Sir Wilfred thought for a moment, and started riffling through his stacks of pictures. “Hmmm…” he murmured. “Here, this is the Antarctic pyramid gallery, this is the one in the Himalaya and this is the South American one.” He placed them on the table, and I found my photos of the moon pyramid gallery. “They are all the same, but different.” He observed. “Look. This in the Antarctic pyramid – they are a solar system, and views of life on inhabited planets. But not the same solar system, nor the same planets. These show more dessert- like planets. Not a lot of water, or large growths, like trees, while yours show planets that are strikingly Earth-like.”
We examined the photos of the other two galleries, and they showed solar systems and planets different from one another, and from the other two. The one in the Himalayas had depictions of a world that is almost all water. In the other, the pictures were of a world covered in jungle. Yet there were enough similarities in the buildings, transportation and farms shown that indicated that they were all settled by the same, or very similar, races.
“Whoever they were who built those pyramids, they must have had a galaxy wide civilization.” I said. I was getting more and more excited. Had we, at last, discovered concrete evidence of life out there, in space? Intelligent life? Yes, we had discovered planets with life forms, but none that showed anymore intelligence than an aardvark. I turned to Sir Wilfred. “What if they are still out there? If we could find out which machine is the communicator, and could get it working – think of it! We could be the first to make contact with them!”
He stood staring at the pictures for several minutes, then looked up at me. “Do you know anyone who might be able to do it? And who would be willing to throw in his lot with us? We may yet have to defy the government on this. Once the article is published, all hell could break loose.”
“Yes!” I said. “I know the chances we are taking, and I know just the man for the job. Stew MacLean! He was discharged, just like I was, as soon as he came back to Earth. He had managed to get two other machines working in our pyramid, and was slowly compiling a list of words, when they said they were going to put an ESIA team in. He and Tony were shipped home not long after I was. Tony didn’t care, but Stew was really upset. He called me about it, and I hinted that something might be done. He said if he could get at the pictures of the machines, a close-up of the keyboards, he could work out the language. Shall l I call him now?”
“Earth Secret Intelligence Agency, eh? ”Sir Wilfred grinned. “Yes, call him now and tell him to come as soon as he can. Meanwhile, we can look over the pictures and see about enlarging any that show keyboards. But we won’t give any of that information in the article. We’ll keep it pretty general, just more or less an account of the discoveries. Let’s not let the government know just how much we do know. We can get the article done and off to the publisher in the next day or two. Then, after Stew has had a few days to see all the photos, and study the keyboards, we can all pack up and go see my pyramids.”
“Great!” I said. “But what if the government puts a stop on the publishing? They can prevent any publishing company from disclosing what they think is ‘too sensitive’ for the general public.” That was something that had been drifting around in my mind for a while now.
“No problem,” he answered, chuckling. “I own World Wide Publishing, and have a carte blanche to publish whatever I wish. I had that out with them years ago, when they tried to prevent me from publishing the articles on the huge waste of money in the space agency. The executives were living high off the hog, skimming cash from the funds that were supposed to be going into the safety of the spaceships. That was what caused the crash of the Investigator.”
“Oh, yes, I remember that. Billions in parties, dinners and trips, and a simple connection screwed up by a faulty relay. One hundred lives lost. Yes, I remember the uproar that caused. Ok, in that case, I’ll stop worrying about ESIA. Excuse me a minute while I call Stew.” I moved off to the other side of the room and made the call. There was no problem at all getting his agreement. He was so excited he was almost incoherent. Turning back to Sir Wilfred, I told him Stew would be here within the hour.
“Wonderful!” he almost shouted it, with a big grin on his face. “I’ll have Benedict prepare rooms for you both. If you are willing to trust him, you can give him your keys, and he will bring whatever you need from your place. Call Stew back and tell him to pack for a long stay. I think it will be best if both of you sort of disappear from sight for a while.” I grinned, called Stew and caught him just heading out. “Done!”