Persepolis, Iran-Iraq border, 1937... "This way, this way please," Amir said, stooping through the tunnels and turning now and then to make sure the Professor was following. His friend Majid was bringing up the rear, holding a torch that flickered and sputtered in the darkness. Between the two Iranians, the Professor remained silent, adjusting his hat now and then and scowling impatiently. "We call for you as soon it happen, Professor," said Amir, sweating and smiling as he moved, "My friend Majid - he find it, not long, not long." "East tunnel," Majid added, before a scowl from Amir made him lower his head again. The trio continued down the tunnels, moving from the newer excavations to the deeper Persian vault. The other workers had been evacuated on the Professor's orders, taking with them the few clay pots and old bones they had found thus far. Finally, in the eastern tunnels, Amir turned and bowed nervously, pointing to a hole in the ground. Majid held the torch and the Professor crouched slowly, lighting a second one and dropping it through the opening. The flame fell for a few seconds then struck something metal, lighting up a chamber below. Removing his hat, the Professor marvelled at the half-glimpsed sarcophagi and statues, shimmering in dark metal. "This good find, yes?" Amir asked the Professor, standing beside his friend and smiling hopefully. The Professor stood and turned to them. "Why yes," he said, his voice the finest German, "The find of the century." The luger roared like thunder, lighting up the tunnel as the two Iranians jerked and struck the wall. Blood sprayed and their cries were cut short. They slumped to the ground, leaving only silence. Lifting Majid's torch, the light fell upon the blood-flecked face of the killer. Colonel Seiler smiled devilishly and stepped over the bodies, gazing again into the tomb below. The Fuhrer would be pleased... very pleased indeed. MEANWHILE, IN ENGLAND "What is it, Sir?" Professor Stern held up the object, letting the dim light of the gentlemen's lounge catch on its silver casing. "Well, Hobbs, unless I'm very much mistaken, what we're looking at here is the Heart of Zagros." Hobbs's eyes went a little wider as the name was mentioned. He leaned over the Professor's armchair, almost falling over it as he peered at the locket. It was about the size of his hand, decorated to look like two angel wings overlapping at the clasp. The back was engraved with hieroglyphs, clearly Sumerian, but he was too awed to start interpreting them. For now the butler just stared, then looked down at his master in the armchair. "Good lord! Well it just can't be..." "Well, Professor Harold certainly thinks so. The old boy sent it to me by courier - said he didn't trust anyone else to have it." Hobbs frowned. "Professor Harold? Wasn't he in Florida?" Stern set the locket on the table, half-wrapping it in his handkerchief. "Yes, still studying the Bermuda Triangle, if I remember." "But the Heart of Zagros should be buried in the Iranian Desert! What on earth was it doing in the Atlantic Ocean?!" "That, my dear Hobbs..." said the Professor as he lifted his sherry glass, "... is indeed the question." The Hodsworth Gentlemen's Club was over a century old and nestled in a sidestreet just off Picadilly Circus. The sounds of pedestrians and automobiles barely made it through the old walls and any that did were drowned by the grand piano that played from dawn till dusk. This early in the morning there were only a few old gents in the lounge, some smoking while others read newspapers (which today were plastered with news of Bulgaria signing a treaty with the Axis forces). Waiters in tuxedos floated between the customers, bearing cigars and brandy glasses. "They're late," Hobbs muttered, checking his pocket watch as he hovered behind the professor's armchair with a tray of sherry glasses. "I told you the letters were a bad idea. They're probably all dead. Yes, captured by the Gestapo no doubt. I warned you." "Nonsense, Hobbs," replied the Professor, sipping his sherry. "These chaps are the cream of the crop. They're probably having trouble with your directions." "My direc--!" Hobbs frowned at the professor, almost spilling the rest of the sherry on him as he leant over his chair, "Sir, those letters we sent out were death warrants - death warrants I tell you! There's Nazi spies in every port! U-boats in the waters! I hear Hitler even has trained pigeons - PIGEONS, SIR! He sends them out to spy on the mail ships. And as for that silly code you made, well let me tell you, Sir - it won't delay the German codebreakers for long!" Hobbs stared at the lounge door, straightening his bowtie as the sherry sloshed precariously on the tray. "Oh yes, I can see it now. They're all in some Gestapo prison somewhere, getting the thumbscrews, having their toenails pulled off. This whole operation is doomed. Doomed!" "Stiff upper lip, Hobbs," said the Professor as he sipped his sherry. "Now's not the time to be panicking. We have a long expedition ahead of us, old sport. I need you in tip-top shape." "Oh no!" protested the butler, rolling his eyes, "That's what you said in Cairo when that camel sat on me. I'm not doing this again, Sir - not on your nelly! And besides, there's a war on now, don't you know? It's far too dangerous to be gallivanting around. Her Majesty will just have to find someone else to get killed for her!" "Do be quiet, Hobbs."