The Twenty-third Chapter

LR snakes

~~~

Chapter Twenty-three

An Old Foe Returns

Five weeks after they had left Rize on Turkey’s northern coast, the weary and dusty party finally saw their goal in the distance. Göbekli Tepe sits at the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge, fifteen kilometres northeast of Sanhurfa in south-eastern Turkey. To this day it is still the oldest known human place of worship yet discovered.

From their hideout across the valley, they would wait until Hakan’s workforce had left for the day, before announcing their presence. Through his binoculars, Nick could see his old friend directing the dig’s operation from his command centre beneath a simple open sided tent at the centre of the excavation. Hakan sat on a canvas camp stool at his folding table under the canopy of his tent, pitched on one of the polished limestone floors at the monument’s centre. As dusk fell, he was busy examining the latest finds and writing up his notes for the day’s activity by the light of a hurricane lamp, suspended from the tent’s central pole. After the last rays of daylight finally vanished behind the mountains to the west, Nick and David, warily followed by Kolya and Victor, approached Hakan through the forest of T shaped carved stone monoliths that had been manufactured and erected by hunter gatherers eleven thousand- five hundred years earlier. The monoliths were illuminated by the light of a rapidly rising full moon, covered with ghostly carved reliefs and pictograms of foxes, lions, bulls, boars, pigs, gazelles, asses, snakes, insects, spiders, scorpions and birds.

“Hakan – it’s me. We’re here at long last,” Nick whispered, from the shadows behind where he sat still totally absorbed in his work. Hakan almost jumped out of his skin, before turning to embrace his old friend.

“Nick, you scared the pants off me!” Hakan laughed with tears of joy flowing down his handsome face, kissing Nick on both cheeks in the time honoured fashion of the Middle East, now surrounded by the rest of the dust encrusted weary team, as they slowly emerged from the shadows to stand beneath the tent.

Nick was very proud of his friend. He had done well for himself since his return to Turkey, rapidly gaining the respect of the Turkish archaeological community, and in the wider academic world beyond. Ithis remained hidden for the moment, morphed into one of the ornately carved T shaped pillars. She saw no need to startle Nick’s friend for a second time by her physical presence. While Hakan had been made aware of her by Nicolai, as yet, he hadn’t set eyes upon her. Besides, he had already nearly suffered a heart attack, when Nick crept up on him a few moments earlier. Unlike David, Kolya and Victor, who took Hakan at face value on Nick’s word, she was not yet prepared to automatically accept him, despite him being one of Nick’s closest friends at university. Inevitably, people tend to change over time in more ways other than mere physical change as they grow older. After Esrin’s betrayal she had resolved to be doubly on her guard, now that the end was almost in sight. Besides, she needed to probe Hakan’s mind to satisfy herself as to his allegiances and beliefs, a process that she knew her darling surface-occupier would not approve of.

Hakan had disturbing news to tell them, courtesy of Miles and Ricardo Spinoza which he began to relate. Miles had been in contact two days earlier, via an email from Nicolai back in the Ukraine, about two more recent time anomalies still as yet uncorroborated, unlike the earlier Neanderthal sighting in the English county of Norfolk. One of which they already knew about, concerned the recent sightings of ancient Inca warriors. He had gone with Thomaso, who had also witnessed the ghostly phenomena, to Isla Del Sol after stories spread rapidly among the locals on the island. They were completely terrified when the Inca warrior apparitions appeared in their midst. The whole phenomena sharpened his natural journalistic curiosity. Meantime, Ricardo had learned of a second time anomaly through his contacts within the hierarchy of the South American Catholic Church, which at his insistence was kept from the general public by the Argentinean government, on the advice of the cardinals under his sway. Sightings of long extinct dinosaurs by farmers in the more remote parts of Patagonia had been reported, which he and Miles would investigate together.

Hakan went on to say that deeply worrying reports from many branches of the scientific community worldwide, were coming in thick and fast on an almost hourly basis from across the world over the last month. Serious concerns among the astronomical community, were rapidly being disseminated as the Solar System’s planets began to change their orbits, which Nick and David both knew only too well, signalled the beginning of its final realignment, when it would point directly towards the centre of the galaxy, suggesting the very real possibility of catastrophic planetary collisions in the near future. Not to mention the fact that it would alter the paths of countless meteorites, asteroids and other space debris, with equally disastrous results for all mankind, possibly as early as the months of January or February 2013. The geological community across the planet reported massively increased seismic activity associated with the already marked shift in the Earth’s orbit.

Meteorologists and climatologists as well as politicians and investment bankers who backed the highly controversial global warming theory, seeing it as just another money making venture by selling the concept of carbon offsetting to the gullible, were fast abandoning their formerly entrenched views now that the Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves began to grow at an alarming rate. The ice growth was clear evidence of the Earth’s new elliptical orbit taking it farther away from the Sun, which would lead to a protracted period of freezing within a few months, and for the foreseeable future.

Finally, to add to the alarming scenario rapidly unfolding before their eyes, word was coming through that the Earth’s magnetic poles were beginning to reverse, as witnessed by anyone using any form of satellite assisted navigational system to find their way across the world. In the case of the world’s network of GPS satellites, many of them where now clearly no longer functioning since they crashed back into the atmosphere to burn up, courtesy of the planet’s change in orbit. The last time that the Earth had experienced a magnetic pole change, back in the eleventh millennium BC, the continents shifted, ending long forgotten civilizations in a heartbeat, plunging vast swathes of the Earth’s surface beneath the deadly grip of a killer ice age. The new shift meant that the lithosphere was inevitably on the move once again, experiencing an alarming rate of acceleration, which until now had been nothing more than the object of theoretical debate among the world’s leading geologists.

Meanwhile, television news channels, radio chat shows, leading newspapers, political commentators and senior politicians worldwide, were in the midst of a frenzy of pointless discussions about what could be done about the Earth’s current predicament…

~~~

Nick sat in stunned silence struggling to absorb Hakan’s news, trying to gather his wits as his brain churned in turmoil. It was totally perplexing to anyone with a modicum of common sense, just how useless we all are when faced with a major disaster not of our own making. For a brief moment his mind went back to that first day at Stonehenge back in 2011, when by sheer chance he had eavesdropped on the strange, seemingly nonsensical cannabis induced conversation between those three new age hippies, Milo, Sunflower and Rebo. The hundreds of others gathered there that day watched the minutely delayed summer solstice sunrise, in their ignorance not realising or fully appreciating what it was they had just witnessed. Without that chance encounter, he would not now be sitting here in the mountains of south-eastern Turkey just over a year later and, according to his calculations, approximately two months away from the catastrophic end of the planet we all called home, unless they could successfully restart the Solar Defence System network. One other fact that now totally consumed him, was that their quest to end the inevitable controlled decay, caused by the wholly unnatural concept of time, not the ‘time’ that humanity understood, but the by-product of the relentless countdown to destruction, was fast reaching the point of no return. He reminded himself that it was set to self-destruct, sometime in the final month of this current year – 2012.

Ithis had told him a week ago, as they sat together taking a much needed rest in the darkness on their own, that the lives of the world’s population would not instantly end. She said it would take many agonising months, while the unseen forces of the sun slowly ripped away the protective upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, and ultimately the very air we breathe. The planet and everything living on it, will be subjected to massive waves of killer radiation and boiling heat when the solar winds increase their bombardment of the planet, as it heads inexorably towards the closest point of its new orbit around our fiery star. In his attempt to make sense of it all, he was briefly reminded of a quote by Plato he had read in his childhood, whose meaning had completely escaped him until now. It went something along the lines of, ‘beginning again like children, in complete ignorance of what had happened in early times.’

Unless they were successful, the world and everything living on it would simply cease to be. However, should mankind somehow survive, as we undoubtedly had in the past, reverting back to our most primitive state as cave dwellers and hunter gatherers, within a generation or two like our ancestors before us, we would forget everything that had gone before. To anyone who kept an open mind, everything man had learned over the preceding centuries, pointed to the fact that similar occurrences had happened in the past on at least six separate occasions. Taking into account the irrefutable evidence, combined with the long derided myths and legends of the many civilisations of old which Nick had studied so closely, one thing was now transparently clear. Our solar system was about to enter a new seventh age, whether we were ready for it or not.

~~~

“What do we do? Victor asked as the sweat stained creases on the friendly giant’s forehead stood out like thin white lines against the weather-beaten background of his craggy face, emphasizing his childlike concern.

Nick gave him a half smile. “I don’t know my friend. I honestly don’t know…” His voice trailed off momentarily as his mind briefly returned to the task, searching for an answer that would satisfy himself, before continuing. “What can we do but go on Victor. We have no choice but to see this thing through to the bitter end. It’s better to go down fighting, than do nothing as the world and everything we all know, ends.”

Victor nodded uncertainly as he shifted uncomfortably where he sat on the ground, kicking a curious scorpion away with his boot. “But shouldn’t we tell someone what we do now? People in power maybe will help us Doctor Nick?” Victor continued.

Nick shook his head. “Who would believe us my friend?” he replied. “Only a few individuals across the entire planet, other than the five of us, fully understand the gravity of the problem. The rest of the world believes the whole thing is somehow either a natural phenomenon, or manmade Victor. Besides, no one else has the merest inkling about Ithis’ people or their Solar Defence Network. God almighty – just imagine what would happen should Ithis reveal herself to the rest of humanity! They’d do their damndest to kill her if they ever found out it was her people who set this whole thing in motion all those countless thousands of years ago, to destroy humanity in an act of revenge for the way we treated her kind.”

Victor sat in silence trying hard to understand what Nick had just told him. One thing he was sure of however and stated so, was that, “He would proudly stand by his friends ‘Doctor Nick’, Ithis, David and Kolya doing what he could.” Kolya hugged the giant in silent agreement. He loved his simple friend like a brother. Not for the first time since their quest began, David sat in silence as he absorbed Hakan’s disturbing news.

Ithis’ angry scream broke their train of thought. Asima’s mind was somehow free from the control of the sonic array’s influence. He was trying to utilize the defence system’s power for his own evil agenda! They had to find the hidden entrance beneath them and fast! “Hakan, it’s essential we find the entrance to the power system hub. Is there anything unusual indicating a possible entrance?” Nick urgently asked as his mind returned to the real reason why they were here.

Hakan nodded his head vigorously. “Follow me.” Armed with hurricane lamps and torches, Nick, David, Victor and Kolya followed him, unsteadily trying to stay upright as a wave of minor earth tremors struck the area as Hakan made a beeline for one specific T shaped monolith, smaller than the rest, completely covered with carved adult and juvenile vultures. Amid the many vultures was a small carving of a scorpion crawling its way across an egg, towards a decapitated human form, on the extreme lower right-hand side of the monolith. Nick searched for some form of triggering device among the many carvings before him, as the dust created by the now continuous mini quakes hung in the air, threatening to engulf the monolith. The rest of the team assisted his search by focussing their lamps and torches. His now practiced eye soon fell on the tiny scorpion. As he moved his hurricane lamp back and forth to illuminate any detail hidden by shadow and dust, he noticed that it had tiny inset black eyes.

He was about to touch both eyes when from deep within his soul he heard, or rather felt, Asima’s terrible cry of pain. Ithis had declared war for the second time in a matter of weeks! From somewhere in the immediate area of Göbekli Tepe, she was already using the latent power of the Solar Defence System to amplify her attack, turning it against her nemesis as he tried to tap into it himself, despite the great risk to their quest of the system recognising her unique DNA fingerprint. From his hermetically sealed crystal lined tomb, now sealed forever beneath hundreds of tons of reinforced concrete, below the old monument back in Khakassia, Asima’s insane mind raged with a level of violence Ithis had never known before. The yellow colour of her pupils indicating her deadly anger, intensified as she increased the level of her own cerebral attack, aided by the now almost fully functional power supply beneath the ancient monument, before finally destroying him once and for all.

~~~

While the battle between the two most powerful entities the world had ever known ensued, Victor cried out in agony holding his head in his hands as the intensity of Ithis’ lethal attack was felt by all. For the very first time in his life Hakan experienced pain he had never thought possible until now, reduced him to a babbling shadow of his former self, as he lay on his side with his knees drawn up between his arms in a foetal position. Like everyone there he was violently affected by the monumental battle of wills. Kolya’s bloodshot eyes rolled violently in his head while the mental agony reached its inevitable conclusion. David screamed in sheer terror, losing control of his bodily functions. Nick who was by now the most attuned to Ithis’ mind, mercifully passed out as the last powerful attack she delivered finally destroyed her ancient nemesis forever. He came to moments later amidst the bodies of his friends, when the effects of the excruciating violence of the mental barrage they had all been subjected to minutes earlier slowly dissipated, allowing them to regain consciousness and control of their wits and composure. They had all experienced Ithis’ wrath first hand. This time the physical and mental symptoms had manifested themselves as a brutal and frightening assault on their very being.

As the first light of dawn slowly appeared on the eastern horizon, Nick entered the chamber and completed the reactivation of the Anatolian hub. Moments after he re-emerged from below, a massive magnitude seven earthquake struck the region, sealing the chamber forever beneath a vast new rubble field that formerly had been Göbekli Tepe. Ithis found him sitting on his own still nursing a pounding headache from her battle. “Asima is no more my love,” she said quietly. “We must now move on to the next hub in the network.”

Through still hazy and painful eyes he looked deep into hers as he asked, “Where do we go from here?”

“Egypt my love, we go to Egypt.” she said gently, smiling while showing her tender loving side once more when the pupils in her eyes turned back to the familiar sign of her love for him, their deep shade of emerald green, backed up by her now familiar soft purring. Nick weakly returned her smile, despite the monumental blinding headache he had developed, thanks to her final battle with Asima.

~~~

More later

😉

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