Part One: Just A Twig

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord..." Placing the book down on her lap, Sydney looked up to find Nigel standing there, a stunned expression and his jaw agape. He looked like heíd just rolled out of bed, but then, she knew it had been more like hours. His off-white shirt was left untucked and wrinkled, and he could have at least dragged a comb through his wild mop of hair. She smiled and shook her head hopelessly.

"What was THAT all about?" He asked, and tucking his reading glasses into his shirt pocket an uncomfortable uneasiness suddenly washed over him. Sydney with a Bible in her hand was unusual, yet impossibly intriguing. "Youíre moonlighting for Sunday school and forgot to tell me about it?"

Sydney sighed. Sheíd toned down on the globetrotting since their last adventure to Europe to give them both some time to heal their bodies and their souls. Their lives now mainly consisted of a lot of paper grading and Chinese take-out, with a little domestic bliss in between the lines. It had been almost two months since either one of them was out of the city, let alone outside the States. She splayed her fingers out over a heavily soiled letter on her desk, and pushed it in Nigelís direction. "I just received this by messenger this morning. Itís from a former colleague of mine, Aaron Deleany. I worked largely in the Mediterranean with him about seven years ago." She lifted her sharp, coffee coloured hunterís eyes to the mildly sleep deprived bewildered gaze of her companion. "Heís got something Nigel, and itís really big. I just canít ignore this one."

He almost didnít want to even look. He knew what touching that yellowed, dog-eared parchment meant, and what it would most certainly bring crashing down around them in its wake. Reaching over, he slid the paper from her desk and blinking twice, settled his questioning hazel eyes on what he feared the most. He released a long suffering, defeated sigh after perusing the first few passages, and peered over the letter back to Sydneyís drop-dead serious face. "This says heís found what he believes is actually Noahís Ark. Sydney, come on..."

"Thatís right! If it was anyone else but Aaron telling me this Iíd dismiss it in a heartbeat. Aaronís dream was to locate the Ark, that was his lifeís work, and I think he may have achieved it!"

"You know as well as I do most of what the archaeologists have found up there has been explained dead away. Theyíve proved that the findings are NOT the ark. Sydney, itís not like you to believe in something so, so far fetched! Not to mention bursting at the seams with terrorist, gun toting arms smugglers!"

"Nigel, thatís the point! It isnít far fetched at all!" She got up from her seat and rushed to his side, pointing out on the hand drawn map a different location from the original excavation site. Completely ignoring Nigelís terrorist remark she continued. "Aaron was exploring an area 200 miles south of Ararat, Mount Judi, or as the locals call it, Cudi Dagh!"

"The Karduchian Mountains..."

"The Assyrians called it Mount Nipur. Itís barely twenty-five miles from the Tigris River and just east of Gizre, but certainly well within the biblical boundaries of Ararat! We wonít have to waste much time on location hunting with this, look. He left the co-ordinates here, and heís asking for my help. I want to do this, regardless of the dangers, but I will understand if you choose not to."

Sydney gripped Nigel by the forearm and made him look at her. He could see clearly what he had to do, and without flinching forced a confident smile for her sake. He couldnít about to let her go to a place as hazardous at that without him. His heart wouldnít allow that. "And he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came in to him in the evening and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. Just as we will set forth, and hopefully we return with more than just a twig!"

Go to Part Two.

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