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And the Lady

New -- 21 April 2006

Humanki -- Episode Four

 

A small plane is flying over the Nazca Plateau. The clear air turbulence temporarily diminished in the early morning flight. Then, after traversing the first waves of mountains, it begins its approach to Cuzco, Peru. It’s mid morning as the airplane banks and twists several times at a low altitude, as if in an aerial combat dogfight. DAWN and ALEX are inside and literally hanging on, watching the nearby mountains, grassy and rocky slopes everywhere and generally on a level plane with themselves -- or higher. The pilot abruptly straightens out the aircraft, until dead ahead a rocky mound looms up directly in their flight path. At just the right moment, the pilot banks hard to one side, and then almost immediatly, banks the other way. He then levels the airplane just as the runway comes into view. Within seconds, the wheels of the airplane touch down, and the plane begins to slow as it proceeds down the runway. The pilot is taxiing to the terminal before ALEX and DAWN take their first breath.

DAWN

Does everyone make that kind of approach?

PILOT

Oh yes. They all have to miss the mountains of Cuzco. Very exciting in the big jets!

ALEX and DAWN look at each other and both laugh self-consciously.

Later, they arrive at their Cuzco hotel, a one story, white-stucco with deep red bricks and tiles everywhere to highlight the windows, doors and trim. As ALEX and DAWN get out of a taxi, she is holding two plastic bags with the logo of Mexico City International Airport. For a moment she stops to look over the hotel. ALEX joins her, carrying a similar bag. Going inside, they find a tastefully decorated lobby with dark, heavy wood beams, flowers in vases and in a small courtyard, archaeological-sophisticated paintings and statues. DAWN glances around, takes a deep breath and smiles. ALEX begins checking into the hotel and handing over their passports to the desk clerk, who takes them and puts them aside.

Upon reaching their room by themselves, they enter and drop their plastic bags on the bed. DAWN sheds her backpack purse.

ALEX

Why don’t you clean up, while I go out and get the train tickets for Machu Picchu?

DAWN

Fine. Do you still have my passport?

ALEX

No. The desk clerk kept it.

DAWN

Why did he do that?

ALEX

Standard procedure. Almost all foreign countries do it. It has the feature of preventing guests from leaving without paying their tab.

DAWN

(frowning)

Oh.

ALEX

Don't worry. I have enough money to pay.

Smiling confidently, ALEX leaves the room. DAWN shrugs and dumps the contents of her two plastic bags onto the bed -- two dresses and several items of accessories. She holds one of the dresses up against her body, smiles in approval, and then lays it out on the bed. She dumps the four packages of gold onto the bed (3 unopened and 1 opened), and taking one package, slips it into the box springs of the bed. Then she slips a second package under the cast iron sink in the bathroom, where it fits snugly. The third unopened package rests on the bed, while DAWN begins to secret several coins from the already opend fourth package into various parts of her clothing. The remainder of the opened package, she inserts, one at a time, into a small vase. As she does so, she keeps glancing around, still undecided as to where to stash the remaining unopened package.

Later that night in the darkened room, DAWN comes out of the bathroom in her nightgown. ALEX is already in bed, turned toward the outside of the bed and not wearing a shirt. As DAWN slips under the covers as gently as possible, ALEX does not stir. She lays on her back for a moment, then turns her back to him. For several minutes the two simply lay there, their eyes wide open and staring in opposite directions.

 

The following morning, DAWN and ALEX are asleep, facing each other and partially entwined in each other’s arms. DAWN turns slightly in her sleep and then abruptly realizes she is in contact with ALEX, one of his arms now laying across her lower waist. Her eyes spring open and glancing furtively at the arm, she starts getting up. Her movement wakes ALEX, whose eyes open wide. He turns away as well. DAWN quickly and silently makes her way to the bathroom. As the door shuts, ALEX glances over his shoulder to see if the coast is clear, and then hurriedly gets up and pulls on his pants over the shorts he had been wearing.

ALEX

Wow.

The scene shifts to the Cuzco train depot, where DAWN and ALEX are boarding the train. It is early morning with the normal hustle and bustle about the train station. Then, as the train weaves its way through the canyons and alongside the Urubamba River on its way to Machu Picchu, the two travelers are acting like tourists, but saying very little. Eventually, DAWN begins to grin, glancing at ALEX. ALEX glances in return, and then begins to grin himself. Then he laughs, joined quickly by DAWN.

The scene shifts to KURT’s office in Denver, where ANNA enters to see KURT sitting at his desk and glancing over recent dispatches. ANNA takes an easy chair facing the desk but says nothing. For several moments, KURT does not even glance at her.

KURT

Thanks to your generosity in allowing them the use of your vehicle, I now have two fugitives running amuck.

(turning to a stoic ANNA)

Fortunately for you, your foibles will once again be tolerated, but only because you are “the beloved” of your dear great grandfather. Or so it is said. However, don’t expect, as a matter of course, such generoisity on my part in the future.

ANNA

I never do... as a matter of course.

KURT

Fortunately, we now know the two of them flew from Mexico City to Lima, Peru.

ANNA

Why Lima? Another diversion perhaps?

KURT

They used passports prepared by an operative of mine named Theve when they passed through customs. We know they're in Peru.

ANNA

But not detained by your men in Lima when they passed through customs there? Curious

KURT

The Shining Path rebels have been causing widespread unrest. The Peruvian police and Federales are stretched quite thin. We would still be looking for them, had the hotel not followed standard procedures and checked their passports with the authorities.

ANNA

Then you’ve already picked them up?

KURT

Not yet. They apparently left the hotel early this morning, bound, no doubt, for Machu Picchu. I have already dispatched an elite group of Federales.

ANNA

Sounds as if you have them in a box canyon.

KURT

Come to think of it, a rather apt description.

 

At the base of the mountain upon which the ruins of Machu Picchu rest, DAWN and ALEX stroll casually from the train and board a nearby bus. After the bus fills with tourists, it starts up the mountain, traversing up the switchbacks toward the ruins. Finally, reaching the main entrance to the ruins, DAWN and ALEX walk past the local hotel where waiters are waiting expectantly on the veranda. ALEX hurriedly walks up the rock path, even as DAWN begins to loiter behind. As he turns to see what's keeping her, he notices her smiling broadly and looking all around.

ALEX

You okay?

DAWN

Oh yes!

DAWN immediately starts walking (almost running) into the ruins, while the other tourists are gathering about their respective guides for the first of many explanations. DAWN forges ahead, walking hurriedly through the ruins, a benefic smile on her face. She crosses the central open area, and goes directly to the Intihuatana (the Sun Observatory).

DAWN

It's wonderful. Like coming home again.

ALEX

You've been here before?

DAWN

Not in this lifetime.

ALEX watches her for a moment. Then he begins to look around him.

ALEX

We need to find the White Lady, the Mother.

DAWN

I know. The room with Three Windows.

Rising, she immediately turns and leads ALEX into the middle of the ruins. As DAWN and ALEX approach the temple, a group of tourists is already arriving there. Both DAWN and ALEX frown when they find no locals anywhere in the vicinity.

DAWN

I'll stay here. Why don't you ask around?

ALEX

Good idea.

ALEX leaves and DAWN begins to wander about, her hands gently following the contour lines of various walls and doorways. For some time, she is in her element.

Later, DAWN is sitting on a small portion of a stone wall, her feet hanging. She is still partially lost in thought when ALEX returns, looking frustrated.

ALEX

I've talked to a dozen locals and all I'm getting is stonewalling. Either they have no idea what I'm talking about, or they're hiding something

DAWN

I think we need to climb Huaynapicchu.

DAWN starts walking away, while ALEX stands there, open-mouthed.

DAWN leads as they cross the tiny ridge between the city and the steep, rocky peak. A path leads up the peak, switchbacking back and forth. DAWN keep her hands tightly on the single strand of wire which runs alongside the path for the tourists. She is breathing heavily and beginning to perspire. ALEX is breathing hard as well.

Upon reaching the top of Huayna Picchu, DAWN crouches close to the ground as she finds a place to sit and hang onto the grass turfs. ALEX, somewhat out of breath, goes over to her. Sitting down beside her, he very gently puts his arm around her shoulders. In response, she grasps his leg just above his knee. ALEX reacts noticeably to her grip on his leg and tries to gently ease her hand as her fingers remain clinched.

DAWN

It's like yesterday. I was a young prince, maybe ten years old. But I stood in someone else's way for the throne. Two men had me by the arms, hurting me. Then they simply threw me off this terrace. And I fell.

DAWN shuddered and continued to perspire, her color momentarily fading.

DAWN

It was so real!

For several moments, they sat there. Then she smiled and released her grip on his knee. ALEX unobtrusively began to massage his knee, wincing slightly.

DAWN

I'm okay now.

(noticing him massaging his leg)

Sorry. I didn't mean to hold your leg so tight.

ALEX

No matter. I have another.

DAWN smiled at the Shakespearean reply, as the two simply sat there, gathering in the view of the peaks around Huaynapicchu and the city below where the other tourists were beginning to stream back toward the buses as the afternoon waned. ALEX looked around.

ALEX

I think we should stay the night here. We'll sleep out in the open if necessary!

ALEX glanced down to where the buses had pulled out and begun their descent down the mountain. Both of them watched the process for a moment and then ALEX stood up, followed by DAWN. IRIS, a large indian woman who had been sitting behind them and near another ledge of the ruins at the top of Huaynapicchu, stood up as well and approached DAWN and ALEX.

IRIS

My name is Iris. The Mother will greet you now.

Before either could reply, IRIS turned and stared back down the path to the ruins. She glanced back once, gesturing that they were to follow. ALEX and DAWN smiled bleakly and followed.

Following IRIS, ALEX and DAWN arrived in the small area just outside the Temple with Three Windows. Several Indian women were clustered about. Just behind them were four Indian men, all looking vaguely like security forces. The area was quiet and passive, as if the people were meditating with their eyes open. With the late afternoon sun casting long shadows on the walls, IRIS bid ALEX and DAWN to sit on the grass, and then IRIS steped quietly into the Temple itself. After a few minutes, she steed back out and motioned for ALEX and DAWN to enter the temple. DAWN and ALEX both rioe, and followed IRIS into the interior.

Inside, DAWN and ALEX saw NINKI, a very old woman with flowing white hair and dark, heavily tanned skin, sitting with her back against the stone walls between two of the windows. She had a family resemblance to both ANNA and KURT. NINKI is sitting on a deep purple covering, and had obviously been a very beautiful woman in her prime (about the time of Moses). Following IRIS' lead, DAWN and ALEX moved closer until they were standing some six feet away from NINKI. IRIS then quietly moved to a place between and just off the line of sight between NINKI and that of ALEX and DAWN. There IRIS gently dropped down on her knees and sat on her heels. DAWN did the same, followed by ALEX. DAWN watched NINKI, who with her eyes closed, looked serene, devout, and very spiritual. Then NINKI opened her eyes and smiled in a comforting, welcoming manner.

NINKI

Welcome my children. You've come a long way.

ALEX

We're looking for someone.

NINKI

And you've found her.

DAWN

But who are you?

NINKI

The one who was with you in the beginning. And again when you were first threatened with extinction. Others have shown little pity for your plight, but your father and I -- your true father, not the one who claims the honor -- both of us have always been there for you. We've provided, among other things, a small growing space for you, a space of years in which you could come unto your own. And while that time is rapidly coming to an end, your progress in recent years has been extraordinary.

(suddenly laughing)

Your father and I never imagined your potential when we first began.

ALEX

Can you tell us about the "Golden Tear from the Eye of Horus", and how to consume it?

NINKI

(turning to face ALEX directly)

Ah yes, the very focused one

ALEX

I didn't want to take too much of your time...

NINKI abruptly rolled back, laughing, her arms swinging around to hug herself. DAWN smiled as well, while IRIS laughed to herself. Then NINKI, symbolically wiped a laughing tear from her eye.

NINKI

Oh, I have plenty of time. Especially for someone as delightful as you.

ALEX

Enough to tell me...

NINKI

I once told that secret to a man, and in return, I received much grief. This time, it is not my decision. You must go to the source.

ALEX

But where?

NINKI

The holy island between Axum and Sheba's tomb. There you will find the answers to your questions. From the keeper of the mysteries.

DAWN

There is a group called the Humanki...

NINKI

Who will reveal themselves to you when the time is right. But now, there is another concern. There are men entering the city. You will not want to meet them. You will have to leave by another path. Iris will show you the old way. You must go now. But fear not... I will always be with you.

ALEX and DAWN rose without a word, as IRIS escorted the two of them out of the sacred space. Almost immediately, IRIS broke into a fast walk, scurrying through the ruins. The threesome began climbing the high stone steps leading to what is known as The Cemetary. Reaching the upper edges of the ruins, DAWN turned and looked down the steps. From her vantage, she could see the classic view of Machu Picchu, with the saddle ridge and its steep terraces covered in greenery, the Sun Observatory and the open grassy area just beyond it, the main ruins -- a seeming labyrinth of head-high walls and terraces -- the main entrance to the city on the right, and directly ahead the mountain peak of Huaynapicchu. Beyond were the ranges of green-covered mountains and a sea of clouds just behind the numerous steep peaks. Below the city on three sides, was the Urubamba River, taking its horseshoe route around the extremely steep-sloped mountains.

DAWN took in the view, while IRIS handed ALEX a small, native bag -- one designed to be slung over the shoulders and attached to one's belt. ALEX began attaching it.

IRIS

Follow this trail. It will lead you to safety. It is the old Inca flight route. You have perhaps two hours of light left. It is necessary you reach the wooded area on the other side of the mountain before you stop to rest. There you can conceal yourself. At the first bridge, dump the contents of this on the trail. Now go and may the Mother bless you!

DAWN took a small vial from IRIS, and gave the woman an emotional hug. DAWN then turned and began to run lightly up the path. ALEX took the cue and added his own "thank you", his arm momentarily grasping IRIS' shoulder. Then he ran after DAWN.

With DAWN leading, the two lightly ran up the long slope in the direction of the mountain. Both were breathing hard when they finally reached a ridge at a point where the trail turned slightly and appeared to wind around one edge of the peak. From this vantage point, they stopped to catch their breath and look back. Four khaki colored figures and at least one dog had just reache the Cemetary. ALEX squinted in order to see the distant figures. Then tured back to DAWN.

ALEX

Federales.

DAWN frowned, turned and began running down a slight decline. ALEX hurriedly followed.

Further along the ancient Inca trail, DAWN and ALEX rounded a small bend, just as one side of the adjacent ground suddenly fell into oblivion, while the other side became a sheer cliff. Between the rock and the open space was the narrow footpath used by the ancient Incas. Coming upon it, DAWN suddenly stopped.

DAWN

Oh shit!

For a few seconds they looked at the sight. Then DAWN shruged her shoulders, and began walking along the narrow path (about the width of an old residential sidewalk), slowly increasing her pace to a fast and sustainable one, while at the same time keeping her balance, her hand running along the cliff. ALEX followed, mimicing her pace and movements. After a short distance, they came to a small bridge. The bridge was a combination of four long tree trunks, the exposed edges whitened from the sun and stripped of bark -- along with cross planks held in place with hand-packed mud and dirt. It appeared fairly stable except for one or two foot-sized holes in the surface and a great deal of sky just below. DAWN started across, gingerly, breathing in slow rhythmic strokes. Once back on terra firma, she took a few steps more, stopped, turned and braced herself against the rock face. She smiled, as ALEX made his own crossing. Once he was across, she handed him the vial IRIS had given them. Taking it, he turned slowly, and knelt by the end of the bridge. There he poured the contents on the near edge. Using his finger, he then tooka small sample and smelled it.

ALEX

Pepper.

Smiling mischievously, ALEX drew lines in the dirt, and brushed them slightly to obscure them.

DAWN

Some sort of curse?

ALEX

No. But someone might think we've rigged the bridge and hesitate before crossing.

DAWN smiled at the ruse, and turnd slowly to begin walking again. ALEX followed, initially making his movements slow as well, and then slowly picking up the pace.

Further along, DAWN and ALEX began encounting portions of the trail which were wider, followed inevitably by narrower sections as the trail slipped back against some rock face of varying degrees of scariness. Then on a particularly narrow trail section, they stopped as they heard the sound of a dog wailing at the moon. Both smiled, but then returned to walking at a good pace. They reached a portion of the trail which began to climb steeply taking a slope at an angle. It was less threatening but much more tiring. The sun reached the horizon as they came to a wooded area.

ALEX

I think we should go as far as we can while there’s still light. Then leave the trail, crawl up the hill and find some cover for the night.

DAWN

Good plan.

After walking some twenty feet into the cover of the woods, CARLOS AND SIL, two men with the classic look of Spanish style road bandits suddenly appeared in their path, their rifles leveled at DAWN and ALEX. Three other bandits appeared on cue, one on each side of the trail, and one from the trail just behind. DAWN and ALEX, surprised, immediately raised their hands.

CARLOS

So! Rich Americans, no doubt.

SIL

But poorly prepared.

(sarcastically to DAWN and ALEX)

Are you lost?

ALEX

The Federales are after us.

As the other men glance nervously behind them, SIL is more cynical.

SIL

Why? Did you forget to tip the waiter?

DAWN

They’re trying to kill us. We think they’re being paid by our enemies.

SIL

(laughing cynically)

Federales are always being paid by someone.

CARLOS took charge, and began gesturing with a hand motion to the others. The other three bandits moved off rapidly down the path to positions overlooking the rock ledge portion of the trail, where they settled down to wait. CARLOS and SIL stayed with DAWN and ALEX.

CARLOS

(to DAWN and ALEX)

Sit down and be very quiet. If the Federales appear on the trail, we take care of them. If not, I suggest you make peace with your god. If you have one.

ALEX and DAWN sat down, glancing around and at each other, both breathing in short quick breaths. SIL began tying their hands starting with ALEX first.

DAWN (very quietly to ALEX)

What if they turned back because of the pepper?

ALEX turned to her wide-eyed, but then winced as SIL tightened the rope on his hands. SIL then turned to DAWN for the same purpose.

Four Federales could be seen moving along the trail -- the dog following the men in a classic hang dog posture. Suddenly, the sound of gun fire erupted. Three of the four Federales were hit immediately and fell off the trail. The fourth went down before he could fire a shot. Then there was silence. Two of the bandits moved down the trail, smiling. They checked out the fourth man, took some papers from his shirt pocket, and then shoved him off the trail. The dog, now cowed, followed the bandits, who were now all smiles as they returned from the trail. One gave CARLOS the papers taken from the Federale. CARLOS took a small penlight out and studied the papers. Then he smiled.

CARLOS

We let you live a few more hours. El Cid will want to talk to you.

ALEX

El Cid!?

SIL

You've heard of him?

DAWN

Oh yes. A great warrior and leader of his people.

CARLOS

(exchanging a look with SIL)

El Cid will be pleased.

The group then started down the trail, with CARLOS in the lead, followed by DAWN, ALEX, SIL and the others. There was no sound from anyone.

 

The scene shifts to the rebel camp, where ALEX and DAWN are led over to a small campfire. CARLOS had ALEX sit on the bare ground, while SIL gallantly provided a small camp stool for DAWN. CARLOS then went off to report to EL CID. DAWN and ALEX glanced around, but said nothing. They then became very attentive as EL CID, a heavy-set man dressed in combat fatigues, came over to the campfire. With the wave of a hand, he silently ordered SIL to back off. SIL did so, moving away, but keeping his eyes on the proceedings. EL CID, DAWN and ALEX were left alone. Then EL CID sat in a captain’s canvas studio chair, facing DAWN and ALEX. EL CID studied them for a moment, chewing something. Then he stopped chewing, looked intently at the two, and then looked at the papers which the bandits had taken off the dead Federale. Abruptly, he smiled, his voice and manner quickly betraying a mid-western upbringing and accent.

EL CID

Alexander Dukas and Dawn Riordan. Mind if I call you Alex?

ALEX

Sure.

EL CID

And you're Miss Riordan?

DAWN

Please call me Dawn.

EL CID

Thanks. I’m El Cid!

(leaning forward and lowering his voice)

But no kin to that other famous fellow, I'm afraid.

DAWN

You speak excellent English. Almost mid-western...

EL CID

Cleveland. I used to sell used-cars. Until I got thoroughly fed up one day. Went a little crazy and trashed every car on the lot with a sledge hammer. Made a real mess.

DAWN

What are you doing here?

EL CID

Therapy, I suppose. Killing people for the local franchise of the Shining Path: Federales, goverment officials, tourists...

(letting the last word hang in the air)

It gets rid of a lot of agression. As for Peru... Well, as a rebel here I get a lot more respect from the local natives than I ever received pushing worn-out cars on worn-out people!

ALEX

Isn't it just a bit more dangerous?

EL CID

Obviously, you've never been to Cleveland.

(studying them more closely)

Probably your first time in Peru. And yet the Federales are after you, tracking you with a vengeance and carrying photographs of you. That’s the kind of thing that can give you a lot of status with the Shining Path. Could even make you a friend of ours.

ALEX

I think we’d like to be friends.

EL CID

And while you may be our friends -- politics does indeed make strange bedfellows -- it always helps the cause of a developing relationship, if our new friends have money.

DAWN

You're looking for a ransom?

EL CID

We all have expenses. Bullets, land mines, that sort of thing. And of course, there's the matter of appearances. I can hardly keep my leadership intact if I can't extract a pound of flesh whenever the moment calls for it!

ALEX

We’re a little short at the moment. But we could have a considerable amount of cash wired to us back in Cuzco...

EL CID

You're kidding! The Federales are sufficiently interested in you that they do something they almost never do and head back along the old Inca trails. And you don't think they'll be covering any money wired into the country? For someone who seems to be uncommonly important to someone with enough power and money to get the Federales on the stick, you ain't too smart.

ALEX winced and leaned back. Diverting his eyes from EL CID, he then glanced at DAWN. She had been watching him, and when he turned to her, she smiled confidently and turned to EL CID.

DAWN

I don't like to negotiate with my hands tied behind my back.

EL CID

Well said.

EL CID raised an arm and gestured. SIL came over immediately.

EL CID

Untie her.

EL CID watched DAWN’s every move, as SIL untied her hands, and she began to rub her wrists.

EL CID

Your move.

DAWN

Do you like gold?

EL CID

Oh yes.

DAWN leaned forward. EL CID leaned toward her as well.

DAWN

How about gold coins? American Eagles?

As EL CID looked skeptical, DAWN turned away, just enough to hide her precise movements. She kept her eyes on EL CID, as she reached inside her bra and pulled out three gold coins. She dropped them, one at a time, into EL CID's outstretched hand. His eyes lit up, and he smiled.

DAWN

There's another twenty just like those, if you take us back to Cuzco where I have them hidden.

EL CID

(looking at her appraisingly)

Let's make it forty more coins.

DAWN

Don’t be absurd! My entire hoard was only one standard package of thirty six. You've got three of them already.!

EL CID

Leaving thirty three more?

DAWN

Leaving thirty more. I had some expenses getting here.

EL CID continued to study DAWN. Then he stood up, still watching her. He glanced away for a moment, and then back at DAWN. His tone serious, he began to issue orders in Spanish to his men. Then he turned back to DAWN and ALEX.

EL CID

Okay. You'll leave tomorrow for Cuzco. My boys will go with you, and you'll give them every spot of gold you have, including any still on your lovely body. Understand?

DAWN returned EL CID’s stare, and after a brief hesitation, she stood up and extended her hand.

DAWN

Agreed.

EL CID glanced at her hand, and then took it and shook it in full view of the camp.

 

The scene shifts to a small alley outside the Cuzco hotel, during the first hours of darkness. DAWN, ALEX and SIL are standing in the alley, when another bandit reports to SIL. The leader of the small band smiles, as if expecting the news. He turns to DAWN and ALEX.

SIL

Two men are waiting in your room. Here is what we must do.

ALEX and DAWN walk into the hotel, with two of the better dressed bandits walking ahead and behind them. ALEX casually asks for the key from the desk clerk, while DAWN glances around, pretending to be casual, a light smile on her face.

As the four arrive at DAWN and ALEX’s door, the bandits pull out their weapons and take up station on either side of the door. DAWN stands against the wall behind one of them, while ALEX fumbles noisily with the key, taking a long time to unlock the door. From the other side of the door, the sound of glass shattering is heard. Then, with the door unlocked, ALEX pushes the door open and steps back. Both bandits join him as he looks inside the room.

The room is undisturbed except for a messed bed, and a bleeding arm just beyond the edge of the partially opened door. All four step in, the bandits leading, their weapons at the ready. There is a dead body attached to the bleeding arm, along with a second body, equally dead -- both lying in the area behind the opened door. Both bandits smile, as they look toward the window, and the shattered glass panes. SIL's face appears in the window, as he reaches in to unlock the window and step inside the room. DAWN turns and makes a point of closing the door behind her. Then she looks down at the two dead bodies, two men in white baggy suits now covered with blood.

DAWN

Who are they?

SIL

Who cares? Time to pay the piper. Or in

this case, the sniper.

As SIL laughs cynically, DAWN takes the vase with the hidden individual gold coins, and begins to drop the coins out one by one. SIL quickly takes the vase from her hand, drops it on the bed and smashs the vase with the butt of his rifle. As one of the bandits starts counting the coins and putting them in the bag, SIL smiles confidently and stares intently at DAWN.

DAWN

Perhaps I could persuade you to let us have one or two gold coins... So we can get out of the country.

SIL studies DAWN for a moment, a slight smile on his lips. Then his expression becomes serious.

SIL

El Cid, he pretty sure you holding out on him. So we can either destroy the room making sure we have all the gold, and then kill you and leave with it all. Or. You can just give it to us. And we let you live.

DAWN watches SIL for a moment, studying him in return. Then she winces slightly.

DAWN

Inside the box springs. At the foot of the bed.

As ALEX reaches down to find and retrieve the package and begins opening it, DAWN goes to the sink and pulls out the third package. This she drops on the bed, where one of the bandits opens it, spilling out the coins. SIL smiles, while the bandit begins gathering up the coins and putting them in a small bag. DAWN crosses her ams and confidently awaits the verdict. SIL takes a small handful of the coins and hands them to DAWN.

SIL

Expense money. Okay?

DAWN

Okay.

The other bandit, who had been rifling through one of the dead men’s pockets, hands SIL two American passports. SIL takes them and looks at them. DAWN turns back to address SIL.

DAWN

Just one question... How did you happen to meet us in the woods?

SIL

The Mother, she told us you were coming. She's our friend, but she no say, don't take their gold. That was our idea.

DAWN

And you would never have killed us!

SIL

Not a beautiful lady such as yourself!

(handing the passports to DAWN)

Your passport, madam.

DAWN takes the two passports, silently -- still shaking her head. SIL smiles, turns and follows his men out the window and into the night.

 

Moments later, DAWN and ALEX are alone. DAWN has just come out of the bathroom, having changed clothes. ALEX has changed as well, and is stuffing his small backpack with a few items, as DAWN goes over to the door, and puts the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside door handle. She closes and locks the door. Then DAWN goes over to a small potted tree, pulls the tree out by the trunk, and reaches down for the fourth package of gold coins. Brushing the dirt off the package, she drops it into her backpack. Then she turns to ALEX, who is looking at her with his mouth open

ALEX

You held out on them?

DAWN

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

DAWN slips through the window. Alex, shaking his head, follows.

DAWN and ALEX walk down a small alley to the street running in front of the hotel. There, they blend in with the normal pedestrian traffic of tourists and locals out for a stroll in the night air.

DAWN

We need to get out of this country. Now.

ALEX

We’ll never make it through Peruvian customs.

DAWN

Then how about crossing over into Bolivia? The current animosity between the two countries might work to our advantage.

ALEX

We could hire a car. Yeah. Good Idea. And may I say I admire your devious thinking.

DAWN

Thanks. I've been taught by a master.

Both turn as a car pulls up and unloads a single male passenger. ALEX approaches the driver and talks for a moment. Gesturing to DAWN, he opens the rear door, while the driver gets back into the driver's seat. DAWN smiles and joins ALEX in the back seat..

ALEX

If we drive all night, we should make La Paz and the international airport by tomorrow morning. It's going to take a couple of gold coins, but I figure it's a bargain. The driver also said he knew a boat captain who can take us across Lake Titicaca and avoid the border patrols for another two gold coins..

DAWN

There’s just one thing... Where do we go from Bolivia? Ethiopia? I know Axum is in Ethiopia, and I assume the Queen of Sheba’s tomb is there as well. But the Mother said something about a holy island.

ALEX

First of all, the Queen of Sheba may not have been from Ethiopia. In fact... according to at least one theory, The Queen of Sheba was actually Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt! And her tomb is next to the Valley of the Kings across from Luxor.

DAWN

Placing our destination between Luxor and Axum. But that’s a lot of ground to cover.

ALEX

Maybe not. Both Axum and Sheba are associated with the Ark of the Covenant.

DAWN

How so?

ALEX

When the Queen of Sheba made her famous visit to King Solomon, the Ark was housed in the Temple at Jerusalem. There she became pregnant by Solomon and once back in Egypt, gave birth to a son named Menelik.

When Menelik came of age, he went to King Solomon to be recognized. But the Hebrew priests were fanatically opposed to what they viewed as a half-breed being at court and they urged Solomon to send his son away. Solomon did, but in a typical Solomonic fashion: He also sent away -- as the retinue for his royal son, Menelik -- the sons of the priests as well! It appears Menelik and the other sons took the Ark of the Covenant with them when they left Israel. After all, it was the sons of the priests who were the guardians of the Ark. Then in Egypt, Menelik and these guardians supposedly built a replica of Solomon's Temple and there installed the Ark. Several hundred years later that temple was destroyed as well and the Ark was moved to Ethiopia, where it eventually wound up at Axum.

DAWN

Making the replica of Solomon’s Temple the holy place the Mother mentioned. But where in Egypt did Menelik take the Ark?

ALEX

To the holy island of Elephantine. Near Aswan.

FADE OUT

Episode Three -- Popo...  

Forward to:

Episode Five-- Out of Egypt

               

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