Fourth Chapter

barrientospalacios

~~~

Chapter Four

The truth beckons

During the long flight back to England, Nick’s mind was working overtime. What had he discovered? Was it part of something much bigger, or merely a device, clearly out of its time, used thousands of years in the past by an ancient civilization for some as yet unknown purpose? Before he left, he promised his new friend Thomaso that he would keep in touch as his voyage of discovery took him who knows where across the world, in search of answers. Thomaso for his part, agreed to keep watch for any other people curious about the ruin and its hidden chamber. Through a young cousin of his with a computer in Puno, he would tell Nick everything via email.

~~~

Dragon hissed as Nick gingerly pushed open the damaged front door to his cottage. “What the hell happened here?” The old cat rubbed himself against Nick’s leg, glad to have his human back. Someone had clearly ransacked the place. The cottage’s interior looked like a bomb had hit it. Thugs had trashed the place. Periodicals lay in a scattered heap. Draws hung open with their contents thrown to the floor. Cupboards suffered the same fate; and as for his precious book shelves… Nick shook his head in sheer disbelief and utter disgust at the mindless carnage that was his home. He was too tired to clear up, collapsing on the old leather couch in the living room after wedging the heaviest chair he had behind the cottage’s door. Tomorrow he would carefully check to see what was missing. Dragon took up his customary position on the windowsill as Nick drifted off to sleep. Ithis knew she would have to stay awake in her latest hiding place in the thick old walls of Nick’s sixteenth century cottage, on guard, ready to protect him,  in case the intruders returned while her surface-occupier slept.

The next morning after Nick had given Dragon his favourite breakfast of tinned sardines and fed himself with four slices of thickly buttered toast accompanied by three cups of strong black coffee, he began slowly clearing up the mess. As far as he could make out, nothing important was missing. Perhaps they had been looking for his laptop? By midmorning the living room looked almost tidy by Nick’s bachelor standards; plus, he had also repaired the damage to his front door. Housekeeping done he fired up his laptop, checked his emails hoping that Sophie had managed to get to a computer. Unfortunately she hadn’t. Then he opened up the Time Reversed website. Its author Clocked had posted several new articles since Nick had gone to Titicaca. One article in particular about the Yucatan Peninsula, the Dresden Codex and its reference to Venus being more important to the Maya than the Sun got his undivided attention, together with another on the Moche valley pyramids in Peru. Ithis silently watched from her hiding place directly above him in the oak-beamed ceiling. Nick read the Yucatan article first, not realizing that she had made him do so. While the Maya in their time were a bloodthirsty warlike people bent on conquest of their neighbours and preoccupied with a fierce desire for blood sacrifice to their gods; their obsessive interest in Venus peaked Nick’s curiosity. Why Venus and not the Sun? Maybe clues lay in the vast number of Mayan temple pyramids stretching from the Yucatan Peninsula in the south-eastern part of Central America, north to El Salvador and western Honduras. Nick knew that it was time he introduced himself to Clocked and decided to issue an invite to meet. After all, they had a lot to talk about. At the bottom of the article he clicked on the ‘Leave a comment’ button and, carefully choosing his words, posted his open invite using his own name as the signature. If Clocked appeared at the rendezvous point as Nick hoped, perhaps between them they could make sense of the Venus question at the very least.

A week went by with no reaction. By this time, Nick was beginning to focus once again on a possible trip back to Peru to take a look at the Moche ruins, when the phone rang. It was the mysterious Clocked. The pair had a strange but brief conversation, the gist of which was that Clocked agreed to meet him at the Palenque city ruins. But, he would not make a move towards him if he suspected that they were being watched. He made it very plain that Nick had to agree to the way in which the clandestine meeting had to take place. After the strange conversation, Nick found that the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end. For some reason, Clocked was extremely paranoid, but why?

~~~

The long flight to Mexico City and the even longer drive south through Mexico’s mountainous regions to the Chiapas district, riding on badly maintained buses full of local people and assorted farmyard animals completely exhausted Nick. After many hours of being bounced around incessantly on the bad roads, the last bus that he had to catch didn’t so much stop as die, totally exhausted by its ordeal in the small town of Macuspana, just across the border in the district of Tabasco. He was glad to rest his weary body for the night in the local guesthouse. Tomorrow he would make the journey to the ancient Mayan city of Palenque and his rendezvous, he hoped. Above him the now familiar slow moving fan spun its pointless spiral while small colourful skinks clung to the room’s walls and ceiling, flicking their tongues at any insect that came into range. A faint warm breeze seeped between the dilapidated wooden shutters in the window. Sensing no immediate danger, Ithis relaxed from her vantage point in the room’s outside wall. She would have to be extremely vigilant tomorrow. Her key seeker was walking into unfamiliar territory. By now she found herself feeling protective towards him. She had abandoned any thoughts of eliminating him. Instead, there was a strange and disturbing new feeling entering her soul.

~~~

The next morning Nick managed to hitch a ride in a beat up old pre-war flathead V8 powered Ford pickup, driven by a crazy happy-go-lucky character called Gonzales. As you might have guessed his nickname was Speedy. Nick never did find out his real Christian name. He drove at a snail’s pace along the rough road to Palenque for the sake of the old Ford’s complaining chassis and springs as they creaked and groaned. Eventually he dropped him off in a cloud of dust close to the ancient ruined city and drove off into the hills, waiving one arm in farewell out of the window.

The beauty of the spectacular jungle location wasn’t lost on Nick. The magnificent ruins of the ancient city gently poked their way up through the constantly encroaching trees and vines of the jungle. It was still too early for the tourists to arrive, so he began to explore the vast site, free from annoying interruptions from loud-mouthed visitors and the constantly suspicious eyes of the site’s armed guards. He made his way across the vast plaza to the main temple and climbed the steep steps leading up to the massive platform level that supported the temple complex before entering the temple proper with its tall four storey tower at its centre.

“Are you alone?” Out of one dark corner of the topmost room in the tower a short slightly built man, nervous to the point of paranoia, emerged.

Nick jumped out of his skin. “Clocked?”

“My name is David Black,” he said in a hushed voice as they shook hands. “Nick, have you any real idea what a hornet’s nest you have wandered into?” Nick shook his head. “Then pin your ears back Doctor Palmer, you have a lot of information to absorb,” David smiled gravely as he led the way down into the depths below the main floor of the temple. “Have you ever heard of an organization called the Order?” David began, while keeping an eye on the chamber’s dark doorway.

Nick shook his head and asked the obvious question. “Who are they?”

“As far as I’ve been able to establish, the Order is a very powerful and sinister organization that began back in the fifteenth century, hell bent on making themselves rich at the expense of the Spanish crown. Its original members were chosen from the Spanish ruling class. Their emblem was, and still is, a shield showing a Spanish breastplate at its centre, bearing a pierced heart. During their brutal conquest of Central and South America, the soldiers of the Order kept hearing rumours of green eyed devils that lived underground who controlled time, told to them in all honesty by the local Indians. The Order and all mention of the green eyed devils more or less died out until the birth of your academic discipline back in the mid nineteenth century, when artefacts began to be found that clearly didn’t fit their surroundings, or the context of the historical era being excavated. This was when the Order finally reorganized itself and reappeared, only this time its major priority was to destroy all of these strange artefacts for reasons that will become apparent to you in a moment. The capacitor you found on the Isla Del Sol is just the beginning Nick. As for the green eyed devils, have you ever heard of Crypto–terrestrials?”

Nick’s startled eyes opened wide. “How do you know about the capacitor, who told you? And what in the hell is a Crypto-terrestrial?”

“Maybe it’s time to make yourself known Ithis,” David’s mind transmitted.

“No he is not ready yet. Besides if he sees me and reacts as I think he will, the Solar Defence System may detect it and could destroy itself. Better that I remain where I am for the moment,” Ithis replied from the depths of the massive stones that made up the structure of the temple’s basement.

Reluctantly realizing that she was probably correct in her appraisal of the situation, David sat Nick down and gave him chapter and verse on the history of Ithis’ people, who had first arrived here millennia ago looking for a new and safe home, a fact known only by a tiny minority. Her people where referred to as Crypto-terrestrials by the informed few, due to the fact that they had to retreat beneath the Earth’s surface for their own protection away from the warring tribes of early humans, taking all knowledge of the Solar Defence Control System that they had put in place to protect and shield our solar system from prying eyes deep underground. If anyone else beyond Nick and David knew or even suspected anything of Ithis’ existence and the secret she guarded, all hell would break loose within governmental and military circles worldwide.

Then David returned to describing what the newly reformed Order had become and its obsession with destroying any artefact that did not fit into accepted archaeological guidelines for given eras. “The Order firmly believes that the Solar Defence System built by the Crypto-terrestrials is the work of the devil and must be destroyed at all costs. They also firmly believe they are conducting some kind of modern day equivalent of a crusading religious witch hunt. Their members are carefully vetted for their devout and fanatical religious beliefs from all the world’s religions, and are also recruited from the highest circles within each country’s intelligentsia across the planet. They have spies everywhere, sworn to report anything and anyone believed to be involved in protecting the green eyed devils. As a species living in the twenty first century we like to believe we are sophisticated and have moved forward, way beyond our ancestor’s superstitious ways Nick. But if those quasi-religious fanatical idiots are allowed to triumph then everything we know will cease to exist. It is vital that you have to go on finding the other artefacts that don’t fit across the many ancient sites here in Central America and across the world,” David continued. “As you find and reactivate each one, another link in the chain will be re-established before it is too late.”

“What the hell are you talking about and what is really going on here David?” Nick asked suspiciously, beginning to lose his patience and wondering if David had a few loose screws rattling around in his brain.

David ignored Nick’s outburst and continued. “I can help you to locate each of your target artefacts through my blog and my contacts worldwide. For the foreseeable future my Crypto-terrestrial co-conspirator who works tirelessly in the background, can only observe for now until after you have restarted the Solar Defence System. If it detects any physical involvement by her, no matter how slight, make no mistake, it will immediately self-destruct! If it is allowed to continue counting down to destruction, sometime late in 2012, our solar system will cease to exist forever. Before you can find the key needed to restart it once again, first you have to locate each vital part of its network, merely touch it and move on to the next piece. The capacitor you found is just one small part of the system, tapped into the natural electrical energy produced by the Earth’s spinning molten core. Your human DNA is the key to revitalizing each piece. Ithis chose you when you were conceived; deliberately altering your DNA for the purpose, ensuring that archaeology would be your field of expertise. If the Order’s members or any other human being touches the artefacts nothing will happen. All the Order can do to them is to destroy them beyond repair. The Crypto-terrestrial’s defence system was originally built to protect the whole solar system from outside bombardment by meteorites and other life threatening debris from deep space, as well as shielding its location from the many enemies of Ithis’ people far out into the depths of the universe. Then in anger at the way our ancestors finally turned against them, thousands of years ago they set off its slow countdown to self-destruction, creating the phenomena we know as time and its destructive side effect, decay, in the process, before rapidly leaving our solar system twenty-five thousand years ago, never to return.

Since they left, and as the passing millennia have slowly ticked by, the equivalent control systems on the other formerly inhabited planets have also shut down one by one. This has  allowed the planets they were set up to protect to be struck by all manner of hazardous natural phenomena and cosmological detritus, depleting them of their life giving environments and falling into decay as well. Over the countless thousands of years since its instillation, it has begun to weaken. It can no longer stop meteorites and asteroids, plus, it barely hides our solar system anymore. We are next Nick, unless you – we, do something about it. Just look at Mars and Venus our closest neighbours, both now barren rocks with poisoned or depleted atmospheres, devoid of life. The ancient Maya firmly believed that their ancestors lived on Venus eons ago, and they were perfectly correct about that fact. But once Venus’ defence system ceased to function, and their ancestors were forced to abandon their home planet for life here on Earth, unfortunately for them, the change of environment was a retrograde step in their development and they rapidly reverted back to a savage way of life that they had long ago abandoned on their home planet. With less than two years before this planet’s own control system finally shuts down, the Earth will become barren and lifeless to, unless with our help you can find all the pieces of the Solar Defence System master control and trigger it into a major re-boot. If we can restart it once more, our sister planets will once again become inhabitable. The Maya aren’t the only ones whose lives were interrupted and had to hurriedly relocate themselves here thousands of years ago to our blue home planet. Haven’t you ever wondered why we have such a diverse mix of peoples living here? The Earth has become a place of refuge, for all of the different peoples from our sister planets within our solar system that now live here, like us calling Earth home.”

Nick sat on the damp stone floor in a state of complete shock and total disbelief at what he had just been told. The whole thing sounded like something out of a cheap science fiction dime novel that a Hollywood director would have made into one of those dreadful ‘B’ movies, so popular back in the nineteen fifties. Except for one tiny fact. He had found that first damned capacitor. And, all the information he had been slowly gathering over the years from all of those dusty and forgotten archaeological dig reports, all pointed to something that was controlling time, or at least the concept of time as he and everyone else currently accepted it, beyond this tiny group of concerned individuals who understood time’s real meaning. Maybe the irreversible could be reversed. Maybe time was the wrong term to use for the phenomena the world was experiencing – controlled decay seemed a much better description under the circumstances.

“Nick I must get out of here. Remember, the Order has eyes everywhere. If they see us together our plan is sunk. I must remain in the background to be able to help you find each part. Once you have touched it they cannot destroy it. Whatever you do stay out of their reach and watch your back. Be vigilant! Trust no one! They can only destroy an artefact if they manage to beat you to it. Good luck and goodbye,” David reiterated, as he nervously disappeared back through the entrance. Then as suddenly as he had gone he reappeared briefly. “Oh by the way, I almost forgot. You’ll find an artefact below this level through that large stone door over there – bye.”

~~~

Nick sat quietly, still staggered by the whole seemingly preposterous notion. All that David had just told him was undeniably backed up by the evidence he had uncovered for himself. However fantastic it all sounded, the one thing he was absolutely sure of was the simple fact that none of the mountain of purely circumstantial evidence could be ignored any longer. Ithis entered his mind briefly steering him towards the stone door. As he turned on his torch and looked at the solid wall of closely fitted large blocks of stone, he detected a faint air movement near the edge of one particular stone. Feeling along all four of its edges, his fingers sensed a slight movement accompanied by a faint click. The massive stone swung silently inwards revealing a set of stone steps leading down to another chamber. As he carefully climbed down the dusty steps, the perfectly balanced stone door softly shut behind him. The stairwell opened out into another stone chamber with another equally massive capacitor at its centre. Carefully inspecting it he could see that it was identical in its construction to the first one he had found back on Isla Del Sol. Once again the hairs covering his body stood on end from the build-up of static electricity emanating from the capacitor. Hesitantly he extended a finger towards the stack of mica and bitumen layers. The resultant blue spark made him wince in pain briefly as he touched the stack. Like the first capacitor this one also had mica insulated channels containing shielded metal rods, leading off to holes in the surrounding stone walls. He sat down for a while to rest, trying to make sense of what the control system was. Ithis’ people were obviously far more advanced than our ancestors had been, probably more advanced than we were right now. She listened in on his thoughts, purring contentedly to herself as she smiled. “How right you are my precious Nick,” she thought.

Another ‘corner of the eye moment’ happened to Nick. This time however he swore he could see the capacitor slowly give off a faint glow as it began once more to collect energy from deep within the planet, and to almost imperceptibly at first, revert to its original state. Now he needed to get out of here and head back home to his cottage and wily old Dragon before his next destination was revealed to him by David aka Clocked.

~~~

More later

😉

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