Copyright © 2017 Tyler Christopher. All Rights Reserved.
"What do you- think that- Dr. Corheid expects us to find down here?" Melissa Danforth asked as she chipped at the hard soil.
As he swung a pickaxe at the other side of the excavation tunnel, Donovan Gaines replied, "No clue. How did he even choose this site?"
"There was an anomaly in the soil scans," Melissa responded. "Nobody could tell what it was, though. Not even the geology department."
"So what happened to Chad?" Donovan asked, then grunted as he swung the axe. "Why'd I replace him?"
"Dumbass kept having fainting spells from the heat," Melissa groused. "The idiot wasn't drinking enough water, working in this Egyptian heat. So make sure you-"
After a few moments of silence, Donovan swung again and asked, "Mel?"
Melissa was frozen in shock, the chisel and hammer hanging by her sides. She stood, staring at the pinky toe and section of a foot sticking out of the hardened earth.
Getting a closer look at the warm sienna tone of exposed skin, Donovan whispered, "What the..."
"Go get Corheid," Melissa commanded gently.
Donovan was still shocked, standing, watching as Melissa began to once again chisel. Within moments, a whole foot was then visible. It was fair-skinned, and the big toe had a small thatch of brown hair.
"Corheid!" Melissa shouted, which caused Donovan to jump. "Now!"
Devon was put under the Sudan sun getting his exercise in. He had spent the late morning shirtless and working on a giant tractor tire. He flipped the tire to and fro, and walked with it tied to his waist. He was just on his seventh-ninth push-up when his commanding officer stood at the entrance of the base.
"Hey, Hemmel!" Lt. Adam Wynan called from the base entrance. "Shower and gear up!"
Devon stood, breathless, and wiped his palms over his sweaty face and slick, hairy chest. He looked down at his wrist, his watch indicating him that his heart rate was 112 and that the time had been 11:23.
"S'goin' on, Lieutenant?" Devon asked as he walked toward the building.
"A right nasty bugger, Hemmel," Lt. Wynan replied gruffly. "Show you and the team in the briefing. We brief in ten and leave for Cairo in an hour."
"Egypt, sir?" Devon asked.
"A right nasty bugger, Hemmel," the lieutenant repeated. "Shower. Brief. Flight. Go."
With damp hair and fresh clothes, Devon walked into the office area. Most of the other United Kingdom Special Forces team were sitting in the various chairs in front of the sixty-inch television.
"S'goin on, Bender?" Walter Jennings asked when Devon sat down beside him.
"Dunno," Devon said simply. "Lieutenant didn't say. But we leave for Cairo after this."
Shocked, Jennings asked, "Egypt? Egypt?"
"Eyes forward, ladies, gents," the lieutenant commanded as he hooked up a laptop to the television via HDMI. "A team of Yankee anthropology students made a discovery outside of Saqqara, Egypt. Dr. Jack Corheid of Harvard University and two of his pupils dug this being out of an excavation site forty-three hours ago."
"The being was unprotected, sir?" Joseph Ferlan asked, having seen the photos of the man-looking being half-exposed and the half still buried in earth and rock.
"S'right, Ferlan," Lt. Wynan replied. "That's one thing that's causing a right ruckus. It was buried 'bout eighteen meters under with no coffin, no sarcophagus, and no cover 'cept for a loincloth. Geologists have dated the soil to be roughly eleven-thousand-years-old."
There was a collective silence of shock and confusion. Devon sat up straight from leaning forward. He drove his long, muscular fingers through the short brown hair atop his head and exhaled slowly.
"Brace ya'selves, mates," Lt. Wynan warned. "This next image is tits up bonkers. When Melissa Danforth, one of the anthropology students, dug up the rest of the being's body, attached to its back were two feathered wings. White, after dusting them off. The being has a steady heartbeat of fifty-three, remains unconscious, and yet the wings twitch."
"'Twitch', sir?" Elizabeth Coleman asked.
Lt. Wynan nodded solemnly at the cadet and carried on, "Corheid has taken the being to Cairo University where the world's top scientists are doing their best to study it. The United States government has tried transferring the being to American soil, but the Egyptians have successfully forbidden it. Watch this video."
The video that played was taken from a ceiling or a mount that was situated directly above the being. The being was completely nude, its flesh pale and its muscular chest was slightly hairy. Its hair was long, brown, lying fanned around its head on the small bed.
A female doctor with caramel skin stood beside the being with a syringe in her hand, and she said with an Arabic accent, "Ten milligrams adrenaline tartrate injecting in three... two... one."
The doctor tried to plunge the needle through the pale skin. 'Tried' being the operative word. The needle bent immediately upon the doctor trying to pierce the flesh.
"Flesh appears to be impenetrable."
"Are they seriously trying to wake the thing up?!" Keith Murray said, aghast.
Lt. Wynan responded, "American Special Forces are on sight, as well as Unit Triple-Seven. Dr. Raymond Henderson, the head neurologist at Oxford, is assisting in the efforts to bring consciousness to the being."
"Which is why we're headin' out, isn't it, Lieutenant?" Tammy Everett surmised.
"Indeed it is, Everett," Lt. Wynan said with a single nod. "Secretary Fallon and MOD's asked us to act as personal bodyguards for Dr. Henderson in case these scientists succeed in waking the damned thing! Now I personally am against it, I'm fairly confident that we are not the dominant species in this case. But an order's an order. You have thirty to gear up. Bird takes off in forty."
When the UKSF team arrived at Cairo University three hours later, the science team just finishing installing some big metal box up above the bed. The metal box had a probe sticking out the bottom, pointing straight at the being.
Lt. Wynan asked a middle-aged man in a lab coat, "What's the situation, Henderson?"
"You must be Lt. Wynan," Dr. Henderson said as he held his hand out. "We're almost done installing this power hub. It's solar-powered, and usually, powers the robotics and technical labs, but we've moved it here. We are planning to try using it to bring the alien out of unconsciousness."
"A fekkin' power hub, Henderson?" Lt. Wynan asked in shock.
"Yes," Dr. Henderson nodded slowly. "We have tried every avenue available to us to wake the alien. Nothing, absolutely nothing can penetrate its skin. Not even a sledgehammer, I kid you not. But, to our utter surprise, Lieutenant, an electric Taser did something. It didn't wake the alien, but we made a discovery. Come look at this."
Devon followed Dr. Henderson, Lt. Wynan, and Cadet Everett to a computer. The doctor made a few clicks on the mouse before he stepped aside.
The video that played was once again taken from above the being.
Another doctor, a male with greyed hair, held a Taser above he being's abdomen.
"Electric current," the doctor began as he pressed the button to ignite the electric arc between the electrodes, "in working condition at fifty thousand volts delivering seven watts. Striking in three... two... one."
The Taser's bolt made contact with the being's abdomen. The whir of the Taser and bolt could be heard from the computer speakers, but otherwise, nothing happened. The being didn't even twitch. So the doctor removed the device from the being.
"One hundred thousand volts delivering fifteen watts. Striking in three... two... one."
The doctor once again touched the bolt to the being's abdomen. And again, nothing happened. Not even a finger twitch.
Pointing to the computer screen eagerly, Dr. Henderson said, "Now pay close attention here, soldiers."
"Two hundred thousand volts delivering twenty-six watts. Striking in three... two... one."
"Whoa!" Lt. Wynan called, confused. "The fuck was that, doc?"
The video, obviously edited, remained playing. It continued in slow motion, the Taser approaching the flesh of the being painfully slow. When the electric arc touched the being's abdomen, the being remained completely still, but a thin, very fast line of white appeared. The line started as a circle inches from the Taser, but closed in on the device. The line of white touched the electrodes, killing the electricity.
The doctor in the video looked at the device in confusion for a moment. He then pressed the button, but the Taser did not turn on.
Dr. Henderson closed the video player before he said, "The Taser remains unresponsive, even after changing the batteries. Doctors Amoudi and Lankart have used other Tasers of a stronger power, but all have died like the one you've just seen. Hence the power hub. We figured if the Taser gets a reaction like that, then the alien must respond to something of much more power."
Frustrated, Lt. Wynan began, "What in Her Maj--"
"But that's not the most alarming discovery we've made, Lieutenant!" Dr. Henderson said with wide eyes of excitement. "The- the- the flash line in the video! Naturally, we were curious about it. We took a video microscopy image! It's- it's- Lieutenant! It's amazing."
Impatiently, Lt. Wynan demanded, "Cut to the chase, doc."
"Here, here," Dr. Henderson said hurriedly. "It was recorded at forty frames per second."
The video was a very close-up shot of the being's skin. You could literally see the perfect cells that made up the flesh.
"Watch, watch," Dr. Henderson whispered excitedly.
There was an image of white, obviously the light of the electric arc of the Taser. Then, suddenly, tiny, microscopic triangles that were translucent before, turned white. And Dr. Henderson paused the video quickly.
"See?!" Dr. Henderson said a little too loudly. "These- these triangles are all over the alien's body! All over! They are translucent almost to the point of invisibility until a threat presents itself to the alien."
"'Threat', Doctor?" Devon asked, alarmed.
"Well, that's the general consensus," the doctor replied. "As far as we can tell, these microscopic triangles protect the alien. They're what make the alien's flesh impenetrable. Nothing that we've tested is able to subdue this protective layer. Electricity has come closest to infiltrating it. Even the strongest Taser has failed, but these triangles become agitated, rendering the devices used completely dead. The American forces used a M4A1 rifle to see if a round would permeate the triangles. The fucking bullet rebounded and it's still embedded in the wall there."
"An M4A1?!" Everett asked in alarm.
"If these triangles become agitated by electricity," Lt. Wynan began, exasperated, "then why fuck are you guys still trying to wake the damned thing?!"
"For science, Lieutenant," Dr. Henderson said quietly, about to wet his pants with the amount of excitement that was written on his face. "For science."
Lt. Wynan used his left gloved hand to wipe his face, disbelieved, before he asked, "Okay, what's with these glass chambers that are being installed?"
"Protection, Lieutenant," the doctor answered. "From the hub. It is solar-powered, but solar power will not be able to deliver adequate voltage. So the technical team has hooked the hub up to the city hydro. The glass walls are lined with translucent rubber, being sealed with silicone, and we will be standing on rubber mats."
Devon asked, "There's a risk that the hub could blow or something?"
"No," Dr. Henderson answered, certain. "But there's no guarantee that the jolts will penetrate the alien's protective layer. The jolts could be deflected. We will be protected in these chambers, soldiers. Don't fret. Come. Come take a look at this magnificent being."
As he followed with uncertainty, Lt. Wynan asked, "S'that safe, doc?"
"Of course it is, Lieutenant," Dr. Henderson answered warmly. "We weren't sure at first, but nothing's happened to any and all who've made physical contact. I made contact roughly thirty-nine hours ago. Feel these feathers. The softest thing you will ever feel, yet tougher than a block of titanium. Feel its luscious brown locks. Dr. Amoudi tried cutting a strand, but it dulled the blade. A single strand of hair."
As Devon touched one of the wires that were attached to an electrode stuck to the being's forehead, Lt. Wynan asked, "Neural activity?"
"Minimal," Dr. Henderson answered. "As if it's in a dreamless sleep. Not even the Tasers increased neural activity."
Being the braver soldier, Tammy Everett tentatively touched the tips of her fingers to the large feathers adorning the nine-foot-long wing.
"Cadet," Lt. Wynan warned, uneasy.
Amazed, and stroking the wing, Everett said softly, "It's so soft. It's- it's- it's like heaven."
Devon slowly placed his fingertips to the wing also. He smiled slightly. The feathers were softer than downy. He stroked his fingers down the widest section of the wing. The elbow of the wing measured five feet to the tips of the bottom feathers.
"Why isn't the being covered, Henderson?" Lt. Wynan asked, referring to the being's completely naked state.
"Dr. Corheid took the alien's cloth for study and observation. It, too, is an anomaly. It does not have the triangles protecting it, but it remains indestructible and flame retardant."
"Its chest rises and falls," Lt. Wynan observed. "Does it breathe?"
"Yes. But we are still baffled at how it remained buried in the ground for eleven thousand or so years and just carried on breathing as if nothing happened."
Devon placed his hand under the being's nose. Indeed there was breath being exhaled.
"Ladies, gentlemen," an Arabic-looking man wearing a blue jumpsuit said, his brown eyes unsure. "We are ready. Into the chambers, if you please."
Devon connected his amber eyes with Lt. Wynan's blue ones. They shared a look of apprehension, and then shook their heads once.
As Everett was securing the glass door shut, Youssef Akhur, one of the Egyptian engineers, asked, "Can everybody hear me?"
Rounds of affirmation rang throughout the large laboratory, and all members of each special forces teams held their rifles at the ready.
Akhur then said, "Turning on solar hub... now."
A faint whir of electricity could be heard, but it was very quiet. Within seconds, the whir got louder as more electricity entered the sixteen cubic feet at was the hub.
Akhur, looking down at a tablet in his hands, informed the group of twenty, "Ten thousand Volts. Fifty thousand volts. One hundred thousand volts."
Small arcs of electricity appeared on the prong sticking out the bottom of the hub. There were dozens of arcs that lasted milliseconds.
"Two hundred thousand volts. Three hundred thousand volts. Firing in three... two... one."
The whir of electricity became the loudest it had been, which wasn't very loud but there was no doubt that something big was happening. A moment later, a giant volt of electricity sprang from the prong electrode downward. The volt was abnormally bright. It flashed white, but it shouldn't have been that bright, blindingly bright.
The volt lasted a few milliseconds, milliseconds of blinding light. When the volt died, the room was completely black.
Just as Lt. Wynan and Devon reached for their belts for flashlights, a member of American Special Forces said, "Flashlight's dead."
Clicks rang through the air, the other Forces teams trying their flashlights.
"Cell phone unresponsive," said a member of Unit Triple-Seven.
Devon had a sinking feeling deep down in his stomach. It caused his breath too shallow, so he fumbled as he reached into his pants pocket. Once his Zippo was out, he didn't flick the ignition wheel properly, so the flame didn't spark right away.
"SRR, come in," Lt. Wynan said into his radio. "SRR, come in."
It was no use, the radio was dead. It seemed every electronic device in the room was dead.
Devon finally got his Zippo lit, as other Forces soldiers' lit their own lighters.
"Does anyone have eyes on the alien?" the American Lieutenant asked urgently.
As far as anyone could see, the being was no longer lying on the bed. Everything else, however, looked perfectly fine, from what they could see in the very dim light of the lighters.
"West wall," one of the Egyptian soldiers said, his rifle pointing in that direction.
Indeed the being stood there. The only part of it that Devon could see at first was the left wing. He squinted his eyes, trying to adjust his eyes to the darkness.
"Henderson!" Lt. Wynan whispered harshly, which Dr. Henderson ignored and left the glass chamber anyway. "Get back- Henderson!"
Devon quickly followed the swift scientist out of the chamber, and grabbed the sleeve of his lab coat. Henderson simply slid his arm out of the sleeve as he continued his mad desire for interaction.
"Henderson!" Devon said hotly.
"Hello," Dr. Henderson greeted the being with enthusiasm, standing about two feet away from the being.
But the being ignored Dr. Henderson. It continued studying the contents of the tray that held syringes, scalpels, Tasers, and a hammer. Devon couldn't help but be enamoured by the being, particularly the rippling muscles on its torso.
"Hello," Dr. Henderson tried again. "Can you hear me? My- my name is Ray Henderson."
Slowly more of the scientists and Forces teams exited the glass chambers and joined Dr. Henderson around the being.
Devon continued to scan his green eyes over the nude flesh of the being. Its large, beautiful wings were folded neatly behind its back. Devon also couldn't help but allow his eyes to move downward, along the defined muscles of its back. Devon's eyebrows moved involuntarily when he caught sight of the plump, pert, sinful ass.
"Can you hear me?" Dr. Henderson asked again, still sounding like a kid visiting Santa at the mall.
The being continued to ignore the scientist. It put the scalpel down, and slowly turned his back to Dr. Henderson and Lt. Wynan. Its right wing slowly flexed, causing each of the soldiers to abruptly point their weapons. Unaffected by this, the being continued to move its wing. The feathered extremity pointed in front of the being, in front of another scientist and four members of the American Special Forces. It pushed its wing out, gently pushing the people out of its way.
"It seems to mean no harm," Dr. Corheid stated, almost awed.
The being continued to walk along the counter and its wing once again rested behind its back.
"We don't know that," one of the Unit Triple-Seven members retorted, his rifle still pointed at the being.
The being picked up a Taser off the counter and examined it, turning it this way and that. Suddenly a white line traveled up the being's forefinger and onto and into the Taser. The white line was so fast that it could easily have gone unseen.
A second later, the being pressed the button and the arc appeared. The Taser was in perfect working order again. And then gunfire rang out, deafening. One one-thousandth of a second later, the bullet that was fired fell to the floor at the being's feet.
So unaffected by the gunshot that it was not even funny, the being sat the Taser back down and crouched down. Its chiseled, perfect face wore no expression, stoic, as it grabbed the crushed bullet off the floor. After examining the bullet, the being remained crouched as he held his hands out toward Everett.
Devon looked down at the being in complete confusion. The being's expression was mostly blank, but a tinge of softness was there. It sort of looked like permission.
"I think it's asking to inspect your firearm, soldier," Dr. Amoudi commented, confused.
"Back up, Cadet," Lt. Wynan commanded steely.
Everett kept her rifle trained on the being as she took two steps back. Nonplussed, the being stood. It grabbed the lone white lab coat that hung on a hook. It rubbed the cotton of the coat between his fingers, feeling the softness and listening to the rustling of it.
"What are we doing, doctors?" The American lieutenant asked with a tone of urgency.
"What can we do?" Dr. Henderson replied.
"Rifles and electricity did nothing to the alien, soldiers," Dr. Amoudi chimed in. "The only thing that I could think of would be a flamethrower."
"Can we get one?" the American lieutenant asked desperately.
"It was jokes," Dr. Amoudi clarified.
Just then there was a faint, almost inaudible sound in the air, like meat sizzling on a hot pan covered. The being was holding the lab coat still, but a second later, half the coat fell to the floor. The bottom half remained in the being's hands, and the being wrapped it around its waist. Again, there was the faint sizzling sound. The being then lets go of the fabric, but the lab coat remained around its waist, like a skirt.
Suddenly sparked with an idea, Devon holstered his rifle on his back and removed his helmet, setting it down on the floor.
"Hemmel, what're you doing?" Lt. Wynan demanded, displeased.
"Trying to communicate," Devon answered as he removed his gloves.
"Hemmel!" Lt. Wynan said quietly yet fiercely.
Devon ignored his commanding officer. He stepped into the view of the being, who was smelling an open bottle of water. When the being made eye contact with Devon, the soldier offered a forced smile and waved his hand in greeting. The being did not react the way Devon had expected. It sat the bottle back down on the counter without looking, maintaining eye contact. He slowly approached Devon, its eyebrows scrunched a little in wonderment.
"Hemmel!" Lt. Wynan said in warning. "Back up. That's an order."
"It's okay," Devon responded, slightly nervous under the scrutiny of the being.
The being tilted its head, its face curious. It stopped half a foot before Devon, standing about five inches taller than Devon's 6'1" frame.
Anxious as all hell, Devon said, "Devon," as he gestured to his own face. "Devon."
The being, careful, raised its hand, and slowly brought it closer to Devon's face.
"I will not ask again, Hemmel," Lt. Wynan warned. "Back. Up."
The being gestured with its outstretched hand, asking for permission. Devon nodded slowly, his breath becoming haggard and heart frantic.
"Son," Dr. Corheid said in disapproval. "I would advise against it. We don't know what could happen now that's it's awake."
"Hemmel!" Lt. Wynan shouted, royally pissed.
Devon cared not. He stood completely still as he watched the large hand inch closer to his face. In seconds, the fingertips of the alien touched Devon's chin. Two seconds later, Devon fell to the floor in a heap. As did the being.