It took less than an hour to find and test the nearest aquifer but sadly it was sour – sour to smell, and sour in appearance. They didn’t taste it. They moved on, drilling quickly and easily in ground free of hard, drill-bit-shattering, material. Each drilling took them further from the city – stretching their resources, increasing their logistical problems and heightening their exposer.
“We need to drill deeper,” Bill announced to no one in particular. “We need to go deeper than the volcanic layer.”
“Or shallower,” Peter said, not as a declaration, more as an open proposal.
“How so?” Meira was intrigued.
“We’re following the satellite images which are reflections from the larger masses of water. Depth isn’t so much of a problem given the radar frequencies used when mapping these images. We’re looking at the biggest pools of water, which are the oldest ones – the ones buried deeper by volcanic ash. The ash would have contained fluorine all right, but is would have exploded.”
“Exploded – underground – where it’s dark and cool?” There was just the slightest hint of derision in Bill’s voice.
If Peter heard it he ignored it; he just continued in his usual, quietly confident, tone. “Fluorine reacts explosively with hydrogen. It doesn’t need light or heat to make big bangs and all sorts of by-products. Nah, we don’t want that water. We need to find smaller aquifers – newer ones not fucked by fluorine.”
They sat in the shade of the helicopter to study the radar images. “If what Peter says is true,” Bill ventured, “then these images are of no use to us.”
“Of course it’s true,” Meira snapped. “Peter’s problems in this life all stem from the fact that he always speaks the truth. He speaks truth in huge, indigestible quantities that are too much for those of limited capacity.”
Surprised faces turned at the passion in her outburst. Peter grinned. Ben raised an eyebrow. She was as defensive as cat when it came to her nearest.
Bill rocked back, his assurance diminished, but he recovered quickly. “So suggestions?”
“Let’s use your surface analysis Bill,” Ben offered. “You have, I understand, “some experience of finding water in desolate places.”
Finding Carbonated Aquifers
They worked the rest of the day under Bill’s supervision – boring test holes into the terrain wherever he instructed and indeed they did, on the forth attempt, find water. Perhaps it was more accurate to say the water found them because it came vomiting out of the ground in a foaming shower that left them all open mouthed and dripping. Peter began laughing and laughing and laughing – like a drain, he roared chuckled and stamped his feet in the downpour and yelling, “I knew it. I fucking knew it. Carbonated fucking aquifers. I fucking knew it. Yee-ha!”
The others stood back, mystified at his ravings, wondering if he had lost his balance in the heat and altitude and toppled over the edge of reason. Meira, seeing the amazement on Ben and Bill’s faces, intervened to explain, “Finally he has confirmation of his theories about the functions of the pyramids at Giza. Finally the last piece is in place. We should be happy for him.”
“I might be – if I knew what he was on about. I might be out there looning about in the water with him – if I knew what he’s on about,” argued Bill, wearing a thin smile and dripping with water and scepticism in about equal quantities.
“Peter, like most thinking folks, has long believed that the explanations on offer as to the function of the great pyramids – from burial tombs to entrance ways of subterranean cities – do not, in any way, balance the enormous effort and expense that went into their construction. He believes, as do most thinking folks, that they had to have a vital function – a function sufficient to justify the efforts involved. To that effect he has, for years now, been examining such things as the way the irregular sized blocks fitted to each other – possibly to make them tolerant to earthquakes. He has been measuring, taking careful note of dimensions, angles, slopes, and volumes, to form his own theories. He has also been studying the climate – in particular the water table – and its effects on the populations over the last twelve millennia and has come to the conclusion that the pyramids were built to make rain.”
“Rain?” Bill and Ben were one.
“Rain.” She held up her arms to the water bursting up and pouring over them.
Peter, dripping and grinning like the proverbial cat, joined them. “This,” he began, “this is the raw carbonated aquifer. They’re all over – all over the fucking place. Everywhere you look you will find aquifers like this, just as the Egyptians – fuck the Egyptians, the Mems – found them. The pyramids are gateways, control valves if you like, or sprinklers – as in suburban lawns – that control this.” He waved at the water gushing and popping upward ever higher. “They were solar machines controlling the water. What could be more important? What could be more worthwhile? It’s so fucking simple. Good science is always so fucking simple.”
Meira and Ben moved away from the waterfall to the shade of the helicopter where Bill’s drilling team stood hunched from the drifting damp. “Do you think this is how the water entered the city?” Bill asked.
“Almost certainly,” she said. “The water in that underground tank was probably there to settle prior to being filtered and purified for domestic use.”
“If it’s toxic we have to get it out of there.”
“We do,” she said thoughtfully. “We do – but how?”
“Presumably the same way the Ancients did.”
‘Yes. Yes – we have to make the city work again. We have to start the solar engine.”