Hercules Gray and The Malta Connections, part 1

It was meant to be the historical exhibition of the century. Thousands of ancient artifacts, coming from all over the world, brought together under one roof – New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Only one man could bring about such an achievement – Hercules Gray!

For months, Gray’s own Hercules Foundation for Research and Technology gathered archaeological treasures – some generously loaned from other governments and institutes, some discovered by the Foundation’s own research teams. On the crisp late May morning, Hercules Gray himself led a delegation of diplomatic officials and press representatives around the vast halls, describing the many treasures from memory, perfectly recalling various anecdotes and historical facts regarding them. For two hours, they were transported to another world – or rather, worlds, as Hercules Gray insisted.

The entire globe was represented, From Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley to the tiny island of Malta. ‘The even smaller sister island of Gozo houses the oldest free standing building in the world!’ Hercules Gray enthused, as the party followed him through the museum space, now transformed into a literal labyrinth. As they turned towards the exhibition’s next section, a slight vibration was felt coming from the ground. Suddenly, the very museum itself was shook to its foundations by what sounded to be a huge explosion from its upper floors!

Fire Alarms started ringing all over New York’s Fifth Avenue. Before the group could even start panicking, Hercules Gray quickly took control and led the way to safety. From outside, thick black smoke could be seen pouring out of the Met, to the shocked looks of passers by and onlookers. After making sure all of the group were safely outside, Hercules Gray immediately went back inside the museum, before anyone could even think of stopping him.

The lights were out, and the thick smoke was slowly filling the museum from a hole in the ceiling. Even so, Hercules noticed two figures clad in black cloaks making their way around. They appeared wary and suspicious. Hercules’ panther like reflexes kicked in, and he jumped into action after them. However, they noticed him, and started running away. The chase was on!

‘There they are!’ one of the cloaked figures was heard shouting. They faced three other figures, in bodysuits and goggles, which were clearly making their way with artifacts. One of them produced a pistol from a holster, which was aimed at the walls. Upon firing, a hole was blown into the premises. The mysterious trio sprinted off, leaped and rocketed off, jetpacks enabling them a timely getaway. Something, however, tumbled down from their spoils. A small statuette of a reclining figure, carved in stone. Hercules Gray made his way through and picked it up.

‘It’s from Malta,’ he was told. ‘I think we owe you an explanation.’

It was one of the cloaked two. Masks covered their faces, but the voice sounded female. On facing them, they both showed him a medal in the shape of a familiar eight-pointed cross.

‘We are from the Order of St. John, Hercules Grey,’ said the second, with a male voice. ‘And we need to speak to you on a very urgent matter.’