Older Enemies: Part 11

“Uruk,” Daniel said, shaking his head. “That’s where Gilgamesh ruled, assuming that he was a real person. Also interesting? Gilgamesh wanted to be immortal and he went to find Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim was basically Noah down to building a boat to preserve the world’s animals and his family during a massive flood. In Sumerian myth, Utnapishtim was given immortality by the gods afterward.”

Izzy glanced over at him and smiled, “You beat me to it.”

His mouth twitched, “I cheated. I heard you thinking about it. I knew Gilgamesh, but I didn’t remember Utnapishtim.”

She nodded, “That’s what I thought.”

Turning to us, she said, “Uruk was the biggest city in the ancient world for its time and it looks like Gilgamesh ruled there and wasn’t just a myth.”

Jaclyn let out a breath, “So Magnus might have been the real Gilgamesh or Utnapishtim.”

I looked over at her, “If we’re lucky this Urin guy was someone else and Magnus is a descendant. Like maybe he’s only 500 years old?”

Lim laughed, “That would be a little better. Then he’d only have 10 times as much experience as I do instead of more than 120.”

“Hey,” Daniel turned toward the pile of books that Jaclyn had been standing next to before Cassie read from the tablets, “I’m getting the feeling that we should look at one of those and then leave.”

Lim turned around to look at the books, “These?”

Jaclyn walked around the desk and stopped next to the books, “Which one? Closer to the top, bottom, or middle?”

“Second from the top,” Daniel said, pointing at it.

“This one?” Jaclyn pulled it off the pile and opened it, “I don’t understand it. It’s in Latin.  Mystic, didn’t you take that?”

Daniel frowned, “I’ll see if I can figure it out.”

Jaclyn held out the book and it floated over and opened in front of Daniel. The pages flipped over, seemingly under their own power until they were about a third of the way through the book.

“Here,” Daniel flipped the book around so everyone could see. Bound in worn, tanned leather, it had to be at least a foot tall. Inside the spidery, hand-drawn illustrations appeared to be attempts at representing three-dimensional shapes.

If anything, it reminded me of the sort of drawings you’d see in a movie when someone was about to summon a demon or an unnamable horror. Along with it were notations, all of them in Latin. I didn’t recognize even one word.

The shapes did bring up something though. I couldn’t place them but they felt familiar—not the kind of familiar where I recognized them, but the kind that stayed on the edges of my understanding and felt like I should recognize them.

I checked my implant, a repository of knowledge that gave me access to more history, culture, and technology than I had time to explore. It gave me nothing. There was no similar collection of three-dimensional shapes cataloged in the many thousands of years that galactic civilization existed—at least that they’d bothered to include in my implant.

They couldn’t include everything after all.

Mind you, it’s not as if the implant didn’t try. It gave me constellations as viewed from planets across the galaxy, schematics of thousands of pieces of electronics, and maps. It would have overwhelmed me when I first got the implant, but now I absorbed what I wanted and nothing else.

Very little of that deluge of imagery matched anything that sparked my imagination. The closest resemblance came from trails in a park on a planet light-years away. I had my doubts that whoever drew the lines had been fantasizing about an interstellar vacation.

I took a picture of the book with my implant, converted it into a png file, and sent it to Amy via the League’s comm system. Her text message came back, “No. Not magic.”

As I did, I heard Daniel translate the title of the page, “The closest I think I’m going to get is ‘galaxy core device’.”

I turned toward him quickly enough that I stepped sideways to keep my balance. I wasn’t the only one. Jaclyn and Cassie also turned to look at him and then at me.

I had heard those words before—almost. Lee had mentioned a weapon that Kee had designed for the Destroy faction of Artificers that he’d stolen and then left the group. I’d thought about it only a few days ago when I’d taken a look at an Abominator device that had been designed to help the Abominators find and capture Artificers.

I thought back to the lines I’d seen in that mirror. Calling up the memory with the aid of my implant, I could superimpose the lines over a small section of the drawing in the book in front of me. It was a spot where five lines came together in a kind of joint.

A few lines didn’t quite fit, but the part that I’d seen inside the Abominators’ “mirror” was maybe one percent of that drawing. Given that, it seemed all too possible that some of the lines from the mirror were too small to be worth including in the picture.

Lee had to hide the weapon somewhere, didn’t he? He’d spent a lot of time on Earth and done a lot of work to keep his people away. Though I didn’t doubt that he’d done that because they wanted to destroy any mortals that he’d influenced as he’d told me, I suspected that wasn’t everything.

I needed to send the picture from the book to Kee to see what she thought. I’d only started to put myself into the right mindset for that when Daniel’s eyes widened. As Cassie began to look at me and say, “Galaxy core—“ Daniel waved his hands to get our attention, “We need to leave and Lim needs to evacuate as fast as possible.”

Lim pulled out his phone, “Why?”

Shrugging, Daniel said, “I don’t know exactly, but I know we’re now a target.”

6 thoughts on “Older Enemies: Part 11”

      1. Oh no, you mean the incredibly ancient and powerful alien who for a time thought it was a great idea to destroy all intelligent life not a member of his race, then decided to betray that faction too… you’re saying that guy might not *entirely* have Earth’s best interests at heart?

        Say it ain’t so. Lee is one of those characters who has been good to the protagonist, but bad to oh so many other people, and there’s a reason everyone is so wary of him.

        1. Very much so.
          Lee is on Lee’s side. Nick may be a valuable piece in Lee’s game, but at the end of the day Lee and everyone else (possibly on the planet) are subject to his manipulations and whatever his end goal is.
          And his manipulations have been going on for a very long time, I think. The Germans had him trapped and stuck, right in time for Nick’s grandfather to weasel service out of him? Nick’s grandfather who has at least part of the genetic code for making a new one of Lee’s species in his genes? To say nothing of Lee’s activities prior to the start of the narrative.
          I suspect Lee may not be playing all the sides, but he’s certainly dictating a lot. That, or he’s somehow being played by an even better puppetmaster. I’m curious as to who’s the one who thought out the Bene Gesserit plot though – Lee? Or Nick’s non-Lee alien ‘ancestor’ who I forget the name of?

          1. You haven’t forgotten the name. There’s still no moment where the specific being was identified. That said, Nataw was a friend of Lee and Kee who disappeared and was likely affiliated with the Live faction as opposed to the Destroy faction.

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