The countryside of Turkey was an ever-changing canvas of deserts, forests and mountain ranges. So far Sydney, Nigel and Aaron had experienced all of the many different culturally rich regions. They had been on the move for four exhausting days now, Aaron assuring them over and over again that he didnít really need the map, and that with his recollections and some help from the locals he can find the exact site again. Almost the exact site, anyway. Sydney wasnít about to hold her breath and decided to try to put together a map of her own from their collective memories. Nigel had the most to say, as usual he had retained the most information, and Aaron was better at actual landmarks and the area overall. What she came up with was almost better than what they had started with, and now this would serve as their heavenly compass to the lost Ark.
"This is going to be the best we can do, so I hope you guys didnít miss a beat here." She said, and spread it out across her lap. "Once weíre in Gizre, weíre to head up Judi, right Aaron?"
"Yes, I have all our mountaineering equipment already there waiting for us, and at this rate weíll be there very soon. I just need to arrange a few men to help and weíre all set. No problem."
"I was wondering about something that Sydney mentioned before we left the States though... What about the Kurdish rebels? How likely is it we could run into these guys?" Nigel asked, not terribly convinced that Aaronís guarantee was all it was cracked up to be.
Aaron sat back on his haunches and placed his hands on his hips, not quite sure what to say. After the run in with Omar, and he was certain that wouldnít be quickly forgotten, he didnít really want to alarm them any further. He wasnít about to tell them Omar was secretly part of the PKK. "There are some groups that I know, and those arenít the boys we need worry about. Iíd be more concerned that once Omar gets his gear together heís going to come looking for us. Iím hoping weíll be well on our way up the mountain before that happens."
"Great... so we havenít seen the last of him, have we?" Sydney had a gut feeling that this was the case, but with everything else weighing on her mind, she just chose to dismiss the fact that they had gotten the upper hand on a blood hungry warlord. "I do hope weíll be properly protected Aaron, I donít want to be caught off guard like that again."
"Absolutely, thatís where my friends come into play. These guys are trained for this..."
"Theyíre terrorists, Aaron." Nigel unceremoniously pointed out.
"No, theyíre not. My friends are not the PKK, letís get that straight right now. Theyíre freedom fighters, and they have never harmed a civilian in their fight for the cause. If they had, I wouldnít be associated with them." He defended his position passionately, but his partners were having a hard time buying into his explanation after what they had experienced the night before. He was confident once they saw face to face whom they were dealing with, all those fears and suspicions would dissipate.
"Well, itís not quite paradise, but itís gonna be our home for the next day or so!" Aaron announced, jumping down from the tailgate into the bright spring sunshine, his boots disappearing beneath a thin layer of the crisp, white snow. They had finally made it up to the starting point of Cudi Dagh. He turned to offer Sydney a hand, but she bypassed him and hopped out on her own merit. Shaking his head, he relented. "All right then, letís get going."
There were eight of them all together. Nigel and Sydney had no experience with climbing and Aaron figured they would have to be watched at all times. Everyone was carrying their share, including Syd, and these packs were far from light-weight. However, true to her nature she said nothing, taking it onto her back and cinching it up tight. After hiking in a line for most of the day, Aaron dropped back to Sydney, tired of watching her hurt herself any longer.
"Iím really impressed that you would prefer to put yourself through this hell rather than confess the truth." He looked at her pained expression and sighed. "Sydney, the disagreement youíll have with Nigel over this far outweighs the risk youíre taking. I want you to tell him tonight after we break for camp."
"And I want you to keep your mouth shut."
"I mean it Aaron! Iím going to tell him, I am." She was really struggling with her load now, having been marching steadily up hill for the past six hours. "Iím going to wait for the right time, thatís all."
"Well, thereís certainly no time like the present! Nigel, drop back a bit will you, Sydney needs to talk to you!" He called out, his rough voice cutting into the sharp, mountain air. He knew she would kill him later, but for now he hoped she would just give in and trust Nigel enough to be truthful.
Sydney was notably mortified, and watched as Nigel stopped and turned, waiting for her.
"Whatís up Syd?" He asked as she got closer, and fell in beside her waiting for what ever it was she wanted to say.
Go to Part Twenty One.