The Seventeenth Chapter

northern_mongolia_nature_ss

~~~

Chapter Seventeen

In the footsteps of Genghis Khan

Between them Ithis, Nick and David had finally agreed on their next target. It was to be the Deer stone monolith, situated south of Chatgai, near the town of Mörön in northern Mongolia. Using Nicolai’s vast number of contacts, plans were soon formulated for the journey to the small Mongolian town of Munku-Sardyk, just inside the previously disputed border with the former USSR, in the mountainous region of Sajan east of Irkutsk, where a guide would be waiting to take them to Chatgai. At last the party set off on their long drive south across country. Not wishing to draw unnecessary attention to themselves, they kept to the almost impassable tracks across the spine of the Sayan Mountains, avoiding all villages and towns along the way, with Kolya and Victor taking turns at the wheel.

~~~

After five tortuous weeks of being bounced and bruised inside the old ex-army four wheel drive truck, their goal was at last in sight. In the gloom of early evening, the lights of Munku-Sardyk created an eerie glow in the thick layer of fog that sat like a grey sea in the valley where the town stood. Kolya drove the old truck slowly down the tortuously winding narrow mountain road that led into town, barely able to hang onto the violently twisting steering wheel as the truck’s front wheels constantly collided with the steep sides of the deep ruts in the road, threatened to tear it from his grip. Much to everyone’s relief, he finally halted the truck outside an old abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of the small town. He and David disguised themselves heavily, dressed in heavy khaki coloured ex-soviet army quilted coats, pants and felt boots, with their facial features obscured by the peak and ear flaps of their old army winter forage hats. They silently walked towards the rendezvous point, using the fog and shadows to hide from any prying eyes.

Kolya beckoned David to follow him as he entered the smoke filled interior of the local general store. In one corner of the room, a squat Eurasian looking man stood with his back to them warming his hands over the cause for all the foul smelling smoke – an ancient potbelly stove, the store’s only source of heat. The storekeeper was busy doing business with an old woman and a youth at the store’s wooden counter in the centre of the room.

The two men stood for a moment, waiting to see who would catch their eye. The man at the stove put his thick fur lined gloves on and turned towards them, before walking past and back out into the night. The storekeeper glanced at them, briefly indicating with his eyes and a slight nodding movement of his head, that they should follow the man who had just left. Stepping back outside, Kolya looked up and down the street searching for the man who appeared to have completely vanished into the night. Then David nudged him, pointing across the street to where they could see the faint glow of a cigarette in the fog filled shadows opposite. They crossed the street and followed the shadowy figure behind a pile of old rusty oil drums and corrugated iron into a small shack. He gestured to them to sit while he checked that they had not been followed before introducing himself in his passable Russian. His name was Gansukh. He had been sent by his father Ganbaatar to guide them across the dangerous mountain paths to where his family lived.

~~~

As the sun began to rise above the horizon, Gansukh led the way with Nick, David, Kolya and Victor following behind as they climbed above the town, closely shadowed by Ithis. The party headed south to the high mountain pass above Munku-Sardyk, which overlooked a lake feeding the Egijn River, just north of Mörön and the village of Chatgai, Gansukh’s home. By mid-afternoon, they were all seated cross legged and completely tired out by the long hike, greedily eating tough cubes of cooked yak meat from a large skillet sitting on top of a small iron stove, which doubled as the family’s heat source. They drank copious quantities of fermented yak milk while relaxing inside Ganbaatar’s felt lined, traditional Yurt, used whenever the old man decided to spend the summer months out in the vast grass prairies of northern Mongolia, reconnecting with nature. He proved his worth. He was an excellent source of knowledge when it came to all the ancient stone monoliths, spread far and wide across the vast Mongolian countryside, and beyond into China itself. His son Gansukh would one day take his place as head of the clan, carrying on the old traditions taught to him by his father, and his father before him, down the generations. Traditional clans like theirs, and the way they lived, harked back to the days of the greatest of all Mongols, Genghis Khan, whose army conquered vast swaths of foreign lands north, south, east and west of the Mongolian steppes. For a relatively short time during the communist takeover of Mongolia by their large neighbour China, all forms of local religion and traditions were banned. But once Mongolia had become an autonomous state and its people were again in control of their destiny, life soon returned to the old ways.

Yet again dependable Victor shone, acting as translator. His natural gift for language was invaluable. He and Gansukh soon became firm friends as they made arrangements to get Nick to the Deer stone monolith relatively unnoticed. Ganbaatar would travel south within the week, taking his family with him to re-establish their connection with the land, and the old gods that he firmly believed in. Nick and David, together with Kolya and Victor, would be disguised in traditional Mongolian garb for the journey to the Deer stone where Ganbaatar would set up camp.

~~~

The speed of their journey was governed by the yoked pair of Yaks slow but steady pace, as they pulled the heavy wooden-wheeled cart containing all of Ganbaatar’s family’s possessions. Victor talked softly to the animals, encouraging them ever onwards while Nick, Kolya and David walked beside the cart with the old man riding on top of the pile. Their journey took them southeast through open grassland, avoiding the road to Mörön and across a shallow ford over the Delger River, a few miles east. Then they turned south to the Deer stone monolith.

Nick and Kolya helped Gansukh and Victor erect the Yurt from the tangle of wooden poles, collapsible wicker wall supports, and the heavy felt rolls that filled the cart. In this vast empty prairie no one would bother them as Nick went about his business checking out the ancient monolith. If anyone did appear, Gansukh and Victor’s keen eyesight would soon pick them out if they appeared on the horizon. Nick began studying the upright stone looking for any sign of where or what was the key to unlocking its secrets. As far as he could see, the stone bore no visible signs of ever having been carved, or of having any finger holes like some of the previous standing stones he and David had come across in the past. He sat down with his back to the stone’s cold surface, beginning to wonder if this was the correct one after all.

“Look on the top of the stone,” Ithis’ voice whispered gently inside his head. Nick called Victor over and climbed onto his massive shoulders, quickly changing his position so that he now knelt precariously with Victor’s large hands clamped onto his ankles for support. As he peered over the top of the stone monolith he could see that it was covered in a thick layer of lichen, which he managed to scrape clean, using the knife that Kolya passed up to him. Just like the stone in Sweden, this one had a carved concentric spiral ending in a single finger width hole at its centre. He pushed the index finger of his right hand into the tiny hole. Almost imperceptibly at first, the stone slowly began to lower itself into the ground. He quickly jumped onto it from Victor’s shoulders, riding it as it descended below ground level.

~~~

The stone’s slow passage into the underworld finally stopped. Nick peered into the gloom, before shouting back up for light. A hurricane lamp and lighter were lowered to him by rope, down the long shaft above his head. After lighting the lamp he stepped off the stone. He began walking carefully forward towards the middle entrance of three tunnels leading off into the distance. “Nick, the stone is rising, get back quick!” David shouted from above. Nick turned round, but he was too late. The stone had already risen too far for him to climb onto. He was trapped for the moment with no way back to the surface. Somewhere close by was the artefact he had come to reactivate.

“Ithis, which way do I go?” he asked, now fully aware that she would always be near to protect and guide him. She walked out of the surrounding walls of the space beneath the monolith and came over to where he sat.

“Stay here for the moment my Nick while I explore,” Ithis purred, glad at last have him to herself once more. “I’ll search for the artefact’s location. Although you must remember that I cannot physically go near it for fear of detection by the system,” she gently pointed out, to remind him of the danger her presence there represented. Nick’s sexual desire for her intensified as he watched the gentle sway of her hips when she walked to the left hand tunnel entrance first, disappearing into the darkness. Moments later she reappeared from the right hand entrance, shaking with fear.

“What’s wrong, what happened?” He ran to her, desperately wanting to put his arms round her to protect and reassure her, stopping himself from doing so at the last possible moment.

She sat down on the cave floor shivering with fear. The emotionally expressive large pupils of her eyes had changed their colour once more, this time to pure white, the colour that indicated sheer terror in her. Gradually they returned to their normal shade of pale emerald green when she finally stopped shaking. “Asima!” she managed to whisper. “He senses we are near to the one artefact in this part of the world that is really important to the system. He is growing more powerful Nick. He must be feeding off the army which the pope sent to stand guard over his tomb. He is using their latent psychic energy to increase his own. We have to find a way to communicate with Ricardo to warn him of the danger the army is in,” she said closing her eyes for a moment, trying desperately to recover from Asima’s second vicious mental assault from the darkened confines of his living tomb.

Nick sat as close to her as he dare, while she repaired the damage within her mind. “Did you manage to locate the artefact before he attacked you my love?” Nick asked softly, not wishing to cause her any more pain than she was going through at that moment. She nodded and drew a map in the dust on the floor between them, showing the path through the tunnel maze he had to take. Memorizing the route, he began walking towards the right hand tunnel, using the old hurricane lamp to light his way. He marked the tunnel wall with a series of scratches which he made with a piece of rock for his return journey. The route through the maze twisted and turned, sometimes doubling back on itself at infrequent junctions in its makeup. In the painful mental state Ithis was in, she couldn’t help him. For the moment he was on his own. Soon he reached the place where the artefact stood. It was housed in a familiar large dome roofed chamber at the maze’s centre. This was not just another sub power station within the system’s worldwide power network; it was much, much more than that. From floor to ceiling around the walls of the chamber, vast banks of capacitor inlets where all connected to a central control system that housed a massive generating unit, fed by five heavily insulated, solid metal power cables from deep below the surface. The capacitors outlets were equally as large, leading off in all directions. The control unit itself had five separate fail-safe panels that had to be reset before the central reconnection switch could be utilized. Each failsafe panel consisted of a series of moveable icons that had to be correctly repositioned in order to work. Nick sat looking at each panel, carefully studying the icons, trying to work out where he had seen them before. It was obvious that the panels denoted the destination for each cable’s direction.

One panel’s icon appeared to be Sumerian in origin, while another looked more like Sanskrit, and the remaining three bore early examples of Chinese, Korean and Japanese characters. If only Ithis were here by his side… Choosing to start with the cuneiform panel first, Nick began shifting the icons around almost haphazardly at first, before he finally realized exactly what the key for each of the panels was. Each one was a representation of the most powerful ancient deity for each location, when the system was first constructed. After resetting the Sumerian panel, he quietly worked his way through the four remaining panels. At last he was able to reactivate the central power control generating unit. For a moment he sat back, silently thanking his obsession for solving the most difficult Sudoku problems. Now he was mentally exhausted by the four puzzles he had solved. The power unit quietly hummed as the capacitors built up energy, before discharging it down the line to the next junction. He retraced his steps following the marks he had made on the tunnel walls, until eventually he arrived back where he had left Ithis over two hours earlier. The small cavern was empty. Ithis was nowhere to be seen. Then he saw the top of the Deer stone monolith slowly reappear from above and quickly jumped on it for the return journey. By reactivating the Asian central power generating system, it allowed the giant stone to descend, to return him once more to the surface.

~~~

David told him that Ithis had briefly spoken with him openly once she had fully recovered, reluctant to communicate in her normal fashion for fear of Asima listening in. She told him that she was going to inform Ricardo of the immediate danger his army of tomb guards where in, hoping that between them, they could find a solution to the problem Asima presented to anyone remotely susceptible to his influence. In turn, Nick related how each of the panels gave clear directions in their search for the next series of artefacts in China, Japan, Korea, India and the ancient Sumerian connection somewhere inside modern day Iraq. One thing was abundantly clear now – they needed to turn their attention temporarily away from their search, to assist Ricardo in any way they could. So calling on the help once more of their Mongolian hosts, they set out on the long journey north to southern Siberia.

~~~

More later

😉

Advertisements

The Sixteenth Chapter

Verscheiden_wijzen_van_pijnigen_bij_de_inquisitie_gebruikelijk

~~~

Chapter Sixteen

A new Holy crusade begins

Ithis related everything that had transpired in Ricardo’s office, much to the delight of Nick and David. With the most feared person in the Vatican now on their side, it would not be long before they could once again turn their attention to the next artefact. “Why didn’t you tell us about Ricardo earlier?” David wondered.

“I had no need to make him known to you until I felt his help was needed,” Ithis replied as she revealed herself to Nick for the very first time.

“Are you well enough to continue?” he inquired wide eyed.

“Yes my dear Nick,” she replied smiling sweetly; happy that at long last she could finally reveal herself to the man she loved, no longer needing to hide from him. To say that Nick was totally captivated by her would be a major understatement. His eyes took in every delicately beautiful part of her from her head to her toes. At barely five feet tall, her slender androgynous body was covered in a pale silver parchment like skin, with skin pigmentation  that enabled her to blend in chameleon like into whatever surface she chose to hide in away from prying eyes. With no sign of genitalia immediately apparent to the eye, only her voice and her trim waist accentuating her gently curving hips and buttocks, together with her slender arms, legs and small delicate hands and feet, suggested her gender. She reminded him of a beautiful living statue. Her normal sized head with its well defined, yet slim jaw line appeared larger, simply because of her long neck and small frame. Her high forehead and small ears accentuated her almond shaped, hauntingly beautiful, aquamarine eyes with their large pale emerald green pupils that changed colour with her mood and emotional state. Her small nose with its delicate nostrils, and the narrow sensuous lips of her mouth completed the vision gently smiling up at him, with all the tender love she felt for him showing in her eyes, as their mesmerizing pupils deepened their hue.

Nick’s heart raced. In his entire life he had never imagined that anyone could be so beautiful. He felt his pulse quicken as he blushed and turned away. The feelings Ithis generated within him were nothing like the comfortable love he felt for Sophie, or the hormone enraged lust he had felt for Hector’s dazzlingly beautiful sister, Inez. This was so much more than that. He knew that finally he had found the one being he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Ithis’ smiled as she tenderly entered his mind to kiss his soul, releasing an all-consuming wave of exquisite love within him. Keeping physically apart from each other would be doubly difficult now that she had finally revealed herself.

~~~

Several weeks went by as they all grew impatient for news of Patrick’s zealous campaign to expose the Order. Each night while Nick slept, Ithis entered his mind tenderly making cerebral love to him, taking him beyond the normal wonderful sensations of touching each other’s bodies while making love.

Nicolai came to the reluctant realization that to keep his frustrated niece happy he had to give in to her constant pleading for her lover David, and finally allowed them the privacy of a room of their own, with Victor guarding them from outside the door. David had also finally relented, admitting to himself that he did indeed love his sex starved Ukrainian amazon, as the long days and lonely nights slowly dragged by during the hiatus. Then one morning Kolya burst into Nicolai’s apartment, excitedly waiving a newspaper in his hand. The Order was exposed to the world! They all watched the news as it rapidly unfolded over next two days via CNN news channel interviews with Miles. Both Davies and Randle had been subjected to brutal interrogation. Experts belonging to Ricardo’s organization, used modern methods of persuasion that the most infamous inquisitor of them all, Tomas de Torquemada, would have heartily approved of, had he been able to apply their use during his ruthless reign of terror over the Spanish people in the fifteenth century. Patrick’s hit squads had seized both men with military precision and spirited them away to a secret location in the English county of Hertfordshire. Randle was the first to crack under the intensive, often brutal physical and mental torture. Finally after many days he spilled his guts, blurting out about how Malcolm Davies had recruited him to the cause because of his deep personal hatred for Nick, encouraged by Davies’ solemn guarantee that through his powerful connections within the British government, Randle’s knighthood was assured.

Breaking Davies was a different matter altogether. Despite the chemical and physical methods used, he stubbornly refused for weeks to reveal who his fellow inner circle brethren were. But after almost two months of relentless sleep deprivation, water-boarding, and being constantly left in stress positions for hours on end, plus the constant assault on his very being by white noise generators, assisted by sadistic sexual abuse by his interrogators, he finally broke. Patrick’s ruthless methods produced the names of all the members of the Order’s inner circle. Many of them held prominent positions of power within governments and major international businesses worldwide. Snatch squads were dispatched immediately across the planet to pick up each and every one. They were taken to similar secret locations within the countries that they lived in and subjected to the same brutal treatment that Davies and Randle had endured. Once the location of each major Order cell was clearly established, inevitable arrests were made, using the offices of local law enforcement agencies, in some cases, by working in liaison with Interpol’s many contacts.

When it came to finding the hundreds of sub cells, it was a different story. Each one operated independently. Its leader only ever received his cell’s assignment by anonymous contact, usually via letter drop, or by a brief coded message placed in a local newspaper. No direct contact was ever made by a member of the inner circle. The Order’s security measures were carried out in great secrecy with a high degree of military precision, as were their assignments. It would be a long operation by Patrick and his interrogation teams before they finally tracked each cell down. Davies, Randle and the other members of the Order’s inner circle were all found guilty of treasonable acts of religious terrorism against church and state by the various country’s courts of law, and either sentenced to death, or to long prison terms. Randle was now a broken man. Driven insane by the torture methods inflicted upon him, he was confined indefinitely to the secure mental wing within the walls of England’s high security prison at Belmarsh. Davies was given imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. He would spend the rest of his life in a cellblock inside the headquarters of the British Military Police in Colchester. Their fellow conspirators in other parts of the world were not so lucky. Most were executed by lethal injection, hanging, or firing squad, and in one case in the Middle East, by decapitation in a public space, which was broadcast live on the local television networks. The world’s press branded them all traitors to mankind for following Asima, by willingly abandoning their various religions’ strongly held beliefs, to follow the antichrist.

~~~

Days before the news about the Order finally broke, Ricardo had seen to it that Asima’s existence was made known to the leaders of all the worlds’ religions, as well as the location of his living tomb, together with the Order’s complicity in his evil quest to seize power for himself once more, placing himself above God in his many guises as the supreme being. All were deeply concerned. If he had been set free by the Order, it would have meant the end of the many religions’ spiritual hold over the vast majority of the world’s population. Through the pope, an extraordinary meeting of all religious leaders took place in secret, within the confines of the Vatican in Rome. Between them they created a military organization not unlike the armies of the crusades century’s before, which immediately swung into operation, made up from devout members of all the world’s religions, charged with guarding the location of Asima’s tomb and preventing any attempt to free him.

Should Patrick prove difficult in the near future, once he had finally rooted out all of the Order’s cells, Ricardo would appoint him official Vatican representative to the tomb guard for the duration, with special responsibility through prayer, for ensuring that all souls within the guard’s ranks were protected from assimilation by Asima. Ithis, Ricardo, Nick, David, Nicolai and Kolya now knew that at last the discovery of each essential artefact could soon resume, once the news of the Order’s exposure had finally died down.

~~~

More later

😉

Why do all author interviews fail miseraby?

author-interview

In my view, because they tell you absolutely nothing about the author. Read one and you’ve read them all…

I’ve read literally hundreds of them over the decades. Without exception they follow an inevitable mind numbingly boring formulae.  I’m sorry, but the last thing I wish to know about is an author’s favourite book, or where they live and with whom. Or even what their latest book is all about and other entirely banal questions!!!

What I really want to know is how their mind works. Don’t you?

To begin to gain an insight into what makes any author tick, all you have to do is read their books for yourself. It couldn’t be simpler! Do that and there is no need for the totally redundant author interview.

Each and every single one of us reveals far more about ourselves in our storytelling than any damned interview ever will. You just have to have the intelligence to sift out the often unconsciously inserted clues which we leave about ourselves by the way we write the text. Believe it or not but actually reading our blog posts (not just liking them) will also help you to get to know something about us you never knew before as well.

Only a publicity seeker (you know the beast – those who refer to themselves as Author Bill or Belinda Smith across the entire social media system) will ever delude themselves into thinking that by having taken part in an author interview, that somehow or other, by osmosis their book sales will automatically increase. What total bunkum – they won’t!

Book sales still only occur after someone has actually bought and read your work, and told their friends about it. Granted, these days they may have been initially attracted to it by its often lurid cover and quite possibly, its range of good and bad reviews.

If you are a fellow writer, take my tip, get on with your writing and forget about participating in any interview until the questions on offer show a far higher degree of intelligence. As far as I can ascertain, the day when interviewers pluck up the courage to dare to break the mold and ask truly pertinent questions of their interviewees, is the day when hell will finally freeze over!

PS – As you will have gathered I have little time for time wasting foolishness in its many forms. Something else you’ve just learnt about me. 🙂

The Fifteenth Chapter

grecolg

~~~

Chapter Fifteen

The investigation begins

The flight from Moscow landed at Rome’s airport in the fading light of the late summer evening, where a limousine bearing the seal of the Vatican awaited its passenger. Patrick would first report to his superior Cardinal Spinoza before beginning his research into the Order within the Vatican’s vast library. As he was being driven through Rome’s streets to the cardinal’s private residence, his mind was working overtime. If half of what he had heard was true, then the antichrist was a real entity after all. He nervously crossed himself and absentmindedly stroked the tiny silver cross that hung from his neck. The Cardinal’s limousine stopped outside the door to his official residence and Patrick quickly disappeared inside. Cardinal Spinoza held out his hand as Patrick knelt to kiss the proffered ring bearing the ancient insignia of the Inquisitor General –Ricardo’s holy badge of office. Assisting his young protégé to his feet and motioning him to follow, Ricardo entered his private office.

~~~

Ricardo’s rise through the backbiting ranks of the Roman Catholic’s ruling body had not been an easy one. He was the illegitimate son of an impoverished aristocratic lady from a minor family within Brazil’s elite. To keep her shame from her immediate family and social circle, she had given him over into the care of her most trusted female servant and confidant, Silvia, immediately after he was born. Silvia brought young Ricardo up as her own child in her home deep within the sprawl of favelas which cover the hills around Rio de Janeiro. He knew nothing of his birthmother except what his much loved adopted mother Silvia told him from time to time. He entered the church after graduating from the seminary in Rio. Over the first few years of his vocation, he ministered to his poverty stricken flock in the favelas, and to the homeless living on Rio’s dangerous streets, where armed gangs controlled the daily lives of the poor. Eventually through sponsorship from his superiors in the Latin American branch of the Catholic Church, Ricardo finally made it to Rome.

He immediately took advantage of infighting between jealous members of the Vatican hierarchy. He became highly adept at playing the very real Machiavellian political games employed there. The end result of his deliberate manoeuvrings was the eminent position he now enjoyed as the most powerful and feared cardinal, second only in the hierarchy to the pontiff himself. Ricardo was fully aware that his position within the Roman Catholic Church differed little from his historical predecessors, when they occupied similar positions of power in the churches’ former incarnation as the Roman Empire. The cardinals constantly fight among themselves  in their bid for power and riches, while supporting their spiritual leader the Pope, the modern day equivalent of Emperor, by waging holy war against the evils that their flock are subjected to on a daily basis, while at the same time seeking riches and power. In many ways, they were not so very different from the Roman senators of old.

~~~

Ricardo seated himself in his high backed, ornately carved, red leather bound chair behind his large marble topped fifteenth century desk. He could see that Patrick was clearly worried by what he had found. Motioning him to sit, Ricardo folded his hands around the large gold cross that hung from its chain around his neck and nodded to his young friend to begin. “Eminence, I hardly know where to start. Miles and his old friend David have proof that the antichrist actually does exist!” Patrick began nervously, as beads of sweat broke out on his forehead, hardly able to believe the words that were tumbling forth from his own mouth. Ricardo silently gestured for Patrick to continue. “I also have proof of an organization called the Order whose members follow the antichrist, blindly doing his bidding. Eminence I am also sure that another evil entity exists. I planted a small listening device when I left the meeting outside Moscow. I have their unguarded conversation about the real purpose for wanting our help, captured on tape. Miles may be my friend eminence, but he and David are conspiring against god by their involvement with this other entity,” Patrick finished, collapsing back into the chair trembling with fear and at the same time, constantly crossing himself while sweating with nervous excitement.

Ricardo sat silently for a few moments with a grave look on his darkly handsome face and then posed a question. “Do you know the name of the antichrist my son?”

“Yes eminence, his name is Asima. David’s friend and co-conspirator is…”

“Yes, yes my son, I know of Doctor Nick Palmer and his work on ancient Sumeria,” Ricardo interrupted. “Asima is the name of an ancient Sumerian deity – correct?” Ricardo continued. “And what of this other entity you say they are working with, what is its name?” he casually inquired.

“It is a female they call Ithis your eminence, and…”

“Your main target my son, must be to find out all you can about Asima and the Order. Did you manage to find out who the members of the Order’s inner circle may be?” Ricardo enquired, once again cutting Patrick off in midsentence.

“Yes eminence,” Patrick began, “David and Miles have managed to uncover two names – Malcolm Davies and Doctor Palmer’s former tutor, Professor Joseph Randle.”

“Very well my son. I suggest you start with them. Find out all you can through our contacts in the United Kingdom and expose them through Miles’ newspaper, The Times. Also, make sure that the story is syndicated by all news media worldwide. The sooner the Order is exposed the better, I’m sure you will agree. Through intensive interrogation of Davies and Randle by some of the more forceful brethren within our ranks, you should have no difficulty in finding out the rest of the Order’s inner circle. Use all of our holy office’s resources to discredit and destroy the Order first. Then we shall deal with this Asima – understood?” Patrick nodded and started to leave when Ricardo added, “Leave the taped conversation my son. I wish to hear it for myself.” He passed over the tape-recorder, bowed, kissed the ring on Ricardo’s hand once more, and left to begin his investigative crusade. “Well my dear did you hear?” Ricardo looked towards the wall of his office where Ithis now stepped forward into the room.

She smiled and nodded. “What of your priest Ricardo. How will you manage to control his obvious zeal for finding out about our real purpose?” she asked as she crossed the room towards him.

“Don’t concern yourself with him. He will obey me in all things I assure you. I wish you had told me about your quest much sooner Ithis. If I had known about it, Nick and David would not now be in hiding. But with Asima still physically trapped inside his tomb, at least you can continue your important work. Go back to your friends with my blessing. Tell them that two more recruits to the cause have joined the ranks in their quest. If I know one thing about my young protégé it is that he will move heaven and hell to expose the inner circle members of Asima’s murderous organization my dearest Ithis. Now go in peace. Come back from time to time and I will fill you in on our progress.” Ricardo smiled, before destroying the incriminating taped conversation, and kissing her hand in fond farewell.

~~~

More later

😉

The Fourteenth Chapter

500px-Coat_of_arms_of_the_Vatican.svg

~~~

Chapter Fourteen

An unholy alliance

With Ithis still incapable of helping them sort out the next artefact’s location, until she had got over the physical and mental shock of encountering her deadly nemesis, thanks to the mental torture he had inflicted upon her, Kolya ordered the whole group home to Cernigov in the Ukraine. At least back there, Nick and David would be well protected until they had time to formulate plans for the next target of their continued quest. David was dreading being back in Katya’s insatiably sex starved clutches. Nick and Kolya welcomed a break from the frenetic search through the rapidly growing list of possible archaeological sites, and the immense difficulties, and possible dangers involved with each one. As for Nicolai, he was glad to have Nick as his guest once again. He was looking forward to spending many evenings talking about ancient Sumerian archaeology with him. Nick related all that had happened, leaving out the accident David had endured for both Kolya and Victor’s sake. When it came to the almost accidental discovery of the creator of the Order and his sinister organization’s great age and growth worldwide, both aspects bothered Nicolai greatly. Asima’s incredibly powerful mind, and the way he had used it against Ithis, was something else that also disturbed both he and Nick. If he could influence a group of people to form themselves into a powerful fighting force from the sealed confines of his living tomb, what else might he be capable of in the future?

Katya and David spent all of their time, much to his relief, under the watchful eye of Victor, newly promoted by Nicolai as protector and chaperon to his future nephew-in-law, after he had been told of Victor’s heroic leadership of the villagers. Katya resented having the gentle giant constantly there in the background, frustrating her insatiable sexual need for David, making it practically impossible for her to be alone with her man. But even she dare not disobey her loving uncle’s desire for old fashioned propriety.

Kolya had been given time off, glad for the chance to visit his family for a few days while Nick and David turned their minds to far more pressing matters. It was Nicolai who one evening sowed the seed of an idea in Nick’s mind, when they were discussing Asima’s Order and its implications for the future of their quest, and now at Nick’s suggestion he put it to David. “What if a prominent journalist could be persuaded to take up the story by exposing the Order, making their existence public knowledge to the world? Hopefully somehow or other, because of the story we could convince the Vatican, and the leaders of all the other major religions worldwide, that your blog is actually a serious warning about the followers of the antichrist in his guise as Asima, and not just another crackpot conspiracy site? What better way could there be, to publicly lean on the more religiously inclined among the political leaders of the world, and at the same time, embarrass them into action against the Order? And through that same journalist, hopefully expose the members of the Order’s inner circle. To begin with, if Malcolm Davies and Professor Randle are exposed as the joint heads of its English chapter, showing the world that they are willing and fanatical followers of Asima by their very actions so far, then hopefully that will be the first positive step towards closing down the Order worldwide. If somehow the journalist could convince the Vatican that your blog had already actually exposed the Order for what it really is, months ago; and that in order to silence you, it had tried unsuccessfully through its willing ranks of hired killers to assassinate you on no less than two separate occasions recently David, wouldn’t that create enough of a diversion to allow you and Nick to continue – yes?”

~~~

David sat deep in deep thought for several days and nights, thinking over every aspect of Nicolai’s intriguing possible solution, totally ignoring Katya’s constant pitiful pleading for his attention. There were far more important things to consider than her insatiable animal needs. The big question was who in the journalistic world would be able to take up such a challenge? Who among their number had the ear of someone sufficiently high enough within the tight circle surrounding the Pope to start the ball rolling? Then as if a bolt of lightning had suddenly struck him, his face lit up as the heavy veil was lifted from his mind. He knew the answer. Of course it was blindingly obvious – Miles O’Shea! Miles is the Vatican correspondent for the Times newspaper based in Rome, and a long time silent supporter and anonymous contributor of sensitive information to his blog. Miles has the perfect inside contact in his old and trusted friend – father Patrick O’Neal. Patrick had come to the notice of the senior ranks within the church, early on at the beginning of his vocation. Because of his diligent application to his holy vows, and his natural ability at sniffing out fanatical antireligious groups that posed any kind of threat to the immortal souls of the faithful, Patrick had enjoyed a meteoric rise within the church’s hierarchy. Under the mentorship of his friend and former teacher in the seminary, the newly appointed member to the College of Cardinal’s – Ricardo Spinoza, a man who could put the fear of god into god himself if need be, Patrick was the golden boy of Catholicism. The Cardinal had taken young Patrick with him as his deputy, when he was appointed as leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Despite its new title, the institution still invoked great fear among the devout throughout the Catholic Church. Formerly run by the previous pontiff, in its original incarnation it was known and greatly feared throughout medieval Europe as the Inquisition.

~~~

Through Nicolai’s many contacts beyond the Ukraine, a meeting was quickly arranged between David and Miles at a secluded, well-guarded dacha, hidden deep within the heavily forested outskirts of Moscow, home to Nicolai’s old friend Dmitri Nedvilev, the undisputed leader of the ruling triad of mafia families that runs all organized crime in Moscow. Kolya and Victor would escort David on the perilous assignment. Nicolai would fully acquaint Dmitri of the reason for the meeting, and ask for his unconditional support in his future nephew-in-law’s fight against an enemy so powerful, that even the politicians of the world bowed down to him in fear of their lives. Nicolai realized that the last part would sound a bit over the top.  But if Kolya and David were to succeed in convincing Miles of the gravity of the situation, maybe, just maybe an unholy alliance between the Catholic church and the worldwide underworld network was needed. With luck on their side, as well as the most feared organisation within the Vatican, hopefully they could flush out enough of the Order’s cells to create the diversion they so desperately needed. Above all, no mention must ever be made of Ithis by any of them. To do so would place the whole exercise in serious jeopardy.

~~~

A large black armoured limousine stopped outside the door to the heavily protected dacha, where its two occupants got out and were immediately escorted  inside by armed guards. They were shown into a room at the centre of the wooden building and the door was shut behind them. All around the dacha, armed guards patrolled its grounds. Hidden trip wires, minefields and lasers stood ready to prevent intruders from gaining entry. The two men sat in silence at the table in the centre of the room, patiently waiting. A few moments after they had been shown into the room, a panel in one wall of the room silently slid open allowing Kolya, David and Victor to enter.

“David, it’s so good to see you again my friend, I’d like you to meet father Patrick O’Neal.” Patrick stood to shake David’s hand, and then Kolya and Victor’s. Patrick’s fierce black eyes bore into David and his two companions from his unsmiling face making all three men extremely nervous. Years of experience in the art of intensive interrogation, combined with the subtle and sometimes, brutal questioning methods carried out on behalf of his boss Cardinal Spinoza, had taught him how to put anyone not intimately associated with the Congregation, and its holy mission to root out evil, immediately on the back foot even before a word had been uttered.

Patrick sat down and opened the attaché case he had before him on the table, silently making a great show of his power over their immortal souls while withdrawing a sheaf of papers, his bible and fountain pen. “So David, Miles has filled me in on your blog about time being reversed, and about this organization you refer to as the Order. Are you absolutely sure of all your facts?” Patrick inquired, without once shifting his penetrating gaze from David’s face. Kolya fidgeted uncomfortably on his seat, clearly nervous in the presence of this Vatican inquisitor, more unnerved by him than by anyone he had met before in his entire life. It was as if the priest could see deep into his soul. Victor in his childlike innocence merely sat there, oblivious to the priest’s sinister gaze. David and Miles both recounted all the information they had gathered over the years and months leading up to the discovery of the Order. David told of his friend Nick, and how between them they had made it their personal mission to search the world’s archaeological sites for artefacts to prove the theory about time being reversed. He left out any reference to it really being a protection system for the entire solar system, and made no mention of Ithis and the Crypto-terrestrials who had set it up so long ago.

“And what is your involvement in all of this?” Patrick suddenly asked, directing his question at the already nervous Kolya like a bolt of lightning.

“My boss has placed me in charge of protecting David and Doctor Nick while they are inside sphere of Russian Federation influence,” Kolya managed to say, before he totally lost his nerve under the withering gaze of the priest, signalled by the fact that he had now soiled himself out of fear.

“Tell me about this tomb you have just sealed please David, and why you believe it is the Sumerian deity Asima who you claim set up the Order to do his bidding. I also need to know its exact location,” Patrick said coldly, shifting his steady unnerving gaze back to Miles’ old friend once more. The coldly clinical interrogation by the inquisitor went on into the late evening as each point of the story about the Order, and the various attempts on David and Nick’s lives, by the Order’s goons were gone over in fine detail. When David casually injected into the conversation that they also knew the names of the two highly placed English members of the Order’s inner circle, it made Patrick’s eyes almost gleam with pleasure. Now having his complete and undivided attention, David told him of Davies and Randle’s involvement, in particular, Randle’s deliberate action to discredit Nick to the world of academia, before the hunt for the artefacts had even begun. Here at least were two targets he could start with at the beginning of his official investigation into the Order. Further research on his part about Asima, would wait until he was back in the hallowed confines of the Vatican library, which is still the best of its kind in the world when it comes to knowledge gathered down the centuries on demonic beings. Kolya tried hard to regain some of his normal composure. He hesitantly suggested that his boss Nicolai, and others within the various criminal families across the world, would gladly act as Patrick’s eyes and ears, in penance for their many sins. He informed Patrick that Nicolai was already speaking with the heads of all the crime families within the Russian Federation and the rest of the former soviet countries about that very subject. Patrick barely nodded his acknowledgment in response to Kolya’s proposal before turning back to David and Miles once more. “Very well, I have all I need for now gentlemen. I suggest you return to wherever it is that you are hiding for the moment. I have no doubt that Kolya and his boss have you well protected from this Order and its henchmen. In the meantime Miles, I suggest you stay here in Moscow acting as liaison between David and me, until I have completed my investigation. Now I must get back to Rome immediately to report to his eminence.” Patrick looked at Miles, David, Victor and Kolya one last time before he left the room. He was positive all of them were hiding something. But for now he would leave them to get on with their hunt for the archaeological proof they needed, if that was indeed the true purpose for their investigations – only time and persistent detective work on his part, would tell.

Once Dmitri’s man had informed them that the priest had been driven to Moscow’s main airport and put aboard his flight to Rome, Miles, David and Kolya finally relaxed. Victor was the only one who wasn’t nervous. All he cared about was David’s safety. “Ok David, fill me in. Just what the hell is this all about?” Miles said as they sat drinking and eating courtesy of Dmitri’s staff. Between them, David and Kolya related the whole saga from the time when Nick first became aware of the time lag at Stonehenge, and how he and David met and formed an alliance to reset the Solar Defence System with the aid of Ithis. Miles almost choked on his food when mention was made of her and what she was, as well as the true purpose of the system her people had constructed. By the time they had finished, Miles sat deep in thought, struggling to believe even half of what they had told him. Both Kolya and David made him swear never to reveal anything of the conversation they just had. It went against his journalistic principals to sit on a story like this, but he reluctantly agreed. As the four men left the room in Dmitri’s dacha, none of them had noticed the electronic bug stuck beneath the table.

Patrick smiled to himself in his seat aboard the Rome flight as he removed the headphones of the receiving unit from his ears. His first order of priority was the Order and Asima. He would deal with David, Nick and Ithis later. While his clear instructions regarding the extraction of confessions differed somewhat from those of his predecessor’s  in centuries past, who used excruciatingly cruel physical torture in their quest for the truth, he had the advantage of twenty-first century technology to aid him in extracting pertinent facts.

~~~

More later

😉