Architect of Babylon – Part 1

CA. 9,500 B.C.E. The Tower of Babel

“Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them”
-Jahveh (Yahweh) as quoted in Genesis.

SemiramisThe dust soared upward as the ship settled on the valley floor. The occupants waited, knowing that to leave too quickly would kill them. Better to let the mercury fumes dissipate. Marduk hated having to use this rickety old ship, but was also grateful to have it. The Sargon was one of the few surviving craft left after the deluge caused by the destruction of Aleph. This old Seraphim freighter had been one of the first cargo vessels designed to shuttle gold ore between the planets. Now with technology scarce and no infrastructure left to build new ships, he would have to be content to fly in this old decaying Vimana. He looked over at his crew, an exausted group of Igigi and discontented young Nephilim who had come from survival shelters all over the planet. The rest had chosen to remain mired in technological poverty, scattered across the continents, rather than to dare oppose Lord Enlil, who was now in posession of the Raft of Heaven and most decidedly to blame for this current state of affairs. After all, had he not been a supporter of the Sons of Darkness?

Despite the fact that Enlil controls the Raft, which is the largest bit of technology fortunate enough to survive, he’s missing a crucial item that would allow him to make full use of it’s power…the Tablet of Destinies, which contains the sum of all Annunaki technology in it’s crystal lattice memory. Only one such tablet is allowed to exist in any star system, and belongs to the Lord of the system. This one was rightfully the property of Enlil, lord of the Ersetu and Waters.

Had the Tablet of Destinies remained in the hands of the Grand Council, it would have been destroyed along with Aleph and most of the Annunaki civilization during the accidental cataclysm five hundred years ago. Yet he, Marduk, counted himself fortunate that he had stolen the tablet in an attempt to end the war in the heavens between his uncle Enlil and his father Enki. This was a war of birthright, which can never be contested. In the end however, one foolish bid to control the quantum gate built to travel between worlds, means Aleph his home is now lost and there is nothing left but to use the knowledge stored in the Tablet to rebuild the empire for his father.

Marduk thought about what his father had accomplished since the disaster. Father Enki was not to be defeated. He had spent the last few centuries living with his creation the hu-men, teaching them and building a thriving economy of more than forty-four thousand people in the land of the great Nile river.

These hu-men are all children of the survivors of the cataclysm. It had always amazed Marduk how loyal and hard working these people could be, given the right motivations. They had rallied their support readily to Enki, as he was a kind god, and quite literally their creator. His goal is nothing short of the rebuilding of the Annunaki empire in his own image, if only he can take the Raft of Heaven from Enlil by force, claim Enlil as a false god, and strip him of all his technology to live as a vagabond nomad in a yakhide tent, doomed to roam the desert lands for the rest of his days.

Unfortunately, Enlil orbits the world on the Raft, while Enki is bound to Ersetu by the mocking pull of gravity. One miserable old Vimana would not even scratch the surface of the assault that must be waged to unseat Enlil in all his stolen glory. If the Tablet of Destinies holds the total of technology secrets accumulated by all Annunaki before the colonization of this system, surely there is some key to unlocking the mystery of conquest?

Fresh air came rushing into the cabin immediately after the vapor alarm went dark. The six crew members stirred and started removing safety straps, atmosphere helmets, and suits from their bodies. Marduk looked over to see Semiramis, his best Igigi technician, carefully preparing the ship for it’s next journey by checking dials and adjusting coolant levers.

“I am surprised that you take this journey so eagerly” said Marduk with a confused frown. “You could have lived in comfort on the Raft, to serve Lord Enlil.”

Her face quickly turned from the focused expression of work to the grimace of anger. “Do not speak of him” she spat, “I respect his authority no longer than the time he gave my husband to escape the blast.”

“Ah… He betrayed your husband’s life to save his own. That is reason enough. But I sense there is more to this story.” Marduk smiled kindly and tried to look into her eyes.

Semiramis looked up at Marduk, tears of pain welling up. “Bel! Please!” then looking back down at her work, “I am Annunaki. Enlil has betrayed us all! Otherwise, I would never have left the Raft of Heaven and come to seek you. Surely you understand?”

“Yes, but surely one such as you would be missed. Enlil has need of trained pilots and engineers to rebuild. And then there is the matter of your husband.”

“I left in shame. It is custom to accept the burdens of a spouse, my husband failed. Thus did I in the eyes of Enlil.”

Marduk was surprised to be addressed as Lord (Bel) by a fellow Annunaki. He knew she had given the truth, but not yet all of it. He did not persist. “Of course. The Sons of Darkness have done enough to spoil our lives. They had even persuaded Lord Enlil to join their selfish quest. Thank the Archons that we were not all destroyed when they committed their mistakes to history.”

“Yes. Thank the Archons.” She had regained her composure, hoping that Marduk would not pry further. He didn’t, so she changed the subject. “What do you know of Nimrud?”

Marduk relaxed. He had not meant to inflict pain and was glad to follow her lead. “Though he is of strong blood. His loyalties lie with himself and it may be difficult to get him to follow our plans. All he desires is conquest. He has taken five cities, but rests now because his borders grow too distant.”

“Then maybe we can steer him to larger and more deserving prey if he but readies his armies for a season.” On her face was a growing smile hinting of deep thought. “I think I could provide toys to amuse him while he gathers his strength.”

Marduk nodded. “Of course he wants to have more power over his armies. unfortunately, even though some of his generals are Nephilim, others and most of his warriors are hu-men, with their own selfish desires of greatness and conquest; I expect they are too disorganized and uncontrollable to afford a victory over Enlil, even on a level battlefield with little technology.”

Marduk paused a moment, then mused:

“Enlil has told me of something described in the Tablet that can give us the advantage we need to take the Raft of Heaven.”

“Yes, but I do not understand how we can get into orbit to attack the Raft?”

“I do not posess that answer, but Lord Enki has a plan he has not yet explained to me. He claims to know of a method that requires the use of only one ship. I have searched the Tablet, but have not found such a thing.”

They exchanged thoughtful looks as a crew member announced that a group of warriors riding camels had topped the hill near the city. The party milled about, uncertain as to whether to approach the vimana or to turn back and report the strange thing sitting on the valley floor. After a few minutes, they separated; one group held ground, while the other rode back to the city at top speed.

“We should show ourselves.” Marduk decided. “Nimrud will be along soon.”

————————————

Nimrud awoke to the sound of trumpets. “Strange”, he thought. “There are no campaigns or festivals planned. What could be so important. War trumpets were sounded only when enemies attacked or…Visitors! I hope it isn’t Enlil again.”

He pulled himself out of his bedstead and limped to his wardrobe. His muscles ached to be left alone. “This was the price of success? To grow old without an heir at the height of his kingdom?” He knew he couldn’t turn back time, but at least he could produce an heir before these old bones became completely useless. Unfortunately, It was not likely that he had inherited an extremely long life from his father Cush. Instead, it was fairly certain that he was destined to grow old and die nearly as quickly as the hu-men do. Fortunately, This would take many more years, since Nimrud was past his first hundred years and still feeling strong. A mere hu-man had less than a century before he would be gone and forgotten.

He pulled his garments on around him and headed for the stables, motioning to his servants to attend him and assemble his guard. “We must meet them before they approach.” He said to his nodding servants.

By the time the crew of the Sargon had disembarked, the morning sun drenched the valley in golden light. A throng of villagers had assembled on the rise, curious and fearful that the flying ship hadt brought rouble. They murmured among themselves, speculating as to whether this was a good thing or not for Babylon. Occasionally, one of the villagers would scold the others in hissing tones and a shaking head. Marduk guessed that there was disagreement among them as to whether his ship was sent from the gods or if they may all be Djins, demons sent by Enlil to torture the city for some wrongdoing.

The crowd parted as a solemn procession of warriors and priests came nearer the ship. As they assembled, they spread out around Marduk’s crew, being careful not to come any closer than a few cubits away. As the last of the priests assembled, a very heavily laden camel was led by another, more colorful camel with a large man on it’s back. The man was dressed in bronze armor with a spiked helmet on his head. The lead camel strode to within a pace of Marduk and stopped. A tense silence followed as Marduk and the man regarded each other. The rider was the first to break the silence.

“Who are you and what is it you want in Babylon?” This bold question was met with some noisy confusion among the villagers who immediately began to discuss and gesture. Some even fell to their knees, frightened by his tone of voice to the outsiders. Despite asking the question aloud, the rider remained friendly, but suddenly turned a stony stare to the crowd that had gathered. “Silence!” He commanded. The crowd did indeed fall silent but continued to show expectant fear on their faces toward the newcomers. The temple priests echoed the same facial expressions while the warriors showed no emotion. “Now go away and stand vigil over my affairs from a distance”. At that, the priests were visibly shaken as they and the throng wandered away, looking over their shoulders in bewilderment. The guards only moved a bit further away and turned to stand between their lord and the now more distant onlookers.

Marduk glanced at Semiramis, then back at the rest of his crew, then opened his mouth to speak. “I greet you in the name of Marduk, son of Enki, and I come to hold counsel with the great hunter Nimrud.”

A broad smile spread on the rider’s face as he dismounted and strode up to Marduk. “It has been long, cousin. What of your father?”

Marduk smiled back, “He is well, despite Enlil’s many attempts to hinder him. And you have fared well with what fortune has left you.” as he extended his hand and gestured to the city and to the crowd of people and with a flourish, out to the North as if to include the cities of UR and Eridu in his pronouncement.

“I hunt hu-men and conquer their cities. Then, I combine my cities in trade and commerce to build great works in my name.” Nimrud gleamed with pride as he pointed to the city in the distance. “Lately, there are so few left unconquered that I have taken the task of tracking the wild beasts that torment my people; and in gratitude, they serve me with fervor.”

“You have indeed increased your talents. How fare you with lord Enlil?”

“He leaves me in peace. He has no use for hu-men, but does what he can to entice the Nephilim to aid his cause. Two of my best generals have gone to serve him, but I serve myself and that does not please him.” Nimrud confessed.

“I come to offer aid in return for yours. Does this interest you?” Marduk smiled, confident that what he had to offer would be greedily accepted.

“I have conquered cities at my whim. None have yet opposed me and I rule everything within weeks’ ride in any direction. What could you offer?”

Marduk’s party shifted their positions as Semiramis stepped forward. Marduk nodded to her.

She spoke with little hesitation, like she had rehearsed her part. “A great king such as you must have a long life and powerful weapons with which to smite his enemies. Lord Marduk can offer secrets that were used by the gods a thousand years ago.”

Nimrud’s face became impassive, almost smirking, he gestured to the Vimana. “And what could I possibly do for you in return, that you cannot already do for…yourselves?”

Marduk smiled. “you have fierce warriors; unattached to Enlil, to start with… Is there somewhere else we can discuss this? or shall we stand in the hot sun?”

Nimruds expression immediately changed to embarrassment “…And my hospitality is amiss! Bring me camels and shade!” He clapped loudly as his attendants jumped to fulfill his commands.

Before long, five camels, complete with carpet saddles and protruding sunshades appeared and Marduk’s crew was beckoned to embark for the privacy and comfort of Nimrud’s palace.

————————————

The palace did not particularly impress Marduk at first sight. However, he considered that Nimrud was a hunter and warrior, rather than a reclining monarch with soft unblemished hands and little to do. There will be time enough for him to enjoy the splendor of true kingship once Enlil is properly deposed. Then, would he expect to give the King control of the whole region from the lesser sea to the cypress forests, while Marduk himself would be king of the Nile valley from the great sea to the mountain jungles.

Marduk looked around. It was simple to locate all six of his own people among Nimrud’s hu-men attendants, who were much shorter in stature than the Nephilim. Marduk was taller than any of them, except possibly Nimrud, who also towered above the others as he entered the room.

Nimrud shushed and waved his hands as the attendants vanished into the tapestries on the wall. “There will be a feast in your honor. My people will sacrifice a bull and present it to their gods as we negotiate our future conquest. Please relax and refresh from your journey.” He indicated expectantly to one side of the room where servants were holding tapestries open for entrance into the bath hall.

Marduk hung back as Semiramis led the group through the curtains. He noticed Nimrud’s eyes following her intently as she dissapeared from view. “She is handsome?” this was spoken more as a statement than a question. “She leads my crew and is the most talented technician I have seen in centuries.” Then he changed the subject. “Shall we discuss some things now while we are alone and leave the details to the feast?”

“You want manpower. I have warriors, some Nephilim, but the rest are mostly hu-men, all unlearned in the ways of the Igigi. The rest are simple farmers and rough artisans. What can they offer you?” mused Nimrud.

“I want you to build a tower”. Said Marduk. “One that will reach the heavens. And when it is complete, we will send your warriors to snatch the very Raft of Heaven from the grasp of Enlil, for the glory of Enki.” Marduk paused, he knew that the whole plan would hinge on Nimrud’s reaction.

“Our craftsmen are not advanced enough to undertake such a work. It would cost gold and goods to even get them to try.” Nimrud was openly skeptical now.

“That is one reason why Enlil would not oppose your efforts. Though he does not honor you, he also does not demand your loyalty, nor does he tax your people. You are free to build your kingdom as long as he does not know that Lord Enki supports your cause, or you his. I will send craftsmen from Egypt to teach your people. They will bring gold to spend at your bazaars. Your merchants will send caravans to Nubia where we will supply them with goods at discount. I will send fine seed and new techniques for your farmers to feed the workers. All you must do is to act as if this is all your own plan. Claim that you are building an altar to honor lord Enlil with sacrifices. Tell him that the tallest altar brings the honor closest to the gods. Tell him that when you are finished, all he need do is to pluck the sacrifice from the altar. He will think you have become wise in your old age and may even assist you to completion.”

“So you propose that this tower would reach to the heavens! I do not believe it possible. You would make a fool of me. They will say that old Nimrud has lost his sense. I will be the subject of laughter in my own palace.” Nimrud’s face now becoming red with anger.

“The tower need not reach completely to the Raft of Heaven.” Said Marduk, “It must reach only to where the air thins; a tall mountain height, yet taller than any that exists within a month’s journey. The remaining distance will be traversed by Enlil’s crew with a tether of gossamer lowered from the Raft, this tether will be used as a hoist to transport goods (and your warriors) up to the Raft of Heaven. We will smuggle the warriors as temple priests who care for the sacrifices.”

Nimrud frowned. Calm returning. “This is indeed a mad undertaking. But, if it were to succeed, we would then be in posession of the Raft of Heaven, a coveted prize for anyone.”

“For Lord Enki.” Marduk corrected, relaxing now that Nimrud was completing the puzzle on his own.

“Then what is the profit for me?” asked Nimrud, now ready to negotiate.

“The prosperity of your kingdom for one. Also, there is the knowledge you would gain along the way. Finally…” he paused just a moment to be sure he had full attention, “Some of my crew are life-code specialists. You are growing old. There are ways to double and even triple your lifespan. You could be youthful again as a result. Of course, this plan of ours could take years to accomplish anyway…”

“I have no heir.” Nimrud said carefully. “So am I to understand that I would have your handsome Igigi captain at my side?” He said this more as a request than a question.

Marduk was a bit surprised at the request, but not entirely amazed. “I will allow Semiramis that choice.” he countered, knowing that a deal had been made. “Yet I will tell you this. She is the life-code specialist of whom I speak.”

Nimrud’s grin was wide.

Marduk smiled too. “Remember cousin, our deal is held close. Secrecy is an essential ingredient of our success.” They both nodded and clasped hands. “For your feast, my name must be Melkarth. If my true identity be revealed, the word would go far and wide to rest in the ear of Enlil and confound our plans. Instead, let Semaramis be the guest of honor at your feast.”

Nimrud’s grin became wider.

————————————

As the day wore on and the shadows grew longer, the chaos in the streets gradually increased until the din became that of a bazaar at midmorning. The smell of roasting Buffalo permeated the air, punctuated by the vague texture of herbs, on the breeze that flowed into the palace window. “Melkarth”, drinking liberally from the wine vase provided by the servants, discussed the situation with Semiramis while breathing in the promise of the night’s feast.

“He seems to understand the risk.” said Semiramis carefully, hoping to coax more strategy from the increasingly drunken god, who was now dressed as a wandering sage.

“Risk.” Said Melkarth, nearly pushing over the table in front of him. “The real risk…is that Enlil will suspect revenge from you. What of that?”

“Bel, it is true that I want revenge for his conduct. Yet I did not make it known to him when I left, which is probably why he let me go…out of pity. Yet I would kill him if I had the opportunity!”

“Is your desire strong enough to allow you to give up mourning your husband’s death early, so that you may pursue a political means to revenge?”

“What does mourning have to do with politics?” Semiramis suddenly felt a little vulnerable.

“Nimrud favors you. whether we succeed or not, you could easily become his consort…”

“…And have his ear, among other things.” She finished for him. Now aware of the magnitude of the risk. “If we succeed, I could kill Enlil myself.”

Melkarth took another drink of wine and sat back to take another large breath of meaty air. “if you insist… You could actually save me some considerable effort.”

“Tell me then, oh wise father, forsooth, what kinds of gifts can one such as I offer a king that cannot be had from a common servant or daughter of a wealthy merchant?”

“Just give him what he wants. An heir worthy of a king? Stout war beasts? Use your imagination.” Melkarth, waved his hands in the air to exaggerate his point.

————————————

Melkarth arrived to the feast as late as he dared, without offending his host. As it was, Nimrud was much more interested in the lady Semiramis than in the old wandering sage, and made it abundantly clear as Melkarth presented himself and offered his “meager” services to the great king Nimrud. Eyes met, but the ruse was kept close, so when the king waved him away in disinterest, no one was the wiser. The old sage settled in amongst some of the wealthier merchants who turned a cold shoulder to his intrusion, until he started playing games of chance with the children. Eventually, they were paying Melkarth good shekels to tell their fortunes. No one was dissapointed.

Nimrod poured on the charm. Uncaring that the beautiful woman beside him could easily be four times his age. He repeatedly called for more ale and each time toasted to her beauty. Eventually, when everyone was quite drunken with babylonian beer, the King awkwardly stood up and made his announcement.

“Because of the great riches of this kingdom and my good fortune in love and war, I will open the treasuries to build such a monument to the great god Enlil that has never been built by Hu-men. The likes of which will bring us to the very heavens, so that we may worship the goodness of Enlil, and thereby guarantee the continued prosperity of our great kingdom.”

Nimrud tottered a bit in his seat as he raised a cup of newly poured beer. His attendants astonished at his animation, rushing to serve him. “I drink to the beauty of this fine lady beside me, the prosperity of our land, and the glory of Enlil, Lord Anunaki of the Earth and Air.”

By this time, the merchant who was interested in Melkarth’s story about the flood, turned away toward the throng gathered around the king and started jabbering about how bad this was for business and how unfair it was that he must be forced to choose sides and alienate his customers that followed the other gods. Soon, the whole corner of the room containing merchants was abuzz with curses and wails so much that the din overcame the musicians.

Semiramis expected anger from Nimrod, and wondered what he could do, if anything, to establish his power in this unexpected situation without alienating his own support. Instead, the drunken king strode over to the merchant and stared him in the eye. He reached down and grabbed the hilt of his sword, but thought better of drawing it. Then he said softly, so only those nearby could hear: “So what would you have me do? Spurn the graces of the most powerful, and possibly the rightful heir? He still commands the sky. They say that Enki is gone. Destroyed in the deluge, the flood that destroyed our world. We must have allies…”

“But our fortunes have fared well as it is” Said the angry and bewildered merchant. “why must we declare our loyalties and complicate things?”

Nimrod raised his voice so that all could hear. “That will be discussed tomorrow. Attend me when the sun rises. My advisors, Generals, and Merchant leaders. I will chart the course for Babylon in the morning.”  With that, he waved at the musicians to continue playing and walked shakily back his former spot next to the lady Semiramis.

“You must not tell anyone the real reason for the project” mumbled Semiramis into his ear.

“I dare not” whispered Nimrod, then he waved for more beer.

—Coming next—-
Semiramis designs war beasts (cheetah, horse)
The tower of Babel is built
The tower doubles as a form of communication

Posted on December 9, 2008 on 3:43 pm | In Stories | 4 Comments
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4 Comments »

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  1. Is there any intention to finish this tale?

    Comment by Eyrisahn — April 21, 2009 #

  2. Oh yes, I totally intend to finish this as well as the rest of them. The epic battle in my head is which one of these stories will dominate in a finished novel.

    Comment by Admin — April 22, 2009 #

  3. Algunos novatos piesan que es bueno colocar tu puebo en un rincón para estar
    protegido por los bordes del mapa.

    Google Translate: Some newcomers think it is good to place your people in a corner to be
    protected by the edges of the map.

    Comment by www.facebook.com — November 4, 2015 #

  4. After an attempt to translate (English is my only language) This sounds like a plug for a Facebook Game.
    To be fair, the intrigues of the gods throughout the centuries have been nothing more than a game filled with intrigue and deception.
    Nimrud was smart to understand that his plan must be kept from even his most trusted people in order for it to be successful. In essence, placing his people in a corner so that they could indeed be protected by the edges of the map, and Enlil’s wrath, should it fail.

    My apologies for leaving this to languish all this time. I have found that there is much of my story plan that should come second to the series of events that will lead to the building of Nimrud’s temple to “worship” the god Enlil. However, the historian will note that inevitably, the tower will be thrown down and the inhabitants scattered to the corners of the map. This event will continue to be the cornerstone of the story. I don’t want to rewrite history, but rather to propose alternate perspectives on how that history is to unfold. Thanks for the comment, however it was intended. I do mean to finish this tale, even if so many others remain unfinished.

    Comment by Jeff — November 5, 2015 #

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