WE ARE REACHING THE EVENT HORIZON OF
SO SEE THE FUTURE
LEARN FROM THE PAST
This Book was researched and written between 2000-2002 AD so the technology
and factual events were from that time.
A Sequel is now being written to reflect our Present State.For this latest version see the link below
WITH THE NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE AND ANDROID APP
App Screenshot With CRONUS And IAPETUS Asteroids
Chapter 1: Kreutzlingen , Switzerland
Chapter 2a: CERN, Genève, Switzerland
Chapter 2: City Mortuary, Kaliningrad, Russia
Chapter 3: City Hospital, Kreutzlingen
Chapter 4: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Chapter 5: Kreutzlingen, Switzerland
Chapter 6: Eleusis, Greece
Chapter 7: SPAK Corp. Kreutzlingen
Chapter 8: The Archons Room Of Shadows,Athens
Chapter 9: Konstanz, Germany
Chapter 10: City Mortuary, Athens
Chapter 11: Jet Propulsion Laboratory,USA
Chapter 11a: SETI, University of California, Berkeley,USA
Chapter 12: Friedrichshafen, Germany
Chapter 12a: First Sighting, Maui Space Surveillance Site, Hawaii
Chapter 13: Corfu Airport, Greece
Chapter 14: Athens International Airport
Chapter 15: Hotel Philippos, Athens
Chapter 16: City Mortuary, Athens
Chapter 17: City Center Athens
Chapter 18: Police Headquarters, Kreutzlingen
Chapter 19: Eleusis Greece
Chapter 20: St. Denis Cathedral, Athens
Chapter 21: Police Headquarters. Athens
Chapter 22: Athens University
Chapter 23: Police Headquarters ,Kaliningrad, Russia
Chapter 24: Athens University, The Prophecy
Chapter 25: Athens International Airport
Chapter 26: Hotel Philippos, Athens
Chapter 27: St. Denis Cathedral, Athens
Chapter 28: Athens Professr Zarganis House
Chapter 29: Police Headquarters, Athens
Chapter 30: Eleusis
Chapter 31: Road To Eleusis
Chapter 32: Athens International Airport
Chapter 33: Police Headquarters, Athens
Chapter 34: Athens Center
Chapter 35: Athens Exhibition Center
Chapter 36: British Embassy, Athens
Chapter 37: Spiro’s Café, Athens
Chapter 38: Syntagma Square, Athens
Chapter 39: Kolonaki district of Athens
Chapter 40: 425000 miles from Earth
Chapter 41: SPAK Corporation, Athens 173
Chapter 42: Athens To Bay Of Elefsina 175
Chapter 43: Eleusis 180
Chapter 44: New Eleusis Sanctuary 184
Chapter 45: The Telesterion 188
Chapter 46: The Prophecy Fulfilled ? 197
367 BC: Hekademeia , Athens
700 Years Ago: Montsegur , France
7 Months Ago: Kreutzlingen , Switzerland
2067 AD: Hekademeia , Athens
Terms Used 205
Web Sites 210
Origonal was researched and written 2000 - 2002
Updated with Illustrations, Terms Used, Tables and Web Sites 2012
Εγώ ίσως Σκωτίας, αλλά η καρδιά μου βρίσκεται στην Ελλάδα.
You’ve stolen mankind and you’ve poisoned its soul
You’re dragging them on to the edge of the hole…
The darkness in the room was disturbed at first by a flickering light that exploded suddenly to fill the screen and create an oasis
of light in the vast inky blackness.
The bowed head lifted and peered at the monitor.
Rubbing his eyes, Andrew Jamieson switched on the overhead lamp and looked at his notes trying to recall where he was before the system went down.
'Not that bloody dream again', Andrew muttered.
Andrew had awoken from a reccurring realistic dream, so far removed from his current technological environment
that he had to take a moment to readjust to his present situation.
‘Thank God. At last. Maybe now I can finish before the morning shift arrives.’
Before continuing his work, he glanced at the screen of his mobile phone which was running an App he had devised,
the UFO/Ghost/Emf detector App, just as a diversion from the monotony of his paid work.
‘No luck', he sighed.
He thought it an ideal time to test it, as there was talk of a ghost seen wandering around the premises at night.
He obviously didn't believe in such things, but if it did exist and approached him, his App would detect
and record it, using the camera and magnetic, temperature and barometric pressure sensors on the phone.
Anything for a bit of excitement around here.
Back to reality, as he remembered the sense of urgency that his supervisor had related to him at the start of the shift.
The pace had risen perceptibly in the last twenty-four hours and with the system being down for the last two it wasn’t the best environment for completing a crucial piece of complex software.
Even the experience that comes with ten years as a software contractor, meeting constant deadlines, didn’t dull the rising knot of tension in the pit of his stomach.
It was time for another Omeprazole ulcer tablet.
To cheer him up, he reminded himself of the rate he was on for tonight’s work.
£100 an hour plus time and a half for night shift.
He considered himself fortunate with unemployment rampent in all the EU countries resulting in instability and riots.
But here in Switzerland things were relatvely calm while chaos, terrorism and civil wars erupted round the globe.
Not only was Switzerland a temporary refuge from the world's social/economic problems, it so far had avoided the natural disasters which
were increasingly appearing throughout the world such as earthquakes, tsusnamis and erupting volcanos like the latest one in Iceland which
was much more violent than at any time of its recorded history, leaving experts baffled.
But one thing defied explanation,the threat off nuclear war. No one could could escape this on Earth, even talk of elites moving to NewZealand
would not survive this impending Holocost. At this moment in time, Andrew could not make sense of the inevitable developing events.
And with that thought together with the ulcer tablet starting to do its job he could now start to concentrate on the final lines of code.
Quickly interpreting his notes and translating them into streams of digital code through the rapid clicking of the keyboard, he was now on the verge of testing his work.
Someone had lied to him. It didn’t get any easier in fact it got harder.
At the age of thirty-five and surrounded by people of a younger generation he felt increasingly isolated.
It didn’t help that he was inward looking and although his technical skills had increased over the years his social skills hadn’t.
But that was soon to be all behind him.
His goal was in sight.
This would be his final contract and with the thought of the sun drenched Greek villa of his dreams about to be within his grasp, he now focused on his test notes.
Looking through his test notes he again thought of the differences between this project and the many others he had worked on in the past, in particular the type of data that was required to test his software.
The range of software from his knowledge seemed to encompass all forms of media from Smartphones, Pads, Laptops (all Operating Systems), Mainframes, Databases and all interconnected by all forms of communication.
And at the center was something hidden and highly restricted but noticable by the uniquness of its test software.
He had worked on military and commercial projects including submarines, tanks, simulators, factory control and manufacturing systems through to financial and business software, but the data required here was completely different.
What on earth would finally supply this data?
Because the project had been broken down into hundreds of modules, each team only knew of their piece in the puzzle and of the immediate pieces around them, so Andrew had no idea of the final use of the complete software package.
Was it for military or benign commercial use?
The one recurring reference he had noticed was the name of the installation at the other end of Switzterland, that of CERN.
Maybe one day he would have his curiosity satisfied and discover the answer.
His was not the only small island of light in this large inky dark room.
About ten desks to his right and fourteen behind him another pool of light had at its center one of his software team, a young local Swiss boy called Hans Schenk.
The rest of his night shift team; Russell MacIntyre, Franz Steiner, Douglas Crammond and Jane Davidson had each returned to their allocated hotel when the system went down.
Andrew had decided that it was only himself and Hans who were required and should remain in the hope that the system would come back online in time for them to complete the software, which had to be ready and tested by morning.
He would rather be here anyway than at his hotel, situated next to the main Swiss German border post,or Hauptzoll, as tonight was disco night.
The basement of the hotel served as both a bowling alley and disco, and although his room wasn’t directly over it he could still feel the throbbing beat of the late night music.
The relief after it finished didn’t last long though as the sound of the early morning heavy traffic passing through the border would step in and take over.
He wished that there was also one other island of light in the room tonight with the long dark haired Helena at its center.
His wife had died five years ago in a car crash, a painful and tortuous period in his life, the memory of which returned to him at night when he was alone in bed keeping him awake with it’s images.
This was one of the reasons he had asked to go on the night shift.
The other was Helena, but now that she had switched to the day shift he would consider switching back as well.
Helena had studied Philosophy at the University of Athens but like a lot of software contractors had re-trained in software with the lure of constant employment, travel and not least money.
Expecially in this time of extreme austerity in Greece where a third of her age group was hopelessly unemployed.
The first time he was introduced to his team assembled from around the globe he noticed her staring at him.
Initially he thought it was his mop of gray streaked hair which occasionally brought blinking looks from total strangers.
But after working with her for a few months he’d noticed that most of the time she seemed to be by his side; her desk was next to his at work and at social gatherings of which the Company provided plenty, she was always seated next to him.
He had become accustomed to looking round and seeing her there smiling warmly at him.
I must switch back to the day shift, he thought.
Each member of the team relied on each other and at this particular moment as his test notes showed Hans was needed to supply the simulated test data for Andrew’s software module.
Hans was a quiet young man as he had found out over the last seven months of his contract.
He was reserved and his favorite past times included playing the trumpet and hacking into computers.
To bring together this diverse collection of different nationalities, with it’s mix of permanent and contract workers, the SPAK Corporation had arranged social gatherings to inspire a team spirit which they hoped would help in the completion of this vast and complex software project.
He remembered one particular occasion when the team was invited to one of the Swiss managers houses, a large chalet perched midway up a green valley slope.
The manager, Max Rohrbach, had arranged a lantern lit barbeque night at the side of his house, which had a long wooden table with benches on either side.
Seated round the table was a mixture of Swiss, Danish, Swedish, German, Scots and one Greek.
The Scots party had consisted of Andrew and four others.
The barbeque was now in full swing and the Swiss custom of passing a bottle of Kirsch around the table appealed to the Scots.
The bottle reached Russell, a man of about twenty-seven with wild dark hair, an appealing smile and a liking for telling a tale or two.
‘Pour it in the glass,’ shouted the crowd.
But Russell oblivious to this custom put the bottle to his mouth and took a deep swig.
Eventually, he slammed it on the table and beamed his widest smile.
This sociable Swiss custom had become the Scots custom of drinking straight from the bottle and leaving as little as possible for the next person.
Russell had pushed the bottle to Andrew, and as he placed it to his mouth he could see a glint in Russell’s eye that spelt trouble.
‘We have a custom in Scotland,’ boomed Russell as he pointed to the diminutive figure of Hans.
‘The youngest person in the team has to stand in the middle of the table.’
Poor young Hans was picked up and placed in the center of the table where he stood staring at his feet red faced.
At this point Russell stood and shouted, ‘de-bag him’.
Before he knew it Hans was standing with his trousers around his ankles, with the Swiss contingent staring blankly at each other while the all the others roared with laughter.
Poor Hans, Andrew thought, smiling at the memory of this hilarious scene, as he now leaned back in his swivel chair and with outstretched hand pressed the key to start reading Hans’s test data.
After a few seconds a message appeared in the center of the screen exclaiming that a file didn’t exist.
‘Damn,’ Andrew muttered under his breath. ‘Hans had promised that his software would be ready by now to provide the test data necessary to complete this stage of the project.’
He glanced at the project chart on the wall.
This module was on the critical path and would delay ten other teams who were due to use his software in the morning.
He could feel that familiar knot of tension in the pit of his stomach return,
making the Omeprazole tablet work overtime in protecting his ulcer and preventing it from adding to his rising discomfort.
He sighed. ‘Hopefully he’s nearly ready. I’ll need to check him. A few minutes delay we can handle. Any longer…’
He couldn’t bear to think of the consequences.
He rose from his chair and started towards Hans.
As he approached him he called out,
‘Hans are you just about ready to start the test?’
The figure wasn’t upright but slumped, head bowed in front of the monitor just as Andrew himself had been when the system was down.
Oh no, he thought, he’s nodded off and didn’t wake up when the screen had burst back into life as the system came back on line.
He emerged from the darkness and into Hans’s own little oasis of light at the center of which was a large monitor displaying not the
usual colorful lines of code and development tools but instead a black screen and the beginnings of what looked like a transmission
over a broadband connecion which had abruptly been stopped.
At the top of the screen in white was the word ‘RA’ followed on the next line by the words ‘KONIGSBERG’ and ‘KANT’ , then 'CERN', and on the next line just the word ‘ELEUSIS’ and the word ‘GNO’, or part of a word, with the cursor blinking at the end of it.
As he stared at the screen an uneasy feeling came over him when he suddenly realized that there was something wrong with the apparently dozing figure of Hans.
He was completely still and silent.
No sight or sound of breathing.
It was then that he noticed a deep red cut visible above Hans’s shirt collar at the back of his head.
He tapped his shoulder gently at first and whispered his name as if to awake him from a light doze.
With no reaction from Hans this rose to a shake of his shoulder that suddenly turned the side of Hans face towards him.
The trickle of blood from the edge of his mouth had made a path down his chin and was dripping onto the white notes on his desk.
In his orderly, logical world of software development Andrew had never been confronted with anything like this.
Was Hans ill?
Could he even be dead?
For a second his thoughts turned back to the project as if to escape the reality of what was before him. He was off the hook.
The morning shift couldn’t blame him if they weren’t able to use his software because the man supplying the test data was DEAD!
With that word reverberating round his head he was jolted back to reality.
What was the procedure if you found someone dead, was there one?
He was used to having endless manuals pointing him in the right direction, which he followed religiously, for if he didn’t the software auditors would catch him and he would lose his job with his reputation irreparably damaged.
But this was a different world, he picked up the phone to contact the night security desk, they would know more than him what the next step was.
There was that word again ‘DEAD!’
The phone was as lifeless as the slumped stationary figure before him. He traced the phone line to the back of the console where it entered a sea of other cables connected to the computer.
The line must have come out of its socket he thought.
As he tugged at the cable his hand suddenly raised up displaying not a plug at the end of the line but exposed wires.
It had been ripped out. The broadband line must have suffered the same fate, which would explain the incomplete message on the screen.
The signs of force and violence were all around him now.
What do I do now? he thought, as beads of sweat dripped from his forehead and also trickled down his spine after his exertions at the back of the computer.
‘I have to contact someone, anyone,’ he muttered, as if the burden of what he knew was weighing down on him so oppressively that sharing it with
someone else would lighten his load. In fact the more people he told the better.
Then it struck him.
The person who did this might still be here watching him, hidden in the darkness that surrounded him, waiting to see
what his next move would be.
That thought came too late for as he started to turn, a powerful blow from behind to the top of his shoulders sucked the breath from his lungs and chopped his legs from beneath him, sending him crashing down hitting his head on the edge of the monitor with a sickening crack.
As he slumped to the floor in engulfing pain and with darkness rapidly closing in, the last thing he saw was a gun and it was pointing straight at him.
That word ‘DEAD!’ again he thought as the last glimmer of light disappeared.
There was a sense of jubilation. Success!
Among the many collaborative scientists, engineers and institutions there was a collective pat on the back.
The 13 TeV proton collision data produced as a result of the successful run was already being distributed and analysed by the LHC Computing Grid.
The inner core of analysts using the latest Quantum Computers had already reported back the much awaited news confirming their predictions.
This was to be the official release to the world press.
In room 108, however another sense of satisfaction was being manifested among the select few seated around the large oval oak table.
The events on Earth had been a success, but much further away in time and space, a breakthrough had been achieved, and only those in room 108 were aware of this.
This was to trigger a sequence of events that each and every one of them knew was crucial to thier survival.
But what would be the repurcussions for all else? That is a question that did not for a second cross their minds.
As one, they stood and raised their glasses.To The SPAK Corporation.
Georgi stared at the face of the corpse.
In his twenty years as a pathologist he had never witnessed anything the like of which was before him.
The expression that masked the face of the man was unnatural. A person couldn’t have sufficient control of their facial muscles to create such expressions.
It wasn’t just a look of fear, but also of misbelief and something else that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
With this lingering thought in the back of his mind, he pulled back the sheet to reveal the full body.
With the sheet still in his hand he stood frozen.
The rest of the body in a way mimicked the face; muscles bulged in exaggerated mounds and the arms and legs were twisted and pulled into unnatural shapes.
What on earth could produce such effects on a human being?
Georgi took a deep breath as if to clear his head of any emotions that had welled up in him at the sight of this corpse and prepared to start his methodical examination.
Beginning with the head, he noticed a slight indent or band across the forehead and around the temples, as if this person wore a hat frequently. He made a mental note to check the records if this mans employment required him to wear a hat, which could account for the markings on the head.
As he examined the bands at the side of the head, he thought he could make out very faint puncture marks.
Picking up an eyepiece he could see more clearly that there were three puncture marks arranged like the points of a triangle on either side of the head.
Drugs! he thought. Some external stimulus must have been used to cause such effects on the body and its eventual death.
Blood tests may reveal the presence of any unusual substances, possibly large doses of a powerful hallucinogenic.
At this point his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door behind him opening and steps echoing off the white tiled walls of the post mortem room as someone approached him.
Without turning he said, ‘hi Yuri, I was wondering when you’d turn up.
Your timing’s perfect, I’m about to start the part of the post mortem that I know you enjoy the most.’
Inspector Yuri Kharine of the Kaliningrad police let out a sigh and turned his head away from the body when the razor sharp scalpel was placed above the top of the chest as Georgi attempted to make the cut that would give him access to the internal organs of the body.
‘My God!’ exclaimed Georgi, as he struggled to make a deep cut into the chest of the body.
Yuri turned expecting to see the usual display of blood, pulled back skin and exposed internal organs.
Even after twenty-five years in the police force he still couldn’t get used to this part of the job.
The thought that the body was sacrosanct and in all cases should be respected was at the heart of his beliefs and this ritual dissection of the body disturbed him every time.
But this time only the merest trickle of blood on the chest of the body greeted his eyes.
Georgi stood back from the corpse.
‘The muscles of the chest are so tense that I can only cut through the top layer of skin.
Everything about the condition of this man is unusual, Yuri, I’m waiting on the results of the blood tests to see if they can provide a clue to the cause of death.
Do you have any information on who he is and the circumstances of his death?’
Yuri consulted his notes.
‘He was found in his flat by his girlfriend as she came off the night shift. Apparently he was just lying on the floor in the condition you see him in now, but fully clothed.
She didn’t expect him to be at home at all as he was also on the night shift at the same factory, but in a different department, and would be working on till later.’
‘Well, what was his job and what was the name of the factory?’ asked Georgi.
‘He was a software developer at the SPAK Corporation, Kaliningrad,’ Yuri replied.
The distant pain was coming from two distinct places, immediately behind him and above and in front of him.
As the darkness receded the pain increased rapidly to hit him with a jolt.
His forehead above the right eye was the source of a sharp blinding pain and the base of his neck was throbbing and tender where it touched the pillow.
With the light came a voice.
‘Can you hear me Andrew?’
Someone was touching his hand.
As he tried to focus on the blurred image above him, the familiar outline of long wavy black hair framing the soft features of a woman started to fill his sight.
As the features became more distinct, he recognized the image as Helena, but not as he had seen her before.
Her wide blue eyes were staring at him intently and he could see a look of concern in her face.
Again softly, ‘can you hear me Andrew?’ she said, lifting her hand to caress his cheek as he looked beyond her to see the sun streaming through white curtains into a room containing just the two of them.
‘You’re in a hospital.’
The concern in her face started to fade and a smile grew as she could see the look of recognition in the eyes that had remained closed since she had arrived at the hospital thirty-two hours ago.
‘What am I doing in a hospital when I should be at work testing my software?
It had to be ready today!
What time is it?’
This overriding thought was the result of years of professional pride in his work.
He had never been the one responsible for a project being delayed.
‘It’s eleven thirty!’
‘The last thing I remember is the computers coming back online about three in morning.
God, that’s eight hours ago, but I’m sure I finished my software module and signed it as complete.
Does the dayshift know? Do they have access to it?’
Helena stroked his forehead gently.
‘Yes, don’t worry, your software was completed.
I checked it personally, I know how conscientious you are and it would be one of the first things you asked.
But, I’m afraid you’ve been unconscious for more than a couple of hours.
Russell found you barely alive at the factory last night. Don’t you remember what happened?’
‘No! Have I been in some sort of accident? I must have been, to hurt so much and find myself lying here on a hospital bed’
She sighed and stared at him. ‘You really don’t remember?’
At this he lifted his hand to his forehead to feel the bandage covering the source of the pain above his eye. As he moved his head the throbbing ache at the base of his neck increased and suddenly he remembered the dream.
‘I’ve had the weirdest dream. More of a nightmare really. I dreamt that I had finished my software and when I asked Hans for the data to test it he looked as if he was dead!’
At this point Helena should laugh and say, ‘don’t be silly it was just a dream, what really happened was this,’ he thought.
But her expression didn’t change as she stared at him, willing him to remember.
Then suddenly the dream came flooding back.
‘It can’t have happened. It’s impossible!’
‘I’m afraid it did,’ Helena explained.
‘Russell had returned to the factory when he heard that the system was back online, to find you lying on the floor at the foot of Hans’s chair with a gun in your hand.’
‘A gun! What, you mean a real gun like you see on the television?’
‘Yes it was real and so were the bullets that were in it.’
The obvious questions were starting to form a long queue in his mind.
‘Lets get this straight. I’m a respectable thirty something software engineer who was happily working on a software project using the tools of my trade, which are a computer, a keyboard and a screen in a typical office environment. Where does a gun come into that, it’s not exactly standard issue to contract software developers, is it? Where on earth would I get a gun from?’
It was then that he remembered a gun pointing at him was the last thing he saw before waking up here.
‘It gets worse,’ she said.
‘How could it possibly get worse?’
‘The gun that you were holding had blood on the butt of the handle. The police think that it may be Han’s blood.’
‘What! 'They think that I killed him by striking him on the back of the head with the gun?’
‘It looks that way. A police officer, Inspector Monika Weiss, was here yesterday and earlier this morning. She wants to interview you as soon as you’re able to talk. There’s even a policeman posted outside the door.’
‘Good, that must be for protection from the person who assaulted me and murdered Hans’
‘No, I think its to stop you leaving. From what I can gather they think you and Hans where arguing and there was no third person involved.’
‘This is ridiculous, I have to talk to them and explain exactly what happened. You believe me, don’t you Helena?’
‘Of course I do, that’s why I’m here. I’ve only known you for several months but even so, I realize this is completely out of character and you could never do such a thing. Can you remember anything else about what happened?’
The seriousness of the situation was now beginning to hit him.
He had been clinging to the notion that this was all a dream because the events were so unusual and completely outside his normal ordered everyday experiences.
He had to try and recall everything that happened.
From what Helena had said, his future depended on it.
‘I remember walking over to Hans’s desk to check if he was ready to supply me with the test data I needed. When I got there he was slumped over his desk, with a deep red cut on the back of his head. There, that proves it. He was already dead before I reached him. It couldn’t have been me. It was then that someone struck me from behind, and that’s the last I remember before waking up here.’
‘Did you catch a glimpse of who hit you?’
‘You need proof of what you said happened, can you remember anything else at all?’
Closing his eyes he tried to picture the scene at Han’s desk. Then suddenly he remembered.
‘The phone was dead when I tried to call security. The line had been ripped out.’
‘Yes the screen was blank except for a few words. The first word was “RE”… no it was “RA”. On the next line were the words “KONIGSBERG” and “KANT”, then CERN, and on the next line just the word “ELEUSIS” and the word “GNO”, or part of a word, with the cursor blinking at the end of it.
It looked like the beginning of a modem transmission, which had been cut short when the phone line was ripped out. Do these words mean anything to you, other than CERN, they certainly don’t to me?’
Helena was staring at him, and with each of the words he had said her mouth had got wider and wider until she said.
‘Of course they mean something to me. I’m a Greek who has a degree in philosophy. Eleusis is an ancient site in Greece, just outside Athens and Emmanual Kant was one of the most famous philosophers in history who was born in the provincial town of Konigsberg, East Prussia in 1724.’
Taken aback at her knowledge, Andrew said, ‘that’s impressive, but where’s East Prussia? I don’t recognize that country.’
Getting irritated by his ignorance Helena replied, ‘that region is now part of Russia and Konigsberg is now known as Kaliningrad.’
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
United States Of America
Peter Strauss was tired, but he was on a mission, a mission to discover as many asteroids as possible.
Not just any asteroid though, because being part of the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking team or NEAT as they were known, his interest lay in asteroids that could be classified as one of three types;,
1/ asteroids that approach the Earth’s orbit from the outside known as Amors,
2/ asteroids that cross the Earth’s orbit known as Apollos and
3/ asteroids that approach the Earth’s orbit from the inside known as Atens.
But alone in the dark lab illuminated only by the bright back lit array of negatives laid out before him, he easily shrugged off the effects of his fatigue as he could sense that he was on the verge of discovering a very special type of Amor asteroid,
an Amor-PHA(Potentially Hazardous Asteroid).
This moment was the culmination of a time consuming period of observations and calculations involving not just himself but others spread around the globe, as NEAT consisted of two autonomous observing systems;
the Maui Space Surveillance Site, Hawaii,
and the Palomar Observatory, California
who both routed their data directly back to his team here in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for analysis.
In this case though, it was the Palomar Observatory, using its 1.2-meter telescope, which had provided the series of time lapsed pictures that Peter had run through the automatic data analysis system.
They were just a series of apparently identical negatives populated with a multitude of various sized small black dots, but by comparing them, if you were lucky you could spot the one dot, which was not at the same position in each negative.
This was your moving asteroid.
Tonight, he was in luck, as the analysis software had pinpointed one dot, which seemed to show up in slightly different positions in subsequent negatives.
He now had his asteroid.
The next thing was to plot its course.
After entering all his asteroid data into the computer, his excitement had mounted, as after repeated refinements of his results, the indications were of a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid or PHA as they were known.
They were asteroids larger than two hundred meters, which approach close enough to the Earth
to present a potential hazard.
He would soon know how potentially hazard this one would be as the data finally started to appear on his screen.
Peter gasped as the last number was displayed.
He quickly pressed the graphic display button, which would convert the numbers into a graphic illustrating the asteroid moving through space as it approached the Earth on its orbit around the Sun.
He now watched in amazement as the asteroid and the Earth moved closer and closer together until suddenly the picture froze when they were at their closest point.
Automatically a line was drawn between the asteroid and the Earth with a number displayed above it.
My God, he thought, this one will be close.
But not close enough to hit, he reminded himself as he let out a sigh of relief.
Luckily, this one and a half mile wide asteroid would not hit the Earth in five days time but will be such a narrow escape as to make the world leaders sit up and take notice.
They may not be so lucky the next time.
He couldn’t wait to tell them.
The one thing he would keep to himself though, was the apparent controlled entity preceding the incoming natural phenomena.A step too far at this point
but one he would personally monitor, and divulge if it's seemingly controlled actions could be verified, without bringing ridicule.
He knew his limitations. His expertise was image analysis. For any type of confirmation that what he was seeing was no illusion, he required other expertise,
namely signal detection and analysis. For this he would contact his friend at SETI.
The television in the hospital room burst into life?
'Top news. The number and unprecedented power of recent Earth Quakes in the world increases with a massive earth quake in Nepal, thousands dead.'
'Risk of Nuclear war increases, with movement of nuclear warhead misiles being moved to borders of nations in opposing world organisations.'
'American police react to riots spreading across all states,with increasingly oppossing groups becoming more violent.'
'Andrew thought not only was his own world spiralling out of control,but the world was equally matching his own increasing maddness'.
'Andrew turned his attention from the television news to Helen'.
‘What about the words “RA” and “GNO”?’
‘Well, when you first said “RE” then remembered it was “RA”, either word would have been right. They’re both the name given to an ancient Egyptian Sun God,’ explained Helena.
‘I think that “GNO” is incomplete and could be either “GNOSTIC” or “GNOSIS”.
In either case they both refer to an early branch of Christianity, which didn’t survive and died out.’
Andrew looked at her quizzically.
'And CERN ? What is the connection beween modern physics research and ancient religious refrences ?'
Andrew continued almost as an afterthought.
'Hans mentioned that one of his hobbies was the LHC Computing Grid, which helped in analysing the vast ammounts of data collected during CERN experiments.
But he was only one of thousands involved in this innocently official exercise.'
‘There is no way he could have been killed for this?’
‘Well if he was, and they know that you’ve seen this, your life could also be in danger.
Maybe Russell interrupted the murderer before he could get the chance to kill you too, so he placed the gun in your hand to incriminate you before fleeing.
He may come back to finish the job.’
‘Thanks, that’s a reassuring thought. But its all the more reason that I should tell the police everything I know so they can start looking for the real killer.
I think it’s time to talk to them.
Could you tell the policeman at the door that I can now make a statement.’
As Helena nodded in agreement he suddenly felt a wave of relief sweep through his body forcing an involuntary sigh.
Coming to terms with what had happened by sharing his experiences with Helena had an almost therapeutic effect on him mentally and physically.
He seemed to be in less pain and once he had given his statement to the police, it would then be up to them to solve this case leaving him to get back to his normal ordered life.
This thought was suddenly interrupted by a thumping noise against the far wall next to the door, which Helena was about to open.
At this she hesitated, then slowly turned the handle pulling open the door slightly.
Peering through, she could see a man in a white doctor’s coat bending over the policeman who was lying crumpled on the floor.
Helena silently closed the door and placed a chair at an angle under the handle.
‘Quick, we have to get out of here.’
‘Why what’s happened? What was that noise?’
‘It was probably the sound of the policeman hitting the wall as he fell. And there’s a man in a doctor’s coat standing over him.’
‘Maybe he fainted after standing out there so long, and the doctor’s attending to him,’ Andrew offered as Helena started to help him out of bed.
‘No, I don’t think so. He has nasty looking gash in his head.’
‘Maybe he got that as he fell.’
‘No, definitely not, the doctor was holding a gun.’
‘Jesus! Not again. Where’s my clothes?’
‘Over there on a chair by the window.’
Helping Andrew over to the chair, Helena quickly scanned the room for an exit other than the main door.
Nothing, she thought, only the window, and we’re on the third floor she remembered as she assisted Andrew into his clothes.
The sense of urgency suddenly increased as they both heard the door handle being turned, gently at first, then more rapidly making a rattling sound that shook the door.
Helena lifted the window fully open in one quick movement and pushed her head through the opening.
‘There’s a fire escape just outside the window!’
‘Thank God,’ gasped Andrew, struggling to tie his shoelaces.
Helena pulled him up to the window. ‘Forget that.’
Climbing out onto the fire escape landing, she started to ease him over the windowsill, until a loud crack from the disintegrating door gave her strength she didn’t know she had and Andrew was pulled over in one quick bundled action that had them both lying on the metal grill of the landing.
Without fully standing, Helena grabbed Andrew’s arms and threw them round her neck.
‘Hold on, he could be at the window any moment now.’
She then started to pull him down the angled ladder.
With gathering momentum Helena was now staggering down the ladder to the next level where she found herself heading towards the edge.
With Andrew pushing hard against her, she struggled to stop herself from toppling over the railing as they both stared perilously down at the car park, two levels below.
Gathering their breath they looked up and could see two feet stepping onto the metal grill above them.
‘My car’s just round the corner, come on, quick,’ she said.
Needing no prompting, Andrew was soon following her down the zigzagging fire escape to the car park below with the sound of footsteps above him urging him on.
As they jumped the last few steps onto the car park, Helena grabbed his hand and pulled him in the direction of her car.
An oncoming car screeched to a halt, almost hitting them.
Temporally stunned, they continued past the surprised gaze of the driver.
Looking behind them, Andrew could see the man in the doctor’s coat leaning over the railings of the first landing, and on sighting them lifted his hand with the gun.
‘He’s about to shoot,’ Andrew yelled.
With no hesitation he threw himself at Helena as they reached the corner of the building pushing her to the ground.
The bullet exploded into the corner bricks of the hospital sending fragments shooting in all directions.
Covering their faces, he rolled over to the safety of the wall around the corner, pulling Helena with him.
There was no loud bang from the gun, Andrew thought, he must be using some sort of silencer.
He then turned her head round to his and brushed away the mop of dark hair covering her face.
‘Are you OK?’
‘Yes, just a bit winded, my car’s just over there, come on he’s not far behind.’
Pulling the keys from her pocket as she ran, Helena quickly selected the door key and on reaching the car thrust it into the lock.
Andrew pulled at the passenger door repeatedly until it opened in response to Helena’s turn of the key.
Once inside he turned round and looked through the rear side window in time to see the gunman turn the corner and survey the car park for any sign of movement.
It was a busy car park with plenty of movement to help disguise their whereabouts, but not for long as the blond short cropped haired man started to run along the first row of cars, looking in each as he went.
They were in the second row.
‘Now would be a good time to go,’ Andrew urged as Helena started the car at the second attempt and accelerated from the parking space away from the gunman who turned quickly in their direction, but soon stopped when he realized he couldn’t catch them.
‘Where to now?’ Helena asked as she approached the exit.
‘Head for the nearest police station and safety,’ he replied.
‘That might not be a good idea. If they’ve found that the police guard has been attacked and we’re missing, they could already be looking for us as suspects. Reinforcing the suspicions they already have about you.’
‘I don’t know what to do,’ Andrew sighed.
‘I need time to think. I’ve been involved in more unusual events in the last couple of days than in the whole of my life.’
Helena could see the rising look of despair in Andrew’s face.
‘OK, let’s get out of Switzerland, that should have the police and the gunman off our backs for a bit giving us time to work things out. The border’s only ten minutes away.’
Andrew looked relieved. ‘I’ve my passport with me, do you have yours?’ he asked.
‘No, we’ll have to stop at my hotel, the Quellenhof.
Helena turned left at the exit into Romanshorner Strasse, which would take them directly to her hotel.
They would then be heading for Konstanz in Germany.
Konstanz straddles the Rhein as it flows out of the Bodensee Lake with one half of the town on the Bodanruck Peninsula and the other half on the Swiss side of the lake where it merges with Kreuzlingen.
The contractors at the factory were constantly going over the border to the larger town of Konstanz for the greater choice in shopping and nightlife, so it was usual to carry your passport around with you.
Reaching her hotel, Helena turned into Lowenstrasse where the main entrance was.
‘There’s Douglas just leaving the hotel!’ exclaimed Andrew.
‘Keep going and turn into the side entrance in Alleeweg Strasse.’
She then turned into the side street and parked her car a few lengths past the entrance.
‘Stay here, I won’t be long,’ she said as she got out the car and headed for the hotel.
Andrew leaned back in his seat and stared up at the long pink balconies lining the block opposite the hotel, where he could see local people watering their plant boxes under the bright orange and yellow canopies, sheltering them from the afternoon sun.
Everything here was so peaceful and reassuring.
His heart rate was just getting back to normal when he saw Douglas turn into the side street. At the same time Helena rushed out of the hotel and almost bumped into him.
He could see them talking and hoped she was as quick with excuses as she was with her software.
She mustn’t mention that he was with her, he thought.
They both started to walk towards him, and then suddenly stopped as Douglas got into a car.
He watched as Douglas drove away then turned as Helena opened the door and sat beside him.
‘What did he say?’ Andrew asked.
‘That Max Rohrbach, the senior supervisor was looking for me.’Helena replied.
‘I thought you’d taken the day off?’
‘I did, maybe some emergency had cropped up and they needed help. The rest of the team is taking Hans’s death hard but Max is putting pressure on them to come in today and complete their work. You know that all the software had to be completed and tested by today and if not they would lose their bonuses, it was in all of our contracts.’
‘Yes, that’s why they had brought in contractors because they were struggling to meet this date.’Andrew noted.
‘Douglas seems to think they should be OK, he was on his way to the factory to help with some last minute details before the software is shipped to another factory for integration with the final product.’
‘Yes, I’ve always wondered what this software would be used for. Did Douglas say what it would be integrated with.’
‘Pity, if Douglas did know he would certainly have said so, just to impress you. You do know that Douglas likes you and probably thinks you feel the same?’
She blushed slightly and turned to him.
‘I definitely do not have any feelings for Douglas just as I’m sure he has none for me. We are just colleagues who happen to work together.’
Helena stared at Andrew willing him to believe this and for some reason, which he couldn’t quite figure out, Andrew himself felt relieved that she had replied in the way she did.
She knew that some existing feelings she had, were growing stronger and new ones had started to appear brought on by the way they had suddenly been thrown together.
Looking at him now with the bandage on his forehead starting to unravel she knew that the feelings of affection and of wanting to protect him from harm had definitely grown.
She reached into the bag she had brought with her from the flat and pulled out a woolen hat.
‘Here put this on. It’ll hold your bandage together and also hide it. You’re starting to look a bit conspicuous and attracting attention is the last thing we want at the moment.’
She handed him the hat then started to adjust his bandage and in doing so her hand was brushing against the side of his head. There was a steady rhythm to her actions and both didn’t want the moment to end.
When she’d finished Andrew pulled the woolen hat on and turned to her.
‘How do I look?’
‘Very handsome, a little adjustment and you’ll be perfect.’
She pulled the hat down at the sides to cover any signs of the bandage then asked, ‘where to now?’
‘Konstanz,’ Andrew replied.
This wasn’t good, thought Inspector Anthony Lykourgos as he passed through the site entrance gate where the Sacred Way changed from a modern to an ancient paved road
in the Mousio Elefsinas Archeologiko.
It was like stepping into another, older world and seemed to be the perfect backdrop to the scene that was related to him over the phone an hour ago.
The twenty two kilometer drive from Athens to Eleusis wasn’t the most scenic in Greece particularly the Thriasian Plain which is now one of the most highly industrialized areas in the country with its oil tanks, chimneys and cargo quays making the last six kilometers of the Sacred Way the least romantic road in Greece.
But here, as he entered the Great Forecourt before the city walls he seemed to go back in time, immersing himself in the surroundings in preparation for the crime scene.
This was an important tourist site and it wasn’t good for business to have people murdered here. The site had been temporarily closed and the local police had taped off the immediate area.
He already had a heavy workload, organizing security for the World Peace and Anti-Terrorist Summit in Athens, which would start tomorrow
and last for five days culminating in a final days banquet for all the attending delegates at an estate near the Eleusis sanctuary where
the bodies were found.
Another reason, the Chief said, for him to take this case. The evening banquet was not made known to the general public for reasons of security
and he didn’t want this murder so close to the estate to draw attention to the area.
He had also been earmarked for organising the security of the upcoming Bilderberg Meeting in Athens using this as a test of his ability to work with
all Government departments including the military to successfully oversee such an important event without any significant incidents.
He could now see uniformed officers as he passed through the Great Propylaia with its triumphal arches to the left and right leading directly to the central focus of the sanctuary, the Telesterion.
‘Inspector Lykourgos of Athens Police,’ Anthony said as he approached the officer at the entrance to the remains of the temple.
Beside the officer was a thin balding slightly stooping figure with a tanned leathery complexion probably early sixties he thought.
‘This is Christos Kerykes, sir, the local site caretaker who discovered the bodies on his early morning rounds.’
The caretaker at the mention of Anthony’s name turned and stared at him for a second as if he half recognized him and was trying to place him from somewhere deep in the recesses of his memory.
‘You have an interesting name Inspector, one that is well associated with this ancient site.’
Anthony had no idea what he could mean.
The caretaker explained.
‘Lykourgos was responsible for ordering various parts of this site to be built, in fact there is a wall named after him, the South Wall Of Lykourgos, which I would be happy to show you.’
‘Maybe later, but first if you could show me the bodies and explain exactly how you came to find them.’
The caretaker led Anthony into the area known as the Telesterion, a large hall fifty-five meters square partly cut into the rock of the acropolis and partly built on a terrace. The hall was originally enclosed on all four sides and entered by two great doors. This was a huge specifically built initiation hall, which could hold three thousand people. But only those initiated or about to be initiated into the secret Mysteries could enter here. Two and a half thousand years later it was now an open site with just most of the bases of the original columns remaining.
They approached a large white makeshift tent quickly erected to shield the bodies from the rising sun, which had bleached all around over the passing millennia.
An officer pulled back the entrance flap to the tent as Anthony and the caretaker entered.
Both stared at the scene as a light sea breeze blew through the tent lifting the loosely hanging sides into the air.
There were four bodies, alternating male and female lying on their backs arranged in a circle staring upwards, arms outstretched and hands clasped.
All were clothed in white loosely fitting dresses, slightly pleated with thin belts around the waist.
The two men had short dresses to the knees and the two women with long dresses to the ankles.
They were definitely dead, he was assured.
But with the relaxed, content almost visionary looks on their faces, Anthony felt that they could suddenly stand up and walk away into the past like two and a half thousand year old apparitions from a long lost era.
The world outside was that of shadowy figures of policemen thrown against the thin white material of the tent by a powerful rising sun. The only reality was here though, in the tent, and Anthony started to feel himself being absorbed into whatever had graced those people in their dying moments. The looks on their faces were beckoning him to lie with them and join them in their shared experience of rising joy.
Just as he thought the atmosphere would engulf him, a voice broke through the vision and returned him suddenly to this reality.
‘This area is known as the Telesterion, the Hall Of The Mysteries, and this precise place where the bodies are arranged is known as the Anaktoron, the Holy Of The Holies,’ explained the caretaker.
But these words were already in Anthony’s thoughts before the caretaker had spoken them, Mystery and Holy, as if someone or something else had already placed them there.
‘Oh, and one other thing,’ the caretaker continued, almost as an afterthought.
‘I wasn't going to mention it as you may think me delusional, but last night on my rounds, I saw what could only be described as a
ghost in similar dress to the men before us.’
‘A ghost!’ Anthony spluttered.
‘What makes you think it was a ghost?’
‘It walked straight through the solid South Wall Of Lykourgos.’
Another fitting word to add to that of Mystery and Holy, Andrew thought as he turned and left.
Helena pulled out of her parking space and headed along Alleeweg Strasse until she came to Bahnhof Strasse, a road that runs parallel to the railway line and the border with Konstanz in Germany.
Here she turned right and drove the short distance that took her to the main road in Kreutzlingen, Haupt Strasse.
At the corner she stopped and turned to Andrew.
‘I think I’ll get out and walk to the border checkpoint just to see if there’s any sign of the gunman or if the police are being more strict than usual which may mean that they’re now looking for us.’
‘Good idea, will I come too?’
‘No, it’s you that they’re really after, best to keep you out of sight as much as possible.’
Helena got out of the car and turned right at the corner down Haupt Strasse.
Immediately she could see the Hauptzoll, which this checkpoint was locally known as, about fifty yards in front of her.
Walking towards it she scanned around for any indications that she was being watched.
It was a pleasant day with no wind and the autumn sunshine had lured people to sit outside the cafes sipping their cool drinks in conversation or just watching the world go by.
No one was taking any particular notice of her.
She was close to the Hauptzoll now and had reached Andrew’s hotel, the Schweizerland on her left.
The noise had risen perceptibly now as the line of cars queuing to pass through the Hauptzoll had their engines turning over in anticipation of moving when the next car was waved through.
She watched as the policeman asked the next driver for his passport.
Quickly glancing between driver and passport, he handed it back and waved him on.
The pedestrian queue was also no longer than usual.
Nothing out of the ordinary here, she thought, we have to go through as soon as possible while things are still normal.
Turning, she quickly headed back to the car.
‘Seems OK at the moment,’ she said to Andrew, opening the door then sitting next to him.
‘Lets go before that all changes.’
Starting the car, she pulled out and followed the route she had just taken. Quickly they found themselves in the queue of cars, stopping and starting as each car in turn entered Germany.
As they got closer to the border Andrew suddenly grabbed Helena’s hand.
‘You won’t believe this but I think I just saw the gunman from the hospital.’
‘Where?’ Helena asked, panic in her voice.
‘On the other side of the border.’
Andrew strained to see.
‘There he is again, standing next to a car parked just beyond the border post. And there are two men with him. We need to turn back Helena.’
‘We can’t, we’re in a queue with four cars in front of us and a couple behind.’
Andrew looked around and to his left.
Just where his hotel was, he saw that they were approaching a side road, Brucken Strasse.
As the car in front started to move, Andrew said, ‘let the car in front move a bit more then turn into the road on your left.’
When the car in front had given her enough room, Helena turned out from the queue and swung into the side street.
‘What do we do now? They probably have people at all the main exit routes from Kreutzlingen. We were lucky there, as we’ve already seen that man, but at the other exits we won’t recognize who is after us.’
‘You’re right, we have to think of an exit route that they may have overlooked, one that’s not well known.’
Andrew was familiar with this part of town as he would often walk around the area of his hotel and beyond rather than just sit in his single room in the evenings or at weekends when their time was their own.
He closed his eyes and started to pick his way through the myriad of routes stored in his memory.
One by one he rejected them as he could picture his unknown enemies standing waiting for him.
He was moving down to the lakeside now.
The walks there were among his favorite and one in particular was now being scrutinized in every detail, looking for the flaw that could be fatal for them.
It would mean abandoning the car, but it was their only chance and they would have to move fast.
‘Where to now?’ asked Helena.
‘Turn left into Konstanzer Strasse then left again into Banhof Strasse.’
‘But that’ll take us back to the Hautpzoll,’ she sighed.
‘No, this time we’ll keep going and cross over into Hafen Strasse.’
‘We’re going down to the lakeside then?’
‘Yes, it may be our only chance.’
Helena continued along Hafen Strasse until suddenly the Bodensee Lake came into view on her left beyond the green parkland.
‘Turn left into this road and stop next to the park,’ Andrew instructed.
Helena turned into the road and stopped the car.
Looking out they could both see the vast expanse of the Bodensee Lake spread before them.
Andrew turned to face Helena.
‘I’ve thought of a route that may safely get us out of Switzerland, but it means leaving the car.’
Helena looked puzzled. ‘But we’ll never get far on foot.’
Andrew explained. ‘I think it’s time to see where all of this is taking us and what we do when we get into Germany.’
‘Yes I was starting to think about that too.’
Andrew continued. ‘The answer to all of our questions lies in the few words that were on Hans’s screen.
“RA”, “KONIGSBERG”, “KANT”, “ELEUSIS” and “GNO”.
You’ve already described each of them, but why were they so important that Hans was murdered.
Maybe we have to travel to one of the locations, Konigsberg or Eleusis, to find the clues that may clear my name.’
‘I know which one I would prefer to go to,’ said Helena.
Andrew stared at her. ‘Which one and why?’
‘Because I live near it and would love to be home right now, I would pick Eleusis or Elefsina as it is now known , which is just outside Athens.
But more importantly there are a couple of things about Eleusis and Athens which are starting to look significant in the light of all that’s happened recently.
Firstly, there’s a SPAK Corporation factory in Athens.’
‘What! Exclaimed Andrew. ‘I didn’t know that.’
‘Yes, it was through the Athens factory, that I found out about the contract in Switzerland.’
‘But there may also be a factory in Konigsberg,’ Andrew suggested.
‘Maybe, but there’s a link between Athens, where the factory is, and Eleusis.'
Helena continued, 'Yesterday was the first day of the Eleusis ceremony where in ancient times initiates would walk from Athens to Eleusis to take part in a ritual and I can’t think of anything significant happening at this moment in Konigsberg.’
‘Yes, and today was important to the SPAK Corporation as all the software had to be completed and shipped to another factory for integration.
Maybe that was the Athens factory.’ Andrew added.
Helena sighed. ‘That’s a lot of maybes, but it’s all we have to go on for now, I think we should head for Athens.’
Andrew looked at Helena.
‘I agree, but first we have to get out of Switzerland, and that’s why I’ve brought us down to the lakeside.
I don’t know if you’re aware of it but there’s a border checkpoint down here.’
‘No I’m not aware of it.’
‘Good because if you don’t know then there’s a chance other people also don’t know, including the gunmen.
I came across it by chance when I first started to look around Kreutzlingen, I just hope it wasn’t temporary and even if it wasn’t I’m sure that a small post like that has limited opening times.
There’s only one way to find out, come on lets go.’
Helena and Andrew got out of the car and headed for the sign marked Seestrasse.
To the right of them was parkland dotted with trees and small picnic benches.
A few of the benches were occupied and the noise of children playing and of mothers calling them started to fade as they crossed the road and rounded the corner into Seestrasse.
The parkland had now given way to what Andrew thought was a small industrial estate on their left.
To their right the road was separated from the lake by a dropping border of large boulders.
Ahead of them stretched the lakeside road, terminated in the distance by a high chain fence.
As they approached it, Helena turned to Andrew.
‘I don’t see any border post.’
‘That’s right. From what I can remember there actually isn’t any building.’ He explained.
Getting closer Andrew peered ahead and groaned, ‘I think the gate is closed.’
Just then the sound of a car from behind made them turn.
‘A police car, and it’s coming towards us,’ Helena groaned.
A knot of tension pulled at Andrew’s stomach muscles and that pain was coming back.
He needed to take another Omeprazole tablet soon or the pain would become unbearable.
Helena moved closer to him and whispered, ‘we’re trapped, the path ahead is closed and the police are heading towards us, what will we do?’
Grabbing Helena’s hand Andrew turned her to look out over the Bodensee.
‘Look natural, as if we’re out for a stroll and admiring the view.’
Both held their breath as the car approached them, but instead of stopping, it carried on to the end of the road. Both glanced round and watched as the police car reached the fence then reversed to the side of the road and stopped. For a moment nothing happened, then the doors opened and out stepped two policemen. One took a key from his pocket and opened the gate, while the other opened two folding stools and placed one at either side of the opening. They both then sat on the stools and started talking.
Andrew breathed a sigh of relief, pulled the Omeprazole tablet from the silver package and popped it into his mouth.
‘What’s that?’ Helena asked.
‘It’s my ulcer tablet.’
‘I didn’t know that you had an ulcer.’
‘Yes, it’s not something I make known when I go for a contract, in case it goes against me and prevents me from getting the job.
Anyway, this is exactly how I remember the checkpoint, and we’re in luck, I can’t see anybody else on either side of the border except for the two policemen. Come on.’
Approaching the gate they both took out their passports and offered them to the two policemen who had stood up at the sight of the oncoming couple.
The policeman on the left glanced at Helena’s document and returned it to her.
The other policeman looked back between Andrew and his passport a few times, then he also returned it.
It was always the same, Andrew thought, every time he went through a border post they would check his face against the poster on the wall, as if there were some twin of him out there wanted by the police.
Here there was no poster, however that didn’t stop the policeman from double-checking him.
But that didn’t matter they were nearly there.
Replacing their passports, Andrew and Helena held hands and went through the gate
leaving Switzerland and entering Germany.
The Archons Room Of Shadows
‘Where is he now?’
The two men sat side-by-side in the darkened room, facing the shadow lit wall across a long mahogany table.
They both sat on high backed chairs with the man on the right in a slightly lower chair.
Staring straight ahead the man in the lower chair replied,
‘He was at the hospital where our Hylic was to assassinate him. When he entered his room he had already fled. The assassin gave chase but he escaped. At this moment we do not know his precise whereabouts, but he cannot have travelled far from the hospital. We are sealing this area at all the main exit routes.’
Also staring straight ahead, the man in the higher chair said, ‘this is the second failure in an attempt to contain this man. Even though he may not understand what he has seen, there is a chance he may tell others who will understand. He must be silenced before he has that chance.’
‘I am afraid to say that there is now another person involved.’
‘What! Who is he?’
‘From what the assassin saw, he is a she. When the assassin gave chase, the man known as Andrew Jamieson had a woman with him.’
‘Do we know who she is?’
‘At this moment no, but he has a limited circle of female acquaintances and we are matching them against the description given to us by the assassin.’
‘This must be the third and final attempt to seal this breach. Make sure that both are silenced, forever.’
‘Yes, all resources in the region are focused on that one outcome.’
‘Ensure that they are. But what of the unfortunate incidents at Kaliningrad and Eleusis?’
‘There is no evidence to implicate us in their deaths.’
‘Good. Now, have we received all the software modules from our satellite plants for the final integration?’
‘Yes, all but one, the Swiss plant, which has been delayed by one hour due to the absence of Andrew Jamieson and Hans Schenk. We will receive this within the next ten minutes.’
‘Will this have any effect on our schedule?’
‘No, a small contingency was built into the timetable to cover any last minute problems. We are on schedule.’
‘I do not need to tell you the importance of this moment in time.'
'Already the signs are here as prophesized; '
'The discovery of a new asteroid which will narrowly miss us in five days time'
'The revival of the Santorini volcano.'
'The acquisition by rogue states and terrorist organizations of nuclear and biological weapons.'
'The accelerating finacial colapse.'
'The awakening of the masses and increasing World Wide riots.'
'There can be no further incidents if we are to remain on schedule and finally remove forever the burdensome shackles that tie us to the shadows.'
Go now and prepare the way for the prophecy to be fulfilled.’
They had only taken a few steps, but in that time their emotions had ranged from extreme tension to light relief and the further they walked from the border post with the policemen, the more light hearted they felt.
Andrew used to enjoy his trips to Konstanz but not as much as this one-way trip.
Because of its location, Konstanz suffered no wartime bombing, as the Allies did not want to risk inadvertently hitting neutral Switzerland, so Konstanz is among the best preserved medieval towns in Germany.
Not that there was any sign of its medieval history here for Konstanz was a town of contrasts and at the moment they were at the lakeside road, Hafen Strasse.
To their left was the main railway line making its approach to the central railway station.
To their right beyond a large parking area was the Bodensee dotted with the ships of the Weisse Flotte or White Fleet which were a line of boats linking most of the towns and resorts around the lake.
As they continued, the harbour came into view, and Andrew noticed, a bridge over the railway line that would take them into the center of the town.
‘I don’t think we should go into the center of Konstanz. Just over that bridge and a few streets away is the Hauptzoll where the gunman and his friends are waiting, we should stay near the harbour until we decide our next move.’
Helena nodded in agreement.
As they reached the harbour they could see the crowds gathering near the docked boats.
There were three boats, one with three levels, another with two levels and one with just the one level.
All were sleek and painted white with German flags fluttering in the light lake breeze at their rear.
Andrew and Helena looked like typical tourists as they mingled with the crowds, admiring the boats.
He had been here many times, making an effort to acquaint himself with the history of the town, and with the horrors of the last forty eight hours starting to fade from memory he thought it was even better when you had a companion, especially someone as attractive and intelligent as Helena.
As they moved around the harbour Helena enjoyed listening to Andrew describing the history of the various sites that they passed.
The most notable was the large simple bulk of the Konzilgebaude or Council Hall, so called because the Council Of Cardinals were reputedly to have met here between 1414 and 1418 to resolve a split in the Catholic church known as The Great Schism.
‘Who is that statue of – in front of the Konzilgebaude?’ asked Helena.
‘Oh, that’s Jan Hus, a rebel who attended the Council Of Cardinals under the protection of the emperor Sigismund on condition that he didn’t say mass or preach.’
‘Why is there a statue of him?’
‘Well Sigismund needed a deal with the church to restore his role in electing the pope.
The church would agree only if Hus was removed.
So Sigismund fabricated that Hus had broken his side of the bargain and duly burnt Hus at the stake, sparking decades of violent uprising in Bohemia.
It’s thought that Hus’s reforming doctrines directly influenced that great reformer Martin Luther one hundred years later.’
‘Typical, the history of the church is full of splits, lies and violence.
It would be nice if there was something which united people peacefully and filled them with hope rather than despair. Do you go to church Andrew?’
‘Me, no afraid not.'
'I’m not very spiritual minded, more practical and logical, the kind of things required to be a good software engineer.
Although after what has happened recently with the death of Hans and our lives being threatened, it has made me think a bit of our mortality and if there’s something out there that we can’t see or can only fully understand through a thing like religion.’
‘Yes, before the birth of Christ, my people, the Greeks, and the Egyptians before them had for hundreds of years known there were things we cannot see or understand and that only through ceremonies such as were held at Eleusis could initiates, as they were called, experience the various levels of awareness.’
‘Levels of awareness?’
‘Yes,’ Helena explained
‘There were four, as understood by the Greeks and later by the Gnostic Christians, each associated with the elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.’
‘Who were the Gnostic Christians?’
‘They were an early branch of Christianity who borrowed the myths from the Greek Mysteries such as Eleusis and applied them to Jesus Christ.'
'Their understanding was that at the first level,'
'associated with the Earth was the Hylic person who identifies only with the body.'
'For them to progress to the next level,'
'they would be baptized with Water and introduced to the Jesus story as historical fact, transforming them into the Psychic who identifies with the psyche or personality.’
‘That sounds pretty much like the present day church, what with the baptizing by water and the historical story of Jesus,’ said Andrew as if he was hearing nothing new.
‘Yes, it does, this was the outer level similar to the Eleusis ceremony where a Pagan Greek initiate would see its enactment as a grand and attractive spectacle.
It was the next two inner levels that caused a split so deep that the Christians of the Roman Church persecuted the Gnostic Christians to extinction-'
'Labeled the Pagan Greeks as heretics and finally destroyed their sanctuary at Eleusis around 400 AD.’
‘What were the two inner levels about then, they must have been pretty bad for the Roman Church to react so violently?’
‘Its not so much that they were bad, but that they were a threat and a danger to the Roman Church.'
'I know a little about them but one of my lecturers, a professor of philosophy at the University of Athens, has made a study of this subject and would probably be able to explain it much better.’
‘That reminds me,’ said Andrew.
‘We still have to find a way of getting to Athens and probably sooner rather than later before our escape routes from Germany are closed.’
Helena stopped at another statue.
‘Yes if something’s going to happen in Athens which may explain Hans’s death and why we’re being threatened by gunmen, I think it will happen over the next few days, before the sacred ceremony at Eleusis is traditionally completed.’
‘The quickest route would be by air’ – Andrew smiled, looking at the statue before him – ‘but not in one of the contraptions made by that man.’
‘Graf Zeppelin, he was born in Konstanz in 1837. His Zeppelins were developed across the lake in Friedrichshafen where they were launched from a floating hanger.’
Andrew looked across the lake. ‘Where’s the nearest airport?’
‘Zurich,’ Helena replied. ‘But that route’s closed to us now. The next nearest airport would be Munich.’
‘Not quite right, there’s a small airport at Friedrichshafen.’
‘But that won’t take us to Greece!’ exclaimed Helena.
‘No but it can get us quickly to Munich airport.’
‘How do we get to Friedrichshafen?’
‘By boat,’ explained Andrew.
‘There’s a board with timetables on it, let’s see when the next boat to Friedrichshafen leaves.’
Scanning the timetables, they looked for the word Friedrichshafen.
There were a variety of timetables containing the multitude of interconnecting boat routes around the Bodensee.
All the familiar names to Andrew were there;
the ancient town of Lindau situated at the bottom end of the lake,
the unusual tiny island of Mainau with its abundance of exotic flora and banana plantations,
the wine growing town of Meersburg,
Uberlingen, known as the Riviera of the Bodensee and countless others.
But no sign of their destination.
Andrew had visited various towns around the lake by boat but not Friedrichshafen.
It had in fact been next on his list as he wanted to visit the Zeppelin Museum.
Helena shouted, ‘I’ve got it.’
Pointing to it, she glanced up the timetable to find Konstanz.
‘Yes,’ she said, as Andrew looked over her shoulder.
‘It leaves Konstanz at 1435 and arrives in Friedrichshafen at 1620.’
‘That’s in fifteen minutes.’
Andrew glanced round the harbour, two of the boats had passengers leaving them but the large three-level boat had a line of people moving up the gangway.
‘That must be our boat,’ he said leading Helena to the ticket office.
In the small office, a man with his wife and two children was speaking in basic German with an American accent to the ticket girl at the desk.
She was speaking reasonable English, but for some reason he didn’t understand her and was using his limited German to communicate with her.
Andrew glanced at his watch.
After five minutes the persistent explaining by the ticket clerk seemed to have paid off, as the American turned round, and clutching the tickets in his hand left the office with his family trailing behind him.
Approaching the desk Andrew could see the ticket clerk give a sigh of relief and stare at him hoping he would be a much easier customer to deal with.
‘Two adult single tickets to Friedrichshafen, please,’ Andrew said, smiling.
The girl smiled back at the appreciation of customers who know what they want.
Handing back his credit card and giving him the two tickets, the girl explained that they would have to hurry as the boat leaves in five minutes, pointing in the direction of the sleek three-level boat.
As they joined the remaining queue and moved up the gangway, Andrew whispered, ‘don’t look round Helena, I’ve just seen Jane Davidson over by the timetable board.’
He knew that if Jane saw them she would probably tell the others.
Jane was a solid, reliable and hard working member of Andrew’s software team but he could sense that she was slightly jealous of Helena, of what exactly, he wasn’t quite sure.
Jane was not unattractive, more of a ‘Plain Jane’ as the rest of the team thought of her, so maybe it was Helena’s beauty that made her a little resentful of her.
Looking straight ahead they moved up the gangway with the queue, as tickets were checked and people stepped onto the boat.
If Jane turned round now she would probably see them as they had reached the top and were in full view of the harbour.
The man smartly dressed in white officers uniform and cap handed the tickets back to Andrew who turned and helped Helena step off the gangway and onto the deck of the boat.
At that point he could see Jane looking in the direction of the boat but whether she could see them as they stepped out of view onto the deck he wasn’t sure.
They quickly went through an open doorway that led to a large bright timber lined room full of passengers talking excitedly about their impending voyage around the lake.
At the far end of the room was a large bar whose counter stretched from wall to wall and was already attracting a number of customers sitting on the long line of bar stools.
The area in front of the bar was dotted with small round tables fixed to the floor, and the seats around them were also starting to fill up.
Andrew suddenly felt that he was on vacation as the holiday atmosphere started to release all the pent up tension of the last couple of days.
His mood was lightened even more when he looked out one of the many large windows around the room to see the gangway being removed and felt the shudder of the boats engines starting to move the vessel away from the harbour’s edge.
‘Let’s find a seat before there’s none left,’ Helena said, leading Andrew by the hand over to a table next to one of the large windows.
Sitting down, they looked out the window and saw that the boat had already turned around and was leaving the harbour.
A look of relief was on both their faces as the feeling of leaving their troubles behind them increased with the distance the boat was putting between them and Konstanz.
‘Would you like a drink Helena?’ Andrew asked, rising to his feet.
‘Oh, yes please, a small lager, thanks,’ she replied, thinking that they both deserved a drink after their ordeals.
‘I’ll be back in a minute, don’t go away,’ he joked.
At the bar Andrew looked at the choice available and he wasn’t disappointed.
No matter where in the world he traveled there was always the ‘black beer’, as one barman in Spain persisted in calling it.
Taking the drinks back, he noticed that Helena had moved to the next table, away from the window.
‘Not enjoying the view?’
‘No, guess who just walked by?’
‘We can’t have been followed onto the boat!’ he exclaimed.
‘We were one of the last to board and I didn’t recognize anybody.’
‘Well somehow she made it, it was Jane Davidson and she is not alone.
Franz Steiner was with her.’
Franz, a young German in his early twenties was also a member of Andrew’s software team.
He was a competent engineer, Andrew thought but slightly aloof, keeping himself a little distant from the rest of the team.
‘Quite a pair, which direction were they headed?’
‘Towards the front of the boat, I think.’
‘We may as well stay here, as this room is quite crowded now.
If we keep an eye on the doors we can spot them entering and we can move around the crowds to the other door.’
‘It’s always the same.’
Helena sounded exasperated as she pulled out a folded leaflet from her bag.
‘Every time we think we can relax something happens and we’re on tenterhooks again.’
‘What’s that your looking at?’ Andrew asked.
‘It’s a timetable of our route that I picked up from the ticket office.'
'From what I can see here, we have five stops before Friedrichshafen.'
'The first is the island of Mainau in about five minutes.'
'It’s such a pretty island, I would love to get off there and wander through the beautiful and exotic flowers with you, but that’s impossible now.'
'Maybe one day we can come back.’
‘Yes it’s a nice thought, but lets hope Jane and Franz have the same idea and get off the boat at Mainau,’ said Andrew hopefully as he savoured the taste of his beer.
‘I don’t fancy spending the next hour and a half dodging those two.’
As he spoke he detected a change in the rhythm of the boat’s engines.
‘I think we must be close to the island now if I move over a bit I should be able to see where the gangway will be through that window.’
Andrew moved his chair a few inches and strained to see the boarding area.
Immediately he pulled his chair back again.
‘They’ve just walked by. Either they’re getting off or coming in here.’
The boat had now slowed down and was changing direction as it maneuvered the boarding side parallel to the harbour.
Some people, he noticed had already got up from their tables and were heading for the exit.
‘If they come in now they’re bound to see us as this side of the room is starting to empty.’
The engines stopped and the boat shuddered to a halt.
The gangway was placed against the boarding area and Andrew moved to the edge of the window to view the passengers descending down it.
He breathed a sigh of relief.
At the head of the queue leaving the boat were Jane and Franz.
He hoped they would enjoy their visit to Mainau.
Helena was staring at him intently.
When he turned round smiling she knew they could enjoy the rest of their trip.
Andrew returned to his seat and beamed, ‘they’ve gone.’
‘I know, I could tell by the smile on your face.
'You haven’t done that too often recently.’
‘No, there hasn’t been much to smile about lately, and suddenly I feel hungry. Shall we go to the restaurant and get something to eat?’
‘I’m not very hungry, probably a cheese sandwich from the bar would do me, and I’m enjoying just sitting here, is that OK?’
‘Yes, that’s fine by me. I’ll get a couple of sandwiches from the bar.’
Andrew went up to the bar and Helena picked up their two drinks and moved back to the table by the window as her confidence of being safe on the boat returned again.
The last of the passengers visiting Mainau had left the boat and others were now boarding.
The room started to fill up again as Helena looked at the timetable.
Next stop was Meersburg on the other side of the lake, just as all the other remaining stops would be, thought Helena looking at the small map at the top of the timetable.
She would feel safer on the far shore of the Bodensee, with all that water between them and Konstanz.
The gangway was being removed now, she noticed, and Jane and Franz had not been among the passengers boarding from Mainau she was sure, as she had watched everyone closely who had come on board.
She sipped her drink and enjoyed its refreshing flavour as the engines started up and the boat began to make its departure from Mainau.
On the television bar, Andrew's attention ws caught by the familiar images of conflict in the Middle East.
Factions were committing increasingly inhumane atrocitities - people beheaded, burned alive, whole communities tortured raped and murded because of
their religious beliefs.
Even more unbelievable to Andrew was the genocide perpetrated not only because of a religious difference but because of the difference of beliefs
within the same religion, all because of a schism created early in the development of the religion.
Were these people born psycopaths or createed to be psycopaths, or a mixture of both?
Again the increasing insanity in the world seemed to parallel his own personal insanity.
This increasing thought reappeared in his mind, were they some how connected?
No where seemed to escape the increasing turmoil in the world
Even in Greece, where they were heading, protests were growing against the relentlessly oppresive austerity measures.
This depressing train of thought was thankfully interrupted when the barman returned with his order.
Andrew returned with the sandwiches.
‘There we go,’ he said as he handed one to Helena and sat down taking a deep drink of his Guinness.
‘I’m glad they’ve gone I couldn’t have eaten anything with those two still around, the tension would have given me indigestion.’
Helena took a small bite out of her sandwich, ‘yes me too.’
Andrew gulped down a large mouthful of food.
‘You were saying earlier that one of your lecturers, a professor, knows quite a bit about the Greeks, Eleusis, the Gnostic Christians and this inner level that seemed to upset the Roman Church.’
‘Yes he does, and if we can find out more about the subject then maybe we can find the connection between Eleusis and Hans’s death.'
'I was wondering what our first steps should be when we arrive in Athens, visiting him might be worthwhile.’
‘It could, but I was also thinking about what happened back at the factory.
The man, who killed Hans and knocked me out, must be associated with the SPAK Corporation.
I’ve worked on many projects including military but SPAK have the tightest security I’ve ever seen.
To get into the factory he would have to show his badge at the security desk and enter his personal six-digit code.'
'Which means that a murderer is working for SPAK.’
‘You don’t think they would knowingly hire a murderer who carries a gun?’
‘Well that’s another thing.'
'He was carrying a gun in the factory. The only people authorized to do that are the uniformed security guards and they work for SPAK.’
‘What, you think he might be a type of SPAK plain clothes security man?’
‘Maybe, but the other thing that was bothering me was, well, you know what Hans was like, he was always hacking into other computer systems.'
'It was like a hobby to him.'
'That night on his screen was the beginnings of a transmission over the phone line from a system he may have hacked into, but it was terminated by the line being ripped out.'
The gunman had responded so fast that he must have already been in the factory monitoring Hans, and when it looked like Hans was getting into dangerous territory he acted quickly.’
‘That’s beginning to sound a bit sinister, where a large multi national company have a kind of secret police who monitor the employees and take drastic action, like murder, when an employee steps out of line.’
‘It is,’ Andrew agreed.
‘So what is it SPAK have to hide so much that they take the time and effort to set up an armed surveillance group who resort to murder to keep it hidden?
‘Maybe this group was formed to prevent industrial espionage, you know, like stop information on projects being leaked to other companies.’
‘No, and for a couple of reasons.'
' One, they wouldn’t need to be armed and two, if they caught someone in the act of stealing company information, they would hand them over to the police, not murder them.’
‘If they don’t want the police to know, then what they’re hiding must be illegal,’ she suggested.
‘Illegal or worse, because another thing that was bothering me about SPAK was the software we were developing for them. Nobody knew what it was for.’
Helena shrugged her shoulders.
‘I just assumed it was for use in the some of the equipment they manufacture.’
Andrew looked at her quizzically.
The factory in Kreutzlingen was purely for developing software, they didn’t manufacture any hardware.’
‘No, but the factory in Athens does.’
‘What do they make?’
‘Bio Medical equipment,’ Helena replied.
‘You’ve had quite a bit of time to look at the bodies now,’ said Anthony Lykourgos as he entered the white tiled mortuary.
‘Have you determined the cause of death?’
Aristarhos Matsukas turned and watched as Inspector Lykourgos walked towards him, past the four bodies laid out on slabs across the room.
Aristarhos was a small round balding man with a skin conditioned by the Mediterranean sun and a black moustache that seemed animated whenever he talked.
He was efficient and enthusiastic about his job and from the state of the bodies, Anthony Lykourgos could see that Aristarhos was already well into his examination of them.
Aristarhos took a deep breath.
‘I’m afraid at the moment, the post mortems are generating more questions than answers.’
Anthony Lykourgos visibly sagged.
This case was already unusual.
‘What kind of questions?’
‘Questions I’ve never had to answer in all my thirty years as the City Pathologist.’
‘Anthony didn’t like the sound of this. ‘What did you find?’
Aristarhos looked at his notes.
‘When I examined the first body’ – he pointed at the cadaver of the man on a slab – ‘I thought at first I had found something to explain his death.’
‘What was it?’
‘Parts of his internal organs were missing.’
Anthony looked intrigued. ‘You think someone may have removed them?’
‘Well, yes, it was the only explanation. But for them to have been removed, there should have been incisions on the body.’
‘Were there any?’
‘Yes, but just the ones I had done during the examination.’
Anthony looked confused.
‘Well how could parts of his internal organs go missing without someone opening up the body?’
‘I don’t know, it’s not as if he could even have been born that way.’
‘Half of his heart missing, parts of his liver, a third of his spleen… the list goes on.'
'He couldn’t have been alive in that condition.’
Anthony moved closer.
‘So this could have killed him?’
‘It could have – but it didn’t. Because he was already dead when the parts were removed.’
‘You don’t know what happened to the parts, but you’re sure he was already dead before they were taken out – or whatever?’
Aristarhos sighed. ‘Definitely.’
‘And what of the other bodies?’
‘Exactly the same – well, except that it’s different parts of the body that are missing in each case.'
'But that doesn’t explain the cause of death'.
'On a brighter note though’
– Aristarhos beckoned Anthony over to the first body
– ‘I‘ve found something else common in all four bodies.’
He pulled a magnifying glass over to the side of the man’s head.
‘See there, three faint pinpricks arranged in a triangle?’
Anthony moved closer and focused on the region Aristarhos was pointing at.
‘Yes, I can just make them out.’
Aristarhos stood and pulled the magnifying glass aside.
‘Well, it’s the exact same on the other three bodies.’
‘What does it signify?'
‘They look like injection marks, so I’ve sent blood samples off to the toxicologist. He should be able to report on any drugs that may have been used.’
‘Is there anything else? Were there any signs that they put up a struggle?
Aristarhos looked up from his notes.
‘Well, you’ve seen the look on their faces, not exactly full of terror, are they? In fact I’d say they died extremely happy, and this is reflected in the outward state of their bodies; no sign of cuts, bruises, abrasions or anything else to indicate a struggle.’
‘What happened then? Did their hearts just stop?’
Anthony was becoming frustrated.
‘Well – eh – yes and no.’
Anthony thought this didn’t sound like the precise, efficient Aristarhos he knew.
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘The one thing I do know is that their hearts suddenly stopped and they died. The question is – what caused the hearts to stop? If we can answer that then we have the cause of death.’
Anthony looked hopeful.
‘So there’s the possibility that drugs administered through the pinpricks may have stopped their hearts?’
‘Exactly! From my examinations, that’s the only possible cause of death in each case, and hopefully this will be confirmed when I receive the results of the blood tests. But we still have to solve the mystery of what happened to their body parts after they died.’
Anthony looked relieved as he turned to leave.
‘Let’s take one thing at a time.'
'Firstly the cause of death.'
'So let me know the results of the blood tests as soon as you receive them, then we can solve the mystery of the missing organs.'
'But now I’ve got to go and check that all the security is in place ready for the World Peace and Anti-Terrorist Summit tomorrow, especially after the threats made by the terrorist leader in his videotape sent to Athens Television studios.'
'With all the worlds leaders in one place, God help us if turns out to be no idle threat.’
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
United States Of America
There are estimated to be around one thousand six hundred Earth Crossing Asteroids larger than one kilometer, Peter Strauss thought as he stared at the screen in the dimly lit room, that’s a lot of needles in a haystack to find.
Which is why the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking project had been set up, to help NASA achieve it’s ten year goal of finding more than 90% of these NEA’s.
What was the latest tally?
He reminded himself.
Ah, one hundred.
Only one hundred NEA’s larger than a kilometer so far had been observed and their courses plotted.
And that wasn’t the whole story.
They didn’t need to be at least a kilometer to pose a threat to Earth.
In fact an NEA passing close to Earth larger than about two hundred meters was classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.
This was because the path of the asteroid was continually changing, and next time round it might change sufficiently to bring it on a collision course with the Earth.
At that thought, Peter shook his head as if to erase the catastrophic picture, which had formed in his mind.
Right, back to business, no more daydreams, what were the statistics for September, he asked himself, as the screen filled with data.
Studying the information, he noted that in September there were 18 NEA’s in total.
Of which 14 were Amors and 4 were Apollos.
The Amors had two asteroids larger than one kilometer plus two PHA’s.
The Apollos had just one PHA.
Not bad, he mused, but could be better.
Maybe October will see an increase in sightings.
Which reminded him.
The pictures from the Maui Observatory in Hawaii from last night should have arrived by now.
Quickly checking the logs, he smiled as he noted that the batch of images had just arrived.
The procedure went like this.
The observatory in Hawaii would take three pictures of the same part of the sky during an interval of about one hour.
Each of these pictures would be a 4096 x 4096 pixel raw image which Peter would then process by running the automatic data analysis program.
This would then search for moving objects by comparing the three images.
Sitting back in his chair, Peter stretched out his hand and pressed the Start key.
This moment was always full of anticipation.
It was like casting a net into the ocean and then pulling it in to examine the contents.
What would be in the net tonight?
If he was lucky it might be a mixed bag containing asteroids, comets or even planetoids as large as 150 kilometers.
Or it might be empty.
He sat up suddenly as the sound of blaring trumpets emanated triumphantly from the computer.
Yes! He thought to himself, success.
Staring at the screen he noticed that the analysis had detected one moving object.
With a click of the mouse he displayed the areas of interest from the three celestial images.
Before him now were nine 25 x 25 pixel sub images.
The first three, arranged in a column were from the first time lapsed picture, with a large white object being displayed in the center of the top image together with various smaller objects.
In the next column of three images from the second time lapsed picture, the object was now in center of the second image.
And in the third column from the final time lapsed picture, the object was now in the bottom image.
‘Ah, no doubt about it. Definitely an asteroid,’ he proclaimed, inspecting the images.
‘Right, lets plot your course and find out your vital statistics.’
Clicking his mouse over another button, he then ran the orbit and asteroid analysis software, which soon displayed columns of data.
‘Bingo!’ he exclaimed. ‘We have a PHA.’
He then quickly pressed the graphic display button, which would convert the numbers into a graphic illustrating the asteroid moving through space as it approached the Earth on its orbit around the Sun.
He watched in amazement with a growing feeling of deja-vu as the asteroid and the Earth moved closer and closer together until suddenly the picture froze when they were at their closest point.
Automatically a line was drawn between the asteroid and the Earth with a number displayed above it.
Sevnteen thousand 200 miles.
‘Impossible!’ he cried out aloud.
‘This is exactly the same as the asteroid I detected three days ago.’
Taking another look at the graphic, he then noticed something.
‘No it’s not, it’s different,’ he said, squinting at the screen.
‘This one’s approaching the Earth from the other side.’
Quickly he brought up the graphic of the previous image and placed them side by side.
‘It's a mirror image of the first one. Impossible!’
‘Jesus, no one’s going to believe this.'
'But if this is correct, then in a couple of day’s time, two, one and a half mile wide asteroids will pass within Seventeen thousand 200 miles of the Earth.
'Creating a large celestial sandwich, with Earth the filling in the middle.’
'I must name them as brothers in destruction, the titans CRONUS and IAPETUS.’
The Anomaly Continued
Again he noticed, though more pronounced, was the apparent controlled entity preceding the incoming natural phenomena.This was something not to be ignored.
If not he himself reported this phenomena, then at least one of the many thousands of amature astronomers would.Will he include this in his report, or
make use of unnoficial reporting channels. It would soon be time to decide. But first, his friend Laura, at the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
United States Of America
Laura-Anne poured over the most recent feedback from the SETI@home ("SETI at home") Internet-based public volunteer computing project
Using her own algorith, she noticed a repeating pattern, something never before observed in SETI's history. She immediately initiated the standard protocol procedure.
Verification of independant reception of the source of the signal.
Time stood still,her mind frozen, awaiting the responses to Stage 1 of the official request for confirmation.
The multiple monitor screens, as one, startled her, so soon! No calm response here, just excited chaotic chatter, which when discerned, confirmed her data.
Then her mobile phone rang, almost inaudible beneath the sounds filling her small office.
instinctively she picked up the phone, with the caller, Peter from JPL, displayed on the screen.
On the other end of the phone, Peter, was startled at the exitement of his friend Laura's reply to his call.
Before he could say a word, Laura exclaimed 'It exists!'
Peter instinvtively knew what this meant. It was the answer to his question, before he could even utter the words.
What shall we tell the world? Or more realistically, what will we be allowed to announce to humanity.
‘Friedrichshafen next stop,’ boomed the tannoy.
Andrew lifted his head in the direction of the disembodied voice.
‘What did they just announce?’
‘I think this is where we get off, just let me check. I noticed that the last stop was Immenstaad and it says here’
– Helena squinted at the list in the timetable –
Gathering up what little belongings they had, Andrew and Helena made their way to the exit, along with all the others in the large bright room, who had stirred into action in response to the announcement.
Friedrichshafen was a relatively young town dating to around 1811 and named after its founder King Friedrich I of Wuurtemberg.
It had an aeronautical history with the development of the Zeppelin, launched from a floating hanger on the lake, and the Dornier seaplanes tested on the calm surface in the 20s and 30s.
It wasn’t as fortunate as Konstanz in World War II, being almost wiped off the map by wartime raids on its munitions factories.
Andrew knew of its history, distinguishing it from all the other resort and agricultural towns around the Bodensee.
He had been keen to see the Zeppelin museum situated on a wing of the harbour railway station which was now coming into view as the boat manoeuvred in preparation to dock.
Leaning over the railing, Andrew breathed in the fresh lake breeze, he knew there would be no time for sightseeing on this occasion.
The priority was to make their way to the airport and hopefully catch a flight to Munich today if possible.
He scanned the faces of the crowds below him, no police and no one familiar to him, so far so good he thought.
Holding Helena’s hand he joined the queue as the gangway was positioned and the line of passengers started their descent.
Stepping onto the concrete harbour they both looked around as if looking for some clue to what their next action would be.
‘There’s a railway station over there, maybe it can take us to the airport.’
‘Yes, I noticed it as the boat was docking.’
They went through the archway leading to the station platform and found a board containing various timetables.
Helena was becoming expert at finding her way around timetables and just as at Konstanz harbour she quickly located what they were looking for.
‘Flughafen, that’s airport, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, when’s the next train?’
‘In five minutes on platform 2.’
When they had bought their tickets they crossed over the small bridge leading to platform 2 just as the train was arriving.
When the train had stopped they entered a carriage and looked around for two seats.
Settling down into seats next to a window, Helena opened her bag and took out a large beautifully decorated hair brush which looked quite heavy, he thought, as the handle and back seemed to be made out of marble.
Andrew watched as she gracefully pulled the brush through her long black hair.
‘I just hope we can catch a flight out of here tonight.'
'The longer we hang around this area the greater the chances of our exit routes being blocked by the police or the gunmen, who I’m sure now, work for SPAK.
If Jane Davidson had caught a glimpse of us on the boat and she mentions it to somebody at the factory the information might find its way back to the people who’re looking for us.’
Putting away her brush, Helena looked out the window as the train sped through the countryside making its way to the airport.
‘Yes, I’m constantly on the lookout for anyone who may recognize us, you know how popular the area around the Bodensee is with the workers at the factory, there’s always a chance we’ll bump into one of them.'
'And then there are the police as well.'
'It’s only when the plane takes off for Munich that I’ll finally be able to relax and get rid of this constant tense feeling that’ll probably give me an ulcer, like you, if it lasts much longer.’
‘We can share my Omeprazole ulcer tablets then,’ Andrew laughed.
‘I can think of other better things I’d rather share with you,’ she said, smiling at him.
‘Such as what?’
The train was now slowing as it approached the airport and Helena replied,
‘I’ll have to answer that another time, this is our stop.’
Andrew looked at her as they made their way to the carriage door and thought that he would keep her to that.
The train stopped and they stepped through the open doors onto the platform and followed the signs for the main airport terminal.
‘This is much bigger than I thought,’ Andrew said as they walked through the main doors of the airport.
-Stretched out before them were numerous check-in desks from a variety of different airlines, many of which had queues forming-
‘Yes, me too, I thought it would be a small airport that just handled internal flights, but some of those airlines are from other countries.'
'If we can leave Germany from here rather than having to travel to Munich first it would save us time and increase our chances of not being spotted by the police.'
'That screen has a list of today’s flights.'
'Let’s see if there are any international flights.‘
Andrew stared intently at the screen.
‘There’s a flight to Zurich, but that’s in the one country we don’t want to go to.’
Helena glanced down the list.
‘That Paris flight would get us out of the country but it’s in the wrong direction'
'We want to travel eastwards towards Greece, and that one going to Rome isn’t much closer'
'Maybe we could get a flight to Athens from there.'
'If there’s nothing closer that may have to do.’
‘Where’s Corfu?’ Andrew asked, still staring at the screen.
‘Corfu!’ Helena exclaimed.'
‘That’s a Greek island.’
‘I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to that end of the Mediterranean, I’m more of a Spain man, especially the Balearics,’
Andrew replied thinking that he may never now have that sun drenched villa in Ibiza he was planning to buy when this contract was finished.
Breaking into Andrew's daydream, Helena turned to him excitedly.
‘Corfu would be ideal.'
'I’ve been there many times, it’s a beautiful island, and there are flights to Athens every day from Corfu airport.'
'It leaves at 1840 and they haven’t checked in yet, what’s the time now?’
‘Quarter past five, we may be in time to get tickets, that’s if there are any seats left, but where would we buy them?’
‘The carrier is OS Austrian Airlines,’ Helena read off the screen.
They both looked around in an attempt to locate the ticket desks.
To the right were some shops and further along, a restaurant.
To the left they spotted a row of airline desks.
Walking past them one by one they glanced at the names until they had reached the last desk, but OS Austrian Airlines wasn’t among them.
Turning, Helena noticed four more desks opposite this row.
Quickly scanning them she tapped Andrew on the shoulder.
‘There it is, the last one in the corner.’
Walking over to it, Andrew asked the woman behind the counter if there were any tickets left on flight 9804.
She clicked on the keyboard in front of her and smiled at him.
‘This is the end of the season, in fact our last flight for this year is in two days, so there’s a better chance of seats remaining up to the last minute.’
The required information then appeared on the screen.
‘Yes, there are three seats available, is it just the two you require?’
‘Yes,’ Andrew replied, handing over his credit card.
The woman swiped the card through the machine, and her smile was replaced by a puzzled look.
‘I’m afraid your card has not been accepted, sir.’
‘It must be a mistake, please try again.’
She tried three more times then sighed.
‘No, it won’t be accepted.’
Andrew drew out another card from his wallet.
‘It must be faulty, please try this one.’
They exchanged cards and she tried again, the smile returned.
‘Yes this seems OK.’
Quickly processing the tickets she handed them over to Andrew.
‘Have a pleasant flight, sir.’
Walking over to the flight departure screen Andrew looked bewildered.
‘That’s unusual, I’ve never had trouble with that card, and there’s plenty of money in there.’
‘At least the other card worked, maybe it’s become faulty,’ Helena offered.
‘Yes, I’ve had the same card for a while now, it may be wear and tear due to the number of times I’ve used it.’
Reaching the screen, Helena located their flight and beamed, ‘look at the expected arrival time, the flight only takes seventy minutes, I’ll be back in my beautiful Greece by ten to eight, leaving all this horror behind me. And we can now check in.’
She turned to Andrew and kissed him.
‘Aren’t you excited Andrew to know that very soon we’ll have escaped from all the dangers of this place.’
Stunned at the kiss, he stuttered,
‘if I wasn’t excited before, I certainly am now.’
Helena held his hand and moved close to him as they walked over to the check-in desk.
A warm glow was now flowing through Andrew, making him feel half his age, from the lingering memory of the touch of her soft lips, to the intimate contact of her body with his.
And her closeness, filling his sensations with the natural scent of her body mingled with the scent from her hair.
The chemistry between them now had moved to a different level, they were both experiencing emotions and feelings that were so new and pleasing that they wished they would never end.
Receiving the tickets and passports, the woman behind the desk asked,
‘do you have any luggage to check in?’
‘Yes, just one small bag,’
Helena said, placing it on the weighing machine under the counter.
Tagging the bag, the woman smiled and handed back the documents.
‘Please make your way to the departure lounge, and enjoy your flight.’
We will, thought Helena as she pulled Andrew closer and headed in the direction that the check-in hostess had indicated.
Entering the corridor that led directly to the security checks of the departure lounge entrance, Andrew suddenly froze and pulled a surprised Helena back around the corner.
‘What’s wrong! She exclaimed, shaking, with her back pressed against the wall.
Andrew moved his body in front of Helena, as if to protect her and placed his finger gently to her mouth.
‘Shush, there’s a man standing round the corner near the entrance to the lounge, I recognize him from Konstanz.’
‘Who is he?’
‘He was with the gunman from the hospital when we were in the car waiting to go through the Hauptzoll.’
‘I remember, you said you saw the gunman with two others standing around a car on the German side of the border check post, making us have to find another way across.’
‘Yes, and one of those men is watching the entrance to the departure lounge.’
All the hope and joy that filled Helena, seemed to drain away in an instant and Andrew had to support her as he could feel her sinking to the floor.
Her voice sounded tired and resigned as she looked up at him.
‘I thought we were clear of the danger that’s stalked us over the last day and we were within hours of being back in my home country.'
'But no, all those horrible feelings of fear and anxiety have returned and I don’t know if I can live with them much longer.’’
Andrew looked at her with a rising feeling of guilt.’
It was because of him that she had endured the misery of the previous twenty-four hours. ’
She could easily have left him at the first sign of danger but instead she had decided to stay and support him.’
It was no use trying another route out of Germany, they were closing in and soon all escape routes would be blocked.’
If they didn’t leave soon, they would be caught and killed, just like Hans.’
He had got her into this situation, it was his responsibility to get her out of it, quickly and safely. ’
His feeling of guilt was now being replaced by one of anger, directed at the people who were placing someone who had become very close to him in danger.’
He was starting to feel and think like he had never done before.’
Actions that he would never have dreamed of doing when he was the quiet hard working software engineer until recently were now becoming a possibility.’
He had made up his mind, the extreme precariousness of their situation demanded it, he owed this to Helena.’
‘Do you have your marble brush with you?’
‘Ye…Yes,’ she replied shakily. ‘It’s in my bag.’
‘Can I have it please?’
‘What do you want my brush for? This isn’t the time to do your hair!’
‘I’ve got an idea, and it’s our very last chance, it has to work.’
Helena looked in her bag, found it and handed the heavy marble brush to Andrew.
‘What do you intend to do with it?
Andrew held it in his hand and motioned as if to weigh it.
‘When you hold it, don’t you feel how heavy it is?’
He then hit it against his other hand to imagine the damage it would do to a man’s head, and ran his fingers along the sharp edges of marble.
‘If we attempt to enter the departure lounge, that man will shoot.' Helena replied
'I’m sure he’s been ordered to kill us on sight.'
'He doesn’t care that there are people about.'
'Remember what the gunman was like back at the hospital?’
‘We have to go back, try another way out of Germany.’
Helena added ,desperation in her voice.
‘No, all the other routes will be closed.'
'They’ve now had time to do that. Our only hope is to make this flight.’ Andrew responded.
‘But how will we get passed that gunman?’
‘There’s a toilet just round the corner, if I can time it so that he sees me just as I enter it, I’m sure he’ll come in after me.'
'It’s better if he kills me out of sight in the toilet, it increases his chances of escaping to then try and find you.’
‘If he kills you in there, I don’t care if he catches me.’ Helena said through tewr dwelling eyes.
Andrew looked at her affectionately and gently kissed her on the lips.
‘Just pray its me that steps out of the toilet.’
Andrew looked tentatively round the corner, the man was staring at a few passengers making their way to the departure lounge, comparing them against a picture he held in his hand.
Where did he get our pictures from? Thought Andrew.
He had been watching the toilet for some time now and no one had entered, it must be empty.
Now was the time, no turning back. Andrew stepped out from behind the corner and headed towards the toilet keeping one eye on the gunman.
He still hadn’t seen him yet.
Nearing the door, Andrew slowed, the gunman spotted him, looked at the photo, then back to Andrew and started towards him.
Good, he’s coming after me, Andrew thought as he entered the toilet.
Quickly glancing around confirmed what he had thought, it was empty.
He moved to the side of the door and raised the heavy marble brush above his head.
The door was pushed open and the man strode in holding the gun outstretched with both hands.
As he started to turn, Andrew crashed the sharp edge of the heavy marble brush with all his force down on the back of his head.
The gun went off as he began to fall to the floor and a bullet thudded into the far wall.
Andrew was taking no chances.
With his adrenalin surging, he jumped at him, cracking the gunman’s hands with the marble brush, sending the gun spinning out of his hands and sliding along the floor out of sight into one of the cubicles.
As he was about to hit the floor, Andrew struck him again sending him crashing hard against the glazed white tiled wall.
As he stood over him, the man moaned, he wasn’t unconscious, just dazed.
He needed something heavier than the brush.
Which cubicle did the gun enter, he wondered, there were six of them.
Quickly he ran along the row of cubicles, pushing open the half shut doors.
Behind him the gunman was starting to raise himself, pushing against the floor.
‘Where’s that bloody gun’, Andrew shouted.
There it was, in the last cubicle, picking it up, he turned to see the gunman on his feet, coming at him groggily.
Andrew grabbed his arm swinging him against the wall that the bullet had entered.
As his face smashed against the wall, Andrew held the gun by the barrel and whispered in the man’s ear,
‘This ones for Helena.’
Then brought it down on the back of his head with a loud crack.
That did the trick Andrew thought as the man slumped to the floor completely unconscious.
What was his next course of action?
The gun had a silencer.
Shooting him would mean he couldn’t reveal that he had seen them at the airport where they could then pick up their trail.
He held the gun to the man’s head.
This didn’t feel right.
Looking at him, Andrew thought he must be in his twenties, someone’s son.
Shooting him would make him as bad as them, putting him on their low level.
In any case if he was found dead here they would guess it was him and know in either case they had been at the airport. Plus there were hundreds of flights out of here, so they could be anywhere.
Andrew lowered the gun.
The next thing to do was to hide him, in one of the cubicles he thought.
Putting the gun in his pocket he put his arms under the man’s shoulders and dragged him over to the last cubicle.
Raising him up he sat him on the toilet, positioning him so he wouldn’t fall off.
He pulled the door shut and locked it.
Blood trickled down the side of the mans head,Andrew noticed, but something else.
Three faint pinpricks arranged in a triangle,barely noticable next to to stream of bright red blood.
'Unusual', Andrew thought.
'Maybe he got them at some point during the fight, or maybe not.'
He registered this observation in his memory ,at the moment it made no sense.
But it may have some unknown future relevance.
Let’s see if we can find out something about you and your friends, he thought as he pulled the man’s wallet out from a pocket on the inside of his jacket.
Driving license, with the name Jan Kocher and a mobile phone with the SPAK Logo displayed on it.
He had allways thought this Logo unusual with the picture of a snake in the shape of a circle biting its tail with symbols in the center of it.
He then noticed a security clearance section for CERN together with it's logo.
‘I was right, they are working for SPAK,’ he muttered triumphantly under his breath.
‘But CERN and SPAK.What was the connection?
He also noted it was demanding a User ID and Password if he wanted to go any further.
'Shit', Andrew exclaimed.
'That's as far as I'm going to get.'
Oh what the hell Andrew thought.
At least try something.
After entering several cominations of User ID and Password, he gave up.
'This will have to wait for another time.'
'Maybe Helena could understand more,' he thought.
'Together we will try to somehow find out the User ID and Password which will obviously give me access to more information.'
Andrew kept the Phone then replaced the wallet.
It as then that he noticed a tattoo on the SPAK agent's arm.
It similar to the SPAK logo but with no colour, just grey.
He took a picture of it.
it maybe of some significance to be investigated later.
'Wait a minute', he thought.
This maybe an encoded tattoo with a certain signature enabling access to restricted areas of SPAK.
Now was chance to use an App he had developed, the UFO/Ghost/Emf detector App.
He activated it on his on phone and selected the SensorDetector screen.
Using the menu he deactivated parts of the display such as the Radar and Sensors display to leave
only the Magnetic Tesla field strength scanner.
It was a long shot, but why not?
He slowly moved it across the tattoo and to his amazement a varying Tesla signature appeared on the screen.
He pressed the srceen capture Icon,which stored the geolocated image together with all other sensor information.
He chuckled to himself that an App he had developed and placed on the Google App Playstore
which had been downloaded thousands of times by users for detecting UFO's, ghosts etc
had now found another use.
Maybe he would add this new use to the App's Play Store description.
Back to reality.
Just as he was about to climb out of the cubicle, he heard someone enter the toilet.
‘Bloody hell, just do your piss and get out of here,’ he cursed quietly.
There was no sound of a cubicle door closing and being locked, all the indications were that he was just doing a piss.
He would hear him washing his hands soon he hoped.
He lowered himself and looked under the door just as the man’s feet went by heading for the door.
‘Very unhygienic,’ Andrew said as he heard the toilet door close.
He had to be quick now, before someone else entered the toilets.
Pulling himself up, he climbed out of the cubicle and went over to the hand towel, where he attempted to wipe his fingerprints from the gun.
Satisfied he had removed any evidence connecting him with the gun, he ran to the first cubicle, holding the gun by his handkerchief and stood on the seat of the toilet bowl, placing the gun in the cistern above him on the wall.
Stepping down, he wrapped some toilet roll around his hand, then wiped up the traces of blood from the floor and the wall.
Flushing the paper down the toilet, Andrew looked around, time to leave.
Helena had been watching the toilet door intently, from her position at the corner, with rising anxiety.
Who would be the first to exit?
Please let it be Andrew, she repeated over and over again.
When she saw the small bald man enter the toilet, her mind had started to race, what if he sees them fighting, surely he would come running out and shout for the police.
And when she saw the bald man leaving the toilet normally, all sort of questions again entered her mind.
Why didn’t he see anything?
Had the gunman killed Andrew and hidden his body in a cubicle?
The tension now was unbearable as she saw the toilet door begin to open, and to her utter relief, out stepped Andrew who walked straight over to her open arms.
They embraced as never before, holding each other close, not wanting to be separated like that ever again.
Helena looked straight into his eyes.
‘I thought I’d lost you, the idea that the gunman may have shot you and that you might be in pain was unbearable.’
Andrew stroked her hair gently.
‘It was the thought of losing you that gave me the strength and courage to tackle the gunman.
I’ve never fought with anyone before in my life and never would have.
You’re the only person in the world I would fight for.’
Their bodies were as one as they again tightly embraced and then sealed their growing love with a lingering kiss.
Eventually their embrace loosened and Andrew stroked her face.
‘We’re now free to enter the departure lounge, let’s go before the gunman’s found.’
Holding hands they rounded the corner and walked confidently up to the security check.
They passed through with no trouble.
Thank God I got rid of the gun, Andrew noted as they headed for a table next to a large widow overlooking the runway.
‘Would you like a drink? I know I could do with one.’
‘Definitely, a small lager would be fine.’
‘Coming up,’ Andrew said as he turned and headed for the bar.
Helena looked out the window at the line of airplanes, some connected by passages to the terminal building, others taxiing, preparing to take off.
Which one is ours, she wondered, that will take us from this place with so many bad memories, to Greece, a land with so many good memories.
She watched as a plane started to move on the runway, picking up speed until it’s wheels left the runway soaring into the sky and soon out of sight.
It all happens so quick she thought, soon that will be us up there, leaving behind all the threats and danger that had stalked them for the last couple of days.
Andrew returned with the drinks and sat gratefully in his seat.
She looked at him. ‘You look tired.’
‘I feel tired. I’ve just done something I never dreamed I would do and at my age.'
'I think the adrenalin and the thought of saving you got me through it.'
'Now It’s over, I’m starting to feel the aches from all the exertions, and fatigue is setting in.’
He then smiled as a thought occurred to him.
‘What is it?’
‘I was just thinking, this was a case of the contract software engineer versus the contract killer..
'I know who I would put my money on, and it wouldn’t be me.’
Helena returned the smile.
‘Well it’s over now, we’ll be boarding soon and you can rest on the flight.’
He took a deep drink from his glass.
‘Yes, the sooner we’re on the plane the better.'
'We can’t really relax until we’ve taken off, as there’s still time for something to go wrong.'
'What if the gunman comes round before we leave and he alerts his colleagues?’
‘Don’t worry. You’re forgetting we’re in the departure lounge and to get in here you have to have a flight ticket. Then there’s the security check, no guns can come in here.’
Andrew took another swig of his Guinness, and started to relax a little from the effect of his drink and Helena’s reassuring words.
Helena completed this feeling when she looked at the screen above her.
‘Look, flight 9804 to Corfu is now boarding. Come on, it’s gate 5, over there.’
Helena stood up and took a final sip of her drink before gathering up what little hand luggage she had.
Andrew also stood and in one last gulp finished his Guiness.
Hand in hand they almost ran to the gate where a small queue was forming.
At the desk they completed their final checks and walked the last few steps through a narrow corridor to the door of the aircraft, where a smiling stewardess greeted them and pointed in the direction of their seats.
They both settled in their seats and watched as the rest of the passengers poured into the aircraft in a noisy mass.
It was then that it hit them.
This was a holiday flight with groups and families excitedly looking forward to their vacation in sunny Corfu.
Andrew and Helena smiled at each other, as this infectious holiday atmosphere enveloped them.
Once all the passengers were on board and seated, they could feel the aircraft move as it maneuvered itself to the start of the runway.
With a rising noise from the engines, it accelerated.
At the point when the noise was unbearable, they could feel a lightness as a smiling Helena gripped Andrew’s hand and looked out the window to see the aircraft leave the ground and increasingly leave Germany and all their troubles behind.
Unknown to them, this flight was full, with the final seat on the plane being purchased, just after they had bought theirs back at the OS Austrian Airlines desk.
The buyer of the ticket sat at the back of the plane looking at two documents, each with a picture attached to them.
Pictures of Andrew and Helena.
Maui Space Surveillance Site, Hawaii
United States Of America
Peter balked at the image he had just recieved from Maui
This was not his usual set of timelapsed images used to detect small discrete movements in the heavens.
Even though he knew of an unknown entity seemingly intelligently controlled, rather than a lump of space rock at the whims of nature
he had not in his wildest dreams concieved of this image.
THe shape, the markings, beyond belief. This may be mankinds first contact with unknown advanced extraterrestrials, a momentous, almost spiritual experience.
BUT! this was not totally alien. He recognised the symbol. That of the Ouberous, the coiled snake, with mouth in tail.
Though untold light years, time, space and dimension separated them. There was a connection.
Why now? Did something summon it? What was it's trajectory? Earth? So many questions, but at least one he could answer. Where on Earth would it land if at all?
This could not be contained. The world must know and prepare for this encounter.
Helena had been on cloud nine since the flight from Germany had touched down on Greek soil.
The holiday atmosphere on the journey had been infectious and Andrew could see even then, on the airplane, the change in her as she had
started to unwind and leave behind the desperate frightened woman who, at Friedrichshafen Airport, was at the very limit of her endurance.
But there still remained a trace of that fear in her eyes.
It was only once they had touched down did he see that final lingering doubt leave her
when she celebrated as if it had just turned midnight on New Years Eve, by clapping her hands and kissing him.
He was now on Helena’s territory, she had been to Corfu many times and knew exactly where everything was.
They had already picked up her small piece of luggage and were heading for the Aegean Air desk.
There were daily flights between Corfu and Athens, with the last one at nine o’clock and Helena was desperate to catch it.
She was now pulling Andrew along.
‘Just think, in an hour and a half we could be in Athens, I would be home.’
They almost crashed into the desk when they arrived at it.
‘Two single tickets to Athens International Airport, please,’ Helena blurted out.
Clicking on her keyboard, the clerk replied, ‘ the next flight is at nine o’clock tonight, would that be suitable?’
Andrew handed over his credit card. ‘That would be fine, thanks.’
Swiping the card through the reader, the clerk’s smile faded.
‘I’m afraid your card has been rejected sir.’
‘Could you try again, please?’
On the third try, Helena interrupted her.
‘It must be faulty, try this one instead.’
The clerk returned Andrew’s card then tried Helena’s.
‘This one seems fine, I thought for a minute it might be my machine, it’s always playing up.’
She handed over the tickets and pointed them in the direction of the check-in desk.
‘Enjoy your flight and visit to Athens.’
‘Don’t worry, we will,’ Helena beamed.
After checking in, Helena and a worried looking Andrew headed for the departure lounge.
‘That’s the second card that’s been rejected, even though there’ve been funds available'.
'They can’t both be faulty. There must be another reason'.
'At the next cash machine I’m going to lift the maximum allowed from my last card, before that one mysteriously becomes faulty as well.’
Helena smiled and held his hand.
‘There’s one next to the book store, try that
Andrew slipped the card into the machine and entered his details.
After a small delay that seemed to take forever, the notes were pushed out and into his waiting hand.
The smile returned to his face.
‘That’s more like it.’
As they walked along the corridor leading to the departure lounge, the memory of their attempt to enter the one at Freidrichshaven came flooding back to Andrew.
The thought made him feel uneasy, he didn’t want to go through that again.
Even if I needed the toilet I wouldn’t enter one now, he thought.
He needn’t have worried.
This time there was no one looking out for them and they entered this departure lounge uneventfully.
‘That felt like the final hurdle being passed,’ Andrew said as they headed for a table next to the bar.
Helena pulled up a chair.
‘Yes, to others it may seem like nothing to pass from one area to another, but for us, past experience has shown that we have to dodge and fight our way to our destination.’
‘You’re right, but the further we get from Kreuzlingen, hopefully the easier it will become. '
'I can’t imagine that the SPAK gunmen or the Swiss police can have any idea that we’re here at this moment.'
'To them, we could be anywhere.’
'Or maybe not!
Andrew had a surprise for Helena.
At this point Andrew took the SPAK mobile phone out of his pocket and showed Helena an App called DataCollector which when pressed, displayed the following screen.
He then pressed the Continue button to poduce another display.
Andrew explained to Helena that SPAK had been following and recording their locations using the DataCollector App, and using the App's facility to EMail
all this back to their superiors.
Helena was taken aback.
'But that's your App.'
'But I had never envisaged it being used as a secret tracking tool, espescially against us!'
"You mean that we have been under constant surveillance and they now possibly know that we are here?"
"I'm afraid so," Andrew replied.
Helena took out her brush and started to pull it through her hair.
‘I would have thought that as well. And for some reason, I have this feeling that someone is still watching us.’
Andrew looked surprised.
‘Have you recognized anyone or noticed someone in particular?’
‘No, that’s the problem, I haven’t noticed anybody familiar, but on the airplane I had the sensation that someone was watching us from behind, I just can’t quite put my finger on it.’
Andrew was starting to look worried.
‘Maybe it’s working on a subconscious level. That you’ve just caught the slightest recurring glimpses of the same person but not enough to make it obvious to you.
Have a good look around this lounge at the faces of the people here, and try to remember if you’ve caught a glimpse of any of them before.’
Helena started to gaze around the spacious lounge area then stopped.
‘But there’s bound to be people here that were on the same flight as us from Freidrichshaven, that wouldn’t mean they were following us.’
‘I know, it’s not only that, but if you can remember the faces of the people here, then when we’re in Athens we can check again.
And if the same face keeps cropping up, we’ll know we’ve got our man – or woman.’
Noticing it was now time to board, they both stood up and prepared to go to the boarding area, but not before
Helena looked around and committed the scene to memory.
Someone else prepared to board the flight to Athens, someone with a small black briefcase, containing two documents with photographs attached.
Athens International Airport
Helena couldn’t conceal her joy.
It was the thought of being back in Athens that kept her going through the dark moments that had shrouded their escape from Switzerland.
It had been less than two days since Hans had been murdered and Andrew attacked in Kreuzlingen.
It had been even less time, twelve hours or so, since she had become involved, when visiting Andrew at the hospital.
So much had happened in so little a time span, that she felt somehow they had both lost a couple of days somewhere along their journey.
That those days together with the events, were lost forever and only they would remember their content.
But that was just wishful thinking, for mixed in with her joy of returning to her homeland was the feeling that they were still being watched.
A feeling stretching all the way back to Switzerland
They were now standing in the luggage area, waiting hopefully for Helena’s case to appear through the flaps that were constantly being pushed
aside by the large assortment of cases, hold-alls and bags being dragged along on the conveyor belt.
Helena broke from her trance like gaze at the baggage and turned to Andrew.
‘I’ve never been so happy and relieved to be back in Athens, but I still get the feeling that someone is watching us.’
Andrew had hoped she’d left that feeling back in Corfu.
‘Well, lets do what I suggested previously. Have a look around, and see if any face stands out, but don’t make it obvious,
we mustn’t let whoever it is know that we suspect we’re being followed.’
Helena glanced at the faces gathered around the conveyor belt.
Their eyes all focused on spotting their luggage.
Helena shifted her gaze back up the moving line of cases.
One person was looking in their direction. Or maybe just at the luggage as it passed them.
But this person was standing near the flaps as the baggage burst through and should be able to pull off any luggage before
it reached Helena and Andrew.
She glanced back again.
The person had gone.
The crowd around the conveyor belt was now thinning as people pushed their trolleys, laden down with their belongings,
along the long corridor leading to the customs check.
Andrew spotted Helena’s case and plucked it from the merry go round of dwindling baggage.
‘That’s us then. I think I can manage this without a trolley.
Did you spot anyone you believe might be watching us?’
‘Yes, for a moment, and then he was gone. It may just have been my imagination.’
‘Did you recognize him from any of our previous journeys through Switzerland or Germany?’
‘I don’t know. I didn’t get a clear look at him.’
Andrew held Helena’s hand as they headed up the corridor to customs along with the straggling line of passengers from their flight.
‘Well, keep your eyes open. If we are being followed we have to give him the slip soon, before he can alert others as to our whereabouts.
We haven’t come this far just to get caught.’
Once through customs, they entered into the arrivals area where small crowds of people waved as they caught
sight of the passengers they had been waiting for.
Some kissed and embraced as if finding long lost relatives.
Others held up small placards with the names of various companies scrawled on them, IBM, Microsoft, Compaq, but no SPAK, Andrew noticed.
The majority of the companies were computer or software firms, there must be some kind of high tech convention, he thought,
reminding him of what he did for a living in a previous lifetime, or so it now seemed.
All around them, everyone seemed to know where they were going as Andrew turned to Helena and asked the inevitable question.
‘Where to now?’
‘There’s a bus that leaves every ten minutes outside the main terminal building at the Schenga exit.
It will take us to Syntagma Square, where we can find a hotel for the night.’
Andrew rubbed his eyes.
‘Good, I could do with a shower and a long nights sleep.’
People were now offloading their trolleys into waiting cars and taxis as Andrew and Helena passed through the exit into the cool Athenian night.
At this point Helena noticed something out of the side of her eye.
It was a fleeting glimpse but one that seemed familiar.
When she turned to face the figure standing beside a small suitcase, about twenty meters away,
fragments of her memory flashed in sequence before her.
First in Kreuzlingen, a solitary figure dressed in black sitting in the car behind them as they waited to go through the border checkpoint into Germany,
before they had changed their plans because of the waiting gunmen.
Next on the boat making their way to Friedrichshafen, someone sitting at the other end of the bar with just the side of his face visible.
Then on the flight to Corfu, someone putting their hand luggage into one of the overhead compartments at the rear of plane,
with just the back of their head noticeable.
And finally, earlier on, as they waited to pick up her case from the conveyor belt, the same figure with a glimpse now of the other side of his face.
The images all suddenly flew together to complete a picture of the man Helena now stood and stared at.
The man noticed Helena looking at him and turned his head away from her, shifting uncomfortably under her stare.
Helena pulled Andrew close to her and whispered.
‘I’ve just recognized the man who’s been following us all the way from Switzerland.’
‘Behind us standing by the terminal building, he’s dressed in black with short gray hair, probably about sixty years old.’
‘That doesn’t sound like the description of a trained killer. Are you sure?
‘Yes, I’ve seen glimpses of the same man at Kreuzlingen, Friedrichshafen and Corfu.
He must be following us. It can’t be a coincidence.’
Andrew turned his head slowly until the figure came into view.
‘Yes, you must be right, it would be too much of a coincidence for him to travel all that way without having some reason for following us.
The only people who would have cause to come after us are the police and the SPAK gunmen.
If he were one of the gunmen, I’m sure he would have attempted to kill us by now.
He may be a plain-clothes policeman, a detective, with orders to follow us until we reach our destination and then
alert the local police to arrest us.
In which case whatever we do we have to it quickly.
I could try a repeat of the way we got past the gunman at Friedrichshafen airport.’
Helena paled at the thought.
‘That was dangerous, I don’t know if I can stand here and wait while you go through that ordeal all over again.
This time you may not be so lucky.’
‘Look at his age, this time would be much easier, just a tap on the back of the head to knock him out and give us a chance of disappearing into the night.
But this time you must come along with me.’
She looked surprised.
‘What into the men’s toilets?’
‘No, we both have to stick together and lure him to somewhere quiet, as he may go after you if we split up.
Let’s walk further along the outside of the terminal building to a quieter bit.
Its dark and we may find an opportunity to knock him out without anyone seeing us.’
They now started to walk along the front of the airport away from the crowds milling around the main exits.
As they continued, fewer and fewer people were seen until they found themselves alone at the end of the main airport building.
She handed him the heavy marble brush that was used to good effect previously, as they rounded a quiet corner and waited.
They both held their breaths in an attempt to listen for the sound of approaching footsteps.
Nothing. Just the faint distant hum of the busy part of the airport they had left behind.
They looked at each other.
Maybe he hadn’t noticed them leaving.
They had tried to make it as obvious as possible to him where they were going.
Then soft footsteps in the distance, becoming louder.
Andrew raised the heavy marble brush in the air.
The steps were just around the corner now.
As he came into view Andrew stepped out and started to bring down his makeshift weapon,
when the man suddenly turned and raised his arms in defense.
‘No! My son!’ he gasped.
Andrew was taken aback at the words and just managed to avoid striking him.
The man stood back with a look of extreme fear in his face and held out his arms pleading in a trembling voice.
‘You don’t want to hurt me – I’m not your enemy – I’m on your side.’
Helena looked on as Andrew dropped the brush in surprise at the way the man reacted.
‘You said “My son”. What did you mean by that?’ Andrew demanded.
His voice still shaky, the man replied, ‘I’m a priest‘ – he stared at Andrew and then realized – ‘of course, you had no way of knowing.’
They both exclaimed in chorus, ‘a priest!’
‘Why the hell would you want to follow us all the way from Switzerland?
You were following us? Weren’t you?’ he asked as if finally to confirm their suspicions.
His voice steadier now the priest answered.
‘Yes. At first I was going to contact you at the hospital in Kreuzlingen, once I had discovered your identity.
But as I arrived in the car park you both ran out in front of me, as you may remember?’
Helena nodded her head.
‘Yes that must have been when I first saw you, but I had completely forgotten in our mad dash from the gunman.’
‘How do we know for certain that you’re a priest, you’re even not dressed like one?’
The priest pulled a plastic card from his pocket and held it up to Andrew.
‘There, my name is Father Angeletti and I work at the Vatican.
I don’t dress as a priest because I’m sort of working under cover, as you may have guessed, following you.’
Andrew appeared slightly apologetic.
‘Look, I’m sorry I gave you a fright, but like you said, I had no way of knowing you were a priest.
Anyway it’s no use talking here, lets go back to the terminal building and find somewhere more comfortable to
discuss what this is all about.’
The priest nodded in agreement and all three retraced their footsteps back to the main terminal complex while the
priest continued to explain that when Andrew and Helena had left the hospital car park, he followed them all the way around
Keuzlingen and through the border point at the side of the lake to Konstanz.
It was then, he decided he wouldn’t contact them now, but rather, wait until they had reached their final destination
Where ever that may be.
Reaching the airport terminal, all three entered the inviting environment of the late night bar with its subdued lighting
and relaxing background music.
They sat around a vacant table in a recess while Andrew went to fetch their drinks
When he returned, they all took a grateful drink from their glasses as the priest continued.
‘I could have contacted you on the boat, but I thought you may be suspicious, especially after the recent attempts on your life.
You might then have tried to get away, and then I would never have the chance to find out what you knew.’
Andrew looked at him warily.
‘What do you mean, “What you knew”? And why were you going to contact me in the first place?’
The priest sighed.
‘To fully explain this I have to go back in time and explain my background.
First of all, as I have already told you, my name is Father Angeletti and I work at the Vatican.
About six months ago I received a phone call from someone I used to work with, Father Dominic Bapst,
who was now resident in Switzerland at a small chapel in Kreuzlingen.
He sounded excited and a little frightened on the telephone as if he had to get his message across as quickly as
possible before he was cut off – or someone stopped him – I’m not sure what.
So his message was broken, and he kept repeating certain words.
I took a note of what he was saying and told him to calm down a little because it was hard to have a conversation in his present state.
It was then that the phone went dead.
I called him back, but there was no reply.’
‘I contacted an acquaintance in Zurich, Father Jan Scherz and asked him to look in on Father Bapst.
Later that evening I received a phone call from him saying that there was no sign of Father Bapst at the chapel
or in the attached residence.
There was nothing more we could do that night, so I asked Father Scherz to try again in the morning.
There was always the chance he was visiting someone and would return the next day.
I received a phone call from Father Scherz the next morning at about ten o’clock with the dreadful news that Father Bapst’s body had been
found washed up on the shores of the Bodensee near Kreuzlingen.’
‘The coroners report wasn’t conclusive and couldn’t establish the actual cause of death.
But certain unusual facts were in the report.
Such as the contorted look of fear on Father Bapst’s face, the small pinpricks on the side of his head and the presence of
hallucinogenic drugs in his bloodstream.
After a meeting at the Vatican, it was decided that I should head an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Father Bapst’s death.
The only clues we had were in the telephone conversation he had with me.’
Helena and Andrew stared at Father Angeletti, engrossed in this fascinating tale.
Nearly as unbelievable as the events they had endured recently.
Nevertheless, Andrew still hadn’t had his question answered.
‘But what has this got to do with us?’ he asked again.
Father Angeletti continued.
‘The connection lies in the telephone conversation.
Father Bapst kept repeating, “they’re back, we thought we had eliminated them, but they’re back”.
When I asked him who’s back, he said, “the Pagans”.
When I asked him what Pagans, he said, “the Gnostics”.
I then asked him where are they? And he replied, “they’re at SPAK”.
And that was it.
That was all we had to go on.
Quite quickly, though, we found out that there was a company called the SPAK Corporation nearby in
Kreuzlingen who luckily enough were looking to hire people at the time.’
‘Yes, that’s right, it was about then that I was hired along with quite a few other contractors, including Helena.’
The priest nodded in agreement.
‘This was an opportunity to get one of our investigators into the factory along with all the other people they were hiring at that time.
The problem was that the investigator found nothing unusual, never mind finding Pagans and Gnostics.
That was, until Hans’s death when the investigator heard talk of a security breach, and your name was linked with both the death
and the security leak.
The investigator then passed on your file to me, together with those of the rest of your team.
We were sure that Hans and yourself had discovered some information so sensitive, that SPAK would kill to keep it secret.
This was to be our breakthrough.
I was on my way to talk to you at the hospital, to find out what you had discovered, when I spotted you and Helena making your
escape from the gunman.
And I’ve been following you ever since, waiting for the right time to make myself known to you.
But you pre-empted that, and here we are now.
Which brings me to the point, what was it that you and Hans discovered?’
Andrew told the priest the words that were on Hans’s screen.
Father Angeletti clasped his hands as if in prayer.
‘Yes, this confirms what Father Bapst had said.
He mentioned Pagans, and Eleusis is an ancient Pagan ritual site.
He also mentioned Gnostics, which corresponds to the incomplete word “GNO”.
We’re on the right track.
SPAK must be involved in his death and that of Hans.
‘There’s something else,’ Andrew added, pulling a Mobile Phone from his pocket.
‘I found this on the SPAK gunman who tried to kill me in Friedrichshafen.
It looked unusual, so I kept it in case we met someone who might understand what it means.
I was going to show it to Helena’s professor, but you can have a look at it if you want.’
Andrew showed the priest the App with the crimson red SPAK Logo with the picture of a snake in a circle biting its tail with symbols in the center.
On seeing it, the priest recoiled, as if being confronted by some unholy satanic image.
‘My God!’ he exclaimed.
‘I can see now why they murdered Father Bapst who had said “they’re back”. I now understand what he meant by that.’
Andrew and Helena looked at each other, surprised at Father Angeletti’s reaction.
Andrew broke in first.
‘What’s the significance of the symbols on the card then?’
Father Angeletti leaned forward and almost whispered.
‘The snake has been used by Pagan cults throughout history.
But in this particular shape it had a special meaning.
To the Greeks, this was The World Snake or Ouroboros, to the Gnostics, this was the Leviathan,
the lord of the world who represented the malevolent character of the cosmos.
The Ophite Gnostics used it in their diagram of the Universe and in their degenerate Pagan ceremonies.
We have the early Church Fathers such as Irenaeus, Tertulian and Epiphanius to thank for exposing these evil cults and their practices,
to the point that they no longer existed.
Until now that is!'
Andrew also showed the image of the tattoo on the SPAK agent.
Then the Tesla magnetic trace he had recorded of it.
Father Angeletti looked amazed.
'This modern technology combined with the evil heathen symbol means that the Pagan cults have now re-emerged,
but this time as powerful multi-national corporations such as the SPAK Corporation.
We must get more evidence of this revival of Paganism and what their aims are, so I can report back to the Vatican.’
‘I can try to use this Phone App together with the gunman’s tattoo and Tesla signature to get into the SPAK complex here, in Athens,’ Andrew offered.
‘Once in I could attempt to hack into their computer system for the type of evidence you’re looking for.’
Helena looked dismayed at this idea.
‘What! We’ve been trying to get away from them for the last twenty-four hours.
And now that we have, you want to go back into one of their factories.
No, that would be too dangerous.
What if they caught you?
They’d kill you for certain.’
Andrew held her hand.
‘I know it sounds illogical, but it’s the only way I can get evidence of their involvement in the killing of Hans and the priest
and whatever their ultimate goals are anyway.’
Father Angeletti put his hand on Helena’s shoulder.
‘You have to be brave my dear.
The early Christians faced hardship in defeating and overcoming the evils of Paganism,
we too now face that challenge and we must meet it in the same resolute way.’
‘There must find another, less dangerous way of going about this,’ Helena pleaded.
‘Look. We’re software engineers, Andrew, what about that Mobile App.
If we could get access to a computer and a usb input, I’m sure we would be able to activate and examine the funtions of the App.’
Andrew looked thoughtfully at the App screen.
‘Yes we probably could.
In the past I’ve worked on the protocol used to bypass App passwords and if we find out more before I attempt to enter the factory
the better prepared I’ll be.
But we’ve just arrived in Athens and don’t even have a place to stay yet, never mind getting access to specialist computer equipment.’
The priest had been listening intently to their discussion and now leaned forward.
‘The Vatican is taking the death of Father Bapst and the circumstances surrounding it very serious indeed.
In fact people at the very highest level are taking a personal interest in my investigations.
They have authorized me to use the full resources of the Vatican and the Catholic Church in my efforts to find Father Bapst’s killers
and discover what their true aims are.
So I think that one of the worlds most powerful institutions should be able to provide you with a computer
and whatever else is required to access this App.
If you make out a list of what’s required I’m sure I can have it available for you by tomorrow morning.’
Andrew stared in amazement.
‘I can make you a list of what we need but even if you do get everything at such short notice, where will the equipment be set up?’
‘Don’t worry that’s already taken care of. It’ll be somewhere safe and free from prying eyes.
Good. Well that’s settled then, a few quick phone calls and we should be ready by say – mid-morning tomorrow.’
Andrew finished compiling the list and handed it to the priest.
‘I’ll be most impressed if you can arrange this by tomorrow.
Anyhow here’s what we need. I hope you can understand it.’
The priest smiled as he put the list in his pocket.
‘Oh don’t concern yourself about that, I’ll be giving it to somebody who does understand this sort of thing.’
Andrew stood and finished his drink.
‘OK, but first we need to find somewhere to stay for the night, what do you suggest Helena?’
‘I know a nice, small central hotel near the Acropolis in Mitseon Odos.
There’s a bus leaves every ten minutes from outside the main terminal, and it passes close by the hotel.
Is that OK for you Father Angeletti?’
‘Thank you Helena, but I’ve already arranged my accommodation at St. Denis Roman Catholic Church at Panepistimiou near Syntagma Square.
Do you know of it?’
‘Yes, I’m familiar with it.’
‘Good, because that’s where the equipment will be located.’
Andrew turned looking surprised.
‘What, we’ll be working in a church?’
The priest smiled wryly.
‘Can you think of a safer place?’
‘No, you have a point.’ Andrew conceded.
The priest continued.
‘Right, if you both come round there about eleven tomorrow morning, we can make a start.’
All three picked up their belongings and headed for the exit.
Once again they walked out into the cool Athenian night.
Helena then pointed to a bus that was already waiting at the stop.
When they had loaded their luggage and found seats, the bus roared into life, pulled away from the airport
terminal and started its journey to the center of Athens.
The sight before him took Andrew’s breath away.
From their balcony they could see the Acropolis rise above them.
First on the floodlit slope above a line of pine trees was spread out the remains of the Theatre Of Dionysus with it’s semi-circular stage
surrounded by the open auditorium, utilizing the natural gradient of the hill, which in it’s day could hold up to twenty thousand people.
Above that and crowning the Acropolis stood the spectacular form of the Parthenon with it’s elegant marble columns high against the night sky.
As Helena explained the majesty of what lay before them, he was reminded of his hometown, Edinburgh, known as the
‘Athens of the North’ with its Caledonian Acropolis around Calton Hill.
Here stood the National Monument, a life-size reproduction of the Parthenon, built in dour Scots granite, but left unfinished in 1830.
‘A penny for your thoughts,’ said Helena, noticing Andrew’s faraway gaze.
‘Oh, I was just thinking that our Parthenon in Edinburgh was no match for your original, although I think you would be impressed with our castle.’
‘Ah, that must be Edinburgh Castle, everyone’s heard of it. Maybe one day you’ll show me around it.’
‘Yes, that’s a nice thought, but you said Athens was your home town, do you live anywhere near here
‘Yes, I have a flat not far from here in the Veikou district.
But I think we should stay clear of that for the moment, in case it’s being watched.
If you look over to your right, beyond the Acropolis, you’ll see Mount Likavittos,
I was brought up there with my mother and father in the Kolonaki district.’
‘Why don’t you visit them tomorrow?’ Andrew suggested.
Helena shook her head.
‘No, I don’t want to get them involved at this stage.
I think we should try to clear your name first.
Besides I’ve felt more confident since we’ve met Father Angeletti,
he’s the first one to believe our story and he thinks there’s a connection between Hans’s death and that of his priest.
It’s our first lead and maybe tomorrow we can find some concrete evidence of this and take it to the police.’
Andrew nodded in agreement.
‘Yes, for the first time I think I can see a little light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Although there’s one thing I don’t understand.
All this talk of Paganism and Gnostics.
Why does Father Angeletti think it’s so important?
Moreover what’s the connection between them and the murders?’
Helena put her hand on his shoulder.
‘I’ll give my professor a call tomorrow and arrange to visit him. He might be able to explain some of these things.
It’s worth a try.’
Andrew turned, looked into her deep blue eyes and gently stroked her cheek.
‘Yes, we’ve done well to get this far and soon a few more of our questions may be answered.
But now, I think we should get some sleep it’s been a tiring day and tomorrow may be even more challenging.’
Helena moved closer to him and whispered in his ear, ‘mmm, not too much sleep though,’ as she led him off the balcony and into the bedroom.
Helena suddenly cried out waving her hands above her in the darkness as if to protect herself from an invisible enemy.
‘Keep them away.’
‘What is it?’ Andrew said, switching on the side lamp and sitting up in the bed to look down on the terrified figure of Helena below him.
‘Keep the flames away from me.
‘Its all right, I’m here.
There are no flames. Its just a nightmare.’
Andrew reassured her as he held her gently, trying to wake her up.
Helena’s eyes suddenly opened wide.
‘Oh Andrew. Hold me, the dreams are back.’
Andrew looked at her caringly.
‘What dreams are back?’
‘The dreams I had as a child. I’ve not had them since I was twelve.’
‘What are they about, and why do they terrify you?’
‘I’m surrounded by fire, that burns as it gets closer.
There’s no way out. I feel as if I’m about to be burned alive!’
Andrew held her closer
‘Shh. It’s all right now. Nothing can harm you here.’
‘But why are they back Andrew?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe it’s a one off caused by the strain of the last few days.
That would cause anyone to have nightmares.
I’m surprised I don’t have them.’ He half laughed, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
A small smile formed on her lips at his reassuring words and as the memory of the nightmare started to fade
‘I hope so. I don’t think I could face those dreams too often
Maybe you’re right,’ she said as Andrew kissed her and reached out to turn off the lamp.
‘Maybe your right,’ she repeated as she turned and fell into his safe and comforting arms.
Anthony Lykourgos popped his head around the door to see Aristarhos Matsukas sitting back on his chair,
hands behind his head staring thoughtfully into space.
‘Thinking about my case, I hope?’
Aristarhos was shaken from his distant gaze.
‘Ah – yes – Anthony. Come in. You got my message then?’
‘Yes, I was told that you had some information for me.’
Aristarhos gestured for Anthony to take a seat and sifted through a pile of notes on top of his in-tray.
‘I’ve just received the results from the blood tests.
You may remember, I asked the toxicologist, in particular, to look for traces of a powerful hallucinogenic,
one that could possibly kill if taken in excess doses.’
Anthony leaned forward in expectation.
‘Yes, this was our last hope since there were no clues from the post mortem examinations as to the cause of death.’
Aristarhos placed the results in front of him.
‘In all four cases, there were found traces of muscarine and mycoatropine, which are found naturally in the fungus
Amanita muscaria also known as the fly agaric.
In addition there were small traces of a neuroleptic called Librium, commonly used as a tranquilizer
Anthony looked hopeful.
‘What effects would they have produced in the victims?’
‘Well the muscarine would produce vomiting, headaches, accelerated heartbeat and dilation of pupils.
Often a state similar to alcoholic intoxication.’
‘But could it have killed them?’ Anthony inquired.
‘No. Not in the very low concentrations found in the bodies.’
Anthony’s shoulders fell.
Then he remembered.
‘You said there was another substance found in the bodies.’
This is a form of psychotonic poisoning.
The known effects can make the user talkative, shout obscenities, sometimes laugh or weep, strike themselves and run to and fro.
Subsequently the user faints, recovers from time to time, hallucinates,screams and defends themselves against invisible danger
and eventually falls into a deep sleep.
When they wake up, they are fine and the poisoning comes to an end eventually on the second or third day.
‘That’s quite a range of effects.
Would they have experienced all of those symptoms?'
‘No, from the concentrations used and the state of the bodies, the main effect would have been the hallucinations.’
Anthony could see the last of the open doors close on him.
‘And you say they should have woken up fine?’
‘Exactly, but they didn’t, because their hearts suddenly stopped and it wasn’t as a result of the drug.’
‘Could that other drug you mentioned, Librium, be responsible in any way?’
‘No, in the concentrations used, it would act like a mild tranquilizer
Anthony leaned back in his chair and sighed.
‘Where does that leave us then?’
‘I’m afraid it’s back to square one.
We only know that something stopped their hearts – what – I don’t know.
But there is one interesting aspect to this case.’
Aristarhos eased himself out of his chair and went over to a bookcase, running his fingers over the titles until
he reached the one he was looking for.
Anthony was clutching at straws.
‘I’ll listen to anything that’s going to shed light on this case, because so far I’ve nothing and my superiors are starting to get impatient.’
Aristarhos opened the book and sat back in his chair.
‘You said that everything pointed to the fact that they were performing a ritual when they died;
the way they were dressed, the way the bodies were laid out and not least the fact that they were found
in the Telesterion at the sanctuary of Eleusis, a place where secret rituals were performed thousands of years ago.’
‘Yes, but what’s that got to do with the results of the blood tests?’ Andrew asked impatiently.
‘Well, as I said before, the source of the substances found in the bodies was the fungus fly agaric.’
Aristarhos leafed through the book, stopping and peering at the required page.
‘Ah, here it is.
This book traces the history of various hallucinogenic drugs found in nature.
And there is an interesting section on our fungus.
It says here that recently, the identity of fly agaric with the so-called drug, soma, venerated by the most ancient
Arian tribes in the time of migrating and settling in the mountains of Afghanistan, has been established.’
‘What does all that mean?’ Anthony quizzed.
‘It means that our four victims were taking part in a reconstructed ritual, even down to the ancient drug or soma that they took.
A ritual not performed in the last two thousand years.’
‘But that doesn’t explain their deaths!’ exclaimed Anthony.
‘No, not exactly
But the fact that they were performing a ritual means that as well as the drug, there would have been other external
stimulus and it was the combination of all these things that that caused their hearts to stop and the disappearance
of parts of their internal organs.
If you can find out more details about the ritual they were performing and what was traditionally involved,
then you may find out the actual cause of their deaths.’
‘But how will I find out more about the ritual they were performing?’
Don’t ask me, you’re the detective.’
Helena was clearly proud of her city as she excitedly described the countless sights they passed on the way to meet Father Angeletti
in their newly hired open top car.
They were lucky today thought Helena, as there was no sign of the nefos, the layer of smog that normally hung over Athens,
enabling them to see the marble columns of the Acropolis reaching for the boundless blue of the sky.
But something else hung over the city of Athens, not visible like the nefos, but none the less as debilatating.
A feeling of oppressive hoplessness.
Visible to a certain extent, by the intermittent view of boarded up shop fronts, the daubed slogans and sights of the wandering homeless.
Syntagma Square, the jewel in the crown of an ancient,
once proud people,
bore the scars of the recent violent demonstrations against that most vile of emotive words,
The world, particularly, Europe's nations, were constantly emlazoned across the TV screens with similar scenes of violent uprising,
tens of thousands marching with banners,raging against this one emotive word ,
amid the smoke and flames from clashes against the militirised cladded security forces of their nation.
No one had escaped this nightmare, particularly, Greece.
Andrews words pierced Helena's inner thoughts and contrasting visions of the Athens then, during the Olympics,
and the Athens now during Austerity.
‘I’ve noticed a big difference now in the mood of the people in Athens,’
said Helena as she turned into Dhionissiou Areopayitou, a wide road bounding the southern slope of the Acropolis.
‘Replacing the air of optimism I once sensed, with our new International Airport, the newly extended underground and the anticipation
of the Olympic Games returning home to it’s rightful place of origin, when I last visited Athens, is an atmosphere of despair.'
'I know,' Andrew replied.
'I to can sense it, not only here, but in all the coutries I've recently visited, Spain, Italy to name a few.'
'Anyway!' Helena interrupted, with a more optimistic tone.
'Talking of Olympics, look over there to your right',
'There’s the largest temple in Greece,'
'The Temple of Olympian Zeus, started by Greeks but finished by the roman Emperor Hadrian seven hundred years later.’
Andrew turned his head just in time to catch sight of the remains of what was once an impressive marble columned building,
another reminder of the long and varied past of classical and modern Athens.
Before he could turn his head away, another large arched structure came into view, the Arch of Hadrian.
‘I’m impressed,’ Andrew admitted.
‘I’ve heard of the sights of Athens, but to fully appreciate them you really do have to be here.'
'What’s that large building over there?’
‘That’s our parliament in the National Gardens.'
'And facing it is Syntagma Square, some would say it’s the center of Athens.’
Helena swung the car into Panepistimiou.
‘We’re just coming up to St. Denis Cathedral, and a couple of streets further on is the University,
where, later on we’re meeting Professor Zarganis, my old tutor.’
Helena then turned into Omirou and stopped at the front doors of the cathedral dominating the left hand corner of the street.
Andrew looked relieved.
‘There’s our priest at the top of the steps smiling.'
'All morning, I’ve had this nasty suspicion that he wasn’t who he said he was and that we’d never see him again.’
Both got out of the car and headed up the wide stone steps to be greeted by Father Angeletti.
‘Good morning, it’s a beautiful day isn’t it? '
'Come inside I’ve got something to show you.’
He then led them through the large main entrance doors and into the hushed darkness of the cathedral.
Stained glass windows illuminated by bright sunlight rimmed the church walls, each telling a story to the initiated.
Leading them along the central aisle past the rows of pews they could both feel the contrasting coolness of the interior of the stone building.
At the top of the aisle he led them to the side and beckoned them to follow him down a winding stairwell, which lay behind a hanging scarlet curtain.
At the bottom of the stairwell he opened a heavy black wooden door.
As they passed through, Andrew and Helena looked at each other in amazement.
Before them stretched an arched stone vault illuminated by lights fixed to the walls at various points along their lengths.
In stark contrast to this background was the presence of an array of high tech equipment placed on lab benches surrounded
by partitions and large desks with swivel chairs.
Father Angeletti watched with a satisfied smile as he saw the look of surprise on both their faces.
‘Well, you thought it couldn’t be done, but I told you we have friends in high places.'
'Come and have a look at the equipment and check that everything is here.’
Andrew went over to the computer workstation, already set up and running Windows NT.
Connected to one usb port was the device he had requested.
A progammable image skin printing device with emf encoding abilities .
Double clicking the icon on the screen, brought to life the already installed Android Mobile Phone development sotware, he had also requested.
‘I’m suitably impressed.'
'Everything I asked for is here and ready to go.'
'Someone knows their stuff.’
Father Angeletti went over to Andrew.
‘What sort of information should we expect from this SPAK agent's Mobile Phone then?’
Andrew sat on the chair in front of the screen and leaned back.
'Well, once we are able to bypass the App's password screen,'
'I'm sure, knowing the SPAK corporation's unsurpassed hardware and software expertise,'
'we will not only obtain information enabling us to penetrate their systems and obtain knowledge of their objectives,'
'but we will now eventually see the the results of the billions of dollars they have spent on developing their closely guarded software program.'
'We may not be prepared for what we are about to see.'
Andrew emphatically replied to the priest.
Father Angeletti looked eager to get started.
‘Good, have you got the Mobile Phone?’
Andrew pulled it from his pocket and connected it to a free usb port, then sat in front of the large monitor.
Helena and the priest sat in chairs on either side.
Andrew rubbed his hands.
All their gaze now focused on the SPAK icon symbol displayed on the Mobile Phone's screen.
Without any prompt, Andrew Clicked the icon.
Immediatelly the LOGON display filled the screen, just as he had seen in Friedrichshafen Airport.
'Well', Andrew said,'UserID is Jan'.
'But what about Password?'
'Lets try Kreutz, as good as any a start.'
Upon entering both, the message appeared, not unsuspectantly, he thought.
Andrew monitered the Window's PC Android installed software screen.
'No debug messages,jut as I expected.We will have do this the hard way.'
Andrew invoked another set of software.
He uploaded the App from the mobile Phone onto the PC and displayed its compiled contents.
A quick search for the characters "Jan", produced various character sequences surrounding the first occurrance of "Jan".
He turned to Helena.
'Well which of those do you think would be an appropriate Password?'
Father Babst, looking startled,was about to speak, when Helena, blurted out.
'But that's my name!'
'Yes,' Andrew replied.
'Out of all the possible candidates, I think we should use "Helena" as the Password.'
'As I think we will be limited to three atempts, before we are locked out, and SPAK security notified.'
Entering "Helena", as the Password, he pressed the Enter key to display, to their relieved astonishment, a Menu selection.
'Ok, first selection.' Andrew announced, producing the unexected display.
'Now selection 2.'Andrew impatiently declared.
The following display appeared
Andrew followed the insrtuction,
"Click Replay To Begin Results Of Last Test"
Clicking the Replay button he was astonished, viewing the display coming to life as if replaying some sequence of events.
There were compartments showing animations of Heart beats or ECG, plus Brain waves or EEG, and various guages rising and falling.
Next the image changed to one of an alarm state, with indicators flashing.
And finally the sequence ended, with rather ominous readings and a message embalazoned across the center of the display.
Andrew turned to the PC screen.
‘The same display has come up in Internet Explorer on the PC.’
The priest looked none the wiser.
‘What does that mean?’
‘The Mobile Phone can’t load information into the computer on it’s own.'
'There must be compatible software already running on the PC which detects that the Phone with the SPAK App has been connected,
that activates Internet Explorer to display information from the Phone in Explorer.’
‘This means that the SPAK software was already installed in this computer.’
Andrew turned to the priest.
‘Father, the person who set up this computer, can you vouch for him?’
The priest looked shocked.
‘Of course, he was an engineer recommended by the Vatican.’
This was truly amazing.
Andrew looked intently at Helena and the priest.
‘You know what this means?’
‘Yes, it means that all personal computers running the Windows operating system,
and there must be hundreds of millions in homes and offices throughout the world,
also have SPAK software installed in them.'
'And if it’s capable of what we‘ve just seen, then goodness knows what else it can do.’
As a Software Engineer, his experience could only barely comprehend some of what he had witnessed.
'Andrew,the words on the screen!' a voice blurted out.
Helena interruptpted Father Babst.
'Do you realise what the sequence on the Soma diagram means!'
Father Babst continued the theme both he and Helena had observed.
'This is ancient, and now displayed on modern technology.'
'This SPAK agent was a Hylyc. That was as far as he had achieved trying the initiation test.'
Andrew quickly summed up what they had just experienced.
'Number one, we have witnessed the result of our SPAK agent running the software with the aid of some connected hardware, possibly a headset.'
This headset was so so sophisticated that it used all the latest technologies, much more than a virtual reality headset.
It had visual,audio,chemical,soma hallucinagenic inputs.
But most of all it used tDCS, a direct current to the brain.
And from the diagram, the Fpz and Cz names indicate it was apllied to the OrbitaL Frontal Cortex, known to disassociate the user from reality.
'Number two ,all window's PC's have SPAK compatible software installed.'
Monika Weiss stared at the white board in front of her.
The first two names had been on the board for the last six months with a line linking them together.
Father Bapst, who’s body was found washed up on the shores of the Bodensee and Kurt Hus who’s SPAK ID card was found in the priest’s confession box.
After exhaustive searches, he had never been found, just disappeared off the face of the planet, the same day the priest’s body was discovered.
She was no closer to the answers, and the pressure from her superiors was intense.
Was the priest murdered or did he commit suicide?
The autopsy report revealed some interesting facts but was inconclusive, although it did suggest that someone else may have been involved; the priest’s character was impeccable, he wasn’t the type of person who would take hallucinogenic drugs voluntarily.
Was Kurt Hus involved somehow?
The evidence pointed at him being in Father Bapst’s confession box, probably the last person to see him alive.
But where was he?
It was hard enough being the only female Police Inspector in the region.
Even in normal circumstances she sensed resentment from her male colleagues.
Was she promoted on her merits?
Or was her rapid rise up the ranks a result of political expediency.
The only way to silence her critics was to get results.
But with those two unsolved cases on her hands it wasn’t looking good.
She had heard the rumours.
She was to be replaced, maybe even demoted.
Time was running out fast and she had no clues.
When she heard that there was another murder in her region she immediately felt the burden on her shoulders increase.
Not another one she thought.
But this time it was different.
They had a suspect, Andrew Jamieson, found holding the murder weapon splattered with Hans Schenk’s blood.
She had rushed to the hospital to speak to him but he was still unconscious. Only his friend, the Greek girl Helena was there and she knew nothing.
She had placed a guard on the door to his hospital room and would speak to him as soon as he regained consciousness.
Things were looking up, she had thought, until her world fell in on her again.
Andrew Jamieson had escaped and the police guard was in intensive care.
She looked at the white board.
Below the names of the priest and the missing man she had written Hans Schenk’s name with a line linking him to Andrew Jamieson’s.
She had checked all the escape routes and recently found out that Andrew Jamieson and Helena Miropolous had flown to Corfu from Frierichshafen airport last night.
Monika wrote Helena Miropolous’s name next to Andrew Jamieson’s and linked them with a line.
She stood back from the board.
Two separate cases.
The first, two names linked, but no clues.
The second, three names linked, with a suspect.
She knew it was important to find Andrew Jamieson and bring him to justice, solving the second case.
If only she could find a link between the two cases
There was a tenuous link.
The missing man, Kurt Hus and Hans Scheck both worked for SPAK.
She needed a stronger connection and now she had one.
She had just discovered that Kurt Hus was Hans Scheck’s sister’s brother in law.
Taking her black ink marker she drew a thick line between Kurt Hus’s name and Hans Scheck’s.
In her mind the last piece had fallen into place.
For six months she had pursued every possible avenue of investigation, with no progress.
And now with this new murder, a prime suspect had been identified with a link to all the unsolved cases in her care.
But where is he now?
She knew that he had landed in Corfu last night with his friend Helena Miropolous.
They wouldn’t stay long in Corfu, she thought, that was a temporary stop to get them out of Germany and into Greece.
Where would their final destination be in Greece?
Monika smiled and wrote in large letters the name of Helena Miropolous’s hometown on the board circling it with a flourish.
The opposing forces of harmony and destruction had now become openly competing armies.
BOTH stoood their ground.
Humans, as a force of good and light were about to be annihilated by a darkness, destroying the harmonious known universe.
There was a choice, light or dark.
The final battleground was to to be in the birthplace of civilisation, in GREECE,at a place of human enlightenment, ELEUSIS.
Humans had become infected by the spreading virus of a dying branch of psychopaths and their proto sycophants whose time was limited and
in imininent danger of extiction.
This made them to devise a plan of survival, but only at the expense of humamanity,and the sacrifice of two pure humans,
who stood in their path.
Millenia of insidious, imperceptously slow change had brought a small minority to almost complete control of a massive majority.
With their bloody visceral victory almost filling their inhuman nostrals,victory was a scent intoxicating them.
At all cost, this plan must be implemented to it's full completion.
St. Denis Cathedral
Exactly!’ exclaimed Andrew. ‘SPAK have somehow managed to install their software on untold millions of Phones, Tablets, PCs throughout the world.’
He then sat in the swivel chair in front of the monitor as Helena and the priest again sat on either side of him.
'I can now access their factory, by creating a magnetic encoded tatoo and an equivalent ID on the App on the phone.
The priest swung his chair round to face Andrew and made the sign of the cross.
‘Bless you my son, may the Lord be with you in your holy quest to defeat the heathens.’
Andrew and Helena looked at each other, eyebrows raised. Andrew then turned to the priest and shrugged his shoulders.
‘Well – eh – thanks Father, I’ll need all the help I can get with this one, divine or otherwise.’
'Now we have access, lets try one of the options which may not require a headset'
Andrew selected the Pre-Initiation option.
All three watched intently as another page now appeared.
Level 4 to Level 3 Group Pre-Initiation
Number of users actively engaged – 23572
Before anyone could speak, a familiar message box popped up.
External device not connected.
Please connect and retry.
‘I was wondering when that message would reappear, ‘Andrew sighed.
‘I’m afraid this is as far as we can go without the piece of hardware it keeps asking us to connect.'
Helena turned to face him.
‘Look at the number of people involved, over twenty-three and a half thousand.
Do you think they’re all using the scanning and input device, experiencing something similar to the simulation we just saw?’
‘Yes,’ Andrew answered, ‘but not in isolation.
I think that somehow they’re linked to each other in a way that aids their preparation or conditioning for the actual initiation.
There may be a central computer controlling the stimulus to all of those connected and monitoring their responses.
Some people may be responding better than others and their experience can be used to help the ones who’re not faring so well.’
‘What exactly are those people experiencing though?’ asked Father Angeletti looking slightly puzzled.
Andrew took a deep breath as if gathering his thoughts.
‘From what we saw of the simulation, they’re being fed with images and sounds, together with drugs and tDCS current to their brains raising their awareness,
as we saw with the increased activity in the 3 D brain scan, both individually and now collectively,
preparing them for what I think are two types of initiation.
The first is when they are initiated on their own, similar to the simulation we saw previously.
The second when they are initiated as a group.’
Helena got up from her chair to face Andrew and the priest.
‘The next big question is why are they doing this and what are their aims?
There must be some sort of payback for all this effort and expense, including resorting to murder.’
The priest also stood up, stretching his legs.
‘The reason they’re doing this is the same reason they performed their Pagan rituals thousands of years ago.
They wish to spread their immorality and their belief in false gods in contradiction to the Christian teachings.
The Church Fathers such as Epiphanius described some of those practices in detail.
I didn’t want to expose you to this, but I’m afraid I must, to make you understand the sort of depravity involved.’
Helena looked intrigued. ‘What sort of things did they do Father?’
The priest continued. ‘Well, Epiphanius described scenes of gluttony and sexual liberty, where men would share their wives at orgies.
Where they would offer up the male semen and female menstrual blood to God.
Often making a dish from the mixture and consuming it.
Childbearing was to be avoided.
If pregnancy followed, the infant embryo was forcibly removed and consumed, after being torn apart and duly prepared.
So God knows what images and sounds are being fed to those poor people on the Internet under the influence of drugs.’
‘So what they’re doing now is similar to what they did thousands of years ago but this time with the aid of technology?’ Helena put to the priest.
‘Yes, I think that’s exactly what’s happening,’ he agreed.
‘Good, because we’ve got a meeting with my old professor, who’s an expert in Pagan and Gnostic cults, in half an hour.
If he can explain what happened in the past, it may offer a clue to their aims in the future.’
Andrew shut down the computer and closed the App.
‘Where are we meeting him?’
‘At the university just around the corner.
Are you coming too Father?’ Helena asked.
‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world,’ the priest replied.
Anthony Lykourgos knew it was just a matter of time before his superior, Chief Inspector Yiorghos Larentzakis,
would call him in to report on the progress of his investigations into the discovery of the four dead bodies at Eleusis.
That time had arrived.
This was a high profile case and he had no answers.
His experience had normally enabled him to quickly find some morsel that would keep the Chief off his back long enough for him to
discover something more tangible – but not in this case.
For a start, he didn’t even know the identities of the victims.
For goodness sake, they were dressed completely like ancient Greeks, two and a half thousand years ago.
Not a trace of everyday modern life: no driving license, no passport, no id cards, nothing.
And the post mortem, the results had generated more questions than answers.
What was it that Aristarhos had finally suggested?
That they were performing an ancient ritual in every detail down to the clothes and type of drugs they took.
If he could find out more of what was involved in this ritual then he would be closer to determining the cause of death.
How would that sound to the Chief Inspector?
Anthony tapped on the door.
‘Come in,’ boomed the deep voice of Chief Inspector Yiorghos Larentzakis.
Anthony turned the handle and looked round the door to see the Chief staring intently at the contents of an open folder
laid out before him on his desk.
‘Take a seat,’ he said, gesturing, without lifting his head.
Anthony moved to the seat in front of the desk and sat down, while the Chief flicked through the document.
The tanned balding head, on top of the short stocky body, moved from side to side as he scanned the pages.
Abruptly he closed the file and lifted his head.
‘How are things on the first day of the World Peace and Anti-Terrorist Summit? Any trouble with protestors?’
‘No. What little crowds that have gathered are being kept well back from the conference area.’
‘What about the threats made on video by the terrorist leader, are you taking them seriously?’
‘Of course. There’s a no fly zone over the conference area and security on the ground is tight with only screened authorized personnel allowed entry.’
‘Good. Now how are you getting on with the Eleusis case?’
Anthony took a deep breath. ‘Well –‘
‘Not making much progress I hear,’ he interrupted.
How did he know? Anthony thought to himself.
‘This unusual case has attracted a lot of attention, especially with it’s proximity to the estate where the world leaders will be attending a
banquet in four days time.
My superiors are asking questions, so I’ve decided to keep up to date with all the latest developments.
I’ve received copies of the post mortem examinations and the results of the blood tests.
They make interesting reading don’t you think?’
‘Yes, but no conclusions as to the cause of death,’ Anthony replied.
‘Correct. Do you have any clues as to the identity of the bodies?’
‘No, there was no id on them and fingerprint and photo identification haven’t come up with any matches so far.’
‘No-one. They were found already dead by the caretaker in the morning. He saw or heard nothing.’
The Chief Inspector leaned back in his padded high back chair, hands behind his head
‘It doesn’t look promising, does it, Inspector?’
Andrew shifted uncomfortably in his wooden chair.
‘No, it doesn’t.’
The Chief Inspector hesitated for a second, then leaned forward, picked up the file in front of him and passed it to Andrew.
‘I’ve got another assignment for you.’
Anthony groaned. ‘What on top of all this?’
‘Once you look at the file, you may find it less of a chore and more of a help.’
Anthony opened the file and looked at the first page.
‘A murder case in Switzerland!’ he exclaimed.
‘Three possible murder cases, to be precise. We’ve been contacted by the Swiss police who believe a murderer has arrived in Athens,
accompanied by his Greek girl friend.’
‘But what’s that got to do with me?’
‘A Swiss Police Inspector, who can identify them, will be arriving in Athens tomorrow morning. I want you to meet her at the airport.’
‘She’s a woman?’
‘Well, a “she” normally is a woman.’
‘Oh, you know what I mean. This is the last thing I need right now.
To baby-sit a woman when my hands are already full.’
The Chief Inspector leaned forward.
‘Look, at the moment you’ve no leads and when I heard about this Swiss request, I thought it was an unnecessary burden on us as well.
Until, that is, I read the post mortem report on one of the murders, a Swiss priest. You’ll find it at the back of the file.’
Anthony quickly flicked through the pages stopping at the report. Muttering to himself he scanned the page.
‘Body found washed up on shore. Lungs contained water… Did not die as result of drowning…’
He then fell silent for a few seconds as he read the next section, then looked up at the Chief Inspector.
‘This body had the same strange loss of parts of the internal organs! And there were traces of the soma drug!’
He looked down again quickly scanning the remainder of the document.
‘But no trace of the neuroleptic, Librium, found in our bodies.’
The Chief Inspector added. ‘Also, the priest’s face was contorted as if in agony, whereas our bodies looked almost happy to be dead.
The differences are almost as significant as the similarities, don’t you think?’
Andrew placed the file on the desk.
‘Yes. I’ll pass it on to Aristarhos. He can compare this report with ours in detail.
It’s definitely worth following up as Aristarhos was adamant that the partially missing organs condition was unique in his experience, and then suddenly another similar case pops up, together with the soma drug!’
The Chief Inspector leaned back in his chair and smiled.
‘Good. Her name is Monika Weiss and she arrives with the full case file tomorrow morning at nine o’clock, flying from Zurich.
I want you to look after her.
Find her suitable accommodation, we don’t know how long she may be here.
Remember, she has our only lead, so collaborate fully with her.’
Andrew stood up and started towards the door.
‘Don’t worry, if this can provide the breakthrough I’ve been looking for, I’ll grab it with both hands.’
Closing the door behind him he breathed a deep sigh of relief.
That was close, he thought, somebody must be watching over me.
‘Helena my dear how nice to see you after all this time.
How is my star pupil?’
‘Fine thank you Professor Zarganis, how are you keeping?’
‘Not bad for someone my age, seventy-one at the last count.
I still regularly jog up your favourite hill, Likavittos, next to your mother and father’s house.
But forgive me, who are your friends?
Please introduce us.’
‘Yes you’re right Professor.
This is Andrew Jamieson, my work mate and friend.
And this is Father Angeletti, someone who has recently befriended and helped us.’
Are you in trouble?
Excuse me, please take a seat.’
Helena sat immediately opposite Professor Zarganis in front of the huge wooden mahogany desk that separated them,
while Andrew and Father Angeletti sat on comfortable leather chairs on either side of her.
Andrew quickly surveyed the walls around him.
No software technical books as he usually surrounded himself with, but a wide variety of titles.
The words philosophy, testament, religion and particularly Gnostic seemed to encircle Andrew in a room decorated not by wallpaper,
but by books, their titles proclaiming themselves from groaning shelves which rose in tiers to touch the corniced ceiling on all
four sides of the room.
This was relieved only by the door behind him and the large window in front of which sat the tall, thin and slightly stooping figure
of Professor Zarganis.
‘It’s a pleasure to meet you gentlemen, especially in the company of someone whom I always thought of as my natural successor,
but who I’m afraid was attracted, or maybe temporally diverted by the allure of modern technology.
Is that not so, Helena?’
She sounded almost apologetic.
‘I just wanted a break after all those years of studying philosophy, and the course in software seemed to be an ideal alternative.
Something completely different to complement my previous studies.
Then the travel that came with being a software contractor was refreshing with the change of scenery, making me appreciate Athens even more,
each time I returned.’
The professor leaned back and smiled.
‘You seemed to have returned this time more radiant than ever.
Has it something to do with this young man perhaps?’
Helena blushed slightly.
The professor leaned forward and held Helena’s hand.
‘I’m sorry I’ve made you blush. I couldn’t resist it.
But you haven’t come here with your friends just to explain why you didn’t do your PhD in philosophy, have you, my dear?’
‘No, professor, we’re actually here to make use of your extensive knowledge of Pagan rituals,
in particular that held at Eleusis and whatever you may know of the Gnostics.’
The professor furrowed his brow.
‘That’s an interesting selection, and quite specific.
Why those subjects?
And what in particular would you like to know about them?’
Helena turned and looked at Andrew and the priest.
‘I think we have to tell the professor everything that’s happened.
I trust him completely, and it may help him to explain the connection between our recent incidents and the ancient Pagans and Gnostics.’
Andrew and the priest both nodded in agreement.
Helena returned her gaze to the professor, and explained as much as she could recall of the previous two days plus the death
of the priest several months ago.
The professor, who had been leaning forward, listening intently to Helena’s story, now sat back in his chair and exhaled deeply.
‘Well my dear, it’s no wonder you look a changed woman, after all those experiences, especially when your life was in danger.
And you think those people are still after you?’
‘Yes, professor, and the police may also be looking for us, that’s why we came here, to see if you could shed any light on who
those people are and the significance of the ceremony held at Eleusis.
We have to expose them and clear Andrew’s name.’
The professor stared at the symbols on the phone Andrew had handed to him.
‘The people who are after you definitely have Pagan connections and possibly Gnostic ones too,’ he replied.
‘The use of the Leviathan serpent indicates this.
Plus the writing in the center is in Greek and says, “Hen to pan” or “One is the all”.
The dark upper part of the serpent biting it’s own tail represents the Earth and the light speckled lower part, the starry heaven.
The whole is an ancient symbol for the cycle of eternal becoming, which Gnostics also used to represent the cosmos.
The Ophite Gnostics in their diagram of the cosmos used the Leviathan to separate the material part of the universe from
paradise and the kingdom of God.’
Father Angeletti nodded in agreement.
‘Yes, professor, I explained to Andrew and Helena how the early Church Father Epiphanius exposed these evil cults and their degenerate practices.’
Professor Zarganis turned to the priest and smiled.
‘It’s funny how the descriptions of those so called “degenerate practices”, are related only by the Church Fathers,
in whose interest it was to discredit their Gnostic rivals.’
‘But we cannot disbelieve what the founding fathers of our church have said!’ exclaimed Father Angeletti.
‘If I’m to help you, I have to be objective, and relate what is now commonly accepted on this subject.
Some of the things said by Epiphanius belong to the realm of perverted phantasy, particularly his description of the ritual
consumption of infant embryos.
There’s no mention of this anywhere in the Gnostic scrolls found at Nag Hammadi.’
The priest held up his hands and started, ‘but –‘
‘You must let me recount the facts,’ the professor interrupted, ‘as modern scholars now see them, or there’s no point in continuing this discussion.’
Helena turned to Father Angeletti.
‘Please Father, we desperately need Professor Zarganis’s help.’
‘Oh, if you must,’ the priest replied grudgingly.
Professor Zarganis continued.
‘Thank you. Now before I go into detail about Eleusis and the Gnostics, I think it would be best to go back in time a bit to explain
how the Pagans and their rituals evolved.’
‘Whatever you think would be best professor.’
‘OK. Now the ritual, which took place at Eleusis, was known as a Pagan Mystery, which had its origins in Egypt.
Around 670 BCE, Pythagoras traveled there and became an initiate of the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, which were based on the death
and resurrection of Osiris whom the Egyptians believed was both god and man or godman.
When Pythagoras returned to Greece, his followers on hearing of this, created their own Mystery and they chose as their godman,
the wine god, Dionysus.
What the Greeks did, was common to other Mediterranean cultures who also adopted the Mystery religion.
Each selected one of their own gods and made it the dying and resurrecting godman in their Mysteries ritual.
Egypt had Osiris, Greece had Dionysus, in Persia they chose Mithras, Italy had Bacchus, Asia Minor had Attis and so on.
OK so far?’
‘Yes,’ Andrew answered.
‘You’re saying that all the Pagan Mysteries were basically enactments of the myth of a dying and resurrecting godman.
But this dying and resurrecting sounds familiar.
Isn’t that what happened to Jesus much later on, only this time it wasn’t a myth but a true story?’
‘Your right, my son,’ Father Angeletti interrupted.
‘All of those previous myths were a copy of the story of Jesus’ later resurrection.’
‘But how can they be a copy of something which hadn’t happened yet?’ Andrew asked, looking bewildered.
‘Because of the Devil,’ the priest announced triumphantly.
‘Long before it happened, the Devil knew that Jesus would come to Earth where he would die and be resurrected.
So he copied the true story of Jesus and created the Pagan Mysteries before Jesus was born, such that the gullible would believe
the Jesus story to be a copy of the earlier Pagan myths.’
Professor Zarganis held his hands up.
‘That’s the most absurd argument I’ve ever heard!’
‘But it’s true,’ insisted Father Angeletti.
‘The Church Fathers themselves have said so!’
‘The Church Fathers!’ the professor exclaimed.
‘You keep quoting them, when they were just a collection of early Christian apologists and religious philosophers elevated
to the status of so called “Church Fathers” by Catholic theology.
They were blatantly biased.
We can’t take as historical fact everything they say, especially when they come out with ridiculous statements such as this Devil’s copy cat theory.’
The priest jumped to his feet.
‘This is outrageous.
You cannot say such things about the founders of the Catholic Church.
You’re literally accusing them of being liars.
The next thing you’ll be saying is that Jesus didn’t exist at all, that he was just a myth like your Pagan Mysteries!’
The professor looked up at him and spoke calmly.
‘What physical proof do we have of Jesus?
‘What!’ the priest exploded.
‘I’m not staying here to listen to this heresy.
I’m sorry Andrew and Helena I have to go.
I’ll be at St. Denis Cathedral if you need to contact me.’
He then turned, and without looking back left the room, slamming the door behind him.
Inspector Yuri Kharine stared at the chessboard, and then over at the rising pile of cases in his infile tray, then quickly switched back to the chessboard.
Thank God for chess. Without it I’d go mad, he thought to himself, a smile forming as he made his move.
The knock on the door made him look up, his smile now a beaming grin as he leaned back in his chair.
‘Come in Georgi, you’re just in time to make your move.’
The small figure of the city pathologist closed the door behind him, as he made straight for the chessboard.
‘At last,’ he said, staring intently at the board. ‘You’ve made your move.
Just as well we don’t play strictly by the rules and time our moves or you would have been disqualified a long time ago.’
Yuri shrugged his shoulders.
‘You know that’s not why we play our game.
It’s a source of pleasure and a haven from the intolerable pressures of our workloads.
If we timed ourselves it would defeat the purpose.’
Georgi knew the Inspector was right but he had to make some excuse, because as soon as he saw the smile on Yuri’s
face he suspected the worse and a quick glance at the board had confirmed this.
‘That was quite a move you made, Yuri, I never saw it coming, it’s taken me somewhat by surprise.’
Yuri sighed, the smile disappearing from his face.
‘Yes, Georgi, chess seems to reflect real life sometimes and throws up surprises when you least expect them.’
Georgi sat down, and stared at his friend.
‘You sound a little too philosophical, Yuri, when you should be gloating over the corner you’ve put me in. Is something bothering you?’
Yuri raised his hands. ‘Ah, it’s nothing. Only the usual story.
When you’re just starting to get into one case, another lands on your desk.’
Georgi looked surprised.
‘You’ve not been taken off the case of that grotesquely distorted body found yesterday, have you?
I’ve just received the results of the toxicology report, and it makes quite interesting reading.’
‘No, that’s just the point.
I’ve to continue that investigation, but on top of that they’ve given me another case which is equally important.
I’m no juggler.
How can I concentrate on one case without the other one suffering.’
Georgi looked sympathetically at his friend.
‘Look, let’s take one case at a time.
First, let me tell you the results of the toxicology report.
And after we’ve discussed that you can tell me about your new case, maybe I can help with that one too.’
Yuri leaned back in his chair and let out a deep sigh.
‘Your right of course.
One case at a time.
Make a bit of headway in one, and then switch to the other.
Keep them both progressing.
That should keep upstairs happy.’
With renewed vigour, Yuri sat upright in his chair.
‘Right! What have you got on that poor creature in your mortuary?’
Georgi opened the file before him.
‘Although I said the results were interesting, I’m not sure what light it will shed on the mysterious facts of this case.
But maybe it will make sense to you.’
Yuri’s shoulders slumped slightly at this introduction.
‘OK then, what does it say?
‘Well, my suspicions were right. There was the presence of a hallucinogenic drug in the body.
The actual drug was mycoatropine, a form of psychotonic poisoning.’
Yuri smiled at this.
‘Poisoned. That’s good news, we have our cause of death then?’
‘Not exactly, Yuri.
The concentrations were not sufficient in this case to be the cause of death.’
‘Well what was the cause then?’
‘I think it was a combination of things.
The marks around his head indicate he was wearing some kind of headpiece, just before his death.
This almost certainly administered the drug.
But it may have also presented something else to him.
Something so horrific, that combined with the drug produced the grotesque effects that we saw on his body.’
‘Do you think it may have input other drugs somehow into him that we haven’t detected yet?’
‘No, there are no other drugs involved.
The only other things that could have been presented to him, possibly by the headpiece, are visual and audio inputs.’
‘What, you think pictures and sounds killed him! God, they’ll like that one upstairs.’
‘No, not quite. There were also traces of a substance normally used to attach Pads to the skull to enable
electrical signals to be efficiently read from or administered to the brain.
After a bit of investigation this could mean one of two things, reading signals through ECG or applying current through tDCS,
short for transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.’
So, specifically a combination of all these inputs, and possibly more all presented through the headpiece,
may have been so horrific as to induce the effects we saw on his body.’
‘Well, I suppose that’s some sort of lead. But it sounds incredible. Is this even possible?’
‘We just have to find this headpiece and we have our cause of death.’
Georgi shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
‘There is one thing that’s totally inexplicable so far, though.’
‘And what’s that then?’ Yuri asked, fearing the answer.
‘The missing parts of his internal organs.’
‘God, I forgot about that,’ he mused as he put his hands behind his head and tipped backwards in his seat.
‘Right, we’ll leave that for the moment.
We have our first lead and that’s just what we need before we can look at the next case.’
Leaning forward he scribbled a few notes in his casebook and then closed the folder, putting it to one side.
Georgi looked relieved at his friend’s positive attitude.
‘Good, now you can tell me about your new case, maybe I can help there as well.’
Yuri moved his head over to his friend and beckoned him to come closer.
In a low deliberate voice, as if not wanting to be overheard, he started.
‘I‘m not sure I should be telling you this, but I know if I ask you not to repeat it to anyone, you won’t.’
‘Definitely,’ Georgi reassured him. ‘Whatever you tell me remains a secret.’
‘Good. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of something called a SADE device. Have you?’
Georgi thought hard for a few seconds.
‘SADE. No, I don’t think I’ve heard of such a device. In what context is it used?
Is it used in police work or for medical purposes?’
‘No.’ Yuri replied emphatically.
‘In fact its just the opposite. Its used by the military.’
Georgi shook his head.
‘Military. Then no, that’s not in my sphere of interests.
So I’m sure I’ve never heard of this device.’
‘You’re just like me then Georgi.
Until today I too had never heard of this device and until the breakup of the Soviet Union not many other people also would have been familiar with it.’
Georgi’s curiosity was mounting.
‘Well what is it used for then?’
Yuri smiled at him.
‘Patience, I’ll get to that in a moment.
Suffice to say that it’s small enough to be carried about in a suitcase and at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union, there were about fifty of them in existence.
That was then, but recently due to the threat of international terrorist organizations a crackdown was made in security and there was an audit of the SADE devices.
The authorities in Moscow were then horrified to find out that only thirty of the devices could be accounted for.
Twenty were missing.’
‘Who had them, then?’ Georgi asked impatiently.
‘That was the problem, even after intensive investigations, there were no clues as to their whereabouts, until now that is.’
‘Why, what happened?’
‘The Chief Inspector called me to his office this morning and told me that he had received information that at least two of the missing devices were in
Kaliningrad and about to be passed on to terrorists in exchange for a large sum of money.’
‘Why did he pick you to tell this to?’
‘Because of the name of the person who was about to sell them.’
‘Rostov!’ Georgi exclaimed.
‘Yes your right, my old friend Peter Rostov, the arms dealer that I’ve had so many runs in with.
That’s why the Chief picked me.’
‘Have you managed to find out anything yet?’
‘Yes, this afternoon I went round with a team to Rostov’s usual haunts.
We found him in a warehouse down at the docks.’
‘Did he have the devices?’
‘No, we were too late.
Rostov said nothing but a search of the warehouse found indications that the devices had already been passed on to the terrorists and a large sum of money paid to Rostov which we found in a hidden safe along with other documents.
It seems that part of the deal was that Rostov would be told where the devices would be taken, so that he could avoid
that area when they were used.’
‘What on earth were those devices for then and where were they being taken?’
‘Well the word SADE stands for Small Atomic Detonation Emissions and they were being taken to Greece.’
‘Jesus!’ Georgi gasped.
They’re not what I think they are? Are they?’
‘Yes I’m afraid so.
They’re nuclear bombs with the same explosive effect as the one dropped at Nagasaki and they’re headed for Greece.
But as a precaution , a battalion of Missiles have been deployed to Kaliningrad.
And in addittion, due to this information, Greek border controls have been massively stepped up to catch the terrorists
who have those lethal weapons.
All nation states had quickly responded with a build up of border defences in their own countries.
Georgi, in the Grand scheme of things, all sides have now become involved.
Whether by design or fate, the world is now effectively at War!’
Helena turned to Professor Zarganis.
‘Up to your old tricks again professor?
You knew he would react like that, didn’t you?’
‘They always do,’ he replied with a mischievous smile forming on his lips.
‘When faced with facts that conflict with their blind dogma, people like that always respond in the same way with accusations of heresy, blasphemy and anger.
Thank goodness it’s the twenty-first century or else he would have had me burnt at the stake.
We couldn’t have had a sensible discussion with him around, so its better that he’s gone.
Now where was I?’
‘I think you were hinting that Jesus wasn’t actually alive but instead a myth.
Just another Mystery story of the dying and resurrecting godman,’ Andrew offered.
‘Yes,’ replied the professor, ‘but not just another Mystery story, instead, the greatest Mystery story.’
‘But which Mediterranean culture created this Mystery story?’ Helena asked.
‘Good question Helena.
Exactly who and in what region we’re not sure of yet, but it’s thought that this time it was the Jews who adopted the Pagan Mysteries of the dying and resurrecting godman and fused it with their religion of Judaism.’
‘And where did they get their godman from?’ Andrew asked eagerly.
‘The only place they could, from the Old Testament.
Here it mentions that a Messiah will come to save the Jewish people.
And that’s who they picked as their godman, the Messiah.’
‘Why give him the name of Jesus Christ though?’ Helena inquired.
‘It was commonly thought by the Jews that their Messiah would be called Joshua which is “Jesus” in Greek.
And the Hebrew word Messiah is “Christ” in Greek.
Hence Jesus Christ.’
‘Wow!’ Andrew exclaimed.
‘It’s just as well Father Angeletti left.
If he heard you actually saying Jesus was just a myth and that he never really existed, he would definitely have had you burnt at the stake!’
‘I know,’ Professor Zarganis agreed.
‘The priest and any one of the hundreds of millions of Christians throughout the world would react in exactly the same way before I could explain any further.
Like I said, this was not just any myth, but a very special and unique Mystery because it was then made to look as if it had actually happened to make it more appealing to other Jews.
The fact was though, even through Paul’s efforts, it didn’t catch on widely with the Jews, instead, ironically it was Pagans such as the Greeks who liked this mix of the eternal myth of the resurrecting godman and the ancient religion of Judaism.’
At this, Professor Zarganis pushed back his chair, stood up and went over to a large white pad resting on a tripod next to his desk.
With a thick black marker pen he drew a large circle and another smaller one inside it.
Pointing at the outer circle he continued.
‘The Jesus story now existed in two levels.
The outer level was that of the gentle and redeeming story of the historical figure of Jesus Christ.
All talk of saving nations through military and political actions as in earlier Jewish traditions was replaced by the salvation of each person’s spirit through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
This was an attractive story made all the more appealing by the apparent fact that the Son of God had actually come down from heaven and walked the Earth not that long ago.
This outer level of the historical Jesus story also attracted many non-Jews or Gentiles, some of whom would be initiated into the inner level of the Mystery to experience the Knowledge of Truth or Gnosis when their understanding had increased sufficiently.’
Professor Zarganis now pointed to the black inner circle on the white pad.
‘Here they were taught the real meaning of the Jesus story by the masters of the Gnosis, of the eternal mystical truths encoded in its words.
This then was the full extent and depth of the real Christianity preached by the early Gnostic Christians.’
‘Ah,’ Andrew said.
‘I was wondering when you would mention them.
Now we know the link between Eleusis and the Gnostics.
But Helena said that other Christians persecuted them out of existence.
Who were these other Christians and why did they do it?’
The professor looked at Andrew, admiring his eagerness to know more.
‘The problem arose when the Gnostic Christians became dispersed throughout the Roman Empire especially to the west as slaves or refugees.
Most of them would just have been at the outer level of the Jesus Mystery and being cut off from the masters of the Gnosis would know nothing of the inner level.
These Christians in Rome now literally believed everything in the Jesus story as historical fact.’
‘Where were the masters of the inner level who could help them be complete Christians?’ Helena asked.
‘They were back at Alexandria where true Gnostic Christianity was flourishing.
In fact some of the masters traveled to Rome in an attempt to initiate the Literalist Christians, but they weren’t welcomed.
The Literalist bishops didn’t like the idea of some foreigners trying to steal their followers with the lure of initiation into some mysterious inner level.
And they resented being told that their form of Christianity was incomplete, an outer level with no real content.
The Literalists were also more authoritarian in their outlook, demanding their followers to blindly believe in every word of the Jesus story as fact or else their souls would be damned.
The Gnostics on the other hand encouraged open discussion on the true meaning of the Jesus story, resulting in inner truths being constantly revised and new ones discovered and added to their texts.
So at the end of the second century we now had two opposing camps.
The incomplete autocratic Literalist Christians in Rome and the liberal complete Gnostic Christians situated around the eastern Mediterranean.’
‘Who were the most powerful at this time?’ Helena asked.
‘The most wide spread at this time were actually the Gnostic Christians, with the Literalists a small emerging school mainly confined to the area around Rome.’ The professor replied.
Helena looked surprised.
‘So how did the Literalists eventually manage to be the winners in the battle for Christianity?’
‘They were authoritarian and autocratic just like the Romans and continually attacked the Gnostics through the writings of the so-called “Church Fathers” such as Eusebius to the point where Literalist Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century under the Emperor Constantine.’
Andrew let out a sigh.
‘So the winners were the Literalists and all the accumulated inner knowledge of the Pagans and Gnostic Christians was lost?’
‘That’s about it,’ said the professor as he went back to his chair.
‘Although Gnosticism did continue periodically under different guises, such as the Bogomils and the Cathars who were also the subject of bloody persecutions by the Catholic Church.
In one case two hundred and five Cathars, men women and children were burnt to death on a large wooden communal funeral pyre at Montsegur in France.’
A look of shock spread across Helena’s face.
How could they be so cruel to innocent people just practicing their faith?’
The professor leaned back in his chair.
‘Oh, very easily.
It’s built into their religion.
The Catholic Church is literalist, which means that they believe their religion to be the one and only true faith.
Any other teaching must therefore be false which puts them into direct confrontation with other religions.
It’s not just the Catholic Church though.
Any literalist religion thinks it’s self to be the true faith, intolerant of others.
This has resulted in the bloody wars and conflict as witnessed over the last two thousand years.
Even now we see the effects of intolerant literalist religions, with the growing tensions in regions throughout the world and endless bigotry.
I believe this will get worse unless the inner truths of Gnosticism are somehow restored to the religions of the world.’
‘Are there any Gnostics around at the moment who could do this?’ Andrew asked.
‘No, there’s only the Mandeans, a small community of around fifteen thousand in southern Iraq who’ve enough problems trying to preserve their own customs without trying to influence the major religions of the world with Gnosticism.
They’re the only Gnostic sect to have survived to the present day.
Or so I thought up till now.
From what you and Helena have told me it sounds as if there’s another group of Gnostics who for some reason want to keep their presence secret.’
‘They certainly do, so much that they would resort to murder, which doesn’t sound like something one of your Christian Gnostics would contemplate.’
The professor leaned forward.
‘Although Gnostics themselves would never kill anyone, they would hire others to do so, people who hadn’t been initiated or Hylics as they were known.
The other thing about this secret organization is that they seem to have evolved and fused the Gnostic inner teachings with modern values and technology.
The modern term for this is Transhumanisim, which is something I would have thought was contradictory.’
‘What do you mean?’ Helena asked.
‘Well, at the basis of Gnosticism is the idea of the dualism of spirit and body.
They believe that it was an evil god called the Demiurge who created this world and all material things.
The true God placed a divine spark in mankind, which the Gnostics believe is the only good thing in this dark and evil kingdom.
The true Gnostic rejects all things of this world and wants to return the divine spark back to its origin in communion with God.
But this organization seems to have embraced the material world and modern values, by setting up powerful corporations and utilizing technology to further their aim of reuniting with God.
To me this sounds like a corruption of the original Gnostic ideals and it’s just as bad as the literalist religions who are incomplete manipulated versions of the early teachings.
These Gnostics would be no use to us at all in trying to re-introduce Gnosticism into world religions and people’s consciousnesses.
In fact, as you already have seen they’re more of a danger and a threat to us.’
‘Yes professor, and from all the indications, whatever it is they’re going to do, they’re going to do it pretty soon.’ Andrew added.
Professor Zarganis lifted his hands and let out a sigh.
‘Well, it looks as if the Demiurge will get his way soon after all.
I should have guessed this.
All the signs have been there,Transhumanisim, inhuman acts and the fact that they are preparing to finally execute their plans, confirms it.’
‘Confirms what?’ Andrew asked, pulling his chair closer to the professor’s desk.
'These people, although appear Gnostic, are in fact a fusion of beliefs that evolved from the beginning of man's time on Earth.'
'To them, the Demiurge is known as Satan!'
Andrew and Helena collectively gasped!.
'Yes', Professor Zarganis continued.
'One more layer of the truth has been revealed to you, and there are more,much more,before we reach the rotten core.'
'Suffice to say at the moment, is that this belief system is carried on through the centuries by select bloodlines.'
‘But,before I continue, I have to ask you both something.’
Helena also pulled her chair closer.
‘What is it professor?’
‘Helena, I know you’re Orthodox Greek, and are receptive to new ideas.
If I reveal something to you will you promise not to tell anyone?’
‘Of course professor.’
The professor smiled then turned to Andrew.
‘Andrew what is your religion?’
He sounded surprised at this question.
‘I suppose I’m a Protestant, but I haven’t been to church since I was ten or eleven, except of course for weddings and funerals. Why do you ask?’
‘Just to confirm what I already thought, that you too seem open to new ideas.
The enthusiasm you showed while I explained about Paganism and Gnostics was quite obvious.
Again I have to ask if you also would not reveal what I’m about to tell you?’
‘Of course professor, if that’s what you want.’
‘Good, now the reason I’m telling you this is because of the extreme seriousness of our situation.
When I say “our”, I don’t just mean us, I mean everybody, or to be more precise everybody’s soul.’
‘God created the harmonious Earth, in contrast to other planets such as Venus.
Everything was calculated, our Sun,our Moon and our precise distance from them.
The laws of physics, the Cosmic Constant, were created to the nth degree by design.
This harmonious environment flourished, with every creature, plant and generous atmosphere serving God's plan.
But what is the point of creating such beauty if it could not explored, understood and appreciated by an intelligance who could give God a thanks,
for which he craved.
This void in God was filled by his creation of a Man and a Woman, with all the qualities he desired to live in harmony and appreciate this unique world.
But where there was light there was a creeping darkness, the Demiurge and his Archons, creations of the opposite of God.
They created imitations of God's perfect human form.
Installed hate, envy, murderous thoughts and brought disharmony.
Their imitations populated the earth.’
To explain this I have to admit that I wasn’t quite as truthful as I should have been when previously I mentioned that the Mandeans were the last surviving Gnostic sect.
In addition to the Gnostics you have come across, there is one other surviving sect.’
‘Of which I am a member.’
The look on Helena’s face was a mixture of surprise and shock.
‘But, you can’t be professor. I’ve known you all my life. You’re Orthodox Greek and attend church regularly.’
‘I knew this would take you completely by surprise
I would have been disappointed if it hadn’t.
We take great care to conceal this Gnostic sect’s existence and our involvement with it.
Around two thousand years ago, there were many Gnostic settlements dotted around the Mediterranean.
But due to persecution by the Catholic Church, one by one they disappeared.
Our sect here in Greece, then knew that the only way to survive and continue developing our Gnostic values was to keep our true affiliation secret and lead apparently normal lives.
Conforming to local traditions.
If it meant going to the Orthodox Church then that’s what we would do.
But unknown to outsiders, we would regularly meet to discuss and revise our inner Mysteries, being careful to initiate only those who we could trust completely.
I had hoped eventually to add you to our flock one day Helena.’
‘Me!’ she exclaimed.
‘Yes,’ the professor replied.
‘You had all the qualities we considered suitable for joining our sect: intelligence, receptive to new ideas and trustworthy.
I’m sure you would have contributed greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the inner truths of our sacred texts.’
Helena was intrigued by this announcement.
‘Are you just like the Christian Gnostics who followed the Jesus Story then?’
Our outer level is the story of Jesus, with inner levels that interpret the allegorical meanings and perennial truths of the story.
It’s this inner level that’s missing from the literalist religions and makes them confrontational with each other.
It was our hope to one day introduce this to the literalist faiths and bring them closer together.
But now I fear it may be too late.’
‘You mentioned the Demiurge earlier, has this got something to do with him?’ Andrew inquired.
‘Very perceptive Andrew.
It most definitely has. As I said earlier, our sect has constantly examined the Jesus Story for it’s real meaning over the last two millennia.
But the big breakthrough was the discovery at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Gnostic scrolls,wrtten in Coptic were discovered in a jar.
This contained, particulary in one of the scrolls, The Gospel Of Thomas, with a particular Gnostic perspective of Jesus.
And recently, one of us, a bright young archeologist, proposed a theory, which we examined in every detail to verify its authenticity within the context of the Jesus Story.
After exhaustive checks we could find no fault with it and reached the conclusion that it must be correct.
It has now been added to our texts and after what you’ve told me it now assumes even more significance.
We have called it by two names, The Black Hole Of Souls and The Irreversible Descent Into Chaos.’
Andrew took a deep breath then exhaled slowly.
‘Jesus. If the titles are anything to go by, this doesn’t sound too promising.’
Professor Zarganis lifted himself out of his seat.
Quite so, and I think that rather than trying to explain this theory, it would be better to actually show you it.’
He then went over to a section of his bookcase and gently pushed one of the titles.
This revealed a group of books to be false, behind which lay a small safe.
Quickly he spun a small dial to enter the combination code and opened the safe door.
Carefully he pulled out a rolled up manuscript, tied with a thin red silk cloth.
Back at his seat he then untied the silk knot and spread the unrolled document before Andrew and Helena pinning it down with two ornate glass paperweights.
Leaning back in his chair, the professor gestured at the text.
‘Please take your time in reading this and I will answer any questions you have when you’re finished.’
Andrew and Helena pulled their chairs right up to the professor’s desk and started to read the manuscript before them.
In the beginning there was the one bright light of God containing the image of man and the one bleak darkness of the Demiurge containing the lowly material universe and the writhing misshapen copied form of man.
God heard the moans of this grotesque forgery of his perfect image of man and took pity.
He breathed into this worm like wriggling creature, a gift, a package containing two divine items, The Spark of Light and The Single Truth.
Immediately, the wailing creature was transformed with legs to stand and a mouth to speak.
The Single Truth
The Single Truth was that man, created by the Demiurge, must be dismembered so that he can be remembered and resurrected as The Spark of Light, which will return and re-unite with the one bright light of God.
But this material universe was created by the Demiurge including man and his nature.
The Demiurge had created man’s nature in such a way that man himself will corrupt The Single Truth in a way that would please the Demiurge.
The Corrupted Single Truth as the False Churches of Man
The corrupted Single Truth would manifest itself as False Churches created by man and become a tool to divide man and promote greed, hate, suspicion and ultimately chaos.
The Black Hole of Souls or The Irreversible Descent Into Chaos
The ones who knew and preserved The Single Truth also knew there was a limited time for them to implement The Single Truth and re-unite their Spark of Light with the one bright light of God.
For after that time the Demiurge’s plan would have reached fruition and mankind would be so full of hate and poisoned with suspicion of each other that this state of chaos would be irreversible and from that moment onwards all souls remaining in the universe of the Demiurge would be trapped there for eternity.
By the Demiurge’s own hand shall mankind be saved through the death and resurrection of the pure souls.
Andrew stood up while Helena continued to stare at the manuscript.
‘God, if that means what I think it does, then it goes a long way to explaining the actions of people throughout history.’
The professor looked up at him and smiled.
‘I think you may have missed your vocation, Andrew, if only you had chosen philosophy instead of technology, we may have been in a stronger position than we find ourselves in now.’
Helena at last looked up.
‘So the Churches are proclaiming a corruption of The Single Truth?’
‘Yes, in particular, the Literalist Churches, and this has produced the descent into chaos which the Demiurge had planned.
The closer we get to the point of no return, the more incidents of tension and violence will occur around the world.
But its not just man made disasters which will increase.
Natural catastrophes will also be more prevalent.
Such as the recent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Even the asteroid, which they say will narrowly miss us in four days time.
All are indications of the imminent arrival of The Black Hole of Souls, when we will be permanently cut off from God.’
Andrew and Helena looked visibly shocked at this revelation.
It was Andrew who recovered first to ask the inevitable question.
‘When will this happen professor?’
‘From all the indications… In four days time.’
‘Is there anything we can do?’ Helena asked hopefully.
Professor Zarganis pointed to the last few lines of the manuscript.
‘Well, the only hope seems to be here, in the prophecy section of the text.’
‘Do you have any idea what it means?’ Andrew asked in anticipation.
‘No, I’m afraid not.
But, if my Gnostic sect can decode the allegorical meaning of The Black Hole of Souls from the Bible, then there’s a good chance that this other sect has done so as well and they may be nearer a solution than us.
Plus the fact that they’re so interested in the Eleusis initiation ceremony, which, coincidentally, traditionally culminates in four days time.
We have to find out what they know, it’s our only chance.’
Helena shrugged her shoulders.
‘How can we do that, professor? Especially if they’re after us.’
Professor Zarganis paused for a moment, then exclaimed.
‘The priest! You said he had someone working undercover in the SPAK Corporation.
Ask him if he can find out anything that may help us.’
Andrew took the mobile phone with the SPAK App from his pocket.
‘We also have this.
We’ll go and see the priest tomorrow and try to hack into the SPAK web site, find out if we can get further than the last time we tried.’
Professor Zarganis stood up and went round his desk to Helena, putting his arm around her shoulder.
‘Good. You both try that tomorrow and I’ll see what I can achieve with the other members of my sect.
It’s getting late now. We’ll need all the rest we can get.
Go back to your hotel and contact me tomorrow to let me know your progress.
Here’s my mobile phone number.’
Helena stood in the doorway as she kissed the professor gently on the cheek.
‘Please take care professor, remember these other Gnostics aren’t like you, they’ve killed and will do so again to protect their interests.’
‘Don’t worry Helena I know how to look after myself,’ replied the professor as he turned to Andrew.
‘Look after her, she’s very precious to me.’
‘Me to,’ said Andrew as he took Helena’s hand and led her down the corridor away from the diminishing figure of the professor.
Back in the hotel foyer, Andrew and Helena were heading for the lift, when a voice from behind called.
‘Mr. Jamieson, I have a message for you.’
They both turned and saw the manager behind the desk, with his arm raised, holding a letter in his hand.
Andrew went over to the desk and opened the letter, his eyes widening as he quickly scanned the contents.
When Helena reached his side he turned and smiled broadly at her.
‘This could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for!
Father Angeletti says that one of his SPAK undercover agents has managed to obtain a SPAK headset!’
Helena beamed back at him.
‘That’s great news. With the headset we can now get further into the SPAK website.’
‘Exactly,’ Andrew replied. ‘We’ve to be at St. Denis’s Cathedral tomorrow at twelve o’clock when the headset arrives. I can’t wait.’
Athens International Airport
Anthony Lykourgos couldn’t prevent the small smile of satisfaction from forming on his face as he stood at the international arrivals gate holding a card
bearing the name of the Swiss Inspector whom he had been ordered to meet by his superior.
Things seemed to be progressing in the right direction.
The first day of the World Peace and Anti-Terrorist Summit had passed without any trouble and now he was meeting someone who could
at last provide him with a breakthrough in the Eleusis murders case.
What a difference from two days ago when nothing seemed to be going right. The burden of solving the murders case, which seemed to be going
nowhere and organizing the conference security in the face of terrorist threats, had become unbearable.
But that was in the past and now he was looking forward to meeting one of the reasons for his much-improved outlook in life.
He didn’t have much to go on, just a brief description of her.
Age, thirty-four, two years younger than him.
Five feet nine inches, quite tall. Slim with short blond hair.
He wondered if she was like him, single and married to the police force.
It had been his whole life, up till now. Two days ago, when he was under intense pressure, he suddenly felt alone in the world,
with no one to turn to and share his burden with. Maybe it was time to create a life for himself outside the police force before it was too late.
Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted as another group of travelers pushing their case laden trolleys before them, poured through the arrivals gate
to be greeted by waves and shouts from the waiting crowd who surged forward to meet them, leaving Anthony hidden at the rear.
Holding his card in front of him, Anthony pushed his way gently to the front of the rapidly dispersing mass, as one by one the waiting groups paired
with their expected arrivals, until there were just a few stragglers left, of which one in particular caught Anthony’s eye.
Then, there was just the two of them standing there, Anthony with his card held in front of him and her holding a small black suitcase
with a light over-coat draped over her arm.
Monika made the first move, extending her hand.
‘Inspector Lykourgos, Athens police?’
Anthony dropped the name card as he quickly rubbed the palm of his hand against the side of his light coloured jacket to remove any traces of
sweat before gently grasping her hand and shaking it.
‘Yes. Pleased to meet you. And you are Inspector Monika Weiss of the Swiss police?’
‘Yes, thanks for being so prompt in your reply to my request to come to Athens to track down my murder suspect.
When I received it yesterday, saying you would meet me first thing, it took me by surprise.
I barely had a chance to pack my things. But don’t worry, I’m not complaining, this is the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for over the last seven months.’
He was slightly taken aback at the pale delicateness of her skin, covering the fine sculptured features that proclaimed the most attractive smile he had ever seen.
Her short blond hair was unusual, with a side parting that had her constantly flicking a falling wave of hair from her eyes.
As he offered to take her case, he couldn’t help admiring her outline, slim and elegant in a figure hugging light blue jacket and skirt.
And to top it all, she seemed to have a pleasant personality.
Anthony had to suddenly check himself.
Why was he thinking like this?
This was serious police business, and here he was admiring a colleague in a way he had never done before.
It was as if he had just awakened from a dream where everything had centered around the police force and suddenly,
here he was feeling completely at ease with a stranger.
Composing himself he quickly put all those new thoughts and feelings to the back of his mind,
where he would later explore and try to understand them.
Anthony opened the car door, and beckoned Monika to enter.
‘No Miss Weiss, I should be thanking you.
This case of mine was going nowhere until I received your file with the details of the priest’s death and the similarities to my murder victims.
Now I feel I’ve got something concrete to follow up.’
As Anthony started the car and pulled away from the airport, Monika looked at her new colleague.
She had always been wrapped up in her police work, never finding any time to do much outside of that world.
Not even to travel far from Switzerland. Just Germany, as it was on the border with Kreuzlingen.
That was the extent of her travels.
Now, here she was in Greece, sitting next to a charming Mediterranean sun tanned policeman.
She had only known him for five minutes and already she felt at ease with him.
None of the antagonistic attitudes and rivalries she experienced with her colleagues back home.
For a change she was working with a man who wanted to help her and who also wanted her help.
For the first time in a long while she could feel her self relax with the prospect of the nightmare of the last seven months coming to an end,
replaced with a new hope of solving her mounting case load, here in Greece.
‘It looks as if working together will be mutually beneficial to both of us Inspector Lykourgos.
From what I’ve heard, both our cases were going nowhere, but now we have a common purpose, find Andrew Jamieson and his girlfriend Helena Miropolous.
They’re the key to solving both cases.’
Anthony nodded as he entered the outskirts of Athens.
‘Yes, two separate incidents.
One in Switzerland, the other in Greece but connected by the unique similarities in the way the victims died.
Plus the fact that the accomplice of your suspect is a Greek citizen who has returned to her hometown of Athens.
I think the first thing we should do after I take you to your hotel, is find out more about our Helena Miropolous at police headquarters
on the central computer system.’
‘Yes, I agree, if we find out her background, confirm where she lives, her usual haunts, we can keep a watch on them in hope of catching sight of her.’
Anthony glanced at Monika as he turned into Ermou, a main road in the center of Athens.
‘Do you think they suspect they’ve been trailed here to Athens, Inspector Weiss?’
‘Please Inspector, let’s not be so formal, just call me Monika.’
‘OK. Monika it is.’
‘But no, they could have escaped to any country, so I suspect they have no concrete reason to believe we know they’re here for certain.
Although the fact that Helena Miropolous is from Athens may make them cautious and take precautions to avoid contact with the local police.’
Anthony stopped the car and turned to Monika.
‘Well here we are.
The Hotel Plaka.
It’s got a good reputation and a lovely roof garden with a panoramic view.
As good a place as any to familiarize yourself with central Athens.
Let’s get you checked in and then we can decide our next move.’
Anthony carried Monika’s case as they both entered the reception area.
Signing in, Monika received her keys and turned to him.
‘I’m just going to dump my case in the hotel room and come straight back down.’
‘Don’t you want something to eat first, or freshen up after your journey?’
‘No I’m keen to get started, if you wait here I won’t be a moment.’
‘OK, if that’s what you want it suits me.’
Monika disappeared into the lift, while Anthony sunk into one of the large leather sofas in the lounge area.
Making himself comfortable he started to examine the new thoughts and feelings he had tucked away at the back of his mind earlier,
when he had first met Monika.
He could start to feel the beginnings of an impending divorce.
For all of his working life he had been married to the police force.
Of course there had been women, but the police force was a demanding marriage and his relationships didn’t last long.
Up until recently this hadn’t worried him, but after finding himself alone in his flat in the Veikou district two days ago
with the unbearable pressures from work and no one to turn to for comfort and share his burden, he knew it was time for a change.
What that change would be, he wasn’t quite sure.
But with Monika entering his life this morning, something had stirred in him making him more resolute than ever to make that change.
From her file, he noticed that she too wasn’t married.
Maybe she was just like him, wrapped up in her career, until now.
Looking at himself, he wished he had taken more care in his appearance.
His thick black hair could do with a trim and he should have had his light coloured suit cleaned.
He would put it into the cleaners tonight, he thought and pop into the hairdressers for a trim.
‘Ready?’ Monika’s voice broke into his daydream.
Anthony looked up to see Monika’s attractive smile directed at him and felt that stirring yet again deep inside him.
‘Yes, first stop, police headquarters,’ Anthony suggested as he expertly extricated himself from the comfort of his deep sofa and guided Monika to the exit.
Stepping into the bright sunlight, Anthony made for the car and opened the door for Monika.
‘Thank you Inspector. Are all the men so courteous to women here in Athens?’
‘Of course, it’s our tradition, it would be disrespectful not to be. And like you said, lets not be so formal, just call me Anthony.’
‘OK, Anthony. Where to now?’ Monika asked as they both settled in their seats.
‘Police Headquarters.’ Anthony replied as he pulled the car from its parking spot and joined the passing traffic.
‘This is your first time in Greece, I take it?’
‘This is my first time out of Switzerland, except for the odd cross over into Germany, actually.’
‘Well, let me be your guide.
The area we’re in at the moment, surrounding the Acropolis, is called the Plaka or Old Athens.
It’s like a village within a city and it’s my favourite spot with its tavernas, old houses and narrow winding streets.
If we have time I’d like to show you around, maybe even take you to my favourite taverna for a meal.’
‘Thank you Anthony. I’d like that very much,’ she said, enjoying the attention this charming man was giving her.
What a difference from the hostile attitudes of her male colleagues back home, she thought as she stared up admiringly at the Parthenon, high above her.
‘As you’ll probably know, that’s the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis.’ Anthony offered, noticing her looking up at it.
‘Yes, I’m afraid that’s the full extent of my knowledge of Athens. I’d love to have the time to find out more about it but I suppose our priority is finding our suspects.
Maybe after we’ve solved our cases.’
‘Yes, speaking of which, this is Athens Police Headquarters,’ Anthony said, as he drove the car into the compound and stopped in a spare parking slot.
Leading her into the building, he signed her in as a visitor and pinned a pass to her lapel. He then guided her through the maze of corridors to his office,
where before entering, he introduced her to his admiring colleagues.
Shutting the door behind them, he pulled up a chair for Monika as they both sat in front of the computer terminal on his desk.
‘Right, what was her name? Helen Miropolous was it?’
‘No, its Helena.’ Monika answered as she opened the file in front of her.
‘This is all the details which the SPAK Corporation had on her when she applied for a job with them.
And that’s the Athens home address she gave.’
‘Hmm, she lives in the Veikou district,’ Anthony noticed, as he entered her details into the computer.
‘That’s where I live.’
Anthony leaned back in his chair as the computer responded to his query by filling the screen with Helena’s details.
‘Yes that’s where she lives all right.’
‘Graduate of Athens University in philosophy.’
‘Parents … Jesus!’ Anthony exclaimed as he leaned closer to the screen, peering at the details.
‘What is it?’ Monika asked in bewilderment.
‘This can’t be right, there must be a mistake. They’ve got different surnames.’
Monika also stared at the screen, unable to figure out what was disturbing him.
‘What’s the problem Anthony?’
‘It say’s here that her parents are Simon and Helen Maguz with an address in the Kolonaki district.’
‘What’s wrong with that?’
‘He’s the Greek multi-millionaire and financier who’s hosting the final day’s banquet
for the World Peace and Anti-Terrorist Summit at his new country estate near Eleusis in three days time.
I should know, I’ve spent the last month organizing the security.
In fact its one of the reasons I was picked to investigate the murders at Eleusis, due to the close proximity of his estate.
But her second name is Miropolous.’
‘Try entering Simon Maguz’s details and see what that brings up.’
‘OK, it’s worth a try,’ Anthony muttered as he entered the new details.
‘Right here we go, Simon and Helen Maguz, Kolonaki, have a daughter Helena Maguz, age twenty-five, graduate of Athens University in philosophy…’
Anthony trailed off, as he turned to face Monika.
She shrugged her shoulders.
‘Maybe she changed her surname, because of security, to stop her being identified as the daughter of such a rich and powerful man.’
‘Yes. With rich parents, there’s always the fear of one of their children being kidnapped and held to ransom.
That’s as good a reason as any to change your surname.’
‘Let’s go and visit them, make them aware of their daughter’s situation and find out what they know,’ Monika suggested.
Anthony turned and stared at her.
‘They aren’t the type of people you can just call on unannounced and start to question.
Especially when they’re going to entertain all the worlds leaders in three days time.’
‘What will we do then? It’s our first definite lead in Athens.’ Monika pleaded.
Anthony pushed his chair back and stood up.
‘I know it is. But we have to tell the Chief about this, that the accomplice of our murder suspect is the daughter of one of the most influential men in Greece.
He can then make the right decision. I saw him in his office as we were coming here. I was going to introduce you anyway.
Now’s as good a time as any.’
Anthony led Monika out of the quiet of his office and into the noise of the busy central open area filled with rows of desks and
the bustle of detectives answering phones and interviewing a mixture of suspects and potential witnesses.
Andrew’s office was just like all the others surrounding this area except for one large office at the top end where Anthony gently
tapped the top glass panel of the door.
Looking up from his desk, the Chief noticed Monika next to Anthony and stood as he beckoned them in.
Anthony opened the door for Monika who entered first as he introduced her.
‘Chief, this is Inspector Monika Weiss.’
‘And Monika this is Chief Inspector Yiorghos Larentzakis.’
‘Pleased to meet you Inspector Weiss, welcome to Athens. You had a pleasant trip I hope and have settled into your hotel?’
‘Yes, thank you.’ Monika replied as they shook hands.
‘Inspector Lykourgos has been most kind and made me feel at home in your beautiful city.’
Chief Inspector Larentzakis went back to his chair as he gestured for them to take a seat on the other side of his large mahogany desk.
‘Ah good, I hope we can be of some help in the pursuit of your murder suspect for as you know solving this case could be beneficial to us both.
Any assistance you require, just ask Inspector Lykourgos.’
‘Inspector Lykourgos has already been most helpful, resulting in our first lead, here in Athens.’ Monika said eagerly.
The Chief Inspector looked surprised.
‘What so soon? What –’
‘Ah, yes Chief, that’s the main reason we’re here. We’ve just looked up the details of the murderer’s accomplice, Helena Miropolous,
on the central computer system, and it’s turned up some surprising facts.’
‘And what are they?’
‘Helena Miropolous is actually Helena Maguz, the daughter of Simon Maguz the multi-millionaire and financier, who’s hosting –’
The Chief Inspector leaned forward waving his hand.
‘Yes, yes, I know who he is, but are you sure? We can’t afford to link those two together by mistake.’
‘There’s no mistake, all the details match, we’ve double checked.’
Chief Inspector Larentzakis sat back in his chair and sighed, pausing for a moment, then stared straight at Anthony.
‘What ever you do, don’t attempt to contact Simon Maguz about this. I’ll have to inform my superiors.
This is a delicate situation, which they can decide on.
In the meantime put a surveillance team on Helena Maguz’s flat and check all the hotels in Athens to see if they’ve checked in under any of these names.
Plus issue pictures of them to all investigating officers.
If they’re under assumed names, we can try to match their descriptions.’
The Chief Inspector got to his feet and walked around to Anthony and Monika.
‘Right, you can take over the special incident room next door and assign whatever resources you need to this case.
Because of the link to Simon Maguz, there’s a possibility of a security breach around the world leaders when they go to his estate for the final days banquet.
So I’m assigning this top priority with both of you jointly in charge.’
‘Right sir, we’ll get onto it immediately,’ Anthony said as he and Monika headed for the door.
‘But remember, at the moment, this is a surveillance operation until I get feedback from above.
If there’re found, contact me immediately,’ the Chief reminded them as they left the room.
Troops, and military motorised vehicles thundered through the normally tranquil side streets of Athens.
The build up of of Military forces on the Greek borders had been recipricated by a nearby ally of Greece.
Greece, a small milirary country had resorted to help from their neighbour in response to no backing from other nation states.
There was an invisible hand at work here,with Andrew and Helena now suspecting one powerfull world corporation behind all orchestrated events.
natons accross the world were inoccent pawns in some grand deadly chessboard game.
Helena glanced at a newspaper stand as they left the Hotel Philippos for their meeting with Father Angeletti.
‘The newspapers seem to be full of so many impending man-made and natural disasters Andrew.
It’s just like the professor said yesterday, that more and more incidents will occur as the time of The Black Hole Of Souls approaches.’
‘I know,’ Andrew acknowledged as he picked up one of the newspapers.
‘Every day seems to bring a new threat. The latest seems to be that volcano not far from here on the island of Santorini.
They said that the last time it erupted it destroyed the Minoan civilization on Crete and left Santorini with a large sea filled hole in its center.
If it blows again, it could affect us here in Athens, it warns in this newspaper.’
‘Look at this, Andrew, they think that terrorists may now be trying to acquire nuclear weapons from Russia on the black market. God.
Think of the devastation that would cause if they used it in a large city like Athens.
Especially after that terrorist video tape shown on Athens television.’
Andrew put his arm around her.
‘Don’t worry. I know it seems like we’ve been plunged into some hopeless nightmare, but remember also what the professor said about a possible way out,
as mentioned in the last part of the text. If we can find out what that means, then there’s still a chance.’
‘Your right. We can’t dwell on what might be. We have to concentrate on finding out what the SPAK Corporation know about this prophecy,
and if they’ve decoded the final part.’
Andrew opened the car door and kissed her gently.
‘That’s the spirit. We’ve three days left. Let’s make the most of the time available.’
With both of them settled in their seats, Andrew started the open topped car and joined the traffic heading in the direction of St. Denis Cathedral.
As if to shake the cobwebs from her mind and clear her thoughts, Helena put her head in the path of the oncoming air and took a deep breath as her long
dark hair lifted and blew in the wind.
Andrew turned and looked admiringly at the beautiful woman who had filled an empty void in his life.
Nothing, he vowed, nothing, would ever take her away from him.
As they approached the Cathedral, Helena sighed as she turned to Andrew.
‘Should we tell the priest anything of what Professor Zarganis told us yesterday, after he left the professor’s office?’ Helena queried.
‘No, if he does ask, just say the professor went on to give more details of the initiation ceremony at Eleusis.’
‘Yes. Your right, the professor did say he wanted his involvement with the Gnostic sect kept a secret.’
Andrew then pulled the car to a halt outside the Cathedral, to find father Angeletti waiting at the main Cathedral entrance.
‘Hi Father Angeletti, how are you today,’ Andrew greeted him as he shook his outstretched hand.
‘Fine, fine. But eager to try out this device and delve further into the SPAK website,’ he replied, leading them into the Cathedral.
Andrew and Helena looked at each other, both relieved to find that the priest had shook off the anger and rage he had displayed yesterday
at the professor’s comments on Christianity.
‘This way,’ the priest beckoned, as he led them to the top of the aisle and down the winding stairwell,
just like their previous visit, where he opened the heavy black wooden door leading into the long arched stone vault.
‘I’m expecting the device to arrive any minute now. If we could set up the equipment ready to try it out we’ll be able to
start the moment it arrives.’
Andrew surveyed the equipment before him.
‘OK, everything’s just as we left it yesterday, we just need to power it up.’
The stone vault reverbated with electronic sounds as the computer screen blinked into life when Andrew threw the main switch
and connected the SmartPhone with the SPAK App to the usb port.’
Without any prompt, Andrew Clicked SPAK icon symbol displayed on the Mobile Phone's screen.
Immediatelly the LOGON display filled the screen, just as it had before.
Entering UserID "Jan", then "Helena" as the Password, he pressed the Enter key to display the Menu selection.
Andrew leaned back in his seat and let out a sigh of relief. ‘So far so good.’
Helena turned to him. ‘Which option will we try with the headset then?’
‘I think one of the group options that logs us onto the SPAK website, Group Pre-Initiation.’
‘That was the one we tried before but displayed a message saying we needed an external device connected.’
‘Hopefully they meant the device that Father Angeletti’s bringing.’
Father Angeletti, looked at his watch and nodded.
‘Ah, the device should be arriving any moment now, I’d better go and wait at the main door to meet the courier.’
At this, Andrew selected 'Group Pre-Initiation' to immediately display -
Andrew turned to Helena.
‘OK, we’re now back to where we were yesterday. When Father Angeletti arrives with the device, we’ll plug it in and press the retry button.’
Helena nodded then pointed to the screen.
‘Yes, but look at the number of users logged on now. Yesterday there were around twenty thousand, now it’s around half that.’
‘I think that’s probably because a lot of people have moved up to the next level.’
‘If we were able to…’
Andrew’s voice trailed off as the sound of the heavy wooden door opening reverberated through the vault causing them both to turn round.
Andrew’s reaction to the figure entering the vault was immediate, as he quickly stood up and moved in front of Helena to protect her.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘How did you find us?’
‘It’s all right,’ Father Angeletti reassured him as he entered the vault putting his arm around the figure that had caused so much alarm.
‘This is Megan O’Connell.’
St. Denis Cathedral
‘No it’s not Father,’ Helena said anxiously.
‘She may be one of them, it’s Jane Davidson. We should know, we’ve worked beside her for the last seven months.’
‘I know,’ said the priest as he moved towards them, his arm around Jane Davidson, who was carrying a large brown box.
‘And she’s not one of them, she’s one of us.’
Jane placed the box on the table.
‘Hi Andrew, Helena. How are you both keeping?’
Helena stood up and stared at her. ‘Not bad, considering. How long have you known Father Angeletti?’
‘Since I was selected to join SPAK, about the same time as both of you.’
Andrew turned to the priest. ‘Is she the one you said was working undercover for you in SPAK then?’
‘We have more than one person working there, and Jane’s one of them.’
Andrew and Helena went over to Jane and put their arms around her, smiling.
‘Were you following us when you were on the boat with Franz in Konstanz?’ Helena asked.
‘Yes, just as far as Mainau when we were sure SPAK weren’t on your trail, then it was just Father Angeletti.
And no, Franz isn’t one of us, I just took him along as cover.’
Andrew looked at Helena.‘God, it’s one surprise after another. What next?’
Jane pointed to the brown package.
‘Well hopefully, this will provide us with a few surprises, and make it worth the journey.’
Andrew started to unpack it.
‘How did you mange to come across this then?’
‘Father Angeletti contacted us yesterday and asked us to look out for something resembling the device you thought
was required by the SPAK website. And just by luck, one of our operatives, who works in dispatch came across this as it arrived at the factory.
It seemed to fit the description, so we smuggled it out yesterday afternoon, and here it is.’
Andrew then took the lid off the box and stared at what appeared to be a golden headset in the shape of
an ancient warlike Greek helmet with red tinted slits for eyes and a mouth.
‘Are you sure this is correct?’
Jane moved over to the package and carefully lifted the device out of the box, holding it in front of her.
‘Yes, I know at first it doesn’t look like some kind of high tech device. But I’ve already checked it.
It’s basically a fusion of antiquity and modern technology.
A Virtual Reality headset, and much more, in the shape of a Greek warriors helmet.’
‘Why an ancient helmet?’ Helena asked, looking puzzled.
‘I think it’s in keeping with everything that’s happened so far,’ Andrew replied.
‘The people at the Eleusis Mystery ceremony would probably have worn symbolic head wear, of that era, when they were being initiated,
where they would have experienced various sights and sounds from plays and musicians.
Probably even taken drink or drugs. But now all that remains is the helmet with hopefully technology providing the rest.’
Jane held up the golden headset.
‘Yes, you said that the device you were looking for would have audio and visual outputs.
Well here, at the front, behind the eye slits, are two red tinted eyepieces, which would display images to the user.
And at either side are extendable panels with small speakers in them.’
‘Does it have the ability to administer drugs, just as in the simulation?’ Helena asked, staring at the headset
‘I think so. Look here, on the inside, just to the front and above the ears.
There are three small holes, in the shape of a triangle on either side. When placed on the head, these would be next to the temples, where drugs would somehow be injected through the holes.
Exactly how, I’m not quite sure.’
The priest patted her on the back.
‘Good work Jane. You’ve probably risked your life getting this to us.
Let’s not delay any further and try it out. How do we connect it to the computer then?’
Jane picked up a small silver object from the bottom of the box and plugged it into the back of the computer.
‘This is a wireless device with software that automatically links the computer and mobile phone App with the headset. No need for cables.’
All four of them then sat in chairs around the computer, with Andrew seated opposite the monitor.
‘OK, that’s the external device fitted, let’s see if it’s happy with that.’
Andrew then retried the Group Pre-Initiation option to immediately display another message.
Helena looked at Andrew anxiously. ‘I don’t think that would be wise. It could be dangerous.’
Andrew picked up the device and started to place it on his head.
‘We don’t have much choice. Jane’s risked her life getting this to us. We have to try it.’
The priest nodded in agreement. ‘Yes, if you don’t, we're no further on than before.’
‘OK, but at the first sign of anything wrong, I’m taking it off you Andrew,’ Helena warned as she helped him ease it onto his head.
‘Well there’s no time like the present, so here goes.’ Andrew then pressed Begin.
Almost immediately there was a low buzzing noise as the golden headset came to life lowering the eye and earpieces to lock it firmly on his head.
All three stared in amazement, focused on Andrew, as an eerie red glow emitted from the center of the eyepieces,
while the screen indicated the system was now running.
The other computer screen displayed traces of Heart beats or ECG, plus Brain waves or EEG, and various guages rising and falling.
In the center there seemed to be constantly changing images of brain scans, again whith indicaters on either side.
Helena moved closer to his face, staring at the headset.
‘Can you hear me Andrew? Are you all right?’
He nodded his head.
‘Yes, I can barely hear you, some sounds are starting to come from the speakers.
And… Images are beginning to appear in front of me… In fact all around me.
It’s amazing. It’s crystal clear now. And the sounds. Its as if I’m actually there.’
The priest moved next to the side of Andrews’s head.
‘Where are you, describe the scene.’
‘I’m in a crowd, and the way they’re dressed, it must be sometime in the past, an old city, somewhere in the Middle East.
We’re at the entrance to the city and the people are waving branches, some throwing them on a road.
I think I can see someone coming up the road. If I can just move forward, through the crowd… Jesus, I’m moving through the crowd,
in the direction I wanted to, just by thinking about it. Right, stop here. Oops, sorry. I just pushed somebody who gave me a look.
Ah they’ve accepted my apology. The crowds are all shouting and waving at somebody coming up the road. I can see him now. He’s on a donkey.’
Father Angeletti moved even closer.
‘The crowds should be crying something Andrew, what are they crying?’
‘Yes they are shouting something.
It’s … Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Does that make any sense to you?’
At that, Father Angeletti let out a cry.
‘It’s the Messiah, it’s Jesus entering Jerusalem as prophesized in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.
Follow him Andrew. He should come to a temple soon. Follow him in.’
‘Oh. Someone’s just turned to me and asked if I believe the man on the donkey is the Messiah.’
‘Tell him, yes, you believe he is the Messiah,’ the priest prompted. ‘I think its part of the initiation.’
‘Yes, he’s accepted that. Now he asks if I want to be baptized.’
‘Again, say yes. This is the baptism by water, to initiate you into the next level.’
‘Yes, he’s nodded his head and says I’ve to follow him to … Ah the scenes changed now.
I’m at a riverbank and the man who was on the donkey is in the water, being baptized by someone.’
‘It’s Jesus being baptized by John.’ The priest explained.
‘The man you call John is now waving to me, beckoning me to go to him.’
‘Go to him,’ the priest urged, ‘he wants to baptize you.’
‘OK I’m in the water. He’s now pushed me under.
God this seems so real. I feel I have to hold my breath.
Right I’m up again and heading for the riverbank… Wait, there’s some Roman soldiers coming, marching this way.’
Helena looked at the changing screen. ‘Andrew, you've passed to the next level, Phsycic!’
Andrew replied, staring anxiously beyond the the headset at Father Angeletti. ‘Great, but something's wrong, I may have upset someone with my success.’
Father Angeletti looked puzzled. ‘They may be coming for John or to break up the crowd.
But it doesn’t seem right somehow, this isn’t in the Bible.’
‘Andrew continued, ‘Yes they’re marching up to the crowd, who are moving away.
They’ve seen John now and are heading towards him. But they’re still looking around as if for someone else.
Shit, they’ve changed direction. They’re heading towards me!
I’ll try to move away, see if they’ll follow. Yes they’re ignoring everyone else and coming after me...’
Suddenly, violently interupting the scene, all three turned from focussing on Andrew as the heavy wooden vault door was pushed open and a man appeared,
with outstretched arms holding a gun.
Jane reacted first.
‘Quick get down,’ she shouted, pulling a gun from inside her jacket.
Just in time, all three ducked, with Helena pulling Andrew down, as a gunshot exploded in the vault sending a bullet
flying over their heads and into the dark depths of the vault.
Jane responded with a shot that sent the two men at the top of the vault looking for cover.
Helena struggled to remove the headset from Andrew.
‘Help me with this, it seems to be stuck.’
Andrew shouted, ‘no it’s locked on, you have to select the Stop option.
Quick, the soldiers in this thing seem intent on killing me.’
Another shot flew over them as Helena put her hand up on to the table searching for the mouse.
Finding it she raised her head slightly to catch sight of the screen.
As Jane fired another shot, she quickly found Stop and clicked the mouse button.
Immediately, the eye and earpieces retracted and Helena pulled the device from his head.
‘What’s happening?’ a disorientated Andrew asked, sounding and looking confused.
Jane replied, ‘I think there’s three of them now. I can only hold them off for so long. Is there any other way out of here Father?’
‘Yes, there’s a secret door at the back of the vault, but I don’t know when the last time it was used. It may not be easy to open.’
Jane fired off another shot.
‘We’ve no choice, it’s our only way out of here alive. Father, you lead Helena and Andrew to the back of the vault and try the door. I’ll hold them off.’
‘No, we can’t leave you here!’ the priest exclaimed.
‘It’s all right, once you get the door open, give me a shout and I’ll make a run for it. Go! Now!’
Keeping their heads down, the priest led Andrew and Helena into the dimly lit back of the vault, as another bullet ricocheted off the stone arched roof above them.
‘Hurry,’ Jane urged them. ‘They’re moving forward. I think there’s four of them now.’
At the back of the vault the priest found the spot where he was shown the secret door lay.
Searching, he located a block of stone with a rusty iron ring attached, which he twisted and then pushed forward.
The stone moved into the wall slightly, but not enough.
‘Help me Andrew. Grab hold of this and we’ll push together.’
The two men pushed on the stone as Jane’s voice reverberated down the vault.
‘Quick,’ she shouted. ‘They’re getting closer. I’ll have to make a run for it soon.’
With Jane’s voice ringing in their ears, Helena now joined in, all three pushing, when suddenly, the stone moved a couple of inches resulting in a section of wall springing open to reveal a gap a couple of feet wide.
‘Its open Jane, come on!’ Father Angeletti shouted.
Jane fired two quick shots in succession and then headed for the back of the vault, head down, as quickly as she could.
With all three urging her on, four figures now appeared at the computer and a hail of shots rang out,
deafening, in the confines of the vault, which seemed to fill with ricocheting bullets.
Suddenly, Jane was thrown forward, propelled by the force of the bullets that thudded into her back, as she fell sickeningly,
just yards from escape.
‘No!’ Helena cried.
‘My God!’ the priest exclaimed, crossing himself
Andrew pushed them through the gap in the wall, as bullets crashed into the stonework above their heads.
‘We can’t leave her here!’ Helena pleaded.
‘She’s dead, come on, she sacrificed her life so that we could escape. Don’t make that a worthless gesture.’
The priest grabbed Helena’s arm. ‘He’s right, she mustn’t have died in vain. Let’s go.’
The four men were now running to the back of the vault, as Andrew and the priest pushed with all their effort on the
stone block on the other side of the gap. As the four men ran past a motionless Jane,
the concealed stone door suddenly slammed shut with a resounding bang.
Professor Zarganis House
Helena looked strained as she entered the study.
‘Thanks, Professor, for letting us stay at your house.’
Both men turned, then the professor went towards her reaching out his arm to put around her shoulder.
‘That’s all right,‘ he offered comfortingly as he led her to a large sofa where Andrew was already seated.
‘You know you’re always welcome here, as are your friends, especially after your ordeal yesterday.’
Helena looked up at the professor as she sat next to Andrew.
‘God you’re right! It was yesterday. It seems so long ago – just like a distant dream, or worse, a nightmare.
And look at the time, why did you let me sleep so long. We’ve so much to do and there’s only two days left
until your prophesized descent into irreversible chaos!’
Andrew turned to Helena, sensing the sound of rising panic in her voice, and held her hands gently.
‘Look, don’t worry. You were in such a deep sleep, we just didn’t want to wake you. I think your body was
trying to tell you something, and no wonder after the last five days. And anyway,
the professor has some good news, he’s discovered more details about the prophecy section of The Black Hole Of Souls text.’
Helena, still waking up after her long sleep, shook her head.
‘That’s good, it’s nice to know we’re making some progress.’ Then looked around the room, suddenly realizing, somebody was missing.
‘Where’s Father Angeletti? He stayed here last night as well, didn’t he?’
Andrew rubbed her clasped hands tenderly.
‘Yes, Father Angeletti stayed here last night, but he left early this morning after making a few phone calls. He says he’ll be back later.’
‘Is he going back to the church to see about Jane?’
‘Probably, but he’ll have to check its safe first. They may be watching it, in case we return.’
‘I still can’t believe it happened, though. Jane dead. And how did they find us anyway?’ Helena asked despairingly.
‘Father Angeletti thinks that the headset may have been used as bait to find out who was working undercover at SPAK in Switzerland.
If it had a tracking device attached, it could easily have led them to the church, and to us.
Father Angeletti blames himself for Jane’s death and says he should have been more careful.
He’s more determined than ever now to find the killers.’
Helena looked at the professor, then Andrew.
‘Of course. He knows nothing of the danger we all face in two days time.
He thinks this is all about a cult of killers trying to spread their influence and destroy the Catholic Church –’
Then she suddenly remembered Andrew’s words a few moments ago.
‘You said we’ve discovered something new about the prophecy. What is it? Will it help us?’
The professor smiled at Helena.
‘When Father Angeletti left this morning it gave me a chance to tell Andrew the result of the meeting with my fellow Gnostics yesterday.
When I told them of your experiences, this shed a whole new light on the meaning of The Black Hole Of Souls script and in particular, it’s prophecy.
After a long day of intensive study and re-examination of the Jesus Story, taking into account what has occurred over the last five days, we now have more details on the prophecy part of the script.
We now believe that there are specifically two “pure souls” who may save mankind as mentioned in the prophecy.’
Helena sighed. ‘I suppose its progress. But it just means, that out of all the people in the world we have to find the two who can save us.
Do you have any clues as to their identity?’
‘No, I’m afraid not.’
Helena baulked at the size of the task ahead.
The professor noticed this and quickly added, ‘but we do know where the prophecy will occur.’
Helena looked up. ‘Where?’
‘At Eleusis,’ the professor announced triumphantly.
‘I think we should go there immediately,’ Andrew suggested, trying to keep the positive momentum going.
‘Your right,’ the professor agreed. ‘If that is the correct site then we have to go there and discover if anything unusual has happened recently to help us understand what we have to do to fulfill this prophecy and avoid The Black Hole Of Souls.’
Helena stood up suddenly and with a look of renewed hope started towards the door. ‘Well, what are we waiting for, let’s go.’
‘Christ that’s all I need!’ Anthony Lykourgos barked as he slammed the phone down.
Monika Weiss halted her conversation with the police officer and went over to Anthony’s desk.
‘What’s wrong, something to do with our case?’
‘Not exactly, it’s more to do with my other job involving security at the World Peace and Anti-Terrorist Summit.
But it still demands attention, leaving less time to work on this case of finding Andrew Jamieson and Helena Maguz.
Especially since we’ve no leads as to where they are. And the Chief is breathing down our necks. I’m sure her big wig father Simon Maguz is piling on the pressure.’
Monika put her hand on his shoulder.
‘Look, if its got something to do with Summit security then it may have something in common with our case. What’s it about then?’
‘Well, we’ve just received information from Kaliningrad that terrorists have acquired powerful explosive devices on the Russian black market and that they’re heading here, to Greece, with them.’
‘How powerful,’ Monika asked hesitatingly.
Anthony pulled her closer. ‘At the moment, they won’t say. All we have is a description of the containers.’
‘What do they look like, then?’
‘This is the hard part. They look just like normal briefcases.’
‘God! That’s going to be difficult to detect.’
‘I know. We’re going to have to step up security at all entry points to Greece,
ensuring that they receive these details to make the necessary searches on all incoming freight and baggage –’
‘Inspector. Phone call for you. He says it urgent.’
Anthony turned round to see a detective at the far end of the special incident room holding up a phone.
‘Who is it?’
‘Says his name is Christos Kerykes, site caretaker at the Eleusis sanctuary.’
‘Pass it through to me.’ Anthony lifted his ringing receiver and Monika watched intently as he received the call,
his eyes suddenly widening and the beginnings of a smile erupting into a beaming grin. Slamming the phone down.
He let rip, ‘yes! Just what we’ve been waiting for.’
Monika smiled. ‘Good news?’
Anthony grabbed his jacket and started for the door.
‘Right, pass those terrorist details onto Detective Markos.
We’ve got other work to do. We’ve just had a sighting of Andrew Jamieson and Helena Maguz. We need another two cars, plain clothes.’
Monika followed Anthony, quickly handing over documents and issuing instructions as the steadily growing stream of bodies left the office and made their way to the exit.
‘Where are we going?’ Monika shouted in his ear.
‘To Eleusis,’ Anthony shouted back.
‘Well, what did you make of that?’ Andrew asked the professor, who seemed to be deep in thought as he stared beyond the bleached remains of the Eleusis sanctuary and into the distant blue sky.
‘What? Oh sorry. I was in another world, or more precisely another time there for a moment. It’s hard to stand here in the center of this ancient site without imagining what it was like at its glorious height in the distant past.’
The professor looked around as if to orientate himself.
‘Yes, what did I make of what the caretaker told us? Hmm, quite fascinating.
The two men and women found dead here five days ago were wearing similar clothing to those who would attend the ceremony here, two and a half thousand years ago.
The men were wearing a short tunic known as a chiton and the women were wearing a longer tunic known as the Doric peplos.
There’s one thing wrong though. The timing.
The bodies shouldn’t have been found five days ago, as no one would have been here.’
Helena stared at him. ‘What do you mean, “no one would have been here”?‘
The professor smiled, as if warming to the subject.
‘To understand this I have to explain the complete process of the Eleusis Mystery ceremonies.
First of all there were two parts. Candidates for initiation into the Mysteries were first admitted to the Lesser Eleusinia, which were held in the month of Anthesterion at Agrai, in Athens, on the banks of the Ilissos.’
‘Anthesterion?’ Andrew quizzed.
‘This ancient Greek month was around the end of February and the beginning of March.’ The professor explained.
‘OK,’ Andrew nodded.
The professor continued. ‘Once accepted as mystai or initiates, they were allowed to attend the Greater Eleusinia, which took place in Boedromion, our September, and lasted nine days, beginning and ending in Athens.’
‘So five days ago would have been day one of the Greater Eleusinia which began in Athens.’ Helena suggested.
‘Exactly,’ he replied.
‘The first four days of the ceremony were held in Athens which consisted of sacrifices and bathing in the bay of Phaleron for purification.
It was on the fifth day, that is, today, that the great procession would assemble at the Eleusinium in Athens and then set off on the twenty-five kilometer walk to Eleusis. This was no small, quiet, somber procession though. On the contrary it would have been quite a sight.’
The professor paused as he looked beyond the ancient site in the direction of Athens as if to imagine the spectacle.
He continued. ‘Being led by priestesses carrying the sacred instruments and the figure of Dionysus, tens of thousands of Athenians carrying bundles of branches, danced behind in a state of euphoria, accompanied by the frantic rhythm of clashing instruments. As part of the Demeter and Persephone myth they would periodically stop and shout obscenities, sometimes being beaten by men wearing masks.’
‘Dionysus, he was the dying and resurrecting godman of the Greek Mysteries you mentioned at the University, wasn’t he?’ Helena asked.
‘But who were Demeter and Persephone?’
‘Quite right, Helena, Dionysus was the symbolic dying and resurrecting godman but the myth of Demeter and Persephone also represented the cycle of dying and resurrecting as in the cycle of the seasons.
This was because Demeter’s daughter Persephone was carried off to the Underworld, representing her death or winter, and was only allowed back for part of each year, representing her resurrection or emergence from winter. They all reinforced the essential essence of the Eleusis Mystery, that of dying and being resurrected.’
‘This is the fifth day, would the procession have arrived at Eleusis by now?’ Andrew wondered.
The professor shook his head. ‘No, today we traveled the Sacred Way or Iera Odhos, as its known in Greek, in less than an hour.
But then, it would have taken them the whole day, arriving at Eleusis in darkness. They would just be over half way by now.’
‘What happened when they arrived then?’ Andrew was keen to know.
‘When they arrived they would then rest, ready for the sixth day which would consist of fasting and sacrificing.
It was on the seventh day, in the evening, that the initiation would take place.
This initiation night is the crucial time both for them and for us.
As a Gnostic Christian I still have ties with this important part of my heritage and have retained and built on its inner meanings.
But both of you as Literal Christians have been cut off from this so-called Pagan ceremony and its inner meanings.
Just like all the literal religions of the world, believing that only their particular literal outer teachings are correct causing conflict and division when in truth they all have a common earlier inner meaning which has been denied.’
Helena held her hand to her eyes to avoid the sun as she looked at the professor.
‘What exactly did they do during the initiation ceremony?’
The professor also held his hands to his eyes avoiding the glare from the bleached stone remains beneath the blazing sun.
‘I know its hard to imagine standing in the sun amid these ruins, but at the moment we are in the center of the Telesterion, a huge hall, fifty five meters square with stepped terraces on all four sides from which three thousand initiates could watch the ceremonies.
Twenty square pillars supported the roof, and in the center, around where we are standing now, was a small room known as the Anaktoron.’
All three looked around at the bare remains of the sanctuary, trying to reconstruct this picture of its former glory.
‘At one corner of the Anaktoron was the throne of the Hierophant who acted like a master of ceremonies.
The initiates would then crowd into the large hall, illuminated only by torchbearers.
A door in the Anaktoron next to the throne would then open in a blaze of light and the Hierophant would emerge to take his place on the throne, symbolizing Persephone’s return from the world of light.
The new initiates who had been fasting since the previous night were now consuming a barley drink known as kykeon, sacred to Demeter, and were subjected to the sounds of a mighty gong and alternating periods of darkness
and bright illumination combined with various other sound and light effects and dramatised scenes.’
‘This sounds like the sort of thing the SPAK headset would present to the wearer,’ Andrew interrupted.
Professor Zarganis nodded. ‘Yes you’re quite right, but the SPAK Gnostics also developed on the Eleusinian ceremonies to incorporate the later four initiation levels of the Christian Gnostics.
Compared to the Eleusinian ceremonies, where the desired heady experience would rarely if ever be completely achieved, the SPAK headset, using advanced technology, produced a highly efficient and exact presentation to produce in the wearer the precise desired experience every time.’
This is the interesting bit, Andrew thought. ‘What were the experiences they were trying to achieve Professor?’
‘Good question, and I think this will explain exactly what the SPAK Gnostics will be trying to achieve in two days time.
This is because there’s a common theme running through all these Mysteries and ceremonies, whether it’s the Pagan Eleusinian Mystery or the Jesus Story.
As you may know there are four levels.
The first is the Hylic where we see ourselves as selfish bodies, wary of what others, as bodies themselves, may want from us and also what we can get from them.
Obviously this is not a desirable level, but unfortunately there are a lot of people like that and the ancients knew this, so they devised the outer level of the Mystery story to take people to the next level, the Psychic.
By understanding the moral tales of the literal Mystery stories the Psychic would start to see himself as not just a body but a person who understands ideas and also empathises with others who too have thoughts and ideas.
In the Eleusinian Mystery this lesson is taught by Persephone being freed from the Underworld, or her Hylic body, and being reunited with her mother Demeter, or her Psychic nature.’
Andrew nodded in agreement. ‘When I tried on the SPAK headset to simulate Psychic initiation, I had the experience of seeing the literal Jesus teach me and others.’
‘Yes, even at this low level you can see how powerful a tool the headset is,’ the professor added.
‘But I think it will really come into its own at the higher levels. However getting back to the Psychic level, we can see how this is a vast improvement on the Hylic, as people now have ethics and a soul and will now work together.
The drawback with this is that it’s limited and temporary, people see themselves as separate mortal beings who are born and will die.
This is why the ancients devised the inner Mysteries.’
Andrew and Helena looked at each other. At last they were about to be told what this mysterious inner level was.
‘This would take us to the next level,’ the professor explained,’ the Pneumatic or Spiritual level which will reveal that we are not just a temporary fearful mortal, but that we are something more permanent.
You’ve heard me mention many times about the dying and resurrecting godman of the various Mystery Stories including the Jesus Story.
Well, it’s at this point the death of the godman or the crucifixion of Jesus is symbolic of the death of the initiate’s combined body and psyche or eidolon as it’s known and the realization that we are Consciousness witnessing the actions of the eidolon who is born, lives and dies.
Since it is not us who are born and then die, but the eidolons that we are witnessing, we now feel safe recognizing our true immortal nature.’
Andrew was taken aback at learning for the first time what it really meant to achieve this level.
‘Well, this is more than just presenting a three-dimensional world of Jesus telling stories.
If the SPAK headset can make you think that you are an immortal Consciousness witnessing your temporary bodies actions, then it must be some experience. Almost out of this world!’
‘Absolutely,’ Professor Zarganis agreed.
‘This must be getting near to the full power of the device if it can achieve this precise experience for the initiate.
I almost wonder if the user would want to, or be even able to, come back to our reality especially if others had achieved this in communion over the internet or some other link.’
Helena looked up, as a thought suddenly occurred to her.
‘Professor, those people who’ve achieved this state, could they have escaped The Black Hole Of Souls?’
‘That’s something I was beginning to ask myself, Helena.
Could this be what the SPAK Gnostics have been striving for all along, and what they hope to achieve in two days time?
Not to save mankind through the prophecy, as we would like to do, but to selfishly escape The Black Hole Of Souls and leave mankind behind, trapped for ever?’
‘What about the next and final level, would they have to achieve that before they could escape?’ Andrew asked.
‘Yes, there is a possibility that to completely escape they would have to achieve this final stage of Gnosis through four steps.
First the watery baptism of Jesus depicting the second Psychic death of the hylic eidolon.
Then the crucifixion of Jesus was symbolic of the achieviement of the third Pnuema or ephemeral air level.
Then at the fourth level it is now the resurrection of the godman and Jesus which is symbolic of us being finally free of our separate identities and being as One.
Initiates, who achieve this fourth level Gnosis, understand that there is no distinction between the watcher and the watched, me and you or the separate Consciousness’ who witness the separate eidolons.
We are all part of the one Consciousness of God. We are all at One with the Mystery.’
At this the professor paused, then smiled as if he had suddenly just realized something.
‘Ah. The clue to their ultimate aim may have been under our noses all along.’
Andrew stared at the professor. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Have you got that SPAK smart card still, Andrew?’
‘Yes,’ he said pulling it from his pocket.
‘Can I have it for a moment please?’
‘Sure, here you are.’
The professor held up the card so that Helena and Andrew could both see it clearly.
‘Here we have a picture of the Leviathan serpent biting it’s own tail,
and in the center is the Greek writing “Hen to pan” which in English is “One is the all” If this symbolizes their ultimate aims then they must be attempting to achieve the Oneness of the fourth level of Gnosis in two days time to escape
The Black Hole Of Souls and leave us all here behind to face the physical and spiritual devastation that is coming.’
At that thought, all three were suddenly struck silent for a moment, as time seemed to stand still.
As if to give an indication of what was to come, Helena suddenly noticed in the distance, beyond the Bay Of Elefsina in the direction of Athens, a streak of thin gray smoke stretched high in the sky coming slowly towards them.
Professor Zarganis looked up in the direction Helena was indicating.
‘That’s from the island of Santorini, I think.
I heard earlier that there was a large change in the size and height of the emerging volcanic islet in the waters inside the island, which gave off a huge dense cloud of smoke for miles into the atmosphere.
God, it would almost be unimaginable if that volcano erupted again with the same force it did three and a half thousand years ago.’
‘How bad would it be?’ Helena asked hesitatingly.
‘Well, the most powerful recorded erupting volcano was Krakatoa.
But the Santorini volcano was over five times as powerful.
So much so that the center of the island collapsed and disappeared into the sea creating a large tidal wave that wiped out the Minoan civilization on nearby Crete.
In recent times the top of the volcano reappeared in the waters in the center of the island caldera and yesterday it increased again in size releasing this smoke we now see.
The locals have given it the name Nea Kameni which means New Furnace.’
Helena turned back to the professor. ‘Do you think this is all part of the prophecy?’
‘Definitely, that, together with all the other signs; the impending asteroid, the floods ravaging Europe for the first time,
the major financial collapses due to falsification of company audits and rising tension due to the audacious terrorist attacks
all over the world. If we don’t do something soon this will all climax in two days time plunging the world and everyone left in it,
born or unborn, into an irreversible insanity. The only ones who will escape are the SPAK Gnostics.’
‘Two pure souls at Eleusis in two days time.’ Helena muttered.
‘That’s our only chance according to the prophecy.
But who are those two souls and what have they got to do here, at Eleusis in two days to prevent The Black Hole Of Souls?’
Professor Zarganis sighed.
‘Well we’ve come here and discussed all the possibilities but we’re no closer to understanding what it is we have to do.’
‘If this headset is the way out for the SPAK Gnostics, then maybe it’s the way out for us as well.’ Andrew offered.
The professor shook his head. ‘No, that would be just like them, escaping but leaving mankind behind to suffer.’
‘No I don’t mean for us to escape, but to use it to help prevent The Black Hole Of Souls somehow. You said that it worked every time Professor is that correct?’
‘As long as the equipment was functioning normally,
that the initiate had successfully completed the previous levels and that they had been correctly conditioned for the level they were now attempting.’
‘That’s a lot of preparation and organization to get things just right. What if just one of the necessary conditions wasn’t met?’ Andrew asked eagerly.
‘Then I think it could prove disastrous for the wearer, if not fatal. Let’s hope neither of us finds out.’
‘One of us may have to,’ Andrew replied ominously.
Road To Eleusis
‘Just how dangerous is he then?’ Anthony asked Monika without taking his eyes off the road.
‘Well, as far as we know, he bludgeoned his workmate to death with the butt of a high-powered automatic weapon.
Then while escaping from hospital he did the same again to one of my officers guarding him, although this time his victim survived,
albeit with serious head injuries.‘
‘Violent eh, and both times he’s used a gun, although not to shoot his victims.
Probably because the noise of the shots would have given him away. Right, we have to assume he’s got a gun and willing to use it.
You stick close to me. Anything else we know about him, how he’ll react when he’s cornered?’
Monika shifted her gaze from the old Roman bridge to her left back to Anthony.
‘As well as the crimes we know he’s committed, there are links to others.
Such as the disappearance of Kurt Hus, who was related to the man he killed in the SPAK factory.
Hus’s SPAK identity card was found in the confession box of the priest, whose tortured looking body was fished out of the Bodensee.
He had injuries similar to your Eleusinian bodies. So with all those possible charges hanging over him, I think he’ll be desperate not to be caught.’
Anthony glanced at Monika. ‘The caretaker said that there was a girl with him and an old Greek man.
The girl will be Helena Maguz, but this is the first I’ve heard of the old guy. Ring any bells?’
‘No, not from their time in Switzerland. And as far as I know it was just the two of them who flew into Greece.
They must have made contact in Athens.’
‘OK. So Andrew Jamieson is the main threat. He’ll be the only one that’s armed. We concentrate on him.
But remember what the Chief said when we contacted him, Helena Maguz mustn’t be harmed. We’ll need to tell the others.’
Anthony then swung into the main square of Elefsina, past the attractively restored chapel of Ayios Zakharias,
quickly followed by the two other unmarked police cars.
Coming to a halt. All six swiftly got out of their cars and met to receive instructions from Anthony,
who indicated that one of them should stay on the outside in case they managed to get past them.
The other five then headed along the pedestrian precinct that led to the main Eleusis archeological site.
At the entrance they met the caretaker as arranged where Anthony quickly introduced Monika and the other officers.
‘Thanks for your help Christos, where are they now?’
‘The last time I saw them, they were just around the corner in the area of the Telesterion, next to the Anaktoron, where the bodies were found. That was a couple of minutes ago.’
The caretaker then led Anthony to the edge of a crumbling wall and indicated where he last saw them.
Anthony peered round the corner of the wall, quickly scanning the area for their suspects.
Monika noticed a frown start to form on his forehead.
‘What is it? Can you see them?’
He beckoned her to come and look.
‘You know them better than I do, have a look, see if you recognize them. I just can’t see anybody that fits their descriptions.’
Monika edged past him, making sure she couldn’t be seen, as Helena might remember her from Switzerland.
Then casting her gaze over the site, she immediately thought that the few people milling about the ruins were much older than their suspects. She turned back to Anthony.
‘I don’t recognize anybody over there. They must have moved.’
Anthony was just about to ask the caretaker where else they might be, when his small two way radio cackled into life.
‘Inspector, this is Markus, have you seen the suspects yet?’
‘No. Why do you ask?’
‘Because a man and a woman fitting their descriptions, and an old man have just passed me and are getting into a car.’
‘OK, get the number plate, and wait for us, we’ll be right there.’
Anthony quickly thanked the caretaker then all five headed off at a run out of the sanctuary and down the pedestrian precinct to waiting Detective Markus Zinni who gave them the details of the car, pointing to it as it left the square.
Right, we’re just going to follow them, for the moment. When they arrive at their destination, I’ll indicate when we move in.’
Anthony and Monika led the procession of three cars out of the square, catching sight of the blue Ford as it passed the chapel of Ayios Zakharias and on to the old road of Iera Odhos out of Elefsina.
Passing under the new road Monika soon caught sight of the ancient Roman bridge she saw on the way in.
‘Looks like they’re sticking to the old route to Athens,’ Anthony observed. ‘Suits us fine, there’s a couple of cars between us, we’ll try and keep it that way.’
At a junction, with a large garage to their right, Anthony noticed the blue Ford turn left, just as he expected.
Taking the same turning he noticed the traffic was now increasing as he accelerated to keep up with flow of assorted cars and
lorries heading for Athens. Won’t be long now, at this speed, he thought, this road takes us straight into the heart of the city,
it’s there the chances of losing them increases dramatically. Picking up his radio he passed on the details of the car to central control,
who would advise all patrols to keep a look out for their suspects and relay their position back to control. That should keep us in touch with them, he satisfied himself.
‘I was meaning to ask earlier,’ Monika interrupted his thoughts. ‘But we were too busy. What’s that trail of smoke high in the sky beyond Athens.’
‘Santorini,’ Anthony replied almost mechanically as he kept his eye on the blue Ford ahead.
‘Santorini? What’s that?’
‘It’s an island about a hundred and fifty miles from here. Its volcano seems to be stirring after being quiet for over three and a half thousand years. Nothing to – Jesus! Watch out!’ Anthony quickly put his foot on the breaks as a car that had just over taken him suddenly swerved in front squeezing into the small space between himself and the car in front.
‘Christ, if we weren’t on a job I’d have that bastard,’ Anthony swore.
Monika, still shocked at the sudden jolt in the car, was even more shocked at Anthony’s reaction.
She’d only known him for a couple of days but this was the first time she’d heard him swear.
It was understandable, though, she thought. They could easily have crashed.
Just as Anthony had regained his composure, the black Toyota suddenly pulled out and over took the two cars in front, swerving recklessly again, to nestle in behind Andrew Jamieson’s blue Ford.
‘God! What is that guy up to?’ Anthony muttered as he strained to see around the two cars ahead of him. He glanced quickly at Monika.
‘I’m going to move up closer to Jamieson. Take a note of that black Toyota’s registration. We’ll get him later for reckless driving.’
Before he could make his move, Anthony noticed another black Toyota flash past him and watched as it moved ahead of Andrew Jamieson’s car then suddenly swing in, hemming the blue Ford in between the two black Toyota’s.
Then he noticed the speed of this convoy of cars slowing, in response to the reduced speed of the front Toyota. This seemed too much for the two cars in front, as they swung out and accelerated into the distance.
Anthony now found himself with just the Toyota between himself and Andrew Jamieson.
‘This isn’t what I wanted,’ Anthony said to Monika with a wave of his hand. ‘We’re too close to Jamieson.
He’ll soon notice us following him. And why’s that front Toyota going so slow?’
Before Anthony could decide what to do, the Toyota in front of him swung out and moved up beside the blue Ford, keeping pace with it, and boxing it in between the two black cars and Anthony’s.
‘Anthony look!’ Monica shouted. ‘They’ve got a gun!’
Anthony swung his gaze over to the car alongside the blue Ford, and could definitely see a gun being waved at Andrew Jamieson, indicating him to pull over.
‘Christ, what’s going on here. They can’t be cops. We’re the only ones involved in this operation?’ Anthony quickly radioed into control and confirmed that whoever they were,
they weren’t police. He then informed the two other police cars behind him, of the situation, and ordered them to move up.
By now, the front car had slowed right down, and with the car alongside the blue Ford swerving over,
Andrew Jamieson was being slowly herded off the motorway and into the emergency lane.
As if in response to this, Anthony watched as the blue Ford swung back at the black Toyota, trying to break out. The swift reaction from the car alongside was to fire a warning shot over the roof of the blue Ford.
‘Right, put the lights on,’ Anthony barked into the radio, as he put his hand out the side window and stuck the blue flashing beacon on top of the car roof. With the sirens from all three cars now blaring Anthony moved out and behind the black Toyota, accelerating to bump into its rear buffer, jolting it’s passengers. He now held their attention. The gun, which had been pointing at Andrew Jamieson, was now turned in their direction. Anthony noticed just in time to swerve, as the gun went off sending a bullet searing past Monika’s right hand side window.
‘Keep your head down,’ Anthony shouted as another bullet was fired, this time smashing into the windscreen, shattering it,
leaving a large hole as it flew between Anthony and Monika and out through the roof of the car.
Anthony pulled at the cracked windscreen in front of him to give a clear view of the black Toyota,
while Monika leveled her gun through the hole in the window and fired, sending a bullet thudding into the boot of the Toyota.
‘Too low,’ she muttered under her breath.
‘Watch!’ Anthony warned as he noticed another gun appear, now at the back left hand window.
Just in time to even the odds, one of the other police cars now drew up alongside Anthony, as Detective Zinni, the top half of his body hanging out of his right hand window, gun in outstretched hands, took aim and fired a shot into the rear window of the black Toyota.
Anthony watched as the hand holding the gun ahead went limp, releasing the weapon, which bounced along the road behind him.
When Monika also fired into the car, smashing the side window of the front gunman, this signaled a change of heart as the black Toyota suddenly accelerated and pulled away, quickly followed by the other Toyota.
Anthony passed on the details of the two cars to control as he pulled alongside Andrew Jamieson’s car.
Monika indicated to them to pull over, which they started to do almost immediately,
as if the sight and sound of the three police cars seemed a reassuring alternative to the threatening black Toyotas.
All four cars soon came to a halt with the blue Ford in the center,
surrounded by six armed police aiming their guns over the bonnets of their cars in the direction of the three Ford occupants.
‘Open the doors, and come out slowly with your hands clearly in the air,’ Anthony commanded loudly.
Monika watched as the two nearside doors opened, a pair of hands rising out from behind each of them, followed by the head of Andrew Jamieson at the front door and that of a gray haired old man at the back passenger door. At the far side another pair of hands now rose above the roof of the car followed by the head of Helena Maguz,
whose long black hair was blowing in the light sea breeze from the Bay of Elefsina in the distance behind her.
With the sun hanging low in the reddening sky beyond the bay, Anthony shielded his eyes as he ordered all three to place their hands on the roof of the car. As soon as they had obeyed, he rushed forward to Andrew Jamieson quickly followed by Monika, who
headed for Helena Maguz, and Detective Zinni who made for the old man. The other three policemen watched on, still aiming their guns at the suspects.
After quickly searching them, their arms were pulled behind their backs and handcuffs snapped on their wrists. Anthony and Monika looked at each other smiling, sharing the same common feelings of triumph and relief.
Another feeling was stirring in Monika though, as she had noticed that all through this,
Helena Maguz and Andrew Jamieson had stared at each other with a look in their eyes that she thought she recognized.
Was it a look of caring and compassion for each other – or love as it’s more commonly known?
How could a violent killer like Jamieson show such tenderness towards someone when all he had shown to his victims was a ruthless mercilessness?
And then there was the old man, how did he fit into all this. We’ll soon find out she thought, sitting beside Anthony,
with Andrew Jamieson and Helena Maguz in the back seat, as the three police cars headed off towards Athens and the police headquarters.
Athens International Airport
The flight from Stockholm had just arrived and the passengers were making their way to passport control. At the plane,
the underbelly was opened and its contents loaded onto the baggage trolleys. As they filled up, a larger vehicle drew up and a
silver container was fork lifted out of the hold and onto the rear of the transporter.
Back at the concourse, the passengers were now milling around the luggage area,
waiting hopefully for the first signs of baggage to burst through the flaps and be dragged along the circular conveyor belt.
Three men stood side by side, smartly dressed in suits – company men most people thought – as the passengers looked around at each other,
passing the time while they waited.
Suddenly a case broke through the hanging plastic flaps.
All eyes now focused on spotting their luggage as the long line of assorted cases,
hold alls and bags moved past the eagerly awaiting crowd. Gaps began to appear in the steady parade of baggage,
as hands would suddenly dart out from the throng of passengers to lift and heave their belongings off the belt and onto their waiting trolleys.
The three men in suits were lucky; their three cases had arrived early, next to each other,
to be plucked effortlessly and piled one on top of each other on to a single trolley.
They then joined the trail of passengers making their way to the international arrivals area,
side by side with the one in the middle guiding the trolley, eyes straight ahead. The passengers left behind looked enviously
at the ones who had successfully retrieved their belongings, quickly switching their gaze back to the thinning line of luggage
in the hope that they too would soon be reunited with their accompanying baggage and that, God forbid, it hadn’t made a
separate journey to some unknown destination.
At international arrivals, an expectant crowd awaited the imminent appearance of the newly arrived travelers.
It was a mixture of friends, relatives, loved ones and – dotted among them – business associates,
holding aloft small placards proclaiming the names of various companies. Familiar names such as IBM, Microsoft, Dell and others could be
seen bobbing about in the crowd, all part of the International Computer Exhibition, which would start tomorrow.
Suddenly the cards were held high, as the next batch of travelers poured through the arrivals gate to be greeted by
waves and shouts from the eager crowd trying to get the attention of the ones they had patiently waited for.
Small islands of people now formed as couples embraced and larger groups politely shook hands before drifting away into the night.
One placard in particular caught the attention of the three men in suits.
NETSOFT. This respected and rapidly growing company based in Stockholm would join the worlds top computer firms in the
annual shop window of the International Computer Exhibition. The three men were greeted warmly by their colleague,
all exchanging knowing glances, as if they were relieved that they had arrived safely.
Their thoughts were also with the cargo that had traveled with them in the silver container,
holding the equipment they would display and demonstrate to the world tomorrow.
This container had passed through customs after a cursory inspection by the officials.
After all it was NETSOFT, who hadn’t heard of them. And it was just computer equipment for the big show.
There was no reason to suspect that they would try to conceal something other than what was on the official accompanying itinery list.
No reason at all.
With his feet up on the desk, Anthony Lykourgos leaned back in the chair and rubbed his eyes. What a night,
he thought as he turned and picked up the steaming mug of black coffee, sipping it carefully.
‘Ah, just what I needed,’ he said appreciatively, his gaze shifting to Monika sitting on the other side of the desk.
‘Well, what did you make of their statements?’
Monika leaned on the desk, feeling the effects of lack of sleep.
They had finished at one o’clock last night and then went on to Anthony’s favourite taverna.
When they left there at three o’clock, she was tempted to go back to Anthony’s,
but had kissed him gently on the cheek as he dropped her off at her hotel. There was no rush.
There would be other times, she had thought as she finally fell asleep. Before she knew it,
her alarm was ringing at seven in the morning and now here she was, as if she had never left the station.
Anthony’s voice broke into her daydream. ‘Not exactly what I had anticipated,’ he added, taking another sip of his hot black coffee.
‘Well, I didn’t expect them to admit to everything,’ Monika said, still trying to shake off the effects of too little sleep.
‘But the fact that they blamed everything on some shadowy organization working for the SPAK Corporation seemed a bit too much‘ – she stopped
suddenly reminded of what happened yesterday – ‘although there were those gun men in the black Toyota’s yesterday. Did we get a trace on their cars?’
Anthony swung his feet off the desk.
‘No, the license plates don’t exist, which is very strange, just like everything else in this case.
So who knows who they were? I suppose they could just as easily be who Jamieson said they were, gun men working for SPAK.’
Monika shook her head. ‘No, the SPAK Corporation is a world wide respected company, Jamieson’s just trying to shift the blame.’
Yea, your right,’ Anthony sighed. ‘They’re a well-known employer in Athens. We don’t want to start throwing these sorts of allegations at them. The fact remains, even though they were interviewed separately, their stories still tallied. So either they’re telling the truth or
they’ve spent a bit of time agreeing what to say in case they got caught.’
‘Then there’s the old man,’ Monika added. ‘He’s a respected Professor of Philosophy at Athens University,
not the type you’d expect would hang around with a violent killer.’
Anthony looked intently at her.
‘Are you starting to have doubts?’ he asked quietly.
‘No.’ She answered firmly, shaking her head. ‘He was her Professor at University, after all, and he seems like more of a family friend,
so he could be covering for her. Talking about her family, has her father been informed?’
‘Oh yes,’ Anthony smiled. ‘Last night the Chief said he’d been notified and was now using his influence to arrange for her release.
All credit to the Chief though, he’s resisting the pressure from above, saying we need more time to interview her.
But I don’t think he can hold out much longer. I think we need to see them again before we lose her and the professor.’
Yes, there’s two things I still can’t reconcile,’ Monika agreed.
‘One is the fact that Andrew Jamieson was found with the murder weapon in his hand in Switzerland.
That’s incontrovertible. And he did escape from the hospital, where the guard was seriously injured, implying that it was his handiwork.
If he was innocent, why did he flee the country and come all the way here to Greece? Everything points to him being guilty.
They’re the actions of a guilty man. But the fact is we did see with our own eyes those gun men trying to force them off the road yesterday,
backing up Jamieson and the girls story that there are other people involved who were responsible for the death of
Hans Schenk and the assault on the police guard. Yes let’s bring them up here again to the interview rooms. I think they’re holding something back.
If we press them hard enough we may find out.’
Anthony nodded as he stood, sifting through Andrew Jamieson’s pocessions.
‘I’ve had a chance to look through Jamieson’s things, and this‘– he lifted the crimson-red card with the picture of the black and white
snake – ‘I’m sure I’ve seen this symbol somewhere before, but I just can’t remember.
I’d like to interview Jamieson again and ask him about it.’
Pocketing the card Anthony then led Monika out of the office and down to the detention area.
Outside, three white vans drew up in the narrow street at the side of the police station.
The back doors of the first van flew open and out jumped six men all dressed in black,
from their close fitting black masks down to their heavy black boots. They then raced over to a metal door at the top of a
small flight of six stone stairs. Five were cradling Israeli made Uzi sub machine guns. The one to reach the entrance first had his
gun swung round his back, as he used his free hands to enter a code on the keypad at the side and to turn a key in a lock to release
the door which he kicked wide open. As all six now charged up the stairs inside, the other two vans spewed out their contents similar
to the first van. Six more men ran up the stairs, the final six, remaining at the entrance.
Inside, Anthony and Monika had went down to the detention area, signed the three detainees out of their cells and escorted them up
to the interview rooms. As they were about to put them into the three separate rooms, Anthony turned in response to what he thought
was the sound of distant machine gun fire, coming from the far side of the room and down some side stairs. It can’t be, he thought,
lack of sleep was making him imagine things. Then a scream. And another burst of machine gun fire, closer this time.
Anthony turned to Monika.
‘Did you hear that …‘ His voice trailed off at the sight of a group of men, all in black, storming into the far side of the office,
shooting anyone who got in their way, with short bursts of rapid machine gun fire.
Like rabbits caught in the beam of an oncoming car, the people in the large open office, stared, fixed to the spot, at this unreal scene,
until they were thrown back and up into the air by the force of the stream of bullets thudding into their bodies, showering the paper
strewn desks with crimson blood. Anthony watched as Chief Inspector Yiorghos Larentzakis who had stepped out of his office to
see what all the noise was about, became the target of a nearby gunman who blasted away at close range, throwing the Chief back into
his office and killing him before he hit the floor.
One of the gunmen who had just entered the room caught sight of Andrew Jamieson and barked an order. ‘That’s Jamieson over there, kill him!’
Anthony moved first.
‘Down!’ he shouted, moving over to Monika, pushing her and the three prisoners down to the floor behind a line of desks.
Just in time as a concentrated burst of gunfire was let loose above their heads,
the bullets exploding into the wall behind them showering them with plaster ripped from the surface.
Anthony tapped Monika on the shoulder and told her to move further down the line of desks. Once there, he took a deep breath,
pulled the gun from its side holster and motioning the other four to keep low, swiftly raised his gun over the desk with
outstretched hands and took aim at the nearest black clad figure. The force of the gun going off pushed him back slightly as
the bullet left and found its target, slamming into the chest of a masked man, who released a burst of gunfire as he crumpled to the floor.
Quickly swinging his aim he brought into sight another figure and released a shot, this time finding the head of his
target, red appearing on the black mask as the man fell back and onto a desk.
Anthony now had the attention of the advancing figures who had spread out in a line and were now pointing their weapons
in his direction. Ducking, just in time before the expected onslaught, Anthony motioned to the other four figures to cover
their heads, as the windows from the offices behind shattered from the thunderous concentrated gunfire, showering them with
shards of glass. Splinters of wood also exploded into the air as all five felt the bullets thudding into the desks in front of them.
By now, Monika too had found her gun and looked over to Anthony as if mouthing, what next.
Anthony moved his hand downwards indicating for her to stay low as he quickly raised his gun again, letting off two rapid shots.
To his right he could see out of the corner of his eye another two shots being fired by the figure of Detective Zinni who was just two desks away.
The response was another hail of bullets inches above their heads. Anthony looked over beyond Zinni to the emergency exit sign that
led to a stairwell and down to a door at the side of the building. Indicating the exit sign to Monika and Zinni,
he motioned them to head towards it.
Covering them, he again raised his gun, and let off another two shots, catching someone in the shoulder.
Surprised at how close they were, he urged Monika and the prisoners on. He then crawled below the now constant gunfire above his
head towards Monika, looking back just in time to see an armed figure about four desks behind him. Christ, he thought, as Zinni
caught the gunman in the stomach, causing him to drop his machine gun and clutch his midriff as he fell.
Monika was now at the door, which she pushed open, and then led the prisoners, crouching, on to the stone landing.
Standing half up, all four now started to race down the two flights of stairs, with the sound of bullets ricocheting off
the white painted brick walls behind them. Anthony motioned to Zinni to follow him through the exit door, but Zinni waved
him on as another figure appeared, this time ducking just in time as Anthony’s shot flew over his head.
‘Go!’ Zinni shouted. ‘I’ll hold them up for a few more seconds to give you a chance to escape.
Anthony could see the resolution in his eyes as he patted him on the back.
‘OK, but as soon as you see me go down the stairs, follow me. That’s an order.’
‘Right sir,’ he replied smiling, before turning back to fire two more shots into the rapidly encircling line of black clad figures.
Keeping his head below the line of desks, Anthony dashed for the exit door and passed through it onto the stone landing.
Before heading off down the stairs he glanced back at Zinni, shouting and waving at him to follow him.
Zinni waved him on as another burst of fire sent bullets ricocheting around the stairwell. The detective replied with another couple of shots.
‘You go on Inspector, I’ll be right behind you.’
No Zinni, come –’ Anthony watched in horror as several bullets ripped into Zinni, exiting from his back in fountains of blood.
Suddenly four figures appeared around Zinni’s body. Anthony quickly let off a couple of shots, not waiting to see the results,
before turning and throwing himself down the flight of stairs. When he reached the bottom, he ran through the already open
exit door and looked around for Monika.
‘Over here, Anthony.’ Monika shouted from behind a parked car in the small side street.
Anthony made straight for the car.
‘Keep your head down they’re right behind me,’ he shouted, as a burst of machine gun fire from behind made him dive the last few meters to land
rolling on the ground and over to the side of Monika.
‘Zinni?’ she whispered hopefully.
Anthony shook his head as he reloaded his gun.
Monika sighed. ‘Who are these men, and why are they killing everybody? What are they after?
‘Us.’ Came a voice from behind.
Monika turned as Jamieson continued. ‘They’re SPAK gunmen and they want to kill us. They’ve been trying ever since Switzerland.’
Before Monika could speak, the car shuddered as raking gunfire ripped into the other side shattering the widows.
‘We’ve got to get out of here,’ Anthony interrupted as he looked for an escape route. ‘If we can make it over to that other car,
the main road is only a short dash away. Right when I shout make for that car.’
Quickly moving up and resting his gun on the bonnet, he took aim and fired three rapid shots.
Two advancing gunmen fell, prompting the others to halt temporarily, focusing their aim on Anthony. Before another burst could be let loose,
Monika and the three prisoners succeeded in their dash to the other car.
‘Come on Anthony, I’ll cover you.’ Monika shouted, waving him over.
Anthony ducked from the hail of bullets and got ready to run over to Monika who had raised her gun over the back of the car and started
to return fire, causing the black clad figures to duck and turn their attentions to her. Anthony used this opportunity to make his break
for the car, arriving next to her to add to the returning firepower. Suddenly, they all turned at the sound of screeching tires,
to see three white vans racing up the small side street, coming to a halt at the exit door. Six more men jumped from the back of
one of the vans and started to advance, firing continuously.
The automobile shook at the increasing amount of automatic gunfire thudding into it. Anthony ducked back down and turned to Monika.
‘Christ, there’s more of them, we have to get out of here, they’ll be all over us in a couple of minutes.’
Before he could move to return a shot, everything suddenly went quiet.
Anthony and Monika looked at each other.
‘Give us the girl, and you can go free.’ A voice boomed from over from beside one of the vans. ‘You have twenty seconds to decide.’
Andrew Jamieson put his arm around Helena. ‘No. Don’t. They’ll kill you and then us. It’s a trick.’
‘Has this all been just because they want you?’ Anthony asked Helena, staring at her intently.
‘I don’t know,’ she replied shakily.
It’s a trick,’ the professor added. ‘Don’t believe them, you’ve seen what they can do.’
Monika put her hand on his shoulder. ‘We can’t hand her over to them,’ Anthony. They’re killers.’
Anthony held up his hands as the other four looked on.
‘All right, all right, don’t worry I hadn’t even considered the possibility. But we need to take advantage of this
temporary cease-fire and make a break for the main road. Right, when I give the signal, run for it, and head round that corner over there.’
All five looked over to the corner, as a black car drew up beside it.
‘Look it’s Father Angeletti,’ Helena shouted as the nearside doors swung open and a man beckoned for them to enter.
Anthony quickly turned to Helena. ‘Do you know him, is it safe to go with him?’
‘Yes, yes. It’s our only chance.’
‘Right, when I say, go for it.’
Anthony moved all of them to the back of the car and then shouted.
All five raced for the car as Anthony back peddled shooting into the gunmen, who taken aback at this move, ducked.
This element of surprise was just enough to enable them to reach the car and start to jump in. Monika was just getting into the back
seat and Anthony into the front, when the expected burst of gunfire blasted into the side of the car. Anthony turning round to check Monika,
looked on in horror, as he saw her being hit in the back causing her to fall out of the rear entrance and onto the ground.
‘No!’ he screamed, jumping out and rushing over to her. Bullets flew all around as he lifted her up and threw her into the back seat.
‘Go!’ he shouted at the priest, who didn’t wait to be told twice as the car screeched away, doors flapping open, with bullets
thudding into the rear, out of the side street and onto the safety of the main road and away from the police headquarters.
‘Are they following us?’ the priest shouted!
Andrew Jamieson twisted his body round and looked out the back window.
‘Yes, I can see the three vans about six or seven cars behind us.’
Anthony had turned round and was leaning over the back seat, gently stroking Monika’s brow. He had seen enough dead bodies to know she was gone.
It didn’t happen often, but he could feel the tears welling up inside of him. Tears of sorrow and also of anger.
Such a strong bond built up in so little a time, just for her to be so violently taken from him. Yes, he thought,
turn all the sorrow into anger and direct it at the murdering bastards who did this.
He turned his gaze to Helena who was cradling Monika in her arms.
‘You say you know who those people are. Who are they? And why would they go to such unbelievable lengths to kill you?’
Andrew Jamieson leaned forward. ‘They’re SPAK gunmen and they’ve been trying to kill us since Switzerland.’
Anthony looked at Jamieson who was sitting next to Helena.
‘I think it’s because of what we know.’
‘Know what, exactly?’
‘Back in Switzerland my workmate was murdered because he saw some information on a screen.
I also saw it and that’s why they’ve been after me ever since.’
‘Well they’re not giving up. We have to lose them.’ Anthony said with a sense of urgency as he
looked beyond Andrew Jamieson to see the three white vans overtaking cars behind them.
The priest, without taking his eyes off the road ahead, shouted back, ‘where too. Where’s the safest place to go?
Anthony glanced at him then back at the three white vans in the distance.
‘Well, we can’t just go in to a police station. They’ll follow us in and shoot up the place, just like the headquarters.
Jesus, in all my years as a policeman, I’ve never seen anything like that. It was like a planned military assault on the building.
And they seemed to know where you were in the building. How could they know that?’
Andrew Jamieson turned towards Anthony. ‘They’re a big and powerful organization.
They seem to know a lot of things, as Helena and I have already found out to our cost. Maybe they have connections in the police force.’
Anthony shook his head. ‘No‘ – then remembered what had been nagging at him – ‘although, the way they came at us, they would have to have known the security code and had a key to get through that side door. Christ, that means I’d better not call in and let them know where we are – for now anyway.’
He paused for a moment as if thinking what to do next, then quickly turned round in his seat and looked straight ahead out the front window.
‘Right, we have to lose them. Where are we? Hmm, Ippokratous. Take this next turning to your left into Acadhimias, Father.’
Father Angeletti followed Anthony’s instructions and was soon passing the University on his right.
Professor Zarganis glanced out the window and sighed as the University faded into the distance.
Anthony looked back. ‘Are they still following us?’
Andrew Jamieson turned round and squinted through the back window.
‘Yes, about five cars behind us now.’
Anthony glanced out the front window.
‘We’ll soon be coming up to the Plaka district where there are lots of small streets.
We’ll try to lose them there and then head for my place in Veikou. Take the next turning to your left, Father,
this should take us to Syntagma Square.’
As Father Angeletti turned the corner he recognized where he was.
‘My God, there’s St. Denis Cathedral, where poor Jane was murdered.’
Anthony looked at him. ‘Who was murdered?’
‘Jane Davidson,’ Father Angeletti replied. ‘She was killed by SPAK gunmen in the basement.’
‘Christ, another murder!’ Anthony exclaimed.
‘This SPAK Corporation has a lot to answer for –‘ He then noticed the Syntagma post office to his left. ‘Take this next turning to your right.’
The priest turned into Mitropoleos. ‘What now?’
‘Next on your left.’
As Father Angeletti swung left, he noticed how narrow the roads were becoming. ‘Straight ahead?’
‘No, right then left again.’
Andrew Jamieson twisted round just catching sight of the first van entering the road as they left it.
‘We’re out of sight of them now. If we turn off quick here we may lose them.’
Father Angeletti quickly took the next turn left.
‘Next right, and follow the road round. This will double us back up. Hopefully they’ll continue on ahead.’
Andrew Jamieson peered through the back window.
‘There’s no sign of them.’
Anthony turned and patted the priest on the shoulder. ‘Good driving Father. You’d make a great getaway driver.’
Anthony now guided the priest through the winding streets of the Plaka until they reached the Veikou district where he lived.
Indicating a block of flats, he told the priest to turn down into a ramp, leading to the basement car park.
As the car came to a halt in the quiet of the dimly lit basement, all the occupants breathed a sigh of relief, releasing the
tension that had built up over the last few hours.
Anthony spoke first. ‘There’s the lift over there. I’ll carry Monika.’
One by one they got out of the car, flexing their cramped muscles and made their way to the lift. Once inside,
Anthony pressed the third floor button. No one spoke as Anthony held Monika in his arms.
Once at the third floor, Anthony indicated his flat to Andrew Jamieson, who opened it with the key Anthony had given him earlier.
Anthony nodded in the direction of the living room. ‘Take a seat, I’ll be back in a minute.’
He then went into the bedroom and gently laid Monika on his bed. The tears started to well up again at the thought of what might have been.
Picking up a white linen sheet a carefully spread it over Monika. I’ll make these bastards pay for this, he promised himself.
Entering the living room, He switched on the television.
‘The news is coming on. We’ll see what it says about the attack on the headquarters.’
Just as he had thought, the main story was of the attack. A number of people had been killed – no exact figures yet – and others injured when the police headquarters was attacked by a group of heavily armed men. So far there were no clues to who these gunmen were or why they did this.
‘God, nothing we don’t know already.
What –’ He broke off noting that all four were listening intently to the next news item.
‘The island of Santorini is to be evacuated, as scientists are predicting that it could erupt within the next couple of days.
Although it will not have the same devastating effect as it’s previous eruption, three and a half thousand years ago,
it will be large enough to endanger the lives of it’s inhabitants…’
Anthony stared at the pictures of the smoking Nea Kameni volcano in the center of Santorini caldera.
‘Good God…’ His voice trailing as another news item started.
‘A couple of days ago we reported that a one and a half mile wide asteroid will pass within fifty thousand miles of the
Earth tomorrow night. We can now report that another, almost identical sized asteroid, will also pass within fifty
thousand miles of the other side of the Earth at the same time …’
Anthony switched the television off and turned to the professor.
‘What’s happening? Has the world gone crazy? The police station attacked… Monika, the Chief, countless others murdered.
Then… Not just one massive asteroid passing close to the Earth, but now two. At exactly the same time. What are the odds on that happening?
The professor looked up at him. ‘Astronomical, I would think.’
‘Literally impossible,’ Anthony continued. ‘Then there’s Santorini looking as if it could blow after thousands of years of nothing happening,
the floods, outrageous terrorist attacks, nuclear States squaring up to each other … The list is endless.’
The professor nodded in agreement. ‘Yes, you’re quite right Inspector Lykourgos. Things do seem to be coming to a head.’
‘What! You think something’s going to happen soon?’
‘Professor! There’s blood on your shirt, you’ve been wounded!’ Helena interrupted, turning to open his jacket.
‘Its alright, one of the bullets must have grazed me.’ The professor reassured her, putting his hand on her shoulder.
Anthony moved closer to look as Helena removed his jacket and opened his shirt.
Anthony inspected the wound. ‘It’s not all right Professor. We’ll have to get you to a hospital.’
‘No. There’s too much to do. Just clean it up and put something on it.’
Helena looked at him, concern written all over her face. ‘But –’
‘No,’ the professor insisted.
Anthony turned to fetch some hot water and bandages.
‘OK, if that’s what you want…’
Returning with the water and a first aid box, Anthony watched as Helena cleaned the wound and skillfully
applied the bandage around the professor’s midriff.
‘Not bad,’ he congratulated her. ‘You’ve done this before?’
‘Yes, I always thought my first aid classes would come in handy sometime, although this is just temporary.
Professor, as soon as we’re able, we’ll get you to a hospital.’
‘Yes, yes. But first we have to decide what to do next.’ The professor looked up at Anthony. ‘Inspector,
you’ve now seen what these people are capable of.’
Anthony sighed at the thought of Monika lying dead next door.
‘Yes, it looks as if they would do anything to kill the three of you and anyone who got in their way.’
‘In your investigations, have you come across anything that may help us find out more about them? We don’t have much time left.’
‘What do you mean “there’s not much time left”, you hinted at this earlier, is something going to happen soon?’
‘Yes. I’ll explain later. But if you’ve discovered anything about them it may help us.’
‘No. We‘ – he sighed and corrected himself – ‘I haven’t had enough time to investigate the things revealed during the interviews…’
His voice trailed as he remembered what he was going to do just before the attack. ‘Although there are a couple of things
I was going to investigate. First was the Swiss SPAK ID card of the man alleged to have carried out the attack in Germany.
A Peter Kocher, if I remember correctly. And in the light of what happened today, this may be our chance to link SPAK to the gunmen.
And the other thing was the smart card with the picture of the snake biting its tail. I’m sure I’ve seen this before somewhere.
But I just can’t remember.’
‘You’ve seen this before?’ Father Angeletti asked, staring at him. ‘This is important, you must remember.’
Anthony put his hands over his eyes, closing them as if to picture a scene.
‘If only I can… It wasn’t at police headquarters… Another building… Not on a card… It was on a… Got it!’ he exclaimed.
‘It was to do with my other work, overseeing the security for the World Anti-Terrorist And Peace Summit that finishes tomorrow.’
‘Where did you see it? The priest asked eagerly, as they all stared intently at Anthony.
‘The British Embassy,’ he replied.
Athens Exhibition Center
Athens seemed to be at the center of the Universe today, as the World leaders were assembling for the penultimate day of the World
Anti-Terrorist And Peace Summit. And here at the Athens Exhibition Center the largest names in the high tech industry were displaying
their latest products in the annual shop window of the International Computer Exhibition.
Thronging around the maze of stands that filled the large open plan hall of the Exhibition Center,
people gazed in amazement at the sight of newer, faster, bigger, smaller computers, ipads, mobile phones that displayed new operating systems,
office packages to increase productivity, realistic graphics for modeling, network solutions to link more people together
and even games and VR to relax overworked employees. All the big names were here, IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Compaq… and Netsoft.
Things were going well at the Netsoft stand. Plenty of people had shown great interest in their new networking product.
Some orders had already been placed, keeping them on course to meet their targets. The men in suits were slick and professional in
demonstrating their product, causing passers by to stop, mesmerized at the dazzling display of multiple computers operating together
in synchronized harmony. Just think of the efficiency and the savings made from employees working closer with each other, they would
proclaim to their avid listeners.
Hidden behind the stand, two other men smartly dressed in suits were unpacking the remains of a container,
two tower computers. Each of them took one of the computers and proceeded to loosen the screws holding the outer casings to the
frames of the units. When the outer casings were removed to reveal the inner workings of the computers, it wasn’t the usual sight of
printed circuit boards populated by integrated chips but of metallic brief case sized objects carefully packed and held in place by
The men stared at each other before turning back and starting to unpack the objects. Taking great care,
they methodically removed the packaging, carefully lifting the objects out of the hollow computers and placing them on the floor.
They now brought over two leather brief cases into which they carefully placed each of the metallic objects, glancing at the
Russian writing inscribed on them, before snapping the brief cases shut. They again turned to look at each other,
wiping the small beads of perspiration that had formed on their foreheads and allowed themselves a small smile of satisfaction.
Standing, they brushed their suits with the palm of their hands, straightening out any creases that had formed during their exertions.
Satisfied, they picked up the briefcases and went from the quiet of the back of the stand and out into the bustle and noise of the exhibition.
No one took a second glance at them, why should they, they were only two ordinary men in suits carrying two ordinary briefcases.
The British Embassy
Things were happening and changing too fast Anthony Lykourgos thought to himself as he swung his car into Vasilissis Sofias
on his way to the British Embassy. Not long ago he and Monika had Andrew Jamieson down as public enemy number one.
But now Monika was dead and here he was about to check up on the British Ambassador just because of what Andrew Jamieson had told him,
while he remained back at his flat together with Helena Maguz, the professor and the priest.
But he had seen with his own eyes those ruthless gunmen trying to kill Jamieson and in the process, killing Monika.
The professor and the priest also backed up their story about the SPAK gunmen being responsible for the deaths in Switzerland and now here in Greece.
He would do anything to catch those murdering bastards who carry a card similar to the one he had in his pocket.
And now the same symbol displayed on that card had been seen on the computer screen of the security advisor to the British Ambassador here in Athens.
That was what he had finally remembered in his flat, where he had seen this symbol before.
During his job of organizing security for the World Anti-Terrorist And Peace Summit,
he had visited many of the embassies in Athens to co-ordinate the security of the visiting heads of State.
And it was at the British Embassy where he had noticed this symbol on the computer screen of the British security advisor.
Why would this symbol, used by the SPAK gunmen, be displayed on a computer screen in the British Embassy?
Had security been breached and SPAK infiltrated the embassy, obtaining access to details on the movements of World leaders
during the summit? For this reason alone he had to go back to the embassy and speak with the advisor.
But there was also the additional reason to find out more about the people who had murdered Monika. He owed her that.
Andrew Jamieson had explained to him what to look out for; a smart card reader attached to the computer.
If he had a chance he was to insert his card into the reader and check if the snake symbol appeared.
He would only have ten minutes to find out all could, as the secretary Miss Sylvia Lawrence had explained on the phone.
Sir Richard Chalmers was a very busy man.
Swinging up to the gates of the embassy he displayed his ID card and passed through into the driveway quickly finding a spare parking spot.
Once in the hallway of the impressive mansion he went over to reception and was pointed in the direction of a large door up the wide
carpeted stairs and second on the right. Knocking on the door as he entered,
Miss Lawrence looked up from reading an open folder on her desk, adjusted her glasses and focused on him.
‘Inspector Lykourgos. I’ve an appointment with Sir Richard. We spoke on the phone earlier.’ Anthony explained as he moved over to her desk.
‘Oh yes,’ Miss Lawrence said remembering him from previous visits, ‘I’ll let him know you’re here.’
While the secretary notified Sir Richard of his presence, Anthony noticed something familiar out of the corner of his eye.
Swinging his gaze from the thin, elegant, graying haired Miss Lawrence to her computer screen he immediately recognized the
snake symbol that filled the display. And sitting next to the computer was a smart card reader, just as Andrew Jamieson had described.
Shocked, he quickly tried to gather his thoughts. He had expected to see the symbol – but not here. It was Sir Richard’s
computer that had displayed the symbol the last time he visited – and now her too.
‘Sir Richard will see you now Inspector.’
Her voice shook Anthony out of his temporary shock at seeing the symbol so soon.
‘Oh. Right. Thank you,’ he replied, his mind filling with questions as he made his way to Sir Richard’s office.
Opening the door, he entered the large elegantly decorated room with its high corniced ceiling to see
Sir Richard sitting behind his desk at the far side of the room. On seeing Anthony, Sir Richard stood up and gestured to Anthony to take a seat.
‘Nice to see you again Inspector. I’m afraid I can’t spare you much time, we’re very busy at the moment.’
Anthony shook Sir Richard’s outstretched hand glancing quickly at his computer screen. Jesus, he thought to himself, again catching sight of the snake symbol, this time filling Sir Richard’s screen. Everybody here seems to be displaying this SPAK symbol.
Quickly re-gathering his thoughts, he smiled at Sir Richard.
‘Yes it’s just to confirm the final details of the security for the last day of the summit and the evening banquet.’
‘Ah, I have already prepared a copy of the Prime Ministers schedule for tomorrow,’ Sir Richard replied, handing the details over to Anthony.
‘Thank you,’ Anthony said leaning over to receive the blue folder.
‘You’ve done a good job Inspector,’ Sir Richard continued as Anthony glanced at the contents.
‘So far we’ve had no incidents to speak of. Just one more trouble free day and it’ll be all over.’
Anthony looked up to see Sir Richard smiling at that thought, staring past him as if into the distance.
Suddenly another look came over his face, one of concern as if he had just remembered something.
‘Terrible business though, wasn’t it?’ Sir Richard said, taking Andrew by surprise.
‘Sorry, what –‘
‘The attack on your police headquarters,’ he explained.
‘Oh, yes, hard to believe it happened.’
‘Were you there?’
‘Err, no. I was out at the time.’
Anthony noticed Sir Richard looked slightly surprised at this reply.
As if he had expected him to say that he was at the station at the time of the attack.
‘Do they know who it was and why they attacked your headquarters?’ Sir Richard continued.
‘No we have no idea, but we’re still investigating. It has nothing to do with the summit, though, so everything should continue there as planned.’
‘Good,’ Sir Richard said standing up. ‘Give my condolences to the relatives of the poor people killed in the attack.’
Anthony realizing the meeting was over, quickly stood and shook Sir Richards outstretched hand. ‘Thank you sir, I’ll pass that on.’
Anthony turned and headed for the door shutting it behind him as he left.
Miss Lawrence looked up from reading some notes on her desk.
Anthony nodded and smiled at her as he left the small outer office and then headed down the stairs.
Questions were now forming faster than they could be answered, if at all, in his mind, as he left the left the building and made for his car.
Why would Sir Richard and his secretary at the British Embassy display the SPAK Corporation symbol on their computer screens?
The very same symbol on the smart card that the gunmen carry around with them. What’s the connection?
As he left the embassy and swung his car into Vasilissis Sofias he remembered how surprised
Sir Richard had looked when he said that he wasn’t at the headquarters when the attack took place.
It’s as if he knew he was there he suddenly thought, looking into his rear mirror to catch sight of another car leaving the embassy behind him.
‘Something’s wrong here, I think they’re on to me,’ he muttered under his breath as he noticed the car following him at a discreet distance.
Anthony quickly pulled out his mobile phone and called a number with two short rings.
This was what he had told Andrew Jamieson to expect if he called him. Ringing the number again, it was quickly answered.
‘Lykourgos here. I think they’re on to us. You have to get out of the flat quickly. Go round the corner to a small cafe called Spiro’s. Wait for me there. I’ll be about ten minutes.
I’ve got a car tailing me and I have to lose it.’
Anthony pocketed his mobile phone and looked in his rear mirror.
Right, he thought let’s see if I can lose you as easy as I lost your friends this morning.
‘We have to get out of here fast,’ Andrew Jamieson explained as he put the phone down. ‘That was the Inspector, he said he’s being followed.
We’ve to meet him at a small cafe called Spiro’s, round the corner.’
Helena moved over to the professor. ‘Yes I know where that is. But what about the professor? He’s in no condition to walk very far.’
Andrew motioned to Father Angeletti. ‘We’ll support him, one on each side.’
Andrew and the priest went to either side of him and put his arms around their necks then slowly started to help him stand.
‘Do you think you can make it professor?’ Andrew asked noticing him wince slightly at the effort.
Helena looked at the professor, concern etched on her face. ‘We can’t move him. It’ll just make his condition worse.’
He turned to her. ‘We have no choice Helena. If these gunmen are coming here we have to get out now. But don’t worry you’ve done a good job patching me up. I feel much better now.’
‘Good,’ Andrew said as he helped him over to the front door with the aid of the priest.
Outside as they waited for the lift, Andrew noticed an old woman locking her door and turn towards them making for the lift.
‘There’s someone coming professor, do you think you can stand by yourself?’ Anthony whispered.
‘Yes,’ he replied as Andrew and the priest slowly took his arms from around their necks.
Helena smiled at the old lady as the lift arrived. Once inside, the professor leaned against the back wall as the lift quickly descended. At the ground floor the old lady got out and Helena pressed the basement button.
In the basement, Andrew and Father Angeletti helped Professor Zarganis over to the priest’s car and gently eased him into the back seat.
Helena got in and sat beside him.
‘How are you feeling professor?’
‘Fine, Helena,’ he said patting his side. ‘Ever since you bandaged me up, there’s not been much pain – only when I move suddenly. I should be able to walk unaided into the cafe.’
Helena smiled at that reassurance as the car pulled out of the basement car park and out into the autumn sunshine of Athens.
Leaning over to the priest who was driving, she instructed him to turn right then right again and pointed out the cafe as they approached it.
Pulling into a small side street the priest parked the car and all four went into the cafe, the professor managing to walk the short distance by himself.
Taking a table by the window, Helena instructed the waiter to bring four coffees.
Andrew looked out the window at the passing traffic.
‘He said he’d be here soon, assuming he manages to lose the car that’s following him.’
Helena shifted her gaze from the window to Andrew.
‘I wonder if he found out anything at the British Embassy. He seems as determined as us now to find out about the SPAK gunmen especially after they murdered his Swiss colleague. I think she was something special to him.’
At that thought, Andrew held Helena’s hand trying not to think what he would feel like if she were taken from him.
The professor sipped his coffee and placed it on the table.
‘This thing must be bigger than I originally thought, first Switzerland, then here in Greece and now the British. How many other countries are involved?’
‘Yes, but remember it’s the British Embassy, that’s the government. How far up does this thing go?’ the priest added.
The professor looked at Andrew and Helena. ‘I think we should tell Father Angeletti of our discussion after he left us the other day. He has the right to know the full story.’
‘What do you mean?’ the priest asked, intrigued.
The professor turned to him. ‘After you left the other day, I revealed –‘
‘Wait a minute professor.’ Andrew interrupted, looking out the window. ‘I’ve noticed the same car with four men in it pass by three times now. Each time they’ve been looking out as if searching for something. I don’t think we can stay here much longer or we’ll be spotted.’
‘What about the inspector?’ Helena asked.
‘He should have been here by now. Something must have happened. Maybe he couldn’t lose the car that was following him – or worse.’
Helena stared at him. ‘But where will we go?’
‘What about your mother and father?’ Andrew suggested. ‘You trust them. Don’t you?’
‘Yes of course I do but –‘
‘That’s a good idea,’ the professor broke in. ‘Your father’s a well-respected man of influence here in Athens. He may be able to help us.’
‘That’s settled then,’ Andrew decided. ‘Right, get ready to leave. As soon as that car passes again we’ll go. That’ll give us a couple of minutes to reach our car before it comes round again.’
All four now looked out the café window. Watching anxiously.
Then Andrew suddenly spotted it. ‘Here it comes. Look away from the window… God they nearly saw us then. Let’s go.’
Andrew and Father Angeletti helped the professor to his feet, holding him on either side as they left the café and made for the car.
Easing him carefully into the back seat they both went into the front while Helena got in beside the professor.
‘Right which way?’ the priest shouted back to Helena.
‘Straight ahead.’ She replied.
The car then pulled out of its parking space and headed through Athens to the house of Simon and Helen Maguz.
Anthony looked in the rear mirror as he approached Syntagma Square.
Still on my tail, he thought, right I’ll head off into the Plaka as before and try the same maneuver to lose them.
Swinging right into Mitropoleos he continued until the first turn off on his left where the roads became noticeable narrower.
Quickly turning right he noticed the black car just entering the street as he left it. I’m out of sight of them now he thought,
a quick turn left and I’ll lose them. Taking the next left turn he followed the road round to double back up the way he had just come.
Peering into his rear mirror he could see no sign of the black car. Done it again he thought, smiling as he headed into Apollonus.
Taking the next turn off to head back down to Veikou, Anthony suddenly cursed as he noticed the black car once again settle back in
place three cars behind him.
‘God their back!’ he muttered under his breath. ‘It must be luck.
They must have just taken the right turn off after I’d lost them and bumped into me.’
Anthony tried again, another similar route through the winding streets of the Plaka.
But just as before when he thought he’d lost them, they suddenly appeared on his tail again.
After a few more failed attempts through other parts of the city, he came to the conclusion that they must have planted a tracking
device on his car back at the embassy while he was talking to Sir Richard.
‘Wherever I go in this car, they’re going to be right behind me. I’ve got to ditch it and make the rest of the way on foot,’
he spoke quietly to himself, trying to form an escape plan.
Looking around he saw the Acropolis rise above him to his right, the Parthenon sitting atop it proudly in the fading autumn sunshine.
This was the oldest part of the city with a maze of side streets filled with cafes and tavernas. That’s it, he thought finally.
The next time I lose sight of them, I’ll dump the car and head for the pedestrian precincts in the Plaka then on down to Veikou on foot.
At the next turn off, out of sight of the following black car, he suddenly screeched to a halt and jumped out of his car,
slamming the door behind him. Noticing a small side street brimming with people, he headed into the crowds losing himself
amongst the cafes and tavernas in the colourful narrow pedestrianized street. Following the line of narrow streets heading southward,
he soon found himself in the Veikou district. Again keeping to the side streets he finally made it to Spiro’s café. Entering,
he quickly scanned the small smoky interior. No sign of them.
Looking at his watch, he remembered he told Jamieson he would be there in ten minutes.
That was forty-five minutes ago. Did they even make it to the café?
Looking up he noticed Spiro, a small round graying man with a wispy moustache and a permanent smile.
‘Spiro. How are you today?’ he greeted him.
‘Ah. Anthony, you weren’t here for your morning coffee, not like you. To busy with a case?’
‘Yea, something like that. Eh, you didn’t notice three men and a beautiful young lady in here in the last hour, did you?’
Spiro looked into the air thoughtfully.
‘Yes. Sat by the window looking out as if watching for something. Left in a bit of a hurry, about… half an hour ago.’
Shit, Anthony thought to himself. Why’d they leave suddenly? Had they been followed as well? Christ, now I’ve lost them.
And I haven’t a clue where they are. They could be anywhere in Athens.
‘Well thanks Spiro, I’ll catch you later.’ Anthony turned to leave.
‘Were they part of your case Anthony?’ Spiro shouted after him.
Anthony sighed. ‘They were Spiro, they were.’
Kolonaki district of Athens
Likavittos hill loomed ever larger above them as they approached the plush Kolonaki district of Athens.
‘Wherever I go in this car’, said The professor, ‘they’re going to be right behind me. I’ve got to ditch it and make the rest of the way on foot,’
he spoke quietly to himself, trying to form an escape plan.
Looking around he saw the Acropolis rise above him to his right, the Parthenon sitting atop it proudly in the fading autumn sunshine.
This was the oldest part of the city with a maze of side streets filled with cafes and tavernas. That’s it, he thought finally.
The next time I lose sight of them, I’ll dump the car and head for the pedestrian precincts in the Plaka then on down to Veikou on foot.
‘Turn right into Vasilissis Sofia and continue straight ahead until we come to the British Embassy.’ Helena instructed him.
The professor turned to her. ‘When was the last time you saw your mother and father, Helena?’
‘Oh‘ – she paused to think a second – ‘it must have been about eight months ago,
just before I started the contract in Switzerland. But I’ve spoken to my mother a couple of times on the phone since.
Just to reassure her I’m all right. You know what she’s like?’
‘Yes I do,’ the professor replied. ‘You’re lucky to have such caring parents. I’m sure they’ll be delighted to see you.’
‘Yes,’ she said thoughtfully as she saw the British Embassy approaching.
‘Turn left here, Father.’
Turning left, the priest followed Helena’s instructions until they were travelling along a road lined with impressive neoclassical mansions.
Andrew stared in amazement. Helena had never given the impression that her mother and father were so well off.
‘Don’t tell me you live here, Helena?’
‘Well I used to. This is where I was brought up. As Helena Maguz.But even here hasn't escaped the mounting troubles of Greece,’
as she noticed the graffiti festooned suburb.
Andrew and the priest looked at each other, as they pulled up outside the most impressive of all the mansions in the street.
‘Helena Maguz!’ Andrew exclaimed. ‘But you’re Helena Miropolous.’
She leaned forward as the professor smiled at Andrew’s reaction.
‘It was my fathers idea,’ she explained. ‘He thought that being the daughter of one of the richest men in Greece,
I could be a potential kidnap victim and held to ransom, especially when I worked abroad. So I did it to keep him happy.’
‘Oh,’ Andrew said as he and the priest nodded in agreement. ‘Sounds a reasonable thing to do – in the circumstances. But you hid it well, being the daughter of such a rich man.’
She smiled at him as she opened the back door. ‘It’s not something to boast about. The right man would find out at the right time.’
Andrew thought about that as he watched her get out of the car and go over to an intercom at the side of the large black wrought iron gates. After speaking into it she returned to her seat.
‘They’re not in at the moment, but they shouldn’t be too long. We’ll go in and wait,’ Helena said as the large gates opened to invite them up the tree-lined driveway.
Father Angeletti drove the car up the winding sloped entrance as the wrought iron gates closed shut behind them.
The trees soon gave way to open lawn dotted with statues, classical Greek Andrew thought.
The priest pulled the car off the driveway and into the open graveled parking area in front of the imposing mansion that rose above them.
Still reeling at the unexpected grandeur of Helena’s home, Andrew and the priest helped Professor
Zarganis out of the back seat and followed Helena up to the marble columned front door.
Almost as they reached the large twin doors, they swung open to reveal a beaming head-scarfed lady wiping her hands
on her apron before she grabbed Helena in a bear-hugging grip. Standing back, the woman held Helena at arms length and looked at her.
‘My little one, it’s so good to see you. It’s been too long. A year at least,’ she said stroking her hair affectionately.
‘No, nana, about eight months,’ Helena corrected her, smiling.
‘Well it seems that long. Anyway come in. And who are your friends?’ the woman asked as she ushered them in, recognizing the professor.
‘Ah Professor Zarganis nice to see you again.’
The professor smiled as he was helped into the large hallway. ‘Nice to see you too, Mrs. Popodopolis.’
As the woman led them into the lounge, she noticed the professor being helped along by Andrew and the priest.
‘Are you not feeling well professor?’
‘Yes I’m fine just a little tired.’
Nodding in the direction of the priest he continued. ‘This is Father Angeletti‘ – then turning to Andrew – ‘and this is Andrew, a good friend of Helena’s.’
‘Pleased to meet you Father… and you too Andrew.’ The woman looked Andrew up and down as if trying to decide if he was good enough for her little Helena.
Once the professor was seated, Helena went over and hugged the small round beaming woman.
‘This is Maria our housekeeper, who basically brought me up. My mother and father were away a lot of the time when I was young leaving me in the capable hands of my nana.’
Maria blushed at the compliment. ‘Yes and I loved every minute of it. You were a lovely child… and now a beautiful woman.
I still feel lonely when you’re not here‘ – she wiped a tear from her eye then sniffed and pulled herself together –
‘but you’re here now with your friends. Your mother and father won’t be long. Can I get you anything? Something to eat perhaps?’
Helena smiled at her. ‘Just some sandwiches and coffee I think,’ she said looking at her three seated companions who nodded in agreement.
Maria then scuttled away humming to herself, her heart lightened at the return of her lovely Helena.
Andrew looked around the beautifully decorated room with its high ornate ceiling and large windows looking out over the back lawn that stretched down to a line of trees. The setting autumn sun was low in the sky filling the room with a dim orange glow that prompted Helena to pull over the heavy crimson curtains and light some of the many lamps placed around the lounge.
‘This is a lovely house,’ Andrew said admiringly as he looked around.
‘A bit better than our hotel rooms back in Switzerland.’
She smiled at this as she sat beside him. ‘Yes, but they did have a certain charm don’t you think?’
No.’ He replied emphatically, remembering his soulless noisy room back at the Swiss, German border.
The priest suddenly leaned forward in his seat as if he had just remembered something.
‘Professor. Back at the café. You were going to tell me about the conversation you had after I left the other day.
You mentioned, “telling me the full story”. Is there something I should know?’
The other three looked at each other, nodding in agreement.
‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘There is.’
The professor then went on to tell Father Angeletti about his involvement with the Greek Gnostic sect and their discovery of the impending Black Hole Of Souls tomorrow night. Looking on astonished, the priest then heard how the headset was to be used by the SPAK Gnostics to escape before the arrival of this irreversible descent into chaos.
Suddenly the door burst open, as the priest was about to ask the first of his many questions, and four men, arms raised holding guns aimed steadily at them, rushed in and surrounded the shocked group. Before Andrew could react he and the others were pulled roughly to their feet, quickly searched and their hands bound behind their backs.
‘Don’t touch her –’ Andrew growled as a gun was whipped across his face, causing him to spit blood.
‘No –’ Helena screamed, as tape was placed over each of their mouths.
The professor winced in pain as they were all turned around and led out the room to be taken from the house and into two waiting cars
with blacked out windows. As the cars sped away from her house Helena turned and looked at Andrew, fear in her eyes at what lay in
store for them at the hands of their captors. She knew all too well what they were capable of.
425000 miles from Earth
Space - 425000 miles from Earth
Deep in space the two large irregular shaped dark masses of rock and iron spun as they hurled towards the Earth.
Half a mile wide and traveling at a speed of twenty five thousand miles an hour they were the mavericks of space with no regard for whatever
lay in their path. The astronomers back on Earth were of course correct when they said that the two asteroids were on separate courses
that would narrowly miss us. But what about the next time they headed towards us? That was why they would be tracked well into the future,
because each time round, their routes would change and next time we may not be so lucky.
Earth - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Peter Strauss in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena sat back in his chair and felt quite satisfied with his past weeks work.
He had discovered a few asteroids in his time but the two that would narrowly miss Earth were his finest achievement.
He had plotted and verified their paths through the heavens using the most powerful computers in the world and now as predicted they dutifully followed these paths.
Turning his head to the screen he pressed the Return key with an outstretched finger and watched as the simulation went
through the motions of displaying the asteroid’s path as it approached the Earth, narrowly missing it and then continuing its journey through space.
That was the first of the two asteroids he had spotted.
Selecting the simulation of the second one, he watched a repeat performance as this almost identical asteroid followed a mirror image of the first as it narrowly flew by the other side of the Earth.
Shaking his head, he still couldn’t believe this was happening.
It was like the synchronized dancing of two bodies in the heavens around the Earth.
Quite poetic he thought as he re-ran the simulations again to wile away the time before he received tonight’s space shots from the Maui Space Surveillance Site, Hawaii.
They were monitoring the two asteroids closely until they had passed the Earth safely, and Peter was waiting in anticipation to see exactly where they were tonight.
He knew where they would be though, he thought to himself confidently.
This was just to confirm his predictions.
There was no reason on Earth why they wouldn’t be where he predicted. No reason at all.
Space - 400000 miles from Earth
Deep in space and unaware that they should be following the plans of the tiny creatures on the planet ahead of them,
the two asteroids were about to cross paths, before they would start their final approach to swing around the Earth.
Peter Straus was correct when he had used the word synchronized.
But he would have been more accurate if he had added the word exactly.
For that’s what they were, exactly synchronized to cross paths in such a way that they would alter each others route
through the Solar System.
Peter Straus had been meticulous in checking how the asteroids he tracked would interact with the Earth but he never
considered investigating how the approaching asteroids would interact with each other.
It was too remote a possibility to be worth checking; that they would pass so close to each other to change
their course through space.
But that’s exactly what had happened.
And now the two asteroids were on a much narrower course; that would have them swing, not past the Earth, but directly
into it. They had in their sights only just the one target, Eleusis in Greece.
Take a look at all the things you’ve done
Just because you want to be the One…
Ανδρέας sat on the warming rough cut stone beneath the shading Olive tree and stared at the broad shouldered wrestler Ἀριστοκλῆς
Sitting next to anoher new recruit to the Academy, Aristotle, both lisentened intently to the their tutor, Plato.
Although given the name of Aristocles at birth after his grandfather, he was popularly known as the broad one or Plato from his wrestling days.
Having just arrived at the Academy after the 1.5 kilometer walk from his home in Athens in the now glaring Sun on his muscular tanned young body,
Andréas was glad to rest in the shade of this revered open air site with its Sun bleached stones dotted with welcoming shady Olive trees.
Here he was learning with others from the most esteemed philosepher in all of Greece.
All were anticipating a new insight and meaning into all they exprerienced in everyday life, which to most was boring and predictable.
'In the cave, as described by Socrates in a dialectit with my brother, a scene was portrayed of people, chained rigidly from their first memories,
facing a wall.Flames was their indirect sun, illuminating shadows, passsing by day after day carrying out their chores.'
'They hear the sounds of this daily ritual, sounds echoing throughout the cave, reaffirming thier senses of this reality.'
'But one prioner escaped his shackles and strared into reality and was blided by the sun.'
'Slowly he adjusted and realised that true reality existed outside of the cave as he saw and heard the beauty of what was hidden from him.'
'When he returned to the cave, his fellow cave member's ridicuded him.'
At this point Plato turned to Andréas, who blushed as all inluding Plato fixed their stare on him.
To his relief, Andrew awoke, staring at the the image of his now illuminated screen.
Back To Chapter1
Take a look at all the things you’ve done
Just because you want to be the One…
‘Do you know what its like do be burnt at the stake my dear?’
‘Ye… yes,’ the little girl stuttered, head bowed in fear, to the priest walking beside her.
He shook his head.
‘No. I don’t think you do. Let me enlighten you.’
The priest, dressed in white robes bearing embroidered red and gold crosses, put his arm around the little girl as her mother and father looked on.
They were at the head of a long line of over two hundred men, women and children being escorted down the southern slopes of a mountain by ten thousand Royal Catholic French troops.
At the top of the three thousand-foot high peak behind them, lay the ruins of the Cathars fortress, Montsegur.
The priest continued.
‘At first, you will feel the heat of the approaching flames. As they get closer, your whole body will tingle and you will be gasping for air. You may already be hearing the screams of your mother and father, as the flames will have reached them first, giving you an idea of what awaits –’
‘Stop it! Leave her alone!’ the little girl’s father shouted, as he put a protective arm around her.
‘Get back!’ a French soldier commanded, striking the father hard, to bring blood pouring from a gash in his face.
The priest pulled the little girl back beside him.
‘If I may continue. Now where were we? Ah yes.
Your ears will be filled with the screams of your burning parents as the flames reach your feet, and you too will scream like you have never done before. The rising flames will boil your blood and melt the flesh from your bones. When they reach your head, your eyeballs will melt. The last thing you will remember of this world will be the indescribable pain of –’
‘Enough!’ the little girl’s mother cried.
‘Leave us in peace in our final moments.’
The priest turned quickly, thrusting a silver cross in her face.
‘Then abjure your heresy and you will be spared!’
‘Never!’ the mother replied, her gaze fixed steadily at the symbol of Christianity.
‘Then prepare to meet your fate,’ the priest declared with a sweep of his arm as they reached the bottom of the mountain to see the large communal execution pyre of wood and logs spread out before them.
The Cathars gasped at the sight. They knew that their death was guaranteed after the fifteen-day truce had ended without renouncing their Gnostic beliefs, but to actually see the instrument of their destruction was a reminder of what awaited them.
The French Catholic troops now formed a ring around the huge pyre as the priests, resplendent in their fine robes, said prayers for their victims.
The Cathars were then led to ladders situated around the shoulder high bier and ordered to climb up, where they were then taken and tied to one of the two hundred and five stakes positioned around the wooden pyre.
Galleries had been placed on all four sides of the huge square platform of timber, to ensure that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the French aristocracy would have clear views of the suffering about to be inflicted on those Pagans who dared to have different views from the Catholic Church.
In the center, the little girl looked up with fear in her eyes at her mother and father on either side of her, as the Catholic troops surrounding them lit their torches.
At a signal from the commander, they held their torches to the edges of the pyre, which was packed with tinder dry hay.
Almost immediately all four sides of the platform of wood and logs burst into flames prompting gasps from the men and women closest to edge, who quickly resumed their prayers to God, to fill the air with a background of rhythmic chanting, as the noise from the crackling wood intensified.
When the flames reached the first victims, their chanting turned to tortured screams of pain.
‘Mother!’ the little girl cried out. ‘I’m frightened.’
‘Be brave my darling. Soon it will all be over and we’ll be back together again in a better place.’
The flames had now taken hold of the wooden pile and were moving rapidly to the center, leaving in their wake the burning remains of their victims.
The priests smiled at each other satisfactorily in the morning sunshine as the fire and smoke reached high into the pale blue sky, mingling with the screams of the remaining figures tied to the stakes. The little girl’s father looked lovingly at his wife and reminded her that they mustn’t scream for the sake of the child as the raging blaze swiftly approached them.
The woman again turned to her daughter. ‘Close your eyes darling. It will soon be over.’
With the screams filling her ears and smoke choking her lungs, the little girl obeyed her mother just as the intense heat of the wall of fire hit her parents engulfing them in a blazing shroud. With tears streaming down her face the little girl gasped for air as the hungry flames approached her.
‘Mother, father, I’m frightened. Please help me!’ she screamed as the inferno surrounded her.
The priests watched on as the final, tiny victim was quickly consumed and the funeral pyre’s flames raged on.
Although the smell of burning human fat was overwhelming, this was replaced by the sweet smell of victory. At last they thought, the Pagans were finally gone.
The Catholic Church had triumphed.
Back To Helena
False churches rising all around
Holy relics that can never be found…
St Peters Chapel
Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession.’
Father Dominic Bapst bowed his gray head and moved it closer to the ornate grill separating him from the confessor. Through the darkness he replied softly.
‘What have you to confess, my son?’
The voice was shaking with guilt.
‘I’m a devout catholic, Father, and I can’t live any longer with the knowledge of what I‘ve seen and heard without telling someone. It would be a mortal sin if I didn’t warn you of the rising forces gathering against the Catholic Church.’
Father Bapst’s brow furrowed as he moved his head even closer to the grill.
‘What do you mean, “against the Catholic Church” my son?’
‘They thought they had organized themselves such that people like me, outsiders, wouldn’t discover the true purpose of their work. But, bit by bit, fragments of information surfaced to finally paint a picture more horrifying in its consequences than at any time in the history of Christianity.’
Father Bapst sensed the growing anxiety in the voice as it continued to utter either the ravings of a madman or the revelations of a saviour. In an attempt to get a rational explanation, he would try to calm and reassure this distressed soul.
‘The Church has always faced dangers, my son, that is what makes it strong. Surely what you speak of is not as bad as it seems. If you tell me calmly of what you know, then you will have done your duty and need worry no more.’
To the surprise of the priest the voice was now even more agitated.
‘You must believe me Father, we thought they had gone forever and that the Church had triumphed, but they’re back, with plans that no one could even begin to dream of!’
‘Whose back?’ Father Bapst queried with mounting impatience.
‘Where are these Gnostics?’ Father Bapst demanded, feeling himself being drawn into this man’s nightmare.
‘At SPAK!’ replied the voice climatically, as if it had finally got its message across and a burden had been lifted.
Father Bapst could hear the man exhale a deep sigh and sensed a change of mood in him. He too had regained his composure.
‘What is this SPAK, that you speak of?’ he asked softly.
The voice was now more subdued.
‘It’s where I work. I think they’ve become aware of the flaw in their security procedures and must now suspect that I know what their plans are. I had to tell someone before they could stop me.’
‘How would they stop you?’
‘Because of what I know, I’m sure they would resort to murder. I’m frightened Father. Please help me.’
‘If you’re afraid for your life then you must go to the police…’
The priest’s head suddenly turned at the sound of distant footsteps.
‘It’s too late, they’re here, I have to go Father. God help me.’
Father Bapst now had his face hard against the grill. ‘But what are their plans?’
The priest could hear the sound of the confessional door open. And then silence.
‘Are you there, my son?’
Father Bapst got up from his seat and came out of his box just in time to hear the main chapel door closing. He was shaken by the confession. But he had to find out more. Was this man deluded, ill, sick and in need of treatment, or was he indeed trying to warn of a threat to the Catholic Church?
As he headed through the dark candle lit chapel to the main entrance, he heard a cry then a loud thud that shook the wooden chapel doors, followed by a deep groan.
Father Bapst stopped and stepped back. He remembered the man’s final words. Those of fear and murder. Had this man risked his life to tell him of a dark secret and now that he too held this knowledge, was his life also in danger?
Father Bapst turned and headed toward his office. He had to tell someone. And he knew exactly who that person was.
As he entered the room at the top end of the chapel, the large wooden entrance doors slowly creaked open to reveal an ever-expanding shaft of sunlight that raced up the aisle and onto the figure of Jesus on the cross.
Footsteps now echoed around the chapel as menacing figures moved through the beam of light
, casting their shadows on the lonely figure on the cross.
Back To Athens