Chapter XXVIII

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Earth. 3rd Planet from the star, Sol, Italy, Rome,

Eighteen Earth Years Ago

Giovana flicked on the light switch, illuminating a pine-paneled office lined with old books and even older paintings. "You still miss digging in the dirt with that damn German, don't you, Emilio?" she asked, observing her husband as he sat at his computer intently watching the Church of the Holy Man's press conference for the twentieth time.

Emilio squinted at his wife and shook his head. "No, tesoro mio...well, sì, a little," he replied, returning his attention to the screens.

"You are a liar, my husband. It is a lot more than a little," Giovana said with a laugh. She could clearly see the man's stern expression from her vantage point in the doorway; the way he stared at his panel of glowing monitors, examining the events playing repeatedly on their screens. She wiped her hands on her apron and turned, speaking over her shoulder, "Well, that is your old life, you chose me over him and his wild adventures, remember? Come along, mi amore, dinner is ready."

"You lucky bastard you, Julius Mannheim, you finally found it," Emilio whispered under his breath. "You found your 'why'."

"Are you coming?" Giovana called from the dining room.

"Va bene!" Emilio replied. He sat up and stretched, turning in his leather office chair to join his wife for supper.

Rrriiinngggg!!! 

Emilio's cellphone clattered on the glossy surface of his desk, the noise halting his journey to the dining room and the waiting warm meal. He contemplated ignoring the annoying device.

Emilio stopped and sighed, then spun back around to see who was bugging him afterhours. The Italian recognized the number on the screen. It was Julius. He slid his finger across the glassy surface of the device and placed it to his ear. "Hello? Julius, my old friend, is that you?"

Static. "Hallo?..." pops and more static. "Can...you...hear me?"

"Barely, what's going on?"

Garbled audio, static, "I...need y...help...don't have...much time."

Giovana walked in, "Are you coming..."

Emilio raised a hand indicating for his wife to wait and pointed to the phone at his ear. "Are those explosions, what is that noise, Julius?"

"...warn you..."Crackling noises and static. "The woman in...pictures...she killed..." Click!

Emilio slowly lifted the phone from his ear and looked at the device. He turned his face to his wife and could tell from her expression that she knew something was wrong.

"What is it, mi amore? Why do you look so frightened?" his wife asked. "What explosions?"

"It was Julius. He sounded fearful and that idiot is never scared. I know there was a lot of noise on the line, but I swear some of it sounded like he was in combat." Emilio shook the idea off. "That was probably his sat-phone and it's kind of noisy, however, I did hear him clearly say, the woman in the pictures killed."

"Who? The one in the photos? In the tomb? She killed somebody?" Giovana asked incredulously.

"I think so. He couldn't possibly be referring to anyone else."

"That's impossible, Emilio. I may only be a tour guide, but she is 160,000 years old, there is no way," Giovana said emphatically. "The woman was obviously mummified very well, I give whoever did that a lot of credit, but she is in no way alive. It's obvious your German friend is drunk again."

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