Authors' Note: The story that follows is the product of a small group of authors and began, like so many stories, as a series of discussions among interested people who asked that oldest of questions: Well, what about this…? Each author has brought their own strengths to the project and we've had fun working on this endeavor together. The authors involved are Glennfiddich12, Jumster, Lightning_Count, Rastamon and Spartan303.
As we go forward, it will be the policy of this group not to discuss who wrote which particular chapters, sections or scenes of this story. As we see it, this is a group effort and we take credit and criticism for it as a group. We hope that you enjoy this story and have an appreciation for the work and effort that has gone into it.
Finally, we state for the record that this story is for personal entertainment purposes and no financial profit is expected or sought. It may be reproduced and disseminated for personal use only and not for financial profit. All characters are the property of the creators, producers and distributors of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica with the exception of those original characters developed for this story.
OVER THE HORIZON
Jungles of Medra,
35 years after the Cylon War
Chirps and buzzes indicated the heavy insect life prevalent in the jungles of Medra. Due to the planet's slightly lower gravity, the trees grew much taller than they normally would. The sun shone down on a giant green-hued stone head that stared down from above a vine-covered gateway. Behind the gateway, a small jungle-covered mountain rose. Two men emerged from the dense jungle foliage and were struck by the sight of the stone head.
The two men could not be more different. One was younger-looking and chocolate-dark, and the other was older and had a noticeable, slight sunburn. The older man fanned himself with a brown felt fedora.
"There it is, Anthem!" beamed the older man. "The Otori Temple of Medra!"
Dr. Rhadamanthys "Anthem" Cyrus Ataiun nodded and looked around at the jungle. Here and there, hints of broken masonry peeked through the choking foliage. "The town's gone, Casus. At least until the museum excavates it."
"And that hill.... If I'm not imagining things, I'd say there's a pyramid hidden under all that."
"You're imagining things, Casus," Anthem said with a half smile. "The Otori couldn't have the time or resources for building a pyramid."
Casus Sandral continued to admire the gateway whose opening hinted at a large temple complex that was being taken over by the jungle. Suddenly, he slapped a side of his neck. Grimacing, he looked at a particularly large squashed mosquito on the palm of his hand.
"Frakking bugs...." As he rubbed the bug off on his pants, Casus said, "Why the Otori settled here, I'll never understand."
Chuckling, Anthem said, "It was probably their way of avoiding temptation." He took a rolled parchment out of his satchel which was a modified Mark VII gas mask bag and unrolled it. Pointing at a marked floor plan on the parchment and the accompanying script, he said, "If the writings of Berosus Sagan are accurate, it should be here."
In the distant past, an ascetic Gemenese religious group, the Otori Sect, built the temple for the High Worship of the Sunstorm which occurred every seven years. That was the only time the Otori priests sanctified and permitted physical contact between the genders among their followers and themselves. Understandably, the Otori remained a small minority, but they reacted badly to such common social elements as socialators. The settlement flourished in isolation until the Cylon War wiped it out despite reinforcements from the Colonial Marines, one of whom was a certain Corporal Socrata Thrace who had developed entomophobia in the jungles of Medra. The jungle then eventually erased traces of the Otori settlement, claiming it once more except for the temple even though lianas, vines and trees were working their way against the temple's stonework.
Casus and Anthem walked through the gateway, climbing over ruined steps, vines and ledges. Occasionally, they had to use machetes to slash through the overgrowth. Occasionally, they would spot battle damage through the overgrowth. Bullet holes, even a few grenade and missile craters. Legacies of the Cylon War.
The two men came upon a pond at the edge of a broken stone path and a waterfall splashing into the pond.
Anthem jumped into the shallow pond and waded toward the waterfall.
"Hey, Anthem! What are you doing?"
Anthem looked over his shoulder at Casus. "Getting into the temple. Coming?"
Realizing what he meant, Casus jumped into the pond and followed him. He saw Dr. Cyrus disappear into the falling water. Casus took a deep breath and stepped through the water. He found himself staring into a hallway. He was impressed. The temple's construction had enabled it to endure the diversion of a water channel over the complex.
The interior was wet and dark, hanging with plant life and stalactites. Casus took a stick from his satchel and forcefully bent it, causing it to glow brightly. Anthem took a similar light-stick from his own satchel. Even here, broken bullet holes marred the stone corridor walls. The men's echoing footsteps intermittently overpowered the sound of loud dripping, whistling air drafts and the chatter of insects. Occasionally, they came across a skeletal body, even the rare rusted remains of a destroyed Centurion.
At the end of the dipping hall, they could see a giant green-hued feminine-looking head carved into the wall. Its eyes looked golden, or at least gilt. The head was big enough for its open mouth to serve as an entryway. Flanking the huge idol head were four statues of nude women, two on each side. Each of the stone women held an object over their heads and the object looked suspiciously like a winged phallus.
Casus and Anthem smirked at each other. High Worship, indeed.
The entrance in the idol's mouth was blocked by a stone slab. As they looked around, Anthem studied one of the female statues closely. He wet two fingers of his hand in his mouth and held his hand out, waving it slightly along the statue's edges.
"Dr. Cyrus, I thought you don't swing that way?"
Anthem smirked back at Casus. In answer, he grabbed both of the stone breasts on the statue and pushed. The statue seemed to move slightly and there was a rumbling click.
The stone slab in the head's mouth lifted up. Beyond was a stone stairway.
"Ah. A secret entrance. Ingenious," enthused Casus.
Anthem and Casus came down the stone steps to a tight landing. Framing the landing's archway was a carefully strung network of dead vines, each somehow hooked into the wall, narrowing the opening even more. Anthem lowered his glow stick to the floor of the landing. The landing was carpeted with human skeletal remains, one on top of another, all squashed flat as from a great weight.
Casus frowned at the bony remains as Anthem looked up at the ceiling of the landing. Anthem stepped onto the bones which made a cracking noise under his boots.
"Try not to touch the vines."
The corridor continued on straight beyond the archway. Casus noticed the inscriptions on the walls. The glow from his stick revealed carvings and murals of stiff-looking men and women with animal heads.
Dr. Cyrus's nose came within inches of the wall as he studied the inscriptions and accompanying artwork. The animal-headed people had the front of their torsos shown while their heads and legs and feet were in profile. One of the women was recognizable as cow-headed Hera, the Queen of Heaven. Another was dog-headed Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld, to whom were human sacrifices made in ancient Colonial times. "Looks Chandaran, doesn't it?"
Casus nodded. "The stone looks older. Much older than the Otori Temple."
"Fifth Kingdom, at the latest. But it fell over a thousand years before the Otori ever came from Gemenon." Anthem frowned. "And Chandara's on Caprica, not Gemenon. Plus, the Chandarans didn't have spacecraft. They must have come here with Poseidos' help."
"This complex is probably the reason they chose to settle here." Casus looked up at the ceiling, seeing beyond it. "I was right. That was a pyramid up there."
Anthem nodded. "A small one. Berosus said that the Otori held a secret knowledge. This Chandaran temple must be part of it. But why did the Chandarans build here? The logistics of such a project at a time when only Poseidos still had spacecraft...."
Casus shrugged. "C'mon. We can study all this properly once we find it."
It. It was the reason they were here. Anthem acknowledged Casus's point by turning away from the wall. But he stopped in his tracks as he stared down the corridor. Fifty feet down to the hallway's end, there were signs of sun light.
Casus said, "I think we're close."
Cyrus stood still looking down the hall.
Casus was impatient. "Come on. There's nothing down there."
"That's what scares me."
They began walking down the hall side by side, inching forward. Suddenly, Casus's lead foot came down and through the floor. As he began to pitch forward, wind milling his arms, Cyrus grabbed him by the belt and pulled him back. They both looked down at the 'floor'.
Anthem swung his glow stick across the floor. It cut open, falling away to reveal a black pit almost as wide as the hall. The illusory floor was made of dust-covered cobwebs. Casus picked up a broken piece of stone and dropped it down the pit. No sound. The two men exchanged glances and looked at the edge along the wall. Testing it with a glow stick, they found it to be solid. So they shimmied sideways along it. When they were both standing on the other side, there was a moment of silence in which they heard from far, far below--SPLASH! The men exchanged a glance once more, appreciating the pit's depth.
Ahead of them, there was another archway with heavy wooden doors closed shut. Anthem laid his fingers on the carvings on the doors. Two women were carved into the door, clasping hands where the door would split open.
"Aurora and Pythia," said Casus.
"Yeah, but why are they paired? I've never seen them this way." Anthem looked around the two women and saw an inscription written above them. He pointed at it. "Look. It's Old Gemenese."
'Life here began out there.' The very first sentence in the Sacred Scrolls.
"The Otori must have added this door when they settled here."
"Look there." Anthem pointed to the area beneath the two ladies' feet. There was a representation of an upside-down five-pointed star set within the circle formed by an ouroboros, a snake swallowing its own tail. The lines of the sign seemed to be of dark flames. The Sign of Iblis, the champion of Skotos, Darkness, forever fighting against Phos, the Light of the Lords of Kobol. It had been theorized that this dualistic cosmology was the ancestor of the belief held by those who worshiped in modern mithrasaries on Gemenon.
What did it mean that the Otori Sect carved a symbol of Iblis upon this door?
The door opened to reveal a large domed room. A mural covered the dome, showing a brilliant golden sunburst at the dome's peak, surrounded by silver stars in the lapis lazuli blue heavens. A burning god stood in a chariot of flames that seemed to fall and tumble down through the heavens away from the sunburst. When Anthem saw this mural, he was strongly reminded of the mosaic on the dome of the Great Sanctuary Temple in the city of Sarance. Maybe a relationship of some kind?
Hanging down from the dome ceiling were a circle of evenly spaced chains, some of which still held metal-grill lanterns. Twelve evenly-spaced holes in the dome cast beams of sunlight down, causing a large pool of water to glitter. To one side of the pool, there was a soft slight blue glow as from sunlight shining through an underwater tunnel. In the center of the pool, there was a small pentagon-shaped island with an altar, also shaped like a pentagon lay on its side. It was connected to the archway by a narrow bridge. On the altar, there was a green globe within a cage of gold netting, its connecting points studded with rubies.
"Ha-ha! Anthem, we've found it!" Casus trotted across the bridge.
Alarmed, Anthem reached out for his friend, failing to catch his shirt. "Casus, wait! It could be a trap!"
Laughing, Casus said, "You Capricans - so full of swagger, yet so timid in the face of real adventure! Have a little courage, will you?"
As his friend ran over the bridge to the altar island, Anthem glanced down at the pool and caught a shadow moving underwater. It seemed to be a school of fish. Or a big animal.
As Casus ran, he knocked aside the body of a small dead bird which fell into the water. Almost immediately, the water where the bird fell boiled as it was attacked. Anthem swallowed at the sight. Flesh-eating fishes. When Casus reached the altar, he grabbed the caged globe off its pedestal. Suddenly, there was a rumble as an iron clasp grabbed his ankle and held him fast. The bridge cracked a bit as the island began to sink slowly.
"It's a trap! Anthem, help!"
Glancing down at the water and its apparently flesh-eating fish, Anthem quietly replied, "I don't know, Casus...I'm feeling kinda timid."
However, Anthem looked around, took a deep breath and ran across the bridge, which cracked further as the island broke its connection with it and the bridge began to lose its end support. Upon reaching Casus, he took the jeweled sphere and shoved it into his satchel. He took out a pickax from his belt and started swinging at the stone holding the chain connected to the iron clasp. Sparks and bits of stone flew. But Anthem had to swing hard and for a long time, chipping at the stone away while the blade itself was getting chipped as well. Water began to slosh over the round stone island platform's edge.
"Hurry!" screamed Casus.
Remembering the dead bird's body under attack in the water, Anthem kept swinging hard. The pickax blade broke. He seized Casus's own and started using it, too. The water was now sloshing against their boots. Finally, the stone was chipped away enough for Casus to pull the chain out of the floor.
Immediately, the two men jumped up onto the still cracking bridge. Their weight caused the stone beneath to crumble and fall away. They had no choice but to run across the bridge, the stones falling away behind them, splashing into the water. The chain on Casus's iron clasp whipped behind him as he ran. Anthem had to fall back a bit to avoid the short chain. Anthem felt himself beginning to fall as the bridge's fall overtook him. Casus jumped onto the landing just as the bridge's end began to crumble into the water. He grabbed at Anthem's jacket as his legs dipped into the water. Casus pitched himself backward, pulling his friend over the landing's broken edge.
Hands reached out and grabbed both Casus and Anthem.
Panting from the exertion of running from a watery death, the two archaeologists looked up and saw that there were four men. One of them, clearly the leader, had dark blond hair and piercing blue eyes, a sardonic smirk, a slightly unshaven look, looked rugged and to be in his 30's. He looked between Casus and Anthem. "Dr. Cyrus. Dr. Sandral."
Anthem shook off the hands grasping his arm and looked suspiciously at the blond man. "Who are you? How did you get here?"
"Korben Cawdor. We followed and observed you, Dr. Cyrus." Korben turned to Casus and extended his hand. "Dr. Sandral."
Casus looked at the open hand. It was clear that Korben wasn't expecting a handshake. He sighed and took out a pistol from within his jacket and handed it to Korben. The blond man extended his other hand, smiling. Casus glanced at Anthem and tightened his lips. He shook his head.
"It belongs in a museum. Specifically, the Delphi Museum of the Colonies."
Korben was still smiling as he gripped Casus's pistol and shot Casus with it.
The older archaeologist dropped to his knees with a cry of pain, clutching at the spreading blossom of red on his chest, and fell backwards and sideways. The blood soon flowed on the stone floor and over the edge into the water.
"Juno's cunt!" swore Anthem. Intensely aware that the gun was now pointed at him, he had to resist rushing to his dying friend's side. He glared at Korben. "I hope this is worth the frakking cubits you're getting."
Korben laughed. "I'm not after the cubits." He gestured at the three toughs who came with him. "They are."
"Then why are you doing this?"
"My..." Korben paused as he smiled. "...brothers and sisters are aware of the legendary Otori Treasure. We know that the Otori smuggled it out off of Gemenon when the fundamentalists seized power in the Holy Empire of Gemenon a century before the War. It is supposed to reveal truths about the Galleon and all of the Tribes."
Anthem stared. That was more than what Berosus Sagan wrote of the mysterious Otori Treasure which had just turned out to be the green jeweled sphere that Casus took from the pentagon island. All he knew was that the Otori were supposed to have a secret knowledge. That was all.
"And now you're joining your friend, Dr. Cyrus." Korben raised Casus's pistol and aimed it squarely at Anthem's forehead.
"Whoa! Wait, wait, wait!" Anthem reached into his satchel, causing the thugs to tense. He slowly and carefully took out the sphere. The sphere seemed to be of green jade, though it felt too light for it. The rubies connecting the points of the glittering gold net seemed to be arranged in an oddly random manner. Anthem took this moment to admire it for a short while and handed it over to Korben.
Korben held it up to study it. "Beautiful. And these stars...."
Anthem punched Korben in the face, knocking the jeweled sphere out of his hand. It tumbled onto the floor. Anthem immediately seized the blond man's belt, pivoted on a foot to strengthen the pull and threw Korben into the blood-stained water of the pool. The archaeologist then turned to face the three henchmen with kicks and punches.
Meanwhile, Korben resurfaced, his face stained and streaming with Casus' blood in the water. He began to swim to the platform and water around him began to boil. He started screaming as the flesh-eating fish devoured him. The scream gurgled and was drowned out as the fish pulled him underwater. More blood immediately stained the water. The bubbles eventually ceased.
Anthem panted as he looked around to see that the unconscious thugs were not getting up from the floor. He knelt beside his friend, Casus, and saw that he was already dead.
"Cack," swore Anthem. He took a deep breath and reached into a pocket. He took out a rectangular gold cubit coin with the sign of Tauron stamped on a side, and inserted it into Casus' mouth. At least his friend would be able to pay the boatman for the voyage to the afterlife. Anthem stood and looked around.
The jewel-caged sphere of the Otori Treasure still lay on the floor. Getting it had exacted an unexpectedly heavy price. Anthem picked it up and put it back into his satchel as he walked back up the hall to get out of the temple. He took out a radio and manipulated its dials until it squawked and began to silently put out an Aerian merchant code to summon a friend's ship for a pickup. His thoughts went to the sphere safely contained in his satchel. There was a clue connected to it: Queen Almestra of Chandara. He needed to get back to Delphi University. That meant it was back to Caprica for him. But a question lingered in his mind:
Who the hell was Korben Cawdor?
On a Ship Somewhere Else
In a large dark room with occasional and random square lights on the walls, a bright white light shone from within a large black tub. Cables ran to the tub's head. A gurgling sounded. A male hand covered in thick amniotic fluid reached up and grasped the wide round ribbed black edge of the tub.
37 years after the Cylon War
(Two Years Later)
Dr. Cyrus stood before his class, dressed in professorial tweeds. Over the two years since the adventure at Medra, the professor had let his hair grow into dreadlocks long enough to reach his chest, which were now tied back behind his head. He turned to the blackboard behind himself and used a chalk to write the word FACT.
"...the search for fact. Not truth. If its truth you're looking for, Dr. Tyree's Philosophy class is right down the hall."
The students chuckled.
"So forget any ideas you've got about lost cities, exotic travel, and digging up the worlds. Do not follow maps to buried treasure...."
In the corridor outside the lecture hall, a captain of the Colonial Marine Corps approached the door and peered through the window in the door at Dr. Cyrus lecturing his students. He knew that the professor taught a combination of archaeology, anthropology and history. Some called it archaeoanthropology.
"Seventy percent of all archaeology is research, research, research. Which means actually reading. We cannot afford to take mythology at face value." Anthem turned to point at a poster showing a muscular bearded man grappling with a serpent. The serpent-entwined Staff of Asclepius was in an upper corner of the poster.
"For example, Ophiuchus represents the thirteenth sign of the zodiac and the fabled Thirteenth Colony." He pointed at the calendar posted on a wall. "And Etos Kosmou 21351.'Etos Kosmou' means Year of the Universe. We're expected to believe that the universe was created by the Lords of Kobol 21,351 years ago." A twist of the lips showed how little Anthem thought of that. "The very first sentence in the Sacred Scrolls: 'Life here began out there.' If we believe that all of the Sacred Scrolls were written on Kobol, it implies that Kobol is not Humanity's mother world. It's likelier that the Scrolls were written after Colonization."
The students sat silently, though several frowned at that last statement.
"What are the facts? Where are the facts?"
A bell rang. Anthem turn to stand at his desk as the students began to disperse. A pretty female student quietly put a note on the professor's desk as Anthem continued to speak. He knew that the note would be the student's attempt at flirtation and hid a wry smile. It wouldn't work on him at all.
"Next week: 'Poseidology'. Start with the excavation of Naukratis by Heiro Nabon in 21227 which led to our understanding of the four ancient empires of Poseidos, Chandara, Pelledrine and Armakia."
The captain approached as the last students departed the lecture hall.
"Dr. Cyrus? I'm Captain Atticus Rourke of the Colonial Marine Corps."
Anthem gave him only a glance as he gathered folders and papers into his briefcase. "I'm not serving. I'm too old to join up."
The balding man's gaze was unfeeling. "Can we speak in private?"
"I'm busy. I still have mid-terms to grade."
Rourke came one step closer. "It's a matter of Colonial security."
Anthem frowned as he looked back at the captain and thought for a moment. "All right. My office."
On the walk through the university campus to his office, Anthem had learned that Atticus Rourke was a liaison to the Ministry of Defense and acted as an intermediary between the Colonial Fleet, the President, civilian contractors and scientists. Arriving at his office, Anthem unlocked the door and opened it. Inside, a uniformed woman was seated in a chair in front of the professor's desk, looking up expectantly. Her black hair was gathered in a bun at the back of her head. A military briefcase stood beside the chair. A folder sat on Anthem's desk.
"What the hell?"
The woman stood up. "Christa Nolan, Colonial Intelligence."
Anthem scowled. That explained her ability to get past the locked door into his office. He looked back at Capt. Rourke behind him. His expression was blank as he gestured for the professor to enter and close the door shut.
"What is this about? What do MiniDef and ColIntel want with me?"
In response, Agent Nolan took out a photograph from the folder and showed it to Anthem. "You are Rhadamanthys Cyrus Ataiun, correct? Is this your family, Dr. Ataiun?"
Anthem scowled. It was an old family portrait showing the entire Ataiun clan. Almost all of the Ataiun men, including a much younger Anthem, had shaven heads. He could see his cousin, the Sire Tassilo Ataiun standing behind the seated old family patriarch, Sire Asterion Ataiun, and his wife, the Siress Medea. This photo was before the Tauron aristocratic clan disowned another cousin, Phelan.
Anthem's voice was tight as he responded, "Its Dr. Cyrus, Ms. Nolan. And yes, it's my family." He had to drag that last bit out of himself. He didn't like being associated with that family.
Christa said, "Your parents died in an incident back in...What was it, 21330?"
"Ah yes, let me think," Anthem broke into a savage imitation of a pensive academician, "yes, I believe it was '30. An excellent year for a tragedy, wouldn't you say?"
The woman realized she'd made a hurtful mistake but the ColIntel agent merely nodded, satisfied, and replaced the photo in the folder.
Anthem didn't let her off that easily. "No, really, if it would amuse you, let's definitely have chitchat about the way my parents died."
The female agent said nothing and gazed at Anthem with a blank expression, refusing to be provoked.
Exasperated, Anthem said, "What is this about? The military doesn't get interested in archaeologists for no reason."
"Correct," said Rourke. "It's a job for you."
"A job? I already have one right here in Delphi University. And I'm not joining the military."
"We could arrange a sabbatical for you, Doctor. The job...it's about the Otori Treasure. Interested?"
Anthem stared at the Marine captain. The Otori Treasure. It was one of the few archaeological objects that confounded him.
"Agent Nolan?" prompted Rourke.
The woman reached into her briefcase, brought out a brown manila envelope and held it out to Anthem who looked at it as if it was a poisonous serpent.
"Travel plans. All paid for, of course."
When Anthem took out a piece of paper from the envelope, it turned out to be an Eversun flight ticket to the city of Sarance. That raised his eyebrows. Eversun fielded luxury starliners. Was the military trying to sweeten the pot for him?
Agent Nolan tossed the folder of Anthem's background information back into the briefcase and snapped it shut. With that, she opened the office door and stepped out without any further words. Before Captain Rourke followed her, he said, "Be seeing you."
Sarance! As daylight broke in a milky haze over what was once called Queen of Cities, Anthem Cyrus studied the metropolis from the rail of a water-taxi crossing the strait from the Sarantian suburb of Deapolis. The dawn-misted sea gave way to ancient fortified sea-walls protecting a city flung upon the humped backs of hills: great domes of temples and palaces pushing head and shoulders over tight-clustered white dwellings. Once called Sarantium and Videssos in that order, once capital of a half of the ancient Rhodian Empire that survived the fall of its capital, Rhodias, Sarance stood at a strait where the continents of Inachus and Metis almost met. It may not have the cosmopolitan glitter of Caprica City at the continent of Alpheus, but Sarance had an old world charm, with its domed temples, palaces and forums left over from the old empires before the crumbling Sarantine Empire aligned itself with the Union of Kingdoms on the continent of Lamos and the United States of Alpheus to form the Commonwealth of Caprica which would later serve as a founding state of the United Colonies of Kobol. Unlike so many other cities in the Colonies, Sarance was one of the few that survived the Cylon War relatively intact, though it saw combat.
The archaeologist had just come from an excavation at the Galleon Temple some ways into Inachus. He knew that on the other side of the city in Metis, the still-thriving city of Chandara stood at the edge of the Bythian Desert, also called the Great Caprican Desert among the Colonies. The great cities of Chandara, Sarance and Vitalia formed a large triangle and the region contained within was often merely called the Triangle. He had been investigating the Chandaran necropolis near the Galleon Temple Complex, including the tomb of Queen Almestra. Strictly speaking, he was supposed to go straight to Sarance from Delphi, but he had time before the appointment so who was he to not take advantage of a detour?
Anthem was aware of the old idiomatic quote "Sailing to Sarantium." To say of a man that he was sailing to Sarantium was to say that his life was on the cusp of change; poised for emergent greatness, brilliance, fortune--or else at the very precipice of a final and absolute fall as he met something too vast for his capacity. The professor scoffed at the thought. He had had plenty of adventures under his belt, not least of all the one to the Otori Temple of Medra on Scorpia.
As the water-taxi drew closer into the Golden Horn, the great natural river-shaped harbor in the midst of Sarance, Anthem admired the old city. Founded by the Rhodian Emperor Saranos at a time of troubles, its position on the strait allowed it to surpass the great port city of Vitalia, itself founded by the Trakesian King Vitalos the Great. Anthem's eyes drifted past the ramparted hill of the Athena Acropolis and the imposing dome of the Great Sanctuary over to the Grand Palace. Rather than a single building, it presented itself as a collection of palaces, gardens and pavilions within a walled compound--a city within a city. It served as the main seat of the Emperors after the fall of Rhodias. The message he recently got from Director Maspero Bambridge of the Supreme Council of Antiquities requested that he attend the appointment in the museum in the palace precinct.
When the water-taxi docked in the Golden Horn, Anthem was able to get a cab to go through the city to the Grand Palace Museum. Along the way, he gazed out the window as the cab drove past the fire temple of Mithras Ascendant for sacrifice, the Column of Emperor Galba Rex who had expanded the Rhodian Empire to its greatest extent, the monumental gateway leading into the famous bazaar of the Covered Forum where one might smell the bewitching aromas of Meeramu curries, the sweet fragrance of Virgon wood and the fruity tang of Fimli oranges.
Closer to the Grand Palace complex, the Temple of Hecate Redemptrix stood in the shadow of the Athena Acropolis which contained the large Classical Temple of Athena Victrix. The domed Temple of Zeus Pantocrator stood across a large gardened-and-fountained plaza from the Acropolis and the Great Sanctuary, also known as the Great Pantheon even though it was dedicated to divine wisdom. The Four Rivers Fountain in the center of the plaza held up the Obelisk of Saranos, honoring the Emperor who founded this city.
The plaza was nothing like the Forum in Delphi and the Caprica Presidium which consciously imitated the Forum of the City of the Gods on Kobol, but Sarance held a beauty all on its own. Anthem believed that it was better if one was creative without imitating the ancients. This avoided criticisms, as happened in Delphi and Caprica City.
Once Anthem had paid the cab fare, he decided to go into the Great Sanctuary before meeting Director Bambridge in the Grand Palace. Looking up, he could see the eerie similarity between the temple dome's Sarantine mosaic and the mural he saw in the Otori Temple at Medra. A glittering gold sunburst in the dome's apex, sapphire blue heavens with silver stars. A burning god, mouth open in a silent scream, in a fiery chariot with four uncontrolled flaming horses falling down from the heavens: Heladikos, also known as Hermes Trismegistus. Caprica's two moons flanked the falling god. Lining the dome's edge were the twelve constellations and zodiacal signs representing the Thirteen Colonies: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
Trying to break through the link of constellations and zodiacal signs was a dark shape hinting at a demon with ruby red eyes: Iblis, champion of Skotos, Darkness, forever fighting against Phos, the Light of Kobol. Also known as Lucifer, the Adversary, the Prince of Darkness, Mephistopheles and Diabolis.
Surrounding the apse at the end of the temple were the Ten Sibyls of the Colonies. Anthem recognized one of the holy women's faces to be that of the Empress Alixana. He smiled at the Sarantine empress' conceit of inserting herself into the Sanctuary and into the Colonial mythos. Once a courtesan, the empress laid down the groundwork for the Sarantine Empire's renaissance of power instigated by her successors.
In the apse over the altar itself was a mosaic of Heladikos, also known as Hermes Trismegistus. He seemed to be a youthful figure in the robe of a magician with the face of the divine Apollo, the sun god, with a confident smile and shining eyes. Above his head was the mysterious sign of Phos, the Light of Kobol, the sign of eternal life, like an endless twisted cord, forming the infinity symbol. About his waist was a serpent-cincture or girdle, the ouroboros, the serpent devouring its own tail below Heladikos' navel. In his right hand was a wand raised towards heaven, the sky or the element æther, while his left hand pointed to the ground. This iconic gesture had multiple meanings, but it was endemic to the Mysteries, symbolizing divine immanence, the ability of the magician to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. Flanking Heladikos were the symbols of the four Classical elements of earth, air, fire and water, with himself representing the fifth element, spirit. Beneath were roses and lilies to show the culture of aspiration. Above all this was a golden winged sun-disk sending down rays that ended in hands, one of which offered an ankh, the sign of life, to Hermes/Heladikos.
"Amazing how much heresy there is in our mythos, no?"
Anthem turned at the intruding voice. "Director! I thought you'd be waiting for me in the Museum."
Maspero Bambridge, the Director of Antiquities in this part of Caprica, smiled. "I'm aware of your disregard for the rules and your tendency to take detours. If Zeus wouldn't go to Olympus, Olympus must go to Zeus."
"What did you mean by heresy, Mr. Bambridge?"
For answer, the Antiquities Director pointed up at the mosaic of Heladikos. "Hermes Trismegistus. Hermes Thrice-Master. Son of the Morning. His cult was a heresy and an underground movement. It is amazing that Empress Alixana allowed the mosaicist, Crispin, to put him up there. Hermeticism has faded into a small movement today. Did you know that Heladikos was also sometimes called Lucifer, Light-Bringer?"
Anthem nodded, looking up at the dark figure in the dome. "Just like Iblis."
"Iblis was supposed to be a jealous Lord of Kobol who fell from grace after using his powers for evil purposes. Who knows how much of Heladikos was really Iblis? I think the story of Heladikos, a combination of Prometheus and Phaeton, coming down from heaven to teach us fire, language and the attainment of wisdom, was consciously created as a protagonist against the antagonist, the Prince of Darkness. Zeus supposedly killed Heladikos with a bolt of lightning for the crime of elevating us from the level of mere beasts. An old Sarantine story had his father, the sun god, either Helios or Apollo, resurrecting him through the ankh." Maspero chuckled at that and quoted, "'Phos is the Life and the Resurrection.' Hah! Just like Dionysus, Persephone and Mithras."
Anthem shrugged. "I'm here for the facts, not some truth we might glean from our mythology."
Maspero raised an eyebrow. "Facts?" He pointed again at the mosaic of Heladikos. "See that sign above his head? The infinity symbol. It was used by that old terrorist group, the Soldiers of the One and is still used by monotheists. That is a fact."
Again, Anthem shrugged. "We can't claim to be free of sins ourselves. Zeus was a child-molester and a rapist. He ate his first wife, Metis, before she bore him Athena. The Lords, especially Hecate, once demanded human sacrifices from us. Yet, we still worship them."
Maspero gave him a half smirk. "Perhaps it's a good thing that our religion is orthoprax, not orthodox. So we are free to either take the Lords seriously or see them as metaphors. Or even be atheists."
It was Anthem's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Including Poseidon? He's the Lord of the Seas and our spacers worship him as Lord of Spaceships."
"I thought you're here for the facts, not philosophical or religious truths? Anyway, that particular practice may have come down to us from the Empire of Poseidos."
"Or from Kobol," countered Anthem. "Poseidos was only an island-city that still had spacecraft after all the other first states in the Colonies lost the knowledge. That, of course, became moot when Poseidos sank in the Enipeus Sea. Only Kobol had the scope of influence to affect all of the Colonies this way."
"That's what we'll find out."
Anthem frowned at that statement. "What do you mean?"
"Come with me."
Maspero led Anthem out of the Sanctuary down an avenue leading past the plaza between the Sanctuary and the Temple of Zeus Pantocrator until they came upon a sumptuous gateway leading into the Grand Palace. It turned out to be much bigger and more sumptuous than the Colonial President's office and residence in the Apollo Palace in the Caprica Presidium.
In one of the palace buildings, they went through the Hall of Emperors, passing busts, statues, mosaics and framed paintings of Trakesian, Rhodian and Sarantine rulers including Trakesian Kings Demetrius and Azimenarius, Emperors Fortunato, Galba Rex, Saranos, and Alixana. The Trakesian King Vitalos the Great, gazing heavenward, his long curly locks and Apolline face hiding a fierce spirit that conquered the huge Bassanid Empire in Inachus and set a standard by which all later rulers measured themselves by even though that empire tore itself apart upon his death with no clear heir. The Golden Emperor Krispos, his empress, Anthimos III's widow Dara, and their son and successor Phostis. Krispos had smashed the Kingdom of Makuran, successor of the Bassanids, and sacked their capital city of Mashiz. Saranos II who renamed his capital from Videssos to Sarance, and victim of the Republican Revolutions that massacred most of his relatives. General Strakus who restored order in the short-lived and revolution-torn Sarantian Republic, convinced its people to join the Caprican Commonwealth and became one of Caprica's leaders in the First Colonial Conflict.
Maspero stopped at the statue of the Mad Emperor Deius Rex, son of Galba Rex, who sought to restore Hecate's human sacrifice cult. The statue showed the Mad Emperor locked in mortal combat with his archenemy, the blue-tattooed northern chieftain Brath. The Director took out an amulet that was two snakes, one gold and one silver, intertwined and biting each others' tails in imitation of the Ouroboros. Maspero inserted the amulet into a groove in the wall behind Deius and Brath.
"What in Hades?"
Maspero smiled. "It's your job to find out. I can't go with you."
Anthem nervously peered into the darkness and looked back at Maspero.
"Don't worry. It's just one of the many secret passages built into the palace by the old emperors. We use some for storage for the Museum. Others...well, this is one of the others. Only the amulet can open and close this, and it's always under my lock and key."
"Very reassuring," quipped Anthem. "What was that about 'Sailing to Sarantium'?"
The Director of Antiquities smiled and pressed a hand on Anthem's back, urging him into the secret passage. Once Anthem was in, Maspero took the amulet out of its groove and the wall slid shut.
Alone in the darkness, Anthem groped at the walls. Then the floor shuddered and began to sink, causing Anthem to almost stumble. It was an elevator. An outstretched hand could feel the palace's stonework moving up as the elevator floor went down. Soon, the stonework became rough bedrock.
Soon, an archway with an iron gate appeared from beneath the descending floor. Anthem reached a finger to the rising gate and found that some type of thick clear plastic separated the gate from the elevator. Acrylic, likely. When the floor stopped moving, Anthem found himself staring at a black-shirted and black-helmeted Marine guard through the iron gate. He was standing in front of a heavy-looking solid metal door that looked like a hatch from a military ship. The Marine looked down at a clipboard and glanced back up at Anthem, obviously making sure of Anthem's photographic identification. He stepped forward, inserted a tiny key into a lock that held a small acrylic window-like slot closed at waist-height. He kept his fingers lightly touching his holstered gun. Unlocking it, the Marine opened the slot and pointed at a dark screen set at a sixty-degree slant in a console facing the gate. A small computer was set behind the dark screen.
"Sir, lay your hand on the ID scanner."
Anthem reached his right hand through the slot and laid it on the screen. The Marine pressed a button on a keyboard set behind the scanner. A hum sounded and a horizontal bar of red light slowly moved down and up the screen, scanning Anthem's handprint and fingerprints and making an almost inaudible clicking sound. A beep sounded and the bar of light vanished. The computer whirred as it processed many handprints for a match for several seconds. Another beep sounded. The Marine glanced down and grunted. He picked up a small microphone connected to the computer with a cord and held it up to the open slot.
"Clearly state your full name here, sir."
Anthem stared for a moment. He had never been subjected to such security before. This was a military base hidden right under the Grand Palace! "Is this a military base?"
The guard read him the textbook response, "I'm not authorized to discuss that." He glanced at the microphone pointedly. "State your full name, sir."
Anthem rolled his eyes. The frakkin' military, they could be frakkin' Cylons sometimes, he thought. He sighed and bent down forward. "Rhadamanthys Cyrus Ataiun, PhD."
The computer whirred and beeped as it found a match on file. The guarded nodded and produced a skeleton of keys. One key unlocked the iron gate. After the gate was opened, another key unlocked the acrylic panel, allowing Anthem to step down from the elevator platform. He looked up at the ceiling, noticing a surveillance camera for the first time.
"Welcome to the Sunken Palace."
The guard smiled for the first time as he locked the panel and gate. Apparently, the clearance of his identity had relaxed the Marine somewhat. "It's under the Grand Palace. It was completely filled with water until we drained it. So...'Sunken Palace'."
Anthem started to say something else but the soldier turned to spin the wheel on the hatch and pulled it open. A hallway stretched beyond, stark and without any decoration, and carved right out of the bedrock. Atticus Rourke, the Marine captain who met Anthem in Delphi, had been waiting behind the hatch.
"I'm glad you could make it, Dr. Cyrus." After shaking Anthem's hand, he told him to follow him.
Behind them, the Marine guard pushed the hatch shut and wheel spun to its locked position. Anthem and Rourke continued down the hallway through the buzz of neon light-bulbs, past closed doors and around several corners, moving deeper into the underground maze.
"What was this place used for before it was flooded?" wondered Anthem aloud.
Captain Rourke's eyes glittered with humorous mischief. "That's classified information, sir."
Anthem didn't think the joke was funny.
The captain suddenly stopped and knocked on one of the doors. "Dr. Maxwell? Are you in there, sir?"
The door cracked open and out came the scowling of a middle-aged man with black hair. He squinted at Anthem before saying, "You must be the fresh meat." He came out into the hallway with a dyspeptic expression on his face. "It's Cyrus, isn't it? I'm Dr. Odin Maxwell, PhD, on loan from Caprica University."
His pompous manner made it easy to dislike Dr. Maxwell, and Anthem started getting the hang of it right away. He had heard of him, of course. Being a professor at a university like Caprica meant sitting on powerful advisory boards, having your articles published in the most respected journals, and enjoying all the benefits of being part of the academic establishment. This particular professor came from Caprica University's Department of Advanced Science and sat on the Magnate Prize board, and was well known as Dr. Gaius Baltar's mentor.
Anthem could care less about Maxwell. He pegged him as one of those elite ivory tower professors who hadn't done a stitch of original thinking in years nor had done much field work, if any. Besides, Anthem had won the Siltzer Prize for writing, which Dr. Maxwell didn't have. "What are you here for?"
"Ah!" twanged a woman's voice behind them before Maxwell could answer. "You're finally here! Let me tell you, the project--"
Rourke turned on his heels. "Dr. Carroll, until Dr. Cyrus gets his security classification, we are not--"
"Oh, shut up, you overgrown testicle," she snapped. "Go bore someone else, Captain." Her slight smile made it clear that she didn't really mean it. Coming out of her office on the other side of the hall, she looked middle-aged despite her completely silver hair which sharply contrasted with her dark dress-suit. She turned to Anthem. "The military drained and converted the Sunken Palace so these jarheads get to act like they own the place. Don't worry. We're the valuable ones here, brother."
Anthem smiled. He knew he liked this woman despite her severe-seeming demeanor.
"Anyway, I'm Dr. Rhea Carroll, the token astrophysicist from Aquaria University. You're single, right? How old are you?" Anthem didn't mind the questions. He knew that it was not uncommon for Aquarians to ask for age, name and marital status so that they could figure out how to address someone as their dialect carried formal and informal language. He answered them and they shook hands. Rhea then turned to Rourke. "Captain, let's show this man to his new office, and you be nice to him or you can forget about the soju I've brought from Galatea back on Aquaria. Even though Dr. Cyrus' techniques make him more like a looter than an archaeologist."
In spite of her venomous tone, it was clear she liked the soldier. She apparently followed the Aquarian culture of treating everyone in a facility or ship like family, with the most attention paid to elders. Anthem grinned. If she really brought soju, the famous Galatean liquor, he might like it here. Unless she started acting like one of the Gemon Matriarchs, a Gemenese sect which believed that women were more capable than men in various aspects of society.
The Marine captain, holding back a smile, turned and led the group down the hall to a door marked 42. He pushed the door open and said, "This is where you'll be working."
Anthem couldn't believe his eyes. The "office" was the size of a castle great room. The walls, over twenty feet high, were covered with large charcoal rubbings and photographic enlargements of squarish runes. On a long worktable, computer equipment was hooked up and online. Two smaller tables held various artifacts, and the bookshelf was stocked with every conceivable volume on the subject of the languages of Kobol and the Twelve Colonies, both existing and historical. There was even a coffee machine, a microwave and a small refrigerator. But it was the large artifact directly across from the worktable that caught and held Anthem's attention. It was almost as tall as him, and seemed to be three obelisks standing on a stone hemisphere and leaning on each other, covered with runes organized in vertical lines on the outside faces. A circle of runes ran around the edge of the hemispherical base.
He stood there, gaping at the ancient artifact. He recognized it.
"The Galleon Stone!" He looked back at Rhea and Odin. "What's it doing here? I just saw it in the Galleon Temple!"
Rhea said, "The one in the temple is a perfect replica. Perfect in every way on the outside." She looked severe and disapproving. "The religionists would throw a fit if they knew."
She stepped up to the Stone and gently touched the carved inscriptions with a finger. "As you can see, there are runes running down the three pylons. Dr. Maxwell has been helping us with the translation. So far we haven't been successful, though we found at least 25 distinct letters. It may be an extremely early form of Kobolian script, though it's not like anything else that the Exodus brought from the mother-world."
Anthem, with his archaeo-anthropological knowledge of languages agreed. The runes seemed to be squarish, blocky, and dominated by right angles. There was no analogue to Colonial and Kobolian languages, as far as he knew.
Then Dr. Maxwell started into a long-winded explanation of the various decoding programs he had written and used. Anthem's attention wandered over to the tables of artifacts as he listened with one ear, and interrupted, "Isn't that the Otori Treasure?"
"I beg your pardon!" huffed Maxwell, miffed at his lecture being interrupted.
"The Otori Treasure's supposed to be in the Delphi Museum!"
Rhea Carroll gazed at the jeweled sphere, puzzled. "That wasn't here before."
Rourke stood beside Rhea. "I had it brought for you, Dr. Cyrus. An identical replica is in place at the museum, down to the last ruby. Any idea what it is, Doctor?"
Anthem briefly wondered at the scope of this project and its apparent ability to swipe artifacts from temples and museums and replace them with copies with no one the wiser for it. He shrugged. "Nope. I tried to figure it out when I brought it to Delphi University. The only clue I had was from that man, Korben. 'Stars', he said. The most I could figure out is that the rubies seem to be arranged in constellations. But they are like no constellations ever seen in the Colonies. I even compared them with the zodiac." He shrugged again. "No dice."
"Ever tried looking inside?"
Anthem threw Rourke a look like the captain lost his mind. "Yes. X-rays, infrared scans, the works. We couldn't see inside. Probably because it uses some unknown type of Kobolian technology. All we know is that it's old. Only the Arrow of Apollo could match its age in the Delphi Museum."
Rhea said, "Perhaps you didn't try looking inside hard enough." She grabbed the sphere and raised it up high.
"What the frak!" Anthem realized what she was doing and lunged for Rhea. "STOP!"
She brought the caged sphere crashing down upon the table. The gold netting broke apart and the sphere shattered.
The jade sphere was actually merely a shell. A crystal shard was inside. Anthem picked it up wonderingly and studied it closely. It caught the light as he moved it in his fingers. The crystal looked like pink quartz but the planes inside were perfect as if the crystal had formed in space or underwater without the usual imperfections caused by outside pressures.
It was perfect, except for some indentations on one side of the crystal shard. Anthem looked at them closely and realized that they were runes. "Hey, this looks familiar."
Clutching the crystal in one hand, Anthem rushed over to the bookcase. Looking sideways at the titles embossed on the book spines, he found what he was looking for and pulled the book out. Treasures of the Chandaran Tombs.
He flipped through the pages and stopped at a chapter, then turned the pages more slowly.
Anthem stopped, laid the book on the table and stepped aside to allow the other people in the room to see. One page showed a picture of a Chandaran papyrus scroll. One inscribed line held runes not unlike those on the Galleon Stone itself. A line of Chandaran script below translated the runes and the modern Federal Koine translation was in the caption below the picture.
Clava Thessara Infinitas. Key to Infinite Treasure.
Odin frowned as he grasped the lapels of his tweed jacket. "A key to treasure? The crystal is a key?"
Anthem elaborated, "A Chandaran legend had it that the key will allow he who possessed it entry to a vast storehouse of riches hidden away by the Lords of Kobol before they ceased walking among us. It was said that the goddesses Athena and Qetesh worked together to find it and failed." He shook his head in bemusement. "I know how illogical that sounds, but that's mythology for you."
"Qetesh? Who's that?" wondered Rhea aloud. "I've never heard that name."
"I'm not surprised. She was briefly worshipped in Chandara. She was the goddess of physical and platonic love, beauty, and diplomacy. Eventually, she got identified with Athena and her cult died out in the Third Kingdom of Chandara."
"Are you sure this is the right translation?" asked Maxwell. "Look here." He pointed at an infinity symbol drawn above the line of runes in the picture. "Can we trust it?"
Anthem rolled his eyes. "Expecting some ancient terrorists to pop out of the crystal?" He shook his head at the tendency of people to attach modern negative connotations to ancient symbols. He tapped the phrase on the crystal and in the book. His dark eyes shone with excitement. "The point is that I can use this to translate the runes on the Galleon Stone."
The group stared at Anthem, stunned by the revelation of a potential breakthrough.
"Now," Anthem wanted to maintain the momentum, "will somebody please tell me why the military has an astrophysicist working with an archaeologist and a robotechnologist in an underground base studying a bunch of artifacts that are over three thousand years old?"
"We're onto something much more interesting than a bunch of artifacts, Dr. Cyrus," Rhea Carroll began, but she was cut off by Atticus Rourke, who stepped between them.
"Excuse me, Dr. Carroll, but that information is classified. All information is now classified. Dr. Cyrus will work only with the information available in this room. From now on, all interdepartmental communications are to be relayed through Agent Christa Nolan who will be working closely with you and reporting to me."
Anthem was outraged. "What? Wait a minute, Captain. We're not antebellum Caprica sneaking behind Sagittaron's back! I need information for comparison and context!"
"I thought we'd have complete autonomy," put in Rhea.
He shrugged. "Plans change."
"Apparently," Rhea said patiently, fully in her role as a university department chair. "I'd appreciate some elaboration."
"The way I understand it, the folks at the Ministry feel things have gotten a little too loose around here."
"Captain Rourke"--Rhea's tone made it clear that she wasn't buying it--"It has to do with that crystal, doesn't it?"
Rourke said nothing.
Rhea nodded, taking that as confirmation. Anthem's face darkened at the implications and said, "Just answer me this: Why is the military here?"
"We're here in case you succeed."
Two Weeks Later
"Okay, this is what I have so far," said Anthem, using a capped pen as a pointer on the computer screen.
Rhea Carroll nodded her encouragement. Technically, she wasn't supposed to be here, but Anthem wasn't known for sticking to the rules. It took a lot of persuasion for her to come into his "office", though.
"The language is not like anything we have from Kobol although there are similarities. The phrase on the crystal wasn't enough. I had to use Tauronese, Old Gemenese and Old Aerian in addition to Kobolian to figure it out. For instance, the circle of runes at the Stone's base here: Nou ani Anquietas. Hic qua induco lacun lochus."
Rhea watched Anthem expectantly. He translated for her, "We are the Ancients. This leads to the lost place." He added apologetically, "'Lost' isn't the right word for lacun, but it's the closest I have."
"That's all right, Anthem. Who are the Ancients?"
Anthem shrugged. "Who knows? But the Stone's runes give more on these 'Anquietas'. The first pylon runes: Nos magisteri viae in valde zona astriae. Nos eo in Olympus uban traba tectum de nationis omnis. 'We are the teachers of roads in the great belt of stars. We travel in Olympus, uban traba, shield of all nations.'"
"I'm having difficulties with that part. It either means 'ship', 'city', or both or something else entirely like 'high place'."
"Olympus? So these Ancients could be the Lords of Kobol? Isn't Olympus supposed to be a mountain? Uban traba must mean 'mountain'. Odd thing to say, to travel in Olympus, isn't it?" Rhea looked at Anthem skeptically. "Maybe there's a translation error somewhere."
Anthem frowned. He had spent the entire past two weeks on the translation. He didn't like the thought that there's a mistake somewhere, as it would mean he'd had to start all over again. Cack. Well, he brought Rhea in for a fresh outlook, didn't he? "That's partly why I'm having problems with 'uban traba'. Anyway, there's the runes on the other two pylons. The second goes like this: Calium videre eessit, et eraos ad sidera tollere vultus. 'When you see her, you see the sky and those on the ground must lift their faces to the stars.'"
Now Rhea was even more confused. "Did an Oracle write this?"
"Third pylon: Ex kobalos disce omnes et fugit ciruculum. 'From the source, all will learn and all must end.' Yeah, it does sound like an Oracle wrote all these."
Rhea grunted in agreement. "I'm sorry, I can't help you there. The only part that could barely make sense to me is 'great belt of stars'. That could mean the galaxy, a cluster of stars or the stars in Orion's belt." She shook her head. "I'm an astrophysicist, not an archaeologist or linguist." She stood up. "If there's nothing else, I have to go back to work. We wouldn't want Captain Rourke or Agent Nolan catch us conspiring, do we?"
"There's one more thing: Reperio clava. That's throwing me like Juno throwing a fit over Zeus' affairs. 'Reperio' has so many different meanings: invent, find, discover, learn, make or devise, get, ascertain or figure out."
His friend winced. "I don't envy you this job. 'Clava'...where have I heard that before?"
Anthem smiled. "That's from two weeks ago. It means 'key'."
Rhea stared at him. "You are a dunce, you know that?"
"That's what I tell myself each time I wake up. But what makes you say that?"
The Aquarian astrophysicist rushed over to the table of artifacts and picked up the pink crystal that she broke out of the Otori Treasure. She held it toward Anthem who now felt like banging his head on a wall for his stupidity. He had been working for so long and hard on the translation that even his dreams repeated the work. He was so tired: except for stopping to sleep and eat, he worked non-stop. Still, he couldn't believe that he didn't make the connection! It was a good thing he decided to bring in Rhea.
He excitedly grabbed the crystal and turned to the Galleon Stone. He took a deep trembling breath. "I feel like I'm in the Night Flight with Kara Nixal, about to become the first person in space since the fall of Poseidos."
He inserted the crystal shard into a tiny opening near the top of the third pylon of the Galleon Stone. Nothing happened.
Disappointment instantly set in. The Stone's three obelisk-shaped pylons then opened up like a flower blooming.
Anthem jumped back, startled. It was so silent! "Well, I'll be damned. It works!"
The pylons continued opening up until they were nearly horizontal. A white crystal triangular pyramid the size of a large human head was revealed. It glowed softly like a moon and bloomed open, revealing a spherical stone, similar to the Otori Treasure's sphere in size. The ball lifted into the air, surprising Anthem and Rhea.
That spoke of a synthetic gravity control much finer and more advanced than the Colonials had in their spacecraft.
The ball glowed a soft white and then blue dashed lines appeared in the air, filling the space between and above the open pylons, arranged in horizontal and vertical circles so that they created a sphere that reminded Anthem of sextants. Holographic technology!
The glowing ball became the glowing core of a galaxy. Several sectors of the galaxy glowed brighter and expanded as the galaxy faded away. The sectors became individual stars. Three stars to a side glowed brighter than the others and were encircled by a circular line of very tiny runes. At some distance away, six recognizable constellations glowed just as bright. Red areas defined within each constellation blinked on and off, rearranging themselves as if there was a computer figuring it out inside the Stone. The constellations' stars moved into the current positions and the blinking red areas became definite shapes glowing a continuous green and a white dot appeared in the center of each of the six green areas. A thin blue solid line drew themselves from the white dots and meet each other. Then a thick blue dashed line made its way from the three encircled stars until it ended at the intersection of the thin blue lines. A star appeared at that point and glowed a bright gold. The green areas faded away and the constellations faded into the normal starry background. A new circle of tiny runes appeared around the new central star.
Rhea whispered in awe, "If I'm reading this right, it's far beyond the Prolmar Sector, which is the farthest we've explored. The Prolmar Sector is 30 light-years from the Cyrannus Sector."
The newly indicated star expanded, causing other stars to fade away until it stood alone in holographic emptiness. The thick blue dashed line was still there but it now seemed to appear out of nowhere and speared into the star. Anthem was able to read the runes around the star without squinting or needing a magnifying glass.
Phaos sau Kobalos. Phos, Sun of the Source.
"Eureka," whispered Anthem, eyes wide open in amazement.