Excerpt for "The Department of Terrestrials: COMPLETE" by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

“The Department of Terrestrials: COMPLETE,” by scifiguy3553. Smashwords version (Inkitt). Copyright @ 2018.

The series In ONE eBOOK! Dr. Greene is a young scientist that works for the enigmatic agency that secretly hunts & captures Terrestrials, called the "bi-pollex." His titles are The Hunter &, later, The Engineer.

Things change when the Dept discovers a nefarious scheme for Earth by the pollex, & Dr. Greene will have the potential to gain a new, & even more important title after his assignment in Ankara, Turkey! But there will be a heavy price the young scientist would have to pay before—indeed, if it happens…

Urban Affair casual restaurant; 7th & Grand Avenue, Downtown Des Moines, Iowa; USA. Wednesday; 2:27 AM…

“…come on, Tran; hurry the hell up!” Cassie, in her late-twenties with her medium-length hair pulled back and swinging around as she eagerly looked around the immediate downtown surroundings. “Technically speaking we could get fired for opening the back door at this time of night!”

“I know, I know…” The freshman student from Drake University was taking a series of pictures with his smartphone. The flashes illuminated Tran for but fractions of seconds, revealing his tall and wide-shouldered frame. The kitchen was two people short for the closing crew, so the team was working later than usual. After taking his pics, Tran verified that his images were on his device. “Ok, I got it!”

After Tran ran back into the restaurant from the alley, Cassie quietly shut the back door to Urban Affair’s tiny docking area, where its freezer and walk-in refrigerator were…and so was the general manager of the entire business-casual restaurant!

Cassie let out a tiny yelp while Tran froze on the spot—guilt written all over his young face! But to their surprise, Jessie seemed like he could care less about the policy-infringement from the duo.

“Hey, I got to ask you two something…” Jessie, then, walked off toward the front section that led to where the kitchen was connected to the main-seating area of the restaurant. Jessie, a former jock and in his mid-forties, had a habit of asking a question to his subordinates and simply walking off to whatever location the situation was.

The lounge area of Urban Affair had already been cleaned up by the three closers after a relatively busy Tuesday night. So, Tran and Cassie knew that was not their boss’ concern… They ended up in front of the women’s restroom before Jessie stopped.

“You guys remember me cleaning the bathrooms right after we closed to the public, right,” the GM asked.

It almost seemed like a set-up to play one worker against the other, should they both fail to tell whatever truth Jessie was looking for. But it was rhetorical, given that the GM had a knowing smirk on his face as he held up one of his index fingers to emphasize a point.

“Now, I saw both of you working on closing the grill area and the bar area…Plus, as you both know, we’re all on video.” Jessie then opened the door to the women’s restroom. “So, when the hell did someone do this tonight?”

The restroom was draped in toilet paper, the water faucet to one of the sinks was left running, the cabinet door that housed bathroom cleaning supplies was wide-open and some of the chemicals for cleaning were opened and their content spilled all over the floor… Jessie watched both crew members closely to gauge their reaction.

Cassie breathed out a sigh of shock; Tran’s mouth gaped while he silently walked into the women’s restroom.

“The men’s is pretty much the same, but not quite as cluttered,” Jessie informed.

Jessie and Tran saw that Cassie had a thought. “Did a patron stay behind? Maybe waited until he or she knew when we would start our closing duties and just went to town in here?”

“Obviously that’s not the case,” Tran input, “otherwise you wouldn’t be here talking to us about it, Jessie…and where would this patron be now? This is a small restaurant compared to other places I’ve worked at and we only have one floor-level—it’d be easy to spot an extra body here. More importantly, all the doors are locked – ”

“Well, you two did have the back door opened,” Jessie reminded them as he led the two young people out of the women’s restroom and back into the restaurant’s main lounge area. “That’s why there’s a rule against opening it late at nights!”

“I held it open the entire few minutes Tran was outside,” Cassie said defensively. Nevertheless, her eyes were, now, inspecting the lounge for any possible hiding places!

Jessie seemed to snap out of a trance. “What were you two doing out in the back area anyway?”

Tran and Cassie gave one another, both, a knowing and an apprehensive look! Without saying anything else, Tran presented his smartphone and brought up several images. Jessie recognized the images as being the exterior of the downtown restaurant. In each shot there was the same window, though some shots were sharper than others. Tran handed his phone to the GM.

“I had to go outside to since the light from inside the restaurant made it easier to see from out in the night,” Tran explained as he kept his eyes on his boss; waiting to see if the manager would catch on.

Not surprisingly, Jessie flipped through the various shots of that window, not seeing the importance of the pictures.


“What the hell is that!” Jessie said after he zoomed into one of the sharper images of the window.

Cassie and Tran waited so he could confirm for himself. It’s usually better that way.

“Is that—did someone from first shift have too much time on their hands and—”

“And, what, Jessie,” Tran came in, “took their own, greasy, dirty hand and continuously made a bunch of handprints to make it look like one big handprint?”

Jessie looked up from Tran’s phone with the pictures. “It’s possible…restaurant-humor, you know?”

“I don’t think so,” Tran persisted; pointing at the image on his phone while his boss held it. “If you zoom in even more, there’s no question that the details show it’s one, big handprint, Jessie!”

Jessie did as Tran suggested and enlarged the image. There was no doubt, indeed. The image showed one large handprint; perhaps three times as large as a full-grown man’s hand! But, even more troubling, was its configuration.

“Noticed that there are two thumbs on that print, boss,” Cassie mentioned, as she, too, pointed toward the image. “One thumb on both sides of the four fingers!”

“Christ…” Jessie stated. “Well, did you see any footprints, Tran? If this is true…”

The two young crew members of the restaurant waited for the manager while an apparently terrifying thought occurred to him.

“Was this print on the outside or inside the restaurant…?”

Absolute fear was now in Cassie and Tran!

“Oh, my god,” Cassie, now, whispered! “We were too caught up in just spotting the print! We—”

There were two, unmistakable, footsteps from the back of the restaurant; where the kitchen was. Heavy clunks! The steps seemed to stop upon the trio’s own words stopping!

All three were petrified at this point. But survival instincts kicked in and Cassie, Jessie, and Tran all took off running in the opposite direction of the footsteps—toward the front door! Problem was, Jessie, the general manager with all the keys to Urban Affair, had to stop for a few seconds and fish for his ring of keys until he found the one for the front door! His manager habits kicking in, Jessie started to lock the front door as the trio were running out of the restaurant until Tran and Cassie forcibly dragged him with them as the closing crew ran away from the building…

Des Moines Police Department; 3:15 AM…

“…and that was about forty-five minutes ago,” Sergeant Pam Freisden deliberately asked for the second time; making sure the man on the phone was not a prankster. The middle-aged cop was in her office, but as with all modern worksites, it was an open-concept where she could easily see what was going on throughout the precinct office, as her subordinates could see her as well.

“…So,” she continued, “you didn’t really see this—thing, did you…? Ok, Mr. Lawson. I ask that you and your people to stay out of the restaurant and let us take it from here, ok…? No, no that won’t be necessary, Mr. Lawson. We have officers that are trained specialists within our animal control division…Ok, you’ll get a direct call from me to update you.”

Sergeant Freisden pushed the call-finished button on her cordless phone and replaced it back onto its stand. She smiled at the young scientist who had been quietly seated across from her during the entire phone call. “Dr. Greene, looks like someone found it!”

“Finally,” the late-thirty-something said as he tilted his head up and rubbed his eyes after moving his thick glasses from his face and then replaced them. “Did you say a restaurant?”

A chuckle from the sergeant. “Yeah, I guess it got hungry, huh?”

Dr. Greene made an uncomfortable shrug. “Hope not too hungry…”

She got the point. “Sorry, I guess I shouldn’t joke…Ok, Doctor, we already have a team en route from the earlier calls of disturbances of Urban Affair’s neighbors, so we’ll be joining them at the restaurant. Now, do you have what you need in case my team can’t convince this…animal to cooperate with them?”

Now it was his turn at a light chuckle. “Yes, Sergeant Freisden; I do.”

The sergeant regarded him inquisitively. “Did I say something wrong?”

“Oh, no; not at all. I mean, we humans are also animals, but would you call on animal control if one of us caused a disturbance?”

This time Sergeant Freisden stared at the scientist. “Doctor, you’re not saying what—”

“I suppose we’d better catch up with your team, Sergeant Freisden…” He gave her look; as if to suggest it was better not to ask any further questions.

And she did not…

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa; 3:56 AM…

As Sergeant Freisden drove her city-issued vehicle toward the district where there was a cluster of restaurants, it was obvious to Dr. Greene and the sergeant that events had, indeed, gotten out of control since the general manager of the restaurant Urban Affair had called them! They were several blocks away from the restaurant when Sergeant Freisden encountered maned roadblocks. Dr. Greene looked at the sergeant from the passenger seat with concern.

This is Tiger-One to Lion…” It was the sergeant’s police radio. Police officers always used anonymous identification when on police radio. Lately, in the US, more municipals were using delayed, radio broadcast due to a spike of nefarious crimes. Some opted out of public broadcast altogether.

Before answering it, Sergeant Freisden gave an exasperated look at the scientist—which he wore, as well! “This is Lion, Tiger-One; go ahead…”

Request to have SWAT’s presence; suggested three units…subject has expanded presence; possibly near the Martin Luther King, Jr Parkway area, or possibly on the Keosauqua highway…”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the sergeant said more to herself than to Dr. Greene. She had stopped the SUV at that point, just yards away from an immediate roadblock. Early first-shift workers of Des Moines were already starting to clog the downtown streets!

She glanced at Dr. Greene. He, in turn, arched his brow and silently looked on as she continued. “Tiger-One, this is Lion…that’s a go on whatever resources you feel is needed! Over.”

Roger that!”

She decided to pull her SUV up close to the two officers that were manning the nearest blockade to ask them a couple of questions of how the situation had gotten out of control so quickly!

“Sergeant,” one of the officers said to her; the window to her vehicle rolled partially down, “if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that thing was listening in on our radio—knowing what our next steps are going to be!”

That deeply troubled Sergeant Freisden. She glanced her eyes upon Dr. Greene to see his reaction…he sat still, as if not wanting attention on him.

“Ok, Hydewell,” she thanked the young officer as she drove off to detour around the roadblock.

Throughout the whole drive, the radio crackled with coded conversations from Des Moines’ police force. The sergeant’s onboard laptop, for the time being, was stowed against the SUV’s dashboard; mounted on its armature.

“Ok, Doctor,” Sergeant Freisden said, breaking a long silence in the vehicle—with the exception of the radio discourse, “you and I are going to do some frank talk here, ok?”

The hipster scientist glanced at her; half-way expecting things to turn out the way they did. He let her continue.

“You’re not really from the Interior Department, are you?” She, then, drove the SUV on a stretching road as he chuckled.

“You’re very perceptive, sergeant…per Federal government rules and secrecy, I cannot tell you who I really work for. But what I can say is I hinted about it at the precinct…”

She glanced at him while keeping her eyes on the road as she drove toward West Martin Luther King, Jr Parkway. “I knew it…a damn alien!”

He did not respond.

“Why the hell Des Moines? I would’ve thought somewhere on either coast of the US—with all that water and all…”

“Who’s to say they’re not there, too?”

Sergeant Freisden’s head whipped in his direction. “ ‘They,’ huh?”

He looked off toward his window of the passenger side of the SUV.

“Do you all know if it’s like some kind of invasion? I know that’s a bit cliched, but…”

Dr. Greene considered before answering. “Doesn’t seem like Earth has to worry about anything like that. If you were to ask me as a scientist. But, if you were a deer hanging out with your herd, would it matter to you if a hunter ran across your herd during hunting season or if that hunter accidentally stumbled across your planet—uh, herd, and the hunter accidentally kills you with his car?”

Sergeant Freisden nodded to herself. It was obvious the agent—of that she was sure he was—was speaking to her in analogy so he could claim plausible deniability of ever telling the public any top secrets info on extraterrestrial lifeforms!

The scientist frowned to himself. “So, why did you decide to go over to Martin Luther King, Jr Parkway instead of Keosauqua?”

“Like I said a few minutes ago: water, Dr. Greene. This leads us to the closest body of water in this part of downtown…”

“Des Moines River,” he said as he nodded to himself out of approval. “You know, underneath all that down-home, middle-Americana carapace of yours, Sergeant, you have a pretty good logic-structure in you! I can see why you made sergeant. Ever thought about taking it up a notch?”

“You mean like the FBI,” she asked with a laughter.

Dr. Greene reverted to his deflective-mode. “Some kind of national-profile agency…”

“I don’t think so, Greene. I’m—”

All units, all units,” came one of Des Moines’ police officer’s voice; frantic over the radio, “twenty on the subject at Des Moines River! Just off East Locust!

Sergeant Freisden grabbed her own radio. “This is Lion, all units focus effort on East Locust and Des Moines River! Repeat, all units to East Locust and Des Moines River!” Dr. Greene silently nodded at the sergeant, indicating that their discussion was over, and he would follow her lead.

A barrage of scratchy voices confirmed Sergeant Freisden’s call over the radio and mostly went silent for several minutes until most police and, presumably, the SWAT units had converged on Des Moines River.

Despite Des Moines’ municipal police’s efforts, it was too late. The entity had, once again, escaped Dr. Greene. Most likely, as Sergeant Freisden pointed out, due to utilizing the relatively large body of water coursing through downtown Des Moines. As it was, this was an on-going project of Dr. Greene! Des Moines was simply the latest of locales he’d been to on his hunt for the ‘bi-pollex’ visitors!

Dr. Greene helped Sergeant Freisden and her officers put out a public alert, but for an escaped “animal” from the Blank Park Zoo. A total fabrication, of course. But it was what the sergeant and her officers knew they had to do if they wanted help from the Department of Interior…

Months Later; Santiago, Chile; South America. 9:013 AM

The entire swathing conurbation of Santiago, Chile’s seven million was dwarfed by Sierra de Ramon! Looking at the gigantic urban spread reminded Dr. Greene of an important point he had to tell the other scientists in the medium, government-issued plane that was about to land soon.

“Oh—and don’t forget, what we’ve learned about the bi-pollex: A, they love to hang around in bigger cities—at least, whatever the closest, largest city they happened to be nearest. And, B, they stay around large bodies of water.” Had the plane been a typical corporate jet, Dr. Greene, in his thirties and a hipster with thick glasses and beard, would have been beckoned to be seated by a flight attendant!

“That makes sense,” Dr. Glyn Wood, from Birmingham, England, input. “The few places we have them back in the UK, they’re all in major urban centers and use the Thames and other city waters to hide from humans…reminds me of modern, urban scavenger-species: they congregate where we, humans, settle!”

Benitez International was quickly coming into the passengers’ view, so the international team of scientists and clandestine security personnel were all gathering their equipment and supplies as American scientist, Doctor Greene, was helping head-scientist, Dr. Hernando Reyes of Chile, prep the crew. The government of Chile had requested help from other nations that had extensive experience with the bi-pollex visitors…Dr. Greene had the most experience out of the top, global scientific community that specialized in—well, Terrestrials of the cosmological sorts! Dr. Reyes, slim and forty-something, was the chosen local scientist, whom doubled as a national government agent.

“Where’s their ship located,” asked one of the security hired hands. He was resetting his smartphone back from airplane mode.

“We’re not exactly sure,” Dr. Greene admitted; jostling a bit from a little turbulence from the plane ride. “My government is still scanning all over the planet with classified tech…based on estimated populations of sightings reported, we’ve narrowed a large share of the search for the bi-pollex to the Americas.”

“Their ship is probably under the Atlantic or the Pacific,” Dr. Miyo Erika, in her thirties with bobbed and striped hair-color, from Japan, guessed out loud.

Others within the large group on the plane nodded at her idea.

“It could’ve been an armada for all we know,” one of the security officers threw out from the back of the plane. “What if there are several ships hidden?”

That caused many of those same team members to pause; some having stunned expressions on their faces as, apparently, they had not thought on such possibility!

“Well,” Dr. Greene was saying, coming back into the conversation, “so far the US government has not spotted any space craft in our global search that would be considered extraterrestrial in nature—whether on land or within large bodies of water.”

Lead-scientist and of the group, Dr. Hernando Reyes joined in as he finished packing his gear for the upcoming mission. “Remember, everyone, back in 2014 how that Malaysian airliner disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean? Years later the Malaysian and Chinese authorities still have not found the plane itself! Now, imagine an alien space craft…I don’t care how many there may be!”

There were voices of consent on Dr. Reyes’ point, including from Dr. Greene.

After the classified mission’s plane landed at a secluded section of Santiago’s international airport, the team of twenty exited the government-issued plane and gathered into a tight circle on the tarmac as Dr. Reyes and Dr. Greene held one more meeting with the crew. They were splitting into five teams—each scientist, five in total, with three security officers. Their respective vehicles were awaiting them; selected drivers at the ready.

“As Dr. Greene informed us,” Dr. Reyes addressed the team; raising his voice over the droning sounds of the plane, as it was already about to fly off for some other mission, “since the bi-pollex use large water sources as their hiding grounds, we’ll be concentrating our efforts at various spots on the Mapocho River…your team leaders will have all the coordinates, summaries, and all other details on them…Now, remember, you come across them, this is a no-kill mission…our political officials insist on this and that’s all they’ll tell me, entiendes?...”

Dr. Reyes looked upon the government conspirators to see if they had any questions. After seeing none, Reyes then turned to Dr. Greene.

“All officers, please ensure that your stunning weapons are up to standards and you have plenty of tranquilizers,” Greene said, also talking over the plane’s engine. “Doctors…you have your downloaded papers on the Terrestrials and on their morphology and all the other goodies…I guess all I really have to add, Dr. Reyes, is that the gato is out of the bag on the bi-pollex these days…too many social media postings for us to contend with. It’s not like the old days when all the government had to do was manipulate the mainstream media with disinfo…we’re going to have to, also, contend with average citizens everywhere in the world who’ve encountered the bi-pollex. And in this political atmosphere we’re in these days, I have to say my concern is more about them than it is our visitors!”

That last comment by Dr. Greene illicit uncomfortable looks by just about everyone in the circle on the tarmac. Greene expected it but did not care. He’d seen way too many citizens throughout the US get more upset with him as a government agent than they were of an alien species that, for whatever reason, had landed upon their home-planet and presented a likely-health risk to the populace and their ecosystem with the bi-pollices’ inherent germs, given they were off-worlders!

“Ok,” Dr. Reyes finally said; also ignoring the teams’ confusing looks from Dr. Greene’s last statement, “everyone to your assigned vehicles!”

Hours Later

As it turned out, there were secrets within secrets; even among government conspirators. Besides Dr. Greene’s team, there were four others: Dr. Glyn Wood, of the UK, and her team; Dr. Kristie Nelson, from Los Angeles, and her team; Dr. Miyo Erika, of Japan, and her team; and the lead-scientist, Dr. Hernando Reyes with his group of three security officers… They were all scattered throughout the grand city of Santiago, hugging the Mapocho River as they scouted the urban canyon for foreign Terrestrials with high-tech detectors and a bit of educated guess-work from the scientists leading each, respective, team. But while a couple of the teams were successful in trapping two of the bi-pollex, Dr. Greene’s team was secretly ordered by the US government to divert their search to Sierra de Ramon!

Dr. Greene had gotten the encrypted message from his boss during the flight into Santiago. His team did not find out about the detour until their driver, whom was in on the change, had taken the SUV the opposite direction of the city! The three security officers had protested, at first, until Dr. Greene reminded them that such unplanned tasks were all part of their mission…and had they forfeited such duties, they would have the weight of the US federal government to deal with in addition to their own, respective home-government!

That put an end to the protestation from the security detail.

Later, when the SUV came to a stop at a fairly high level on the mountain, there were looks from the three security agents!

“Sorry, gentlemen,” the driver, Abby Snider—in her forties and her hair tied up into a bun—said, “this is as far as the vehicle can take us.”

Connor Dawson, one of the officers; American and in his twenties, shot looks at his fellow security agents. “Are you kidding me? Now we have to play mountain climbers!”

The two other officers, Peter Orlov of Russia, and Felix Guarez, the local guy from Chile, both looked upon Dr. Greene with surprised faces!

But he referred to his government-issued smartphone that had info on it that was not privy to the others. “It’s ok, fellas…according to my contact, we don’t have that far to go up.”

Greene, then, looked upon the young men, giving them a reassuring grin. That seemed to placate the officers—for the time being!

Dr. Greene’s team was not going to trek to the top of Sierra de Ramon, but the elevation the crew found themselves on was still high enough for them to don thick coats that were stashed at the back of the SUV. Officer Orlov sardonically pointed out that it was an interesting coincidence that there just happened to be five winter coats stashed away in the SUV—just enough for the American scientist, three security detail, and the driver! Dr. Greene had no response to his comment. Truthfully, he was rather puzzled by it himself, but he could not let his team know this about their leader.

It took another hour before Dr. Greene’s info on his phone-device signaled that the team had reached their location…to whatever it was they were being led to! All five glanced at each other with apprehension when they saw that Dr. Greene’s phone was indicating the destination was in a darkened crevasse a few yards up the mountain!

“Doctor,” Officer Dawson questioned; a bit accusatory in tone, “may I ask, Sir, why are we chasing the bi-pollex up in the mountains when the empirical data shows they’re urban scavengers?”

The two other officers looked upon Dr. Greene while driver Snider kept her eyes on the crevasse as she finally spoke. “It’s because that’s where a ship is…”

All four men whipped around to look at the driver—including Dr. Greene! He, then, had a thought and began to walk toward the middle-aged woman.

“You’re Agent Dark Horse, aren’t you,” he pressed her as the security officers looked on; trading surprising glances at each other.

She finally looked away from the crevasse and looked upon Dr. Greene. “I am…” She indicated all of them at this point. “We’ve gotten a serious update to our research of the bi-pollex…truth is, we’ve all been bamboozled by our visitors!”

There were confused looks by Officers Orlov and Guarez; not versed in some English-slang, apparently.

Tricked,” Dr. Greene offered while the two young men nodded their heads for understanding. He returned his attention to the secret agent. “What was it they tricked us on?”

Agent Snider’s face, already stoic to begin with, had turned even more serious as she looked upon the team in the cold heights of Sierra de Ramon. “Those bastards have been poisoning us—as in, humans!”

Cries of, ‘What!?’ were heard. She continued.

“All that stuff about the bi-pollex hiding in bodies of water from humans…? Well, some of it may be true. But what they’ve been doing was systematically injecting some kind of poison into those bodies of water! Various scientists throughout the world have finally verified this. In case you were wondering if it seemed that some of our, respective, governments were dragging their feet on the Terrestrial-issue, this was why! They had to recover some of the contaminated bodies of water where the presence of the bi-pollex was confirmed, and not just good ol’ fashioned pollution from us, humans…”

Agent Dark Horse’s eyes returned to that crevasse. “The scientists that studied the toxic chemicals from the bi-pollex could not even identify what elements they were! Whatever the hell the bi-pollex put into our waters throughout the Earth, it’s…changing some of us!”

“Christ…” Officer Dawson said; hopelessness covering his face.

Officer Guarez did a prayer in Spanish as he crossed himself in a quick gesture.

Officer Orlov, the sub-culture of Russian stoicism deep in him, merely looked down at the grounds of Sierra de Ramon.

Dr. Greene looked at all those around him. He then looked upon the agent with a frightening realization. “Well…what about us and the rest of the team of this mission in Santiago? We’re all experienced Terrestrial hunters…that means—”

“It means that we all will have to be tested for any changes in our bodies at some point, Dr. Greene,” Agent Dark Horse said. Her face softened slightly. “That includes me, Doctor…”

Dr. Greene nodded at her point and his eyes looked away at some unknown area of the expansive mountain ranges around the nestled grand city of Santiago… All the bravado that Dr. Greene’s team had was long gone by this time.

“They were keeping low all these few years we’ve known about them,” Agent Snider said softly; keen as to how terrible of a revelation she had just engulfed the younger people around her. “They seemed deceptively simple—in fact, almost human in appearance; if it weren’t for them being almost three times as tall as the average humans and having those basic clothes. I’m guessing they fashioned them from our cloth that they’ve scavenged from factories…”

It was silent on that Ramon incline for a long time. The persistent breeze said enough for the crew.

“So, what are we doing once we find this ship,” Officer Guarez inquired; his eyes wet, but his brows furrowed with determination!

Dark Horse responded merely with her steely eyes.

Dr. Greene’s own eyes shifted from the crevasse and Agent Dark Horse. “We’re not here to search for the bi-pollex, are we, Agent?”

Her eyes were, now, set on Dr. Greene. “Doctor, war has been declared against the bi-pollex. That is why our government diverted your mission to this mountain, Dr. Greene…we are to destroy whatever ships we may find here!”

Months Later; The White House; Washington, DC; USA. Thursday; 6:37AM

“…Madam President, Dr. Greene has arrived,” the young aide informed; yet clutching the doorknob as she only partially opened the door to the Oval Office.

“Thanks, Justine,” President Brenda Diaz curtly said. The sixty-ish politician looked the classic, political part: professional blouse-suit with a pearled necklace, hair manicured to the shoulders…

The scruffy-looking hipster scientist-agent with the thick glasses walked through the door that the young aide held open. President Diaz got up from behind the famed Oval Office’s desk and rounded it to shake Dr. Greene’s hand.

“Madam President,” he said with a slight smile; his laptop satchel on his person.

“Dr. Greene…” The president gave him an inquisitive look. “Doctor, of all the times I read or hear about you from the Department, it’s always and only ‘Dr. Greene’...”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Greene affirmed; indicating that was how he preferred it, apparently! Even the president of the United States wasn’t going to push him on the matter. Still…

“Doctor, I finally read your report on your last mission when you were out in Chile,” she said after indicating she wanted him to sit in one of the chairs opposite of hers, that was behind the Oval Office’s desk. Dr. Greene took note that she did not sit, however.

“Madam President, is there a problem with the report,” he asked after a bit of a pause in the conversation.

She began to pace toward one of the windows; finally looking out of it when she got there. This was a behavior that the news media noted about the American president, and that it sometimes had put off foreign officials when she did this. Some speculated that it was a psychological tactic she used.

“Oh, no…nothing wrong with the report…Agent Dark Horse, as always, was very detailed and accurate in her own report she filed—”

“We visually documented the dismantling of the bi-pollices’ ship while capturing several—”

“And there, my young scientist, is where we have a problem!” She walked her way back to the desk and placed two fists atop it. “Did you not understand what Agent Dark Horse explained to you about the bi-pollex? America is at war with those things! I don’t care how they do things at the damn United Nations—we are not some hippies trying to get along with an alien species that’s out to commit genocide upon the human race by poisoning Earth’s waters! Why the hell did you order your security detail to detain the pollex instead of killing them like your superior told you to—”

“No disrespect to Agent Dark Horse, but she’s not my—”

“Son, anytime a Dark Horse is on the field with any agents of the Department, that agent is your superior…now that’s Congressional authorized policy, my friend!”

Dr. Greene thought it wise to hold his tongue at that point. She glared at him. She seemed to cool down a bit then took her own seat behind the huge desk of the Oval Office.

“Good job in figuring out how their ships operate, by the way, Agent,” the president said, begrudgingly, with a smirk!

Truth was, President Diaz and Dr. Greene were professional friends—which explained why he felt so comfortable interrupting the president in the first place! They met several years earlier, before the situation with the arrival of the bi-pollex, during her campaign when she ran for the US Senate. He did not share her political philosophy, but they became friends during town hall meetings and academic panels throughout the United States. Dr. Greene was always called upon by the American and foreign media companies to add as a counter-weight of classic scientific ideals against many of the more traditionalists in the US congress. Even back then, she’d only known him as Dr. Greene!

“Madam President,” he went on, after nodding a thanks to her on the compliment, “just like the Department is able to reverse engineer the pollices’ ship we found at Santiago, we can basically do the same with the rest of the captured pollex…without taking them apart, of course!”

She looked at her old friend with suspicious eyes. “Of course not…Greene, we already have several pollex in custody! And the Feds already have specialists studying the pollices’ language, their morphology…hell, even a bit of psychological experiments that some citizens would be out in the streets by the hundreds of thousands if they knew what we were doing! Look, I get where you’re coming from, Doc, but we’re now at war! We got what we need to reverse engineer those two-thumb-freaks; it’s time to utilize some of that science stuff for practical things now!”

“Your inter-galactic bigotry never ceases to amaze me—President Diaz,” Dr. Greene sardonically put.

That last line gave her a thought. “Speaking of which; did our agents playing astronomers out at MIT figure out where the pollex came from yet?”

Dr. Greene was already shaking his head. “Not that I’ve heard…this is the real world, Madam President. It’s not like in those sci-fi movies and books where your local aliens just pop up in our solar system from ten galaxies away! It would take, literally, over two million light-years to reach our Milky Way galaxy from the closest galaxy…and that’s just one way, Madam President!”

She froze and stared at him. “So, even if the pollex did all that science fictiony stuff with lightspeed, it would take them two-million-plus years just to reach our solar system—”

“Actually, the edge of our galaxy. But, yes! The way it works with Science, Madam President, is one works with Possibilities versus Probabilities, versus Likelihoods…now, I know you like to remind the public that you went to the old school of hard knocks, but I know even you can deduce from what we’re talking about seconds ago: The likelihood of the pollex flying a spaceship from the Andromeda system—two and a half million light-years, remember?—is, or is not likely?”

Dr. Greene’s informal classroom science lectures was the main reason why President Diaz had instructed her political aides to seek out and hire him for her government. His ability to breakdown complex subjects into manageable concepts stuck with her from years ago during those public debates before the bi-pollex arrival!

“I get your point, Greene…Listen, besides talking with you about what happened on Ramon mountain, there’s another reason why I asked you to come to DC…”

Now it was Dr. Greene’s turn to freeze!

She laughed. “It’s ok, Doc. Nothing bad, I promise. In fact, it’s something we talked about just a few minutes ago. How would you feel about heading up a new division within the Department that specializes in the research and application of bi-pollex technology?”

Dr. Greene’s head snapped out of surprised. “Madam President, I’m sure you remember that I’m an astrophysicist. I pretty much stumbled into figuring out the bi-pollices’ ship-designs and their resources because that Dark Horse agent and the rest of my team helped me through it!”

“Yeah, but you all were the first on the entire planet, Greene! First to find one of the pollices’ ships; first to get one working!”

Dr. Greene chuckled. The president was askance. “Aren’t you glad I convinced Agent Dark Horse not to blow it up, but try to use our enemy’s weapons against them?”

She held her palms up playfully in a surrendering gesture. “You definitely won that tussle, Dr. Greene. And that’s why I think you’d be the perfect person to head up this new division within the Department. You don’t have to be an engineer, in this case. You’ll be in charge of them. Plus, with your astrophysics background, you’ll be able to figure out what those damn disks can do in Earth’s atmosphere as well!

“And I say disks because, like you said, Dr. Greene, what’s the likelihood that ship hiding in Ramon mountain in Chile was the only ship the pollex used to get here?”

That got Dr. Greene’s attention. “You mean humans plan to use pollex-tech for our own usage?”

The politician slowly shook her head with a knowing grin. “Not, humans, in general, Dr. Greene…Americans in particular!”

She knew Dr. Greene’s politics where the opposite of hers. She watched for his reaction and was not disappointed. He was already vigorously shaking his mop-head.

“Madam President…I, I don’t think that’s such a good idea—”

“Why not, Greene? Look, the US has been working with other nations on this pollex-issue for years! Now that we’ve finally cracked their tech-code—thanks to you, we’ll—”

“Yeah, and a Chilean and a Russian helped this American to figure that code out, Madam President! And let’s not forget we gained access to that ship in Sierra de Ramon in the first place because the Chilean government gave us permission to set foot in their country!”

Just as Dr. Greene said that last word in his rebuttal, two burly White House guards came through a disguised door from one of the Oval Office’s walls! Armed and their countenance looked none too pleasing!

“Madam President,” the shorter of the two spoke, while his cohort walked closer to where Dr. Greene was sitting, “is everything alright?”

She seemed to relish in Dr. Greene’s obvious discomfort at seeing the officers. And seemed to purposefully let the situation linger…

“We’re doing great, Officer…in fact, you two can thank this young man, here, for doing a big service for America…he and some friends of his just advanced our country’s military superiority by decades!”

Both guards’ eyes cut to the hipster; slight in the chair he was seated in and avoiding the officers’ eyes.

“Thank you, Madam President,” the same officer said as the two men departed to the same, concealed door they had come from!

The Oval Office was awkwardly silent. Dr. Greene kept his head lowered while the president’s eyes were looking though one of the other windows.

“Greene, we’ve never been buddies or anything like that, but I still consider you a friend…I know you don’t see this, but, believe me it’s true. Other presidents we’ve had at this very desk would’ve had those very same guards arrest you for insubordination and posing a threat to the president—” He looked up at her from his stupor, and she continued, “—yes, raising your voice while in a confined space can be considered a threat to the president…but I’m letting this one go, Greene.

“All I ask, in exchange, is for your hand at helping me—actually, helping our fellow Americans, defeat the bi-pollex, and in the process secure America’s supremacy in the world…”

She looked upon him as if he were a wounded animal. Indeed, maybe it was not too far off! He wondered if she had pushed an emergency button, or if the guards were somehow monitoring their conversation and decided to step in. At that point, it didn’t matter.

“The water,” Dr. Greene said; his head yet lowered, not wanting to even look at the president at this point. Indeed, he felt betrayed. For, now, the president of the United States of America was basically blackmailing a scientist into producing a counter-defensive technology. A defensive project that said-scientist wanted nothing to do with! It was an old conflict between the sciences and those of the governance that went back, at least, as far as the Second World War!

At first, President Diaz frowned at Dr. Greene’s words. She, then, realized what subject he was switching to.

“What was the substance the pollex had been putting into bodies of water throughout various parts of Earth?” She got up from her seat and began to pace again. All the while, the president’s proper hair stiffly jolting as she shook her head. “Damn, I was kind of hoping you’d found out! Guess even geniuses have their limits, huh?”

He finally made eye-contact with her since her entrapping him. She had the nerves to smile at him. Dr. Greene’s head went back to its hiding place.

“Don’t worry, Dr. Greene, we have a full division devoted to that problem within the Department…they’ve made some progress, but…”

There was a phone call. President Diaz made the decision, upon her election, to never use a landline nor cordless phone. She always used encrypted smartphones…and this was another important meeting she had to conduct. Geo-political in nature. It was time for Dr. Greene to leave the Oval Office…

Hours LaterBaltimore-Washington International Airport…

Dr. Greene’s flight to Hawaii, by way of Los Angeles, finally made the boarding call for passengers. He retrieved his only luggage, a duffle bag, and joined the stretching line of passengers. It was an impromptu getaway he decided to treat himself after his failed-meeting with President Diaz! On his way out of the White House, Dr. Greene had received an encrypted text from the Department that he would be called on when needed, now that his job-description had changed.

His meeting with the president had already impacted the nature of his career all in a matter of minutes! Technically speaking, Dr. Greene was no longer a Terrestrial hunter, but now headed a division of engineering within the Department. Totally made up by President Diaz just hours ago!

Dr. Greene finally made it to the circulation desk for checking onto a flight when the clerk informed Dr. Greene of a change in his itinerary!

He argued with the clerk, ignoring complaints from the passengers behind him! That is, until she printed out an e-ticket for him to see for himself…

Ankara, Turkey,” Dr. Greene said aloud! He studied the hard-copied e-ticket; making sure there weren’t any mistakes. He stepped out of the line, so the other passengers could finally board the flight to LAX, where he was supposed to be going for his defuncted getaway!

“Dr. Greene,” came an Eastern European, female voice.

He looked up from the ticket to find a young woman holding a professional-looking sign with “Dr. Greene” ascribed on it. She was around thirty and dressed in an old-school limousine driver’s uniform. He must have had one of those inquisitive looks he often did, because she chuckled at his reaction upon seeing her.

“I am your driver, Dr. Greene, per the Department’s order.”

He winced. When Dr. Greene had gotten the text about being contacted later for his new position, he figured he’d have a couple of days off…at the most!

He gave up and simply followed the young woman as she guided him to whatever new flight—

“Wait a minute,” Dr. Greene exclaimed as he had an epiphany! “Why the hell do I need a driver when I’m supposed to be flying to Turkey?”

His eyes were hard-set on the young woman; all those years of working as a clandestine agent making Dr. Greene’s natural instincts automatically suspicious!

“We are going to Ankara, Doctor.”

Again, he gave a puzzled look. She tsked while shaking her head and gently took him by one of his elbows.

“Dr. Greene, this airport is but one square on a chessboard…I am your Dark Horse-piece on that board!”

His head whipped in her direction as they walked toward another terminal. She grinned.

“Perhaps you weren’t informed that I am no longer a Hunter?”

“Oh, we know, Doctor.”

They, now, went down a long corridor; pedestrians populating the airport at every venue.

“Then, I don’t understand why I’m being sent to Turkey!”

She glanced around their surroundings then looked at Dr. Greene straight in the eyes. “We have fresh disks that have dropped from the sky in Turkey and Europe, Doctor…we’re in desperate need of The Engineer of the Department of Terrestrials!”

Doctor Greene froze; other pedestrians within the bustling terminal weaving around the two agents. He had a smirk. “Is that what they are calling me in Europe?”

“It’s what they’ll call you in history, Dr. Greene…”

She gave him a pat on one of his shoulders and continued down the airport terminal; The Engineer one step behind the Dark Horse.

Ankara, Turkey; Secret Auxiliary Lab of the Department of Terrestrials. Friday; 7:57 AM…

“…Bloody hell, he’s tall,” the European Union’s Commission President, Dieter Brandt, said upon seeing a bi-pollex in person for his first time! His German accent was thick, but urbane…a voice that served him well as he worked his way up the Commission and elected to the EU’s commission-presidency by his early-fifties. “I’ve heard they’re around three times as big as we are, on average!”

“It’s a female, actually, Mr. President,” Dr. Greene corrected politely. The hipster American scientist—floppy hair and thick glasses identifying him—and his Department supervisor, one of the Department’s Dark Horses, walked next to President Brandt as he inspected three captured bi-pollex aliens that were housed within large rooms; reinforced glass serving as the main barrier.

As a result of recommendations from psychologists within another division, the Turkish auxiliary lab of the Department made sure to construct the holding cells where there were some privacy-areas for the bi-pollex, especially when they relieved themselves, was one area of controversy among some ranks within the Department (Lots of fish, not surprisingly, being the pollices’ main diet…apparently, being alien to Earth fish consumption did not adversely affect the bi-pollex!). Some agents and officials felt the pollex did not deserve the dignity of privacy, given the discovery of Earth’s major waters being poisoned by the pollex, according to Department ecologists.

The three bi-pollices before EU President Brandt and the two Department agents had been apprehended during a recent incursion into Turkish and European air-space when their small, scout-ship was shot down by the Romanian government, just outside of Constanta. It was speculated that the pollex were there since Constanta was one of the major cities that rested on the shores of the Black Sea…once again, the water connection with the bi-pollex!

“By now, Mr. President, the Department has a pretty extensive morphological profile on the pollex,” Dr. Greene informed. “In many ways they’re very similar to us, homo sapiens…like us, the male pollex are generally bigger than the female.”

President Brandt’s head whipped over to look at Dr. Greene and the young, European woman standing next to him. “Even bigger than her?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” Dr. Greene said; jutting his chin in the direction of the two other pollex. “The others are male, but not much bigger…if you think of it in every day terms, Mr. President, not every human male is six-feet tall. It’s logical to expect another humanoid species to have variability among its member-citizens.”

President Brandt nodded his head with approval as he further considered the pollex before him in the darkened lab. He noted their hind feet; though subtle, when compared to, for example, a kangaroo with hind legs. It was odd to see such feet on a humanoid, even when they were alien! Indeed, the fact that the bi-pollex looked a lot like humans—just much bigger, with hind feet, and, of course, with a pair of thumbs on each hand—made the pollex alienness even more poignant. For, one would not relate with a fish species upon discovering it in an unexpected place. It would just be a fish—unexpected; but still a fish. But if one were to go to an expected family gathering and ran into a cousin with completely different physical features than one’s own—to the point one would wonder if said-cousin were even related to you, such impressions take on the true connotation of “alien.”

“They wear clothing…” The EU president leaned in closer toward the thick glass as he peered at one of the male bi-pollex. The male pollex, seated on the floor of the open cell, looked at President Brandt with very “human” eyes, though shaped a bit differently.

Dr. Greene deferred to his Department-assigned superior. The thirty-something woman, in formal business skirt and jacket—almost to the point of an ‘80s business suit—responded. “Again, the Department’s many divisions and disciplines, Mr. President…upon our commandeering of the pollex in Romania, our allies in their government documented the pollex clothing to be very similar to humans’ space suit—”

“Yes,” President Brandt responded without taking his eyes off the pollex, “I’ve read all the reports filed by the Department…pretty amazing just how similar everything is about them, isn’t it?”

Dr. Greene and Agent Dark Horse glanced at one another; inquisitively. But they let President Brandt’s words stand alone.

He then sudden turned to face the two agents. “Any progress on understanding the substance our friends, here, have been steadily poisoning our waters with?”

Again, Dr. Greene let the Dark Horse take this one. “Last I’ve heard, the Department’s Water Division has done an excellent job at ruling out what the substance is not—arsenic, mercury, botulinum…among the world’s most dangerous substance—”

“But it’s none of those,” President Brandt said with a hint of incredulity.

Agent Dark Horse made a shrugging gesture. “Well, Mr. President, they are alien!” She, then, made a deference tip toward Dr. Greene. “Folks from the Astronomical Division can tell you better than anyone…”

As if on cue, Dr. Greene came in. “Hydrogen, helium, and oxygen are the most abundant elements in the universe—that scientists know today. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the cup of coffee that we drink here on Earth or if they’re in some far-off galaxy! Those elements are the same in the universe…basically, Mr. President, this is true for all other elements. Mind you, their compositions may vary, but it’s kind of the Starbucks-at-every-corner, thing!”

The German gentleman laughed; the Dark Horse agent had heard Dr. Greene’s joke before and was a little less impressed!

“So,” Dr. Greene continued, “my question about the poisonous substance, Mr. President, is: Why can’t we even narrow down what the substance is the pollex are drugging our Earth with?”

“Along with it, affecting humans,” the EU commissioner-president added as he looked off into a corner; his mind absorbing their conversation. A thought occurred to him.

“The reports mentioned some changes to some people from the poisoning, but it doesn’t sound like they’re dying! Seems like some people exhibit changes in their bodies as if they were developing allergies to stimuli they’ve been exposed to for years but never developed until the pollex came to Earth!”

Dr. Greene and Agent Dark Horse looked at each other with knowing, wearied looks.

“This,” Agent Dark Horse finally said, “is where Dr. Greene and I part ways, Mr. President…is it that not enough time has passed before some humans finally expire from the exposure to the poisoning, or is it something else…?”

The president waited for either of them to finish. His head ticked between the two agents while his brow furrowed. “Something else, like what, Agents?”

“I think the bi-pollex are doing one, big experiment on humanity,” Dr. Greene finally stated. Predictably, both the president and the Dark Horse agent winced with impatience and disbelief. Dr. Greene continued. “Look, according to the Department’s Engineering Division the pollex are something like a hundred years more advanced than humans are, when it comes to space travel! Imagine if humans started flying in space in the 1850s instead of the 1950s! What I’m getting at is, if the bi-pollex wanted us dead, we would’ve been seeing news reports about human-genocide all over the Earth by now! They have the means to do it…so why haven’t they done so after these several years the Department has known about them?”

That sobered up the EU president and the Dark Horse agent! Indeed, it was a question, apparently, President Brandt had not thought of previously. He conceded this, visually, by making a questioning face and finally a nod. Brandt’s eyes, then, went back to the three bi-pollex in the transparent cells just yards away in the low-lit laboratory…all three were intently watching—listening?—to the humans!

Indeed, President Brandt, Agent Dark Horse, and even Dr. Greene all froze on the spot upon seeing this! The aliens’ eyes slowly slid to other parts of the lab…leaving the three humans with an uncertain feeling as they looked at one another!

Later, that night; Downtown Ankara, Turkey. Dr. Greene’s hotel room. 7:45 PM…

Dr. Greene was just finishing up typing his report from the events of the day at the auxiliary lab, and had just emailed it to central office of the Department when—

“Uh, oh!” Dr. Greene’s smartphone was displaying its encrypted icon. Only the Department used that signal—and there were no scheduled contacts for that night after his meeting with the president of the European Commission and his Dark Horse supervisor-agent!

Before answering it, the young American scientist muted the English-language news broadcast he was watching on the hotel’s complimentary tv. “This is Dr. Gree—”

“Doctor, it’s the Dark Horse,” came the Department’s young superior agent in charge of Dr. Greene; her voice thick with an unknown Eastern European accent, since it was Department-policy for the various agents and their assigned Dark Horses not to get too chummy with each other! “We’ve got a situation at the lab, here in Ankara!”

Dr. Greene thought for a few seconds. “You mean the one we were in this morning?”

“One of the bi-pollex escaped, Doctor! Look, I know the Department sent you here for your experience with the pollices’ ship back in Santiago, but we really need that ol’ alien Hunter right now! You can be The Engineer later…I’m afraid we don’t have as much experience dealing with the bi-pollex like you all do in the Americas!”

“Of course,” he said without even thinking about the implications of his response! “We’ll talk about the details later, but I do need to know which way it went…I’m assuming toward the Black Sea coast? It’s a bit of a hike, even for the bi-pollex, but…”

There was a bit of a delay in Agent Dark Horse’s reply. “You would think that, given our history with the pollex. But from what I’m now being told, I guess this particular pollex is headed toward downtown!”

That was unusual, Dr. Greene thought to himself! “Ok…Agent Dark Horse, I’ll contact you and the office once I have a twenty on him—it! Or—”

“It’s the female bi-pollex,” the Dark Horse simply informed.

“Ok…please keep your contacts open. I’ll probably need you and your office’s help caging her!” Dr. Greene noticed an uncomfortable silence, as he was strapping on the last of his hunting gear.

“Dr. Greene, the Department has made it a policy of termination once any Terrestrial has escaped. Is that understood, Agent? No offense, but word has gotten around from your president about how you seem to prefer detention and maybe not up to the kill.”

Dr. Greene froze on the spot; his hand clutching his important duffle bag with many of his tools of the trade. “I understand—wait! Is that the real reason President Diaz put me in charge of this new pollex-tech division? To get me out of Hunting?”

Another pause from the Dark Horse. “We’ll talk later, Agent Greene…”

Message received!

The two Department agents ended the call. Dr. Greene didn’t even bother to turn out the lights nor the television set to his hotel room.

Downtown Ankara. 8:51 PM…

Dr. Greene fell back into his Hunting mode. Like he’d done for years for the Department, via the internet, Dr. Greene tuned into the city of Ankara’s police department radio broadcast to get insight into what events were going on in said-city. Even though Dr. Greene did not speak Turkish, using a translator-app on one of his devices was enough for the American to understand what was going on!

Utilizing a drive-share service, he drove around in a small Euro-sport car within the clustered hive of five-and-a-half-million for nearly three hours until he finally got a hit on Ankara’s police scanners!

After listening to the scanner and then reading his app’s translation from Turkish-to-English, Dr. Greene punched in the location on the drive-share car’s GPS and took off at a speed that would be considered highway-level back in America’s expansive highway networks!

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