Chapter 3: Escalation on the Surface
Meanwhile at the Temple of Tiamat, Dan, Chris, and Jerry sat listening to the news from abroad in the communications center. The American War on Terror entered a new phase with the readying of troops for a major attack on Syria in response to the chemical attack on civilians, even though it remained unclear as to who did it. One carrier battle group massed in the eastern Mediterranean while a second group positioned in the Red Sea with fifty thousand troops standing ready in case the call came for a ground assault on the Syrian regime.
At the same time, a third carrier battle group positioned just outside the Straits of Hormuz. At the same time, five cruise missile destroyers took up position in the Baltic Sea off Poland’s coast while the US base in Germany went on high alert. Four more missile frigates, a Marine helicopter carrier, and nuclear-powered attack submarine cruised into the Black Sea through the Bosporus, taking position for a potential strike against the Crimea in the guise of NATO war games. The action prompted immediate condemnation from the Russian government with them calling it a provocative move that justified their buildup on the Ukrainian border. The US continued imposing increasingly harsh economic sanctions on the Russians for their annexation of the Crimea; sanctions the EU hesitantly backed because of a growing split within the EU over American aggression. The Russian, Chinese, and Indian governments led the call for US restraint and for them to pull back their fleets from striking distance of Syria, Iran, and the Crimea. Australia, Japan, and every nation in South America backed the Russian, Chinese, and Indian demands for US restraint, urging diplomacy over the saber rattling. News from the UN showed deep divisions between the US and the rest of the world, with the rest of the world insisting on no war in Syria, Iran, and the Ukraine. The other nations started seeing the US actions as imperialistic and unnecessarily aggressive, causing them to lean towards the Russian Federation as a potential ally. They feared the US was trying to create an empire through regime change and puppet governments.
The North Koreans upped the stakes in Asia by massing its troops near the DMZ with South Korea, conducting aggressive war games where they shelled their side of the DMZ waters. They also released reports of their long-range missile program, which could strike anywhere in the mainland US carrying a nuclear weapon. Just to back up their weapon’s claim, they successfully launched their own ICBM armed with a dummy warhead and had the target four hundred miles offshore of Los Angeles in international waters just outside the shipping lanes. The warhead, which was armed with a self-destruct device, splashed down and detonated at a depth of one hundred feet, effectively destroying the warhead and making a boom heard in LA. They also continued to show evidence of producing nuclear weapons along with another overt nuclear weapon’s test right after the missile launch just to provoke the US government. The US reacted with great trepidation, denouncing North Korea and promising swift retaliation. The North Korean regime countered with the US threat with the promise of even swifter countermeasures should the US try to interfere in North Korean domestic affairs as they did in the Ukraine.
Then reports aired, telling of Chinese army and navy massing troops near Taiwan. The official Chinese reports stated they were merely conducting war games. But the positioning of Chinese naval vessels to just outside of Taiwan’s territorial waters, including their new aircraft carrier, and the frequent incursions of Chinese fighters into Taiwanese airspace clearly sent a different message to the US government.
In response to both North Korea’s and China’s moves, the US dispatched the Pacific Fleet into the waters off North Korea and China, drawing protests from both governments. The North Koreans warned that any American aggression against them or their allies would result in a nuclear war in which American cities would be incinerated. The Russian Federation ordered the two battle groups in its Pacific Fleet to monitor US activity closely around Taiwan and the Korean peninsula. They also moved carrier battle groups into the Mediterranean, Arabian, and North Sea to monitor US and EU activities as a safeguard. Seven ships from the North Sea battle group moved into the Baltic Sea to keep a close eye on the US missile destroyers there. The Russian President and Prime Minister begged for US restraint, trying to cut a deal that would keep the US from attacking Syria or the Crimea. But they promised an unprovoked attack by the US on Syria, Iran, or Crimea would be a violation of international law that would not go unchallenged. Furthermore, the Russians accused the US of instigating an illegal coup in Ukraine overthrowing the democratically elected government there so the US could put a military base there and take over the Ukrainian oil fields and agricultural assets. They claimed to possess ironclad proof of this conspiracy by the West to seize control of the Ukraine and to isolate Russia, forcing the entire world to the brink of another world war. The US government scoffed at the accusation, declaring it the insane ravings of a dictator backed into a corner. They promised even harsher sanctions if they didn’t abdicate the Crimean annexation, saying at this point all options were on the board, even the military options.
Fed up with what he was hearing, Dan shut off the radio and sat back with a worried look on his face. “This isn’t good. World War III is about to explode,” he said. “We’re going to have a repeat of history. When Amacia fell, they were in the midst of a world war then as well. Then Planet X showed up and wiped them all out. Now we have a world war brewing with weaponry capable of wiping out every living thing on the planet. Plus, Planet X is due to show up here within a year according what we’ve found from the Library.”
“But what can we do about it?” Chris asked. “It’s certain now that Hannibal is out of our reach in Amacia. There has been no contact with him for nearly a week. Surely, they are within the dead zone by now.”
“All we can do is pray for their safety,” Dan replied. “We knew this day would come. As for the events we’re hearing about, even though they greatly concern me, we mustn’t fear them. The Lord has placed us in the safest place on the face of the Earth. We’re cloaked and shielded here. They could attack with all of their armies and all of their nuclear weapons and not get through. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier knowing that our friends are out there with no means of keeping up with the world events. I guess we’ll just have to keep trusting in the Lord like we’ve always done. I just wish there’s something we could do to stop this madness that seems to be spreading like a cancer in the halls of power. They can’t be allowed to just flush humanity down the toilet like this.”
“I agree,” Chris replied. “But what can we do? We’re just a handful of people in a remote jungle far from the reach of the masters of the universe. Besides, they would get very pissed if we started monkeying with their plans. That’s what got Hannibal into so much trouble.”
“It did,” Dan admitted. “I guess we’ll just have to trust the Lord on that too, even though I keep thinking there’s something we could do to help mitigate what they’re trying to unleash on innocent people of the world. I just don’t know what that is at the moment.”
“Maybe the Lord wants us to keep our heads down at the moment,” Jerry suggested. “It’s not like we can flip a switch and stop a world war that’s been planned for decades from occurring.”
“Yeah,” Chris chimed in, “I say let’s just keep watching. At some point, something will happen where we can make a difference, even if it’s just a little one. Who knows…maybe something about the team will turn up as well. That’s what I’m feeling down in my gut.”
Dan smiled, seeing their point. “Okay,” Dan replied. “Okay. We’ll keep watch. Hannibal would want us to be vigilant.”
“Amen,” Chris agreed.
“I sure hope they’re okay,” Jerry said. “I miss them already, especially Nathanael. He’s such a card.”
“I miss them too,” Dan replied. “Let’s keep praying for them.” They agreed with Dan to keep praying for the expedition.
As Dan spoke, the head researcher on the Library walked in with an intense but pleased look on his face as he carried a paper. “Dan,” he called out while approaching. “We’ve uncovered something astounding in the Library.”
“What is it, Gerard,” Dan asked.
“It seems we were mistaken as to how old Amacia was,” Gerard stated. “Several of the accounts about the fall of Amacia we found included some very detailed celestial information about the planets at the time Amacia vanished.”
“And?” Dan asked bluntly.
“We’re looking at a tentative date for the end of Amacia around 10,000 BC,” Gerard declared. “That’s six thousand years earlier than we previously anticipated. It appears humanity has a much deeper history than any of us realized.”
“10,000 BC?” Jerry asked as his mouth wagged open. “That puts it back at the end of the last Ice Age. You’re sure about that?”
“We’re at 95% certainty with this,” Gerard replied. “The texts describe not just the position of the planets of that time, but of the stars themselves. The people who recorded this information had an intimate knowledge of celestial mechanics that makes our knowledge pale in comparison. We fed the information into our computers and ran the simulation several times to verify the data. Each time, the timeframe of 10,000 BC plus or minus twenty years or so came back. We’re still getting information about the time of Amacia from the plates, but this is the first time we’ve actually been able to get a fix on an actual time frame. I thought you should know about this.”
“Excellent work, Gerard,” Dan congratulated. “You and your team have done Hannibal proud. This is indeed an astounding discovery. If that date is true, then Amacia existed at the same time Plato’s Atlantis did. What an incredible discovery that would be finding out that Atlantis isn’t just a fable.”
“We’ll keep looking,” Gerard said, smiling ear to ear. “Who knows; we may yet find verification in the plates that Atlantis existed too. But as of now, we haven’t encountered it.”
“You do that,” Dan chimed. “I wish we could tell Hannibal about this, but it’ll have to wait. He and the team are certainly beyond our reach by now.”
“I’m sure he’ll verify these dates when he finally contacts us,” Chris stated. “Somewhere down there he’ll find some way to lock in the time frame.”
“That he will, Chris,” Dan chimed, “That he will.”