El Haram (The Pyramids of Giza)
11 Miles Southwest of Cairo
The sun had just disappeared over the horizon beyond the arid western desert.
That eerily quiet period just after sunset, and before the moon had risen fully in the sky, made the Nile seem almost tranquil, flowing serenely in the diminished light of early evening.
Farmers who had been working the soil along the river’s bank all day were packing up their gear. Unharnessing the oxen, throwing tools into wobbly wooden carts, dusting off the fine dry sand that penetrated the pores of their skin, wiping their sweaty brows with salt-encrusted rags.
Most had already gone home to their families, their weary bodies wracked with the pain of an endless pursuit to put food on the table.
One man sat on the crest of the bank peering out over the snaking flow of water.
He palmed a wad of tobacco from a small oxleather pouch and rolled it expertly between his dirt-caked fingers, wrapped it in a dry leaf.
He lit the cigarette and drew in a deep breath. The acrid smoke filled his lungs—it felt good… signaled the end of the day’s work for the exhausted farmer.
The moon had started to reflect in the ripples of the river. Sparkles of white and silver danced on the surface like a hypnotic ballet of light.
The old farmer had watched this dance countless times before, marking the days, weeks, and years of his life. The Nile had been there every evening, like an old friend.
But tonight something was different…
The water moved in an unusual way. The farmer knew its intricate pattern of ripples and waves as well as he knew the soil in which he made his living.
Tonight the waves were moving differently. Their rhythmic flow interrupted, as though something else was in the water. Something unusual… something big… pushing the water out from its path.
The farmer stood and strained his eyes, trying to see through the twilight darkness.
As he looked out across the river, the east bank wobbled and twisted like a hazy heat mirage. It was moving, bending, warping. It was as though some strange force was carrying a large piece of bubbled glass across his field of vision.
The water made a distinct splashing sound. The waves lapped up against the bank a few feet in front of the old man.
There was a sudden blue flash on the water’s surface.
An electrifying pulse of blue light energy ran upwards in a long, wide sheet from the water, forming a very distinctive shape.
It flashed even brighter, forcing the farmer to cover his eyes momentarily. He re-opened them and watched as the blue energy slowly dissipated, leaving in its place a gigantic grey object.
It was a ship.
The ship was a Chinese Luhu-class destroyer, moving slowly and sleekly southwards along the Nile.
It had entered one of the rivers making up the fertile, green delta from the Mediterranean Sea to the north, passed through Buto, Sais, and finally Cairo completely unnoticed, unseen.
The large grey hulk measured five hundred feet from bow to stern, with a beam of seventy-five feet. It was an impressive vessel in anyone’s fleet.
Sea Rattlesnake and SAM surface-to-air missiles adorned the deck. On board, a Western built Tavitac combat data system controlled dual 100mm and quad 37mm guns to both port and starboard.
Two attack helicopters sat perched astern like great bees, fully loaded with antitank missiles, 23mm cannons and infra-red guided air-to-air missiles.
Below decks, several troops were checking the torpedo tubes. Others, who made up part of the five hundred strong crew, were scurrying about like mice inside the large cargo bays.
It was like an advertisement for the Beijing Jeep Corporation.
Rows of BJ2020 lightweight troop carriers filled the bays. Mechanics were carrying out routine checks on fuel and oil and gears and other necessary functions.
Behind them, four heavy duty vehicles modified to carry sixty troops each were parked, silently awaiting duty.
Another bay held several dozen infantry fighting vehicles. Small, maneuverable buggies armed with 73mm guns.
To the rear were great stacks of wooden crates holding computers and other high tech equipment. Overhead cranes were ferrying the boxes from bay to deck.
In contrast, the bridge seemed silent and inactive.
The Captain stood silently, looking out over the bow of the ship from his position three storeys above the main deck.
Four of his most senior officers and a communications officer occupied the bridge with the Captain. Only the communications officer was speaking, relaying coordinates and other information to the crew around the ship.
The Captain looked out at the fields to his right. Beyond the fields, where the green abruptly stopped, was the desert and the El Haram region—the pyramids of Giza.
The Captain noticed people starting to gather along the banks. Peasants, farmers, villagers, woken by the crazed ramblings of some old man who had seen a huge ship appear out of nowhere in the night.
The Captain smiled wistfully. He had no interest in the villagers. No wish to harm them or deal with them in any way at all. The Egyptians were simply an insignificant byproduct of his ship’s appearance. As long as nobody got in his way, they would be tolerated.
It was what lay beyond the village that the Captain was concerned with.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops was now looming into view. The Captain smiled.
It was the largest of all the pyramids on Earth. Almost four hundred and fifty feet tall. Constructed of two-point-three million stone blocks with an average weight of three tons each.
It was a marvel of architecture. Arguably, the greatest of the seven ancient wonders of the world, surrounded by a host of smaller structures that each paid homage to once powerful kings and queens.
To the southwest stood the Pyramid of Khafre and beyond that, the Pyramid of Mycerinus. In front of them all… the Great Sphinx.
It was an oddity that puzzled archaeologists since the pyramids were first investigated that these mighty celebrations of human achievement, these monuments to ancient rulers, had never given over a shred of evidence to suggest that any human had ever been buried inside any of them. No bones, no skeletons, no mummies. It was all the stuff of myth and legend.
To all but a few, the secret of Giza would never be known
All but a few…
The ship lurched violently as its speed was suddenly cut back to half.
One of the young officers on the bridge looked out nervously at the developing crowd standing on the river bank. The officer turned to the Captain, a worried expression clearly marked on his face.
“Captain, are you sure it was wise to disengage the camouflage so early?”
The Captain appeared untroubled.
“I understand your concern, Lieutenant. Unfortunately, multispectral stealth technology is in its infancy. Disembarking while surrounded by a plasma field of ionized gas particles is not a danger I care to flirt with.”
“Of course, Captain,” apologized the officer, having received his crash course in physics.
“Besides,” added the Captain, “our presence here will be discovered soon enough, and by then it will not matter. It will not matter at all.”
Twenty minutes later, the ship was snugly docked at a loading jetty near El-Haram.
There was a loud slam! as the holding bay doors crashed open. An army of Chinese soldiers began unloading the vehicles, weapons and other equipment.
One by one, the shipment of troop carriers and armored vehicles sped off the huge destroyer and bounced along the rickety jetty towards the shore.
At the same time, groups of soldiers armed with automatic weapons and shoulder fired rockets scurried about to create a temporary perimeter around the ship.
There was a loud buzz of rotor blades as one of the WZ-9 attack helicopters swooped over the troops and shot off towards the pyramids.
A moment later, the second chopper skimmed across the jetty with a loud, metallic roar and joined the first.
Inside chopper two, Captain Jee Tsung looked down on his handiwork. The incursion had gone perfectly to plan thus far… but it was only the beginning.
The Great Pyramid rose majestically into the sky on the horizon.
The caravan of Soviet built fast attack vehicles, with their Chinese drivers, trundled along the road to Giza under Jee Tsung’s watchful eye.
His chopper swooped down low through a dust storm of sand and dirt that had been thrown up by the FAVs as it approached the eastern face of the massive pyramid.
By the time Tsung had landed the first of the vehicles was roaring into position.
A dozen more FAVs veered off the road, forming a semicircle around the pyramid’s main entrance.
Quickly, the soldiers began unloading large crates from the back of the trucks.
The crates were swiftly smashed open with axes. They contained radar-like devices on collapsible tripods, which the soldiers erected in a wide arc, fifty yards apart.
Tsung ordered the helicopter to leave, then strode past the tripods towards the pyramid entrance.
“Lieutenant, I want activation in two minutes!” Tsung yelled above the roar of carrier trucks to one of his subordinates.
Men were scurrying back and forth, connecting cables between the twelve devices ringing the eastern wall.
Larger trucks full of troops and more equipment were still arriving, entering the perimeter created by the tripods. Each one unloading its cargo, then racing back off toward the ship.
At least three hundred soldiers exited the troop carriers and marched double-time into the pyramid. They were all wearing yellow thermal spacesuits.
As the last of the vehicles from the ship drove through the perimeter, Tsung approached the nearest radar-dish apparatus. He looked around the ring of tripods, making sure an operator was ready at each one.
He raised his arm.
All twelve men moved in unison, stepping forward and turning a control switch on their machines in a well rehearsed move.
As they did, a wave of blue energy pulsed outwards forming a wide sheet across the entire front of the pyramid.
It flickered brightly for a moment then crackled out with a loud pop!
When the glow had faded there was nothing to be seen—no trucks, no jeeps, no tripods or machines, no soldiers.
Everything except the pyramid had just disappeared into thin air.