Winds of Aerathiea

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Chapter 31: New Tactics

“Now that was completely unexpected,” said Jules, breaking the silence.

The hidden crew of the Empress and the crew of the Becky Thatcher broke their silence after witnessing the events that transpired topside. They began to talk rapidly amongst themselves. The din crescendoed until Artemis’ head felt like it was going to split.

“Enough!” he shouted, overcoming the other voices and startling them into silence. “We won’t get anywhere this way. We have some of the finest minds on this planet. We will think of something. There are over two hundred armed guards now making their way through the bowels of this ship.” He turned and looked at the others around him. “If we are not mobile, eventually, they will find these hiding places. So far, they are pretty predictable. Let’s use that to our advantage. It’s general maritime piracy law. Whether that other captain, Daran wants to execute me or just gloat, they will undoubtedly be hunting for the captain. I’m telling you now that I will not allow any other person to be harmed for my sake.”

“Jules, now would be the time for you to make your presence known to the crew. Don’t be seen or engage our guests until you hear from me. Everyone is essential of course, but instruct the ones that do not have immediate duties to get to the storage tanks in the nacelles. Show them secondary access ways and help them avoid detection. Instruct the essential crew to stay at their posts and cooperate to the best of their abilities and not fight.”

“Are we just giving up then?” Everyone that could see Captain Grumm looked at him in alarm.

“Of course we are not giving up, but we cannot fight an armed boarding party that outnumber us two to one. We have to beat them with stealth and intelligence. Fortunately, I think we have a couple of aces in the hole.”

They were all going to start talking again and Captain Grumm silenced them with a look. “I do not intend to go quietly though. I want to try something… Jules, did anything strike you as ‘odd’ about our guests?”

The computer spoke up. “Most certainly sir. Now that you mentioned it, their dress was extremely familiar. On the screens popped up a picture of Hernán Cortés and a small band of Conquistadors from the middle Sixteenth century. The similarities between the landing party and the pictures were striking. There were some differences, of course, hundreds of years had modernized and streamlined the styles but anyone could tell the origin of those uniforms.

“Excuse me,” Liam spoke first. “...but exactly how did Conquistadors from the sixteenth century end up here? I’m not sure if anyone else noticed or not, but that little ride we took almost killed us?”

Jules answered. “I have a theory…”

“By all means, Jules, let’s hear it,” piped in Zak.

“Yes, this should be interesting,” added Artemis.

Jules continued. “The mid-sixteenth century, especially in the New World of the Americas, was a hotbed of discovery, enlightenment, and conquest. Cortes, Pizarro and Aguilar and many others, ruthlessly exploited the Native Mayan, Aztec and Inca tribes throughout Mesoamerica in search of gold, riches and land in the name of both the King of Spain and God.

“I’ve heard of Cortes and Pizarro from history class, but who is Aguilar and why is he important?” asked Ethan.

Jules continued.

“Gerónimo de Aguilar was a Spanish priest that was held captive by the Mayans for eight years in the early sixteenth century. He was the first to translate the Mayan language and aided Cortes in his conquests. He disappeared from history around 1530. People assume he just died, but I am forming a different theory. “

“Didn’t the Mayans and Incans die off from the diseases the Westerners brought over from Europe?”

“That’s what most people have come to believe. The Yucatan Peninsula is littered with cave systems, some that have never been explored adequately. Some went on for miles. Some people that explored them never came back and were presumed dead.”

Zak interrupted. “I see where you are going with this Jules, you believe the Mayans and the Spaniards that were pursuing them, somehow ended up here?”

“Evidence would suggest that, yes. Through some natural system of caverns or through some act of nature, like what happened to us.”

“So, over millions of years, this inner world could literally be littered with the flotsam and jetsam from our world?”

“Precisely. It would explain a number of things.”

“Yeah, like dinosaurs.”

“Exactly like dinosaurs.”

After careful consideration, Doctor Peck added to the conversion. “That would explain the reverse as well.”

Rebekah piqued at the sound of her dad’s voice. “The reverse?”

“Yes dear, it explains how Kyton might have managed to arrive in our world. It would also explain our encounter with Bigfoot.”

Ethan replied with bitterness, “It might explain how he got here, I mean there, but we don’t yet know if he was acting alone or if there is some deeper motivation.

Grumm interjected, “Let’s table that discussion until we have more facts, Mr. Phillips. We just don’t know anything for sure yet. No use for idle speculation.” Artemis refused to give up on the man he counted as a friend - just yet.

“Aye, sir…discussion tabled.” But one could tell from the grumbled consent, not totally dismissed.

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