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The Guardians - Book 1

A Novel by

Don Viecelli



Copyright © 2010 by Don Viecelli

Smashwords Edition















Description

The Guardians - Book 1 begins with an alien attack on Earth by a ruthless and merciless race of aliens called the Tyrax. They send a doomsday weapon that detonates multiple missile warheads over twenty-four sparsely inhabited land areas around the globe. It causes a biological transformation using nanobots that threaten to destroy all life forms on the planet within days. At the same time a Peruvian archeologist discovers a hidden chamber under a royal Inca temple in Cuzco, Peru that tells a story of past Inca rulers who seemed to worship alien beings from the time of the Spanish Conquistadors. During the attack an alien who calls himself Òmon makes contact and offers to help stop the alien nanobiotech contagion from engulfing Earth. Brandon Cole who works for NASA and a special team from the U.S. government are sent to Peru by the President to investigate the discovery. Òmon says he is one of the Guardians left behind to protect Earth from this ruthless race of beings intent on wiping out all living organisms on Earth so they can terraform the planet to their DNA. Over the centuries, Òmon has recruited a special group of human beings from the past to help fight the invading alien race. The battle begins between the attacking aliens, Òmon and the human race to prevent all life on Earth as they know it from being erased forever. The psychological impact on the human race is considerable. The ecological impact on the planet and the solar system will be incalculable. This is only the beginning for survival of the human species.



Copyright Page

The Guardians - Book 1

By Don Viecelli

Copyright © 2010 by Donald E. Viecelli

Smashwords Edition



All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.



Ebook cover page image and design were provided by Kerman Rodriquez.



This is a work of fiction. All the characters, names, incidents, places and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any errors in editing, formatting, plot or structure will be corrected in the next edition.



Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



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Smashwords To Assigne ISBN.

For Smashwords Readers.



Published by Don Viecelli at Smashwords.



First release, December 2010.

Latest Edition, April 2018. Includes Excerpt from The Guardians - Book 2.

Book length: approximately 109,993 words.



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Dedication

To Jerry Viecelli and Dolores Schalm, who happen to be my wonderful Godparents. We have all traveled to the future together.



Table of Contents

Description

Copyright Page

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Acknowledgements

Excerpt From Book 2, Chapter 1

Chapter 2 Excerpt

Chapter 3 Excerpt

Author’s Page



Chapter 1

Interstellar Space:

At the outer edge of Earth’s solar system, the darkness of interstellar space exploded violently into a white fireball of superheated particles moving faster than the speed of light. The immense heat and bright light formed into a halo and a small opening appeared. From within hyperspace a dark, spherical object emerged racing towards the sun. The tunnel closed behind the object as quickly as it had opened.

The ominous looking object was 10 meters in diameter, with numerous sharp pointed tips protruding from its metallic skin; reminiscent of an old World War II mine floating in an endless black sea, except this mine was now traveling at the speed of light. There were no visible signs of a propulsion system, no light escaping from inside of the object; only faint quantum energy emissions.

The unidentified object plotted a course toward the third planet orbiting the sun; a blue planet that contained the right conditions for life in a harsh universe. The object’s artificial intelligence guidance system was preprogrammed; the mission predetermined. So far, the object had detected no warning signals or signs of defensive weapon systems. The object changed course two times to avoid the first eight planets. During the entire voyage, the sphere was recording data on its progress and beaming the information back towards the outer edges of the galaxy where it would be redirected and sent via faster than light (FTL) quantum energy signals to its origination point.

The object finally slowed down as it approached Earth. It was still moving at one-tenth the speed of light when it changed its trajectory one final time. By now the object sensed detection by military defense satellite systems and ground-based radar equipment. It would not matter, for it was too late to do anything to stop the object from entering the planet’s atmosphere.

The object made one revolution around the planet moving east to west, monitoring conditions on the ground and selecting coordinates before it plunged into the upper atmosphere. There was no fireball, nor any indication of atmospheric heat buildup. The sphere’s force field protected it. Five miles above the planet, the multiple cone-shaped missile engines fired and separated from the sphere, which then instantly self-destructed. The missiles changed directions and sped to twenty-four different locations around the globe. When they were less than a quarter mile above sparsely inhabited land points over every continent, the missiles exploded with brilliant white-hot flashes releasing alien nanoparticles. Every biological organism—animal, bird, insect, microorganism and plant life—within a half-mile radius was utterly vaporized and turned into white dust. As the dust settled, the first transformation began.



Chapter 2

ISS – Day One:

“My God! Did you see that?” U.S. Flight Engineer Kate Robbins announced suddenly to the crew on board the International Space Station as she viewed Earth through one of the portholes on the left side of the cabin. There were four crewmembers manning the ISS. Two of them, U.S. Commander Scott Breen and Russian cosmonaut Flight Engineer Yuri Krikalev were working with Kate in the Zvezda Service Module. One more astronaut, U.S. Mission Specialist Lynn Hoshi, was working elsewhere in the Destiny Research Laboratory Module.

“See what, Kate?” Commander Breen responded, looking up from his computer console and spotting her staring out one of the 9-inch-diameter windows.

“Those white flashes on Earth!” Kate answered as she raised her hand to her forehead in concern. “They look like explosions— all over the place.”

“Let me check the remote sensors,” Yuri Krikalev volunteered as he flicked some switches.

“This doesn’t look good, people.” Commander Breen said as he quickly peered out another porthole on the starboard side and saw several small circles of what looked like explosions on the ground. “We better contact mission control and see what they know.”

“I’ll do it, Commander,” Kate said. She floated over to the computer console and sent a text message to NASA ground control in Houston, Texas.

“Yuri, what are the sensors picking up?”

Yuri accessed the telemetry data and replied with his usual Russian accent. “Ничего себе! (Wow!) I’m getting the data now.”

Commander Breen asked the obvious. “Are they nuclear?”

“It doesn’t look like it,” Yuri replied cautiously, studying the telemetry data. “The blast sites are relatively small. And there are no radiation emissions.”

“How many blast sites do you see?” Commander Breen asked.

“There must be a dozen explosions on this side of the planet alone. There could be more on the other side. We won’t know for sure until we make a complete revolution,” Yuri answered.

“Alright, Yuri. Keep the cameras rolling and record everything you can. Maybe Houston knows what just happened.” Commander Breen had a worried look on his face. He turned to Kate to see if she had any news yet. “What’s Houston saying, Kate?”

“They acknowledged receipt of my message. I’m waiting for a reply. Any more explosions on the ground?” she asked. Kate knew something bad had happened and wondered if her family was safe back home. No one answered her.

Commander Breen saw the concern on everyone’s face. He tried to keep calm and think through this. Every problem had a solution, or so he kept reminding himself. Clearly, something unusual had just happened on Earth. He prayed it wasn’t nuclear, but who knew. Maybe it was a terrorist attack. That was the most likely scenario. He hoped for the best.

“We’re getting something now, Commander,” Kate said as the monitor pinged a message reply.

Everyone crowded around the screen. The message was cryptic: Serious developments are occurring. Explosions have been detected around the world. No confirmation on what caused the explosions. Department Of Defense, U.S. Space Command and Homeland Security are looking into the matter. USSPC, NASA and NOAA satellite data are being analyzed. More information to follow shortly. Flight Director Sullivan will advise you of further developments in fifteen minutes via video feed. Signed, Houston.

“That doesn’t help much,” Kate responded in frustration.

“Okay, let’s keep the cameras pointed at the blast sites,” Commander Breen ordered. “Yuri, see if you can find anything on the cameras on what caused the explosions. Were they missiles or what? Kate, check all the monitors. Run a complete check on all systems. Make sure nothing is headed our way. I’ll find Lynn and bring her up to date. We’ll all meet here in fifteen minutes for the call from Houston.”

Everyone went to work. Captain Breen checked his watch. It was 1805 Universal Time or Greenwich Mean Time. So that meant it was five hours earlier or 1305 Central Daylight Time in Texas. He spun around and headed for the passageway to the research module to find Lynn Hoshi.

As promised, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, called fifteen minutes later. The ISS was currently positioned over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 245 miles, traveling at 17,156 miles per hour. It circled the Earth every 90 minutes, so communication links had to be transferred between the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) and the ground station terminals located at NASA’s White Sands Complex in California every few minutes.

Burt Sullivan, a short, solidly built man in his early forties was the Flight Director at the Mission Control Center. He was standing in front of one of the desk consoles in the Space Shuttle flight control room. As a former U.S. Air Force astronaut, he could easily imagine what was going through Commander Breen’s mind at this moment aboard the ISS. Burt took one more look at the message from NASA headquarters in Washington, DC and pushed the transmit button that operated the console. The video signal popped up on the monitor. “Commander Breen, can you hear me?”

“Loud and clear, Burt. What’s going on down there?” Commander Breen and the rest of his crew were all in the Zvezda command-and-control module clustered around a large flat screen monitor.

“I just received a message from the NASA Administrator regarding the explosions you saw in space. The President has been notified. The country is on high-security alert. It seems there were explosions all over the planet. We don’t know what they were or where they came from. Military teams have been sent to investigate. The explosions were small in size. They were not nuclear. There is no fallout according to our detection systems. The sites are all located in desolate areas. The U.S. had two explosions—one in northern Minnesota near Duluth and another in southwest Arizona near Tucson. There are no reports of human casualties. We just don’t have enough information to tell you more yet. How are things going up there?”

“Everything is fine here. We’re just worried what’s happening down there. Maybe we can help. I’ve got Yuri and Kate checking all our monitoring systems. The cameras may have recorded something. If we find anything, we’ll send the data to your team.”

“Okay, that sounds good. Wait a minute. One of my guys just handed me another message. NASA found something from one of our satellites. It appears there was an unidentified object detected approaching Earth just before the explosions. It looked like a small asteroid at first, but it was moving too fast. And it changed course when it entered our atmosphere. I’ll send you the data. Maybe your cameras spotted…”

“Sorry to interrupt, Burt, but Yuri is waving at me. He has something.” Commander Breen looked at the piece of paper with data that Yuri had just pulled from the printer. After a moment, he commented, “Tell us what this means, Yuri.”

Yuri moved in view of the screen, “I detected an optical laser pulse originating from deep space. It shot right past us two minutes ago.”

“Optical laser pulse? What do you mean?” Burt asked.

“I mean like in SETI” Yuri added, referring to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence organization that had optical telescopes looking for alien communication throughout the galaxy; so far without any luck.

“Do you know where it came from?”

“Not yet, sir. But we know where it went.”

“Where?” demanded the flight director.

“Somewhere down in Peru!”



Chapter 3

Andes Mountains Peru:

Miguel Naldo, Professor of Archeology at the National Autonomous University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, was standing beside an old table in a large, sand colored tent erected on top of the ruins of a great Inca imperial temple. The place was called ‘Sacsahuaman’, which is situated atop a high hill overlooking the city of Cuzco located in the Andean mountains in southern Peru. Miguel knew that Sacsahuaman was built by 20,000 Inca laborers over several generations. Sacsahuaman was originally meant to serve as a sacred temple for Inca royalty as a house of the sun, arms and war, prayer and sacrifice. It ended up serving as a fortress against the Spanish conquistadors when they attacked and defeated the Incas in 1535.

Professor Naldo’s ancestors were Spanish, but his respect for the Incas was unsurpassed. As a professor of archeology and as a local explorer, his knowledge of Inca history and its empire was legendary among his colleagues and students. Every spare moment he had, Professor Naldo traveled to old Inca cities to excavate ruins, collect artifacts and study them. Currently, he was in Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, which the old Inca rulers had called the ‘imperial navel of the universe’.

The vast Inca Empire was called Tahuantinsuyu, the ‘Land of the Four Quarters’ or four regions. The empire extended for more than 5,500 kilometers along the Andean mountains in South America to rule over what is now northern Chile, upland Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and southern Colombia. When Columbus landed upon the new world, Tahuantinsuyu was probably the largest nation on Earth with over ten million subjects and untold wealth. It was the search for gold and silver that brought the conquistadors. It was the thrill of discovery that brought Professor Naldo­­—and his latest find.

Professor Naldo was staring at the screen on his laptop that was sitting on the large wooden table in the center of the tent. He was hatless and his gray hair was receding on the top of his head. The doctor was in his early sixties, but he kept himself in excellent shape. It was warm inside the tent and drops of sweat were forming over his eyes. He took a handkerchief from his front shirt pocket and wiped his forehead. Thankfully, Professor Naldo did not need reading glasses. He took a closer look at the image on his screen. It was undeniable. There was a large room or chamber 15 meters directly below the ground he was standing on. The room measured almost 30 meters in diameter, in a perfect circle. A tunnel led outside from the room to the back of the temple to the second level of three zigzagging terraces built with retaining walls made with large stone blocks. It was obviously an entrance or exit tunnel that has been sealed off or covered up for centuries—probably around the time the Spanish conquistadors were storming the city. There is a very small chance, Professor Naldo thought, that looters have not ransacked the room. He would know shortly.

Professor Naldo and his mountain guide, Guido Hernando, had discovered the tunnel and hidden chamber under the temple on their last visit using new technology purchased from the United States. It was called a UWB (ultra-wideband) radar gun and by pointing it at the ground it could bounce signals through dense material like Earth and stone and record images up to 20 meters deep. It was the latest in ground penetration technology and Professor Naldo found it quite useful in finding open cavities in old ruins and burial chambers below ground level. The data collected on the device could then be transferred to a laptop and viewed on a monitor screen.

Professor Naldo’s exploration party, composed of local workers and several archeology students, was outside removing dirt and large stones with a pulley system to reach the entrance to the tunnel at this very moment. With a flurry, Guido Hernando entered the tent. “Professor Naldo, we have reached the tunnel!” he said in Spanish. “We’re ready to go inside!”

“Muy bueno, Guido,” Professor Naldo replied. “Do you have the equipment ready?”

“Sí, Professor.”

Professor Naldo put on his hat and led the way out of the tent to the terraced landscape that once held beautiful gardens and ritual structures for religious ceremonies. He covered his eyes for a moment to let them adjust to the bright sunlight, and then took another look at the numerous mountain peaks off in the distance. He could almost imagine what it was like five hundred years ago when the Incas ruled this land. When he lowered his eyes, he saw a small group of people standing beside a mound of dirt and several large polygonal blocks of stone that were removed from one of the retaining walls near the bottom of the second terrace. The students and workers were gesturing excitedly and speaking loudly enough to be heard above.

Professor Naldo quickly descended to the terrace and saw the opening to the tunnel in the wall. It was big, almost 3 meters high and 3 meters wide. In the sunlight he could see inside for several meters. He was astonished at the craftsmanship. The ceiling, walls and floor of the tunnel were made of crafted blocks, just like the retaining walls. The stones were polished and strange inscriptions and designs were drawn on the ceiling and walls. Many were painted with various bright colors.

“Unbelievable,” Professor Naldo exclaimed. “Do you know what these look like, Guido?”

“Si, Professor. They look like Nazca drawings,” Guido replied without hesitation. “But what are they doing here?”

Professor Naldo did not have an answer. Nazca drawings or Lines were famous worldwide. They were found on the Nazca plains in the southern coast about 200 kilometers from Cuzco. The Nazca Lines were an enigma, and Professor Naldo certainly did not expect to find them here in this tunnel. “This is very unusual, Guido,” Professor Naldo said as he looked more closely at the figures. “They look Nazca in design, but on a much smaller scale.” Then he noticed something else. “Many of these are designs of beings.” He stood next to the first figure. “They must be two-and-a-half meters tall—and they are drawn in much more detail. “Guido, get pictures of these drawings before we go any further.”

“Si, Professor,” Guido replied. He directed one of the students named Carlos with a digital video mini-camcorder to take pictures. Another student set up portable lights as they entered the tunnel. It took a few more minutes before Professor Naldo, Guido, several students and a few of the local workers were ready to move forward.

Slowly, the group moved further inside the tunnel with Professor Naldo in the lead. Professor Naldo knew that the tunnel traveled about 50 meters under the two terraces above to the hidden room under the temple. As they moved forward, they video recorded every square inch.

Professor Naldo could sense that the air was stale and dry from being trapped inside the tunnel for centuries. As the stale air was replaced with fresh air from outside, the smell dissipated. Because of the dry environment, the engravings and drawings on the walls were in excellent condition. They looked as if they had been carved or painted yesterday. Professor Naldo was amazed at the detail. This find would stun the archeological community. And there was more! “Guido, do you know what we have found?” Professor Naldo asked in astonishment.

Guido shook his head and replied, “I am not certain, Professor.”

“This is a historical record of the Inca civilization. Look, each of the ten Inca royal family’s rule and achievements are shown on these walls.” Professor Naldo studied the engravings and drawings in front of him. He could read the written language of the Inca as shown in engraved symbols and pictograms on the wall. “This is the first great emperor, Manco Capac, who founded and ruled the Inca Empire around AD 1350 to 1375. And here are more of his successors we know very little about.”

Professor Naldo paused as he studied the symbols in silence. Then he continued. “This is the reign of Pachacuti from 1438 to 1471, the great emperor who rebuilt Cuzco.” He moved further down the tunnel. “And this is the reign of Topa Inca, Pachacuti’s son, who ruled until 1493.”

The group continued moving slowly though the tunnel as more lights were set up and pictures were taken. Professor Naldo continued studying the symbols. “This is the reign of Wayna Capac just before his death in 1526.” He was so absorbed in studying the inscriptions on the wall he didn’t hear anyone calling him until Guido grabbed and shook his shoulder.

“Professor Naldo! You must look at this,” Guido shouted one more time. He was pointing his finger at two huge, thick doors at the end of the tunnel that were blocking their way into the hidden room. The doors looked like they were covered in solid gold plating with a large bas-relief image on each door.

Professor Naldo could not believe his eyes. On the right door was an eight-and-a half-foot tall image of a familiar biomorph—the well-known, 32-meter tall figure called “The Astronaut”—carved on a mountainside in the Nazca desert. What is this figure doing here, he wondered?

Professor Naldo immediately recognized the other image on the left door. “The left image is of the Inca Sun god, Inti,” he said to Guido. It made perfect sense, since Cuzco was the home of the Sun god, and gold was his embodiment. “The right image looks like the Nazca figure called ‘The Astronaut’ or ‘God Being’ by some people.”

Then Professor Naldo noticed some large symbols above the two images that caused him some confusion, for he was sure they said, “ONLY THE GODS MAY ENTER THIS TEMPLE. BEWARE OR BE PUNISHED!”

Before Professor Naldo could say the words out loud, Guido had already walked forward to touch the two golden doors. When he was within one meter of the doorway, a bluish beam of light engulfed him from above. Guido yelled out in pain as if shocked by some sort of electrical energy. Guido’s body rose swiftly off the floor, seemingly weightless, and was repulsed backwards where he fell unconscious to the ground.



Chapter 4

Huntsville, Alabama:

In Huntsville, Alabama, the sky was cloudy, but the weather outside was already hot and humid at mid-day. And it was only going to get worse as spring turned to summer. Brandon Cole knew this as he looked outside his window at the gray sky. He hoped it would rain and cool things down some. Even after two years of working in Huntsville, Brandon wasn’t used to the southern climate. He was a Midwestern boy from Michigan, and on days like this he actually missed the cooler, dryer weather.

Brandon poured himself another cup of coffee. He knew he shouldn’t. This was his third cup in three hours, but he was tired and the caffeine would help him concentrate. He added some cream and carried the cup back to his office. He was suffering from jet lag. Brandon had flown home late last night to Huntsville from Panama City where he had participated in a regional conference on South America rain forests. NASA scientists were helping South America countries monitor slash-and-burn agricultural methods to prevent environmental damage. As the Director of NASA Earth Sciences based at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Brandon was NASA’s only archeologist on staff and was an expert on Maya culture and civilization. Brandon was convinced that the Maya civilization collapsed in part due to the deforestation of their rain forest, which in combination with dry climatic conditions led to a severe drought that caused mass starvation and disease around AD 900 when the Mayan people inexplicably abandoned their cities.

Brandon worked in the NASA Science and Technology Center situation room monitoring satellite data and images from NASA’s Earth Observations Satellites and other space satellites observing Earth at visible, infrared and radar wavelengths. He combined the data with information from ground based monitoring stations to send to national leaders to make informed political decisions about environmental management or disaster response. The hope was to prevent other environmental disasters that would impact human survival in a particular region. When Brandon came to work this morning, he was hoping for a quiet day so he could catch up on his backlog of email messages and do a quick trip report for his boss. Brandon was in his mid thirties, tall, lanky and athletic with short, dark brown hair, brown eyes and infectious smile. His athleticism came from playing several sports in high school and baseball in college on a sports scholarship. He had dreams of playing professional ball until a shoulder injury ended that dream. So instead, he immersed himself in his studies and graduated with degrees in computer science and archeology. He joined NASA right out of college.

Brandon walked out of his office to the monitoring station and spoke to his lead project manager, a super-intelligent M.I.T. graduate named, Gary Rowland. “Anything new, Gary?”

“Nope, just routine stuff. I’m checking the monitoring systems and running test algorithms. We’ve got two satellites malfunctioning, one over Europe and one over Iceland. I’m pulling the data now. I’m pretty sure one has a dead transceiver. The other one, I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’ll figure it out and let you know.”

“Fine. I’ve got to finish sorting through my email. Then we’ll get together to discuss what needs to be done this week.”

“By the way,” Gary said as he looked up, “how was your trip to Panama?”

“Better than expected. The conference was well attended. Better than last year. I met some interesting people. I’ll fill you in over lunch.”

“Meet any interesting women down there?”

“No, Gary. Not this time,” Brandon laughed.

“I’m telling you, boss. You’re letting golden opportunities pass you by.”

Before Brandon could reply, alarms started going off all over the room. “What’s that?” Brandon asked.

Gary looked at his screen. There were warning signals coming from multiple ground locations. “Jesus, I don’t know! We’re getting hits from almost every satellite in the sky—all at once. It shouldn’t be happening.” Gary scanned the data streaming on his computer looking for some clue as to what was causing the alarms.

“Is it a malfunction?”

“I don’t think so. I did a system check 15 minutes ago. This is new. Something just set off the primary alarm circuits. It looks like massive ground explosions. But it doesn’t make sense. We’re picking up locations worldwide. It’s not just our birds. Everyone is reporting hits. God, it looks like nuclear weapons were used, but I’m not getting any radiation alarms. I don’t get it.”

“Okay, keep monitoring. I’ll call Morris to see what he knows. Pull up CNN. Maybe there’s something on TV. Check the net. I’ll be back in a minute.” Brandon raced out the door to his office. He had to call his boss, Doctor Morris Fletcher in Washington and find out what the hell was going on.

Chapter 5

Cuzco, Peru:

“Guido!” Professor Naldo yelled in alarm as Guido Hernando’s body fell to the floor with a loud thud. The blue light that had engulfed Guido’s body and picked him off the ground before he could touch the golden doors had simply vanished. Professor Naldo ran and knelt down beside his friend and checked his pulse with his fingers. Guido was still breathing and his pulse was strong. It looked like Guido was just knocked unconscious by the light or the fall.

“What happened?” Carlos asked in Spanish as he rushed up to help.

“I don’t know. I think something shocked Guido when he tried to touch the doors. But I don’t see how this can be. The Inca could not do this!”

Guido let out a small moan and moved his arm. He was coming to.

“Someone call for a doctor,” Professor Naldo directed to his group of students.

“Sí, Professor,” one of the students replied.

Professor Naldo was perplexed. He looked around and said, “Carlos, give me that bag.” Carlos handed him a duffle bag with extra lights inside.

“I want you to record this with the camera.” Professor Naldo said to Carlos. He picked up the bag, waited a few seconds for Carlos to get ready, and tossed the bag towards the golden doors. Instantly, the blue light reappeared and the bag was picked up off the floor and tossed backwards. It landed at the doctor’s feet.

“There must be some sort of force-field protecting the entry to the room,” Professor Naldo said. Suddenly, the doors seem to fade to black. A giant figure appeared out of nowhere and stood in front of the doorway as if guarding it. The figure appeared to be floating a few inches off the ground and did not look solid. It was a three-dimensional hologram. The figure was over eight feet tall, wide in the shoulders with long arms and thick torso. The face was oval shaped with rough looking skin, large dark eyes, small nose, wide mouth and small chin. The head was hairless and Professor Naldo could not see any ears. The giant was wearing tight fitting clothes, tan in color with a strange looking insignia on the left side and some sort of dark colored boots. Professor Naldo assumed it was a male figure. The doctor noticed the giant had six fingers and was definitely not human. The being was holding something in his left hand.

The small group of students and workers standing behind Professor Naldo were startled. Some of them cried out in surprise and two of the workers ran out of the tunnel in panic. The doctor quickly tried to calm everyone down. “It’s not real. It’s some sort of projected image.”

Carlos had the presence of mind to keep filming, even as he moved backwards two steps. “What is it, Professor?” he asked.

“I don’t know. It looks like it wants to show us something,” Professor Naldo replied as he stared closely at the image.

The giant alien being was looking straight at Professor Naldo. It did not acknowledge anyone in Professor Naldo’s group or make any noise. It seemed to be watching him, as if the image were merely a projection of a real being. The giant turned his body and looked to his side. Another image appeared. It was obviously somewhere deep in space. Professor Naldo saw stars in the background. Then a bright halo appeared and an object burst out of the center of the light. The object was round with sharp points protruding all over the surface. He could not tell how big the object was, but it was traveling fast and looked ominous. The object was being tracked, but Professor Naldo did not know by whom or how. As the object raced on, a planet appeared, then another and another. Professor Naldo became apprehensive. He recognized the planets. The first one was Saturn, then Jupiter, dwarf Ceres, then Mars, and then a blue planet he knew was Earth. The object flew into orbit and circled Earth. After one orbit the object seemed to explode and what looked like missiles flew in every direction. Then the missiles themselves exploded, all at once, all over the planet.

The alien looked back at Professor Naldo and gestured behind him. The golden doors reappeared and the giant vanished. The doors were open and a light was shining from inside the room.

Professor Naldo wiped his forehead with his sleeve. He looked at Carlos. “Did you get all this?”

“Sí,” Carlos replied breathlessly. He double-checked the recording light and replayed the last image. It was all there.

Guido Hernando made a noise and sat up on the floor. He looked up at Professor Naldo. “What happened?” He apparently had missed the entire projection.

“You received some sort of electrical shock. How are you feeling?” Professor Naldo asked as he helped Guido stand up.

“My head hurts, but I feel okay,” he replied, still a bit shaky.

Professor Naldo explained what had just happened. Guido looked at the replay of the video.

“What do you think it was trying to tell us? Why protect the room?” Guido asked.

“I don’t think the alien, or whatever it is, wanted anyone to enter the room. There’s a warning above the doors,” Professor Naldo answered. “It looks like something is going to attack our planet and the being was sending us a warning.” They both looked at the open doors.

“We better check to see if it’s okay to enter,” Professor Naldo cautioned. He picked up the same bag he had used earlier and tossed it at the doorway. The bag landed in front of the open doors and slid inside the room. The blue light did not reappear.

“I guess it’s my turn, eh, Guido?” Professor Naldo ventured half-heartedly. He motioned to Carlos to start filming again. “Wait for my signal before you follow me.” Professor Naldo was more excited than afraid. He had waited months for this opportunity, ever since he received approval from the government and found funding for his expedition to Cuzco—and now this. It was more than he could have foreseen. Professor Naldo took a deep breath and walked slowly towards the doorway. The group behind him watched in anticipation. Professor Naldo disappeared inside the room.

The scene in front of Professor Naldo was not what he was expecting. The room was almost entirely empty. There were no gold or silver artifacts, no Inca pottery, weapons, clothes, dishes or statues. The walls and ceiling were smooth and bare. There were no engravings, inscriptions, paintings or drawings in the Inca tradition. The room did not appear to be a ceremonial temple of any kind.

The room was big, however. It was circular with a high ceiling. It was at least thirty meters in diameter and ten meters high in the center. Only one object was visible in the center of the room. It was a large, rectangular stone crypt, approximately five meters long by three meters wide by one-and-a-half meter high. Professor Naldo noticed something else as well. The room was lighted, but he did not see any means of illumination. That meant there had to be some sort of power source.

Professor Naldo walked back to the doorway and announced, “The room is safe to enter, Guido. Carlos, you may enter also. The rest of you wait outside until we are ready for you.”

Guido entered the room with Carlos filming behind him. “What is this place, Professor?” Guido asked.

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t look like an Inca temple.”

“Where’s the light coming from?”

“I don’t know that either, Guido. Maybe, there’s something inside the crypt. We should try to open it.” They both walked carefully towards the stone crypt. Carlos was right behind them shooting video of the whole room.

“Professor, the floor is clean. We are not leaving any footprints. And the air is fresh, not stale or foul smelling,” Guido added.

“I know. It doesn’t make any sense. I’m sure no one has been in this room for centuries. It’s as if someone has been preserving this place for some purpose.”

“Maybe for the alien being, Professor.”

“So, you think it was alien, too?”

“Sí, Professor. What else could it be?” Guido replied.

Professor Naldo thought for a moment. In a way it made sense. Many people thought aliens had visited Earth in the time of the Nazca and perhaps the Nazca believed the aliens were Gods and would return one day. If what they just witnessed was real, then maybe the aliens did return and this room was where the aliens stayed and the Inca tried to protect the room by sealing it off when the Spaniards came. Even so, that did not explain the lighting or the condition of the room. Something was providing power, light and air to the room.

They walked around the crypt, looking for a way to remove the top. There were no inscriptions or markings of any kind. The top surface looked like polished granite. The sides were smooth and bare. The top looked very heavy. Professor Naldo walked up to the crypt and put his hands on the surface. Instantly, the stone surface changed into a different material. It looked glass-like and turned completely black. Then it opened in the middle and slid down inside the two sides of the crypt.

“Qué la diable? (what the devil?)” Professor Naldo exclaimed. He jumped backwards away from the crypt as a new black surface panel rose from within. It was covered with strange controls and symbols of various sizes that looked like they were made of crystal. Some were glowing in different colors. There was no noise. One spherical, metal-looking object at the far end of the counter was surrounded by a blue halo and was hovering weightlessly in the air above the surface. Another device in the middle of the surface emitted a beam of light and projected an image directly behind Professor Naldo. He had to get out of the way to see the image projected in front of the wall. The giant being reappeared and beside him was a three-dimensional image of Earth. It showed the same spherical object that was shown in front of the doorway, only in much more detail. The object again circled the Earth one time before firing numerous missiles in different directions around the planet and detonating all at the same time in brilliant white flashes.

Professor Naldo counted twenty-four explosions as the planet slowly rotated on its axis. The image showed the impact areas increasing in size until they covered the entire planet. All vegetation was wiped clean in a circular wall of destruction as each spot turned white and the surface area became a desert. The three of them watched in horror as the meaning of the pictures became clear in their minds. The Earth was being destroyed by whatever these spots were. Professor Naldo didn’t know what to do. He just stood there and prayed the images were not real.



Chapter 6

Huntsville, Alabama:

Brandon Cole sat down in his office and dialed the cell phone number for his boss, Doctor Morris Fletcher, NASA Administrator in Washington D.C. Brandon’s hands were sweaty. He was nervous and very worried. He knew tensions in the world were already on edge, especially in the Middle East, but he didn’t think things were so bad that people would start shooting nuclear bombs at each other.

In Washington D.C. Doctor Fletcher’s phone rang. He looked at the caller ID and answered. “Hello, Brandon. I was getting ready to call you. Have you heard what’s happening?”

“Yes, Morris. The alarms went off here. It looks like missiles have exploded all over the world. What’s going on?”

“We’re not sure yet, Brandon. But they’re not nuclear as far as we can tell. The military is on high alert. They’ve got crews flying over the sites now. We need more information. What can you give us?”

“We’re looking at all the data from the satellite feeds. Gary is analyzing it now. We should have something soon. I thought you might know what happened.”

“It doesn’t look good, Brandon, whatever it was. The President has called a National Emergency meeting. I’m on my way over to the White House now. I’ll call you when I get there. Let me know what you find. I have to go. We’ll talk later.”

“Okay, Morris. I’ll get back to you soon.” Brandon hung up. He didn’t like what he heard. No one seemed to know what was going on. Maybe Gary found out something. He got up from his desk and walked back to the situation room. As he entered the room, he saw Gary pacing up and down the aisle looking at readouts.

Gary looked up at Brandon and asked, “Any news?”

“No. Morris doesn’t know what’s going on—neither does Washington. What have you got?”

“I just received the feed from GEOSS,” Gary replied, referring to NOAA’s Global Earth Observation Satellite System. “There were twenty-four impact sites around the planet. I’m pulling up pictures on the big screen.”

Brandon looked up at the giant LCD screen that was mounted on a wall in the front of the situation room. There were five other people working in the room. They all looked up as Gary brought up the live satellite data. There was complete silence as they viewed the pictures. The satellite images moved from continent to continent All the impact sites appeared to be the same size, about a mile in diameter. And every one had the same barren desert look.

“This doesn’t look good,” Brandon said. “Any idea what caused them?”

“Not sure yet, boss. I’m checking the time sequence. I think it was some sort of missile attack from what I’ve been able to figure out. I’m not getting any answers from DOD or National Security. The news media are only guessing at this point. Some news sources think it was a terrorist strike, but they don’t know who or why.”

“What do the readings say?”

“That’s the strange part, boss. I thought it was thermonuclear missiles, but the readings are normal. Here, look at this.” Gary picked the impact spot near Tucson and zoomed in. “The radiation levels are normal. The thermal readings are normal. But the infrared shows dead vegetation, completely wiped out. I don’t get it.”

“I don’t see any impact craters. Are you sure it was missiles that did this?”

“My guess is they exploded in the air. That wouldn’t cause any craters. Let me pull data when they hit. Okay, here we go. Look, they all exploded at the same time—11:45 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Wow! They moved fast. How could they do that?”

“Find the original source. Can you do that?” Brandon asked.

“Sure. Give me a second.” Gary typed in the commands on his console. The view on the screen changed. It zoomed in on one unusual looking object—it didn’t look like any missile they had ever seen.

“What is that?” someone in the room asked.

“Get a close up, Gary,” Brandon instructed.

Gary zoomed in on the object. It was spherical, black in color, with sharp protruding tips. Everyone in the room saw the object explode after the missiles fired. They watched as the multiple warhead missiles flew in all directions until the missiles detonated. There was silence in the room.

“Did you notice that all of the missiles exploded over uninhabited areas?” Brandon commented.

“You’re right, boss. What’s going on here?”

“Zoom in on the impact site in Minnesota. I’m sure the military is all over the site now.” Brandon watched as Gary maneuvered one of the satellite camera lenses and zoomed in for a live shot. The picture quality was excellent. There was no cloud cover and they could make out everything that happened on the ground. Nothing was moving. The surface area was wiped clean.

“That’s an Army helicopter, isn’t it?” Gary pointed to the screen.

“Morris said the military is checking out the sites. They haven’t found any nuclear radiation yet. That’s a good thing,” Brandon emphasized.

“Do you think someone used biological weapons?” Gary asked. Everybody in the room seemed to have the same thought. Brandon could feel his skin crawl. They were worried.

“I don’t know. Let’s look at all the impact sites again. Compare the data for the last hour. Let’s see if anything changed.”

Gary followed instructions. He typed in some commands on the computer and they all waited anxiously. Sixty seconds later the data appeared on the screen. Everyone watched in stunned silence. The results were unquestionable. The data showed the impact areas had changed in size—imperceptible at first, then more noticeably. The sites were growing; all at the same rate.

“This isn’t good, boss.”

Brandon didn’t respond for a moment. “Extrapolate the data, Gary.”

Gary entered the commands. The screen showed all twenty-four impact sites on both sides of the world, across every continent. They watched as the impact sites grew in size until they merged into one great mass covering the entire planet.

“What’s the time frame?” Brandon asked.

Gary pulled up the data. “Less than twelve days!” It was hard to grasp the reality. The data had to be wrong. But they knew better.

“Who would do such a thing?” someone else in the room said.

Brandon had no answer. He quietly said to Gary, “Send me the data. I need to get this to Morris right away.



Chapter 7

Savanna State Park, Minnesota:

The sun was glaring into the front cockpit as an Air Force Sikorsky HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter banked low over the Savanna State Park in northeastern Minnesota about 100 miles northwest of Duluth Air Force Base. The helicopter was flying over the park at a cruising speed of 140 knots. An Air Force pilot, co-pilot, two crewmembers and six Army National Guard members were on board. The Army National Guard members were dressed in yellow hazmat suits with the hoods off. When the helicopter reached the edge of the park, the pilot slowed down and looked out the window through his dark sun visor. He could see the ground below them. There was nothing but devastation, as if a fire had raged over the land and turned everything into a fine layer of gray dust, which the wind had almost completely blown away. It was bare. There was no vegetation left standing, not even a stump.

“It looks like a nuclear bomb went off down there,” the co-pilot, Lieutenant Sam Gorski, said to the pilot, Captain Mark Capelli, as he looked at the surface. They both knew an Air Force jet had already flown over the impact area and checked for radiation and found nothing. Now it was the Army’s special Weapons of Mass Destruction Emergency Response Team’s turn to check for toxic and corrosive gases or chemicals, biological agents and collect ground samples before the Army National Guard reached the impact site and cordoned off the area.

“I agree, but air command said there’s no radiation,” Captain Capelli yelled to Lieutenant Gorski, over the noise. “Let’s hope they’re right.”

Captain Capelli switched on his headset and microphone and spoke to his crewmembers and the hazmat team, “I’m going to circle over the area for one minute. Major McDonald, are you ready to drop the EMDs?”

“Yes, sir,” Major Hugh McDonald replied. He was the hazmat team leader on board.

“Then drop away, Major.”

“Dropping the EMDs now,” Major McDonald spoke into his mike above the rotor noise. Major McDonald leaned out the side door and dropped the first of four Environmental Monitoring Devices used to test air samples for poisonous gases as the helicopter moved in a slow circle about two hundred feet off the ground. Then he looked at his monitoring device and waited for the data to be transmitted up to his wireless receiver. The monitor could detect over 50 toxic gases in seconds and report the standard exposure limits that could be tolerated by humans. The readings were normal.

“I’m not picking up any poisonous gases down there, Captain,” Major McDonald said after a few moments. “The air is clean.” He was a bit surprised by the data, but he trusted the monitoring devices. They would know more when his team took some ground samples.

“Roger,” Captain Capelli answered. “I’m going to find a landing spot.” He pulled on the stick and swung the helicopter away from the impact site. He flew about 100 yards beyond the perimeter and found an open grassy area to set down. He landed the helicopter and turned off the engines. The two crewmembers opened both side doors and Major McDonald’s hazmat team jumped to the ground.

The team unloaded their equipment, checked their radios and oxygen tanks, zipped up their hoods and inspected the seals on their hazmat suits. Then the team started walking to the impact area. Major McDonald led the way. He was in his early forties with short, wavy brown hair, brown eyes, of average height and build and was slightly overweight, but otherwise in good physical condition. He was a chemical engineer by training, a career Army National Guardsman by choice. “Thanks for the ride, Captain,” Major McDonald said over the radio. “This shouldn’t take very long.”

“No problem, Major,” Captain Capelli replied. “We’ll wait for you here.”

Major McDonald’s team was composed of three men and two women. Only one of the members was new to the team. The rest were all experienced emergency response team members and knew what they had to do. They reached the impact area in minutes and stopped to set up their equipment.

“All right, everyone, you know what needs to be done. Crowly and Willis, I want you to take the portable detectors, double-check the toxic gas readings and check for corrosive chemicals. I’ll check for radiation and walk the perimeter. Chin, you check for biological contaminants. Parker and Jones, take the drill-rods and collect soil samples. Make sure you drill down at least three feet. Okay? Any questions?” Major McDonald asked.

“Just one,” Lieutenant Parker asked. “How far out do we have to walk in this stuff?”

Major McDonald looked out over the devastation. “Go out five hundred yards. Take a sample every one hundred yards. That should be enough for the lab. I’ll set up the perimeter stakes and take pictures. Let’s get moving so we can get the samples back to the lab as quickly as possible.”

They all went to work. Major McDonald knew they would do their jobs as efficiently as they could. He had worked with four of them before. Chin was the newest member of the team and was learning quickly. She was the biological expert.

Major McDonald checked the Geiger counter readings. Radiation levels were normal. There were no Alpha, Beta, Gamma or X-rays or any other dangerous particles recording above safe levels. This was a bit unusual, he thought as he looked out over the bare landscape. It sure looked like a nuclear explosion had occurred. The whole area was incinerated less than two hours ago, leaving nothing but dust. If it was a bomb, there should be more damage, such as a large crater, fire, heat or smoke. Yet there were no signs of fire damage or explosive force. The bushes, trees, grass and other vegetation outside the impact area looked normal, not even bent over by the blast if you could call it that. Stranger still, nothing was left standing inside the impact area, not even a blade of marsh grass. What the hell caused this kind of damage, Major McDonald asked himself?

Major McDonald checked over his radio to see how his crew was doing; then started walking along the perimeter. The next thing he noticed it was unusually quiet; no insects, birds or animal noises. He took pictures of the impact zone and the surrounding area. As he walked along the perimeter, he noticed something else. The high marsh grass common in this area was turning brown at the edges of the perimeter. He bent down to look closer. All of a sudden, about 50 yards away from him, a large tree just fell over into the grass making a large crashing sound. It startled the other team members and they all looked up. Major McDonald walked over and looked at the stump. The roots had disintegrated and turned to dust, the same gray-white color of the ash in the impact area. He took a picture and collected some samples of the material. This is very strange, he thought.

Major McDonald walked back to where the team members were working. “Anyone find anything yet?” he asked.

Crowly spoke up. “No toxic gases or chemicals, sir. We collected air and dust samples to check back at the lab.”

“How about you, Chin? Find any biological agents?” Major McDonald asked.

“Nothing yet, sir. I need to run more tests, but I don’t see any unusual organisms in my samples. What’s more unusual though, is nothing shows up. The samples are completely sterile.”

Major McDonald was momentarily silent as he considered the statement from Chin. Parker and Jones were still out in the impact area drilling for deeper ground samples. Major McDonald could see them working. As he looked back at his equipment sitting on the ground behind one of the stakes, he noticed something that confused him for a split second. Then alarms bells went off in his head. “Holy Christ!” he yelled, startled.

Everyone turned towards the major. They looked at the stake Major McDonald had pounded into the ground to mark the perimeter. About six inches of marsh grass had turned completely white and disintegrated behind the stake in the last fifteen or so minutes. Everyone instantly knew what that meant. The damn thing was spreading!



Chapter 8

ISS:

The International Space Station was orbiting over the Pacific Ocean along the coast of North and South America and would cross over southern Peru in another ten minutes. It had been a little over an hour since they had last spoken with Houston Mission Control. The crew was getting very anxious.

“What’s taking them so long?” Kate Robbins asked impatiently. She brushed her fingers through her short brown hair and looked over at Commander Scott Breen.

“I’m sure they’re trying to get answers as fast as they can, Kate,” Scott replied. “We should hear something any minute now.” To keep her focused on the task at hand he asked, “What did you find on our last pass?”

Kate looked at her monitor as she opened up the video data files she had collected on their orbit around the Earth. Using the two external digital video cameras with wide-angle telescopic lens, she had captured almost eighty-five percent of the ground surfaces she could view. Then she programmed data parameters to look for any unusual impact areas of the same size and shape of the first explosions they had seen almost ninety minutes earlier. It took the computer program approximately two minutes to display the pictures of every location it had found. It verified impact areas located on all six continents.

“I found twenty-four areas the same size and shape of the first one. They’re exactly alike, Commander. They’re scattered on both sides of the equator.”

“See anything unusual?” Scott asked as he looked at the images.

“Well, that’s the funny thing. The spectral analysis shows no heat or fire damage. But the imaging data shows complete elimination of all vegetation right down to bare surface. Yet there are no visible craters or radiation readings. I can’t imagine what kind of weapon could do this type of damage.”

“Did you find any pictures of the missile that did this?”

“No, Commander. We missed it. We only have the pictures Houston sent us. It was a multi-warhead missile system, but we don’t know where it came from. It just appeared in outer space. There is one thing more. The impact areas are evenly spaced along both sides of the equator over desolate areas—none of them landed in populated areas or cities. It doesn’t make sense. If it were terrorists, they would have tried to kill as many people as they could.”


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