On their return to Nicolai’s fort like home in northern Ukraine, Katya immediately dragged David away much to everyone’s great amusement. The phrase, ‘she who must be satisfied, if he knows what’s good for him’, sprang to mind as Nick, Nicolai and Kolya watched him being dragged unceremoniously into the bedroom by Katya, who desperately needed to satiate her pent up sexual needs. As if David didn’t have enough to contend with already. Now he had to make up for leaving his Ukrainian Amazon alone for a couple of months!
Nicolai had heard from Miles while they had been away. He had come across a disturbing report, branded by the authorities as just another crackpot’s rant, leaked to him by his source within the British Ministry of Defence’s recently formed ‘Unexplained Reports Section’ that had replaced the former UFO investigation section, and just like it, it’s function was to debunk any and all reports. However, the normally cynical journalist realised that this time it may actually be genuine. It concerned a strange event that happened in the English county of Norfolk, approximately at the same time as when they set off for Mongolia. Miles sent a copy of it to Nicolai for Nick’s immediate attention, courtesy of Nicolai’s old friend Dmitri Nedvilev in Moscow. Nick sat and read the report as he relaxed once again in Nicolai’s apartment.
To whom it may concern,
Something happened to me recently which has given me many sleepless nights since it occurred. I always have trouble with my boisterous Border Collie Laddie when I let him off his lead on our early morning walks across the sea grass covered salt marsh, here at the edge of The Wash, in north Norfolk. Once he is free to run he soon gets himself into trouble in one way or another.
On one particular grey cloud covered day recently, as usual he began ranging back and forth along the ill-defined pathway, and from side to side, dipping his nose into pools of brackish water one minute, or rolling in piles of animal dung, or the rotting corpse of a dead fish or seagull the next.
That particular morning my mind was preoccupied with what lay ahead of me at work, in my capacity as town clerk for the small coastal town of Wells-next-the-Sea, as we made our way out to the point where we usually turned back to head home. This time I heard Laddie yelp in pain some way off to the right of the path. I leapt across the grass tufted micro islands sticking up through the marsh all the while calling his name. By now he had begun to whimper, obviously in pain, as I drew closer to where I had seen him last. I stood for a moment trying to gauge where he was. Not far from where I stood was a larger area of firm ground. I picked my way across to it, whereupon I called out to him once again. From beneath an old gnarled tree stump, Laddie’s pathetic whimper answered my call. I searched beneath the exposed roots of the stump, and then I saw him. Somehow he had fallen into a sink hole beneath the roots of the old tree. I began to climb down using the roots as a ladder when to my horror I slipped and fell to the bottom.
I was now in a cave mouth bathed in warm bright sunlight, and for some reason my throat was parched. To one side of the cave I could see a pool of brackish water at the base of a dripping moss covered rock. So I hobbled my way painfully over to it to slake my thirst. Then I got the shock of my life. Staring back at me from the surface of the pool was the face of a young Neanderthal male. I let out a yell of surprise and sheer panic. Yet for some reason, my voice was only within my own consciousness, not his. Don’t ask me how, but somehow or other we both occupied the same body at the same moment in time. I had become a kind of parasite within his stocky frame. No matter how hard I tried, I had no influence over anything he thought or did. I was trapped; an unwilling observer in this ancient being’s existence. Whatever he heard, felt or saw, so did I. Whatever he tasted, I tasted to.
We looked out of the cave mouth, sniffed the air and began to make our way down to the vast grass covered plain below our cave. In the distance we could see more of our kind gathered around a kill they had recently made. The large carcass of an adult woolly mammoth was being butchered by the group. They saw us coming and shook their fists at us uttering disapproving, threatening cries. Clearly my host and I were not welcome, so we backed off and sat down on our haunches in the windswept sea of grass. I later judged that we were somewhere on England’s ancient eastern heights, bordering the vast prairie lands of Doggerland, the former land bridge between the British Isles and mainland Europe, before it was flooded to become the North Sea.
By the time the hunters had moved off, the sun was already disappearing over the hills behind us. We got up and picked through the now stinking remains for a morsel or two, and then we returned to our cave before darkness fell. We struck a flint at the dried grass kindling we had put in our crude hearth, gently blowing on the tiny spark, slowly turning it into a weak flame. As we added dry twigs and small branches, our fire soon grew in intensity. We put our morsels of flesh on the surrounding stones of our hearth to cook. Outside our cave we could hear calls from beasts in the night, as they hunted down the young and the weak in the vast herds of mammoth on the prairie below. Eventually we tested our meat with our teeth. We ate our fill. For a brief while we were content. Our belly was full. Building up our fire to keep away those same beasts from entering our home, we climbed up to a rocky shelf that was our bed, and we turned in for the night.
The next thing I knew was when I became aware of a wet nose and rough tongue as I slowly came to. Laddie was licking my face while wagging his tail, happy to see me. It took some time to scramble my way back up and out of the sink hole with him tied securely onto my back by his lead. On the way back across the marsh I absentmindedly picked my teeth as Laddie hobbled along painfully beside me. I looked at the thing in my hand that had lodged itself between two of my front teeth. It was a piece of semi cooked course grained meat. What a dream I had when I fell and knocked myself unconscious, or was it? To be honest I’m not really sure? The thing that really struck me was the brief amount of time I had been unconscious. Barely forty minutes had passed since I had first begun my descent down the sinkhole to rescue Laddie, to the time when I looked at my watch as we went home.
If you can please find the time to send someone to investigate, I would be happy to show you the sinkhole’s location.
Willow Cottage, Wells-next-the -Sea.
Nick ran to Katya’s bedroom door and burst in on the couple’s loud lovemaking. “David read this. It’s yet more proof that time is decaying – read it!” Katya screamed abuse as her man eagerly leapt out of bed and followed Nick back into the apartment’s spacious living room, glad of the timely rescue. After David had read Simpkins’ seemingly off the wall report through twice, he looked at Nick with a seriously worried expression.
“What do you think?” he began, “Is time decaying faster than we realize?”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Nick replied. “Perhaps somehow or other, cracks in time are beginning to appear as the countdown continues. How many more of these time anomalies will happen over the months ahead David? We have to tell Ithis about this. Plus, it’s now obvious we have to step up our race to complete the reactivation,” Nick said finally.
“Don’t forget Asima,” Kolya added, reminding them of their immediate problem. “If he somehow manages to regain his mental powers, will his tomb hold him? Maybe Ricardo’s religious army have already freed him?” Nicolai and Victor both nodded their heads in silent agreement with Kolya. First deal with Asima, and then worry about this new development.
“Nicolai, please ask Dmitri if he can arrange to get Ricardo and Miles here. We have to sit down together away from prying eyes to formulate a plan to stop Asima once and for all. The longer we delay, the worse things will get,” Nick said finally with a desperately pleading look on his face. Nicolai nodded and immediately left the room for his private office, hidden behind a full length portrait of himself which acted as it’s doorway.
Three days later cardinal Ricardo Spinoza sat at the head of Nicolai’s large ornate dining table with Nick, Dmitri, David, Miles, Nicolai, Kolya and Ithis to talk over the problem of what to do about Asima. “The immediate problem as I pointed out to you earlier Ricardo, is that we have to find a way to destroy his concentration for good,” Ithis began.
“What do you have in mind my dear?” Ricardo asked.
“We need to be able to excite the crystals that line his tomb in such a way that they vibrate at a set frequency, creating great pain in his immortal soul. It is obvious that the crystals on their own are not powerful enough to prevent his mind from taking control of those within his reach who are the most susceptible to his influence.” she replied sadly, momentarily drifting off into deep thought.
“What you say may account for Patrick’s lack of communication with me of late. Ever since I first sent him there to minister to the spiritual needs of the army guarding Asima’s tomb, his reports, at best, have been sporadic. Now they seem to have ceased altogether,” Ricardo concluded, clearly worried for his protégé’s mortal soul.
“Ithis, please tell us more about your idea for exciting the crystals?” Dmitri asked. Like everyone present at the meeting, he was totally captivated by her as he entered the discussion. She went into great detail about how her people had first constructed the tomb out of thick lead sheets. They had lined its interior with alternating layers of living crystals of Quartz and Beryllium, carefully removed from their original locations in the bedrock from which they grew, before the granite sarcophagus, containing his body, was finally lowered into place. Then the whole construction was hermetically sealed, and placed inside a hollowed out massive basalt block, before being lowered into the chamber where it now lays, just beyond the Khakassian settlement of Safronov, marked by the megalithic structure.
“To me, it sounds like you need a sonic generator, tuned to the correct frequency to excite the crystals,” Dmitri concluded in his thickly accented English, looking straight into Ithis’ hypnotic eyes.
“We’ll need a whole bank of them arranged around the tomb, emitting low frequency sound to disorientate him,” Miles added. “Remember the experiments that went on throughout the Cold War Dmitri? Both the Soviet and the US military were experimenting with the use of sound warfare to disable the enemy. Maybe there is some way of getting our hands on some of that technology, what do you think?”
Dmitri’s eyes lit up as he smiled at Miles’ suggestion. “Leave it to me my friends? I have connections within the Kremlin who owe me many favours. Now is a good time for some of them to pay their debt,” he said finally, while smiling broadly.
“What about your protégé Patrick, can you recall him back to Rome out of harm’s way Ricardo?” Nicolai wondered.
“Without someone at the tomb guard’s headquarters to answer my calls Nicolai, I don’t see how I can. I’m afraid that by now Asima has constructed a new army already under his spell, ready to blindly do his bidding like the Order before them, with poor Patrick as one of his willing servants,” Ricardo replied sadly.
Dmitri smiled once more. “You need an army eminence. Let me provide it. Nicolai a word please.” Dmitri beckoned his old friend aside for a moment to work out the details of what he had in mind. Minutes later after kissing Nicolai’s cheek, Dmitri left immediately for Moscow, while the rest sat into the night, discussing their plans for the assault that was soon to happen on sleepy Safronov and Asima’s tomb.
Nick showed the copy of the report to Ithis. As she read it, the emerald pupils of her eyes changed colour to strong yellow as she hissed angrily at the news of the first reported rift in the fabric of time, caused by the countdown. “Miles, you need to investigate this in person while we fight Asima,” she said angrily, purposely handing the report to him for fear of possible cross contamination of her DNA with Nick’s, should she inadvertently hand it back to him without thinking. “You must make it your priority to find out if this is just a one off incident, or, if others have occurred across the world. It is vitally important that you keep us up to date with any occurrences like this in the future please,” she said, gradually calming down, though still annoyed by the disturbing news. Miles departed straight away, heading back to England via Moscow.
Less than a week later, Dmitri reappeared at Nicolai’s apartment accompanied by two senior members of the Russian Federation Defence Force and their aids. He made the formal introductions before Nick and David explained what they needed to complete the task. David pointed out that the army which had been set up by the leaders of the world’s religions, to both prevent any rescue attempt of Asima, and to guard the site, was now quite possibly a belligerent one under Asima’s control. Much to Nick and David’s relief, the generals insisted that they should take control of the situation and carry out an immediate investigation, reporting back with their findings. Soon concrete plans for ‘Operation Asima’ were put into place. A Spetsnaz unit armed with a long range Infrasonic device, designed to penetrate all types of cover, disrupting the internal organs of whoever was behind it by creating sickness and nausea, would be dropped several kilometres away in the peaks of the Stanovoy Range, where they would set up a communication link to report their findings. Ithis would also travel to the same location unseen by the Russian troops, to report on any and all reactions by Asima. Once the army had been incapacitated, further troops would quickly assemble a ring fence of acoustic arrays aimed at Asima’s tomb, operating on varying frequency’s to disrupt his psychic powers, hopefully rendering them useless and inflicting enough pain within his soul to incapacitate him. Medical units would take charge of the religious army, once the area was safe to enter. The whole operation would have to be carried out in such a way that Asima and his embryo army where completely unaware of what was happening until they felt the effects of the infrasonic weapon.
Operation Asima was soon underway. Ithis watched as the experimental weapon was quickly set up, and aimed directly down on the area of the camp surrounding the tomb and the settlement of Safronov. The order was given and the low frequency sound waves began their work. The commander of the Spetsnaz unit focused his satellite camera onto the area so that Nick and everyone else, including the senior Russian Defence Force officers, back in Nicolai’s headquarters in northern Ukraine, could watch the event unfold before their eyes. Ithis concentrated on Asima’s mind, careful not to give away her presence.
Within seconds of the weapon transmitting its debilitating signal, they all saw the men on the ground around the tomb experiencing the first symptoms of the infrasonic bombardment. Weapons were dropped as the targets doubled over in agony, as their internal organs vibrated at such a rate as to cause violent internal pain and nausea. At the same time, Ithis began to sense Asima’s reaction. She could hear his angry cries from deep within his tomb as he sensed his new army’s pain. Troop carrying Mil-Mi24 helicopter gunships quickly discharged their human cargos, while others fitted with smaller infrasonic weapons, aimed their deadly beams directly at Asima’s tomb, allowing the Special Forces troops on the ground to go to work, erecting the fence array. Ithis heard Asima’s tortured screams of violent agony rapidly increase as his twisted soul cried out under the vicious attack which now rendered him powerless. Meanwhile, the medics quickly went to work, treating the men of the religious army and the men and women of Safronov who had also been under Asima’s powerful mental control.
Much to Ricardo’s great relief, his protégé Patrick was eventually found. The medics declared him to be clinically insane, driven mad by the conflict between his own personal religious belief and his blind devotion to Asima within his tortured mind. Ricardo saw to it that his friend was sent to a sanatorium run by his organization in Rome under guard, where he would be housed forever as a seriously disturbed mental patient.
Operation Asima was a resounding success – at least for now. No one really knew if Asima was permanently silenced or not, only time would tell. A Special Forces presence would be maintained around the clock, controlling the infrasonic wall, assisting the now healthy members of the world’s religious army to ensure that Asima remained quiet in the immediate future. The assault on Asima and his new army had been a timely one. For within a few short weeks of his takeover of their minds, work had begun to excavate his tomb. With Asima now sidelined, Nick, Ithis and David could once again turn their undivided attention to finding the next artefact.