From June the fifth until the twelfth, my achaeological adventure Race Against Time will only cost my readers in the UK £0.99 pence. Click on the above highlighted title in red, and use the ‘Look Inside’ option to see what its all about.
From June the fifth until the twelfth, my achaeological adventure Race Against Time will only cost my readers in the UK £0.99 pence. Click on the above highlighted title in red, and use the ‘Look Inside’ option to see what its all about.
…for all the wooly-headed dreamers out there who fervently believe that giving away dozens of copies of any book they’ve written is the way to attract readers. Think again idiots! All you are doing is depriving yourselves of the hard earned pittance you as published authors are entitled to, known as royalty payments!!
Over a two day period (last Thursday and Friday) I deliberately offered my archaeological adventure for free. As a result eighty-seven tightwads/skinflints/cheapskates (take your pick) now have a copy, thanks to my generosity of spirit.
Deliberately giving away the product of a hell of a lot of hard work on your part is never a good idea.
About the only good thing I can say about the exercise is that the book’s ranking briefly improved over the two days. Back in 2012/13, thanks to selling (not giving away) slightly over 250,000 copies, it ranked in the top ten books in Amazon’s sales ranking system. No more – #220 in Kindle Store as of 0700am today. That won’t last. By tonight it will have slipped back well past 200,000…
How many of the eighty-seven free copies will be read? At best one or two. How many reviews will the giveaway result in? None. Personally I’d much rather have the one hundred and fifty seven dollars in royalty payments to help supplement my only income (my State Pension), which I won’t get…
I have to report that I’m almost fifty percent the way through the first stage of this year’s writing project, the re-read. To that end I’m still picking up characters as and when they appear, and more of the vague clues I inserted into The Forgotten Age.
If you look at the above illustration you will see the way Nick and co found their way beneath the Great Pyramid and the Ghiza Plateau in their search for the Library of the Ancients via the Pit and the blocked off tunnel opposite from the base of the Descending Passage.
It has to be said – I really know how to write a brilliant tale. If you don’t believe me, why not ask the celebrated author of all things ancient Egypt these days – my friend Robert Bauval. Its sequel will have to be even better if I’m going to have any hope of impressing him for a second time.
As well as the re-read, I’ve begun by thinking about how to get Nick and co out of the predicament I left them in where Forgotten ended so dramatically, somewhere beneath the Giza Plateau, between the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. I’m also considering several ideas I have at the moment about how they might escape – if they can that is. More of that later once I’ve something else to report…
By the way, if you buy your ebooks from Amazon.co.uk, click on the highlighted red link above to get yourselves a copy of Forgotten to see what all the fuss is about.
Newsflash – Robert has already offered to write a review, even before I have begun to write the sequel. 🙂
Does this place look familiar to you? If you read Forgotten it should do…
Well I have begun. At the moment I’m in serious re-reading mode concerning The Forgotten Age. So far I’ve carefully worked my way through the first two chapters. I’m not just reacquainting myself with the characters, but also what happened in, around and beneath the Giza Plateau, as well as on the surface. I’m also making note of the seemingly random clues which most will have ignored, not appreciating their significance or even rejected as possible red herrings.
I always leave vague clues in every book I write. No doubt I’ll do the same thing when I come to write the sequel, just in case another is required by you in the future.
If you’ve already read Forgotten through thoroughly you will have noted the significance of above picture. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT SAY ANYTHING REGARDING IT IN YOUR COMMENTS. TO DO SO WOULD BE A MONUMENTAL SPOILER ALERT FOR NEW READERS!!! For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, do yourselves a favour and click on the above red link, get a copy and read it!
That’s about it for now. I’ve got more re-reading to do. More characters to catch up with both good and bad, plus more of those subtle clues to gather together…
Thanks to the few of you who bothered to state their preference for a sequel in my recent blog post a few days ago It’s for you to decide, I now have my first project for twenty-seventeen. Rather, you have given me one hell of a headache – to work out if a sequel to the archaeological adventure the Forgotten Age which I wrote in 2012 is at all possible. After all Forgotten is already a sequel in its own right, in this instance to Race Against Time.
The OED definition of the word sequel is – A published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one. Nothing to it I hear you cry. So what’s stopping me?
First of all I need to re-read it to thoroughly familiarise myself with the story once again. Secondly I have to get myself back into full R&D mode. From memory I appear to have left the reader with the impression that I killed off the hero Nick Palmer and some of his friends by trapping them inside an ancient hermetically sealed room (The Library of the Ancients) somewhere deep beneath the Giza Plateau, between the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. Did I, or didn’t I? I don’t recall. After all its been four years since I wrote it!
That being true, how in the blue blazes do I resurrect them? It’s not immediately obvious to me at the moment by any stretch of the imagination, hence my need to fully reacquaint myself with every aspect of the story.
For those of you who have been kind enough to read my books in the past, rest assured I’ll give it a lot of thought. If it’s at all humanly possible I’ll make it happen. But if I decide that they’re dead after all…
Either way you my loyal readership will be the first to know via this my blog. So that’s it for now. I’ve got a lot of re-reading, head scratching and note taking to do.
Dawn of the Seventh Age
In the failing light of early evening, Nick and Hakan divided the group into two teams. Nick would take Victor and Thomaso with him through the Incan temple’s main entrance, down to the ancient monument below, while Hakan aided by Miles, Cristo, Kolya and David, would carefully search the exterior of the building, looking for alternative entrances. Ricardo joined Ithis some distance away on the old shoreline. She now firmly believed that should she even attempt to enter the temple above the other building, all would be lost. She would see everything she needed to see through her beloved surface-dweller’s eyes and his unconscious thoughts, as she tuned into his mind while he carefully began to explore the labyrinth of tunnels. Nick had chosen Victor for his immense strength, and Thomaso, for his unparalleled knowledge of his Incan forbears’ glyph style writing, learned at his grandfather’s knee, when they came across any obstacle in their way. “Ready my friends? Let’s finish this thing,” Nick said, relieved to be at the beginning of the end of the long journey, and yet clearly on edge, weighed down by concerns about what may still lay ahead as their final subterranean search began. The pair nodded their heads in unison in unspoken agreement to Nick’s command as they followed him, descending deep within the bowels of the temple searching for the tell-tale signs of an entrance to the hidden chamber below.
Each new doorway, each turn of the next narrow conical shaped passage within the Incan temple, each set of slippery steps, led them further down into the eerie stone underworld. The deeper they journeyed, the more worried Thomaso became by the dire warnings written in stone by his forbears about the ‘green eyed devils’, a fact which he informed his friends of repeatedly. The Incan people had purposely built the temple above the Crypto-terrestrial’s construction, in an attempt to seal it off forever.
More than once despite the powerful beam of his own torch illuminating his surroundings, Victor bumped his head on low slung, solid stone lintels much to Thomaso’s amusement. Until Victor had arrived here with Nick, he had never met such a giant of a man in his entire life. For Nick and his two companions, time now seemed to stand still as their search intensified for that hidden entrance. Seconds, minutes and hours melded together into a meaningless nothing within the claustrophobic shadowy subterranean world they carefully made their way through, descending ever deeper into its gloom. After a couple of hours of slow and nervous descent, their winding path finally ended.
At the end of a short passage at the bottom of a long stairwell, the construction method surrounding them changed abruptly. Nick saw a wall ahead of him built from an entirely different kind of stone from the Incan temple complex above. The wall was completely covered in a number of precisely carved reliefs, showing various scenes from the time long ago when Ithis’ people first encountered our earliest ancestors. Among the many scenes of long forgotten battles between both races, were a few depicting a relatively peaceful time. Nick stared in utter disbelief at one scene in particular, situated directly at the centre of the wall, clearly designed to stand out from the rest. Before him he saw two figures he knew only too well, sitting on some kind of dais above a sea of prostrate people, who worshipped them as gods. One of the figures was his beloved Ithis. The other, dressed in the clothing of a Sumerian god, was Asima. Nick’s angry outburst echoed within the confines of the stone passage. “Ithis what the hell is going on? I thought Asima was your nemesis, not your damned ally and consort!”
Through his eyes, Ithis tearfully stared in shocked disbelief at the scene. “He was my enemy my love. Even though he is now finally silenced, he always will be. The scene before you was carved by my people before they left this planet and the Solar System forever. When I chose to stay behind, most of my kind deeply resented my love for humanity. I can only think they carved this relief back then, believing that if one day this place was once more discovered, whoever found it would consider me to be as evil as Asima.” Hurt by Nick’s angry outburst, and deeply saddened by her own kind’s hatred of her and mankind, she sat in tearful silence. Deep inside his soul, Nick felt her overwhelming feeling of grief. Instantly wishing he had not leapt like a stupid jealous fool to the wrong conclusion, he turned once more to concentrate, cursing himself for his rage, trying to make amends by focusing his attention in silence on the carved wall. From where she sat a few dozen metres above where Nick, Victor and Thomaso were, concentrating on his thoughts and seeing the wall through his eyes, Ithis slowly studied it for a possible opening mechanism to the room beyond, containing their goal.
As the sun finally set in the world above, Nick entered through the last hidden doorway, into the vast underground chamber that housed the Solar Defence System’s failsafe device – the mechanism he would need to reset. Hopefully it would also restart its sister systems on the other formerly inhabited planets of Mars and Venus, together with the solar system’s cloaking shield.
He cautiously entered the room checking the floor, walls and ceiling, looking for any sign of possible hidden hazards, designed to kill intruders, bearing in mind Thomaso’s concerns about the dire warnings written on the walls in the Incan temple above the complex. Victor stood at the doorway totally spellbound by the alien technology before him. The room bore many similarities to the other chambers Nick had found across the planet. Banks of the now familiar capacitors lined the outer walls with the equally familiar mica shielded power conduits leading from them to a central construction. Nick made his way to the centre of the room. “Do you see it my darling?” he asked, as his eyes took in every detail of the failsafe device. Through him she studied the familiar bank of controls before beginning to instruct him on its use. Following her instructions to the letter, he went through the process of disarming the countdown. According to what she told him much later, it clearly showed its target date of December the twenty-first, 2012. After the countdown was stopped, for a few brief minutes nothing happened. The Solar System’s planets continued on their new paths. The violent destruction across the planet by the tornadoes, tsunamis, encroaching ice shelves and volcanoes, still went on. But once Nick had reset the Solar Defence System, things slowly began to change for the better. The planets stopped their journey towards destruction, and began to revert back to their original orbits around the sun as the solar system entered a new beginning. Now the countdown was stopped, and the whole system had been reset, it was time to return to the surface.
With Thomaso leading the way, they began ascending the stairwell back to the Incan temple above. As he was about to step through the doorway into the lower level of the temple, a massive geological upheaval deep beneath their feet, sent one last earthquake their way, shaking the very foundations of the two ancient stone complexes. Temporarily sheltering in the massive connecting doorway between the two structures, they watched aghast as the tunnel system within the Incan temple, reset itself into an entirely different configuration. All of this was designed centuries earlier to be triggered by anyone re-entering from below, preventing the green eyed devils from returning to the world outside. Thomaso’s foreboding about the warnings he had read earlier vividly returned to mind as the dust clogged air finally settled. Ricardo jumped out of his skin with fright when Ithis with her mood enhanced pupils now shining pure white, screamed in sheer terror from where she sat beside him. A rescue mission was immediately put into effect directed by her, once she had quickly regained her composure. She was not going to lose the man she loved now after all they had been through together.
While the dust cleared slowly around them, Nick and Thomaso did their level best to free Victor’s badly crushed leg from beneath a fallen block of stone, in the first of the new stone passages. Mercifully, he felt no pain as he was pulled free, unconscious but still breathing. After a great struggle they managed to drag him clear on a makeshift carpet made from their outer clothing. While Nick sat exhausted beside Victor, Thomaso continued on ahead exploring the new maze of passageways, looking for a way out. Nick knew it was now up to his beloved Ithis and the rest to rescue them from their enforced entombment.
By the early morning light of the new age’s first dawn, Nick, Thomaso and the now fully conscious Victor where once again surrounded by their friends. Hakan and his team, following Ithis’ directions, eventually found a new entrance. Within a couple of hours they triumphantly returned to the surface with the weary trio, moments before an aftershock collapsed the temple complex, sealing the entrance to the Solar Defence System’s control room forever.
Free from any more concerns over the defence system detecting her DNA, Ithis ran to Nick. For the very first time in her long life, she experienced the wonderfully electric sensation of a tender kiss. Both of them were oblivious to everything around them as they passionately embraced, allowing their pent up physical and emotional longing for each other to consume them. The sound of clapping and laughter brought them back to reality, as the world, almost imperceptibly at first, ceased trying to destroy itself along with the rest of the Solar System. The dawn of a new seventh age for the Solar System and mankind, had finally begun.
Nick watched in helpless anguish as Ithis took the conscious decision to endure the irreversible and painful transformation from an immortal crystal based life form, to that of a carbon based mortal human hybrid. After her painful ordeal was over, they spent their first night together in Thomaso’s home, making love. True to his word, Nick saw to it that David was returned to the waiting arms of Katya. He was his best man at the lavish wedding provided by Nicolai, with Kolya and Victor standing at the doors to the church to prevent David trying to escape, should he once again lose his nerve.
After Nick had reset the device, the world watched spellbound while the solar system once again reformed behind a reinvigorated cloaking system, shielding us from inquisitive eyes deep in space, never knowing of Nick’s involvement or indeed the existence of Ithis. Cardinal Ricardo Spinoza, David and Miles made sure of it, to protect the lovers from the world. He finally returned home to the Forest of Dean in the county of Gloucestershire with Ithis to the welcome sight of his cottage and his wily old cat Dragon. Like all males who encounter her, Dragon was totally captivated. He ignored Nick completely, rubbing his old body against Ithis’ legs, purring loudly, giving the impression of smiling with his eyes closed tight when she gently picked him up to cradle him in her arms and stroke his scarred ears, much to Nick’s surprise. He told her later that until now no one had ever been able to do what she had done without being scarred for life by his razor sharp claws.
The first months of the new seventh age rolled on almost unnoticed by the lovers. They took pleasure in discovering each other over and over again, reaching unimaginable levels of ecstasy, before finally falling into an exhausted sleep in each other’s arms. When Nick woke each morning to find Ithis lying in his arms – her former androgynous body nothing but a memory, he took delight in feeling the softness of her skin against his. Despite the transformation she had undergone, she still retained some of her former Crypto-terrestrial traits. Nick smiled as he lay there listening to his lover’s almost imperceptible purring. Her eyes, though human in appearance, still retained those mesmerizingly beautiful, mood enhanced light green pupils, which at the height of their passion, turned an even deeper shade of emerald green, whenever she looked into his eyes.
Dragon lay in his new customary position on the window sill of the bedroom, purring in unison with Ithis, sensing the new life that lay safe within her womb, while keeping an eye on the world outside, looking for the next addition to the larder. No one apart from the few who had contributed to Nick’s successful reactivation of the Solar Defence System would ever know that the young, seldom seen couple living in their sixteenth century cottage with a half wild cat, were responsible for humanity’s ultimate salvation.
Beyond Earth in the darkness of space, almost imperceptibly as first, changes began on Venus and Mars as they slowly entered the revitalised ‘life zone’ to take their place alongside the Earth once more. Reawakened volcanic activity across both planets heralded the first stages of a new proto-atmosphere, and the growth of bacteria, which inevitably will lead to life re-establishing itself, occupying these former dead planets where mankind’s ancestors first appeared countless millennia ago. In the darkness of the cosmos, the oncoming fleets of ships changed course as the solar system disappeared once more, when our tiny corner of the Milky Way vanished from view once again, behind the renewed Solar Defence System’s impenetrable cloak…
That’s your lot folks. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.
Their long, often dangerous, sea journey aboard the old freighter through the Mediterranean and beyond, negotiating the increasingly violent waters of the Atlantic Ocean, constantly in a frenzy caused by the massive increase in storms as the world’s weather patterns changed, inevitably became a race against the Solar System’s relentless enemy ‘time’ and the end of everything mankind held dear. The world was experiencing a dramatic increase in equally disastrous natural events like the swarms of tsunamis’ being generated almost continually by a marked increase in geological activity in the world’s curst. Long dormant volcanoes erupted back to life after many centuries of fitful sleep, enveloping large populated areas with a mixture of their boiling pyroclastic clouds and the unforgiving march of new lava flows, forever burying whole towns and cities. Add one further irrefutable fact to this picture of total worldwide destruction, that of the relentless growth by the ice shelves towards the planet’s equator from both polar regions, and all the signs clearly pointed to man’s chances of being totally wiped out as a distinct possibility by the middle of 2013 at the latest.
In the case of the countless millions living on the low lying coastal areas of the world’s many continents, their lives would end much sooner. Everything now depended on Nick getting the countdown stopped. Should he be successful, hopefully he could restart the system once more, a process much like re-booting a computer when its software crashes; reversing the Earth’s destructive end and allowing ‘time’ to once more become a positive rather than a negative influence.
Their safe arrival at the mouth of the Amazon river after a nail biting sea voyage was nothing short of miraculous when you consider that the old freighter’s decks were constantly awash as a result of the hurricanes, plus the massive increase in another natural phenomena that all seafaring men fear above all else – rogue waves. By the time they had travelled up the Amazon River to its headwaters in the valleys of eastern Peru aboard an ancient riverboat piloted by Cristo, plus the gruelling, often dangerous overland journey they all endured through thick jungle and across the cultivated open country beyond the mighty river’s source towards Lake Titicaca, 2012 was drawing rapidly to a close as the month of December finally began.
At long last they had some relatively good news, courtesy of Miles, Ricardo and Thomaso. Ithis had determined back beneath the Giza plateau that Isla Del Sol was the likely location of the master control for the failsafe device. Not housed in the original capacitor chamber which had started Nick’s quest, but in another of her people’s constructions hidden beneath a long forgotten Inca temple somewhere close by. Nick had sent word to Miles and Thomaso, before he and his party began the long journey from Egypt back to Lake Titicaca. Using the still barely functioning and extremely erratic internet system, he asked them to look out for any new archaeological site during their investigations into the ghostly Incan warriors, and the equally mysterious re-appearance of dinosaurs in Patagonia, when they went to see the ethereal phenomena for themselves.
As the old freighter renamed Hope, was passing through the Straits of Gibraltar, Nick got the reply they all hoped for. Miles sent word back that owing to a recent major earthquake deep beneath Lake Titicaca’s murky depths, which had led to the lake level dramatically falling by several metres less than a week after the event, a long forgotten Incan temple, built on an even older structure had now been exposed on the southern shore of Isla Del Sol. The one thing that convinced Ithis, Nick and Hakan that this was the place they were ultimately looking for was what Miles described next in his email. He reported that he and Thomaso had been observing the ghostly Incan apparitions when suddenly they headed towards the doors of the recently exposed temple, disappearing from sight, seemingly swallowed up by the solid stone walls. The ghostly sighting drew Miles’ immediate attention to heavily incised carvings on either side of the temple’s entrance clearly showing the reason why the ancient peoples of the area had constructed it so long ago. He was staring at a reasonably accurate portrayal in stone of Ithis, or at least one of her people.
The long held belief among Thomaso’s Quechua speaking nation and the rest of the many descendants of the former Incan people, that Isla Del Sol was indeed the dwelling place of green eyed devils, which until now was largely dismissed out of hand by serious minded archaeologists as nothing more than yet another example of superstition or folk lore told to them by a simple minded people, now made a lot of sense. Thomaso pointed out that the fact it had been swallowed up gradually in the relatively recent past by the rise in the lake’s level, centuries after the Inca people had first occupied the land. Clear evidence to him and his kind of divine retribution by the Inca’s own gods long ago, determined to free their people from any kind of control by the much feared green eyed devils.
By the time Nick and his friends emerged on the shores of Titicaca at the town of Puno in the second week of December, more bad news was unfolding. Miles related the latest reports as they continued to monitor the hourly radio broadcasts from around the world of violent tornados, lightning strikes, earthquakes and massive tsunamis causing major panic across the world with millions dying as a result. Ricardo filled them in on his investigation into the apparent ghostly sightings of ancient dinosaurs, by farmers down in Patagonia, which he and Miles had undertaken while waiting for Nick and co to arrive. The farmer, who had first reported the discovery, took the cardinal and the journalist to a cave on his property where he said fierce beasts dwelt. It turned out to be a very similar setup to the one Miles had encountered in the English county of Norfolk, in that a similar rip in time had manifested itself, this time in the form of a much larger gateway between the two time periods, allowing free access by the monstrous beings from the past into the present. After Ricardo had convinced the farmer to allow the Argentinean army to dynamite the cave entrance, sealing it forever, he blessed the site to prevent any further incursions by the ungodly monsters to allay the farmer’s fears. Next he saw to it that the one or two real dinosaurs still trapped in our time where shot and secretly buried by the armed forces. Then they both returned to Puno to await Nick’s arrival, and to continue monitoring events as they unfolded across the world.
The mean temperature across the world had suffered a massive drop while the Earth’s new path around the sun becomes more of an extended ellipse, allowing the rapidly encroaching ice shelves to begin to lower sea levels worldwide, exposing countless drowned sites where those living at the beginning of the sixth age had first established themselves, after abandoning their former homes on the Antarctic continent. Incredulously, many country’s governments still continued to argue among themselves over who was to blame for the world’s present predicament, completely ignoring all the people around them who were dying in their hundreds of thousands. Third world leaders, totally ignoring the now blindingly obvious, still clung on to their paranoid belief that the whole thing was an orchestrated campaign of terror by western nations, irrationally assuming that countries like the United States and her allies were somehow employing new weapons of mass destruction to conquer the rest of the world. Across the surface of the entire planet, widespread panic ensued among the world’s population as total anarchy now took hold.
Hourly, reports came in via Miles’ radio from around the world about the astronomical event that the whole of mankind was caught up in, and its progress towards its final tragic configuration in space. The speed of the solar system’s new realignment rapidly increased; witnessed by millions of terrified people across the world, who still believed that somehow or other, whatever form of god they each believed in would deliver them from this nightmare. Millions more assumed a fatalistic attitude, by now resigned to their end.
Nick introduced Hakan and Cristo, while Ithis finally revealed herself to Thomaso for the first time. His startled reaction to her was priceless. Much to everyone’s amusement Nick’s simple Quechua speaking friend sat down hard on the ground, turning white in shocked disbelief and sheer terror, while clinging on to the simple wooden cross suspended from a piece of string around his neck. Thomaso rapidly crossed himself. He was completely dumbfounded by the fact that an ancient god was standing in front of him. Despite the assurances of his gringo friend ‘Sènor Nicholas’ and everyone else, that Ithis was the real reason why they were all there, and that she was the reason why they were hoping to put this thing right, driven by her deep abiding love and concern for humanity, it took several hours before he finally accepted her. Nick, Hakan and Ithis finally began to plan their next move. Hopefully once they had found the Solar Defence System’s failsafe device, this would be the final act in their long, often dangerous search for its location; putting paid once and for all to the violent outcome of the relentless countdown.
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.
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.
By night and by goat trail
Their Kurdish guide, Esrin Goran, was originally from a village just north of Tikrit in Iraqi Kurdistan, the birthplace of the legendary Saladin. In other circumstances, David would have avoided him at all costs. Fanatical men like Esrin were dangerous in the extreme. Had Katya been by his side, maybe he would have felt slightly more at ease. After all, like Ithis, she would protect her man with her life if need be.
Esrin’s religious intolerance of all who were not true believers had been curtailed at least for now. Outwardly he shared an unshakeable belief in Nick’s quest, hiding any loathing he felt for all unbelievers, since Ithis had entered his mind several days before their arrival in Rize. To say that he was completely terrified by the whole experience was a major understatement. Up until that point in his life he had never known fear. He survived the relentless attacks against his people in Iraq by the country’s dictator and his murderous followers, which eventually led to the first Gulf War at the end of the twentieth century. Moving his family to relative safety over the border into Turkish Kurdistan, he later fought alongside his Kurdish brothers against the constant attacks mounted by the Turkish military in their bid to drive all Kurds from their ancient homeland in an attempt to gain land for its own growing population.
He convinced himself that the incursion into his soul by Ithis was a test of his religious faith. Somehow the devil had entered uninvited to drive him mad. His wife, surrounded by their terrified crying children, uttered loud prayers for him as he fought against Ithis’ relentless control of his mind, convinced that her husband had transgressed in some way against the strict teachings of the holy Koran. Once he had finally capitulated, Ithis made it abundantly clear to him that should Nick’s quest fail, the alternative would make all petty political and religious squabbles between the many countries across the world, especially here in the Middle East, plus the countless wars created by an ingrained xenophobic intolerance of other races, pale in comparison. Esrin reluctantly agreed that his vision of the rest of the world beyond that of holy Islam, had to be placed on hold for now. The only thing that really mattered was the continued survival of mankind, the world and the solar system. No longer could men like him, or indeed the rest of mankind come to that, blindly continue along the same chequered path it had taken until now, ignoring the welfare of the planet they all shared. Should what Ithis had said actually come to pass, the world as we know it would simply cease to be. That last fact was what finally made him grudgingly cooperate, at least for now.
“Your friend Hakan Ozan has been in contact Doctor Nick. He says he believes he has found that which you seek at Göbekli Tepe. He also has some other news for you, which he will tell you himself, once we arrive there,” Esrin announced while contemptuously throwing the written message across the table.
“How are we to get there?” Kolya asked.
“We cannot travel via any road. The Turkish army patrols are many. We must travel at night by mountain pass and goat trails, Allah curse them!” Esrin spat on the floor in contempt as if any reference to the Turkish authorities somehow soiled his mouth, but deep within the recesses of his still rebellious mind, also in contempt for the party of unbelievers presently infecting his home with their western ways.
That night their long overland journey began. They soon found themselves in the hills above Rize, following their bellicose Kurdish guide, heading southeast under a cloud filled moonless night sky. Many hazards still stood in their way, both natural and manmade. For now they had no choice but to trust Esrin to do his job as their guide, taking them to Göbekli Tepe. Once there, Nick knew Hakan would get them safely to their next destination wherever it may be. The path they took across country each night, eventually led them to the ancient Anatolian region of Cappadocia, an area in times long past where early Christians had lived. This was where the team could now safely hide in plain sight, while Esrin went ahead to spy out their route before returning to collect them. Their slow journey, carefully avoiding the many herds of goats grazing under the watchful eyes of their attendant goatherds, any one of whom could raise the alarm at a moment’s notice about the infidels crossing the many mountain ranges, entered its second week.
At long last in the distance they could see the eerily strange sight of conical stone towers, known colloquially as Fairy Chimneys, illuminated by the moon below them. It was beneath one of these chimneys in a large cavern divided up into many smaller sleeping spaces surrounding a communal room, where they now ate and relaxed. At last they found themselves able to rest and get their strength back from the tiring forced march they had endured each night for the last two weeks, before they began the second stage of this long trek to Göbekli Tepe and the welcome face of Hakan.
After Esrin had insisted that he needed to go off on his own to reconnoitre the path ahead, to eliminate a chance encounter with any further goatherds or a government patrol, they quickly organised their temporary camp. Victor and Kolya set about the task of guarding the entrance to their hiding place while Nick, David and Ithis sat in silence, each recalling in their minds the events that had lead up to this moment. Though it was barely a few months ago since Nick’s first discovery of the capacitor array hidden on the Isla Del Sol back in 2011, it seemed much, much longer. Both men were now completely overcome, mentally exhausted by the monumentally difficult task that they had so far endured, and which still lay ahead of them. Living on your wits, fed by adrenalin will eventually wear anyone down. How many more of the ancient sites Nick had to bring back to life at that point in time, neither man knew for certain.
Even Ithis with her extensive knowledge of the Solar Defence System could not give them a definitive answer. All she really knew at this particular moment in time was that when the penultimate site was finally reactivated, she would sense that they had done enough to revitalise the system’s power supply. And once he had reset the key, wherever it may be, she would at last be free to embrace the man she loved. For the first time in her long solitary life, she would finally experience the joy of physical love, happy in the knowledge that her DNA mixed with his, would no longer present a problem to the Solar Defence System’s failsafe device. She blinked her large expressive eyes in the gloom of the cavernous room, taking in every detail of her surroundings. Her mesmerizing, mood enhanced, pupils turned dark emerald green as they focussed tenderly on Nick, while he slept fitfully beside her. Her purring, brought on by her aching physical desire for him, echoed softly throughout the cave system. While the man she loved more than life itself slept, she sat patiently, ready to defend him from anything or anyone who may try to harm him.
A few hours later as dawn broke she hissed loudly. Her pupils turned an intense shade of yellow, indicating her rising anger. Unnoticed, she vanished from sight moments before Victor woke everyone, loudly announcing the return of Esrin. He was not alone! Now wide awake, Nick joined him, Kolya and David at the entrance to the cave. In the distance they could see a party of heavily armed men led by Esrin, stealthily approaching their hideout. They watched wide eyed as the members of Esrin’s band of would-be murderers began screaming in terror. Staccato echoes from their AK47’s combined gunfire bounced around between the Fairy Chimneys in the still early morning air. Esrin and his band fired their automatic weapons in all directions desperate to kill their unseen attacker as she angrily tore their minds apart until all that was left were lobotomized, but still breathing, husks that had formerly been sentient beings.
Esrin’s fate was wholly different. Ithis physically appeared before him for the first and last time, the pupils of her eyes shining like deathly yellow beacons as she slowly destroyed him forever. The terrified Kurd fell to his knees, frantically screaming his prayers to his god while pleading for his life. His brain began to swell inside the confines of his skull under her ruthlessly delivered powerful attack, until finally it exploded turning to a grey bloody soup that flowed freely from his ears, nose and mouth, as he toppled lifeless to the floor of the valley. Never again would he hold his children. Never again would he know the pleasure of the warmth of his wife in their matrimonial bed. Ithis still seethed with anger. No one but no one mattered in the scheme of things now except her precious surface-dweller, her Nick! After she had returned to her normally benign self, she once more took on the role of guide for the remainder of the journey to Göbekli Tepe. Until now, all of her human companions, especially Nick, had never ever seen just how ruthless she could become when provoked.
The rest of the long journey to Göbekli Tepe largely went without a hitch, and without much conversation. Kolya and Victor nervously brought up the rear of the small column of travellers behind an equally shaken David, who followed Nick and Ithis at a considerable distance. It would be a long time before any of them felt confident enough to once again talk to the Crypto-terrestrial.