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Excerpt for The Fallen Angel by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

THE FALLEN ANGEL



Kathleen Reinoehl-Parton



The Fallen Angel

Written by:

Kathleen Reinoehl-Parton

Copyright 2018 Kathleen Reinoehl-Parton

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition



CHAPTER ONE

The long slender fingers of the pilot moved quickly over the control panel checking the spacecraft’s functions for the 6,399th time. It was made of the same substance as the spacecraft, a pale gold material, light and flexible, but so dense it could withstand all the known hazards of space travel. On the upper right portion of its torso was a circle with two intersecting lines inside and below, three symbols, ∆IO, its identity.

It had large pale blue eyes through which it could see across the spectrum of light from ultra violet to infrared. Its head was covered with silky filaments which could send and receive signals at all wavelengths and frequencies. It had continuously scanned transmissions from the home world. After 200 scans there was silence. They were gone.

When it departed, the home world was about to be annihilated. A star in a part of the cluster had exploded and electromagnetic pulse waves were headed toward the solar system. The orbit of its two moons would become unstable and the impending tidal forces would tear the planet apart. The collision of the moons and massive explosions would affect the entire solar system. The planet and all life would be extinguished and nothing could be done to avert this catastrophe.

The Universe offered no guarantee of long term survival for solar systems and their planets. Planetary malfunctions, solar super novae, cosmic collisions were but a few that would bring a premature end. Such was the nature of the Universe, but if enough time was granted, a civilization could achieve cosmic maturity and rise to the greatest levels of knowledge of the known Universe.

The Sera were highly intelligent with an advanced technological civilization. They developed forms of propulsion that enabled them to conduct remote space exploration with greater and greater speed. They had thus acquired vast amounts of data and knowledge of their galaxy and found solar systems with planets that might support life forms such as their own. This knowledge had now become critically important.

Their astronomical observations, data from exploratory missions and assessments put the estimated number of inhabitable solar systems at 0.001% of the approximately 200 billion stars in the home world’s galaxy. Of that number there were five within reach that evidenced a high degree of long term stability.

They sent this craft and its intelligent machine first to the closest of those chosen for a new and urgent purpose. It would carry the seeds of their species, its history and knowledge, to a planet capable of sustaining them. Within the machine, in a sealed chamber, were frozen male and female cells that would be the first of their kind to populate the new world.

If the first planet was not habitable, it would go on to the next. If just one of the five was successful it would insure that they would not perish forever from the Universe. At best it was a gamble but one they had to take.

CHAPTER TWO

Alexander Shepherd sat at his table going over the now unclassified government documents regarding UFO’s, something he would never have imagined doing a year ago. He had been an avid rock hound in his youth and the accidental discovery of ancient pottery and animal bones and Indian spear points, along with the Indiana Jones movies, had fueled his desire to study archeology. He wanted to know where it all began, the origins of the human species, and thought that he might, like Indiana Jones, find the hidden treasure that would unravel the mystery. He had spent many hours tracing the genealogy of his parents. His mother was Apache Indian, her ancestors had walked this land a thousand years ago and he traced his father’s family back to the Mayflower. Alex had inherited his mother’s black hair and dark eyes and his father’s fair complexion. At almost six feet, he inherited his height from both of them. The often rugged work of archeology left him tanned and fit.

Alex graduated cum laude from the University of New Mexico five years earlier and then did a year of postgraduate work for a research team at the University of Santa Fe that combined Archeology and Anthropology. He was invited to continue with the team and work at the University to study early human civilizations and readily accepted. His reasons were numerous, some practical and some personal; the work was interesting and paid him a decent salary, he had a great love of the New Mexico landscape, and it was home.

During his college studies and for three years with the University research team, Alex had vigorously adhered to the foundations of archeology, studying the fragments of civilizations past, the bones of humans and animals, scratching in the dirt to uncover some tantalizing treasure of knowledge.

As part of his research job, he had the opportunity to travel and examine newly discovered archeological finds. Alex had gone to Seattle, Washington to study the remains of Kennewick Man, the skeletal remains of a prehistoric man found on the bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington. He was a modern human, a Caucasoid male, about six feet tall. Through radiocarbon dating, the age of the skeleton was fixed at 9,300 years, placing modern humans on this continent far earlier than it had previously been thought.

After Kennewick Man and the realization that modern humans were more advanced at an earlier date and more widely traveled than had been known before, whatever archeological evidence that might exist of their origins had to be placed farther back in time, more remote and difficult to find than ever.

He had gone to the Natural History Museum in Oslo to study the newly found 47 million year old primate fossil called Ida which some had hailed as a possible missing link. It was remarkable due to the fact that it was a whole skeleton and as such might provide more information on the primate family tree than had been possible up to now. Paleontologists said it was far more likely that it was an ancestor of lemurs rather than humans.

Then there was great excitement when Ardi, a female hominid that lived four millions years ago, was discovered. An ongoing study at Kent State, Washington had reversed the common wisdom of human evolution. Rather than evolving from some apelike creature, it was now believed that humans and apes evolved from some ancient common ancestor. Although Ardi was intriguing, it was determined that it was not the common ancestor scientists had hoped for.

On his last research trip, Alex had gone to a site called Malapa near Johannesburg, South Africa, a location famous for ancient fossils. Deep in a pit they had discovered two million year old skeletons, the most complete found to date, one male and one female. They had been named Australopithecus sediba. After examining the research papers and a microscopic sampling of the bones, he was able to have a close up view of them along with several others from various research facilities. The skeletons had been moved from the site to a nearby university laboratory for tests and evaluation. The bones had then been assembled and laid out on two large rectangular tables covered with white cloth in a large conference room. A video was also prepared showing the discovery site and the pictorial reconstruction done by a paleoartist. The group was led into the room by one of the scientists involved in the analysis of the specimens. He would provide them with data and invite questions. They arranged themselves around the tables with the speaker at the head.

The discussion centered around the theory that they represented an intermediate form between earlier primitive fossils and our genus, Homo. However it had a small brain, apelike shoulders and arms adapted to climbing and was about the size of an orangutan. The artist's rendering clearly showed an apelike face, with a body like a small gorilla.

As they walked around the table, Alex noticed a young woman listening intently to the speaker. His own interest in the discussion seriously diminished as he looked at the girl. She had green eyes and long light brown hair. She was wearing jeans that revealed nicely shaped long legs, and was almost as tall as he was. He hadn’t previously seen her in the conference room but then, as was his habit, he had arrived early and positioned himself close to the speaker.

At the end of the discussion the group walked around the skeletons one last time and began to file out of the room. Alex angled himself next to her as they left the room and tried to come up with something to get a conversation going.

“Hello,” he said as he held out his hand. “Alex Shepherd.”

She reached out and briefly clasped his hand. “Marina Miescher.”

“What’s your field of study?” Lame attempt, he thought.

“Genetics and behavioral anthropology. My research focus is DNA, the human genome project,” she answered quickly. “And you?”

“Archeology and anthropology but my research here is on the archeological aspect of the find. What’s a geneticist doing at an archeological find?”

“Actually I was here getting some research data and samples of DNA from local indigenous people but I had a bit of time to see the Malapa find so I thought I’d take a look.”

As they neared the exit he asked, “Would you like to get some lunch with me? Compare notes?”

“That’s a very tempting invitation,” she said with a smile. “But I have to catch a plane to Leipzig in two hours and I have to pick up my bags. You know how long it takes to get through check in. I’ll be lucky to make it.”

“Well, that’s unfortunate but it was very nice meeting you. Hope we meet again.”

“Nice to meet you too Alex. Well, got to run.” She hurried out the front door and got into one of the line of taxis idling at the curb and was gone.

Alex returned to Santa Fe and posted his notes. With the exception of Marina it had been a going-through-the-motions trip.

It was becoming harder and harder for Alex to feel the old excitement he once had and he wondered what the hell he would do with the rest of his life if he gave up archeology.

He had always thought of himself as a sober and dedicated scientist, but in the past year, something had begun to change his ideas and attitudes about the origins of humans. In all of the history of archeology, no one had found a direct and unbroken chain that could trace the ascent of humans from either some ancient common ancestor or the direct evolution from apes to man. After years of research and digging in the dirt and finding nothing that hadn’t already been found it appeared that he would not, after all, be the one to make the final great leap and solve the burning question of all humanity.

After South Africa, he took a long overdue two week vacation. He needed some time to think about what he truly wanted to do with his life. Maybe he’d ask for a six month sabbatical or simply quit. He had some savings and the small house his grandfather had left him and if he lived frugally he could stretch it out for a few years. If he found nothing else that grabbed his attention he could return to research or teach.

Alex went back to the passion of his youth. He spent hours in the foothills of the mountains above Santa Fe, digging up treasures of a different sort; malachites and geodes and an occasional Indian spear. He also spent evenings watching TV, something he rarely had the time or the inclination to do before. The news made looking for the origins of humans seem even more fruitless. The world was hell-bent on total destruction; terrorism, chemical warfare, the increasing danger of nuclear weapons, civil wars and the threat of bigger wars. His goal was to clear his head, push the reset button, so instead he watched the science and discovery channels and programs on space exploration. And, somewhat to his own amusement, the shows on ancient aliens and UFOs.

Then something happened to him that he would have been embarrassed to admit to his colleagues. He began to consider the possibility that archeologists had been looking in the wrong place for the origins of man. Perhaps the stars held the answer to the mystery, not the soil beneath his feet. Not an original idea, but it was appealing, he had to admit, to think of humans as the progeny of some super-intelligent interstellar travelers.

If that were the case then why were so many humans stuck at such a primitive state of development? Warlike and aggressive, no matter how many times advanced civilizations had risen. Humans did barbaric and evil things to each other time and again, up to the present day, with no end in sight. Even if it was proven that humans descended directly from apes, it didn’t answer the question of why they had not continued to evolve to a higher form of intelligence. The other possibility, that of divine spark, intelligent design, complicated matters even further because it would be a divinity with questionable motives.

His vacation over, Alex returned to his research, but like a moth to a flame he spent every spare minute on his newfound interest. He had one somewhat serious relationship while he was at the University of New Mexico but that ended just before he went to Santa Fe. There were no romantic interests at the moment so there would be nothing to distract him. And, no one to witness his foolishness.

He started to look for other materials in the desert, the kind that comes from space. He bought a metal detector and scoured the desert and foothills and occasionally found small iron meteor fragments that he would rush home to study. They had been around the Solar System, perhaps from some faraway part of the galaxy, and it was the closest he would ever get to space travel. He now had a modest collection on the window sill.

The dining room that doubled as his office in the adobe house in the old part of Santa Fe was becoming filled with his new hobby. UFOs. The dining table was piled with books and newspaper clippings next to his computer, along with a stack of articles he printed off the internet. When the government finally allowed all of its documents relating to UFOs to be available to the public, Alex obtained a copy of the Air Force Project Blue Book, a complete listing of all known sightings and other documents.

He studied archived newspaper articles and went over the details of dozens of alleged crashes or sightings reported from 10,000 BC on the Tibetan border to the present. He read the eye witness statements, some by many who witnessed the same phenomenon including those whose military training might give believability to their experiences. During World War II, there were sightings of UFOs by pilots over Europe, that they called Foo Fighters. They were described as fast moving objects that flew in formation with the planes and could not be outmaneuvered or shot down, but never displayed hostile behavior. They were written off as electromagnetic occurrences or reflections of light from ice crystals.

It appeared, after a time, that the majority of UFO sightings were bogus. It was also reported that the CIA had used the Roswell incident and the reporting of UFO sightings as a cover for the testing of advanced military aircraft. In his research he found that prior to WWII German scientists had developed advanced craft and propulsion such as the Bell that resembled sightings of a flying saucer and a craft that resembled a flying wing. After the end of WWII many of these German scientists were brought to the U.S. and continued their work at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The U.S. had seized the German prototypes. Some German scientists escaped from the NAZIs in 1945 and went to South America. Coincidentally, the first UFO sightings in both the U.S. and South America were in 1947. In 1975, at Groom Lake, the infamous Area 51, Stealth Bomber tests were conducted at night. Many people reported seeing what looked like a flying wing.

He had been careful never to talk about his new interest to his colleagues for fear they would laugh their heads off. Jack Wales was the only one he dared talk to because Jack loved to explore whatever far out ideas Alex came up with and never made him feel the fool.

However, it looked like his brief infatuation with UFOs and looking for alien ancestors was another waste of time and he was beginning to feel the fool all by himself.



CHAPTER THREE

Professor Wales had arrived at the University of Santa Fe the year before Alex and taught the Experimental Archeology course. Jack was known for being a maverick, and often gave lectures on the most unusual theories, which some called outrageous. Alex really enjoyed Jack’s lectures and their discussions afterward and they quickly became friends.

Occasionally the two would meet for dinner and some interesting conversation. Jack had studied archeology in college but then decided to pursue the more exciting career of an Air Force Pilot and Special Forces. He told Alex amazing stories, at least the parts he could tell, of his adventures and travels all over the world. He intimated that there were still connections to the CIA and the Pentagon. Sometimes he would get a faraway look that hinted of the dangerous and serious business that had been his life, the parts he couldn’t talk about. Jack retired after his last assignment in Afghanistan to the quiet and, by comparison, boring life of a college professor. Alex suspected that Jack sometimes missed the action.

Tonight they were having dinner at Jack’s home, a sprawling Spanish style ranch house in the foothills of Santa Fe and a short drive for Alex. One of Jack’s passions was cooking. He told Alex that military food or inedible things in strange places had made him learn how to cook just so that he could eat well even under the most primitive conditions. He became adept at turning some pretty odd things into gourmet meals. Once in a training op in the middle of an extinct volcano he whipped up a tasty stew of roots and grubs. Jack’s wife died several years earlier and his only child, a daughter, married an Air Force pilot and they were currently stationed in Germany. Alex became the son Jack never had.

Jack had lived a full and interesting life and seemed fairly content now to enjoy the simpler pleasures of teaching, good conversation and good food. Alex found it somewhat amusing to see Jack, muscular and tough looking, rushing around his kitchen in the final preparation of some new gourmet dish.

Alex turned off his computer, straightened up his stack of papers and stretched. Time to get dressed and go to Jack’s. It was September and the nights were cool so he wore jeans, a long sleeved grey t-shirt and the old seal brown leather Air Force flight jacket he’d been honored to receive as a birthday present from Jack. It had the patina of real wear and was his favorite article of clothing. Jack had worn it in combat missions in Iraq, his lucky jacket he said, and he hoped it would bring luck to Alex.

Alex arrived promptly at seven and Jack greeted him at the door with a glass of red wine.

“Alex! Good to see you,” he said as he handed Alex the glass. “Come on in and park it while I finish up dinner. We’re having baked Mahi Mahi smothered in onions and bell pepper in a red sauce. We’ll start with some shrimp poppers then a tricolore salad with shaved parmesan and for dessert I picked up a fresh peach pie. Still can’t get the hang of pastry.”

Alex took a sip of wine as he followed Jack into the kitchen. It was a large and welcoming room with a stone fireplace on one wall that was lit and crackling, burnt umber terra cotta tile flooring, and stucco walls painted a light cream. An antique walnut sideboard held photos of his wife, daughter and son-in-law and memorabilia from exotic places. It was the heart of the house and his and Jack’s favorite place to sit and talk late into the evening. He sat where he could observe Jack’s progress, in one of the cushioned chairs at the big wooden farm style table that occupied the center of the room, and sniffed the aromas filling the air.

“Mmmm. Smells delicious Jack.” Alex took a shrimp popper from the bowl on the table and munched on it while Jack checked the progress of the Mahi Mahi baking in one of the ovens of the big Wolf stove. He liked to joke that he had bought it for himself years ago as an anniversary present from his wife.

Jack walked over to the table and picked up his own glass of wine and took a long drink. “An old Air Force buddy called today. We were reminiscing about our days in Special Ops. We had some close calls. Life is interesting. Not always fun, but definitely interesting.”

“You’re a risk taker. That’s pretty much a guarantee for an interesting life. I’d like to take a few risks myself. Digging in the dirt and looking at bones doesn’t compare to flying jet planes. My whole life has been about where we came from. And I’m beginning to feel it’s been a colossal waste of time. Where’s the clear connection to our closest relative the ape? The theory of evolution is considered settled science for an awful lot of people. Archeologists have spent countless years trying to find the bones to prove it. If you don’t conform to the prevailing belief you don’t get to do research. And if my unholy interest in UFOs got out I’d never work in Archeology again. Another waste of time.”

“Nothing you’ve done is wasted Alex. Everything you learned up to now will lead you to the next plateau. You’re a good scientist and, thank God, you have an open mind. Look, you know I’m not your conventional professor of Archeology. I want to make my students think outside the textbooks, think independently, even outrageously. And you do. That’s what makes it interesting and fun. If I said half of what I wanted to in class, the University would most likely boot me out.

“If apes are our closest relatives, apart from an opposing thumb, I don’t like the resemblance. They shit where they stand. Dogs and cats can learn to take it outside for Christ’s sake. Now I consider that a real sign of intelligence. I’d rather be a close relative to a dog.”

Alex smiled. “Not only would the University boot you out for that, they would brand you a heretic.”

Jack sat and put his glass down. “We exist alongside creatures like Crocodiles that are the least changed from their prehistoric ancestors and plants like the Ginkgo Tree with fossils dating back 270 million years. They are the same as they have always been. How about the dinosaurs. They lived for 150 million years. There were various dino species but they never evolved into a more advanced and intelligent life form during their significant time on the planet. And now paleontologists have discovered that many dinos had feathers, colored feathers, and when they studied the protein in the bones of a T-Rex it turns out the closest modern relative is a chicken. A chicken! And humans haven’t gotten any smarter or less aggravating than they ever were. Where’s real evolution when you need it?”


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