Historian Jane Petersen has discovered the World Council archives, exposing vast knowledge of the Second Dark Age and the key to unimaginable wealth. Unfortunately, the discovery is the trigger for a plan fifteen hundred years in the making that will change Earth. Greed, betrayal, government corruption are revealed and Jane is now the Hunted for she is the only one who knows where the vault is... or almost the only one.
“We shouldn’t be doing this.” Tim Houston murmured as he looked over Jane’s shoulder at the comp screen. He brushed a forelock of light-brown hair back behind his ear.
“Why not? Don’t you want to know?” She asked quietly and jerked slightly, as if to look back at him.
“I doubt there’s any information to find and all the great conspiracy theories have been solved.” He replied and looked around the darkened room.
The musty smell tickled his nose and made his eyes water. Who would have thought there’d still be paper documentation? There were shelves of it, extending a hundred metres in every direction into the darkness beyond the reach of the lantern’s glow. Files and books and other things he didn’t recognise, all stacked metres tall.
And here, at the short edge of the vast room, near the front door, ten really old screens and metal boxes sat next to each other. He considered it fortunate that Jane was an historian and knew about this old stuff. Him, he’d have tried to access the data through his com device. And when it came up ‘classified’ or ‘unavailable’ or ‘no record’, he’d have shrugged and moved on.
Jane, on the other hand, had a personality that would not be denied. If she couldn’t find the information she wanted through one method, she’d try another. The screen wavered, blurred, until Jane smacked the side of the casing and it steadied.
Tim winced. “Should you smack it like that? You might break it.” He kept his voice low and looked around, you know, in case someone else was in here. The place was starting to give him the creeps with the silence and all…
He had to admit he was both annoyed and impressed. But breaking into a secured facility, that was another thing altogether. In theory, it had been exciting, like cracking a level in a com-game. In practice, he wasn’t so sure.
At least it was quiet in this tomb of documents, as if no one had been here for decades, rather than hours. Well, he assumed it was hours, given the lack of air filtration. No one could work down here with all the dust and stagnant air. Maybe they shut everything down when they went home and started it all up when they arrived in the morning?
“So we solve the greatest mystery of all,” Jane mumbled as she stuck her finger on the screen and the text moved upwards.
“Okay, I’m impressed, how did you do that?” Tim asked.
“Secret historian business.” She said softly and read the ancient texts.
Tim snorted. “I don’t think so, Jane, this stuff is so old, and I doubt many people would know how to use it. It would be like... like... us knowing how to use a combustible engine vehicle.”
“I do.” Jane said.
“You know how a combustible engine works? Really? Who taught you?” Tim asked, shocked that anyone would know such ancient technology.
“My dad. He has an antique Ferraro; no, it’s a Ferraree. Italian made. And a permit for mixing up gas-o-lin to run it. He calls it his ‘hobby’. It’s one of maybe ten in the world outside museums.” Jane said and continued to scroll.
Tim silently whistled. “I’ve only seen them in images. The two-dimensional ones, not the 3-D. And that was iced. Now you say you’ve got one? That is so rad, I may squee.”
“Well, squee over there, I think I’ve found it.” Jane typed the code into her forearm unit and unplugged the miniature portable power unit.
“No po way!” Tim swung his high-powered lantern illuminating the shelves like daylight.
Jane turned to him, faint contempt in her deep blue eyes. “Yes, it is possible, Tim. All information is available – if you know where to look, and know the right key to unlock the door.” She said with a faint smile and rose from the chair.
“Come on, the register books are this way.” And she pointed her own lantern in the direction of one of the aisles.
“Register books?” Tim asked as if she were speaking a foreign language.
“Register books. They were used to list file numbers and their locations.” She led him down a long corridor with shelves packed tight with the aforementioned files.
Tim brushed a hand along the backs. “What are they made of?”
“Dried and pressed wood pulp that’s then coloured or bleached.” Jane said and checked the tags that stuck out of the top of each shelf. Each tag had a number and a letter on it.