Ascent of the Aliomenti


They met in secret once more, a couple betrothed, promised to each other in a future one had not yet lived. Circumstances forced them to live apart, for one man would seek to destroy her should he learn she’d survived an apparent violent death. Their knowledge of the future, a future in which that evil man still lived, prevented them from eliminating him first.

The journey would be a difficult one, fraught with risk, and the greatest risk was that anything they might do would alter their chances to bring forth the children both so desperately wanted.

They’d both need to survive that long, and though both were now immortal, it did not mean all those they knew and cared for in the eleventh century would join them.

“I didn’t meet Eva in the future, Hope,” Will said. “I don’t know how long she lived. That doesn’t mean she’s not still around in the future, though.”

Hope nodded, but she looked uncomfortable at the news. Eva had been her constant companion, and though the course of thirty years had changed their actual if not their public relationship, the two women were still close, still bonded by the secrets they shared.

Hope took a deep breath, and he caught a strong emotion from her, of a type he couldn’t identify. “I think I need to branch out on my own, Will. Somewhere completely different. And I think I need to learn to survive without Eva.”

He was surprised, though he quickly understood what she was trying to do. Her childhood had been a disaster, and Hope had been in desperate need of someone to show her she was loved without qualification. Eva had provided that in her own fashion, just as Will had in his. But in many ways, her relationship with Eva had prevented Hope from developing a true independence. The understanding that Eva might not always be around further necessitated that development, and Hope had the wisdom and maturity now to understand what she needed to do.

“How did she take the news?”

She looked at the ground, her only response silence.

Will sighed. “Do you want me to break the news to her?”

Hope shook her head. “No, I need to be the one to tell her, and I know that. It’s difficult to share news like that, isn’t it?”

Will smiled. “Having been on both sides, I can only say that in my experience, it’s best for both parties that the news be delivered without delay. The message will come out, no matter what. It’s best to let the person receiving the news know without delay so that they can prepare themselves and comport themselves as necessary.”

She nodded. “I know.”

“Where do you think you’ll go?”

“Back to the island, initially. Then I’ll decide. The world is large, and most definitely not flat.” She smiled, and Will remembered the global tour he’d taken her on decades earlier. “I think I’ll travel a long way this time, and put a very large distance between us.”

Will winced involuntarily. “That’s... probably for the best.”

She grimaced, but then her face turned to stone, and he recognized that something else was coming, a message causing her far more distress. “This whole situation is very difficult for both of us, Will. Unless we change our minds, and risk the fate of history and our children, we must live through a chaste millennium-long betrothal. Distance helps, but if we make it simple to see each other with teleportation... at some point, we’re going to fail at that.” She took a deep breath. “My traveling to a far distant locale solves that dilemma as well.”

He felt as if he’d been slapped, dealt a blow that crippled him, and stepped back.

It had been a long series of discussions, merging the practical, knowledge of future history, and Hope’s own strong beliefs. She would do nothing which had any chance, posed any possible risk, to the children she’d not bear for over nine centuries. And that meant she would not consent to marry him, nor engage in related acts, until the appointed time. He’d protested, noting that there was no risk of other pregnancy now with the ambrosia’s corrupting influences on both of them.

“We won’t know that, Will, until it’s too late,” she’d replied. “Then what happens? What if our children don’t exist anymore because we make that decision? Will you disappear immediately? They won’t be around to rescue you from those men, will they? You’ll probably die in that fight, just as I would have died eventually if you’d not been