Megan had studied the papers in near silence. She asked a question here or there, but little more. At last she returned the papers to the file and closed it.
"Remarkable. Utterly remarkable. I wonder what it was like, the figure he saw?" she mused.
"Peter has told me about your project, Megan. And I agree with him. Weíd be willing to fund you, provided we could go along. All the credit would be yours, regardless."
She only hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Done. When can we leave?"
Anton and Peter exchanged looks. "Tomorrow morning?"
"Peter, choose your team. Youíre Case Manager on this one."
Getting the mobile lab on site proved a little bit more than difficult. In the end it had to be air-lifted to keep the sensitive instruments from being damaged beyond repair by jolting over the rough terrain.
Natasha was the only member of the Alpha team Peter had chosen to bring with the group, since she had been part of the first expedition in New Mexico, and also because she was an anthropologist. Fortunately, the weather, though unseasonably warm, was much milder than it had been six months before, which would make their job easier.
Megan was pacing like a caged lion around the mobile lab.
"Settle down, Megan. We just want to be sure itís safe to enter and work in."
"I understand, Peter, I really do. But why is it taking so long?"
Just then Natasha approached them. "Everything checks out okay, Peter."
"Thanks, Tasha. Another ten minutes and she would have worn a hole right through to the desert."
Both women were hard pressed not to laugh, and Peter made it worse by extending his palm and giving a little half-bow. "Madame, your carriage awaits. Never mind itís a jeep."
Natasha made a strangling sound and vanished; Megan looked at him, hands on her hips, half-provoked, half-amused. "Iím keeping score, Peter," she warned, her voice trembling with suppressed laughter.
Peter grinned impishly, then grew serious. "Have you got your canteen, flashlight, everything?"
She nodded. "Can we go now? Iím dying to show you those symbols I was telling you about."
The petroglyph cave was a half-mile from the mobile lab, and they soon closed the distance. A couple of team members milled around the entrance, taking measurements and making calculations.
Peter and Megan entered the cave together, waiting till their eyes adjusted a little before turning on their lights. Immediately Peter looked closely at the wall.
"What are you looking for?"
"To see if this cave was sealed from the inside, like the other one."
It was a while before Peter shook his head. "Nope. No finger marks."
Megan gave a sigh of relief. "Iím glad."
Peter looked at her. "Okay; show me those markings."
She led him deeper into the cave and into a rounded cul-de-sac.
At first Peter flashed his light around. "Megan, this canít be a natural chamber! It had to be carved out of the solid rock!"
"I know, Peter, I know. So was Petra HouseĖin Jordan."
"Petra House?" He was puzzled.
"Iím sure you know it. You just donít know you know it. The Ďlost cityí in ĎThe Last Crusade?í"
"Oh, yeah! Sure! Love that movie!"
"So do I," she smiled. "Now look, Peter."
He leaned forward and recognized the symbols he had seen in the other cave in New Mexico: Figures with triangular bodies, tapering from top to bottom, figures with crescent-shaped headgear, and numerous hand prints.
Another symbol caught his eye. It was shaped like a spider, and he pointed it out to Megan.
"The Spider Grandmother. Sort of a goddess in their eyes."
Megan laughed. "Why yes! She spun the moon."
His eyes swept the chamber again. "Boy, Megan, you were right. This is fan-tastic!"
"Come here, Peter. This is what I really want you to see."
She flashed her light on the ceiling of the chamber. There above them was a map of the stars!
"Turn off your light for a second," she said quietly.
It was in the total darkness that the ceiling began to glow like the stars!
Stunning Peter into speechlessness was an almost unheard-of accomplishment. The longer they stood there, the brighter the faint light grew, until it was literally almost like a starry night in the chamber.
When Megan turned her light back on, she noticed Peter was pale, and that his eyes were large and dark.
"Well, what do you think, Peter? And I havenít even begun to show you what Iíve found."
Peter shook his head. "Did-did you notice the roof took on a bluish tinge, like the night sky?"
She nodded. "I wonder how they accomplished that?"
He flashed his light upwards, studying it intensely and frowning a little in concentration.
"What is it?"
"I was just trying to place that star pattern."
"Hmm, well, thereís definitely Orion, but thatís about all I know of astronomy."
He lifted the digital camera off his belt. "Iíll take a picture of this and download it into the computer. It should tell us in a matter of seconds."
"Wait, Peter, look!" She pointed to a symbol painted on the rock wall. It was a diamond-shaped symbol arranged in a simple maze. "This is a sacred Anasazi symbol!"
They left the cave in a semi-stunned state, blinking and flinching as they re-entered the desert heat and light. Both felt like they were returning from another world and time.
Peter started to get into the jeep, then gave a strangled yelp and jumped back about three feet. A snake lay coiled on the driverís seat!