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The Star

 Premiered August 22, 2003

Chapter Fifteen

 

The airport at Mexico City proved relatively uneventful.  Neither of the two fugitives bothered to suggest they buy tickets to some other diversionary location -- the scheme obviously wasn't working.  Alex also had the concern they were spending money somewhat more rapidly than he had anticipated.  A minor frugality came over him, as they wandered though the portals eager to take large sums of dollars and/or pesos from impulse buying tourists and rich Americans who had waited until the last minute to buy souvenirs and make flight reservations.  Dawn and Alex, being in the latter lot, were thus forced to spend two and a half times the discount rate for the airline tickets which would afford them precisely the same arrival time, the same dismal lack of food fare, and the same standard airline inconveniences.

Dawn was fairly oblivious to the monetary transactions, paying more attention to the possibility of interference from any one of the multiple groups which might be after them.  She felt a small amount of relief when she realized the Lima flight they had booked was leaving within forty minutes.  She then spent her time primed to pick up any danger signals.  She relaxed only when the airplane was streaking down the runway and beginning to feel the effects of the wind under its wings.  The fact the DC 10 was only about ten percent loaded, added to her comfort level, because she could see anyone who might approach their seats while they were still at a considerable distance.  There was an amazing degree of privacy.  The Argentine National airline they were flying was state supported, which explained the need for paying customers.  At the same time the pilots were from Texas and New Jersey, respectively.  Neither spoke Spanish, and both had only marginal command of the English language.

The only other minor difficulty was the flight arrived in Lima at 4:45 AM Local time.  It is a fact of life that flights originating from the United States and Western Europe depart and arrive at intelligent hours, i.e. between 6 am in the morning and 11 pm at night.  The rest of the world puts up with this by having their flights arrive and depart at whatever hour allows for the flight to eventually originate and arrive in Western Europe and the United States at reasonable hours.  It's not particularly democratic on a world class basis, but it's never-the-less one of those inequities of modern life.

Added to this was the fact the flight out of Mexico City departed at the moderately decent hour of eleven o'clock at night, but then proceeded to fly southeastward on its way to Lima, Peru.  The flight was four hours long (not including the 45 minutes of cumulative delay on the ground in Mexico City and in the air circling off the coast of Peru).  They also lost an hour, flying from CDT to EDT.  It is generally not appreciated that Lima, Peru, on the west coast of South America is on the same longitude (77 degrees West) as Washington, DC; and that the Panama Canal is somewhat east of Key West, Florida.  In any case, Dawn and Alex deboarded their plane around 4:45 in the morning, Lima time.  Customs went amazingly well -- their having virtually no luggage.  (Supposedly, their luggage had not made flight connections, and their luggage tags had been lost when someone stole Alex's wallet in Mexico City -- both very plausible explanations).

At the same time, customs officials in Peru were particularly interested in arms bring smuggled into the country, and inasmuch as Dawn and Alex looked pretty harmless, they were readily passed through.  While Peru officially did not like gun-toting tourists, they always welcomed gold-bearing ones.  The lady official who checked Dawn seemed quite nonplused by Dawn's cargo of gold.  Of course, she saw only a few of the coins, and thus readily bought Dawn's explanation of these being emergency funds.

In Lima itself, however, there was a bit of a quandary.  Their destination was Cuzco, east of Lima and lying in between the Cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera Central, the successive waves of mountain building along the South American western coast.  On the one hand, all of the scheduled flights from Lima to Cuzco, i.e. from the seacoast where the capital of Peru lay to the 11,200 foot elevation of the ancient city of Cuzco, were in the early morning.  The Southern flank of the leading edge of the western Andes had the habit of producing some god-awful clear air turbulence and devastating wind shear along its steep slopes each and every afternoon.  For years, scheduled afternoon flights had been canceled on a routine basis until the airlines finally wised up and decided to schedule only morning flights.  Unfortunately, the airlines did not add any additional planes to account for the normal traffic between Lima and Cuzco to make up for the canceled afternoon flights.  Thus there were no flights available to Cuzco, for the next two days.  There were only standby possibilities, and this seemed chancy at best.

Alex was a man not overly blessed with patience.  The idea of hanging around Lima, or finding a hotel in which to crash, was not a remote possibility.  Alex went in search of a private plane, while Dawn headed for the local pretense at sanitary facilities in order to affect some repair of her physical appearance.  Unfortunately, the plumbing in Limaís airport was marginal at best, and complicated by the imposition of severe water use restrictions.  For Alex, his options were limited by the availability of a single private plane.  It nevertheless took each of them about an hour, and by six o'clock in the morning they were aboard a two-seater prop (upon which, Alex, to his increasingly great distress, had blown another wad of cash).

The pilot's name was Francisco Lawrence, descended from the Lawrences of Atlanta, Georgia.  But in his guise as local compatriot, everyone called him Cisco.  From his viewpoint, being called the Cisco Kid was better than returning to the U.S. and possibly facing draft-dodging charges -- even if, unbeknownst to him, the U.S. government had given up any pretense of looking for him a decade ago.  Cisco was, after all, an entrepreneur.  He was also a free spirit, and the combination of the two personality traits was perfectly accounted for by his custom-flying the Andes for rich Americans.  The job paid well, and he was freer than the vast majority of law-abiding citizens in the "land of the free".  But then again, law-abiding citizens have never been particularly free.

In typical fashion, Cisco introduced himself by suggesting alternative ways for his passengers to spend their money.  Once airborne (and thus with the ultimate captive audience), he began one of several spiels.  "You wish a slight detour to see the Bay of Paracas?  Cisco can do.  No problem."  Cisco in his disguise for many years had intentionally modified his English to sound like a native with only a marginal command of the language.  This affection down played his ancestry and played up his entrepreneurial eagerness to please and sell the customer whatever he was currently pushing.

Alex, not privy to Cisco's background as a youth, could only think about the implications of an addition to their travel plans.  Knowingly, he asked, "How much?"

"For you, because I like you," Cisco replied, "A mere one hundred American dollars.  Cash."

Alex could not help but scowl.  "No thanks," he replied.

"But you don't want to miss Viracocha's forked lightning symbol, do you?  It's spectacular!"  When Alex did not appear to bite, he added, "Might as well see it.  With all the commercial jets flying into Cuzco, we will probably get stuck in a holding pattern once we get there.  Flying along the coast to the Bay of Paracas would therefore not involve any additional time."

Alex was not convinced.  "But we flew out ahead of the commercial jets."

"Si," the pilot agreed.  "We had to.  Otherwise, we at the end of take off line.  But we also fly slower than they do.  They will get there first, and they have priority.  You understand?"

Alex made a deep grunt of displeasure, while Dawn looked on smiling.  Then she said, opening her purse and pulling out a fifty. "I'll give you fifty dollars to fly over the Bay, and tell us all about it."  Dawn had been taking lessons in south-of-the-border negotiations.

Cisco laughed uproariously.  He loved to bargain.  But he also had bigger game in mind.  "For you pretty lady, I do it.  Special guided tour.  You be delighted!"

"Good," Dawn replied, in a full, confident voice.  Then in a low whisper, she asked Alex, "What are we about to see?  Do you know?" 

Alex looked at her in disbelief.  Then he laughed, and said quietly, "Wait and see."

 vvvvvvvvv

The sight, from Dawn's point of view, was worth the fifty dollars.  On the mountainside above the Bay of Paracas, visible from the air and the ocean, laid a huge trident of forked lightning.  Clearly artificial and highly symbolic, the massive sign seemed to proclaim to gods and men alike that this place was the Realm of the Storm God. 

The Bay of Paracas that it guarded was one of the most notable anchorages along the southern coast of Peru and northern Chile.  The anchorage had even appeared on Piri Re's map, an ancient extant map dated A.D. 1513 which accurately depicted the Andean mountains, the rivers including the Amazon flowing eastward, and the South American Pacific coast from about four degrees to forty degrees south (i.e. from Ecuador through Peru and midway down through Chile). 

Viracocha's symbol of forked lightning was similar in construction to the patterns etched in the Nazca plains further south.  There strange shapes ranged from an eight-legged spider some 150 feet in length to a long-billed hummingbird to huge geometrical figures whose ruler-straight lines and angles could hardly be bettered with modern surveying instruments.  All were created by scraping the ground of a thin layer of dark, weathered gravel, uncovering lighter colored gravel beneath.  Many of these symbols could not be identified as such from the ground, and were only vaguely identifiable when one was specifically looking for them.  Almost all of the patterns, etched long before 1000 A.D., were never even known to the modern world until pilots began flying over them.

After several passes for maximum effect, Cisco turned the aircraft eastward and began gaining altitude.  The mountains of the Peruvian Andes regularly reach 23,000 feet in elevation, and airplanes have to fly over or around them. In the meantime, however, Cisco was not adverse to setting up for the next sale.  But first:  "Soon you get to see the great Incan Civilization," he began.  "You heard of the Incas?"  When Dawn said she had, Cisco added, "The Incas the civilization that immediately preceded the Dinkas and the Dos!"  Abruptly, he began laughing uproariously.  As both Alex and Dawn shook their heads, Cisco managed to regain some control.  "I just love that joke!"

With his passengers now in a good mood, Cisco proceeded to the next stage.  "You look like good people to me: Astute and trustworthy."  When neither of the passengers said anything, and only smiled, strongly suspecting they were being gently set up, he added, "For you, I make a special deal.  See the cooler in front of you?"  When they acknowledged as such, he said, "Open it.  In it you find a very special piece.  Pre-Columbian.  I can make you a special price."

Alex opened the cooler, found a small, cloth wrapped object the size of a honeydew melon, and set it in his lap where he began to unwrap it.  The art object was a small pitcher of reddish brown pottery.  Only this piece had the added artistic flair of graphically depicting a well-endowed female providing fellatio for an even more well-endowed male.  Dawn caught her breath, just before breaking into laughter.  Of the two, Alex was more embarrassed.  He should have seen it coming.

"Now you know why they call it Pre-Columbian art," Cisco announced.  "After the Catholic priests began arriving, this style of art didn't get a lot of official sanction."  The pilot laughed, thoroughly enjoying himself.  Then he added, "The Incas were not the most literate people in the world.  So they liked to instruct their citizens in the more rewarding aspects of life by depicting things on their pottery.  I think it's a good policy."  Then he sobered slightly, "This is a prize piece.  You can't get it just anywhere."

"What about the museums?" Alex asked.

"They have a nice collection in Lima," the pilot answered.  "But they don't let women see it.  They are very chauvinistic.  This is the only chance for women to get educated.  In my airplane."

"And I'm sure you do a wonderful job," Dawn laughed, "in your airplane."

Cisco did not quite get the joke, but kept smiling.  "You like to keep the art?" he asked.

Dawn could only shake her head, as Alex began wrapping it back up in the cloth.  "I just don't know where I would keep it, where I would display it in my home."

"In the bedroom," Cisco helpfully suggested.

"I don't think so," Dawn confided. In an effort to divert the conversation, she asked, "Does anyone know why those great figures on the Nazca plains and the Bay of Paracas were drawn?"

The disappointed entrepreneur shrugged his shoulders.  "No body seems to know."

Alex then took a deep breath, catching Dawn's attention.  Quietly, he said, "Actually, there is a theory which explains it pretty well."

"Oh good," Dawn exclaimed.  "One of your theories.  I can't wait!"  Even Cisco lent an attentive ear.

When Alex was reasonably confident Dawn was sincere about wanting to hear and Cisco was not about to laugh, he began.  "Several scholars have made related suggestions, but one fellow named Zecharia Sitchin, an ancient history and biblical scholar, pieced it all together.  Basically, it all comes down to this:  The Incas, Mayans, Aztecs, and all of their ancestors derived rather directly from the Old World, from the Sumerian, Egyptian, and Indus Valley Civilizations.  All of these early societies are related."

Dawn was incredulous.  "How is that possible?"

Alex stopped to regroup.  "Let me start over.  Sitchin's principal argument is that all of the gods of mythology -- particularly those of the Sumerian, the world's oldest civilization, circa 2000 to 11,000 B.C. -- all of those gods were extraterrestrials."

Dawn looked a bit more than skeptical, while Cisco, overhearing part of the conversation, decided he had some more loco Norte Americanos on board.  But neither said anything.

"Hear me out," Alex continued.  "According to the theory, a half million years ago, extraterrestrials came from a planet in our solar system, a planet which is unknown to modern science due to the fact its orbital period is some 3600 years, and that right now it is way beyond the planet Pluto.  The last close approach where it would have been visible to the naked eye was thousands of years ago.  These extraterrestrials came to earth to mine gold.  All of this is well documented in ancient Sumerian tablets, which refer to these extraterrestrials as the "A.NU.NA.KI".  The word means, literally, 'Those who from heaven to earth came.'"

Dawn almost laughed.  "And they came to mine gold!?"

"Yes," Alex said, his voice calm, but underlain with a subtle intensity.  "The Sumerian records were very explicit about this.  Even the Bible mentions it."  When Dawn's eyebrows immediately rose, Alex quickly added, "Check it out.  In the second chapter of Genesis, immediately after God has made the heaven and the earth, has make man in his image, breathed the breath of life into him, installed him in the Garden of Eden, and before he warned man of not eating of the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil... God informed us there was gold in Havilah, and that the gold of that land was good.  After which, God formed the beasts of the field and made Eve.  It would seem apparent that Gold was inordinately important!"

Alex smiled, his point seemingly made.  Then he continued.  "Significantly, there were two main gods among the Anunnaki.  One of them was EN.KI, whose name means Lord of the Earth, and the other was EN.LIL, which means Lord of the Command.  They were half brothers, and while Enki was older, the first born son of his father, Enlil was the first born of his father and his father's half-sister!  This latter fact gave him precedence as the heir apparent, just as Abraham and his half-sister Sarah's son, Isaac, had precedence over Ishmael.  The rivalry between these half-brothers is extensively documented in the Sumerian texts.  It's important to us, in that Enki and Enlil, together, constitute the God of Genesis."

Dawn was even more surprised.  "The God of Genesis is two gods!?"

"It's the only way it makes sense.  In Genesis, God created man and the Garden of Eden.  Then he threw Adam and Eve out, but he clothed them before doing so.  He cursed Cain, and then announced that anyone slaying Cain would have vengeance taken on him sevenfold.  He was willing to let all of the people perish in the flood, but then he saved Noah and his family and friends.  Either the God of Genesis has a major split personality, or there are two gods.  In the Sumerian version, there are clearly two.  Even the Jesuits of the Catholic Church have begun to recognize there were two Gods in the Book of Genesis.  Admittedly, their conclusions have not yet been officially sanctioned or made public on a wide scale."

"I can understand that." Dawn replied.  Then, "And you actually believe this?"

Alex smiled.  "Yes, I do.  Genesis never made sense to me until I realized it was an executive summary of the older Sumerian texts.  And when you realize there were two gods competing with each other, then a whole slew of confusing passages suddenly make sense. 

"It's important to keep in mind that it was Enki, along with his half sister, NIN.KI, who created mankind.  On the other hand, Enlil made the Garden of Eden, but then later threw Adam and Eve out on the street.  In turn, it was Enki who gave them the door prize on the way out and clothed them.  Then, when Enlil wanted to wipe man off the face of the earth with the flood, it was Enki who saved Noah and his kin.  The Sumerian texts go into a great deal of detail about Enki and Noah, the latter being referred to in the Sumerian texts as Ziusudra."

"Wait a minute," Dawn interjected, sensing a discontinuity in the explanation.  "If Enki and Enlil were extraterrestrials, how did they create the Flood?  Better yet, how did they create man?"

Alex smiled, in the manner of someone who was ready for a particular question.  "The Flood was not caused by Enlil.  The Flood occurred when the Anunnaki's planet made a close encounter with the Earth.  This cosmic flyby caused the ice cap in Antarctica -- undoubtedly much, much larger than the current one and very unstable -- to slide off the continent into the ocean.  This caused the Flood, which was essentially a massive tidal wave.  Then with all that ice reaching more temperate latitudes, subsequently melting and becoming available to the hydrological cycle, there began the forty day Deluge.  The Flood and Deluge are separate events, but connected in terms of cause and effect.  Importantly, both were due to natural causes, or alternatively caused by the true God, the creator of the universe.  In any case, Enlil was only forewarned of the event, based on the likely scenario of a close encounter of the Earth with his home planet.

"Long before this Enlil had been enraged when he realized that man and woman had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and thereby learned how to procreate themselves.  He threw them out of what the Sumerians called E.DIN.  He was also very unhappy with mankind multiplying upon the face of the Earth, and was eager to wipe out humanity.  Enki, on the other hand, the true father of mankind, had developed an attachment to them and was eager to save his progeny.  Which he did, against the express wishes of Enlil, who had ordered the Anunnaki not to help mankind."

"That explains the Flood.  Maybe.  But just how did this Enki manage to create man?"

"Genetics," Alex answered simply.  "Enki and Ninki took the genes of Homo erectus and cross bred them with the Anunnaki genes.  Fourteen female Anunnaki were used as breeders, with Ninki being the first test case, the first mother.  The end result was the creation of mankind from Homo erectus some quarter of a million years ago. 

Science has confirmed this basic time frame by establishing through the study of mitochondrial DNA that there was one single woman, living some 250,000 years ago, who was the mother of all the people now living on the Earth [1].  More recent studies have shown that all of the males of our species can be traced back to a single father of the same time period [2].  Mankind was truly made in the image of the gods, or in other words, the Anunnaki.  Man is, in fact, a half breed."

Dawn looked at Alex skeptically.  "Man is a half breed between a monkey and an ET?"

Alex laughed.  "Homo erectus was considerably more than a monkey."  Then still smiling, he added, "In Genesis 1:26, God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'  Okay.  But who's 'us'? What did he mean, 'our image, our likeness'?  How about the image and likeness of the Anunnaki, what ancient history refers to as the gods?  Mankind is the result of genetic manipulation?"

For a moment, Dawn just looked at him.  When she didn't speak, Alex added, "There is also Genesis 6:2 where 'the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.'  And in verse 4, 'the sons of God came unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them.'  This was just a case of the Anunnaki marrying the human females.  This too, is described in detail in the Sumerian texts, where in one specific case it tells the story of an Anunnaki suitor asking his mother for permission to marry a human."

Dawn shook her head.  "I just had a thought," she murmured wistfully.  "In addition to everyone else who is out to get us, now we can look forward to the fundamentalists wanting to silence us!"  As Alex laughed, she added, "And they're probably the most dangerous of the lot!"

"You may have to trust me on this one," Alex said, after a few seconds.  "Or else read Sitchin's work, all seven volumes [3], of a couple of volumes of Laurence Gardner's [4] work, Bramley's volume [5], and a whole host of others."  Then he leaned back, watching Dawn closely.

Dawn thought for a few minutes, until finally she said, "When you talk about extraterrestrials hovering around the volcanoes looking for precious metals, you're actually serious!"

Alex took a deep breath.  "Yes, I am.  Think about it.  Extraterrestrials came to earth a half million years ago.  They came to mine gold.  And quite possibly all of the related precious metals which tend to cluster with gold deposits.  They mined the gold for millennia, but then they got tired of the hard work -- a situation amply described in the Sumerian texts where they describe nothing less than a mutiny of the Anunnaki. 

Enki and Ninki solved the Anunnaki's problem by cross breeding Homo erectus and thereby "created mankind" in order to mine the gold instead.  But Enki and his half-sister went one step further and created man with the ability to procreate, 'to eat of the tree of life.'  After that, mankind began to flourish, and despite a few setbacks such as the Flood and Deluge, conquered the earth.  All the while, mankind worshipped the gods and goddesses, i.e. the Anunnaki, who were lording it over them.

"Notice how it all ties in with everything else," Alex added.  "Maybe the Anunnaki knew about the ORME, the mono-atomic gold, silver, rhodium, iridium, and so forth.  As a matter of fact, coincidentally, in the Hebrew tradition there is the Orme tree, which is esoterically 'The Tree of Life'."

"This is absolutely incredible," Dawn replied.  "All those gods and goddesses..."

Alex smiled.  "The Sumerian pantheon is quite a collection.  Enlil, of course, was the angry, vengeful god of the Old Testament, while Enki was the god who kept saving mankind.  Enki, in fact, was also known as the God of Wisdom.  He was a scientist and an engineer, and probably the most knowledgeable of all of the Anunnaki.  He was the true genius.

"At the same time, Ninki, his half-sister, was no slouch herself.  One of her Anunnaki titles was Chief Medical Officer, and she undoubtedly contributed as much as Enki to the genetic experiments which created man.  In fact, she was probably more important in that she carried the first half breed, the 'Adama,' to term -- literally giving birth to mankind.  She would have to be considered the true creator, the mother of mankind.  Ninki is also, undoubtedly, the reason for the matriarchal religions which flourished some ten thousand years ago all across the planet, and which still have worshipers to this very day.

"There were also the sons of Enlil and Enki, and a fair number of grandchildren.  Enki's oldest son, for example, was MAR.DUK, who later became known as the god of Babylon.  Marduk caused a lot of trouble, and even Enki became pretty well fed up with him.  But Enki also had some good sons, the most notable one, an Anunnaki called NIN.GISH.ZI.DA."

"Tell me about Nin-gish-whatever you said," Dawn asked. 

"NIN.GISH.ZI.DA," Alex replied, carefully pronouncing each syllable.  Then his expression became more contemplative.  "He was the scribe of the gods, the communicator, the inheritor of Enki's science and wisdom.  Probably more than any other god, he's the one who brought knowledge to mankind.  Ningishzida was also the god who never became directly involved in the wars and skirmishes between the Enlil and Enki factions -- which included most of their other sons.  In fact, as part of a peace treaty proposed and facilitated by Ninki in the midst of one war, Ningishzida was the compromise new ruler of Egypt, the only son of Enki who was acceptable to Enlil and his side.

"Ningishzida was, in fact, the same as the Egyptian god, Thoth, while Marduk was Ra, and Enki, Ptah.  Egypt, you see, was Enki's territory, along with the rest of Africa.  All of Egypt's earliest gods were Enki's side of the family.  Enlil, on the other hand, had Asia for his domain, including the Middle East and modern day Iraq, which was the center of what we now think of as the Sumerian civilization."

"And Enlil's sons?"

"One of them was ISH.KUR, who was also known as Adad, the Storm God."  When Dawn's eyes lit up, he added, "The forked trident over the Bay of Paracas is Ishkur's.  You see, the Sumerian gods went far afield in their quest for gold.  They also needed tin to make bronze for their human civilizations, and Lake Titicaca in Brazil is one of only two major sources in the world.

"Ishkur is not talked about as much in the Sumerian texts, but later civilizations, such as the Hittites in Asia Minor, revered him as their principal god.  He's inevitably identified as a Storm god, the God of Thunder, and so forth.  This suggests he might have had something of a temper... or maybe he just liked to be noisy.  He was probably a pretty tough dude.  He certainly figured in as a star in some of the wars among the Anunnaki -- wars which the Greeks called, "The War of the Titans'."

"And Ishkur was Enlil's son?"

"Yes, but he was his third son.  His older brother was NIN.UR.TA.  Now there was one mean god-pretender.  Ninurta was invariably identified in the Sumerian texts as the greatest warrior, the fiercest fighter.  He was also Enlil's heir apparent, and thus had the most to lose of any of the Anunnaki if things went badly for Enlil.  Accordingly, he was Enlil's most loyal son and his most enthusiastic supporter."

"The original fundamentalist," Dawn suggested -- her mind suddenly recalling her surprise when learning of Nathan Fox's apparently extreme right-wing views.

"Certainly, the arch-conservative," Alex added.  Then smiling slightly, he added, "One thing I found particularly interesting was that Ninurta and Marduk were born, like their parents, on the Anunnaki's home world, whereas Ishkur and Ningishzida were born on Earth.  Thus the latter two seem to have a more vested interest in the ultimate fate of our planet.  At the same time, Enki and Ninki, as the true creators of mankind, have the more pronounced interest in the survival, growth and ultimate destiny of mankind.  Enki also has the added incentive of having lost his chance to rule his home world because of Enlil, and is therefore more likely to invest his energies in Earth.  Thus, we have some gods and goddesses on the side of mankind, some on the side of Earth -- with or without mankind -- and some who see both mankind and Earth as nothing more than a resource of be exploited.  Enlil and Ninurta, for example, are not likely to be our friends."

"Are there any goddesses?" Dawn asked, "other than Ninki?"

Alex frowned slightly.  "The Anunnaki were extremely patriarchal, but the females did play some significant roles.  The most noteworthy goddess in my book is Inanna.  She was the goddess of most everything, at least in those parts of the world under her sway.  That was primarily the Indus Valley Civilization, but Inanna was not the type to be kept down on the farm or exiled to the hinterlands of the early civilizations.  It seems that Inanna was a great favorite of her great grandfather, the father of Enki and Enlil.  Her great grandfather allowed her the use of his royal visit lodgings in Uruk, one of the principal cities of the Sumerian Mesopotamia, whenever she was so inclined -- which was most of the time.

"Keep in mind, Inanna was also the granddaughter of Enlil, through Enlil's second son, and also the granddaughter of Enki, through one of his daughters.  She and her twin brother, U.TU, might very well have been conceived in an attempt to reduce the hostilities between the Enlil and Enki ancestral lines.  But of course," Alex added, laughing slightly, "Being a woman, Inanna had her own ideas." 

With a stroke of his beard, he continued.  "She was quite a female.  Certainly not someone who would pass up any opportunity to gain power any way she could.  There are several myths whereby she conned Enki out of some valuable information, and thoroughly wasted Marduk for similar goals."

"My kind of gal," Dawn replied, only partly in jest.

"All of the Anunnaki had pretty definite ideas of about what was what.  They were also extremely territorial.  That's why you see things like Ishkur's forked lightening symbol on the side of a mountain.  It may also have something to do with the Nazca lines, but their purpose is less clear."

Dawn's finger came up to touch her lips, as a thought occurred to her.  "I realize the Nazca lines are much larger and were done a long time ago, but is there any connection between them and the crop circles?  I mean, they're both enigmatic and no one has a clue as to what they mean."

Alex thought for a moment before replying.  "I don't know of any connection.  But there was one particular crop formation which might be particularly relevant.  It showed up in August of 1991 in Wiltshire, England.  But instead of circles, it was a single line of glyphs, all between twelve and fifteen feet high.  A fellow named Michael Green figured out that the letters were based on some archaic language, and he was able to decipher that two of the words were Ptah and Enki." [6]

"Didn't you say Ptah and Enki were one and the same?"

"Yes," Alex answered, smiling broadly.  "One might suspect that the crop circles, or at least some of them, are the handiwork of Enki.  After all, Stonehenge in southwestern England was almost certainly the work of Enki, and inasmuch as England was probably Enki's territory as well, that might explain why the majority of crop circles are occurring in the British Isles."

Dawn shook her head, pleased and skeptical at the same time.  "All of the mythological gods and goddesses were extraterrestrials.  What a concept!  Absolutely incredible."

"It also makes sense," Alex quickly added.  "Why else do they end up with such wildly diverse personalities unless they're living, breathing beings up to their own shenanigans?"

Dawn smiled slightly, as something seemed to click in.  "I'm reminded of a book I read several years ago, by a Jungian psychologist.  The basic idea was that the mythological gods and goddesses were archetypes of how people reacted today.  A woman, for example, who became very successful in a male-dominated society was a Pallas Athena archetype, while a very nurturing mother was a Demeter archetype.  Or an aggressive, warlike male was a Mars archetype.  Donald Trump was probably a Zeus."

"Ah yes," Alex agreed.  "Jung and his concept of archetypes.  Interesting idea."

"But now," Dawn objected, "You're telling me there's the possibility that someone acting like Pallas Athena may simply have the genes of Athena!"

Throwing his head back, Alex laughed a hearty laugh.  "I had never thought of it that way!  Yes, I suppose there might be something to that.  Of course, I would think by now we would have the genes of virtually all of the gods and goddess.  We could be any so-called deity we chose to be!"

"I just had another thought," Dawn added, her mind working overtime.  "David Hudson could be a Zeus archetype."  Then she turned to Alex, looking at him appraisingly.  "And you..."

Alex, grinning from ear to ear, held up one hand to claim his own heritage.  "Hermes."

Dawn laughed, agreeing with him.  "The trickster."

Alex shook his head.  "The communicator."

"Hermes played around a lot, didn't he?  Somewhat promiscuous?"

Alex looked hurt.  Then he retorted, "Careful, Aphrodite.  Those who live in glass houses..."

Dawn was pleasantly surprised.  "You think of me as an Aphrodite archetype?"

Now Alex was surprised.  "Of course.  Very much so."

That was all Dawn needed, as she relaxed back into her seat.  It was probably the nicest thing Alex had said to her, and she was bound and determined to enjoy it for all it was worth.  God (and/or Goddess) forbid she was going to interrupt this feeling with some meaningless explanation.

For a time, each of them allowed the other person some mental space.  But then, as the airplane came within range of Cuzco and began to descend slightly, Dawn broke the silence, "While you were asleep on the ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Koco mentioned something about the Phoenix bird, what she said was called in Sumerian, the Ben-Bird, a flying creature, rising from the flames of its own making."

Alex smiled, guessing her question.  "Probably a spaceship of the Anunnaki during a launch."

"That's what I was thinking," Dawn replied.  "It makes more sense that way."

Alex then grinned, as another thought came to him.  "Sitchin tells the story of a young man who went out hiking one day.  As darkness fell, he gathered together a portion of nature for a pillow and then laid down to sleep.  He then had what he initially thought was a dream, where he saw beings moving up and down a ladder of some kind, between the ground and a craft above.  Then he saw one of the beings standing in a portal of the craft itself, which the young man assumed was the commander of the other beings.  Then the commander spoke to the hiker!"  Alex turned to Dawn.  "Now...  Would you believe a story like that?"

Dawn laughed.  "After Shari and her UFO stories, probably not."

Alex grinned, his mischief now obvious.  "It's the story of Jacob.  Genesis 28: 11-13."

Dawn looked at Alex for several moments.  Her directed frown made her feelings quite clear.  Then, she added, in her best Daffy Duck imitation, "You're despicable!"

Alex leaned back, laughing.  He was suddenly feeling very good.  Dawn could not help but smile herself.  And for several minutes they each enjoyed the rapport.

Then Alex's thinking took a different turn, one he had been dwelling on before Dawn had asked about the Phoenix.  "Back in Fort Collins," he began, "You told me about this Nathan, the head of The Patrons.  I've been thinking about him, and your archetypes.  Nathan sounds a bit like Ninurta, Enlil's first born son -- what you called, the original fundamentalist."

"What about him?"

"Besides being probably the most belligerent of all of the Sumerian gods, Ninurta was also the one who advocated and then carried out the atomic-bombing of Sodom and Gomorrah."

Dawn was once again shocked to the core.  "Sodom and Gomorrah were A-bombed!!?"

"There was a major war going on at the time," Alex answered.  "One in which Abraham was a major player, a leader of an elite band of mercenaries."

Alex suddenly became aware of Dawn's incredulous stare, and misinterpreted her amazement.  Quickly, as if to explain, he said, "The Sunday School version of Abraham as a simple sheepherder is just a bit silly.  Abraham might have used the sheepherding bit as a cover, but in essence, he was a commander of an elite military force.  In Genesis 14:14, for example, when Abraham had heard that Lot had been captured by the other side, the patriarch armed his trained servants, some three hundred and eighteen, and went after his brother's captors.  Think about that.  Abraham, a sheepherder, just happened to have three hundred and eighteen trained servants and enough weapons to arm all of them!  Trust me on this one.  Any sheep in Abraham's camp were there to feed the troops!"

For a second Alex looked at Dawn, not understanding her incredulous look.  But before either could say anything further, Cisco announced, "We're cleared for landing.  Hang on!"

Both Alex and Dawn did exactly that as the aircraft abruptly banked and began a long slow curve.  But just as they were becoming more or less comfortable with the new slant on things, they also became intently aware of the mountains.  Suddenly grassy and rocky slopes were everywhere and on a level plane -- so to speak -- with themselves.  In the small plane, they could see all around them, and all around them were mountains. 

Cisco then straightened out the airplane, but dead ahead (pardon the expression) was a rocky mound directly in the flight path.  At just the right moment, Cisco banked hard to one side, and then almost immediately, banked the other way.  He then leveled the airplane just as the runway came into view.  Within seconds the wheels of the airplane touched down, and the plane begin to slow as it proceeded down the runway.  Cisco was already taxing to the terminal before Alex and Dawn dared to take their first breaths of the last several minutes.

Dawn voiced their mutual question.  "Do the commercial jets make that kind of approach?"

"Oh yes," Cisco answered cheerfully.  "They all have to miss the mountains.  It can be very exciting in the big jets.  Very unusual."  Then he added as an afterthought, "But as a passenger in the big jets you can't see much.  With Cisco, you get the full effect, you see everything!"

Alex and Dawn could only laugh, albeit hysterically and self-consciously.

vvvvvvvvv

The next couple of hours were filled with Alex's agenda.  From the airport, a taxi (fortunately, a grounded, land-based one) took them to what the driver promised was a nice hotel: small, intimate and very comfortable. 

Amazingly enough, the hotel was as good as the taxi driver had promised.  Only one story high (a rarity in Cuzco with its proliferation of two and three story buildings); white-stucco with deep red bricks and tiles everywhere to highlight the windows, doors, and trim; and inside, very cool and comfortable.  It was tastefully decorated with dark, heavy wood beams, flowers in vases and growing in profusion in a small courtyard, and archaeological-sophisticated paintings and statues. 

Dawn was surprised and delighted, and felt her spirits rise at the promise of a pleasant stay.  As she enjoyed the cool, very pleasant lobby area, Alex went to get a room.  Only one room was available, and without a second thought, Alex checked them in as a married couple.  His rapid-fire logic had concluded that foreign countries, particularly predominantly Catholic ones, were considerably less liberal and definitely not as understanding about unmarried couples, particularly without luggage, staying in the same room together.  And it didn't seem the best time to have a demonstration of his worst fears.  Alex did, however, decide not to mention the arrangements to Dawn.  He also had to lie to the hotel clerk, when he handed over their passports (with the different surnames), that they were newly married as well.  This brought a mischievous smile to the clerk's face, as he checked the passports, and set them aside with the rest of the hotel check-in paperwork.

Standard operating procedure for all hotels in Peru included holding their guests' passports during their stay.  This had the nice feature of preventing guests from leaving without paying their tab.  It was also required by law, in that all passports were checked by local police authorities, just on the off hand chance the passport bearer might be a fugitive from the law.  Alex was not aware of the latter, even though he understood about the former.  He also didn't know the same procedures were practiced in Mexico City, but there, fortunately, the bureaucracy had let their passports be returned with only a cursory glance.  It was just one more example of their occasional blind luck. 

The Fates are particularly enamored with "blind luck", finding it to be a marvelous diversion, and very effective in accomplishing their various aims and plans.  In this case it allowed Dawn and Alex to leave for Teotihuacan with their passports, leaving only their luggage with the hotel.  Had the Mexico City bureaucracy been slightly more efficient, Dawn and Alex would have been in serious trouble -- abroad in an only moderately friendly country without a passport.  The Peruvian bureaucracy, however, was significantly more thorough and efficient, what with a revolution flailing about in its countryside.

Meanwhile, Alex was unaware of the immediate itinerary of their passports, and was instead more concerned with just how he would explain to Dawn about sharing a double bed.  It was something he particularly did not want to do while standing in the lobby.  Instead, he suggested they buy some new clothes, and perhaps a piece of luggage to supplement Dawn's backpack.  She was eager and enthusiastic about the prospects.  And after a mere three hours of shopping, Dawn felt amply supplied with all of the necessities.  Alex, meanwhile, had done his bit in less than an hour, and spent the remaining time watching Dawn and trying to decide how to tell her about the sleeping arrangements.  He never did quite come up with a plan.

Back at the hotel, a few seconds after entering their room for the first time, Dawn realized there was only one double bed.  Alex, thinking she might overlook this fact, suggested she stay and clean up while he ran one more errand.  Dawn smiled, thinking a shower would indeed be more than a wonderful event, and that from her viewpoint, the bed was hers alone until Alex broached the subject. 

Alex left and Dawn began the process of cleaning up her act.  She began by very carefully hiding her knapsack's hoard of gold in no less than three places.  Alone for the first time in a long time, Dawn felt suddenly very vulnerable.  She disrobed, stuffed the ripped dress in a wastebasket, laid out the favorite of her recent selections, and headed for the showers.  Every part of her body then got washed three separate times.

Dawn spent a good hour luxuriating in the hospitality of one of Cuzco's finest.  After Lima, it was a decided blessing.  In Cuzco, there was plenty of water, the Andes forcing every rain cloud which passed by to dump its cargo and precipitate upon the land.  Unfortunately, none of the water headed west toward Lima, and instead flowed into the Urubamba, the river of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, or the Apurimac, further to the west of the Urubamba.  Both rivers then carried their waters to the mighty Amazon.  (Incredibly, the source of the Amazon, a river flowing east across the breadth of South America, was less than one hundred miles from the continent's west coast.)  Meanwhile, Lima received almost none of the precipitation initiated by the Andes (roughly 1 to 2 inches annually) while Cuzco received what relatively speaking was by far the lion's share of the bounty (about 32 inches annually).  By the time the source waters of the Apurimac finally reached the Amazon, the ground was positively soggy with the rain of a rain forest.

At the end of an hour Dawn had transformed herself into a truly beautiful woman -- at least in terms of the quick-to-judge external world -- and Alex had returned.  Showing more smarts than normal, he had remained in the lobby where Dawn found him.  He then headed for the room to clean up, still intent upon ducking the question of sleeping arrangements, while Dawn checked out the amenities of the hotel.  It took Alex less than twenty minutes before he rejoined her in the lobby.

Dawn was impressed.  "My goodness," she exclaimed as he set down at the small table where she had been waiting.  "You look quite human again.  The Beast has been transformed!"

Alex smiled at the compliment.  "I feel better," he admitted.  Then for the first time, he took a good look at her.  "And you are very definitely the Beauty."

"Why thank you, kind sir," Dawn replied.

"Of course, you always have been.  It's hard to disguise such beauty, even with a torn dress."

Dawn almost blushed.  "Thank you very much."  Then after a slight pause, "I'll have to see that you get a shower more often.  It does wonders for your gallantry."

Alex laughed.  "It's hard to be a knight in shining armor, when the armor is rusty."  When Dawn smiled, he added, "We've missed the train to Machu Picchu. There's only one a day, and it leaves early in the morning.  That gives us the afternoon for other things.  If it's okay with you, there's a place I'd like to show you."

"By all means!"  Dawn was more than eager.

Leaving the hotel, Alex acquired a taxi and headed for the market.  There they grabbed some food as a late lunch, and found a second taxi.  As they got in the vehicle, Alex said , "Sacsahuaman."  But he pronounced it, "Sexy Woe-mann".  The driver's face lit up in a broad smile, as he glanced at Dawn and then shifted into gear.  Dawn looked wide-eyed at Alex, as if he had been commenting on his companion.  When Alex didn't immediately react, she asked, "Were you referring to me?"

Alex's face went bright red with embarrassment.  "Oh no," he said.  "Of course not.  I didn't mean you!"  Then the alternative implication hit him.  "I mean, I wouldn't say it out loud."  (Still not right.)  "At least not to the taxi driver!"  Then, rolling his eyes, he gave up trying to explain, while Dawn thoroughly enjoyed his quandary.  She smiled in the delightful way women have of subtly relishing their obvious but generally unstated superiority.

 vvvvvvvvv

Nathan was also smiling, but in his own special devious manner.  A small victory had been won,  a minor skirmish had left only one participant the temporary victor.  Nathan had sought a form of vengeance -- Nathan was very much into vengeance -- upon his upstart, younger brother and the Fates had obliged with a small one-upmanship style win.

"It appears, my dear brother," Nathan began, even as Kurt was walking into the room, "That your success at locating your quarry has been less than spectacular."

"What do you know?" Kurt asked, not willing to commit to anything else.

"It appears your Dukas fellow and my errant Ms. Riordan have combined forces and are now in your backyard; not mine.  Running amuck, I dare say."

Kurt had no intention of allowing Nathan to wallow in whatever small victory he thought he had attained.  "At least," Kurt replied, "I have a backyard.  You weren't even born here."

Nathan dismissed the standard rebuttal, the pestering division between them which kept cropping up.  In Nathan's view, it was irrelevant.  Instead, he continued raining on Kurt's parade.  "We now know the two of them flew from Mexico City to Lima, Peru."

"Mexico City?" Kurt replied.  "What were they doing there?  And what about Anna?  Wasn't she at Thalmacas?"

"Apparently, they slipped through her fingers.  But that's not the reason she was there, and thus I may be able to forgive her incompetence this particular time."

"You're entirely too generous with her," Kurt answered, mockingly.  "You always have been."

Nathan smiled defensively.  "She is, after all, the beloved of our dear grandfather.  Am I to assume you would be much less generous with her foibles?"

Kurt knew when to ignore a question -- and when in doubt, to ask a question in return.  "What makes you think this new lead is not just another diversion?"

"The use of passports," Nathan answered.  "They had to use passports to get on the airplane in Mexico, and to pass through customs in Lima.  We know they're in Peru!"

"Have you checked with the locals?  If they're staying in a hotel..."

Nathan dismissed what he considered obvious with the wave of his hand.  "They did stay in a hotel in Mexico.  That's what initially tipped us off.  The difficulty was the passports were returned before the incompetent fools realized these were the people we were searching for."

"And in Lima?"

Nathan smiled.  "I didn't want to infringe upon your territory," he replied, with enough sarcasm to literally tear flesh.  "That is left to you.  I suggest you get on the horn and then perhaps trouble yourself with a personal visit."

Kurt was not intimidated.  "Rest assured my operatives will take care of things.  They will be notified immediately.  Meanwhile, I have a date in Phoenix later today.  Then, I will return to my territory.  By that time, I should be ready to present both of them to you on a silver platter."

"Just their heads," Nathan replied.  "That's all I care about."

vvvvvvvvv

Sacsahuaman was an ancient Incan fortress, with huge, zigzagging stone walls broken into 66 sharply projecting angles, allowing defending spearmen to catch attackers in a withering crossfire.  The walls themselves are composed of huge, multifaceted stones, assembled so carefully that a knife blade cannot be forced in between their joints.  Many of the stones weigh over 100 tons, and yet are elaborately fitted into interlocking patterns.  This functional as well as beautiful construction has survived centuries of earthquakes, which have tumbled conventional masonry with impunity.  The fortress may have been built as early as the time period from 4000 to 2000 B.C.E., and is estimated to have required 20,000 workers some 90 years to finish.  These estimates are probably wrong, based as they are wont to be, upon the assumption the people of the ancient world had no real technological abilities.

Dawn found Sacsahuaman, the guardian of the Incan capital of Cuzco, enchanting.  Llama and Alpaca roamed the area in comparative freedom, while the stones themselves lent an air of profound antiquity.  Alex, meanwhile, was more intent upon other matters.  While he was able to let Dawn enjoy the sights for almost half an hour, his focus was more on acquiring yet more data in his quest for The Mother.

Then, in the traditions of a synchronous, everything-is-connected universe, Alex spied an old Indian woman.  With minimal physical characteristics in common, the woman nevertheless reminded Alex of Barb, his own version of the Old Woman.  Accordingly, with all the subtly of your average, arrogant American, he approached her.  Dawn watched the conversation, with Alex's display of eagerness and the Indian woman's apparent lack of interest in anything the strange foreigner might have to say.  Finally, after Alex had made an "offering to the 'Great Lady'", the old Indian woman suggested Alex visit Machu Picchu during the time "when the sun ceased its northward movement", when the Mother would give audiences to some.  Alex smiled at the confirmation, realizing the Southern Hemisphere's Winter Solstice was the next day.  Everything was falling into place.  Alex fairly beamed with delight

Watching the process, Dawn found herself intrigued and delighted at Alex's display of emotions, as if his dreams and aspirations seemed to be coming true.  His insights and revelations seemed to be arriving in car-load lots, as if he had wished upon The Star, and had all his wishes come true.  It was, for Dawn, a delightful and very pleasant moment.

After a full afternoon, the two returned to the hotel.  Once in their room, Alex went into the bathroom.  Dawn was still wondering when Alex was going to bring up the subject of who slept where, when he came back into the bedroom.  Her thoughts were quickly interrupted as she saw his eyes.  They suddenly seemed to be shining, as if a light was behind them.  She had noticed it in him before, in her dreams and at other times when they had been together.  But suddenly, their intensity had increased.  But before she could begin to understand what was going on, he suggested dinner.  It seemed a good excuse to avoid whatever subjects each was loath to talk about.

At dinner, Alex seemed very much at ease.  He was uncharacteristically quiet, as if listening to a set of earphones tuned to a distant radio station.  Dawn watched him for a time, her own thoughts running the gambit of the intricacies of Alex, their relationship, and their situation.  There were many questions she might have asked of him, but suddenly she was feeling apprehensive, disconnected.  There was no longer the sense she'd experienced earlier of their being on the same wavelength together.

Alex stirred slightly, as he glanced over at Dawn.  Seeing that she didn't even bother to quit staring at him, he suddenly sensed her need for conversation.  For no particular reason, he began talking about history.  "When the Spanish conquered the Incan civilization," he began, "They did it primarily for gold.  And they were successful beyond their wildest dreams!"

For a moment, Alex watched the beautiful woman seem to hang on his every word.  Deciding this meant he could continue unabated, he smiled and forged ahead.  "When Pizarro sailed from Panama to Peru and began the conquest of the Incan Empire, he kicked things off by ransoming an Incan King for 200,000 ounces of gold.  The king was killed anyway. 

But then at Cuzco, Pizarro and his men found gold everywhere, including one hoard of 500,000 pounds of gold.  One golden throne weighed 4,000 ounces.  One stylized 'garden' had a field of maize where every stalk was made of silver and the ears of gold.  This amounted to 180,000 square feet of golden corn!  For a period of 15 to 20 years, the Spaniards extracted from Peru the equivalent of over 6 million ounces of gold and over 20 million ounces of silver, annually -- a total of well over one hundred million ounces of gold and three hundred million of silver!"

Alex smiled, as Dawn's eyes widened.  "What is really astounding is that to this day, gold seekers are still looking for El Dorado.  Supposedly, the priests of the temple of Pachacamac, located between Lima and Lurin, hid their gold from Pizarro.  And this hoard was thought to be the main treasure drove.  This gold was never recovered, and many think it still exists in that area.  Can you imagine how much gold the El Dorado cache might have amounted to?"

Dawn, still smiling, shook her head.  "No.  I really can't."

Alex laughed.  "Even more incredible is that literally tons of gold were tossed into Lake Titicaca by the natives in order to avoid letting the Spaniards have it.  It turns out that according to the Incas, the gold belonged to the gods.  It was sacred and could not be defamed by the Spaniards!"

"The same gods we talked about earlier."  Dawn suddenly understood Alex's line of thought.

"The very same," Alex said.  "Sitchin thought the reason the Anunnaki came for the gold was to use it in their space flight program or to seed it into their atmosphere for some reason.  I think they came in order to consume it, to have access to the ORME, the mono-atomic elements."

"But the yellow gold, the metallic gold, is worthless for purposes of taking internally," Dawn quickly interjected.  "If that's why the Anunnaki were here, to find the mono-atomic precious elements, then the yellow gold would have had minimal value to them."

Alex smiled broadly.  "Which may be why there was so much left behind.  For the Anunnaki, yellow gold is a waste byproduct.  They just didn't make the distinction between the forms of gold and the other precious elements to the local natives, the ones doing the digging and mining."

Dawn almost laughed, leaning back in her chair.  The food arrived at that moment, and neither of them said anything as they were being served.  Several looks were exchanged, each with a smile, but for the moment they were quiet.  Then as the waiter left them to their meal, the more urgent activity was to eat.  Their lunch had been adequate, but not totally fulfilling.  It was now time to chow down!

 vvvvvvvvv

Everything went well for most of the meal.  But Dawn's clumsy-clock was ticking.  From the Fatesí viewpoint, it had been far too long since one of Dawn's moments had occurred.  And having built up a certain amount of lead time, the act was committed with uncommon grace and subtlety.

Alex began the process by picking up the multi-veggie hot sauce and adding some to the remaining food on his plate, taking care to distribute the flavor in exactly the right amounts.  He then sat the container down between them, and managed to set it on the business end of a small fork.  This caused the other end of the fork to raise up, an observation neither Dawn nor Alex made. 

Dawn, enjoying thoroughly a recent mouthful, abruptly laid both arms on the table in a gesture signifying her complete approval of what she was tasting.  Her left arm, of course, came down directly on the raised portion of the fork.  The result was a catapulting of the hot sauce in the direction of Alex.  The hot sauce container ended up in Alex's plate, upside down, but not before dumping most of its contents all over the plate and a goodly portion on Alex's exposed shirt and lap.  In the middle of a bite, he stopped, feeling the sauce as it saturated his clothing. 

For only a moment did he hesitate.  Then with a surprised Dawn watching him, he finished taking the bite he had on his fork, savored the taste and nourishment, and then as if nothing had happened, begin to lean over and inspect Dawn's remaining food with his fork.  When he saw something he liked, he took a bite.  Dawn watched the man as he began to share her food.  Deciding it appropriate under the circumstances, she shrugged her acknowledgment, and began eating again.  It was a bonding of sorts.

With the meal complete, the waiter arrived to remove the debris from the table, along with both napkins which had been used to wipe off as much of Alex's shirt and lap as demurely possible in the confines of the public dining room.  The waiter's eyes had gone wide, but with little command of the English language, he had no idea of what to say.  Of course, had he been an accomplished linguist, he probably would still have had little to say.  Dawn and Alex's calmness in the situation also served to convince him that if they weren't concerned, there should be no reason for him to be.

As they relaxed, waiting for the check, their eyes met several times.  It was as if they understood one another.  And for Dawn, it was even more: Alex had accepted her.  It was a simple acceptance of her exactly as she was.  The feeling was far more than simple.  It was wonderful!

Abruptly, her slight smile vanished.  Alex noticed her sudden change in expression immediately and looked at her with concern.  He said nothing, as he watched her go inside her mind, struggling to identify some wisp of sensing.  The check arrived at the same moment, but both ignored it.  Finally, a realization hit Dawn.  To confirm it, she looked past Alex and across the room.  Through the small door opening in the dining room, she could see the hotel lobby, where a large man was talking to the desk clerk.  All of Dawn's warning signals activated simultaneously.  Even from the back, Dawn knew the man -- in some fashion or another -- worked for Nathan Fox.  He was dressed as if he were a local, but even in white he was ominous.

Without a word she turned to Alex, her face hard and stern.  Her dinner partner guessed the implications immediately.  She stood up without a word, while he signed the check with his room number.  Without looking back, she headed for the dining room's uni-sex restroom.  Alex followed her without hesitation.  Once out of sight of the dining room proper -- which was mercifully crowded with people and thus provided a fair cover -- Alex finally turned to look back into the room.  He saw a man in a white business suit standing in the door between the dining room and lobby, as the man began to look around the room.  Alex then turned and opened the bathroom door, where he saw Dawn already on her way out of the window.  Alex followed her without a word.  Once outside in the dark, both of them stood there, their bodies shaking slightly and the adrenaline pumping.  For that moment neither said a word.

Finally, Dawn voiced the feeling.  "How in the hell did they find us?"

Alex swallowed, suspecting a possible reason.  But it wasn't a reason he was quite ready to talk about.  Instead he said, "I don't know.  But we'd better find another place to stay the night."  When Dawn indicated her agreement, he added, "There seems to be something of a festival in town tonight.  So if we don't come back early to our hotel, no one should be particularly suspicious."

"That's good," Dawn replied, completely in agreement.

 vvvvvvvvv

Within an hour, the two had found a hotel of considerably less repute -- one which didn't require passports or other identification; just cash up front.  The room was notably less pleasant, but considering the fact the male guest had hot sauce stains on his shirt and pants, and the woman wore a dress recently ripped across the buttocks from a nail on a bathroom window sill, the accommodations seemed quite appropriate.  Once inside, they both breathed somewhat easier.

Until Dawn remembered her backpack -- and the gold -- still at their beautiful room at the nice hotel!  She had left it there, thinking that going to dinner did not require it.  Now she was furious with herself.  Hiding her feelings, she said, "Our luggage, my backpack, our new clothes..."

"Don't worry," Alex quickly said.  "We don't know someone is on to us.  We're here in order to avoid any chance encounters.  We can always go back for the luggage later, when we're least likely to be caught.  Even after we've made the trip to Machu Picchu."

"Perhaps," Dawn replied.  "But I really don't think it's going to be that simple.  The vibes I got from that man in the hotel were not good.  He's not likely to be so easily eluded."

"Then we can just leave the luggage like we did in Mexico."

"No way," Dawn said, her teeth clinched.  "I'm not leaving my backpack!"

"I'll get you a new one," Alex offered.

Dawn turned to him, uncompromisingly.  "I don't want a new one," she said calmly and with the suggestion of not taking no for an answer.  "My money's in it.  Everything is in it!"

Alex tried to calm her.  "I have enough money for now.  Besides.  I've wired home for more.  We should have it at the American Express office by tomorrow evening at the latest."

Dawn's mouth dropped open as she turned to him.  "What!?  You wired home for money!?"

Alex flinched at the accusation, even while admitting, "Yes.  This afternoon."     

Dawn then moved toward him, threateningly.  "Did it occur to you someone might have access to your wire?  Someone who might want to track us?  Someone sinister?"

Alex objected to the implied insult.  "I'm not completely stupid.  Sisi and I had a code set up.  I didn't use my real name.  Give me some credit.  Besides I left a fair amount of our cash in the hotel safe in Mexico City, along with our luggage.  I had to somehow replenish our liquid assets!"

Dawn immediately calmed down, or at least she appeared to do so.  Externally, her mind was still racing.  Internally, she was furious!  It was more than the risk -- a lot more.  But then, controlling her anger, she said, in a low, steady voice "Wiring for money was risky.  It could alert any number of bad guys as to where we are.  You will admit that, won't you?"

Alex took a deep breath.  He was not accustomed to dealing with Dawn in her current state.  And despite her outward steadiness, he could feel her anger all around him.  He could also feel the direction her anger was aimed!  Quietly, he said, "Yes.  It was a risk.  But one I thought justified."

"You thought justified," Dawn paraphrased.  "What about me?  What did I think?  Did you ask me?  Did you confide in me that we were running out of money?  Did you trust me with such momentous news?"  When Alex flinched at her questions, Dawn continued, her tone indicating her true feelings.  "I thought this was a partnership!  I thought we were a team!"  Tears abruptly surfaced in her eyes, but she fought them back.  "Am I totally without resources?  Did you even think to ask if I had any money?"

Alex looked at her, the idea new to him.  "Did you?  I mean do you have some cash?"

Dawn struggled for control.  "In my backpack," she said between her teeth.

"Oh," the vanquished male replied.  Then, as the true meaning of her words came through, he added, "I'm sorry.  I was wrong.  I know that now.  I should have told you."

Dawn was partially satisfied with the apology.  Quietly, she replied, "Typical male chauvinist.  You think you have to take care of me, that you can't turn to me for help, financially or otherwise!"

Alex flinched once again, recognizing the truth in her statement.  Bleakly, he answered, "You're probably right.  My upbringing.  Haven't quite escaped from its wrath yet."

The enraged female felt her anger withering away.  She had never been able to stay angry for very long.  She always remembered the Buddhist analogy, being angry with someone was like holding a red hot coal in your hand, waiting for the opportunity to throw it at them.  You always managed to burn your hand, and the odds were you would miss when you threw it anyway. 

For several moments, she let Alex suffer through the unbearable silence.  Then, with just a touch of female superiority, she said, "Being the macho male, you can gallantly sleep on the floor, while I take the bed."  With that she slung back the covers and begin partially undressing and preparing for bed.  Without looking at him, she added, "Feel free to turn out the lights."

Alex, overwhelmed by the justified wrath of a strong woman, shrugged his shoulders and walked over to the light switch.  Without looking back at the woman who was giving him her best accusing stare, he flipped the switch.  In the ensuing darkness, with some light still slipping through the shuttered windows and the crack beneath the door, he made his way to a misnamed love seat couch and began trying to lie down in some semblance of relaxation.  In the dim light, Dawn threw one of the pillows at him.  He thanked her and began to try to make himself comfortable.  It was a fairly hopeless exercise.

 vvvvvvvvv

Dawn lasted for less than twenty minutes.  Having lain wide awake since they "retired for the evening," and listening all the while to his vain attempts to find a position on the couch remotely resembling comfort, she finally relented.  "I can't stand this," she announced.  "Come get into bed.  I'll never sleep if I keep thinking about you on that oversized chair!"

Alex felt the profound relief of knowing he might actually get some sleep now.  Quietly, he left the couch and gently crawled into bed, taking special care not to disturb the covers he would be sharing with Dawn.  They quickly fell asleep, a good twelve inches of space between them.  During the night the space between them dwindled to virtually nothing, with both periodically touching the other person.  But they were sufficiently zonked out that neither really noticed.

Until morning, that is when Dawn felt the near intimate contact between their buttocks and the occasional brushing of one foot against another's leg.  Dawn awoke almost instantaneously, fully aware.  She knew she still had her bra and panties on, and it felt very much like Alex had his shorts on.  But still...  They seemed -- physically speaking -- to be awfully close.

Quietly, she got up and headed for the bathroom.  There she began dressing.  The tear across the bottom of her skirt, she managed to conceal by the simple expedient of hiking up the skirt, so that the upper parts of her dress covered her midriff.  At the same time, the torn portion of the dress was concealed in carefully orchestrated folds around her waist and her hemline was high enough to shock most of the natives.  It would have to do, she thought.

Then, in about as good a shape as she could hope considering the circumstances, she went back into the bedroom.  There she found Alex awake and sitting up in bed, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.  For a moment he stretched with his arms straight up and spread slightly.  Then his near-naked condition (and Dawn's apparent appreciation of it) reminded him of where he was.  Sheepishly, he pulled the covers higher against his body.  Dawn smiled to herself, and sat down on the bed, facing away from him.  Quietly she said, "You might want to put some clothes on."

Alex self-consciously began the process, slipping on the pants and shirt which had ended up on the floor beside the bed.  He wrinkled his nose at the lingering smells on his shirt and pants, but then shrugged his shoulders and sat down on the bed, facing away from Dawn, in order to put on his shoes. 

As he did so, Dawn said, "I've been thinking.  We had to use our passports when we flew from Mexico City to Lima.  It wouldn't take a lot of brains to figure Cuzco might be our ultimate destination."  As if to make her real point, "It might not have been the wire that put them on to us."

Alex smiled.  "Thanks.  I appreciate your attempt at reaffirming my fragile male ego.  And I agree with you.  You may be right; they may have tracked us to Lima, and then made the supposition we were on our way here.  The fact of the matter is almost no one spends anytime in Lima.  It's only a jumping off point for making the trek to Cuzco."  As an afterthought, Alex added, "Of course, I suppose it could have been coincidence."

"I don't believe in coincidence," Dawn quickly retorted in a no-nonsense tone of voice.  Then easing back slightly, she changed the subject.   "Too bad we didn't think to have fake passports."

"We did think about it," Alex replied.  "But we didn't have the time.  We also arenít that well connected to international thieves, or governments for that matter.  Although I suppose they're one and the same."  When Dawn only smiled, Alex stood up and said, "We were in the process of getting some forgeries, but we just didn't have time to wait around for them before you and I left Phoenix."

"We'll just have to be very cognizant of the fact," Dawn replied, bleakly.

Alex then sat down on the bed beside her.  "Meanwhile," he began, "It's time for us to get some new duds, and then catch a train!"

Dawn gave him her best smile.  "At least now we know where to shop."

________________________________________

[1] Rebecca L. Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan C. Wilson, "Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution", Nature, January 1, 1987.  See also Scientific American, April 1992.

[2] R. L. Dorit,  H. Akashi, and W. Gilbert , "Absence of Polymorphism at the ZFY Locus on the Human Y Chromosome",  Science, Vol. 268, May 26, 1995.

[3]  Zecharia Sitchin, The 12th Planet, The Stairway to Heaven, The Wars of Gods and Men, The Lost Realms, When Time Began, Genesis Revisited, Divine Encounters, Avon Books, New York, 1976-1995. 

[4] Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1996; Genesis of the Grail Kings, Bantam Press, London, 1999; Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark; Amazing Revelations of the Incredible Power of Gold, Element Books, HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2003.

[5] William Bramley, The Gods of Eden, Avon Books, 1993.

[6]  Michael Green, "The Language of the Circle-Makers," Crop Circles -- Harbingers of World Change, Alick Bartholomew, Editor, Gateway Books, Bath, England, 1991.

 

Chapter Fourteen -- Judgement

Forward to:

Chapter Sixteen -- The High Priestess

 

               

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