On her return to Qasr-e-qand she found the contents of the portable buildings of the original camp had been brought to Atlantis and there was a cook, one Amil Abu Shousi, who came with all the supporting equipment for a professional kitchen – This despite her protests to the contrary but at least she had avoided an influx of fans, air-conditioners, and generators. Could, she wondered, this cook be taught to cook as the Ancients? Could he be turned from the Ayatollah’s spy to the one of her own?
“Seems you’ve ‘ad a successful trip.”
“Very successful Commander, thank you,” she replied. “And you? Have you had some success with your studies?”
“I’m beginning to know how little I know – is that success?”
“It most certainly is – the very best success I’d say.”
“Just as well then ‘cause my old job seems to be slipping from under me.”
“Not true Commander. Your old job just became much bigger.”
John studied her face – watched those emerald eyes bright with fire. “Bigger, Meira? Or different?”
“Bigger, different and oh so much better. While I no longer need your security services here, I still need eyes and ears all over this planet. I need you to learn as much as you can from this place so you might raise your game. I need you to understand more about me so I can reach you – help you to watch over me and this place and all it represents. I need you to warn me when the Ayatollah wavers in his faith, when his subordinates become disloyal, when his enemies exceed his powers. Most of all, John Conway, I need your unending support for a long time.”
“A long time?”
“A very long time,” she smiled and watched his reactions; she had pressed the right buttons.
She awoke bright with the prospect of the days before her while the Bill Brown continued to sleep beside her. The union had been powerfully physical – the objective quickly achieved and repeated, over and over, just for the fun of it. She has his fluids and he hers so communication could begin on the level she needed to keep him safe – to keep him loyal. Her court was assembled; she could begin the real work.
Nigel Arrives in Iran
Sir Nigel Harper was born into privilege in both family, and education, but he would not have survived the rigors of such an upbringing unscathed, or risen so rapidly to royal recognition, without the blessing of a powerful memory and the innate cunning of the ambitious. He knew John Conway well, so it was clear to him that there were interests other than the pursuit of water franchises in this new combined enterprise. He was aware, too, that their relationship had undergone a shift of some magnitude. The how and what of these events though eluded him, vexing him, so when he was advised by the Foreign Office that another visit to the Iranian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tehran would be well received, he was quick to respond.
He sat across from Kavoosi at the huge, antique, desk in his opulent office. “Have your heard, Sir Nigel, of the progress of your water exploration team?”
“Very little Minister beyond that of Martin Cooper, my manger, who commented principally on his relations with First Lieutenant Poura Pouria.”
“One expects some cultural clashes Sir Nigel.”
“Have you not received reports from Commander Conway?”
“I have not Minister.”
“Is that not surprising?”
“Not really Minister – the arrangement was that I should provide the materiel support and that he would handle security and political affairs. If he has had no problems, and no great discoveries have been made, then there would be nothing to say.”
Kavoosi waited for Sir Nigel to continue. After a few seconds Sir Nigel added, “My most sincere apologies Minister if my partner has failed to keep your office informed of the company’s activities.”
Again the Minister waited. Sir Nigel added, “I will remind the Commander of his obligations to your office Minister.”
There was a short pause before Sir Nigel arose, bowed, and began to leave. Kavoosi stood, followed to the outer office, and as Sir Nigel departed, said to his secretary, “I want to know where that man goes, and to whom he speaks.”