Subsection: The Possibility Chalice Up Subsection: The Possibility Chalice Subsubsection: 23 July 2014 (into the excavation) 

25 June 2014 (rural Thailand, the Dance of Kra, and investigating the rig)

Well, mostly. It’s a pretty unsettled night, as the jungle remains noisy and their perches aren’t the most secure. In the morning they head on to the bridge, which seems intact; they cross, one at a time again, with Diamond ferrying across the heavier equipment. As David’s setting out, there’s a sound of giggling from behind; a shocktrooper runs out of the jungle, waving a large knife about and aiming for the bridge, but Diamond’s guarding the rear and shoots him down. After another day’s hard march, the team gets back to Tezpur.
After baths, rest, and food, the team considers where to go next. The chalice seems to be somewhere on the east side of the Kra Isthmus, and the floatplane seems the best option for getting there (and their pilot, Jagdeep Narindra Singh, who’s mostly been doing local charters out of Bombay, is happy to be paid for a change of pace). They cross into Bangladesh, refuel at Chittagong (while Stephen goes shopping for diving gear), fly down the Andaman Sea, make a short low-level hop across Burmese airspace, then make a second refuelling stop at Myeik before heading into rural Thailand.
As they fly down the east coast in the rough area where the chalice was marked on the map, something stands out straight away: a few miles offshore, there’s a large grey raft with drilling equipment, perhaps an exploratory oil rig. The silver letter K on a red circle is also a point of interest. The nearest habitation appears to be a small fishing village, rising from the docks at the shore to bigger houses up the hill; visible from the air is a remarkably large horse-racing track cut out of the jungle, and nearby up a different hill a temple or monastery and some cleared fields behind it.
They land and pull in to the dock; there’s not much activity, with boats mostly being out for the day, and the old fellow mending his nets doesn’t appear to speak anything except Thai. Further into the village, as the buildings start to get bigger, there’s a variety of food and drink shops, some of which are open if quiet. The owner at one of them speaks some English, and is happy to chat: about a month ago, many Japanese men came (he’s impressed with their fortitude at wearing heavy woollen suits in this climate) and paid the mayor a large sum of money, which he was meant to distribute to the villagers, in return for exploration rights. If they do find oil, it’s supposed to mean lots of money for everyone, but he’s not convinced that the mayor will let much of it slip through his fingers.
The group moves on to the temple, more of a monastery really, where after some gesturing they find an elderly monk who speaks some English (and is somewhat cynical about the whole business, which suggests that nobody else here will understand him). He explains that it is a temple of the Dance of Kra, and, well, it’s easier to watch than to explain.
Five of the younger monks go through what’s clearly a prescribed series of movements. Everyone watching feels a strong, but indefinable, spiritual sensation. Diamond, who has some experience in both dancing and martial arts, watches carefully; it doesn’t look like a training kata, but nor does it make much sense as an actual performance. She memorises the steps, just in case.
The old monk is happy to talk about the various legends surrounding this place; mostly they’re based on rumours of an older temple further down the hill, now sunken offshore. Supposedly there was a treasure in it, guarded by the great beast (stories vary, but tentacles are usually involved) which could only be repelled by the Light of Arashandara (a spiritual entity of some sort); “you must ask Arashandara if this is true”. Other bits of the legend say that “if you are not pure, the flames shall destroy you” and “you must always abase yourself before the many-armed god”.
Stephen looks the place over; it supports about thirty monks, who work in the fields and trade for fish.
Diamond and Thorfin stay to watch the dance again, while Stephen and David head back to the tavern, arranging rooms for the night and looking for an interpreter; the owner’s the best bet for that. Jagdeep would rather sleep in the plane, and the team agrees to help him keep watch. As the fishermen come in, they’re happy to chat with the team about water depths (mostly fairly shallow, sixty feet or less); they’ve all been told to keep at least half a mile away from the rig, which is a shame, because that’s where the best fishing is. Also, if the blue lights that burn on the rig’s pylons day and night ever turn red, they’re to tell Lamsang, who owns the race-course.
The fishermen haven’t seen any sign of diving operations off the platform; in fact they haven’t seen many people about at all.
Thorfin negotiates with one of the captains to hire him and his boat for the night; they all go out, but David and Thorfin stay on the boat at the half-mile limit while Stephen and Diamond dive. They swim round the platform, which is anchored at the corners and has a large cable running into the depths. There’s no sign of actual drilling operations, which doesn’t surprise them. At one corner are three extrusions with hatches on them, which might be airlocks; there’s a mesh bag containing a variety of parts and equipment such as might be used in underwater construction. They hear a high-pitched whining sound…
Meanwhile, near the boat, a metallic object some ten feet long surfaces and speaks warnings in Thai and Japanese; the captain says that it’s asking something about an authorisation code, and “leave the area or be destroyed”. They decide to leave; the object follows them for a little way, then submerges, while the boat carries on to shore.
Stephen and Diamond spy another small submersible, equipped with manipulator arms, approaching the rig; it ignores then, an airlock hatch opens and it enters. They follow the cable down; some forty feet down they find the top of a 75-foot wide flattened dome, which is resting on the bottom at sixty feet. It’s opaque, but seems to have airlock entrances at sea-bed level. More of the submersibles are moving around it, performing construction work.
They return to where the boat should be, and are concerned not to find it there; but it’s only a few miles to shore, and they make it back before dawn for explanations and planning.
 Subsection: The Possibility Chalice Up Subsection: The Possibility Chalice Subsubsection: 23 July 2014 (into the excavation)