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 (6 page)

BOOK: The Atlantis Stone
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CHAPTER 12

 

 

On the top floor of the SVR headquarters building in Moscow, General Alexei Vysotsky put down the report from Washington. He took a deep breath to calm his rising blood pressure. Three FSB agents, dead in the home of two of Harker's operatives. Volkov had poked a stick into a hornet's nest.

That meddling bastard has done it now. What the hell was he thinking?

It was late in the afternoon. Outside Vysotsky's window, a sea of leafy green treetops stretched all the way to the Moscow river flowing past the walls of the Kremlin. It was the best time of year in the city, when the arctic cold of winter was gone and the brutal heat of summer had not yet arrived. Most of the time in Russia it was too hot or too cold.

Vysotsky set the report down and opened the left-hand bottom drawer in his desk. He took out a bottle of vodka and a tumbler, filled the eight ounce glass and drank half of it down. Vysotsky considered vodka a good replacement for water. He couldn't drink as much as when he was young but he could still hold his own with the best of them. As long as he didn't overdo it, vodka helped him think when he was confronted with an annoying problem.

Like Volkov.

Volkov was doing everything he could to curry favor with Vladimir Orlov. He wanted the Federation president to think Alexei was unfit to run Russia's powerful foreign intelligence service and never missed a chance to undermine Vysotsky and SVR. Alexei suspected him of sabotaging two operations that had gone bad but couldn't prove it. Volkov wanted to establish a new KGB, with himself as Director. It wasn't hard for Alexei to imagine Volkov's motivation. It was exactly what he wanted for himself.

Vysotsky was certain Orlov saw through Volkov's manipulations, using them to keep the two intelligence agencies at odds. The oldest trick in the Russian political book was to divide and control.

Now Volkov had stepped over the line. He'd sent people to break into the home of an active American intelligence operative. Worse, he'd involved Elizabeth Harker's Project.

Besides
, Alexei thought,
if anyone is going to do any breaking and entering in America it's going to be on my orders, not his.

Why had Volkov done it? It was the last straw. It was time to do something about him but it wasn't going to be easy. He needed to pry Volkov out of Orlov's favor.

Alexei set the half empty glass of vodka down and closed his eyes, letting himself slip into a light meditative state where thoughts and bits of information mixed without interference. Vysotsky's mind was highly visual. He'd learned to trust the random association of images and ideas that surfaced during these sessions with himself.

The tension in his muscles eased as he relaxed. Images and thoughts began to flow.

 

The report from Washington... The face of Selena Connor... Elizabeth Harker's green eyes... Volkov, unsmiling... A report from an informant... FSB activity in Holland... A Russian archaeologist murdered in Amsterdam..
.

 

Alexei's eyes snapped open. He had spies planted throughout the ranks of the FSB. A week before, one of them had reported that Volkov was sending agents to Amsterdam. The informant hadn't known why.

A few days later a routine report from the SVR residency in Holland noted the death of Yuri Sokolov, an academic researcher from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He'd been identified as a man found beaten to death three days earlier in his hotel room. There was no indication in the report of who had done it or why, or what Sokolov was doing in Amsterdam in the first place.

Until this moment, Alexei hadn't put the two pieces of information together.

It can't be coincidence. Volkov's men killed him. Why?

Vysotsky decided to find out.

 

CHAPTER 13

 

 

Selena rubbed her tired eyes. The pictures she'd taken of the tablet were displayed on her computer monitor, where she could zoom in on parts of the inscription with ease. She'd been at it for hours.

Some words had been easy, similar to the version of Linear A she was used to. Not that anything about Linear A was easy, even with the translation key she and Nick had discovered in Tibet. Selena had concluded that the stone was inscribed with a script predating Linear A. She'd decided to call it Linear D. There was already a Linear A, B and C. Linear C had been supplanted by early Greek.

Linear D taxed all of her considerable linguistic skills. Without the hieroglyphics inscribed on the Egyptian column, she wouldn't have gotten far. She could read and understand most of those. The hieroglyphics had helped her make sense of the Linear D on the pillar, but the pillar was only a warm-up for the French tablet.

Translation required much more than understanding symbols and words. The structure of the language was still confusing to her. It didn't help to know what a word meant if she couldn't put it in context with what went before or came after. Trying to understand the meaning of words without understanding how they related to each other was like listening to random radio signals from the universe, hoping to hear a message from another galaxy. The message might be there, but without comprehensible structure and context it was just static.

It was after two in the morning. She knew she'd get no more done tonight. The last time she'd seen Nick had been an hour ago when he'd looked in on her and told her he was going to bed. Selena yawned and decided he'd had the right idea. She turned out the light in the study and went into the master bedroom.

Nick lay naked on his back, the covers thrown onto the floor. He was making quick, erratic movements, muttering in his sleep. His body glistened with sweat.

He's having one of his nightmares,
she thought.
They've come back since Germany.

She was about to wake him when he shouted and sat up, sending a pillow flying.

"Nick. Wake up. It's all right, you're home."

She was careful to keep her distance. Sometimes he swung out wildly when he was having one of his dreams. Before they'd gotten married the nightmares had come close to driving them apart.

"Nick," she said again.

"What?" He opened his eyes, saw Selena standing nearby. "Oh."

"Afghanistan again?" she asked.

In Afghanistan Nick had almost been killed by a grenade thrown by a child. He'd shot the boy as the grenade was in the air. The boy's face haunted his worst dreams.

Nick rubbed his eyes. "Yeah. Only it was in Germany at the same time. In that café."

The café was where Ronnie and Lamont had been wounded. It had been a close call all around.

"Maybe you should make an appointment with Milton."

She meant the therapist Nick had seen a while back. Milton had served in Afghanistan and lost an arm to an IED. Nick respected him. He'd helped Nick work with the PTSD that sometimes froze him in place.

"Yeah. Maybe." He got out of bed. "I'm going to take a shower."

She watched him walk to the bathroom.

No point in going to bed now
.

Selena was wide awake and Nick wouldn't go back to sleep tonight. She headed to the kitchen and turned on the lights, got out cups and started coffee. Nick would want some and she needed a jolt of energy.

It was while she waited for the coffee that the key to understanding the inscription on the tablet came to her. The coffee forgotten, she went back into her study, rebooted the computer and looked again at the pictures.

Yes! That's what I was missing.

Three hours later she'd finished the translation.

 

CHAPTER 15

 

 

Morning light streamed through the patio doors of Elizabeth's office. Ronnie and Lamont sat next to Nick and Selena on the couch in front of Elizabeth's desk. Stephanie took a seat nearby with her laptop.

Steph looks radiant,
Selena thought
. I wonder if she's pregnant again?

"I tracked down Sokolov," Stephanie said. "He's legitimate, regarded as a reliable researcher in Russian academic circles. He got in trouble once for speaking out against government restrictions on sharing research with academic colleagues in the West."

"Was he a political dissident?" Elizabeth asked.

"I suppose it's possible, but he still had his job at the Institute. He disappeared eight days ago. Selena said his letter was postmarked from Amsterdam. I searched through the newspapers from around the time it was mailed and found an article about an unidentified victim who was murdered in his hotel."

"You think it was Sokolov?" Elizabeth said.

"It fits. The man was tortured. It seems like too much of a coincidence."

Nick rubbed the back of his neck. "I knew it. If he was alive, he'd have shown up to talk with Selena."

Elizabeth picked up her pen and began tapping it on her desk. She caught herself and set it down.

"Selena, you look like the cat that ate the canary."

At the word cat, an enormous orange tomcat lying on the couch next to Selena looked up expectantly.

"No, Burps, it's not time for lunch."

Selena reached down and scratched the cat behind his ear, triggering a rumbling purr that vibrated under her touch.

"What I found will be challenged as a hoax. But I'm convinced that tablet is genuine and from Atlantis. No one could fake that language."

"Atlantis was real?" Lamont asked.

"If you believe what's on the tablet. It's a narrative of what the author calls the homeland. I think he was recording a contemporary history."

"I have a hard time believing any of this," Ronnie said.

"You're not the only one," Lamont said.

"Don't forget the pillar found in Egypt. That inscription fits with the stories about Atlantis."

"Still doesn't prove it." Ronnie crossed his arms over his chest.

"No, it doesn't. But what's on the Paris tablet ups the possibility. The scribe describes two different groups called the Sages and the Archons. He was in the first group."

"Sounds like something Hollywood would dream up," Lamont said.

"Give it a break, Lamont," Nick said. "Let her tell us the rest."

"Their government seems to have been a quasi-democratic monarchy. When the tablet was inscribed, the Archons were the dominant group. That's interesting because Archon is a Greek word for ruler or magistrate. Anyway, the two groups argued about how to use the power Sokolov talked about in his letter."

"What did they argue about?" Nick asked.

"The Archons wanted to create a weapon by increasing the power of the force they used to lift things. There's nothing on the tablet about why they wanted to do that or who they were going to use it against. The force was unstable. The Sages thought increasing the power would cause uncontrollable destruction. The Archons were determined to do it anyway."

"What happened?" Ronnie asked.

"The Sages couldn't stop what was happening. They built an archive to preserve the knowledge of the society in case something went wrong. That confirms what was written on the pillar in the photograph."

"And?" Elizabeth asked.

"The narrative ends there. It's incomplete."

"So we still don't know where this archive was."

"No."

"Then we're no better off than before."

"The Archons must have succeeded in what they were trying to do," Selena said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Something terrible happened to Atlantis. They were trying to build a weapon. I think they destroyed themselves with it."

"A weapon that got out of control," Nick said.

"Whatever that force was, it must've had enormous destructive power. There would be records of it in that archive. If there's any chance it still exists, we have to find it before the Russians do."

"Anything with that kind of possible weapons application has to be kept out of Russian hands," Elizabeth said. "Selena's right. We have to find that archive."

"Where do we begin looking?" Nick asked.

Selena brushed her hand across her forehead. "There could be another tablet with the location. Something that continues the narrative."

"The French tablet was discovered near the town of Marsá Matruh, the same place Sokolov mentions," Stephanie said. "I looked at satellite photos of the area. There are ruins of an Egyptian temple complex near there, right about where that mark is on the map. If there's another tablet, that's a good place to start looking for it."

"I was thinking," Ronnie said.

"Oh, oh," Lamont said.

Ronnie ignored him. "Sokolov would have told the Russians what's on the map."

"Maybe not," Nick said. "He could've died before they got it out of him. If they know what's on it, why try to steal it from Selena?"

"They'd want to be sure Sokolov told them the truth. That he wasn't lying to make them stop."

"If he told them what was on the map, the Russians will have the same idea I did," Stephanie said. "They'll go to Marsá Matruh to look for more information. It's a popular tourist destination. There are guided tours to the temple. At least there used to be."

"Used to be?"

"ISIS changed that. Marsá Matruh is a resort town. There are still tourists but almost no one goes out to those ruins anymore. They're close to Libya. It's not worth getting your head hacked off with a dull knife for the sake of a few pictures. ISIS is well established in Libya and they come and go as they please. You don't hear much about it because the tourism board doesn't want to scare people away."

Elizabeth picked up her pen. Nick waited for her to begin tapping it on her desktop.

"We have to take a look at those ruins," Selena said.

"People have been climbing over them for years," Ronnie said. "If anything's there, it would've been found by now."

"Not necessarily. It would be just another piece of stone with writing on it."

"I suppose it's possible," Nick said.

"You sound doubtful."

"It seems to me someone would have noticed by now if another tablet was there."

"You could be right," Elizabeth said, "but we need to check it out."

"It's a real long shot," Nick said.

"It's the only shot we've got."

"Am I in on this one?" Lamont asked.

"No. I want you healthy before you go back out in the field. There's plenty for you to do here." Elizabeth turned to the others. "Nick, you and Selena and Ronnie will go. Keep an eye out in case the Russians decide to follow up. Be careful. I don't want any of you showing up in one of those ISIS videos."

 

BOOK: The Atlantis Stone
4.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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