Earth, 1249 BCE
Location: Northern Hemisphere, Eastern Seaboard.
The craft landed not far from a heavily forested area. The hills surrounding the landing site showed heavy concentrations of gold as well as fossilized plant and animal matter. A group of indigenous humanoids had gathered around the site, dumbfounded by the alien smoothness of the silver craft.
Inside, the female observed the forest impassively. On seeing one of the humanoids approach, she decided to send a drone to recover him and determine the genetic makeup of the primitives. If successful, she would potentially be able to create a new species, more compatible with her own.
She readied the crystalline structure, programming it to analyze the subject’s compatibility.
The drone, which appeared to the assembled humanoids as a great silvery bird, rose skyward, drawing their attention upward. It then dove sharply, snatching one of the younger males in its talons before returning to the ship and vanishing in its recesses with the youth.
The tribe scattered, searching for their shaman, who would surely know why the Thunderbird had stolen Watches the Sky.
Inside the ship, she rose, looking over the young human. Her large black oval eyes, regarded the youth, as he grovelled on the floor, fear emanating from him like a foul stench. Although the words streaming from his mouth were imcomprehensible to her, his mind was not. He thought of her as a goddess and the drone as one of her servitors.
What a superstitious creature!
She dove into his mind, linking herself to his experience. She discovered that his people were not only primitive but also very superstitious. They were also honest, inquisitive and observant. She also determined that he was too young for mating but he could be trained.
Watches the Sky gazed at the short, slender being, fascinated by its large head and magnetic black eyes. He felt something odd as she gazed at him: as if he was watching his life unfold in his mind but in seconds instead of his thirteen summers. Paradoxically at ease with the goddess, he fell asleep.
Ignoring the slumped figure on the floor, she turned back to her experiment. He would sleep as long as she wished and would wake when she required it of him. In the meantime, she would ascertain the compatibility of his DNA and explore the area a bit. It was fortuitous that gold was in such abundance in the area as it was essential in the wiring of her ship where needed. She took the drone and left the ship.
Watches the Sky opened his eyes. Without the influence of the alien female, he had awakened much sooner than she had anticipated. The curious boy saw the crystal structure floating in it’s magnetic containment field. Knowing nothing of science or the apparatus that was holding the sparkling crystal nor seeing anything that would prevent it, he took the jewel and tried to find a way off the ship. It didn’t take long to find an exit, a circular opening towards the top of the vessel, where the Thunderbird had taken him inside. After placing the crystal in his game pouch, he climbed up to the opening and left the ship. Hearing the sound of the Thunderbird as it returned, he hurried into a cave to hide. As he did, the crystal fell out of his pouch into a crack that extended far below his reach.
Bluehole, Kentucky, the United States of America
James Stone adjusted his helmet, after lighting the carbide lantern on the front of it. Water from the tank dripped over the mineral, creating aceteline gas, which powered the lamp.
“New vein open up on deck five” his supervisor advised. “Y’all might want to get diggin in there, we got a lot of coal to dig today!”
Jim and ten other miners set off to the new section. Coal mining had been around Kentucky for years, and this mine, owned by Bill Tucker, was small, but profitable. He paid his men top dollar for their work, while other mines paid little, worked their men in dangerous situations, and left them bitter, angry, and ready to bolt to a Union store.
Work had been going on for some time, and Jim sat down, to enjoy the lunch his wife, Becky, had packed for him – a thick slice of smoke-cured ham between two pieces of homemade bread with mustard and fresh tomatoes and a cup of homemade soup. The meal sated, if not satisfied, the big man’s appetite. His lunch pail was old, and the metal was just beginning to show a bit of rust through the lacquered paint. He set it, with the photo’s of his family, in a nook, where he would recover it later, he thought, and got back to his task of using an old pick to dig out a rich section of coal.
After digging for maybe twenty minutes, he came upon an anomaly: a crystal, surrounded by coal, that didn’t belong there. It wasn’t like any rock around and the coal, black and shiny, only reflected the light that seemed to come from within it, reflected off his carbide lamp.
“Hey Skeeter, got somethin’ here,” he called to his friend, Hobson Reynolds. “I reckon it’s a diamond.” he muttered to himself as he reached for the jewel.
That was the last thing he remembered until a woman in red, white and blue over seventy years from now would shine a light in his eyes and ask him his name. He would raise a hand to take off his helmet and see that his body had changed.
And he would know sorrow.
Bluehole, Kentucky, Former Tucker Coal Mine
“Are you certain?” The geologist asked as the technician operating the resonator looked up from his monitor.
“Yeah, I’m positive. There’s a statue or somethin’ down there in the old mine. Timbers look unstable, and there’s a cave-in just south of it. No one’s been down there for, well, at least forty years!”
The geologist turned to the rest of the mining crew. Coal was almost a thing of the past but it was still needed to produce coke, a key ingredient in the making of steel. “OK, we go in. Make sure those supports are reinforced before you go in. Watch yourselves: it’s going to be risky!”
The ten-man team took the elevator down. At the fourth level down, they found the shaft that the “thumper” had found and stepped over rotten timbers of fallen support beams. The smell of sulfur was faint but present. Headlamps illuminated the dark shaft, as they placed hydraulic beams to support the ceiling and walls of the abandoned coal mine. After the supports were up, and the dust of the entry had settled, they moved in.
“Holy!” Exclaimed one miner, who rounded a bend, his light falling on a human form standing stock still, clothing rotting from age, and a long extinguished carbide lantern on the helmet of what stood, hand raised to the wall, clutching a silvery crystal. The form appeared to be made of the surrounding rock, but was so life-like that it brought him to a halt.
“Clyde, we got somethin’ here!” he called out. “You might want to come take a look at this.”
For the rest of the day, they tried to dig the crystal out, but nothing would move. The walls seemed stronger than the surrounding mineshaft, and the statue seemed, somehow, too perfect in its approximation of a man. If it was a statue, then why was it wearing dirty, ragged, aged clothing? Why would it be down here? Clyde Bowen called in the Sheriff, an old man who was trusted in those parts. The Sheriff, in turn, called in the State Troopers, who sent a good-ole boy named Walker, who took one look at the statue and shook his head.
“Y’all found somethin’, fer certain!” he drawled. “Somethin’ spooky ’bout his eyes.” Walker said, pointing at the gold that seemed to show an intelligence. “Guess we best be callin’ them folks at UNTIL.”