Chapter 39: If the Ancient trust these people
As Eirik lay in his sleeping bag, he was hoping that Jack and Celina were alright and that the rest of his colleagues would manage to get him out of this nightmare.
At the same time, a group of people sat in a large, bright room lit by the sun, which shone through a blue, cloudless sky a continent away. The sound of crashing waves could be heard in the distance, like the rhythm of a steady pendulum. Two of them were sitting on large wooden chairs covered by thick comfy cushions. They had their backs to the windows that spanned the entire glass wall from left to right, top to bottom. It was separated in three sections that could be moved to let the fresh salted air of the ocean inside. Beyond the windows was a large deck made of treated spruce wood, which towered four steps above a perfectly maintained white sandy beach, brushed every few seconds by the half-metre high waves from a turquoise ocean.
Sitting in front of them was a seasoned-looking man, his face unaffected by the passage of time, his skin darkened by the long interminable winter nights. He would be mistaken for an Asian to the untrained eyes. Although his ancestors had come from Asia tens of thousands of years ago, today, he had no more in common with them than whales had in common with birds. He was of a shorter stature than the other two. His hair was long and black, but tidy. He earned the respect of everyone he interacted with long ago and showed the wisdom of his forefathers before him.
On the opposite side of the windows stood a wall covered with artefacts, mammoth tusks, and the head of a beaver and its tail, neatly displayed on a shining board of carved wood. Below all these was a long dark credenza with a few bottles of expensive alcohol for his guests. He himself had known for a very long time that his physiology didn’t allow for the intake of such beverages and he seldom ventured to drink, as opposed to what his people had done since the arrival of the white-skins on his shores centuries before.
On the floor lay a large white polar bear skin, its head and paws spread, its glass eyes staring at a door, forever looking at freedom, the memory of her cubs, and the long periods of starvation before the salmon returned, announcing the beginning of spring and warmer days to come. Like the rest of the animals on display, she had been killed for food long ago. Every part of her body was used to its fullest potential, insuring that her sacrifice had meant something.
The silence was broken by a young-looking man who, despite his age, also appeared wise as deeply reflected in his measured manners and speech. “They have transferred a lot of equipment. Nothing offensive; mainly just tools which two can activate and use, but don’t know how to operate fully yet. At least, the translation system is online now. The rest are replicated equipment, most man-made like ropes, food, climbing gear, and nourishment. They also have a MARS, but according to what we know, they have yet to discover its true potential and Eirik Olsen has carried it because it was found in what he assumed rightly to be the medical centre.”
“What are the risks to us?” asked the third man, tall and looking in his early forties.
“Nothing that we can see, at least not from Steven Mitchell and Chrissy O’Donnell, who have just discovered the Core room today,” answered the youngest looking one. “Jack Tomas is the only one that shows the desire to use these technologies for personal profits. But the Norwegian Station has already taken the necessary measures to control the impact of his behaviour, as per its security protocols,” which went without saying, he thought.
“As for Miss Celina Miller, she is a very brave one for her part, jumping into the unknown to investigate a skeleton,” said the old man with a little bit of regret at the memory of two friends whom they had been unable to save when an attempt to repair the African Station’s antigravity failed almost forty-five years earlier, plunging one of the two men to his death. “At first I assumed it was her love for Eirik or the foolishness of youth... although I believe there is a bit of that, I can see now that it was pure courage and determination to discover the truth about everything she had seen that pushed her to risk her life and career.”
“True, her intentions, according to the security logs, seemed mainly to have the chance to preserve their Facility and to be allowed to study and discover its secrets,” acknowledged the young man.
“Gill, you know that we have been monitoring their activities at the African Station using a cloak remote camera. According to the scans, Eirik’s arm is at risk of permanent damage without the proper treatment. If we are to do something, we should do it now. I recommend that we contact Steven and bring him here,” offered the third man.
“I believe we should bring both of them,” added Gill, the young looking man. “They are virtually at the same level. In addition, it would allow them to be witnesses to each other and to have the ability to discuss their experiences after they leave.”
“Gill is right. I trust they will be able to keep the secrets of this place from others. What we will reveal to them about themselves should be told to them together,” added the old man. “Also, the human nature being what it is, having someone to share in a secret like that will likely prevent either of them from discussing it with people outside their circle.”
“How do you propose to bring them here?” said the third man to Gill.
“I’m sure he will continue to send notes or items to the others. When he does, I will reactivate our transporters, which will give him and Chrissy the ability to see Station. The symbol is next on the list. I’m sure they will not miss it. Also, I’m betting that they will eventually decide to press it. If they talk about what they have seen on the transporter pad to anyone else, even if they are believed, no one will see the symbol or be able to travel here anyway, so the risk for us is negligible. If they are unwilling to take the chance to come to us, we can send a note next time when either one of them is in front of the transporters,” proposed Gill.
“The other option is that one of us could travel there to introduce ourselves and then invite them to return here with us,” said the third man, motioning to both of them, seeking approval.
“We are at a higher level than all of them, except Steven and Chrissy, so we wouldn’t show on their sensors. It is definitely a good option,” confirmed Gill. “Besides, Alex, I know that you want to find a way to help your friend and that could be your chance.”
“I know in my heart that we need to meet with them, but I’m still questioning the wisdom of telling them everything,” interjected the old man.
“Since we introduced new people and welcomed them into our circle of friends, we have always fully disclosed everything to them in the beginning and we were always rewarded by their respect and secrecy. People that are not told everything will become suspicious and will stop at nothing to discover the truth,” said Gill, knowing that it wasn’t always completely true and he saw it in the old man’s face, so he added quickly, “Only once have we told someone who ultimately betrayed us, but the Station has quickly notified us and reduced his level to almost nothing before serious harm came to us. All the signs were there for us to see. His level was very low to begin with. Only his power in the outside world made us decide to trust him. Ever since, we have learned our lesson and we know better,” concluded Gill.
“True. If the Ancient trust these people, so shall we,” said the old man, remembering a world where times were better and perhaps, simpler. Of course, he enjoyed the easy life he had now; replicated bear meat was better in all aspects for him and the bear population. But from time to time, he still missed waiting for hours, frozen in place like a statue, spear in hand, ready to strike at an unsuspecting seal coming to the surface for air.
“So, it is settled then?” concluded Gill. Both nodded in agreement.
“One more thing: You know that I have been friends with Eirik for many years and although I already agreed not to tell him the truth until he reaches the appropriate level, I would like to help him now. Seeing my friend suffer like this is very hard for me. Especially that I’m the one ultimately responsible for placing him in that situation,” explained Alexander.
“I think it is time for them to make a leap forward indeed, especially that everything we feared is happening as we know it would. Maybe the few extra years of understanding could make the difference for all of us in the end,” said Gill.
“I agree as well,” said the old man. “The risk to us is again negligible and if we can make the difference; it is our duty to act.”