Read The Atlantis Stone Online

Authors: Alex Lukeman

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Spies & Politics, #Espionage, #Thriller, #Thrillers

The Atlantis Stone (3 page)

BOOK: The Atlantis Stone
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CHAPTER 4

 

 

General Alexsandr Volkov looked down
from
the window of his office on the top floor of FSB Headquarters in the old Lubyanka prison, contemplating the statue of Felix
Dzerzhinsky dominating Lubyanka Square
.
Volkov's hands were clasped behind his back. His fingers moved with restless energy. The Director of the FSB was a broad block of a man, with hairy arms and the build of a wrestler. Behind his back he was called The Gorilla. No one ever called him that when he was within earshot.

Volkov's job as head of the
Federal'naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii
made him a powerful man in Russia. The old Committee of State Security, the KGB, had been broken up into separate organizations after the fall of the Soviet Union. FSB was in charge of internal state security and intelligence gathering. External security and foreign intelligence was the responsibility of the
Sluzhba vneshney razvedki,
SVR.

Volkov's world would have been perfect if foreign intelligence was under his control. Since it wasn't, he settled for doing everything he could to undermine SVR and its new director, Alexei Vysotsky. His ambition was to resurrect the KGB as it once was, with himself in command. The name would be different, of course. Whatever the name, the function would be the same. But it would require the blessing of the Federation president, Vladimir Orlov.

Orlov meant
eagle
in Russian; Volkov meant
wolf
. There was no doubt in Volkov's mind that one day the wolf would pull the eagle from the sky. In the meantime, he had to play the role of loyal officer and servant of the state.

A report lay on his desk about the interrogation of Yuri Sokolov. His agents had been thorough, if too enthusiastic. Better if the traitor had been brought back to Moscow for more extensive questioning, but the questioning had been too much for the old man. Even so, enough had been learned to justify further action.

Sokolov had talked about the pillar in the photograph he'd given to Volkov's informant. He'd babbled about the writing on it. He'd talked about Atlantis and a power that could lift stones in the air. Volkov didn't give a shit about Atlantis. All he wanted was more information about the artifact that controlled that mysterious power.

Sokolov had told Volkov's interrogators there was a map showing where the pillar had been photographed. He'd sent it with the picture to America.

The FSB was not supposed to intervene on foreign soil. That was the job of SVR. But like the American FBI, the FSB could legally make an exception when a Russian citizen was involved. Sokolov had been a Russian citizen. As he saw it, Volkov was within his mandate to pursue the issue, wherever it took him.

He turned away from the window, sat down at his desk and opened the folder with the report. Sokolov had revealed where he'd sent the picture.

It complicated things.

Selena Connor was part of the Project, red-flagged in the database of every Russian intelligence agency. That was where it got complicated. She wouldn't be easily intimidated into handing over the map and picture. He needed that map.

It might be possible to steal them without confronting her,
Volkov thought
. If not, I'll have to take extreme measures.

As long as the FSB didn't bring down the wrath of the Americans on the Kremlin, no one in Moscow would mourn the death of an American spy.

Volkov didn't know if the force described on the pillar existed, but if there was any chance it was real he had find it before the Americans did. With the map, he could find the pillar and that might tell him more. If he could discover the secret of the force and how it was controlled, he'd gain allies in the military and among the oligarchs. He'd gain favor with Orlov. It would put him in a better position to make his move against SVR and Vysotsky.

He pressed a button on his intercom.

"Get Major Yeltsin in here."

"Sir."

Five minutes later there was a knock on his door.

"Enter."

Major Borya Yeltsin wore a reasonably good dark suit, white shirt and black tie. Unlike SVR, officers in the FSB wore civilian dress rather than army uniform. Yeltsin was dressed in civilian clothes, but no one would mistake him for a civilian.

His hair was cropped close to his head and high on the sides. He had the kind of unsmiling eyes found in soldiers who have seen the red edge of war. Broad shoulders and chest showed that he worked out on a regular basis. Yeltsin stopped in front of Volkov's desk and snapped to attention.

"You sent for me, sir?"

"I have a mission for you. I want you to take a team to America and retrieve something for me."

"What is it you wish me to obtain?"

"A picture and a map. They were sent to a woman who lives in Washington. She is a member of one of their covert intelligence units. Try to recover the items without involving her in a direct way. If that is not possible, you are to take any action necessary to ensure the success of your mission."

Volkov handed a folder to Yeltsin, along with a copy of the photograph.

"I want you to bring back the original of this photograph and a map that accompanies it. The map will date to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. It should be easy to identify. The address where everything was sent is in the folder, along with a picture of the woman and a summary of who she is. Do not underestimate her. She is part of a direct action team, highly trained."

"She's a woman. I can handle it."

"Don't let your balls get in the way, Major."

Yeltsin stiffened at the rebuke. "Sir."

"This mission requires discretion. It would be much better if you avoid any wet stuff but if it comes to that, make sure you are not apprehended. There must be no trace of our involvement. Understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"Pick your team and let me know when you are ready to leave. Make it soon."

"I can leave later today."

"Excellent. Dismissed."

Yeltsin snapped his heels together and left the room.

As he walked down the hall he looked at the picture of Selena.

An attractive woman,
he thought.
It would be interesting to interrogate her.

He thought about how he would question her and began to whistle as he walked.

 

CHAPTER 5

 

 

"You need a break." Nick set a cup of black coffee in front of Selena. Steam rose from the surface. "You've been sitting in that chair for hours."

Selena's desk was littered with notes and references. She leaned back, stretching.

"Thanks." She picked up the coffee, blew on it and took a sip.

"Did you learn anything new?"

"The pillar was erected during the reign of King Menes, which makes it more than five thousand years old. What I've translated so far falls right in line with legends about Atlantis. Sometimes legends are all that's left when history has disappeared."

"How is the inscription like the legends?"

"It describes a city built on a plain with a mountain in the center. It has three concentric rings marked off by canals, with the ruler's palace in the central ring. That fits with Plato's description."

"You really think this is about Atlantis." It wasn't a question.

"It's beginning to look that way."

"What did Plato say?"

"The first known mention of Atlantis comes in two of his dialogues,
Timaeus
and
Critia
. According to Plato, Athens is supposed to have defeated Atlantis in a great naval battle. There's no historical record of a battle like that ever taking place."

"Why write about it if it never happened?"

"His dialogues are mostly political allegory meant to glorify the Athenian way of life. There have always been people who think Atlantis was real. They argue Plato was using an historical example that the people of his time would have recognized. A historian named Crantor was a contemporary of Plato. He claimed to have interviewed Egyptian priests who showed him the history of Atlantis written down on pillars. The pillar in the photograph could be one of those."

"That's a pretty big stretch."

"It fits, doesn't it?"

"It still doesn't prove Atlantis was real."

"No, but what if it was? What if this inscription is referring to a source of power that could be re-discovered and used? It would benefit everyone."

"Or it could be turned into a weapon," Nick said. "That would be another reason for the Russians to go after Sokolov."

"The implications of this are endless," Selena said. "Take the pyramids, for example. Archaeologists still argue about how the Egyptians built them using those huge blocks of stone. Some of them weigh hundreds of tons and they're fitted together with perfection. How did they get them into place? If the inscription describes something real, it explains how it was done."

"I thought they dragged them behind slaves and built ramps as they went up. Like in the movies."

"Maybe for the lower levels, but there's a point where that can't be done anymore." Selena tapped her notes with her finger. "One of the theories is that the pyramid builders had something like what's described on this pillar and used it to to lift the stones through the air. Antigravity, if you like."

"Next you're going to tell me aliens did it."

"The UFO people would probably say something like that but you don't need aliens if this inscription is accurate."

Nick shook his head. "I've never seen anything that backs up the idea the pyramids were built by people from Atlantis. There isn't any proof Atlantis ever existed."

"This photograph could be the proof. Besides, no one is quite sure how old the pyramids are. Some archaeologists think the pyramids and the Sphinx are a lot older than they're supposed to be."

"How much older?"

"Most think the great pyramid was built about 2560 BCE. The Sphinx is supposed to be from around the same time. But there are experts who insist there's enough evidence to date the Sphinx as early as 10,000 BCE or earlier. The face of the Pharaoh may have been carved out at a later date."

"That's impossible."

"Not if the Sphinx was placed there by an earlier civilization. There's an account from the time of Khufu that says it was buried up to its neck in sand when it was discovered. Khufu is supposed to have built the great pyramid."

"Without more than this photograph there's no way to verify any of this," Nick said.

"That's why we need to go look for that pillar. There might be something in the rest of this inscription that could do that."

"And if there isn't?"

"We still have the map."

"You want to look for more records in Egypt?"

"It might be the only way to prove this one way or the other."

Selena sipped her coffee.

"I was thinking about the Russians. If they caught up with Sokolov, they'll know he sent the picture and the map to me. They might want them back."

"The thought had occurred to me." Nick sighed. "If they're serious, they'll come looking for it."

"I'll say one thing. Things haven't been dull since the first day we met." 

Nick laughed. "That's not a day we're likely to forget."

"I don't ever want to have another day like that one." Selena picked up the photograph. "Something's bothering me about this. I think I've seen this writing before, but I can't remember where."

"It will come back to you."

"Or not. I'd better get back to work."

"I'm going for a run," Nick said. "There's still plenty of light."

Selena turned back to her study of the inscription on the pillar. Vaguely, she registered the door closing behind him as he left.

An hour later, she finished translating a long passage.

Wait until Elizabeth hears this.

CHAPTER 6

 

 

Nick and Selena were in Elizabeth's office.

"A stone?" Elizabeth said. "They used a stone to move things?"

"It could be some kind of crystal. Maybe a meteorite. I can't tell from what I've seen so far. They called it the Stone of the Gods."

"Selena, I have to ask you this. Please don't take it the wrong way."

Selena waited.

"Have you been taking drugs? A new prescription, perhaps?"

Selena snorted. "No, Elizabeth, no drugs. No funny cigarettes or anything else. I can't help it if this sounds like something out of an opium dream."

"The whole thing is fantastic," Elizabeth said.

"There's more. The inscription mentions an underground archive where all the knowledge of Atlantis was stored for safekeeping."

"An underground archive?" Elizabeth looked at Selena, astonished. "Are you sure?"

"An archive or a library. "

"Where was it located?"

"All I know is that it's underground and that it's guarded. That could mean anything. If we could find it, it would be the greatest archaeological discovery ever made. Nothing else even comes close."

"Wouldn't it have been lost in whatever disaster destroyed Atlantis? Assuming this really is about Atlantis in the first place."

"The hieroglyphic part of the inscription says that
'in the days before the great King Menes'
Atlantis conquered what is now Egypt and Libya. King Menes ruled five thousand years ago. The pillar was found in Egypt. If the archive wasn't in Atlantis it might be in one of those two countries. There could be records about this stone they used to produce power."

"If the records exist."

Selena nodded. "If they exist and if we can find them."

Elizabeth tapped her fingers on her desk. "Those are two big ifs."

"The Russians will translate the inscription. When they do, they'll start looking for that archive. I've translated what can be seen on the column and the location isn't there. No one is going to find anything without more information."

"When are Ronnie and Lamont coming back, Director?" Nick asked. "I thought they'd be here today."

"Ronnie has one more follow-up test this morning. Lamont is coming in this afternoon. He's cleared for light duty only. I'm going to put him in the armory for now. We've got the new MP-7s to familiarize ourselves with."

Nick grunted. "About time we got those. It seems like all the bad guys wear armor these days. Our MP-5s don't cut it anymore."

"Schedule weapons practice with Lamont. Once you're comfortable with the guns on the range, take everyone through the combat target course and see how they do."

The combat target course was set up in a warehouse-like building across from Project Headquarters. It could be configured as a town, city or country environment. As a shooter went through the course, life-size targets popped out at unexpected times from unexpected places. Some were bad guys, others were noncombatant civilians. Deciding which was which had to be done in a fraction of a second. Grading was based on speed, hits and accurate choices. Shooting an assailant aiming a weapon was good. Shooting a civilian carrying a baby was not so good. It was easy to make a mistake when it counted for real.

"Who gets to set up the course?" Nick asked.

"Lamont, of course."

"That should make it interesting."

Selena stirred in her seat. "I was telling Nick I thought I'd seen something similar to that inscription."

"Where?" Elizabeth asked.

"I just remembered while we were talking. I read an article a few months ago about the French Museum of Natural History. They were in the midst of a major renovation and discovered a disused storeroom in the basement. It was filled with broken furniture and the like. There was a photograph of the room in the article. I'm sure I saw something in the picture with writing similar to what's on the column."

"Wouldn't the museum put it on display?" Elizabeth asked.

"Not necessarily. They have more than enough artifacts. One more or less doesn't make any difference, unless it's historically important. They might not even have tried to translate it."

"Can you find that article with the photograph?"

"I think so."

"Go look for it."

"If it's where I think it is, I can lay my hands on it and be back here in a couple of hours."

"Good. Nick, while she's doing that why don't you start with the guns? Everything's down there ready to be unpacked."

"Shouldn't I wait for Lamont?"

"He won't mind if you open up a couple of crates and get a head start."

Ten minutes later Selena had gone back to their loft and Nick was down in the armory prying open a crate containing the Heckler and Koch MP-7 submachine guns. They'd been shipped wrapped in a polyester film called boPET. It beat the old days, when weapons were often covered in a thick coat of cosmoline that took hours to remove. He took out one of the guns and stripped away the protective covering.

The MP-7 had been purpose-designed to defeat an enemy wearing body armor. It took a specialized 4.6 X 30 mm cartridge unique to the gun. The round could punch through twenty layers of Kevlar. A 9mm or a .45 couldn't do that. A .45 slug would hurt like hell and knock the bad guy down but he could get up again and keep shooting.

The gun had all the bells and whistles German engineering could think of: an extendable stock and folding fore grip, a Picatinny rail to handle various accessories, places to attach optical sites and lasers, folding iron sights and a magazine capacity up to forty rounds. It was small enough to use like a pistol but easily turned into a full-fledged assault weapon.

The compact, lethal package weighed in at a little over four pounds.

Someone's always coming up with better ways for you to kill people.

The thought took Nick by surprise. It made him uneasy. He wasn't given to introspection on the firing range. He looked down at the precision weapon in his hands, an instrument of death.

You and the Grim Reaper, buddy,
his inner voice said.

He set the gun down on the table. His hands were sweating.

Maybe it's time for me to quit,
he thought.

 

 

 

 

BOOK: The Atlantis Stone
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ads

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