The story picks up where The Six Sacred Stones left off - with Jack's fall from the Vertex under Table Mountain with the suicidal CIEF-Marine Switchblade. As they fall, Jack pulls Switchblade's maghook from the Marine's holster, and fires it into the abyss wall, leaving Switchblade to continue falling. Jack climbs out and after reuniting with Alby, manages to make sonar contact with Sea Ranger's submarine, which was waiting in the tunnel for a gap in the patrolling American and South African naval vessels to escape. Whilst the Halicarnassus flees South African fighters, it receives a call from Jack, instructing them to make for Heard Island.
Meanwhile, Wolf concludes his bargain with Vulture, giving him and Scimitar the First Pillar and its knowledge. Wolf takes from the confrontations of the last week the Philosopher's Stone, the Firestone and the charged Second Pillar with its reward; Heat. Wolf begins discussing the wherabouts of the other Pillars and Vertices with Mao and Ionlanthe. Iolanthe notes she still has the Fourth Pillar, and that the Third was in possession of the Japanese Royal Family until the end of World War Two, when Hirohito hid it somewhere in Japan. Believing Jack to have fallen to his death, Wolf gives Mao leave to destroy the coalition of small nations the next time they encounter them.
At Heard Island, Jack and Alby are reunited with Wizard, Zoe, Lily and Sky Monster, and meet Ono and Dr Diane Cassidy. Jack shows Wizard the Twin Tablets of Thuthmosis, and explains to them that Wolf sent Stretch back to the Mossad and claimed the bounty on his head. Jack also decides that Alby will return home to Perth, and Lily will go with him so she will be safe. The others will go after the other Pillars and Vertices.
First, however, they find Pooh Bear and help him to successfully rescue Stretch from the Mossad in a nuclear weapons depot in Israel. There, Stretch has being kept in a tank of formaldehyde - preserved as a living trophy for the rest of his life by Mordechai Muniz, the influential former head of the Mossad. Stretch was to be the latest addition in Muniz's private collection, which was a practice pioneered by a former KGB operative.
The team returns to Sea Ranger's base in Zanzibar, apart from Lily who is still with Alby, and use the period between the placing of the Pillars to do research on the Machine. The dates for the placement of the last four Pillars are revealed by Wizard: the Third on 11 March; the Fourth and Fifth must be placed simultaneously, on March 18; and the final Pillar on March 20. All must be placed during a Titanic Rising, apart from the Sixth, which must be placed at the moment of the Dual Equinox, when both the Sun and the Dark Sun are aligned with the Earth.
At this point, Cassidy steps in. She explains why she was searching for the Neetha - she knows about the Pillars, the Vertices and the Dark Sun. Her expertise in the lost tribe all stemmed from her search for information about the Machine; since the Neetha were connected to the Machine, she found out all she could about them. She explains that her reference point for her search was the Rhyme of the Warriors, a carving found on a tablet unearthed by Napolean at the Sphinx. It tells of five key individuals throughout history who have had a significant connection with the Machine. Cassidy explains her reasoning - since the Great Pyramid was built by the Pharaoh Khufu, and it, the Capstone and the Firestone have all been integral to Jack's mission, it is reasonable to assume that Khufu had a high level of knowledge about the Machine. She continues by explaining that she has found references to all Six Pillars being kept together in Egypt, at the time when Khufu was Pharaoh. Collectively, the Six Pillars are referred to as 'Khufu's Wisdom', or 'Khufu's Treasure'. The answer to what became of Khufu's treasure lies in the Rhyme of the Warriors. Cassidy has worked out who the five warriors are, using the Rhyme, a carving from Karakorum in Mongolia and a text by the Chinese Philosopher Laozi. She believes the warriors are: Moses, Jesus Christ, Genghis Khan and Napoléon Bonaparte. The Fifth Warrior, however, is unknown, but appears to live in the present, since he will be there 'at the end of all things'.
They continue their research, discovering many things about the Royal Houses of Europe, Isaac Newton, and Wizard theorises on the nature of the remaining rewards - 'Sight' (possibly the ability to see the future, maybe one's own death), Life (possibly immortality - the property that so obssessed Issac Newton); Death (possibly the ability to deal death to one's enemies), and Power - absolute Earthly power to the one who completes the Machine. Then Lily makes a breakthorugh with some carvings written in the Word of Thoth. Before Pillars are placed in the Machine, they need to be 'Cleansed' by the Philosopher's Stone. However, the carving implies that the last three need a special kind of 'Double Cleansing', since the Dark Sun will be much closer in March and will thus be emitting more power. A carving from Saqqara reveals the nature of this second cleansing - in addition to being cleansed by the Philosopher's Stone, the last four Pillars must be cleansed in the Basin of Rameses II, the last of the Six Sacred Stones.
Then they discover the connections between the Warriors and the Pillars. At one point, all six Pillars resided in Egypt under Khufu, where they remained until the reign of Akhenaten, the Pharaoh who preached monotheism. After Akhenaten's assassination, one of his priests, who would later be called Moses, stole the Pillars and the Twin Tablets, and fled from Egypt. He gave the Pillars to his brother Aaron, who passed them down his family until they came to Jesus. Jesus kept one of the Pillars, but gave the others away. Two of the Pillars were given to the families who would eventually become the Great Houses of Europe - the Fourth Pillar was owned by the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and the Fifth is in joint ownership of the House of Oldenberg and the House of Romanov. Jesus gave the remaining three Pillars to his brother James, who hid one in the Temple of Solomon, until the Pillar was taken to Africa by the Templars and somehow ended up with the Neetha. James kept the other two Pillars at the fortress in Van, where they remained for years until it was raided by Genghis Khan.
Khan would later give one of the Pillars to a Bedouin tribe as a gift of thanks for aiding him, a tribe which eventually became the Royal House of Saud. After visiting the Shogun of Japan, Khan gave him the remaining Pillar, which would eventually be hidden by Hirohito. One of Khan's grandsons tried to retrieve the Pillar, attacking a worthless bay twice. This leads Julius and Lachlan Adamson to deduce that the Third Vertex (from the Stonehenge images) is on Japan's North Island of Hokkaido. Nine years later, the Shogun sent a message to Khan, informing him of the maze they had built within the Temple-Shrine (the Vertex) to protect the Pillar, and to send him a gift of a petrified Dinosaur Egg carved with images of the Vertex's entrance, and the five other vetices. However, the images on the Egg have been copied by others - notably on Fabergé eggs. Cassidy explains that the Neetha Warlock who is helping Wolf also knew about the Egg. According to the Twins' research, the Egg was hidden in Genghis Khan's Arsenal, a hidden location somewhere in Mongolia.
Jack, Wizard, Zoe, Lily and Sky Monster set out for Mongolia immediately, but intercepted messages show that both Wolf and the Japanese Blood Brotherhood are heading there as well. They discover the Arsenal hidden in a meteor crater, over which a fake mound has been constructed. However, Wolf and the Japanese have already arrived. Wolf verifies that the Egg does indeed contain images of the entrances to all the Vertices, but then the Japanese, led by Tank, arrive and destroy it. However, Wolf manages to wound Tank and kill his men, and, having gotten photographs of the Egg, fatally wounds Wizard before he leaves with Rapier and the American's Machine expert, Felix Bonaventura. Mao is ordered to destroy the citadel and all those inside it - Jack, Zoe, Lily and Sky Monster. In his dying moments, Wizard reveals to Zoe that Jack was planning to propose to her, and pleads for Jack to continue the quest. Jack and the others escape through a secret escape tunnel, but first they find Khan's shield - onto which he transcribed the images from the Egg. Jack takes the unconscious Tank with them, to use his knowledge in place of Wizard's.
Meanwhile, the Dark Sun's approach is causing havoc in the world, causing extreme weather across the globe, whilst its presence in the outer solar system is causing massive storms on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. China reveals two new aircraft carriers, and makes aid payments to a large number of countries - the largest of which goes to Chile. A small tsunami strikes the northern tip of Hokkaido Island in Japan. And a man watches from the shadows. His name is unknown, but he is a friend of General Muniz, and is in competition with him to build up a collection of Living Trophies in formaldehyde tanks.
Shortly before the team set off, Alby discovered Napolean's connection with the Machine. During his search for Bekhen monuments, Napolean discovered a stone basin - the Basin of Rameses - which was stolen from him by the British. The Basin now sits in the British Museum, although under a different name. And so while the others are in Mongolia, the twins, Pooh Bear and Stretch go to Britain and successfully steal the Basin during a bomb scare.
Meanwhile, Alby has worked out the times of the Titanic Risings that occur on 11 and 18 March, and the time of the Dual Equinox on March 20. He also theorises that the increased number of tsunamis that have been occurring recently is due to the Dark Sun's gravitational pull affecting, not just the tides, but the Earth's crust itself, and the resultant buckling of the crust is causing the tsunamis, which could make entering the last four Vertices dangerous. Scimitar and Vulture arrive and abduct him and his mother, taking them out of Australia unnoticed by all, apart from a spy satellite thought to have been decomissioned. As Vulture reveals he used Alby to locate Jack's farm, as well as the Firestone, their plane is surrounded by Russian fighters, and they are forced to divert their course.
Whilst Jack travels to Hokkaido Island, he interrogates Tank, who reveals that the entire nation of Japan supports his efforts, and the Third Vertex is guarded by the Japanease navy. As they arrive in Japan, Wolf has launched a frontal assualt on the bay above the entrance to the Vertex. As a tsunami is about to hit the island, the ocean has retreated into the bay as it does before a tsunami, providing dry entry to the Vertex. The Japanese fight hard, and manage to pin Rapier behind a wrecked ship, preventing him from reaching the Vertex - Rapier is carrying the Philosopher's Stone, which they need to cleanse the Pillar hidden inside the Vertex. Jack, Zoe and Lily arrive in a smaller aircraft, launched from the Halicarnassus, and rescue Rapier. Everyone makes it into the Vertex before the wave hits. At the top of the stair-mountain, they behold the Third Vertex - a gigantic cavern with a lava floor. Wolf, Rapier and his CIEF team, who are accompanied by the Neetha Warlock and Astro, turn their guns on Jack and Zoe, but since Lily knows the safe route through the maze between the stairs and the cone, they agree a truce to place the Pillar together.
However, as they move through the maze they are attcked by Japanese forces hiding in the cavern. Surviving the attacks, they reach the volcanic cone, which contains a second maze. At the centre of this maze is a shrine containing the Third Pillar. However, they may only enter this maze at sunset and sunrise. Whilst they wait, Rapier expresses his resentment of Jack - as long as Jack is around, their father only views Rapier as second-best - and promises to kill Jack. Later, Jack and Astro make up, since Wolf lied to Astro about Jack planning to destroy America and Astro reveals that, after the Pillar has been placed, he and the CIEF team have orders to kill Jack and Zoe.
After Jack successfully retrieves the Pillar, the group moves on and soon locate the Vertex, however, in order to lay the Pillar, one of their group must be sacrificed. There are two boats floating on the lava lake, and a bridge leading directly to the summit and ending at the abyss. Wolf, using two winches from a wrecked ship hurled into the Vertex by the tsunami, plans to reel the boats in once the Pillar has been placed. Jack and Wolf set out and successfully lay the Pillar, but Japanese snipers almost kill them. Jack saves Wolf's life, and in the process they receive a vision when they touch the charged Pillar. A vision of his own death in a fiery accident involving the Halicarnassus. After the boats are reeled in, Wolf decides not to kill Jack, but leaves him and the wounded Astro to make his own way out of the Vertex. However, when they leave the Vertex, they are all abducted by Russians.
The twins, Stretch and Pooh Bear travel to Scotland to find the spring water they need to use in the Basin of Rameses, finding it on the shores of Loch Ness. As they travel back to London, Lachlan deduces the location of the Fourth Vertex on Lundy Island, moments before they are surrounded by the British Army and Iolanthe. Meanwhile, Jack wakes up in Russia and meets Carnivore - the friend of General Muniz and creator of the Living Tombs. Carnivore reveals himself as the last of the House of Romanov, and leader of a coalition of the Royal Houses of Europe. Cassidy is revealed to be Carnivore's chief researcher. He has picked up Jack's friends and enemies (Astro, Scimitar, Vulture, Alby and Lois, Sky Monster, Zoe and Lily, Wolf, Rapier, Paul Robertson, the Neetha Warlock, Tank, Sheik Anzar al Abbas, Mao and his family) to force them to place the Fourth and Fifth Pillars.
After establishing contact with Iolanthe and the others in Scotland, Carnivore outlines his plans - the twins, Pooh Bear and Stretch will place the Fourth Pillar, whilst another team places the Fifth Pillar at Diego Garcia. The second team (Mao, Scimitar and Vulture) will find the tomb of Jesus Christ and the Sixth Pillar. The final team will consist of Lily, Iolanthe and either Jack or Wolf - which will be decided in a battle to the death between Jack and Rapier. Jack kills his half-brother, and the other hostages - Zoe, Lois, Alby, Anzar, Astro, Mao's family, Wolf and the Neetha warlock are placed in living tombs (Carnivore has already killed Tank for his desire to see the world end and the uncooperative Robertson), and the Philosopher's Stone and the Firestone are taken to England to cleanse the Fourth Pillar, and the Basin is collected and taken to Diego Garcia for the Fifth Pillar. Before they leave, Carnivore reveals he has abducted Lily's twin brother, Alexander, to read the Twin Tablets at the final Vertex, and outs Zoe's betrayal of Jack by revealing she slept with someone else after the Capstone mission.
All three groups set out, and soon Julius and Lachlan place the Fourth Pillar at Lundy Island, and Jack does the same with the Fifth at Diego Garcia. Shortly after the the placement of the Pillars, Carnivore, Cassidy and abandon their Siberian base, and Cassidy kills the Warlock in revenge for her enslavement. Everyone else in the tombs are left to die. Shortly afterwards, Wolf escapes his tank using explosives hidden in his ring, and heads to the final Vertex at Easter Island, leaving everyone else to die. Meanwhile, Pooh Bear's group are rescued by the Irish Army Colonel Cieran Kincaid.
All the groups head to Israel, where Jesus's tomb is located within an ancient Roman salt mine. Mao finds a fake Pillar in Jesus's tomb and heads to rendezvous with Wolf. Jack, Lily and Iolanthe find the real Pillar, but are confronted by Vulture and Scimitar. Pooh Bear and Stretch arrive, and while the former kills them both, they are seriously injured. As they leave the mine, they find Carnivore waiting. He takes the Pillar, the cleansing stones and Lily. After Kincaid reveals he works for Carnivore and drugged Zoe in order to sleep with her, Carnivore orders him to kill Jack's team. Jack kills Kincaid, but Carnivore has the front landing gear of the Halicarnassus destroyed, preventing it from being able to take off. With the twins help, Jack uses a jeep as a substitute front wheel for the Halicarnassus and heads for the last vertex on Easter Island, while Sky Monster remains behind with the twins and the injured Pooh Bear and Stretch.
As Wolf and Mao arrive at Easter Island on the Chinese aircraft carriers amidst the massive storms caused by the approach of the Dark Sun, they find they are too late - Carnivore is already at the final Vertex. They enter beneath Ahu Vai Mata on the north coast, just as Jack arrives in the Halicarnassus. In the ocean's recession before the tsunami, Jack lands at the Vertex's entrance, and the tsunami hurls the plane into the Vertex, where it lands at the top of the funnel leading down to a balcony above the abyss. As Wolf and Mao follow the path through the funnel's traps, Jack uses the remains of the Halicrnassus to slide down the funnel, bypassing the traps, crashing into the wall surrounding the balcony. He uses the remaining wing-turret to kill Carnivore and his troops, leaving Cassidy, Alexander and Iolanthe.
As the Dual Equinox begins, and lights from the Sun and Dark Sun shine upon the Earth, Jack gives Lily the now-cleansed final Pillar to place, as she can read the final incantation from the Twin Tablets of Thuthmoses since she can read Thoth. She does so, and as the Machine engages, sending out a balancing force to repel the Dark Sun's death-bringing Black Light, but as Lily removes the charged Pillar, she receives it's reward - Power. Corrupted in a moment by its power, Lily goes on a murderous rampage, gruesomely killing Cassidy, crushing Mao beneath a rockfall, and killing Mao's soldiers. Before she can kill Alexander and Iolanthe, Jack calls out to Lily, and she recognises him, and her love for him, and the anger leaves her, and she faints, dropping the Pillar onto the balcony.
Wolf tries to persuade Jack to give in to his temptation to use the power of the Pillar, to rule the world benevolently, but Jack rejects its allure because that's not what he wants, and there can never be a benevolent dictator. Wolf makes a run for the Pillar, but Jack knocks it into the abyss. As Wolf desperately trying to grab it, the Halicarnassus, dislodged by the rockfall that killed Mao, falls onto the balcony, smashing it in two. Jack grabs Lily leap onto solid ground at the last second, leaving Wolf to die as he falls into the abyss, dying the death he thought would be Jack's when he saw it whilst holding the Third Pillar. Jack, Lily, Alexander and Iolanthe leave the Vertex, and are picked up by the Sea Ranger, who is waiting in his submarine.
They return to New Zealand, where Iolanthe departs to return to England, and Alexander is left with Sky Monster's grandchild-hungry parents. Jack and Lily return to Russia, where the twins, Pooh Bear, Stretch and Sky Monster have freed everyone from the Living Tombs. Jack tells Zoe he forgives her and affirms his feelings for her.
Six weeks later, they are married and living in Australia with Lily. A proper family. Their new home was provided by the Australian government, and the five surviving Pillars, the Firestone and the Six Sacred Stones are hidden in an abandoned mine behind their house, Jack reporting they were all lost at the Sixth Vertex. Zoe discerns the identity of the Fifth Greatest Warrior - whose identity was not known because of his role to play in the Return - as Jack. He hints that he already knew this, and Zoe, laughing, embraces him.
The Coalition of Minnows TeamEdit
- Captain Jack "Huntsman" West Jr
- Lily "Eowyn" West
- Professor Max "Wizard" Epper
- Sergeant Zoe "Princess" Kissane
- Captain Zahir "Pooh Bear" al Anzar al Abbas
- Lieutenant Benjamin "Stretch" Cohen
- Sky Monster
- Julius "Gunslinger" Adamson
- Lachlan "Quickdraw" Adamson
Coalition of Minnows SupportersEdit
The CIEF and AlliesEdit
- Colonel Jack "Wolf" West Sr
- Major Grant "Rapier" West
- Colonel Mao Gongli
- Lieutenant Sean "Astro" Miller
- Captain Rashid "Scimitar" Abbas
- Abdul Rahman "Vulture" al Saud
- Dr Felix Bonaventura
- General Jackson Dyer
- Special attache Paul Robertson
- Warlock Yanis
- General Vladimir "Carnivore" Romanov
- Iolanthe Compton-Jones
- Diane Cassidy
- Cieran Kincaid
- Ding and Dong
Historical Figures Edit
The Five WarriorsEdit
Each of the Five Warriors has a special connection with the Machine, or the Golden Capstone.
The First shall be noble, scholar and soldier both.
During the Six Sacred Stones, Jack West and Pooh Bear recover The Twin Tablets of Thuthmosis, also known as the Ten Commandments. These tablets are actually identical copies of the same five lines in the Word of Thoth - an incantation which must be performed at the final Vertex to activate the Machine. Jack explains that historians believe that Moses was actually an Egyptian preist of Pharaoh Akhenaten's regime, called Thuthmosis (meaning 'Son of Thoth, since Moses is an Egyptian name, meaning 'son of'). Akhenaten preached monotheism, the belief in only one God, as opposed to the traditional many Egyptian Gods. After Akhenaten was assassinated, Thuthmosis fled Egypt with the Tablets.
The Second [shall be] a natural leader of men. None shall achieve greater fame than he.
During The Six Sacred Stones, there is a discussion of what makes one person worthy to rule over another. Often it was the family who possessed some form of talisman who ruled, and certain Houses and people have always been more famed than others. Two of the Great Houses of Europe and the House of Saud each possess Pillars, elevating them above other families, but what made Jesus especially famous was that he did not possess just one Pillar - he had three. By the time of The Five Greatest Warriors, the sixth and final Pillar has been buried with him.
The Third shall be the Greatest Warlord known to history.
During his conquest, Genghis Khan obtained two of the six pillas, which he would eventually pass on to the Japanese and a Saudi tribe. Genghis also discovered the precise locations of many of the Vertices thanks to the discovery of a Fabergé egg which had the locations painted onto it. He would have these same images etched upon a shield, and both the egg and shield were hidden in his Tomb.
The Fourth shall be the great obsessor, seeking only glory, but glory is a lie.
Napolean has already been linked with the Capstone in Seven Ancient Wonders, taking a whole army to Egypt to search for it. During this time, he entered the King's chamber of the Great Pyramid alone, and emerged hours later cowed and afraid of what he had seen.
The Fifth shall face the greatest test, and decide if all shall live, or die.
Jack West's importance is not revealed until his battle with Wolf beneath the final Vertex, forshadowed in the rhyme at the start of The Six Sacred Stones: 'A mortal battle between father and son, one fights for all, and the other for one'.
- Jack West Jr and the Hero's Helmet
- Seven Ancient Wonders
- The Six Sacred Stones
- The Five Greatest Warriors
- The Four Legendary Kingdoms
- The Three Sacred Cities