Your sleeping mind created images to express what you felt in your heart. You are still dealing with your grief. I find solace from the content of your dream that you do not blame me for your mother’s death.”

“Never, Parent!” Kari exclaims. Kari is shocked at the mere suggestion that she would think that Brogan was to blame, or even that she might dream it.

The King places a hand on Kari’s head to reassure her, then che says, “If you did blame me, even secretly within your heart of hearts, then your dream would have taken a very different course.”

“Beloved Parent,” Kari says, “why have you not taken for yourself another wife? Are you afraid that she would be killed as well?”

“Not so, Kari. Soon the one adept at poison will come forward and try to worm into my life, and then I will know who she is. But now we must set aside your dreams, daughter, and our lingering grief for your mother, and our lamentation of things we can never change. Queen Aurra Sala has bid me to come to a great council in Rumbek, and I would have you travel with me.”

As declared by Thaumiel the sexual virtue of Princess Kari must continue intact to keep Demonstroke under control. The King has always tried to lessen the burden for hez daughter Kari by letting her believe that a strong spell to influence others accompanies possession of the diamond blade, and che denies her not the least thing except a suitor. This deliberately-fostered delusion would soon prove the undoing of all.

“It is a very great distance across the West Lands from Vaska to Rumbek,” che tells her, “but we will ride together on Demonstroke, for I know how much you love to do so, daughter.” And at this she beams at hem.

It is said that Demonstroke was as much engine of war as he was living beast, and King Brogan thinks there must be a glimmer of truth in that. For what mere beast can contain the fires of the orange sun that is Thaumiel?

Demonstroke’s head bends back over them on its long scaly neck and fire spews out in a jet that propels the dragon into the sky, pushing Kari against her parent, and her parent in turn against a bony ridge at the place where Demonstroke’s neck joins to the rest of his body. And the dragon soars into the sky until the air becomes almost too thin for Brogan and hez daughter to breathe.

Then Demonstroke’s head bends forward again, and he stretches his wings. With gentle flaps the dragon extends his glide as much as possible as the largest river in the land of the Red Beards slides by underneath. Then, when the land has rushed up to meet them and the deadly tops of trees native to Barbelo nearly brush the belly of Demonstroke, he bends his head back again and lets loose another long jet of flame.

Over and over again this cycle repeats as the day gives way to night, but the cycles of fire and glide grow shorter and shorter as they approach the city of Jelaket nestled high in the mountains that mark the border with the lands claimed by House Bellon.

Brogan and Keri, well-bundled against the cold, both drift off to sleep as the dragon flies on through a darkness punctuated by fire, a sleep they find possible only after many such flights. As they sleep they cross from mountains to the plains in the east inhabited by House Bellon, and the lights of lonely, widely separated houses pass underneath in the darkness far below.

When the glimmer of dawn appears before the king and his daughter once more they are well over the Magodon peninsula, the heart of the land where dwells the Brown Beards, and the city of Elketz is seen moving stately to the west far below. Yet their final destination, the capital named Rumbek, would not be reached until mid-day. So much the better for Princess Kari, who loves to fly by dragon.

After the trip to Casper and back again, Peter Twofeathers is driving his Town & Country on the east flank of Green Dome with his wife, Robyn, Hunky and Dory all aboard. They are only about a mile from Robyn’s house and her long anticipated reunion with her mother when they see three figures on the side of the road waving for them to stop. One of them is Jerry Shybear. Another is Clara Zinter, Robyn’s beloved mother. The other one has no clothes, no eyes, no mouth, and is as white as bone. A set of needles bristles from the top of its head like a Mohawk. Peter pulls over and they all get out.

Robyn runs immediately into the arms of her mother for a long embrace.

No one else speaks for the longest time as they all stare at each other in shock. Finally, Dory manages to say, “Jerry, I thought you were in the hospital.”

“I’m all better now,” he says, and points to the white figure next to him. “Meet Chokhmah, or at least the avatar of Chokhmah exactly as it appeared to Haziel in the story we all know from the Buron.”

Obviously the little white dome inside the cairn wasn’t there anymore, because now it was back into a human shape and walking around.

Chokhmah says, “DECON has the bus station in Greendome under surveillance. They are contemplating abduction. But Klaus Hansen has Robyn’s house under surveillance and he’s contemplating murder. I sent Jerry to fetch Clara and bring her out here. But now we all need to get off the road before somebody comes along and sees us. Peter, leave your vehicle here, you will never need it again. And follow me, everyone.”

Chokhmah leads them across the road and over the side, where a footpath starts. They immediately begin to drop down the western flank of Green Dome and out of sight of any passers-by. By making this intervention, Chokhmah has once again bifurcated human history.

The first thing Jerry does when they are safely hidden over the side is approach Robyn and take both of her hands in his. He says, “I hate the rule that says Greendomites can only marry cousins.”

“I hate that rule too, Jerry,” says Chokhmah.

“That rule is keeping me from marrying the one I love, Lord,” Jerry says. “I have loved Kim — well I guess I better call her Robyn now — from the very first day I met her in school.”

“And you, Robyn,” Chokhmah says, “do you love Jerry too?”

Robyn thinks about it for what seems to Jerry a very long time. She is waiting for all the ramifications to pile up in her mind. Finally she says, “Yes I do, Lord. Very much.”

“Will you marry this young man, Robyn?” Chokhmah asks.

“I will, Lord. But we have no marriage license!”

“None will be needed, Robyn. I will perform the ceremony myself, and I am, as you know, God.”

The trail switchbacks down into what the locals call the Grand Canyon of Indian River, a pretty little sandstone gorge very near the source of the stream. At the bottom of the canyon they follow the left bank up and up to a cave surrounding a pool of water. The pool constantly overflows its own brim and this is the source of the river. As soon as Chokhmah and his group of followers arrive in the cave, the water abates, and the pool no longer runneth over.

Chokhmah says, “I will go first. Hunky, you know exactly what to do.” The avatar dives feet first into the pool and disappears.

Hunky says, “You will be the first one, Robyn’s mom. Don’t be afraid! My body makes oxygen now. I’m going to hold you tight, and we’re going to kiss. Breathe in what I breathe out, and I’ll breathe in what you breathe out. It’s a little hard to get the trick of it at first, but nod when you are ready.”

After about a minute of literally sucking face with Hunky, Clara nods, then Hunky falls backwards into the pool taking the woman with her. A few minutes after that, Hunky resurfaces, climbs out of the water, and says, “Mrs. Twofeathers, I’d like to take you next.” And so Hunky repeats the procedure for Deborah Twofeathers, Robyn, Peter, Jerry, and finally Dory. When everyone is gone, the flow from the pool surges again, restoring the river once more.

They have arrived at another pool in the Land We Know, which is neither Earth nor Barbelo. The pool there is ringed by a deck of dark wood. Directly overhead, a sun is slowly brightening from red to orange, for it is “morning”. The surface of the land wraps completely around as a hollow sphere, with the far side draped behind the sun.

Surrounding the pool are little wooden sheds, like outhouses, where people who emerge from the pool can towel off and change into dry clothing. The new arrivals do avail themselves of these. Robyn and Jerry share one, Hunky and Dory share another. Inside each shed is a variety of folded and stacked clothing, from loose fitting robes to tight-fitting leotards and everything in between, ranging in color from white to green.

When they emerge again they find a number of other people seated on chairs ringed in a half-circle around two chairs. Seated on the chair is a young man with soft, dark features and short black hair, wearing something that looks like striped pajamas similar to what men wear in the country of Oman. Haziel is seated next to him, but her white humanoid avatar is nowhere in sight.

Haziel says, “Welcome everyone to the Land We Know, especially our family members who have newly-arrived from Earth and have not yet met my son, Yeshua.” And the jen seated next to Haziel stands up briefly to be recognized. “Some of the scriptures name hem as Jesus Christ. Che is actually the nephil incarnation of my daughter Binah. In short, Binah possesses the body of the jen you see standing before you, just as I possess the body of the yin named Haziel.”

The newcomers are astonished to be in the presence of the very one they know from the Bible as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, alive just as the apostles attested, two thousand years after his crucifixion. Hez clothing was of advanced Gorpai make, woven from fibers not grown on Earth, for they are nearly impossible to soil and never developed the smallest wrinkles, yet unlike most artificial fabrics the tunic was much like cotton, and it was very efficient at permitting body sweat to breathe. Che is eternally young, brown-skinned, with short black curly hair, and rather short. Che is also beardless and looked nothing like his depiction in paintings.

Haziel raises her hand to point to the sun.

“About one thousand miles overhead is a small artificial sun that waxes and wanes to simulate night and day here. This place is a hollow sphere with nearly as much land as Asia. We call it the Land We Know because the physical laws that govern this place are established by myself and Binah and we know it intimately. But don’t ask where we actually are, because it bears no relation to anything in the universe where Earth and Barbelo lie. No relation in space, and no relation in time.”

Haziel sits down and allows Yeshua to stand up and speak.

Che says, “What Haziel says about this place being outside of time is true. Know then, Robyn and Jerry, that some of the people seated here together with you are actually your children, and even your grandchildren! Jashen here was a young man in the century previous to yours, but you can see he is young still. Time can get all jumbled up here in the Land We Know, yet never forget it is all for a very specific purpose. I need not go over the ancient controversy between Chokhmah and Thaumiel now, you are all familiar with the Buron, so you know our family history. But some of you do not yet know our goal.”

Yeshua unrolls a star chart and places it on a stand so that everyone may see.

Che says, “This is what men in your century on Earth call Barnard’s Star. It is the next-door neighbor of both Chokhmah and Thaumiel, yet it a living sun that neither Chokhmah nor I have ever spoken to. Barnard’s Star moves more rapidly than any other nearby star. She is female, and ancient, yet she is still a virgin. Barnard’s Star calls herself Yefefiah. She is eleven billion years old but she has no planets, for they have been stripped away long ago. She is a ‘runaway’ star, and she has decided to live her life in stroboscopic time. Once every century or so she wakes up for a day, looks around, talks to the other elohim, and sees that her position in space has changed. In twenty of her days, she moves one light-year. So she’s something of a tourist who flies above and below the plane of the galaxy over and over while it turns. Many male elohim have tried to court her, but she has little or no interest in them. Someday, humans and nephilim will travel to where Chokhmah has agreed never to go. They will be very close to Yefefiah, and Dory will begin talking directly to her about many things. And after that, everything will change forever, for elohim, nephilim, and human alike.”
Dory perks up, startled to learn that she will have a central role in perhaps the most important event in history.
“We call you the b’nei elohim,” Yeshua goes on, “the children of the gods. Everything you do, directly or indirectly, is in service of that goal as I have just outlined for you.”

Yeshua glances then at Peter and Deborah Two Feathers. Che says, “Although you two are not of the b’nei elohim, we are in need of a real prophet in Haaretz, in the mold of Jeremiah or John the Bapist. But if you recall the scriptures, a prophet was never the safest occupation. There could be danger. You could be killed, and if you are, then your story will end forever.”

“The afterlife does not exist for us?” Deborah gasps. Such an admission went against everything she has been taught to believe.

Haziel smiles gently. “There is a time for everything to end, Deborah. Just open your eyes and look at the world, even this one. Leaves turn crispy and brown, then they fall to the ground where they turn rotten and black, and eventually they become part of the living soil. Even the whole tree succumbs to this cycle when it is time. The old and decrepit are always recycled to form part of the new and supple.”

“So the eternal life promised to us in the Bible is a lie?” Peter wails, almost panicking. It is a terrible thing to have one’s innermost doubts confirmed.

“’Eternal’ is an adjective describing the complete character of one’s life,” Yeshua insists, “not merely it’s duration. That is all I taught, and nothing more. Modern humans have something called the Telephone Game. That might give you an idea how my doctrine got twisted into a message promising unending but empty time for believers.”

Haziel says, “From the Land We Know a wormhole can give us access to other places in past time, not only other places in space. If we have our victory over Thaumiel, we will be able to save many people who have had their lives cut short and give them a second chance at life. The trillions of other elohim out there in space anticipated we would find something like you planet dwellers. There’s a place very much like heaven already waiting for you, if we win past Thaumiel’s formidable road blocks.”

“But even there, I suppose,” Peter added from his sense of resignation, “in a second life people will live a normal span and die, because just as Haziel is trying to tell us, that is the way of all things.”

Haziel nods, and turns to make gentle eye-contact with Peter’s wife. Deborah Twofeathers. Sha says, “We as individuals do not enjoy persistence, but the cycle itself persists forever from season to season. Don’t you see? And if you were to contrive immortality by some incantation or potion or hidden quality of some sacred burial ground, you would no longer be a child of the world. You would no longer belong in reality! You would be alien to life itself, just like a stone smuggled into a nest of bird’s eggs.’

Peter and his wife discuss the request. Her first choice is the comfortable one, to settle down in the Land We Know. But Peter wants to live up to his own title, no matter the affliction he would suffer, and at length he persuades Deborah to agree. He turns to Haziel and says, “I will be your Prophet in Haaretz.”

Then with the b’nei elohim as witnesses, Haziel sets aside the law of the Green Dome Church that requires all marriages to occur between first or second cousins. Sha calls Jerry and Robyn forward and says, “For this one occasion, Red will be united with White. And if your love is real, and bears fruit, and we already see clear evidence gathered around us here that such will be the case, then your offspring will belong to both Wings of the Church, and so will their children in turn. As the generations roll on, and your sons and daughters marry whomever they love, the breach between both Wings of my Church will be healed. This is both a joy and a burden I lay upon both of you, Jerry Shybear, and Robyn, if you are willing to take it.”

They both affirm that they would accept the burden. And so, with God literally presiding, Jerry Shy Bear weds Kim “Robyn” Zinter. They exchange vows, rings and kisses. Dory is a wreck, and even Hunky allows her tomboyish mask to drop for a short time and cries genuine tears of joy.