Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.
Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet
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Earth: 2084 November 9th
Standard Antarctica Base
The leading edge of the artifact had been exposed and that had led to the discovery.
Doctor Edward Muney had been on site for just a few hours with a small group of researchers: Four; the best he could do on short notice. It would have to do he told himself as he bent into the near constant wind and made his way to the large dome that had been airdropped over the site.
The ice sheet had been melting more and more every season now and things were constantly being found in the ice. For the last two seasons he had made sure he was here with whatever he could scrape together. This season he was sure would be a bust and the money he had managed to raise on the strength of strange artifacts having been found would really only last a partial season: Longer now that the researchers were so few; maybe longer still with the recent discovery that could generate a new round of donations once he made it known..
Two artifacts that were completely unexplainable had been found just the week before. The first were the fossilized remains of a woman, but unlike any woman ever seen on Earth. This woman was eight feet at the shoulder with an elongated face: The skin hardened and nearly black with age. Scans showed that the bone structure was very unusual. The eye sockets were twice the size of a human eye socket. The cheekbones were high and angular; the mouth and nose seeming far too small in comparison to the balance of the skeleton. The hips were wide and appeared human in every respect despite them being oversized.
She was dressed in clothing that was remarkably intact, suggesting she had been here for a few thousand years at most, but that thinking might be completely wrong. The clothing was like nothing he had ever seen: The material and process that had been used to make it was far more advanced than anything he had ever seen. Samples had been clipped and would be sent back on the evening transport along with body tissue samples from the mummified remains and an ice sample collected from the site. A few dozen other samples and if he could get a piece of this latest find that would go back too. Muney reached the door in the side of the dome, pulled it open against the rush of wind and stepped inside.
Inside was a small room designed to shield the interior dig from the outside elements completely. The inside door would not open until the outer door had closed and the pressure had equalized. Presently, after much jaw flexing and ear popping he began to feel more acclimated to the changes in pressure. He pushed the door open and stepped inside the dome.
The ice was a light blue; the color vivid in the bright electric lights and the light that shone through from the transparent panels set into the dome at measured intervals. The object rose in the center of the dome, shiny metallic or metallic like. A crew of workmen that had been here for a few weeks now was using the melt equipment to remove the ice and building scaffolding into the sides of the resulting pit as it sank deeper each hour. Muney was the first archeologist on scene and so he had taken control of the dig.
As he walked closer to the relic he could see that the pit had sunk another seven or eight feet down into the ice: The gleaming artifact now seemed to tower over him as he made the scaffold and climbed down into the pit.
“Doctor, doctor,” Aimes said with a smile as he came over to him. “We have found a portal; a window into this place.” He hurried down the side of the artifact, stepping around workers as he went. As Muney followed him he could tell from this advantage that the surface had a definite curve to it. He was fostering a belief that this was a ship of some sort: A ship from someplace other than Earth: Not a far leap, nothing like this had ever been built on Earth. At least nothing he had ever seen and if it was some top secret experiment gone wrong he supposed the entire dig would have been shut down by now by some top secret agency with a few letters for a name.
“Ah,” Aimes said as he slowed and stopped at the side of the artifact where a large blue plastic tarp hung over the side of it.
Muney lifted the side of the sheet looked but saw nothing. He looked to Aimes and as he did he caught the change in the side of the surface. Not so much transparent as lacking the reflective metallic surface. He stepped closer; holding the plastic tarp high, taking the flashlight Aimes handed him. He caught the break in the seam when his eyes picked it out from the changing light. He placed his hand on the surface and ran it over the seam. He could feel the change in surface texture as his hand passed from the metallic like surface to the slightly less reflective black surface.
“Try the light,” Aimes said.
He looked to Aimes, he seemed overexcited. Two workers passing by with one of the ice machines overheard the conversation and slowed.
“Get back to work,” Aimes suddenly yelled. “This is no business of yours… Move.” The two workers moved off quickly, leaving Muney looking at Aimes questioningly. “This is perhaps not something you want to get around,” Aimes told him. “Drop the tarp around you and look with the flashlight… You will see and it will keep prying eyes away.”
Muney nodded, stepped under the tarp and let it fall. He blinked several times. A muted blue light from the work lights that shone through the tarp; it gleamed on the surface. He flicked the flashlight on and aimed it at the glass; the glare of light bounced back instead of illuminating whatever might be beyond the portal. He flicked the light off and stepped close to the side of the artifact, cupped his hands around his eyes and squinted to see; a dim red glow from the interior. His breath caught in his throat: There was no doubt now. This was more than just an abandoned relic. The interior of whatever this artifact was was still intact; what else could the red glow mean? He asked himself. He pulled his scarf from his neck. It was far too warm to wear inside the dome, but for the present he needed it for the flashlight. He carefully wound the scarf around the end of the flashlight, extending the barrel slightly, but at the same time creating a cushion that could be pressed tightly to the portal to keep the light from simply bouncing back off the surface and blinding him. He stepped forward again, placed the flashlight against the portal and the inside of the artifact lit up, bathed in a red glow. He tilted the light slightly and followed the beam as it swept the interior of what appeared to be a vessel.
He let his breath out in a gasp as the light illuminated and began to sweep across what was obviously a ship of some sort… An airship he wondered? Deep sea vessel? Something like a nuclear submarine? If so, how did it get… His thoughts ground to a halt as the light caught upon and illuminated a line of chairs that faced a wall of monitor panels and graphs: All occupied; all the occupants wore the same clothing as the mummified remains that had turned up in the ice outside of the ship. A leathery hand was exposed here, the back of a bald head, high domed and not human; the side of a facial profile in deep shadow and unspecific in details, except these were definitely not humans, the eye socket; although resting within that deep shadow was twice the size of a human eye socket. He flicked the light off quickly and backed away almost as quickly
“Easy, doctor,” Aimes said from beside him. He had no idea how long he had been standing there.
“Jesus among us… You saw this… This…”
“Aliens… And that means that the woman… The woman is an alien too,” Aimes said in an excited whisper.
“Jesus among us,” Muney repeated. A single tear rolled down one cheek, he brushed it away. “My God man who knows about this? Why didn’t you tell me when you discovered it?” His voice had fallen to a strained whisper.
“No one, doctor and keeping it that way is why I didn’t send you an update in the main bunker. There is no privacy here, no confidentiality during communications. The Russians have it as soon as we say it. The work crew is always infiltrated too. And it isn’t just the Russians: the Americans say they are our allies; the Germans, but the truth is this entire area is unsecured: A thousand other sets of ears are listening in.”
“I have a Satellite phone with a scrambler,” Muney assured him. “No one can intercept that or tap that kind of transmission.” He stepped back. “Anything else I should know?”
“I stopped the melt on the foremost area. It looks like it is curving under… Looking more like a ship.”
“Good…” Muney stepped out from behind the tarp right into the sighted nose of a rifle. The soldier that held it was uniformed in a manner he had never seen. He shoved the rifle in his face and pushed him back. Muney felt the site as it ripped into his upper lip and turned away quickly to deflect the barrel as it headed for his eye. He felt the site rip its way across his cheek and angle off toward his ear; he cried out in spite of himself. He caught himself against the side of the artifact and stopped what had turned into a fall. His head snapped around quickly as a burst of gunfire erupted from nearby. Voices rose in argument and then pain, followed by several more gunshots. He lurched away from the ship, surprised to find himself moving; a split second later pain slammed into his chest and he felt his heartbeat stagger. His eyes swept across the ice as he found himself falling and he saw the lifeless form of Aimes sprawled on the ice before him.
He hit the ice and bounced, surprised that there was no pain at all just an odd sensation. His face settled against the ice, cool against his cheek; colder and then gone all at once along with his eyesight. Just a dim red veil of sight, pulsing along with his heartbeat; pulsing… Pulsing… Slowing…
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