The story opens with Doc Quest retelling his adventures to a group of individuals, while Jessie, Sacha’s wife, listen intently. When Doc looks at her, his mind goes back to the day before, as the Betty dances in the sky among the thunderheads with Black Del Rio’s pirates. Inside the Betty, Doc is making his way back to the passengers when the Betty does a dive, throwing everyone inside into free fall. Doc holds on to a strap and sees everyone and everything not tied down float into the air. Jessie floats out of her seat, clutching at the back, when the Betty bottoms out of the dive and everyone hits the floor at a couple of Gs.
Quest sees Jessie hit the floor. He lands next to her, and smiles, then with a panicked look, rolls on top of her, saving her from a bunch of crates that tumble down. They lock eyes and then when the crates hit, they lock lips. In the background Sacha screams as a heavy crate lands and breaks his legs.
They separate and they look at each other, then Doc excuses himself and goes to see what happen to Sacha. After they escape the pirates, they land at Noonan field and hand Sacha over to the paramedics. Before he leaves with the medics, Jessie slips him a note for a rendezvous later that night at Clarabelle’s.
Back in the present, they exchange small talk, he finds out that she used to be a teacher. She was on a bus full of highschool kids and it made left hand turn. She escaped the bus with most of the students… and she doesn’t say much more. They part with a promise of future assignations.
The next day, while the rest of the crew are busy at work at unmounting and moving the damaged engine from the Betty, Hansen is puttering about his new apartments, organizing his stuff and trying to figure out where to put an 8’ wide turtle shell. There’s a knock at the door, and a messenger delivers a letter to him. He’s to wait on a reply. The letter is from Joe Cohen, Sacha’s body guard.
Dear Mr. Hansen,
I hope I’m not being forward in assuming that you are now staying at the same residence as the rest of your new associates. I have a proposition for you and your associates. I’d like to invite you and your associates to lunch and to listen to my proposal. If you know of a place, please suggest it.
By grace of God,
Hansen writes a reply, suggesting that they meet at Ivan’s Authentic Ukrainian Restaurant. He gives the message to the young man, and watches as man tools off on an Indian motorcycle. Then Hansen catches a ride to Noonan field and finds the shop that Samson was rented to repair the engine. He presents the offer to the rest of the crew and they are willing to listen to Joe’s pitch.
They go to Ivan’s and the proprietor greets each warmly and with a hug. He takes them to a table and takes their orders of Borscht, Piroskies and Beer. Joe shows up and he’s dressed in traditional Hebrew garb, circa B.C. something.
Ivan knows him and get’s his usual. Joe greets everyone and tells them that he’s left the employ of Sacha that morning and he would like to hire them to help him move an item. This item was something he brought with himself and he doesn’t want any questions asked about it. To sweeten the deal, he pays them $400 New Akron dollars to begin with, and much more after the job.
The item in question is hidden in the City of Thebes on the environ Sahara. The exact spot is in the temple of Karnak. The history of Sahara is that it’s a desert and the only bit of green is by the “Nile” and the city complexes. The buildings are all trapped, and, importantly, looted of any treasure that they had. Interestingly enough, the buildings are still being maintained, the traps are reset after being triggered by the MaintainAnts. They chose this location because it has been gone over with a fine comb and therefore off the radar of any dedicated looter.
Joe knows a way in that bypasses most of the traps. The crew talks about this, though Doc Quest is already on board to visit the site and explore. They decide to accept the offer and all toast the upcoming job. They will leave in four days.
Over the next couple of days, they prepare for the trip: they finish work on the engine. Doc Quest goes shopping and gets khaki outfits monogrammed with the Quest “Q” for the gang. Doc also sees Jessie a couple more times, with one memorable night.
On the appointed day, the crew is arrayed in matching khaki outfits, each with the emblazoned Quest Q on the left breast pocket when Joe tools up on his Harley. He’s just bringing a backpack and bedroll, Dr. Q has an expedition set up.
With clearance, they fly to into the foggy skies. A thick fog with no ceiling has risen, but with good piloting and a trusty inertial compass, they fly to Anson’s Kingdom and are escorted to the Avalon Airport by several Air Knights. They are confined to an area of the tarmac that only has access to the bathroom and an overpriced snack bar. They are charged for everything, from tarmac fees, landing fees, clearance fees, and fuel at 5 times the going price.
They leave Anson’s Kingdom and fly to Sahara. The sky has cleared up and they can see the environ shining in the distance. As they fly over the environ, they spot shining alabaster buildings in the desert by the “Nile.” They land in the river near the temple complex and prepare to enter in and see what’s there…