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Science Fiction: The Martian Odyssey

DOWN THE PASSAGEWAYS OF INTERSTELLAR TIME....

 

 BELOW IS AN EXCERPT FROM "THE MARTIAN ODYSSEY":

 

PROLOGUE

 

One million years ago, as we judge time on the Earth, the human population consisted of Homo Erectus with a few more primitive types and apes thrown in. The most promising was living on what today is known as the island of Java in Indonesia. They were so promising, in fact, that our closest neighbors in space, on the red planet Mars, took note of them, snatched up a few, and took them home for experimentation.

                                               

After advancing the race to a more usable frame, the descendants were returned to Earth where, under the direction of their masters, the early humans—called Homani by their T’laran masters—were put to work mining minerals. . Others were retained on T’lara to serve their masters there.

           

Then the unthinkable happened. The Martian climate drastically changed, the atmosphere dwindled, and the once vast seas of the red planet quickly disappeared. The T’larans first built great, domed cities to protect themselves from their new hostile environment. Later, they went underground into huge complexes. When even that proved not to work, they sought other planets in which to emigrate the remaining population.

 

                                                                            ***

 

A great T’laran ship was on its way to Earth for one last mining operation before an array of expected volcanism was to occur. But those in power misjudged the start of volcanic eruptions and the ship was caught in one vast explosion. It was damaged and wobbled off course, down toward the planet. It came to rest on what is today known as the North American continent, somewhere in the southwestern region of the United States. Eventually, most of it was buried by volcanic ash and rock.

           

The T’larans at home were unmindful of one, lost ship as they were busy looking for a new world. They ruled out the Earth for colonization because it was too volcanically active. But in the neighboring Alpha Centauri star system they found a planet suitable to their needs. The remnants of the people rested in sleep chambers aboard a huge ship, and the last generations of Mars left for the new T’lara. But something went wrong. When the ship arrived at the new planet, the people were not awakened as programmed. The ship, a marvel of T’laran science, maintained the people and itself for eons. Then, just a thousand years ago, they were finally awakened and began to build a new civilization.

           

After a millennium, the various societies on the planet were robust, indeed. Unfortunately, the ancient mentality of the T’laran masters returned and slavery reared its ugly head. The Homani, those men and women that were descended from the people of Earth that had been taken and modified, were abused the worst. Rebel factions developed and bravely fought to overthrow their oppressors. It had not gone well.

           

One day a T’laran historian noticed that one of their ancient star ships had crashed on Taartu (Earth), and had never been retrieved. The Royal Astronomer was instructed to keep an electronic eye on the location of the lost ship and learned that, though it was mostly buried in an isolated, rocky canyon, occasionally travelers did venture there. The powerful but crazed leader of the T’larans, the Guardian, would not have the lowly Homani of Taartu learn of the ship and possibly, through it, of his civilization.

           

Thus a ship was sent to Earth to investigate. It was decided that too much of the ship lay exposed and it should be either recovered or destroyed. Work began immediately; the date: July 17, 1953.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE:

PROJECT ROCK CANYON

 

 

A line of military trucks and Jeeps moved over the stark, desert landscape toward a line of rugged peaks. The full moon illuminated the scene with its cold, silvery light. The only sounds to be heard the night of July 17, 1953 were the rumbling of Detroit motors and the occasional bantering of the soldiers in the transport trucks. The trucks crawled up a minor trail into the Cerbat Mountains northeast of Kingman, Arizona and left sanity behind. But, in the military line of work, they were used to that.

           

“Radar made the landing just up ahead, sir.” The Jeep driver, a master sergeant, glanced at his companion in the quarter-ton Army vehicle. Major Steve Lassiter nodded and continued to stare ahead into the darkness minimally dispelled by the headlights. This was Major Lassiter’s fourth such recovery mission and he wasn’t looking forward to what he suspected they would find. Some things were best left undisturbed.

The Jeep, part of the HQ company of the 504th out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, slowly made its way around a tight turn and stopped, brakes squealing. A small, box canyon was dead ahead, a rocky depression normally occupied with desert flora such as yucca, prickly pear, agave, mesquite and a myriad of other plant oddities. But it wasn’t the shadowy shapes of the native flora that Major Lassiter and his Jeep driver stared at. It was the glowing, obloid that was quickly lifting off and speedily departing; it disappeared into the night sky. But that wasn’t all. In the center of the rocky canyon moonlight was reflected off a silvery, metallic object that lay at the top of a high knoll. Rocky cliffs loomed overhead on three sides.“Jeez, looks like we missed this one,” said MSG Joe T. Harris. He had been with Major Lassiter for three of the four missions that the accomplished officer had been on. But the objects that they recovered and secretly spirited away to military bases never failed to amaze him. He killed the engine and stared ahead, in awe of what he had seen and was seeing.

           

“What size do you estimate it to have been, Sergeant?” Major Lassiter asked.

           

“About 60 feet, sir.”

           

Lassiter nodded. “Take some men and find out what that is on top of the knoll.”

           

“Yes, sir.”

           

Harris dismounted, grabbed a corporal and two privates and, armed and cautious, went up the rocky hill.

           

The object they found was obviously buried by the surrounding, he judged, volcanic rock and ash from an eruption that had occurred a long time ago. Roughly 30 feet in diameter by six feet in height was showing. He reached out and ran his palm over the surface. It was smooth and cold. Harris wondered how much more was underground….

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO:

JACK LASSITER

 

 

It was the summer of 1987 and the mule deer north of Kingman, Arizona were running through the Cerbat Mountains, much to the delight of pert and pretty Audrey Rosselli. And while the deer occupied Audrey’s  fixed stare, Jack Lassiter couldn’t keep his eyes off her. Jack had known Audrey for two years and they had been engaged to be married for about a year with no real plans to pin down a date of marriage. They both loved each other deeply and Jack considered himself one lucky man.

 

“Jack, look at ‘em go! Aren’t they beautiful?”

 

Jack smiled. He couldn’t help it. Whenever Audrey smiled, it was contagious; he had to smile, too. “Yeah. They’re something all right. And there’s a bunch of ‘em up here so we can see ‘em a lot. So how about getting back to lunch...?” He pointed at the two-burner camp stove that carried small, aromatic tendrils of smoke aloft in the light afternoon breeze. “You know. Hot dogs? Food?” Audrey  frowned, a fork poised in her elevated right hand.

 

“OK. OK. I’m doing it but you know what a lousy cook I am; don’t blame me if they don’t taste good. I warned you.”

 

Jack approached her, put his hands on her shoulders, and held her at arms length. His blue eyes stared into her own bright blue ones. “You’re not a lousy anything,” he told her.

Audrey  smiled, enjoying the game. “Yes, I am. I’m a lousy cook and I don’t speak Italian.”

 

“But you are Italian.”

 

“I know, but I don’t speak it.”

 

“OK. So you’re a lousy cook and a lousy linguist but you’re not a lousy lay.” Audrey  giggled. “So what am I lousy at?” he asked.

 

She pulled away from him, grinning, and started to sneak away. “You’re a lousy lay!” she said, teasing.

 

“Oh, yeah?” He started after her. She squealed and ran but not very fast. “Then what were all those happy moans and groans I was listening to last night while we made love?”

 

“Couldn’t have been me,” Audrey said over her shoulder. “Must have been somebody else. That’s it! You were screwing somebody else last night while I had to do without. What a bum!”

 

Jack caught up with her and crushed her to him. They kissed for a long time, their tongues in each other’s mouths, caressing, exploring. Jack loved to kiss Audrey  better than anyone else and, even though she would never tell him so, she felt the same way.

 

“What’s that smell?” Jack asked, sniffing the air. Audrey  squealed.

 

“Oh, God! The hot dogs! Shit! I’ve killed another lunch.”

 

Jack joined her at the grill. “Aah, they don’t look so bad. Put ‘em in a bun, slop a lot of mustard over them, and they’ll almost go down.” He smiled at her.

 

“Ohhh. You’re a lot of help.” Finally Audrey grinned back at him. “OK. Let’s eat.”

 

They sat on two folding chairs near the back of Jack’s 1984 Chevy Silverado, eating hot dogs and watching two roadrunners chase each other around. Nearby a jackrabbit was pretending he was invisible while he observed the two strange animals in his domain.

 

“Isn’t it pretty here?” Audrey  asked as she wiped mustard off her sensual lips with a paper napkin.

 

“Yep,” Jack agreed. “We should come out here more often.”

 

“You only want to get me out here so you can have sex with me.”

 

“So?”

 

She didn’t know what to say to that so she didn’t say anything.

 

“Isn’t that bunny over there cute?”

 

“Yep. He’s probably looking for sex, too.”

 

“Jaa-ack!”

 

Jack chuckled. He liked to bait Audrey and listen to her squirm, but only in a nice way and never for too long. Audrey  was the most beautiful and blessed thing that had ever happened to him and he worshipped her. But he didn’t want her to know that.

           

“All you ever think about is screwing.”

           

“Yep. Well, sometimes I think about other stuff.”

           

“Yeah, I’ll bet. What?”

           

“Oral sex.”

           

“Honnn! You’re . . . you’re....”

           

“Yep.” Jack finished his bow wow and wiped his mouth. Getting up, he tossed his paper plate, et cetera, in the plastic bag he’d brought along for that purpose. He hated people who littered the desert and never did it himself. The desert was beautiful and he did what he could to keep it that way. Audrey was of a like mind. They had moved to Golden Valley from Henderson, Nevada a year ago and they loved it there. They spent most of their free time on the desert hiking, exploring ghost towns or metal detecting for lost history. Today it was metal detecting. Jack had a Fisher while Audrey  had opted for a low-cost Bounty Hunter because she didn’t like a lot of technology to fool around with.

           

“I can get off for a few days next week. How about you? I thought we might go south a little ways and fool around there. Miners were up in these mountains for years. Ought to be a lot of goodies lying around just waiting for two disciplined entrepreneurs such as ourselves to come along and find them. Are you game?”

           

Jack Lassiter was the chief of maintenance at the airport in Kingman, was indispensable, and practically ran the department by himself.

           

Audrey finished her cold drink and got up. She brushed the dust from her light blue cotton shorts and matching top. They both wore sturdy but lightweight hiking shoes.

           

“Sounds good, hon. I think I can get Mr. Fingers to let me off.”

           

Mr. Fingers was Audrey’s  unappreciative pet name for her boss, John Livingston, who was always trying to grab her and cop a feel. Jack had offered on several occasions to “deck the bastard” but Audrey  had declined his deserving offer saying she could “handle the bum herself.”

           

“Besides,” she would remind Jack, “he knows that nobody else knows how to handle his computerized accounts like I can. And if his shit gets too deep I’ll walk and he knows it.”

           

Jack held out the Bounty Hunter for her. “OK. Now, let’s find the gold,” he said, grinning.

           

“I’ll find it first, bud!” she retorted and grabbed the machine.

           

The following week found the two lovers in Jack’s truck eight or nine miles south of Chloride and headed east toward the Cerbats. It was a beautiful day, Jack had off work for five days and he was spending his time with the most wonderful girl in the world. He couldn’t be happier. Jack hoped it would never end, that it could go on that way forever. He had no idea that it would end, nor how soon that it would happen. It was July 14, 1987 and it would be almost a year before his happiness would return.

           

At that moment he turned onto a road headed south toward the mountains in that direction.

           

“I read in a magazine the other day,” Jack began, “about an alleged crashed flying saucer near Kingman 34 years ago. You’re always hearing about that stuff happening other places, but I didn’t know we had celebrity status with one, too.”

           

Audrey made a face.

           

“You don’t believe that bullshit, do you, Jack?” she asked. “I mean, flying saucers and aliens and all that. That’s rank tabloid stuff and about as farfetched as winning the lottery.”

           

“So who says you can’t win the lottery?”

           

“Duh! It’s a no-brainer. Odds are millions to one against it and anybody who buys a ticket is a damn fool.”

           

“Try and convince the ones who have already won.”

           

“Not me. I’ll never buy one. And as for aliens…. Big duh!”

           

“Now Stanton Friedman says….”

           

“Jack. I know you like Friedman and you read his books and I know he’s a smart guy and all that, but I think he’s full of alien shit and if you believe that stuff, you are, too.”

           

Jack grinned. “Alien shit?”

           

Audrey glanced at him and they both began to laugh.

           

“OK. No offense to Mr. Friedman but I stay a skeptic until I see it for myself.”

           

“Keep the faith, baby. Someday may prove you wrong.”

           

“Bull.”

           

Jack suddenly spotted an old, dirt road on the right that barely looked like a road at all. The Chevy truck slowly made its way up the side of the mountain along a narrow road that Jack soon came to realize really wasn’t much of a road at all. He hated to admit it, but probably Audrey was right after all. But he stuck with it, mostly because there was nowhere to turn around. She hated it all the way up because it dropped off on Audrey’s  side and you couldn’t see the road and there was nothing but empty space for hundreds of feet down.

           

“Jack. Jesus....”

           

“Don’t worry. Were almost to the top. See. It opens up ahead in that canyon.”

           

“Lucky for you, bud. I was just about to open up your head.”

           

Moving between a cleft in the mountain, Jack pulled into a box canyon and out onto a flat area about 500 yards square; in the center was a large, rounded hill. There were big boulders scattered about. Jack figured they must have come down from the peaks above them. The road disappeared at some tailings  where the canyon ended.

           

“See,” he said. “That’s not so bad. It’s relatively flat so it might have had a mining camp on it at one time. Could have a lot of old coins or relics buried out there. Maybe something big and valuable....”

           

....Audrey was true to her word. She pulled the light green cotton top over her head and dropped her matching shorts and underwear, retaining her lightweight hiking boots; Jack followed and did the same. He stopped for a moment to stare at her. She was only 5’2” tall so he towered nearly a foot over her. She wasn’t what some called voluptuous because her breasts were small but Jack liked them anyway and Audrey  had a nice full, round behind that he loved to caress and even just to look at in moments like now. Her shoulder length, brown hair—pony-tailed today—drifted about in the light breeze and the sun glistened off the two liquid pools of blue fire that were her eyes. God, she was pretty. And she was staring appreciatively at him, too, and smiling.

           

“Here, horny. Put some sunblock on me. God, you’re a dead giveaway.”

           

Jack glanced down at himself. Yeah. He was pretty obvious all right. But he put the lotion on her and she put it on him and by then they both had to make love and so they did. Afterward, they each had a cold beer from the cooler and then, finally, grabbing their metal detectors they started across the open canyon floor. But at the last minute Audrey chickened out on nude detecting and got dressed; reluctantly, seeing any additional sensual fun with Audrey slipping away, Jack dressed as well.

 

***

 

From a shadowy cave entrance high atop an adjoining peak, several pairs of eyes filled with hatred and distrust watched the two vacationers below. Dark eyes peered from beneath overhanging brow ridges, bestial eyes that bore no vestige of human kindness.

           

“What do you think they are doing here?” one of them asked, a big brute with an air of authority. His body habitually swayed sickeningly.

           

“I am not sure, Destan Ve, but I have seen recordings of these people with primitive machines like those. I believe they use them to find metals and buried artifacts. The Royal Astronomer was right when he said he had observed Homani snooping around this site.”

           

Destan Ve glanced quickly at the speaker, an armed warrior of a group of six led by himself.

           

“Do you think they will be able to locate it with that miserable, primitive equipment?”

           

“I cannot be sure, Great One. Do you wish us to eliminate them?” Immediately he reached for the holstered weapon at his right side.

           

Destan Ve scowled at the man and woman below, a horrid visage that at the best of times looked no better. “Perhaps it would be well to....” But he got no further because at that moment the woman screamed as the earth opened beneath her feet and she plunged into a dark cavity.

           

“By the tail of the great Guardian! What is happening down there, Golor Tan?”

           

Golor Tan smiled; in his enthusiasm, his massive, hairless body moved forward minutely. “It looks as though one of the meddling fools has fallen into a depression where some of the loose earth shifted.” He paused. “Unless....” Destan Ve scowled impatiently.

           

“Yes?”

           

“Unless the meddling military fools decades earlier did a poor job of concealing the ship and left the portal open. The woman may have fallen inside.”

           

Destan Ve pounded a boulder with one of his tentacles and suddenly stood fully erect. His massive frame towered nearly seven feet, his dark brown hide tough as an African rhino’s.

           

“We have to get down there and stop them. The male will surely descend to rescue the woman and once they see what they have fallen into, nothing will ease their curiosity.” The leader glanced at his lieutenant. “Bring the transporter.”

           

Golor Tan nodded and motioned to one of his warriors who carried a large box strapped to his back. A smaller box attached to a wide belt around his waist sported a number of depressions and touch pads.

           

“Move the patrol into the center of the ship,” Destan Ve ordered. Golor Tan nodded to the warrior.

           

The alien warrior manipulated the control box. At once the air around them was filled with multicolored, swirling light and the awesome sound of intense, electrical fields. In a few seconds the entire patrol disappeared. Inside the interstellar spacecraft that hadn’t felt the presence of life since Major Lassiter’s men had invaded its interior 34 years before, six huge, bestial warriors of desperate demeanor materialized. It was dark within the ship as the automatic systems had ceased to function long ago. But Destan Ve’s warriors could easily see in the dark. The leader pointed.

           

“Send three of your warriors to the entrance to take them. I want to see more of this ancient vessel.”

           

Golor Tan indicated three and they departed at once to fulfill their duty. Destan Ve and the others began to explore the ship that had originally come from their own world and had inconveniently crashed upon the Earth.

           

“What could have happened here? I understand this type of craft was very dependable for its time.”

           

“No one knows, Great One,” Golor Tan replied. “No historical records remain. Within the century, however, several of our ships were lost here due to the intervention of the various military groups of Taartu—Earth to its inhabitants.”

           

The leader peered at the control deck. “Very primitive,” he muttered. “As this craft has not fallen into the interloper’s hands and is the only one not accounted for, this will be our last mission to this miserable planet. They may have stolen most of its contents and the bodies of our warriors that were aboard, but they will never have the vessel itself.”

           

“Yes. There is always the chance the men of this planet may activate  the ship and program it to return from where it came. That would not be good.”

           

“Of course not, fool! Find the central magnetic field and do what you have to do to destroy it and be quick about it!”

           

Golor Tan bowed. “It shall be done, Destan Ve.”

           

He quickly moved to a nearby wall and opened a panel before the leader could see how it was done. Destan Ve’s lieutenant leaned inside and began his mission that would cause the most massive explosive ever heard in the state of Arizona and destroy the most valuable piece of extraterrestrial evidence ever to remain on the Earth….

 

 

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