Part One: It Began to Dawn on Them
[May 9, 2072 Renton, The 77 Club]
Fabulous Ferret invites one and all to join him at this very ritzy establishment at the behest of his own Johnson who helped him beat the heat in LA sometime back. In this incantation, Mrs. Johnson is a brown haired elven woman going by the name of Jane, [Hi, where’s Tarzan?’] with a dragon shaped ring. She knows of a private antiquities collector who is missing an item. She shows them a photo of an elf, one Samriel Lockwood, who supposedly has the item. The item itself is some sort of armillary sphere navigational sextant, whatever that is. The only real fly in the ointment is that the item is in the god forsaken city of Lagos. They are going to have to fly to Cairo, Egypt, from there to Akra, capital of Niger, and then by bush pilot to Lagos. And they must leave ASAP! Lagos, what is that they say about Lagos? Oh, yeah, Ares Arms Africa, and Logos is rumoured to be the center of that activity.
[May 10, 2072 Personas Non Gratis 2AM]
Emerald does her best to get ready for the perilous journey. Once ‘ready’ she sends a com to the others.
‘OK, I had my shots, and a couple of other shots. Now about supplies, got a waterproof carry bag for my stuff, water filter, iodine tablets, waterproof outer wear, anti malaria pills, lube for my metal stuff, mosquito repellent and netting. . . ..
Anybody got any other ideas???’
Not surprisingly she gets one, and only one reply. It is from Doc. It reads, “Dramamine.” Ok, she’ll get some, make that lots, of Dramamine.
[May 10, 2072 Seatack Airport, Seattle and beyond]
With ‘Jane,’ the Team boards an Oceanic Airline flight to Cairo.
Well, my bags are packed, I’m ready to go,
I’m standing here outside your door,
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.
But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn,
The taxis waiting he’s blowing his horn,
Already I’m so lonesome I could cry.
Emerald’s mind is already back in the Snoqualmie Forest seeing his familiar face in the rear view mirror as she motors away, not looking back.
. . . . .
Leaving on a Jet plane,
Don’t know when I’ll be back again.
Oh God, I hate to go
—Leaving on a Jet Plane, John Denver 1966
The in flight movie is one Emerald has seen many times, Pretty Woman. Wren remarks that the film is right up Emerald’s alley. Openly, Emerald agrees.
Pretty woman, walking down the street
Pretty woman, the kind I like to meet
I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
No one could look as good as you
—Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison, 1964
But inwardly, she knows better. ‘If only they knew, but I guess my act has them fooled. So far I’ve talked the talk. Just hope when the time comes I’ll be able to walk the walk.’
During the long flight some info is shared as some have done some homework research on the topic of this Samriel Lockwood. It seems there is an organization known as the Atlantian foundation which is attempting to recreate the lost continent of Atlantis. Associated in some way with this foundation is a group known as the Mystic Crusaders—a warrior society which guards the world against magical threats. And, one Samriel Lockwood is one of these Mystic Crusaders. Perhaps he figures the item will help find the lost continent?
As the flight continues ad infinitum, Emerald drifts off, sleeping soundly in the comfort of dreams of the forest.
[May 11, 2072 Akra, the airport, and beyond]
Having survived the flight to Cairo, and then from there to Akra, the Team arrives at beautiful Akra International airport, which gives dumps a bad name. Waiting for them is one Innocent Dupree, their pilot for the flight to Lagos. The plane seems to be held together by the rust corroding it. And Dupree believes that the world is a smoking section. For reasons known only to the insane, they board this ‘aircraft’ for the flight. Walking through the jungle would have been a better choice, at least in Emerald’s eyes. It is during this flight, this seemingly endless flight, that she recalls all those childhood prayers. She takes the opportunity that the smoke anywhere policy affords her, and smokes that of her choice. And, she now realizes the wisdom of Doc’s ‘dramamine.’ It becomes a very brief flight for her.
[May 12, 2072 Lagos, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, 600 Hrs]
As they finally near their destination, somehow still alive, Emerald recalls some of Tyrunn’s lyrics once more:
‘The seatbelt light is on now. Soon we’re going to land,
My legs they are so bent and cramped don’t know if I’ll be able to stand.
Taxiing along the runway the terminal is near,
I welcome that morbid sounding sight without worry, without fear.
—9:56 California Time, Tyrunn, 2007
As if there were any seatbelts, and the ‘terminal’ is a Quonset hut. So much for the ‘without fear’ part. This site made Emerald long for the comfort of the beautiful airport in Akra. Once off, Emerald follows another of Tyrunn’s lines and ‘kisses the ground she walks upon,’ in spite of all its infectious potential. Once inside the airport, they get a quick lesson in ‘paying the piper’ Lagosian style, as every palm needs to be ‘greased.’ After exchanging some NY for Lion tokens, they engage a scooter taxi, the very aptly names Reckless Cabs driven by Reckless himself, for a joy ride of some 18 km to the hotel, the luxury hotel, the Porto Neuvo, in Apapa.
[May 12, 2072 Lagos, the Porto Neuvo Luxury Hotel, and touring the city 10AM-1PM]
The accommodations in the luxury hotel are exactly as to be expected. Emerald opens the door to her room with optimism.
Mirrors on the ceiling,
Pink Champagne on ice.
She says, “We are all just prisoners here,
Of our own device.”
—Hotel California, The Eagles, 1977
Unfortunately the only thing on the ceiling is water stain from the room above, or at least one hopes it is ‘water stain.’ On the plus side, each room does come with its own insect trap- a giant lizard which eats the almost as large cockroaches. Each floor comes with its own ‘guard’ who has to be ‘convinced’ to not rob their room. What more could one ask of luxury accommodations?
Apparently, a lot as the very sight of his room gives Ferret instant dysentery. He takes to the lavatory and remains there. Shenanigans , [aka Sheena for short] is struck almost silent, distant, as if she is far away, yet still around.
Once settled into their suites, and since the rooms are not very conducive to sleeping, the team heads for the market. One particular store stands out – Laventis Store- where certain specialty items can be purchased. Eventually Doc confirms that Lockwood is in town, or coming into town at the airport. ‘Good thing I got that guy’s card.’ Once again in Reckless’ Reckless Cab and off to the airport. Naturally, this simple trip is even more fun this time as they come upon a truck of slavers accosting a bus load of potential slaves. Not really their concern until certain nasty things start happening to certain female passengers. As this point Emerald decides to take action, and as advised by the others, creates a scary sight, a toxic tar spirit. With Wren’s help the slavers are convinced that it is real and everyone runs for it, everyone including Reckless. It is left to Emerald to pilot the scooter cab to the airport. How hard can that be? About ten yards and one grand explosion later, they find out. ‘My rides all have CAP on them. Stupid back wood countries.’
[May 12, 2072 Lagos, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, 2PM]
A forty minute walk to the airport proves fruitless. Samriel is not at the airport any longer. He has come and gone, via helicopter, to the royal palace of the King of Yoruba!
May 12, 2072 Lagos, the Porto Neuvo Luxury Hotel and the Market, 6PM]
‘It takes a thief to catch a thief.’ When properly ‘encouraged,’ the fellow who is guarding their floor, Peaceful, tells of one Kayin at the amulet market in the shop Oshodi Solo who knows about items of interests. The password is, “Emile sent us.” ‘Oh boy, a password! Where’s that old Betty White when we need her?’
At this shop they find out that they are not the only ones looking for this item. And, as always, for the right amount of currency, they learn that Samriel has been here asking about the same item. ‘You mean he does NOT have it?’ And they look at Jane.
Emerald is reminded of one of those B&W films her father bored her with. When Louie asks Rick why he came to Casablanca, Rick replies, “The waters,” and Louie says that Casablanca is in the desert.
“I was misinformed.” Rick deadpans.
—Humphrey Bogart to Claude Rains, Casablanca, 1942
They also learn that there will be a viewing of many valuable and rare items at the aforementioned Royal Palace the next day. Yes, they can get an invite, for even more money.
[May 13, 2072 Ife, Yoruba, The Royal Palace]
The Team arrives at the Palace as official invitees, and is allowed to stay in one very nice room until time for the viewing.
The viewing is held in the vault, one very impressive Vault. Emerald spends her time wondering how she would break into it and deciding that she could not. ‘The Palace maybe, but not into here.’ The item will have to be purchased. But then, while Samriel Lockwood is here, speaking to a red haired elf, the item they have come halfway around the world for is not. Fortunately, there is an item of interest to Jane, and therefore to them. There is a map – the Piri Reis Map, a very rare item. Legend has it that it was drawn by a Turkish cartographer, c. 1513. It shows that coastline of Antarctica without the ice. Hmmm . . And, as Wren notes, when viewed astrally, the map has hidden features.
They do get to enjoy the formal dinner, a very sumptuous affair. ‘Too bad Ferret is still sick. This is the perfect occasion for his dinner jacket.’
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
The stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast.
—Hotel California, The Eagles, 1977
Unfortunately, no invitation to the auction is forthcoming. They have no choice but to retire to their rooms and plan an alternate strategy. In the midst of deciding whose invite they might try to snatch, they are interrupted at 11PM by the Palace guards who suspect them of theft. Once the guards’ suspicions have been quashed the team does learn that the statue of the king’s grandfather has been stolen. Hmm . . . now if they could recover it, that just might get them a date to the prom.