The Staff of Moses – Chapter 15

Hittites

Back in Oliver’s hotel room, he showed Diana how to download the video captured by the small camera embedded in the frame of her glasses.

As soon as the file transferred she began stepping through the video frame by frame, translating what she could of the hieratic script written on the scroll. The process of translation turned out to be quite tedious, as Diana typed partial translations of each line of the scroll into a word processor, then went back and applied what she had learned from the later portions of the text to revise her translation of earlier portions.

After an hour of tedious work, occasionally interrupted by turning to yell at Oliver for breathing down her neck as he read each translated line over her shoulder, Diana shoved her chair back and jumped to her feet.

“Enough, Oliver,” she shouted. “Leave me alone or do your own damn translation.”

Oliver shrugged and flashed her a playful grin. “You know I can’t read a word of hieratic.”

“Then that settles it,” Diana muttered. She grabbed the laptop from the table and stormed through the doorway into her room, slamming the door shut behind her.

Left alone, Oliver quickly began to fidget. Normally he would have been the one doing the translation, experiencing the wonder of uncovering an ancient secret line by line, but his ignorance of ancient Egyptian languages meant that he could do nothing but wait. Rather than letting his mind run wild with the possibilities of what secrets might be hidden in the inscrutable lines of text on the scroll, he clicked the television on and tuned it to a channel showing a soccer match between South Africa and Ethiopia. Needing something to keep his hands busy, Oliver unlocked the large case of supplies that Senator Wheeler had shipped over through diplomatic mail.

The majority of the supplies consisted of survival gear, along with a few weapons and a generous supply of ammunition. Oliver had correctly assumed that Diana would not have any camping equipment of her own, so he had ordered extra supplies as well as a second backpack for her to use.

Oliver pulled the spare backpack out and began filling it with the necessities for a trek of several days in the desert. This occupied him for a good while as he attempted to pack the bag in such a way that Diana would be able to find whatever she needed without delay. Once the bag was filled he lifted it and judged that it might be too heavy for her. Diana was not a weak woman, but she was still smaller than Oliver and not accustomed to trekking through the desert. So he went back through the bag and dithered over every piece of equipment until he was certain that he had cut the bag down to the bare minimum that he felt safe giving her for several days beneath the blazing Egyptian sun.

Glancing at the clock on the bedside table, Oliver was frustrated to see that he had not even expended an hour packing and repacking Diana’s bag. He pulled out his own backpack and double-checked the contents. He checked the charge on the spare camera batteries, freshly formatted each of the memory cards for the camera, and ensured that the spare magazines for his gun were fully loaded. Unfortunately, Oliver was so well practiced preparing for adventures into remote places that within another hour he had completed all possible preparations and was once again left with nothing to do but wait for Diana to finish her translation.