SEA QUEST - Chapter 1-4
In the Museum of Natural History, New York City, Dr Terri Halle stepped onto the stage. Camera flash blurred the scene and Dr Halle walked towards the podium in the center of the stage. As her mouth got closer to the microphone the audience began to move their attention to the beautiful scientist in front of them.
For years she had anticipated for this moment, but when it came she was really nervous. For the information she was about to present would shock the world with proof of something they had denied for so long. Thus she began.
“Ladies and gentlemen, today after one month of data analysis which NASA and several other federal organizations have contributed.” she began.
“We are sure both of NASA’s satellite pictures of the area around Cape Horn and the carbon 14 checks by the National Committee of Science that the tomb in Cape Horn does exist and the artifacts are authentic. Other information will be presented at the national press conference on July 19th or four days from now. But today, to the excitement of many theorists, one of their extraordinary claims is proven correct.”
“In 2002 at a conference in Spain a man had suggested something greatly intriguing. He had a hypothesis about why all the great sea farers of Europe had maps of where they were going. These explorers include Columbus, Da Gama, the man who discovered the route from Europe to India past Cape Hope and Magellan commander of the fleet that sailed around the world.”
“The information we have will change the history books forever.”
Half a world away in Rio de Janeiro, an archeologist, Dr Reggan Ceclaro is laying on the floor shot in the chest by a large man wearing a thick jacket.
Ceclaro was an ambitious biologist known worldwide. He was sixty years old and his work in the anatomy of viruses had helped revolutionize medicine. After that a picture of him holding his mustache was on every single
science magazine in North America. He had a lot to gain from this new discovery, and he just realized some body else was going to take the prize.
“Who else has the information about the press conference?” his murderer shouted.
“No one, I haven’t released the info yet.” Ceclaro said as he struggled for a gulp of air.
“You’re lying!” the man in the jacket lifted the gunpoint to Ceclaro’s head.
“Alright, Dr Terri Halle has my information.”
“And who else?” the killer questioned on.
“Gordon Friscit.” Ceclaro muffled.
Satisfied, the murderer walked away out of the building.
Ceclaro took out his cell phone, he knew this would be the last call he would ever make.
It was a common ritual for Dr Brian Right to be up working late in the night on Saturday, normally at around 2 a.m. in the morning. He was the head of archeology in the National Geographic Society and he knew there were few discoveries that actually meant something to the organization. Although few discoveries topped out the old ones, Dr. Right always showed great anticipation and excitement for all archeological findings. He was a young man in his twenties and for his age he’s very high up in the office ranks.
When Brian came to the National Geographic Society after he finished from College, he got the job as an editor, then when he got his first chance to write an article about the secret history of Egypt his boss immediately recognized his talent. Finally, over the last few years he with his hard work came through to the office as the Head of Archeology.
But this would prove a different night, a night he would never forget.
At 1:36 am his cell phone beeped. It was unusual because less than ten people knew his number. For him the cell phone was just a way to be up to date instead of looking like one of the ancient artifacts he examined.
Brian rose from his chair next to the studying table and walked towards his cellular on the book shelf.
He pressed the ‘receive’ button.
"Hello, is this professor Brian Right?" it was a woman's voice.
"Yes, this is professor Right speaking," he answered.
"I assume you have heard of Dr Terri Halle before."
Of course, Brian thought almost everyone in the archeological society knows what she likes to eat.
"Right, she's the quack scientist that keeps telling people to change their historical records." he answered firmly.
"Professor, I have a reason to tell people to correct their historical records not to change it. My ideas may be unorthodox but I have proof that much of the history we learn and remember today is inaccurate."
Brian froze, it was she, and his greeting was horrible.
"Now we must get to business. Have you watched the press conference on television?"
"Certainly not, it's two in the morning. I will watch the replay in the morning. Now what the hell do you want?"
Terri tries to make her voice sound as calm as possible.
"Well, since you haven't been watching the press conference I will have to tell you what it was about. It is very controversial to ancient and medieval history."
Brian wasn't half excited.
"Recently NASA satellite has found a structure buried around Cape Horn, South America. I and a team from the National Science Foundation were sent to excavate the site. It was a tomb, built for men who died while the Portuguese explored the area in the 14th century."
Brian was getting more and more interesting, his instinct was telling him there was something important about this discovery.
"In the tomb, lot artifacts were found, pottery, things that are almost nonexistent in the continent… and a map."
"What map?" Brian bursted out in curiosity.
"That's the surprise; meet me at New York international airport in two hours. We have a flight arranged for Rio."
"Last thing," Brian said, "From where on earth did you get my phone number?"
"That would be Dr Friscit." she answered
The line went dead.
Gordon! Brian thought, he couldn't believe his best friend would do such a thing.
Brian climbed up the stairs to the third floor to his boss’s office. Mr. Howard, who had been with the society for forty years, was also working a late night shift.
“Excuse me Mr. Howard, may I speak to you.”
“Yes old boy, what’s the matter?” said Mr. Howard from his desk.
Brian walked in and sat on the chair in front of him.
“Have you been watching the press conference from the museum of natural history?” Brian asked
“In fact I have been watching it, the tomb at Cape Horn, the tip of South America discovered by a satellite that’s used for finding mass burial sites in civil war countries. Nice thing the satellite passed over it.”
“Dr Terri Halle just called, she asked me to go see the discovery at Cape Horn.”
“That would be great,” Mr. Howard stood up,” the press conference didn’t really offer too many details. If you go to Cape Horn and see the discovery for your self, we’ll be the first people to publish the full story.”
“An honor, Mr. Howard.”
“Consider it as another type of work; you have a week to get the story.”
After clearing the matter with his boss Brian walked out of the National Geographic Society office on 711 of the Fifth Avenue and hailed for a cab. Brian was not aware that he was about to walk into one of the most controversial mysteries the world has ever known.
At the airport Brian met Dr Halle, a thirty-five year old physicist who glanced at Brian with her emerald green eyes.
“Come on Mr. Right, we must not be late.” She said with a smile.
“Is there a flight straight to Cape Horn?” Brian asked.
“Apparently not, but first we must go to Rio de Janeiro. There is some unfinished business I must attend to.”
Eight hours later Brian and Terri arrived at Santos Dumont Airport named after the aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont in Rio de Janeiro.
"So, if the discovery is in Cape Horn. What are we doing here in Rio?"
Terri hesitated a little before she answered.
"You see, one of my colleagues. Dr Reggan Ceclaro, the team leader actually had been murdered, and the Brazilian police wants to interrogate his coworkers. Also, I just want to know why he was shot because the killer didn't take any of his possessions."
"Where exactly was he murdered?"
"In the botanical garden last night, just a few hours before I called you."
"Heaven knows what he could have been doing talking with plants late into the night." Brian murmured.
In the airport car park there was someone waiting for them, it was Gordon Friscit, Brian's old partner. Since Brian was so young and not even thirty, Gordon who had been alive since President Kennedy's assassination he often treated Brian like a kid. And even though Gordon had a different career altogether they became best friends. Gordon was a geologist but he does have his interests or as he calls it "hobbies" in paleontology or in another word "fossil hunting".
"Good Morning signor Right, welcome to my home town of Rio deJaneiro." he said in a strong Portuguese accent.
"Nice job protecting my privacy there buddy. Now why the hell have you brought me halfway across the world for?"
"Well, you are the head of archeology from the National Geographic Society. We figured that you could give our discovery some credibility."
"She didn't do a very good job with providing me the details." Brian pointed at Terri.
"Hop on and we will tell you all about it, or at least what we want you to know." Gordon said in an irritating way that made Terri think about government's alien cover up movies.
"Gordon likes to tell these annoying practical jokes that aren't really funny." Brian whispered to Terri.
Rio de Janeiro was really the name of a state in Brazil but the capital city is just called Rio.
On their way south from the airport they passed the long beach in Guanabara Bay that curved inland, full of tourists and yachts Guanabara Bay is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Further south the Sugar Loaf Mountain that extended into the bay blocked the view of the long beach beyond. Apartments and hotels dominate the city’s skyline. But still, from Avenue Viera Souto on the shoreline, the far inland statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcodavo Mountain can be seen facing the Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Behind them was the Maracana stadium that can seat 200,000 people.
"Just how far away is the botanical garden?" Brian asked.
"We are driving on the Avenue Vieira Souto, so it should be about twenty minutes." Gordon answered.
"Though the city isn't that huge of a metropolis, it is beautiful, especially on a sunny day like this one, don't you think?"
"Just swell." Brian responded.
"You should wait until you see the carnival." Gordon suggested.
Soon they were at the Rio Grande Botanical garden. The old colonial style building was surrounded by a large garden. There were police "do not enter" signs and plastic strips fencing the building. They entered the building where more than 7,200 species of plants were kept.
"It's called the Living Museum, "Gordon sighed," and someone had to
die in it."
Then a detective passed by and said,
"Poor fella, he was murdered in the Vegetal Anatomy lab. Probably he was testing the results from the Geo-processing laboratory."
They followed the detective into the Vegetal Anatomy lab. There, they were stunned by the sight of an old scientist lying on the ground littered with broken shards of glass. Ceclaro's body had wounds that looked like it was caused by the glass and beneath the red soaked lab coat there was a bullet hole in his left chest.
After a while the detective broke the silence,
"Although this doesn't look like a robbery, something was actually taken away. There was blood on his inside coat pocket, the place where blood can never reach. The killer was a professional, didn't even leave a millimeter of his fingerprints."
"You said the killer took nothing," Brian turned to look at Terri.
"Well, Ceclaro always kept a CD which has all his works and research." said Terri.
"Do you have any idea about what's on the disk?"
"No," Gordon answered, looking serious, "he never gave a clue about what secrets he kept locked up in that disk."
"Sorry to interrupt," said the detective, "but we have determined that these wounds aren't caused by the glass. On close inspections, it looks more to be shrapnel wounds."
Brian, Gordon and Terri now turned their attention to the bloody wounds on the old man. There was something strange, it was similar to the wounds soldiers get from battle or mine fields. There was definitely something peculiar and it appeared that the murderer and the victim were hiding something from them.
Gordon was resting his eyes in the waiting room when Brian walked out of the toilet and spoke,
"The police found Ceclaro's cell phone and it seems he actually called someone before he died, they traced it to a man named Francis Duncan. You know him?"
Terri walked into the room after finishing the interrogation.
"Sir Francis is one of our financiers," Gordon answered. "Our Executive Manager actually. He offered money for half of the project."
“And the other half?” said Brian.
“The other half came from many private businesses, a lot came from a Russian Oil Company, most companies are seeking fame and fortune.
"Where is he now?" Brian asked suspiciously.
"He's in Cape Horn, soon he will be going back to Santiago to prepare for the major press conference." said Terri, "But he couldn't possibly orchestrate this murder, he's too busy to be a suspect."
"I was wondering something, Dr. Terri, what branch of science do you work with?" Brian muffled.
"I'm a physicist; they hired me for my knowledge in biology and carbon dating. What could this possibly have anything to do with the murder?"
"Good, you're not a forensic expert, so suspect is still a suspect." said Brian.
"The old boy's getting grumpy. Well, since Sir Francis Duncan was the last person who talked to Ceclaro. I think he is our only chance to solve this murder case." said Gordon.
"So let's head to Cape Horn, we should meet Sir Francis there. Anyway we didn't intend to bring you to see a dead guy, it was our business. The police requested that we be interrogated. Our discovery is waiting." said Terri.
An hour later, Brian and Terri were at the Santos Dumont airport following Gordon into hangar number 3. In the middle of the hangar, there was a small jet with its engines running.
“Looks like the copilot got the plane ready to take off.” Said Gordon.
"Aren't we supposed to take a flight to Buenos Aires and then ride a ship to Cape Horn?" Brian asked.
"Ain't a good idea, "Gordon answered," that will take days. But with this jet we can fly straight to Usuaia, the closest town to Cape Horn."
They boarded the plane and the hangar gate started to open. There were other people on the jet; most of them were archeologists who have just arrived from other countries.
“Hi,” said Brian,” Did you all come to see the discovery?”
“Yeah, let’s see what’s so special about this darn tomb.” Said Dr. Lawrance who was a hairy archeologist from Germany.
"God, what were you doing?" said another archeologist, "We've been waiting here for almost an hour."
"Visiting an old dead friend," Gordon answered.
"This personal jet is a favor from Sir Francis." said Terri.
“Rich guy”, Brian thought.
As Brian and Terri were settling for the take off Gordon walked towards the cockpit.
"Gordon, the toilet is at the back." Brian called.
"No, I'm not going to the toilet, I'm the pilot.”
"Are you kidding?" Brian murmured.
"Definitely not." Gordon walked into the cockpit and closed the door.
"He almost killed his brother ten years ago with a pesticide plane. He used to be a bush pilot; I sure hope his skills have improved since then." Brian said to Terri.
“I’m sure every thing will work out just fine.” Said Terri.
Then Gordon’s voice came out from the loud speaker.
"Say farewell people. We are about to leave Rio de Janeiro, or the real meaning ‘The river in January’ as the Portuguese said when they came here in 1502."
Everyone knew that the Portuguese actually mistook the Guanabara Bay for a mouth of a large river when they first came to Brazil.
Two hours later, the jet was about to land in Usuia on the island of Tiera Del Fuego, and Brian saw the straight well kept runway before him. Near the landing strip was Ushuia, a medium-size town, the southern-most town on earth. Ushuia was a reminder of the days of Antarctic exploration, the town’s maritime museum is one of the famous destinations in Tiera Del Fuego.
"Nice landing strip, do a lot of people come here?" He asked.
"Yep, Ushuia is a tourist town, for most people this is the last stop before heading south to Antarctica." Terri answered, "But this isn't a tourist landing strip, we built it."
“Wow?”, Brian thought, “this discovery must be very important.”
As the plane got closer to the ground Brian started to see the fishing boats and tourist boats on the rocky shoreline. In the town, most of the buildings were single-storey and made of wood. From the distance, next to the runway, a strange looking airplane was visible.
"Strap your seatbelt, we're about to have a bit of a rough landing." said Gordon enthusiastically on the loud speaker.
Brain felt relieved after the smooth landing. Knowing the freezing temperature outside he quickly grabbed the winter gear from the cabin and put them on. After getting off the plane, he could clearly see activity in the town. There were hundreds of tourists walking through the streets, and most of them had camping gear on their backpacks. It was July and a winter in the southern hemisphere, the temperature in Ushuia was just a few degrees below zero.
"Sir," Gordon shouted to Brian, "No day dreaming, we must move on to our next mode of transport."
Everyone followed Gordon towards another airplane, but it wasn't a jet, it was a rotor plane. The red and white airplane simply looks like a world war II design, except that it had got only two rotors one on the end of each wing. After everyone got on, Gordon came to sit next to Brian.
"Aren't you the pilot?" Brian asked.
"Nah, I don't know how to fly this type of airplane."
"Don't tell me you built a runway in Cape Horn too."
"Well we wanted to," said Gordon, "but it is a national park so we built it in Ushuia instead."
“If there’s no landing strip, how do we land?” Brian shrieked in terror.
Through out his life Brian had always been afraid of plane crashes after the time when he was age 13 and visited Gordon’s sugar cane plantation north of Sao Paulo. As Gordon was trying to land, his pesticide plane’s right wing crashed into the barn where his brother and Brian were working. This was the reason he chose to publish at home in America instead of taking the job of going to do research trips in other countries. Over the past few years he started to forget those horrible things, but now he felt his fears and memories coming quickly back to him.
“Brian,” Gordon said comfortingly,” I know I almost killed you fourteen years ago but have you ever heard the concept of a helicopter and an airplane put together?”
“The aircraft is one of a kind, V 22 Osprey. It’s a tilt rotor aircraft,” said Terri, ”we take off from Ushuia as an airplane, and we land in Cape Horn as a helicopter. It’s perfect as a transport aircraft; it’s faster and carries a heavier load than a helicopter. There are now 20 archeologists on board, and the plane itself can handle 24 people.”
Brian breathed in and out and tried to be as calm as possible.
The plane was fifteen thousand feet into the air so it could easily pass over any snowcap mountains on the island. Below them the thick evergreen forest covered the plain. As the plane headed towards south the thick forest started to clear up until on the shoreline there was only grass and rocks. Soon they left the island of Tiera Del Fuego behind them. The sea around Cape Horn was a treacherous place for sailing ships due to the waves caused by the difference in water level where the Atlantic and Pacific meet.
The sky was filled with storm clouds and the wind was roaring up the icy coast. The grey sky reminded them of how horrible it would be to sail up the cape four hundred years ago.
After flying pass the coast of the island, the captain’s voice came on the loud speaker.
“Passengers and crew, we will be seeing some turbulence. Please put on your seatbelts. And we advise that before exiting the aircraft it would be wise to put on your water-resistant coats, because the temperature outside is -15 degrees Celsius. And it could get colder if it rains.”
As the plane lowered altitude, the cabin started to shake.
“I have heard that when airplanes lower the altitude and speed into a turbulence against the wind. The wind can actually topple the plane over.” said Gordon enthusiastically.
Brian was getting scared again.
“You know what,” Terri sputtered,” I am really wondering how you became his best friend.”
“I was just kidding.” Gordon whispered to Brian.
Soon the aircraft landed vertically on a flat piece of land. As they came down, Brian could see the narrow peninsula of rock extending into the sea. Cape Horn, named after the home town of a Dutch captain who first rounded the cape in the 1600’s.
Surrounding them were nothing but grass and shrubs. Further down the coast there were an excavation site and a tunnel leading into the mountain. Next to the excavation site there were tents and archeologists studying hundred years’ old artifacts.
“Not as many people as I expected.” Brian exclaimed.
“Don’t worry,” said Terri,” you’ll see them soon enough.
Next to the tunnel was a bearded man in his sixties wearing a brown coat and a black hat.
Gordon walked towards the man and introduced him to Brian.
“Sir Francis, this is Brian Right from the national geographic society.”
“A pleasure to meet you Mr. Right, I believe you have an interest in publishing as much of what we’re doing down here at Cape Horn as possible.” Sir Francis spoke in a thick British accent.
“I am really wondering why you are backing up the excavation,” said Brian,” There isn’t any profit from funding this excavation.”
“I am man of archeology Mr. Right,” Sir Francis answered sternly, ”Anyway money isn’t a problem to me, and I expect it never will. Since you’ve traveled all day without really knowing anything about the discovery yet, and you’re probably very hungry since my jet didn’t serve any food. We should proceed to dinner then you shall see the discovery.”
“That’s perfectly fine.” Brian responded.
Sir Francis was an old English gentleman who was greatly interested in archeology. He had received a cultural study in PhD from Oxford University. Although Sir Francis inherited much of his fortune he was also a very successful businessman.
Brian, Terri, and Gordon followed Sir Francis to a large temporary shack overlooking the sea.
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