Chapter 61: It is a miracle, not

When Steven and Chrissy arrived in the meeting hall, the presentation was already well on its way and although their seats were in the second row of the semicircle amphitheater, their late arrival was totally ignored.

The King and the Crown Prince who had insisted to be there together, regardless of safety protocols, were sitting on a long table, facing the audience.  Representing the project was Johnson, who was now the Interim Facility Director, and with him were the Vice-President of the United States, four members of the Council, Eirik and Jack, and finally the Crown Prince and the King.

In front of them, a man was standing a few centimetres from the ground on an antigravity unit, Professor Badawy, an Egyptologist everyone liked and respected.  Steven and Chrissy could only speculate as to what he was doing on that platform, but he was visibly engaged in a very detailed explanation of the construction of the Pyramids.  By the way the audience was nodding, they could see that a majority seemed to have agreed to whatever he had been saying.

“For thousands of years, people have asked themselves how the ancient Egyptians had managed to drag these huge blocks, each weighing around a hundred metric tons each, to the top of the pyramids.  Some have even tried using modern equipment but failed,” explained Badawy, as people nodded agreement.  “But more importantly, how could a solid block of granite be cut with the precision of today’s lasers?  We have in the Cairo museum a metre-thick block, cut so precisely that there is less than 2000th of a centimetre difference across—that my friends, is the thickness of a human hair.  It also means that if you place a steel ruler on its side and shine a light from behind, the light will not reflect on the other side.  Do the same experiment by placing a sheet of paper under one end of that same ruler and the light will go through.  That’s NASA aeronautics precision and it requires the most advanced tools and workers with years of experience.  But almost every archaeologist and Egyptologist would have us believe that slaves did that in the middle of the desert with a hammer and a stone chisel.  Well, I won’t be the one to throw the first stone, pardon the pun, because until a few months ago, I was one of them.”

That statement sent a wave of laughter in the crowd and as it died down he continued, “Now we have this,” and Professor Badawy lifted a black, elongated device with his right hand and a short flat blue plasma blade emanated from its end for a few seconds.  “And we have this,” he continued, as he bent his knees while standing on the antigravity platform, like a snowboarder bouncing down a ski slope.  “With these tools, we can cut marble with that type of precision... although we have not been able to test this antigravity unit by placing an Airbus 320 commercial airliner on it, which weighs as much as some of the blocks in the great pyramids.  It was theorized that weight has no effect on it and we have found a unit five times bigger in the computer database.  These, my friends, are possibly part of the tools used to build The Great Pyramids of Egypt, not just menial slaves and Stone Age tools.”

With the closing statement, everyone in the audience started applauding, except for the Vice-President of the United States and the King at first, but when the King saw everyone applauding, he relaxed and joined the rest of them.

“So, Professor, are you saying that the Pyramids were built by aliens?” Someone in the crowd asked.

“I know that the Builders of the Facility will be discussed by more knowledgeable people than me, and I wouldn’t want to infringe on their time slot, either.  But no, I don’t believe that the Pyramids were built by extraterrestrials or helped by them,” answered Badawy.

That answer puzzled a great many people, but he stepped off the stage before anyone had time to ask him to elaborate on the matter.

The next speaker discussed the few last pieces of equipment discovered, including the laser knife that Professor Badawy displayed, explaining that not only it could cut through marble like a conventional kitchen knife would through butter, but would automatically shut off if it came in contact with something it shouldn’t cut, like human fingers, as he so happily demonstrated.

When Celina took the stage later in the afternoon, people asked her to tell them about the Builders without asking any questions or interrupting her, until she mentioned what a few had already heard from others.

“Before I venture on the subject of the Builders’ origin, I want to thank Professor Badawy for letting me explain what is now called by some as the Intraterrestrial Theory,” she started with a smile. “In Galileo’s time, people didn’t accept his observation that the Earth was a mere planet rotating around a star among countless others, and to top it off, our galaxy is not even at the centre of the universe, but in an insignificant group of galaxies somewhere at the bottom.  Galileo just taught everyone the big lesson in humility.  His theory took the Earth from being the centre of the universe with everything revolving around it, to a ball of dirt and water in the middle of nowhere.”

“Well, I say that my theory is the same and that this is why, even today in an age of science, it still being fought by some religious groups and scientists alike.”  She paused to drink some water and continued. “Pride is yet again in the way of our mind’s ability to accept that we may not be the most intelligent and advanced people in the universe or on Earth since it was formed along with the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.  Like the Pyramids of Egypt , I’m convinced that extraterrestrials had nothing to do with it.  The Builders of this Facility and the one in Africa were humans, but more advanced technologically than we are today. That was what we had discovered in the database and we have only scratched the surface.”

The murmurs in the crowd and the shifting of people on the chairs behind prompted her to stop and let the revelation sink in.

To her surprise, the question came from the King’s table first.

“Miss Miller,” asked the Crown Prince.  “I have read many years ago that the Mayan believed that humans once reached an advanced level of technology, maybe far beyond our own, but were destroyed by a natural event.  I also believed that it would be easier to explain than beings from space.”

She had been taken aback and took a second to recover and looked at the King before answering, as if to see what he had thought of his son, the Prince, revealing something so controversial in public.  “Your Royal Highness, you are absolutely right.  In fact, the Mayan text suggest that it happened four times, by water, fire, ice and another I can’t remember just now,” she explained.

“Celina, wouldn’t we have already found artifacts proving their existence?” a voice she didn’t recognize asked from the audience.

“I don’t think so.”  That was the Prince again, not judging the man for his interruption as he motioned to Arne, sitting on the first row to refrain himself from getting up, and likely explain the manners of the court of Norway to that commoner.  “If I may, Miss Miller.”

“Of course, Your Highness.”

“You are Italian, I believe?” The Prince started, as he looked at the audience and at the man who had just spoken.  “I’m sure you are familiar with the town of Balestrino in Italy?  Or should I say, the abandoned town of Balestrino?  This town was declared unsafe by the Italian authorities and its abandonment was completed in the 1950s.  Since then, the town has been reclaimed by nature and, in a few more centuries, there would be no more traces that humans had even inhabited these hills.”

Waiting a few seconds to make sure the Prince was done and when she was sure he was, she continued, “There are a lot of examples like the Prince has described.  It is well known in New York that thirty-six hours without electricity and backup generators is all that would take for the metro to be completely flooded.  But more importantly, in the absence of human intervention, with the leaves falling every autumn and covering the ground roughly three centimetres per year, in ten thousand years, everything on Earth would be covered by a layer of fertile top soil almost thirty metres or a hundred feet high, completely eliminating all traces of civilized life on Earth.  The only reason the pyramids are still the same after five thousand years is because there’s not much vegetation in that climate.”

“Even if the last advanced civilization to inhabit the Earth was destroyed ten thousand years ago, as it was suggested, it would still be more than enough time to erase all traces of their existence and whatever they could have built.  Add to it an ice age or two, and we would never know, even after intensive archaeological searches, that any human had ever inhabited this region of the world.” She would have continued, but one of Vice-President Weaver’s minions raised his hand and started talking.

“The Bible tells us that in Isaiah 14:12-14; ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High,’” inserted the spiritual and religious advisor to the Vice-President seating in the first row, in front of Chrissy.  “This passage talks of a civilization of angels; maybe you scientists would be calling those civilizations Atlantis or the Lemurian continent.  The Bible teaches us this civilization existed before ours and had technologies so advanced that they would reach the stars, but they offended God and they were destroyed.  That’s the short version, of course.”

Of course. “I can’t discuss the Bible because it is not a book I’m too familiar with.  As for the lost continent of Lemuria, it is no longer a valid scientific theory as far as I know,” answered Celina, cutting the discussion short.

“Here’s what I have read in the database,” continued Celina. “The Builders were nature lovers; at one point in their evolution, they realized that nature couldn’t support their presence on Earth without adverse effect on their environment.  So to protect the defenceless plants and animals, they made the conscious decision to have the entire civilization, or at least a large portion of it, relocated underground.  We see this even today on a small scale level, with people building homes in the side of hills much like Tolkien’s Hobbits.“

“I agree with Miss Miller’s assessment.  For a civilization without our current problem of overpopulation and the technical knowhow to build these Facilities, it would be entirely possible for them to live entire lifetimes in here.  It is not that I don’t appreciate the real sunrise as opposed to the artificial one created by this place, but with a kilometre of ice over our heads during an ice age, these features would be enough to keep us in touch with reality, like they probably did for the Builders and others for millennia,” offered the Crown Prince, without commenting on the religious advisor’s recitation of the Bible, not with his father being the head of the Church of Norway by tradition.  “I suggest that we let Miss Miller finish her presentation and reserve the Q&A for the end.”

“Thank you, Your Highness. Mr. Badawy and I have often discussed the parallels between the Facilities and the Great Pyramids, their lack of writings and the true purpose of their construction.  Now that we have everything in a language we can comprehend, we have made a remarkable progress in understanding the functionality of a lot of equipment although some of them still baffle us.  All we know for sure is who the Builders favoured and who they dislike.” Chrissy scanned her audience for any responses and, seeing that there were none, she elected to conclude her presentation.

The subsequent question-and-answer period lasted for almost forty minutes, ranging from the rational and empirical to the mythological and the flat out ludicrous.  Only a few people needed to be called to order and none so more than Fangs, when she interrupted the religious advisor after he had questioned the accuracy of carbon dating and tried to state that there was scientific proof that most dinosaur fossils had been dated no later than six thousand years, which matched the creation myth perfectly.  Fangs had snidely remarked, in her usual offensive vernacular, that this is why those fucking retards weren’t invited during Physics conferences and only remain outside with their placards, protesting things their brains didn’t even understand.  Celina had noticed herself smiling at Dark Fangs’ jibe for the first time.  A few more questions and Steven could see that she was exhausted and that her answers were becoming shorter and less articulate, so he stepped in to help.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Chrissy will make her presentation tomorrow, but I have a comment on point in support of Celina.”  He almost shouted over the noise of the crowd, debating over the last question, so he waited for people to quiet down before continuing.  “How about putting the claims that there’s a divine or religious role in the creation of the Facilities to rest with an irrefutable fact that can’t be denied?  As you will all learn in detail tomorrow, those of you who are spinning all these theories about divine intervention in the construction and the purpose of the Facility already know that people with ill intentions, people seeking the means to personally benefit from the Facility at the expense of others, or people advocating exclusivist belief systems always have levels so low that they can barely replicate meals for themselves.  If the Facility had been created by them or for them, why are only the scientists and people of enlightened minds granted high levels?” And he concluded by looking at the newly elected Vice President and smiled.  He had immediately regretted what he said for that look of contempt in the Vice President’s eyes, which had spoke volumes, and he had been marked for his action, no doubt about that, he was sure.

The first day of presentations concluded a few minutes after that, but the group was still divided on many issues, none more than the report from Steven and Chrissy about the Core and Sordana telling them about the origin of the Facility.  Since they were still the only ones with access to it and no records of the Core or the Builders’ history could be found in the many databases, the others had to take them at their words, and this proved a difficult feat for scientists and, surprisingly enough, religious people, even though they had lived their entire lives believing everything on faith alone.

That night, Steven and Chrissy were sought out by an aide of the royal family to join the Crown Prince, who requested them to evaluate his access level.  They were all surprised and happy to see that the Prince was close to Eirik’s level now, his level having increased substantially since his first visit.  He remembered being able to access a few more areas than he had on the only other time he had been in the Facility and that had reassured him greatly.  The King had also a rather good level; an average-high was the score by Chrissy’s new system, which was based on the Inuit Station, but unfortunately for the King, only the Prince had been able to access the command centre on his own.

At the end of the evening, Chrissy had proposed that the level of the King and Prince be kept secret, but it was categorically refused by both.  The Prince had pointed out that if he didn’t have such a busy schedule, he would spend the necessary time to learn and increase his understanding and, hopefully, his access level.  He also observed that if he had been as high as Chrissy or Steven, he would enter the Core and take all the time he needed to learn all he could about the Builders.  That last statement made both of them smile and filled them with happiness at the thought that they were believed by the people who mattered.

On the second day and the last of the presentations, Chrissy gave a detailed explanation of the access system.  As she ended her presentation, she was immediately bombarded by questions, which seemed representative of the access level of everyone in the audience and the biggest proof came when a group of low-levels started questioning Steven and her honesty.

“Who’s to say that you are making all the effort to help people level up?  Or worse, that you don’t have access to a system that would automatically increase our level without having to run through the maze the Builders have made for us lab rats?” asked a historian that Chrissy had come to despise vehemently in the last several hours.

“Why would we do that?” asked Chrissy.

“Because you are the highest levels here and, like everyone at the top, you want to remain there at the expense of others,” offered the historian, as he sneered smugly at looking at Chrissy’s contorted face.  “Oh, don’t give me that look.  The rich have done it to the poor since the beginning of time.”

At that statement, Chrissy felt a wave of rage and panic course through her body and regretted not taking Steven’s offer to give the presentation with her.  This man had the gall to fabricate such falsehoods and was much better at this type of exchange than she was.  She looked at Steven as he stood in the audience, pleading for help with her beautiful blue eyes; she was in trouble and didn’t know how to escape from this.

Steven had seen that she was unable to answer her attacker, but it took him a second too long to find the diplomatic words he would have needed to answer this.  However, the Prince had arisen from his seat, just as he had done for Celina, triggering the ingrained training in the Norwegians in the audience who had risen with him instinctively.  It took the King’s intervention to get everyone to sit down again as his son, the Crown Prince, contoured the table.  The people in the audience noticed there and then that he was walking on thin air, as a circle beneath him revealed the grey floor under the stage and hid his feet from view.  He stopped next to Chrissy and smiled at her.

“Miss Miller was nice enough to explain last night that this device requires a very high level to operate it and that only six in the entire Facility could use it to see through solid walls and, incidentally, through floors.  I can assure you, I was not among them.  Now, we are seven that can use it,” observed the Prince with pride.  “It took me five hours last night to, how did you put it, run through the maze like a rat?  Well, I had run a lot of mazes last night and now, I know what this device is for, its operation, and the ethics surrounding its usage.  The Facility now deems me worthy and I’m granted the necessary level to use it.  Moreover, I was told a better lesson by the system:  Knowledge can be acquired quickly.  A murderer can be taught to use a gun in minutes, but it can take him decades to learn that it is wrong to press the trigger.”

At that statement, the majority of the crowd applauded and the Prince returned to his seat, a laconic smile on his face as he sat down and turned to face Chrissy again.

Chrissy knew that her presentation and the questions had ended with the Prince’s final words, and she simply nodded in acknowledgement before exiting the auditorium with Steven and the rest of the audience.

The next morning, everyone had left the Facility including Chrissy’s father, who apparently did not have the time to say goodbye to his daughter.  Chrissy had been unimpressed by the ten minutes he had taken to meet Steven the first day, eight of which had been to discuss the level system and the rest to ask him what he would do when the project is over and he is relocated to Canada.  At that, Steven had explained that it was not likely:  Being the highest members in the project, the Council wouldn’t let them go like that, but if that came to pass, he would likely follow Chrissy to Scotland and see what he could do from there.

They were all supposed to have dinner together after the first day of meetings, but Mr. O’Donnell had been saved from the apparent ordeal by the King himself, who had invited Chrissy and Steven for dinner, which had proven a much more agreeable evening.

CHRISSY’S DIARY

My father was not himself these past few days.  I know we don’t really get along well and can spend long months without talking to each other and when we do, it is all business.  He was particularly distant this time.  I don’t know, it’s just… he’s been so needlessly aloof in his entire stay.  I’m starting to get the feeling that he’s trying to hide something from me.  If it has to do with who will replace Lawson, he need not bother.  Johnson already told us that a US Army General who used to serve under the Bakers in the 1990s will be appointed temporarily.  In short, it means that as soon as the American managed to accumulate enough political weight, he will be officially confirmed on the post.

Also, the Norwegians have agreed to integrate Thomson’s private army to the Facility and that the rule about firearms will be modified.

As for my presentation, I crashed rather miserably.  I should have let Steven do it, but I misjudged the people’s intensity toward our lack of evidence about the Core.