Lion of the Desert
With his dig site now in complete ruins and his career forgotten for the moment, Hakan willingly joined Nick’s quest. After all, as he said later with a good natured grin on his face at Nick’s expense, “You definitely needed a qualified field archaeologist on the team for the last two sites. Theoretical archaeology is all fine and well in the classroom my, or in some dusty research library my friend, but is of little or no practical use in the field, now is it? ”
The agonizingly slow trip south by sea, aboard yet another ancient rusting coastal freighter, which Hakan had ‘borrowed’, took nearly two weeks. He had searched among the many ships laying at anchor, in the narrow ,and extremely busy straits, which divide ancient Istanbul on the shores of mainland Europe, from the rest of Turkey and Asia at its most westerly edge. His long-time friend Cristo, who ably skippered the ship, with Nick and co acting as his crew, had helped him search for one which was still seaworthy.
The battle between the tectonic plates beneath the whole middle-eastern region was increasing at an alarming rate. More than once the old ship had to ride out tsunamis, fortunately still in their infancy, as they gathered momentum and destructive power, rolling their way inexorably towards the unprotected shores of the many Greek held islands, dotted throughout the relatively sheltered waters of the northern Aegean and out into the choppy eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Like all professional seamen, Cristo had recently given up any form of magnetic navigation until the planet’s magnetic poles settled in their new position. For now he had to rely on dead reckoning by day, following Asia’s coastline using his own local knowledge and the charts at his disposal. Until recently like all other navigators, he had confirmed his position during the hours of darkness by taking celestial readings of familiar stars. But eventually he had to give up when the stars began to shift away from their widely accepted positions in the heavens after the Earth’s orbit began to change, compounding the situation he now found himself in. Amidst the ever increasing, often violent, worldwide geological turmoil, and the unbridled hysteria generated within the world’s population, Nick, Ithis and the rest of this tiny band could at long last move openly. From now on, they would be able to move about relatively unnoticed as the billions of people across the planet, who by now were totally preoccupied with searching for somewhere they mistakenly felt they would be safe from all of the destruction, ceased paying attention anymore to strangers in their midst.
Ithis, who until recently had preferred moving from point A to point B via the vast underground network her people had carved out millennia ago, now abandoned it for the relative safety of the ship. She became increasingly aware over the intervening days and nights of the sea voyage through her highly tuned senses that incoming fleets from other civilizations as yet unknown to mankind, and still far beyond the solar system, were now drawing closer. She was not yet able to determine if they were a possible threat to her beloved humanity. Whether or not they were merely curious to explore this formerly hidden region of our galaxy, as the Solar Defence System’s countdown to self-destruction seriously weakened its cloaking barrier, which had protected it from inquisitive eyes for the last twenty-five thousand years, she did not know. Until she felt that the fleets presented a direct threat, she would keep the knowledge to herself, not wishing to add any more possible bad news to her darling surface- occupier’s troubled mind.
After docking in the port of Bûr Sa`id at the mouth of the Nile Delta, they all headed inland towards the Giza Plateau, guided by Ithis’ unerring belief that somewhere beneath the vast area that housed Egypt’s most familiar and famous ancient monuments, lay the penultimate target in their long search, while Cristo remained behind to guard the ship. With all that was going on across the world, the place was largely deserted with the exception of a few less than enthusiastic, but well bribed armed guards. They had been placed there as the last act of the head of the Egyptian Antiquities Department, before he ran away in fear for his own life, who despite the destruction going on across the world, somehow still clung onto the completely ridiculous belief that person or persons unknown would seize upon the opportunity to steal some of Egypt’s ancient relics in his absence.
Nick and the rest lay in wait among the tumbled stones of the old causeway that led to the Mortuary Temple beside Khufu’s pyramid until darkness fell. He and Hakan, with Ithis following behind unnoticed, easily bypassed the now highly nervous guards as they headed towards the oldest of all of Egypt’s ancient monuments – the Sphinx, leaving Victor, David and Kolya as their rear guard, should anyone try to follow them. “My darling, I sense a chamber deep beneath the Sphinx. Its entrance is close by, between the Lion of the desert’s great front feet,” Ithis projected into Nick’s mind.
“Come on Hakan, this way,” Nick whispered, beckoning him to follow. For many years since the birth of the new academic discipline of Egyptology, during the latter part of the nineteenth and throughout the twentieth century, there had been much hotly debated discussion and conjecture over a long fabled chamber containing a ‘Hall of Records’, hidden somewhere beneath the enigmatic Sphinx. Many amateur archaeologists and popular seers like Edgar Cayce, argued in favour of the shaky hypothesis that the hall did indeed exist. While on the opposing side of the controversial theory, narrow minded establishment Egyptologists, took the negative view, simply dismissing the idea as totally preposterous nonsense and nothing more than fable. Now Nick and Hakan were about to find out if it did exist as they began searching beside the controversial carved ‘Dream Stele’ erected by Thutmose IV, who proclaimed that the Sphinx was built by his ancestor Khufu, despite the simple fact that the monolith was a much, much older construction, from a time long forgotten.
They began their search looking for a hidden entrance located somewhere close to, or within, the ancient monolith’s right paw which Ithis felt sure they would find. After both men had spent several hours fruitlessly searching, probing and feeling every stone for some form of triggering device, Hakan finally felt a faint movement as his fingertips briefly touched a small stone standing proud, hidden from view in the shadows of its surroundings. The trigger stone revealed a narrow entrance, barely large enough for a grown man to crawl through, which led to a winding claustrophobic tunnel culminating in a large chamber. In the light of both of their torches they could see unfolding before them a vast room filled with stone shelves stretched as far as the eye could see, fully fifty metres beneath the ancient monolith. Among the many items hidden in the cool confines of the chamber was written proof of a forgotten people, in a language that Nick suspected was in all likelihood, the root language of all mankind’s many tongues.
The sheer number of scrolls and maps contained within these shelves, recording the history of the people of a long forgotten civilization, who had first inhabited the eastern shores of the Mediterranean after their home continent met its frozen end, so long ago back at the beginning of the sixth age, completely took his breath away as he tried to take in the enormity of their re-discovery.
The cursory inspection of this treasure trove of lost knowledge led both Nick and Hakan to the realization that this was not the fabled history of the mythical island of Atlantis as Edgar Cayce had predicted in one of his many cryptic visions, believed by some to have been located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean before the biblical deluge. In actual fact what they were looking at was the accumulated histories and personal accounts of a people long dead who had lived and loved in the place we know as Antarctica. Piri Reis’ map of 1513, showing Antarctica before it became a frozen wasteland buried under miles of ice, was the only artefact found before now which had provided a tantalising clue about the vast continent at the bottom of the world. They were the people who after the sixth age began, were forced to set sail for the many new ones that we all recognise today, while those self-same continents slowly travelled to their present positions, along with a written record of the colonization of the land of Egypt. Hakan found magnificently drawn plans of the first city they built with the mighty Sphinx at its centre among the countless thousands of papyri. The pair spent hours searching through this priceless treasure house of forgotten knowledge, looking for any kind of map of the underground complex surrounding the chamber they were exploring.
Once again Hakan came up trumps when he waived a small papyrus scroll above his head. “Take a look at this Nick, I think I’ve found what we’re looking for,” he said, with a triumphant look on his face. Safe from any more interruptions, or intervention from the world above, they quickly turned their minds to threading their way through a minefield of twisting corridors and dead ends, following the map beneath the Giza plateau. Periodically they had to stop to find shelter from falling blocks of stone, when powerful earthquakes threatened to bury them forever in their search for the penultimate power source. Eventually they emerged into a now familiar dome roofed chamber. It was situated deep beneath the great pyramid’s lowest known room, the Queen’s chamber, several tens of metres below the uppermost – the King’s chamber which housed Khufu’s symbolic temporary burial place. In that room high above their heads thousands of years in the past, belief and custom demanded that Khufu’s embalmed body be placed in an open sarcophagus, to allow him to undertake the first in a series of steps in his long solo journey to the afterlife. His soul had to be weighed by the gods, to determine if he would be accepted alongside them for all eternity in the stars above, before he could finally be buried in a hidden chamber in the Valley of the Kings.
Hakan’s eyes widened, when for the very first time he saw both the vast array of ancient mica and bitumen capacitors, with their power conduits entering and leaving the chamber, and Ithis when she physically appeared to join them, finally accepting that he presented no danger. “Incredible,” he said, shaking his head in utter disbelief, “truly incredible.”
Nick smiled when his friend’s eyes took in every minute detail of Ithis’ exquisitely sensual androgynous form. Ithis added to poor Hakan’s rapidly rising sexual desire when she briefly fixed her gaze upon him with her large hypnotically beautiful eyes, increasing his animal need for her, before moving past him to stand beside the man she loved. She smiled sweetly at Hakan’s natural reaction to her totally captivating beauty, which manifest itself while he stood there with his mouth hung open like a love struck horny teenager. Hakan’s physical reaction reminded Nick of the first time she had first revealed herself to him all those months ago. By now she enjoyed the natural reaction she generated among surface-dwelling males when they first set eyes upon her. “What’s incredible my friend – Ithis or the ancient power supply’s hub?” Nick laughingly enquired.
“Both,” Hakan replied in a hushed voice, now sheepishly blushing and embarrassed at being caught out as he quickly refocused his eyes on the ancient system.
“You ain’t seen anything yet. Watch this?” Nick continued as he began to restart the system. Hakan’s eyes widened even more when he witnessed the ancient banks of capacitors revert back to their former state, quietly glowing as the Solar Defence System’s power supply rapidly built up to full capacity.
“Where do we go next my darling?” Nick asked quietly as all three stood at the power hub’s centre. Ithis did not answer immediately, but sat down for a long time in total silence. Her beautiful face took on a mask of deep concentration as she remained in an almost trance like state, concentrating all her efforts to discover the whereabouts of the Solar Defence System’s failsafe device.