Twelve hours passed and Selina woke up, finding that she was using Hannibal’s chest as a pillow. She yawned and stretched while looking at his sleeping face. She gently shook him and called to him telepathically, Wake up, my beloved. Wake up.
Hannibal stirred and opened his eyes. He groaned softly and looked into Selina’s beautiful face. “This is a sight I’m going to have to get used to,” he said, smiling. They heard a noise from outside their door and instinctively looked to see how they were clothed. They were still wearing same clothes they had on when the download occurred. A knock at their bedroom door caught their attention and Hannibal called out, “Who is it?”
“It’s Nathanael,” a voice returned from outside the door. “Can I come in?”
“Yeah…it’s open,” Hannibal called out as Selina turned on her back, laying her head on the pillow so she could see the door. The door slid open and Nathanael came in with Harry, Dan, and Mary. They gathered around as Hannibal sat himself up leaning against the headboard. “How’re you feeling?” Nathanael asked.
Selina sat up next to Hannibal as he answered, “Okay I guess. How long were we out this time?”
“Twenty-four hours,” Harry answered. “You’re going to have to stop doing that.”
“Sorry bud,” Hannibal said, shaking his head. “I didn’t know that blasted Teacher was going to try to reload me remotely.”
“I know,” Nathanael answered, sitting on the edge of the bed. “I saw and if it hadn’t been for Harry, I would have been catatonic like you.”
“So you were there,” Hannibal said. “But how did you see?”
“Selina and I are linked telepathically as father and daughter; however, she’s the more powerful of us. I just don’t have her skill or power,” Nathanael admitted. “I tried to reach you through her and found you both caught up in that tempest. I was able to get close enough to see and speak to her but was unable to withstand the strength of the storm. As a result, I was forcibly ejected from her mind. Do you remember any of it?”
“Bits and pieces,” Hannibal said. “But like the last time this happened, most of the knowledge vanished before I could retain it. The thing I do remember is Selina risked her life to retrieve me out of that.”
“What happened?” Nathanael asked pointedly. “I know something happened with you two. When I was in there, I saw you two in a merge the likes of which I’ve never seen before. It was totally strange and bizarre.”
“I don’t know how it happened, dad,” Selina answered. “But when I made contact with Hannibal to ascertain what the problem was, at first the raw power of what was going on overwhelmed me and shattered my contact with him. Then somehow, I was drawn to him and we merged in a deep merge while it was going on. We couldn’t do anything while in there. Our minds were seemingly fused together so we had to wait for the tempest to pass. When we finally came out of it, I found that I couldn’t break contact with him. It seems we’re permanently linked telepathically because of what happened. All I can remember once I found him is trying to shield him from the storm that imprisoned our minds. It’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever had happen to me…even worse than the time the Zoarians tried to kill us when I was a teenager.”
Nathanael reached out telepathically to her to verify her words and found the link just as she had said. “This is unexpected. Your minds are really bound to each other. Do you recall any of the information?” he asked.
“Not really,” Selina replied, shaking her head. “All I can remember of it is mainly impressions and feelings with just tiny bits of raw information coming through at times.”
Nathanael shook his head knowingly as he put his hand on her knee. “I’m glad to see you both back,” he said softly. “I suspect this incident may unlock more of Hannibal’s dormant abilities. Can you remember anything at all while you were under?” he asked Hannibal.
Hannibal scratched his head as he probed his memories. “No, not at the moment,” he replied. “When I try to remember what happened beyond what I’ve already told you, I run into a wall. It’s like I know there’s something there to remember but I can’t seem to get to it.”
“Well, don’t worry about it right now,” Nathanael stated. “You and Selina can work on that wall later when you have time. For now, there are more pressing matters. All of the preparations are ready. We’re waiting for your word. Next, word has come to us that your snitch in the NSA has been eliminated. In fact, his last communiqué indicated that they were on to him and several other of our operatives and that the US government is looking into the records about recent archaeological digs in this part of the world. They’re getting close to finding us.”
Hannibal’s expression soured as he said, “Is that so? Zane was a close friend. How did he die?”
“A car accident,” Dan said. “They ran him off a mountain road and he plunged off a cliff to his death. It’s not known whom else they have discovered. But let’s hope they were able to get away.”
“Let’s hope so,” Hannibal agreed. “But worry not. They’ll never find us. Just before I had the attack, Selina and I engaged the Temple’s defensive grid. In fact, we were on our way to tell everyone when the attack occurred. This Temple is now completely cloaked and shielded. They have nothing that can detect our presence here.”
Nathanael’s eyebrow rose with interest. “A cloaking device?” he asked.
“Yes, dad,” Selina answered. “It’s a cloaking device that cloaks this place so completely and believably they could literally walk around on the mountain above us and never know the Temple was underneath their feet.”
“Also, in addition to the cloaking device, there is a shield around us as well. We are impenetrable,” Hannibal added, smiling wryly. “So let the heathen rage. They’ll not find this place. Even if by some strange stroke of luck they were able to get in here, I know how to reactivate the security devices from the main control panel and even know where the self-destruct is for the core. If it ever came to that, this place would have to be destroyed but I don’t think that is in the cards yet. I’ll show you how it works before I leave, Dan.”
“Do you know how the core works now?” Nathanael asked with peaking interest, trying to tease the bits and pieces out of Hannibal’s fractured memory.
“Yes,” Hannibal declared. “I do now. The core generates power on a planetary scale. When we first found it, we surmised that it was twisting the fabric of the universe into a knot in order to generate its power. We weren’t too far off on that supposition. The people who made this place for all practical purposes created an artificial singularity to power their civilization. The machine taps into the gravitational energy of the planet and utilizes the magma as fuel to create the magnetic field with the rings. The core is driven by those magnetic fields and it twists space-time into a helix-shaped singularity that releases more power than most stars. The magnetic fields control and direct the power output to the spire and thus to the rest of the station. If the magnetic fields were to weaken or collapse in any way, the whole planet would be torn apart and consumed in the runaway release of energy. Basically, in lay terms, they have created a special kind of artificial mini-quasar.”
“How do you know all this?” Harry asked bluntly.
“You know, I’m not sure,” Hannibal answered. “It’s as if a fog is lifting and everything is getting clearer now. I don’t seem to remember knowing this a couple of days ago.”
“It’s the download,” Nathanael said. “You have retained more of the information and are slowly recalling it. You said a quasar?”
Hannibal nodded. “Yeah,” he replied, “a mini-quasar. It’s the only way I can describe it.”
“That is very interesting,” Nathanael replied. “Quasars are among the most energetic objects in the universe. We encountered several small quasars on our side of the galaxy and the power they release is beyond imagination. We were able to harness and siphon the power generated by the black hole at the middle of our system but we couldn’t even get close to the quasars without risking suicide. The power released by them much of the time is more than entire galaxies generate. We had no way of capturing or controlling it because it would destroy anything that came near it.”
“Well, anyway. This is not your run of the mill quasar like you find in the vastness of space. This is a special singularity that was engineered with one purpose in mind: to power a vast civilization that is obviously much bigger than the Earth,” Hannibal said, still puzzling over how he came to know the details of the core.
“Well, if it’s a black hole or mini-quasar as you suggest, wouldn’t it destroy this planet if the self-destruct were activated?” Harry asked.
“Not necessarily,” Hannibal answered. “You’re forgetting that this thing is artificial. Had it been a natural phenomenon, yes, it would. But this thing isn’t designed to destroy the planet when the self-destruct is activated. If, however, an overload were allowed to occur, yes, it would indeed destroy us all. The self-destruct is set up so that a gravitational pulse would occur when the singularity is nullified, wiping out the Temple and everything in a hundred and fifty mile radius around it. The pulse would disintegrate everything in its path and cause a volcanic event of such magnitude that everything inside that radius would sink into the ocean. Let’s hope that it will not become necessary to use it.”
“Let’s not; that’s a weapon of last resort,” Nathanael agreed. “A volcanic event of that magnitude would have long-lasting repercussions on the climate of this planet; maybe even jump-starting a new Ice Age with the ash and dust it would send into the atmosphere. Do you have any idea who built it?”
“No,” Hannibal replied, shaking his head. “That fact still eludes me. It’s something I’m dying to know.”
“So what are we going to do next?” Harry asked, changing the subject.
“First, pray that I don’t have another massive download while I’m in a life threatening circumstance,” Hannibal stated. “Second, enjoy the benefits of the Temple while we’re still here because in three days, we move. Third, check up on our operatives and bring them to safety if need be. The masters of the universe are on to our little endeavor. We have to be very careful from now on. All leave to go outside of the Temple will have to be monitored very carefully. Any trips to the beach or the jungle will have to include security personnel. Fortunately, I don’t think they have found our little beach hideaway yet. The point I’m making here is we will have to be on our guard from now on. We have entered the time when all men will seek our lives. The Temple is a safe haven. As long as we remain here, they cannot touch us. We have much to do. Dan, go and get Jerry and Chris and meet me back here. I’ll take you below and show you how to operate the main control panel at the core just in case you have an emergency. Selina...you and Mary go and double-check the Temple’s supplies and our supplies for the expedition. I’ll meet you in the portal chamber. Nathanael, Harry: you two go and brief the security team about what has happened and check on our operatives. If they need retrieval, do it. Then gather everyone in the portal chamber where I’ll make an announcement has to who will run things while we are gone. Okay people…let’s do this.”
Nathanael rose from his seat on the bed and said, “There’s something different about you.”
Hannibal and Selina rose as well from the bed and Hannibal asked, “How so? I don’t feel like I’ve changed except for this fused telepathic link I have to Selina.”
“I’m not sure what it is, but I’m sure that it’s there; a strange aura about you,” Nathanael stated, looking Hannibal in the eye. “Maybe it has to do with your link to Selina. I just don’t know.”
Hannibal laid his hand on Nathanael’s shoulder. “Well, whatever it is, I hope it’s a good thing,” Hannibal stated. “Now let’s get to work. We have much to do in a little amount of time.” He then looked at Selina and said telepathically Get something to eat before you start if you like.
Selina smiled and answered back telepathically, You bet I will. I’m starving. They all turned and walked out into the living room, heading for the door.
“Dan, change of plan. Meet me in the cafeteria. I have to get something to eat. I’m starving,” Hannibal stated.“Sure thing,” Dan replied with an added nod.