Cortez, from France, tells his story of how he lived before the end of the world
"I having trouble believing you," I said to Cortez, the French representative on Ark.
It was lunchtime and we were in the cafeteria. After a discussion about our duties on board the ship I had asked him about his life before he was transported onto the Ark.
However the way his story began sounded far-fetched.
"I'm telling you I found buried treasure."
"Ok start from the beginning, when you were told you were going to be a crew member of the Ark," I said.
Cortez took a swig of water and once suitably refreshed he started his story.
"So I used to live in wine country, specifically the Champagne region. My dad worked for one of the local vineyards. When the Destroyer arrived and began taking the water, a local aristocrat who owned the vineyard started hording water and building wells. She got everyone who worked in the wine making process involved, and very soon our small area of France had a sustainable water reservoir. We hid this fact from everyone beyond the valleys were the vineyards were, we didn't want anyone getting wind of our water supply situation. We ever turned the edges of the vineyards into a dust bowl, on purpose, to discourage people from entering."
"What happened when Dr Ghost showed up for you?" I asked.
"He and a military convoy came for me and that was a tense situation as everyone believed he was coming for our water. Old weapons which had been hidden in cellars and lofts since the days of WW2 came out. The aristocrat who owned everything, let the Dr pass, concluding that if she didn't the repercussions of fighting the government would be far worse.
"Dr Ghost explained to my family what was going to happen to me and gave me the nanite injections. He deemed me safe enough where I was and left me there until the teleport. I expected to live out the rest of my time on Earth in the vineyard.
"However refugees were fleeing into Europe. It still rained on the continent and people followed the water. Soon people found out about our supplies and the vineyards started to fill up.
"My parent believed it was unsafe for me there and so they contacted Dr Ghost and he arranged for them to come to the UK which was safer.
"We couldn't fly though, the air was becoming clogged with particulates that prevented travel, the channel was drained, so boats were out of the question, instead we were told to drive."
"Drive, what across the Channel, was there even a route?" I asked.
"Yes there was, however that wasn't the issue, the issue was the terrain, the sea floor wouldn't have been a dry sea bed it would have been a bog. The Destroyer didn't get all the water, plus the sea life that was left stranded and rotting would have caused health as well as travel problems.
"So one day a convoy of trucks came for me. They were especially adapted drone vehicles, no human drivers.
"My parents and a couple of other family members got on board along with some military men for protection.
"The drive out of the vineyard was horrible because some refugees tried to stop us from leaving. The drones who operated the trucks ploughed straight through them without warning or care."
"Seriously!" I said, imagining for a moment a convoy just running over those poor people.
"Someone had screwed up when they programmed the drone, or maybe they had programmed them that way on purpose," Cortez said. "I mean if you know humanity is going to die why wouldn't you programme it to do anything to protect who you were responsible for."
"Still that is messed up."
"Agreed," Cortez said, "so the drone vehicles continued on, they drove across France and to Calais, where they planned to cross the no longer wet channel. This is where the story gets crazy. So we drove across the beach down a steady decline to the lowest point of the channel.
The cars had been fitted with excellent tyres and state of the art sensors, the drones were finding the best route through to Dover where we would re-join with Great Britain.
"The stench was horrible. So much rotting fish and hoards of flies. at one point there was this field of jelly fish that had become stranded.
"Then we came across another group of cars right in the middle of the channel.
"They were gathered in a rough circle and when we got closer I spotted a digger."
"A digger, you mean with the giant arms and caterpillar tracks?" I asked.
"Why did they have that?"
"They were digging of course, when we neared we saw the piles of sand."
"So what happened."
"They shot at us!" Cortez exclaimed.
"They shot at you?"
"The trucks were armoured so we were completely safe, the bullet strikes sounded like rain. However the tyres could only take so much. The rubber was shredded and our trucks went straight into the mulch of the sea floor." He made a skidding noise, a sort of explosion with his hands.
"So our vehicles were ground and the men and women who were there digging surrounded our trucks.
"We were outnumbered and so we surrendered."
"Wow," I said totally enthralled by this part.
"We were dragged away from our vehicles and brought together next to the pit.
"That's when I saw inside, what they had been digging out."
"What had they uncovered?" I asked.
"A galleon!" He said and let the word hang in the air.
"What like an old pirate ship?"
"No a proper Spanish galleon, buried in the silt and sand since the time of the Spanish Armada."
"I know right. The men who were digging it up had purposefully drove all the way out here to this spot to get at it. When there had been a sea there it would have been impossible.
"But why? The world was ending, money was no use," I said.
"They didn't know that did they," Cortez responded. "Don't forget everyone but us thought that the Ark was still going to come crashing down on the Destroyer. These men still thought that the world was going to continue and so they were looking for a way to make money from the crisis.
"It turned out that this galleon had been a part of the armada and was a special ship, as it was carrying gold to pay for the invasion of England. It was one of the many sunk during the storm that set the entire armada adrift back in the 15th century or 16th?
"The men didn't believe that we were on our way to England they thought we were there to steal their prize. They put us in a group and kept a gun on us at all times."
"How did you get out of there?"
"It was all thanks to one of the soldiers who was with us.
"As the treasure hunters kept digging, unearthing more of the ship they uncovered the gunpowder store."
"Uh oh," I said.
"They treated it carefully since it was actually quite dry and therefore dangerous. The man who was guarding us at some point turned his back on us, excited by the uncovering of the treasure aboard the ship.
"That was when one of my guards, pulled out his lighter.
"He motioned for us to get down let the lighter and threw it into the pit where the other men and the boat was."
Cortez put his hands together then brought them out, splaying his fingers open and said "Kaboom."
"Everyone in the pit disappeared. the guard who was looking after us was blown backwards his body riddled with gold coins which actually continued to rain down on us."
"You all survived?" I asked.
"We did, we were just far enough away."
"How did you make it to England?" I asked.
"One of the treasure hunter's cars was not completely destroyed. Me and my family got inside and drove the rest of the way. We had to leave our guards behind. I assumed they tried to walk the rest of the way, but who knows if they made it."
"Can you prove this happened?" I asked.
Cortez smiled and put his hand down the collar of his shirt and pulled out a necklace, really just a thin strand of string.
Set in a metal frame was a Spanish coin minted with the face of Philip 2nd of Spain.
"I picked one up as we departed, I thought it would make a nice souvenir."
"What ever you do don't tell that story to Alba, that coin technically belongs to her."
We both looked around the cafeteria, she was sitting two tables away.
"Finders keepers," Cortez said. but she still hastily stuffed the coin back under his shirt.
I laughed at him, and he flicked some of his food at me. That started a food fight.