“MENACE FROM EARTH”
Albert Barrgrave wanted to take unhindered possession of the astounding discovery and …
… in a shadow session, his lawyers brought the case to the Supreme Court seeking a ruling to nationalize the finds and to forcibly remove Carver and his meddlesome attorney from the site—and the equation. With special assistance from the Department of Justice, Barrgrave prevailed in setting aside Judge Feit’s Anchorage U.S. District Court decision. Additionally, no one was to be permitted to go into the cavern until proper security and science teams could be sent in; proper, meaning hand-picked by Barrgrave and Bixler from the private sector—their private sector. Barrgrave Industries was also granted the exclusive right to oversee a full pathological examination of the nearly billion-year-old mummified pilot and initiate an immediate effort to reverse-engineer the craft’s system to learn what technologies could be adapted.
Leslee Myles clearly had the facts and the law on her side, but she was prevented at every turn from arguing her case. The Attorney General’s office provided a number of trumped up legal precedents, and two of the Supreme Court Justices were originally appointed through the efforts of Vice President Bixler, so their decidedly biased decision was of no particular surprise to anyone.
It is a matter of executive privilege and national security,” they ruled exactly as they were supposed to in 6-3 decision.
Leslee framed a written objection which was noted and ignored. She and Zack had summarily been given their walking papers and ordered to turn everything over to the government. Moreover, they were warned that if they even showed up at the site, given the national security aspect of the situation, they would be met with deadly force.
Zack, fearing for Snow and Joshua’s safety, ordered them to return to the university and run tests on all the items that he and Leslee managed to appropriate from the excavation area. At first they objected strenuously but eventually they complied. It seemed that Zack’s tenure with the life-on-Earth altering project was ended—but it only seemed that way.
When the urgent directive came to DARPA from the Vice President’s office seeking one of its best and brightest, Dax Wolf was immediately recalled from Geneva.
Furious, Dax resisted. He asserted that he was at a crossroads in his research on matter and energy fragments. “Why are you taking me away from my experiments?” he fumed. That information was strictly need to know, he was told, and as yet he had no need to know. So without any further explanation he found himself flying well above 40,000 feet in an FA-35 two-seat Joint Strike Fighter/Trainer bound for Elmendorf Air Force Base, north of Anchorage. Dax seethed for the entire Mach 2 flight over the North Pole and was still simmering when he boarded a revving Sikorsky X2 advanced coaxial-rotor helicopter and was whisked from Elmendorf and touched down at Kodiak Airport, a joint civil and military facility.
To his complete surprise, upon his arrival at the cave site on the island where the Gulf of Alaska meets the Pacific Ocean, Wolf was met by none other than Vice President Bixler himself, along with Albert Barrgrave and General Ethan Mitchell. When he was briefed on the situation, his skepticism bubbled over into disdain.
“A billion-year-old alien spacecraft? Intelligent life existing before the first hominids on Earth slapped their handprints on cave walls?” he said frostily. “What, no crop circles? How long has this nonsense been going on? If it is real, then it could throw everything we think about this world … no, I take that back … it could throw everything we think about the Universe into complete chaos.”
Dax Wolf and the entire security and science contingent assembled by Bixler and Barrgrave were placed under the command of General Mitchell.
Wolf was torn between his scientific need to see the prize on the one hand and another sudden onset of twitching, chattering and quaking on the other. It made no sense. First of all, it wasn’t that cold, and second, he was wearing thermal undergarments, several layers of clothing and a military-issue extreme cold weather parka. Then he grabbed onto something that stunned him. He realized that he was freezing from the inside out and not the outside in. Wolf was also vaguely aware of a mysterious omnipresence that even his enormous intellect could not begin to comprehend. Maybe there really was something worth investigating.
When Dax and the group crawled through the small access tunnel and descended the long flight of stone stairs into the cavern, they found that the craft was once again encased solidly in the corrie glacier and its silhouette was barely discernible. How could this have happened in only a few days? General Mitchell ordered that the object be chopped free but each time a piece was chipped away, the blue ice would regenerate in seconds. This didn’t simply impede progress, it completely thwarted it. It also forced Bixler and Barrgrave into considering an action that caused them to ingest increased doses of Mylanta, and Dax Wolf’s earlier sharp cynicism had at once turned to acute scientific curiosity.
The apartment multiplex was in a pleasant Anchorage neighborhood. The month-to-month two-bedroom, third-floor rental, number 315, in Building 9 was a far cry from Zack’s previous, squalid Aurora B. Motor Lodge roach-pit in its having the requisite acceptable furniture and clean floors. A fresh blanket of snowfall added an eerie silence to the frosty arctic twilight as Leslee, bundled in an oversized and very faux-furry parka, opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto the balcony. Her hazel eyes glimmered in the reflection of the dancing beams produced by the spellbinding aurora borealis light-show. She leaned on the railing and took a deep breath and as she exhaled into the freezing air, a swirl of vapor appeared and quickly dissipated. Being a California girl she was amused by this phenomenon and started taking a rapid series of deeper breaths which produced increasingly larger mini-clouds.
Leslee was getting a bit woozy from hyperventilation and if Zack didn’t have the Tokens’ Wimoweh ring tone on his cell phone set at an extremely high volume, she never would have heard it through the insulated, double-paned glass. She was tickled by this. Much of what Zack did tickled her. Leslee steadied herself and after a moment, Zack, in basic bathrobe, whipped the door open and burst out into the night’s chill. He took hold of her hands and began dancing her around. The jumping and skipping made Zack and Leslee breathe heavier. The frosty breath-mist coming from their mouths combined with the haunting hue of the flickering northern lights made their movements seem like a part of some primitive ritual.
They’re picking us up in two hours at Elmendorf. We’re back in the game; we’re back in the game!” Zack shouted euphorically. Leslee was caught up in his enthusiasm and began to laugh but then shrugged her shoulders and raised her eyebrows indicating she didn’t quite understand what the party was about. Zack caught this. “General Mitchell … the cavern,” he gurgled. “No progress. No drip, drip. Not without us. The craft was resealed again in the corrie glacier, and every time they tried to melt or chip the ice away, it came right back.”
When Zack and Leslee arrived at the bustling dig site in the mysterious cavern, Zack immediately began belting out orders.
I want this place cleared. Counselor Myles and me will remain down here. Everyone else please relocate yourselves up and out.” Zack indicated up and out with exaggerated hand signals as a flight attendant would. “Also, make sure you all stay beyond a mile radius from here. That goes for everyone, including you, General Mitchell.”
The General, being a General, wasn’t buying. “I’m in charge here, Carver, not you. I’ll send the support staff out, but I’m staying right here—and Dr. Wolf as well.”
Leslee pulled the hood of her parka back and stood nose to nose with Mitchell. “General, this is not about who’s the boss. You hit a wall here—a big, blue, icy wall, and you asked for our help. Our plan is to re-create the same set of circumstances that made the craft uncover itself in the first place. Dr. Carver and I were here for that. You and Dr. Wolf were not. Do you want us to leave?” The general was about respond, but thought better and stopped himself. He knew full well that Leslee had him, checkmate. Game over.
A short while after Mitchell and everyone else left, Zack handed his section of the rectangular gizmo to Leslee. She quickly removed its twin from her parka, lined them up and the rainbow of spectral colors shot out from the combined devices and bathed the corrie glacier in its vibrating hues. The ancient frozen mound began to melt. This time they knew the drill and sat comfortably on the cavern floor waiting to make like fish again.