THE EAST GATE:
Lady Evelyn Herbert-Carnarvon's first thought was Theodore Davis. Having nursed for the Red Cross during the Great War, her instincts automatically centered on the most ailing and needy. So she forgot her arm after binding it up with a scarf and saw to Davis's gloomier, and to her practiced eye, dim prospects.
Though it was difficult with one hand, she loosened his tie and collar and wanted water to give him, but, of course, there was none to be had. A dreadful time passed, while the old man gasped for breath, but his condition grew no worse and his erratic galloping pulse gradually slowed. "I'm quite all right!" the gallant oldster whispered hoarsely. "You're fussing over me for nothing. I just require a bit of of rest and then I'll be hopping to my feet good as new! A piy there's nothing medicinal to drink down here. I could do with a little sherry right now."
Lady Evelyn managed to give a nice, bright, reassuring Red Cross nurse's smile, though the effect was totally lost in the gloom. Yet hoping the present crisis was over and his next might be hours away, Lady Evelyn stole a moment away from her patient to go to the door. It was drum-tight. A solid steel bank-vault couldn't have managed a better seal. Was there anything she could use to pry it open? she wondered, looking about. She moved this way and that, and then her foot struck something. Carefully, she nudged it again and felt sure it was metallic, solid. Her missing revolver? Yes! She picked it up with utmost care, then stood considering what effect it might have if she were to fire it at the stone slab door.
Nothing! she concluded dismally. It would take several broadsides of many naval cannons to make a dent.
She turned away, her eyes searching the darkness and silently cursing the Ancient Egyptians for being such wonderful stonemasons. She knew she had little time to devise a way out to the surface. Davis needed medical attention soon, at hospital, if he were to survive another attack. So she had to get him out before long, or he had no chance of living. If only she had insisted he send someone in his place, but he wouldn't hear it. Now she knew it had been a mistake to tell him what she knew about Carter. An old man with a faltering heart was no match for a brutal, strong, agile monster like Carter. And she had imagined her little lady's revolver would make up the difference! What madness!
"I'm all to blame if poor Theodore perishes down here!" she thought, and then her arm really began to pain her mercilessly.
As it can with the right elements present, the hour produced a heroine from a rather staid, humdrum Scotswoman, one who hadn't known any great need to be otherwise, even during her Red Cross war experience. The only daughter of Deep Pockets Carnavaron ignored her own weakening condition and explored the whole vast roomd, seeking a way out and also investigating the possibility there could be some implement like an adze that she might use to force the door. Even with the glowing prisms and viewing crystal, it was quite dark, so there was little she could see, but she didn't let that discourage her from trying.
It helped to take a prism to light her steps like a lantern, but the viewing crystal, she found, proved even better. She was holding it up to various objects when it flashed into life. Lady Evelyn was so started she nearly dropped the crystal. This time she stared into another woman's face. The instant impression was a queen of Ancient Egypt, but with a queer difference. What was it?
The heavy, dark eye-lining, the ringed and jeweled coiffure, solid gold snakes twined round the perfect columns of her arms, the pectoral necklace--everything was similar; yet something was not the same. The pectoral was an irridescent, shimmering thing--the fabulous mystery alloy Plato had described? He had called it "oricalc," she knew from her own Middle Eastern research. But that wasn't it either.
Lady Evelyn had studied Egypt's old gods well, and their pronounced theriomorphic features, that of hawks, cats, lions, even baboons and frogs, were highly repellant to her, though obviously the Egyptians thought otherwise. This human-looking creature in the viewing glass, though no non-human ears pricked through her thick hair or court wig--had an eerie zoomorphic quality...the hazel eyes were too bright and pointed at the lids to be human, as well as being located too near the sides of her face.
And, just as strange, in a corner of the glass a little inset window ran with strange symbols in four columns, all rapidly changing sequences to other unknown symbols.
Unintelligible noise issued from the glass as the woman moved her lips. She sounded grotesque, like a gramophone, its turntable adjusted at too low a speed. Quicky, the pitch lightened and the sounds she made could be discerned, but Lady Evelyn still could not make out a word. The zoomorphical woman continued making sounds, her eyes fixed on Lady Evelyn's as if she could see her, and the words soon began to approximate Old English, then Chaucerian, anf finally on to where Lady Evelyn could make out with ease what the queen, or whatever she was, said.
"Filthy barbarian!" the regal woman hissed with small pegged teeth, the only flaw in her exquisite beauty. "You have assassinated a Dauphin prince! A prince born in the purple! Don't think you will go unpunished!"
Lady Evelyn was not accustomed to being addressed in such a manner. She couldn't help protest immediately, forgetting he cold not possibly be talking to a living person.
"I don't know what you are talking about! You are mad! I saw no prince down here! Only that monstrous thing up there in the ceiling that Carter smashed to pieces!"
The queen's lips compressed and she eyed Lady Evelyn for a long moment, exactly as a predator might scrutinize its chosen quarry. Finally, she spoke again. "Our coordinates are set. These archives will now be retrieved, since barbarians like you have broken into the facility."
Lady Evelyn looked about astonished. "Archives? But where? Whose?"
The queen in the glass shrugged. "Why should we tell you? If you don't know, then your ignorance is beyond mending. Now I am ending this interview."
She started to turn away. Lady Evelyn also noticed the whirring box of little symbols had now stopped, every column registering the same symbol, a gold triangle with a circle of solid, cobalt-blue color in the middle. That moment, however, the first column started flashing.
"You can't!" Lady Evelyn protested to the departing queen, wondering the moment she said it what she meant.
The woman looked back over her shoulder, giving Lady Evelyn the glance she might give to an unwelcome insect. "What do you mean? You have nothing to do with our affairs. The archives are ours, we will not allow anything else to be destroyed, and though it is the last on the planet, we are taking it away for safe-keeping."
Lady Evelyn thought fast and furiously.
"...the last on the planet"?
Then she must be somewhere off-planet!...
"Wait!" cried Lady Evelyn. "You're not Egyptian?"
The woman turned back around, facing her inquisitor. She laughed. "'Egyptian,' what is that? Oh, you mean the place where we put archives.? No I am not 'Egyptian.' What an absurd idea."
"Well, then, what are you? And where are you? I demand an answer!"
The imperious woman's face registered less than icy disdain for the first time. Her fce colored in the cheekbones, and her skin seemed to ripple, serpentinely, with emotion just as her orichalc pectoral rippled with ever-changing, gleaming colors and tiny sequential sumbols of their own.
"How dare you!" the queen cried. "You have no right to demand knowledge from us, especially after destroying a royal prince--"
Lady Evelyn, watching the woman with fascination, was immmediately impressed with something--for her womanly instincts informed her--this woman cared nothing, absolutely nothing, for the royal prince. It was--she sensed--more of an advantage to her that this prince was put out of the way, perhaps? How could she tell for certain? It was only her intuition, confronted by a creature of her own sex, that put the finger on the truth.
The woman paused only slightly, then continued, as if the subject somewhat stirred her pride. "But since you will die with this knowledge, I will tell you. This place were I speak to you has been here for some time, but now the last of us will be leaving. That is why I checked to see the disposition of the archives. It was thought important to leave some record of our title to the planet, along with the prince and his consort. But now I see it is not to be. You savages have destroyed a prince of ours, and no doubt will wreck everything we have left behind."
It was Lady Evelyn's turn to ripple with emotion. She quite forgot her now agonizing bone fracture. Her mind was thrown into confusion. What was she to think? Could this atrocious personage be a refugee from Earth? And what was the civilisation that could have produced so cold and reptilian a personality?
Her memory racing, she ransacked every possibility, and could think of only one.
"Atlantis?" she burst out. "Was your nation on earth, before you emigrated, the island and continent called Atlantis?"
The woman, for the first time, seemed to identify with Lady Evelyn's humanity. She approached the glass so closely her bright golden eyes filled the screen.
"Say what?" cried Lady Evelyn.
"'Atlantis'! Say that word to me, slowly, several times. I must hear you speak it again. I must!"
Baffled, Lady Evelyn complied. As she repeated the name, the magnificent, cold, jewel-like eyes softened, filling with longing and unspeakable sadness and loss.
Lady Eveln was still saying the word when a scream nearly shattered the glass in her hand.
"Stop! You're killing me!" the woman's voice thundered from the glass, enough to fill the chamber. The queen threw back her head, exposing her throat. The howling wail--too wolfish to be mistaken for anything human--nearly froze Lady Evelyn's blood. For all she appeared to be, this thing had never, never been one of her own species!"
Theodore Davis called out in alarm, wondering what was going on. But Lady Evelyn's attention was riveted on the glass and the prisms around her. The blue-flashing column transferred to the prisms, she saw, and one by one they flshed and rose in the air, lining up like dominoes, only flying toward the ceiling. As they did so the viewing glass darkened in Lady Evelyn's shaking hand.
"No!" she cried out, though not really knowing what was happening.
Dozens of the prisms were now lifting off the basalt tables, all heading toward the ceiling.
Aghast, Lady Evelyn watched as they flared even brighter as they reached the ceiling, which at that moment opened at a tap from the first prism, roaring with released pressure, blowing hot hair and dust into the chamber.
The prisms, never pausing, slipped into the newly opened shaft above, and behind them row on row of siblings continued to line up like ducks in a water course. Dozens quicky became hundreds, then thousands, as the prisms flew up and out of the holding chamber.
"What is happening?" Theodore Davis called out weakly, struggling to his feet.
Lady Evelyn threw down the viewing glass and rushed toweard him.
In seconds the huge repository was emptied of its prisms. As for the other artifacts, they were not forgotten. Lady Evelyn and Theodore smelled something burning. They couldn't make out what was happening. Beautiful red, rose-like flowers, born of unseen stems, bloomed here and there in the darkness. Then they realized what had transpired as the roses faded just as quickly as they had appeared. Wt was left had now burnt utterly up. Even the prince's consort, entombed in the ceiling chamber, had not been spared. An explosion and brief flare of blue light issued from cracks in the stone.
There followed a booming series of more concussions. Ceiling blocks slid back into place all the way to a point near the surface, closing off the escape hatch. But there was something even worse going on, where the two crystal beings had been withdrawn earlier after Carter's attack. Lady Evelyn knew exactly what the sound meant. There was no time to scream as a ballast chamber in the ceiling was released, letting down untold tonnes of sand, dirt and rubble.
A plume of dust puffed about 250 feet upwards from the edge of the Sphinx. It sprayed into the air at precisely 6:32 a.m. on the Friday morning the Vickers Vimy flown by four Britons passed at about 1,000 feet over Giza on way to Damascus, Syria.
Fine dust spewed from the fresh graves of Theodore Davis and Lord Carnarvon's intrepid daughter was hardly perceptible, however, in a scene where the whole shimmering atmosphere of dawn on the desert engulfed the darkened colossi of the three Great Pyramids complex. Quickly, the African Sun won the contest between light and dark. It lighted Egypt's Wonders of the World degree by degree while the huge, drowsy hive of the Arab New York City of Cairo began to stir in earnest.
As solar might and splendor increasingly gained against the darkness and gloom, the 1919 bomber requisitioned for the Great London-to-Australia ir Derby of 1924 caught the Sun's rays and turned a dusky gold color. That was most misleading a hue. The fabric on fuselage and wings was a solid black exckept where its contest insignia, G-EAOU, was painted in bold, blocked, white letters. "G-EAOU"? Word went round at the start of the 11,000 mile aerial odyssey in Houndslow. Some wag suggested the Aussie entry's registration lettering, based on anyone's chances of finishing the epic flight, had to translate as "God 'elp all of us!" Naturally, many laughed, thinking it a joke. Others--veteran fliers knowing some of them would not survive the contenst to see who won the big prize money--thought it quite appropriate.
But there was something different about this particular dawn, Derby or no Derby. Something radiated pulsing waves of energy between the dust plume and the aircraft--an intense blue glow, massed, then dissolving into a series of rapidly climbing, incandescent flares. Whatever they were, the aeromen above wanted no part of them, particularly since they were moving straight up at the Vimy from below.
To late the two fliers at the controls struggled to turn the ponderous craft, for the first flares ripped through the fabric of both wings. Shuddering, the Vimy's nose dipped. Another flare struck, taking out an engine. Then Ross Smith the captain yelled as yet another flare burst into the cockpit, trapping itself under the metal sheathing beneath his feet.
Suddenly, instead of diving out of control, the disabled aeroplane lurched upwards, at such great speed the wings, fore and aft, tore completely off. Like a 20 mile Krupp artillery shell it sped. The black fuselage containing four terrified men--captain and crew--burst upwards into the upper atmosphere in a matter of seconds. Whether they knew it or not before they froze solid, they had been given a one-way fare to the Red Planet.
PLEASE CONTINUE BY GOING TO CHRONICLE FOUR, ANNO STELLAE 1939, AS THE ALIEN ENTITY ATTACKS THE POLAR KING, THE AMAZING, GIANT BRAINCHILD OF DR. POULETT, DIRECTOR OF CHICAGO's INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY. THIS CHRONICLE WILL SOON BE ON-LINE.