1) “The Fields of Yaru” (Egypt)


Within the dark labyrinth of an archaeological dig in the Egyptian desert, Jill, a spunky Australian archaeologist, her Egyptian colleague Mez, two workmen, and a French student, Axel, open a sarcophagus. They are disappointed to find it has already been looted in ancient times and only contains a few artifacts. One of them, a papyrus roll, reads like a curse. It directs them to a clue in the tomb's hieroglyphics, which leads them to two tunnels. Against Mez's advice, Jill enters the second, narrower tunnel. Exiting it, she falls into a corridor, surprised to see torches on the wall. There, she must fight off several sacred cobras. It is only when she follows a funeral procession led by a priest and followers in ancient Egyptian clothing to a grand hall that she realizes she has been transported back in time over two thousand years. She witnesses the complex rituals conducted by the gods in the Egyptian afterlife. A person's life is weighed on a scale and must balance itself out with a feather from the goddess of Truth. Otherwise, the soul is given to Ammit, a horrible monster. Once a person is judged pure, a beautiful landscape appears and the person is reborn in a sacred lake. Jill is spellbound by the experience until two guards, whose demeanor and appearance make her think they don't belong in the past either, interrupt her daydream. Will Jill be able find a portal back to the present and continue her adventures around the globe?

2) “The Bat Cave” (New Mexico)



Jill and Mez wrap up a day’s work in the lofty cliff dwellings once inhabited by the ancient Mimbres culture. Mez reprimands Jill, not only that she shouldn't go out alone like in Egypt, but also how she needs to be more careful when "digging." (mention scraping hieroglyphs). She promises. This leads to discussion about Jill's father, Malcolm, who disappeared years ago during one of his digs, and Jill's strange experience in Egypt. Jill now remembers that one of the guards had blue eyes, but Mez continues to think the whole thing was all in her head. As they are leaving, they discover a black and white pot with a stylized bat and a hole in the middle. This "kill" pot sucks Jill and Mez in through the hole, where they meet the "Three Sisters," representing the main foods of the Southwest: corn, beans, and squash, and their pet dog, Tutu ("sister" in southern Tiwa). The thirteenth century is a time of drought in the southwest, and the people are being forced to search for food further and further away. The "Creator" firmly roots the sisters into the ground so they can never be separated, and the sisters morph into their namesake plant. Unfortunately, a mountain lion shows up out of nowhere. Is he acting on his own, Jill wonders, noticing a tall, dark silhouette pass through the trees and vanish. Also, the cougar doesn't seem interested in attacking the sisters, but Jill, Mez, and Tutu (who the sisters have convinced Jill to adopt). It is up to them to distract the big cat, and they lead him on a dangerous chase. Only with the help of a real, live bat will they be able to escape. Jill gets an inkling these strange experiences have to do with her father's disappearance and decides the first place to look for clues is Australia. Skeptical Mez is now convinced something strange is going on.

3) “The Dreaming” (Australia)


Jill finally takes a trip back to her native land. She reunites with her mother, Julia, who never wanted Jill to follow in her father's footsteps and doesn't let her forget it, their relationship tense. While on a "walkabout" in the outback with an Aboriginal guide, Jill, Mez, and Tutu see the animals drawn in "The Dreaming," a time out of time when the first ancestors walked the earth. Jill wants to test the age of the paintings and scrapes a minute bit of rock off the wall. The animals come to life and become their spirit guides (interacting with Tutu) into the Aboriginals' ancestral stories and ceremonies. Realizing how important one's heritage is, Jill resolves to look into her own past once she gets back home. She rummages through her Dad's things and finds his journal, which was sent to Julia after Malcolm's disappearance. The last entries are cryptic. He mentions having discovered the existence of an unbelievable artifact that he is doing research on, but he fears that he is being followed. The very last entry only says that if anything should happen to him, Jill should go to Ireland and get help from cousin Liam. She confronts Julia with this information, who admits she never read the journal out of respect for Malcolm's privacy. Both worried, mother and daughter warm just a tad to each other before Jill takes off again.

4) “Tara” (Ireland)


Jill, Mez, and Tutu travel to the Emerald Isle. Jill makes the acquaintance of eccentric cousin Liam. He gives her a useful piece of information, namely that her old trowel, given to her by Malcolm ages ago, is the magic tool that allows her to find time portals. Jill is dubious, although she remembers that the trowel lead her to the past in both Egypt and New Mexico. She tests it out by touching (not scraping!) one of the ancient standing stones dotting the sheep-filled (which Tutu attempts to herd like a border collie) landscape, and it transports our trio to a grove of trees in the 7th century, when Christianity was taking over Ireland. There, they not only witness the ceremonies of the druids, but also hear about an unusual object that was stolen by two men a few years before. They broke open a sacred ogham (the Druids' writing) stone to get to it. The Celts' holy men describe it as a circular object with "teeth," which sounds like a gear of some type. When Jill and Mez hear the description of the two men, they immediately recognize one of them as Malcolm. He's alive, Jill jubilates, but then wonders who the other man is, and why would they steal this object from the druids? Once back in the present, Jill, Mez, and Liam read the journal's last entries more closely and come to the conclusion that Malcolm is in some kind of trouble. Liam has studied ancient Greek, and thinks the object is originally from there. Liam suggests it could be a piece of an Antikythera Mechanism-type object, which was an ancient computer-like machine, but where is the rest of it and what did it do? To find out how it ended up in Ireland, Jill, Mez, and Tutu decide to continue their journey to Greece to look for the origin and use of the object.

5) “Mistaken Identity” (Greece)


Once in Greece, Jill thinks the mystery might be connected to another, the lost city of Atlantis. Jill, Mez, and Tutu descend deep into the ocean in a small diving capsule in order to discover if any traces of Atlantis remain underwater beneath the island of Santorini. The bizarre, prehistoric, deep-sea creatures that inhabit the ocean floor attack them, including a giant squid. It shoots black ink, momentarily covering the capsule's window. Jill goes outside and uses her trowel to scrape the liquid off. When the capsule resurfaces, they lose control of it and crash land on the shores of not Atlantis, but Helike, another city that sank in 373 BC during an earthquake and subsequent tsumani. Mother Nature has started to wreak havoc, and the city is in total chaos. Jill catches one of the "Egyptian" guards trying to steal a papyrus document, and Mez recognizes him as one of the henchmen for Blake Duncan, a private treasure hunter who drowned trying to get to a sunken ship's treasure. Tutu bites the man's leg, letting Jill grab the precious document. The man disappears into the fleeing crowd on a ship. Our heroes are able to leave in the capsule just as the tsunami hits. Safe inside, they learn the story of Atlantis's fate in this copy of a much older document. "Apollo asked the Pythia, the priestess/oracle at his temple in Delphi, to give him a prophecy, specifically if his next targeted conquest would succumb to his charms. For once, the oracle came up empty. Apollo then asked Khronos to fashion an instrument, called the Mellongnosia, that would give its owner knowledge of the future. Apollo hid it on Atlantis. However, Zeus found out and thought this object was too dangerous for even him to possess. He ordered Kratos, the god of power and strength, to break it into several pieces, and then had the Animoi, the wind gods, scatter them over the planet in the eight main directions and with Khronos' help, at different time periods, so that nobody could possess it. In retaliation for helping Apollo, Atlantis was sunk under the water in a great wave."

6) “Ball Game” (Mexico)


Now they know what the object is, but where, and when, are the other seven parts? Jill and Mez reason that Malcolm must be after the missing pieces, along with Blake Duncan, who faked his own death. They are both shocked that Malcolm would help a known treasure hunter. However, they come to the conclusion that he is being forced somehow to help Duncan who, for personal gain, wants to predict where future archaeological finds are going to take place, so he can get there first to dig up the treasures for himself. They ponder what to do next, trying to come up with any possible leads. Jill finally remembers her Dad's tattoo, a strange Maya glyph that Malcolm had told Jill meant "peace and love." Using an online Maya dictionary, they are perplexed to not find the glyph of the tattoo anywhere, until they realize it's actually a combination of three glyphs, meaning "time," "opening," and "enter." This is Malcolm's time portal! "Not to be morbid," Mez says, "but why didn't Blake just kill Malcolm and cut off the tattoo?" Jill cringes at that, but deduces it must be a "live" time portal. Anyway, being only an amateur, wouldn't Duncan need Malcolm's invaluable knowledge to know where to look next? Not really knowing where to go next, they may as well go to Mexico. Watching an Ulama match, a dangerous ball game played by some young boys in present day Mexico, Jill ducks when the ball goes out of bounds, and it touches the trowel sticking out of her pack. She, Mez, and Tutu are transported to the gigantic stone ball courts once used by the Mayas. They experience this mortal sport being played in its infancy, about 3500 years ago, when both men and women participated, dressed in elaborate protective gear. They guess the object is hidden inside one of the balls, but discover it's one of the sacred balls, which are stored at the end of the Maya's highway to hell. After passing all the trials, they make it to paradise, but there are so many balls. Tutu gets a hint as to which one from a hummingbird, the tiny, feisty birds Maya warriors decorated their shields with. Jill and Mez get this piece of the machine before Duncan and Malcolm and are glad to get the "hell" out of there.

7) “Painted Ponies” (France)


Having made a list of possible destinations and time periods, France ends up on the list, a place where an old friend happens to be working. In addition, they need all the help they can get. Having learned French and been taken on as a field intern, Ali joins them here to assist with their research. And four heads are better than three. Jill gets her own head out of the rocks, or clouds rather, and finally notices the handsome young man. Mez notices as well, and watches them like a hawk. Our intrepid heroes go back in time twice: once to 1940, when the Lascaux cave was first discovered, by a dog (who Tutu becomes fast friends with), and then further back to prehistory, around 20,000 years ago. There, they meet the artists who created these beautiful cave paintings in southwestern France, as well their subjects: the horses, mammoths, bison, etc. Jill arrives in time to see her father stealing the next piece hidden inside a stalactite, after Duncan smashes the rock icicle to bits. Malcolm tells her as he and Duncan are about to disappear, "I have to help him." Jill cries out after him, "Why?" He hesitates a second and replies, "The city of western-" He has no time to finish, as Duncan yanks him through the portal. "The score so far: Duncan: 2. Time Travel Team: 1." The field notes will mention the present danger threatening this fragile masterpiece and world heritage site, and will also mention the even older Chauvet Cave and how the lessons of the past have been learned in protecting this site.

8) “Stone Soldiers” (China)


Jill, Mez, Tutu, and Ali have another riddle to solve. The city of western "what?" Is it in the "western" world somewhere? During their rare breaks at the B&B in France, Jill unsuccessfully tries to teach Tutu the command "fetch." Finally, after some research, they figure out it is actually in the eastern part of Asia. It is a city now called X'ian, in central China. Its former name was the city of "Western Peace." After their long flight there, they imagine the best place to look first is where all the tourists flock to view the famous terra cotta army. Dating from the third century BC and each one unique, the soldiers stand guard over their ruler's tomb. Our heroes make their way to the past, the soldiers are reborn to defend their emperor from Jill Mez, Ali, and Tutu. Jill's martial artistry and the others' wits rescue them. They also run into some "foo dogs," lions who guard the entrance to shrines and temples, who with some coaxing from Tutu, are willing to help them discover what lies in Emperor Qin Shihuangdi's long unopened tomb. Among the treasures is the next missing piece. Of course, they contend with the henchmen and Duncan himself, who is betrayed by Malcolm. After Duncan slips it to him for safekeeping while he does battle with Jill, Malcolm throws it into the air. Jill yells "fetch," and Tutu shows she has finally learned her lesson. The score is tied.

9) “Checkmate” (Scandinavia)


After receiving an email from Liam, they regroup in Ireland. Liam was recently brushing up on his Viking history in Ireland, and after studying their list of directions/destinations, he thinks north is where they should look next-as far north as possible, Scandinavia. Plus, it is summer up there now, with more sunshine and it will be easier to carry out their search. They brush up on their Norse mythology and learn what they can about the native Sami people, commonly called Laplanders. After visiting the Norwegian fjords, they reach an area near the Arctic Circle, and Tutu immediately makes friends with the local reindeer shepherded by the Samis. Not finding any leads there, they make their way to Oslo, to research the more "adventurous" Vikings. At the Viking Ship Museum, despite Mez's fear that Jill will set off the museum alarm, she gently touches the huge Oseberg longboat with her trowel, and our group finds itself below deck on turbulent seas with a crew of burly Viking raiders circa ninth century. Their "hosts" aren't too happy to see them, despite their attempts to disguise themselves in Viking clothes. However, the Vikings don't have time to deal with their new passengers, as they meet another raiding vessel and a battle ensues between the two captains. The stowaways on the other vessel are none other but Duncan and his "team." Our team takes advantage of the battle to search its own cargo hold, but come up empty-handed. In the melee, they make a dangerous transfer to the other ship, pirate-style. Duncan extracts the next part from inside a large chess piece (resembles the famous Isle of Lewis chess set). He triumphantly holds it aloft. Held by the henchmen, Malcolm has the time to tell his daughter that Duncan threatened her and Julia's lives if he didn't help him reassemble the infamous instrument. Duncan overhears this, and with a last, menacing look and threat, his group leaves through a portal. Jill hits rock bottom and contemplates giving up. Only with her friends' encouragement does she lift her trowel to bring them back to the present. Astonished tourists stare at the drenched group in Viking clothes lying at the foot of the great ship./p>

10) “Rapa Nui” (Easter Island)


In her Oslo hotel room, Jill makes an urgent call to her mother and warns her that she is in danger and to call the police. At a loss to explain why in logical terms her mother could understand or believe, Jill stammers and stutters, exasperating Julia, who hangs up on her. Jill calls her back and convinces her mother to at least go stay with her brother, Nick, who has a station (ranch) in the outback and not tell anyone else. Now, time is even more of the essence. There are only three directions left: south, southeast, and southwest. They choose the last direction randomly, but what is the most remote southwest location from Greece? Remembering something the author Pierre Loti once wrote, Ali points to a miniscule dot in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any land. It's Easter Island, another place with a mysterious past, so it's worth a try. One of the last stops in the Polynesian people's settling of the Pacific Ocean, it is famous for the enormous Moai, tall volcanic-rock statues, the oldest dating from the thirteenth century. One of them would be a perfect hiding place, but they don't have time to even attempt to look under each one. Plus, they weigh a ton, actually several. They consult with a knowledgeable elder with elaborate tattoos who gives them the island's oral history and a time/place to look. When they get to the past, they're the only modern people, which makes Jill think the others are somewhere else and getting ahead. Ali and Mez convince her to concentrate on the task at hand. Time Travel Team gets this piece (actually not under a statue, but it was kept under one of their "hats"). When they return, the Time Travel Team has just enough time to escape the clutches of Duncan and only one of his henchmen. Jill tells her father her mother is safe. Where is the other henchman? Duncan replies that he is "scouting a location." Malcolm has time to give another partial clue: "vav," before Duncan sweeps them away.

11) “Hari’s Water Temple” (India)


Vav? The team is not sure what to make of this word, as it could mean two things. It's either the Hebrew letter "vav," which means connection, but also can change a verb's tense from past to future or vice versa. Interesting, but it's not a physical location. Should they go to Israel which is southeast of Greece? More research reveals it also means "well" in Gujarati, a language of India. That's an actual place and also in the right direction. Mez remembers Malcolm having studied under a yogi in his youth, so they decide on India. Guru Sunil Patel tells them about Indian mythology and advises them on their next "step." He leads them to one of the most famous stepwells from the twelfth century AD, a maze of stairs going down thirty meters (about 100 feet). Jill and Tutu follow a playful monkey, Hari down. Mez and Ali go down after them, Ali taking the stairs two by two, while Mez huffs and puffs behind. They spy the missing henchman at the bottom, who observes them from afar. Well, at least he hasn't caught onto Julia's location. As they attempt to leave the present, Hari snatches Mez's backpack, the one with all their pieces, and jumping nimbly from step to step, with Tutu and the others in hot pursuit, approaches the henchman. They're too late, and Hari hands it over before jumping nimbly away. Taking out a rope, the henchman bounds up the wall also like an experienced rock climber. When the team makes it way to the past, Duncan and Malcolm are already there. They find the next to last piece behind the elephant god Ganesh's trunk in a sacred cave cut into the rock. Almost total despair sets in as the team realizes they have lost everything. Not quite, there is still one piece left, Ali and Mez reason. And Jill knows her father won't let Duncan get away with this. Her intuition tells her the last piece is back where their adventures first started, where she first saw the henchmen - Egypt (which just happens to be more or less south of Greece, if you count all those islands).p>

12) “Submerged” (Egypt)


The night before they leave India, Jill notices Ali reading a French graphic novel, "Mort sur le Nil." At first, Jill teases him about reading an old Agatha Christie story, but then has a bright idea. Who better than Agatha, one of the most famous mystery writers in the world, who accompanied her husband on all his excavations, to help them where to look? Now, how to get back to her time? Mez recently read an article in an archaeology magazine about how the British Museum had bought some 3,000 year old artifacts she had discovered. Tutu is tired with the changes in travel plans, since she'll get stuck under Jill's seat on not one, but two plane rides, but she has no choice. It's on to London and the British Museum, where Mez convinces the curator of Mesopotamian antiquities to let them have a "look" at the artifacts. A few seconds later, they meet a pragmatic, nonplussed Agatha on her Iraq dig circa 1949. Jill briefly explains their desperate situation, and they all give Agatha as many details and clues as possible. Agatha is stumped for a few seconds, but then concludes that the gods weren't very imaginative and ran out of ideas. In Egypt, there is something that has a similar design to the Indian stepwell. It's the Nilometer on the island of Elephantine. It was a device used to measure the level of the Nile. That's it! The team arrives back in Cairo and immediately flies (sorry, Tutu) to Aswan. While Mez stays on board a felucca boat, Jill, Ali, and Tutu dive into the Nile in scuba gear, and travel back to the past. Underwater, they meet Duncan and his men, who have figured out the last clue as well with Malcolm's "help." Jill's father is tied along the steps along the Nilometer, the water rising little by little. In one last battle, our three heroes (thanks to Tutu, who can squeeze her tiny paw inside the meter's slots) get the last piece, defeat the villains, and get a hold of their stolen backpack. Malcolm also breaks free to assist, and latches onto Jill, Ali, and Tutu to travel back to the present, while Duncan drowns (for real, this time) and his henchmen remain stuck in the past. The team hides the pieces again even deeper in the past and in more remote places (i.e. Ethiopia at the time of Lucy). The family is reunited during a Nile cruise where they admire the colossal statues of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, and Jill finally finds time to let a little romance into her life./p>


© 2011 Catherine Y. Fridey

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