A staggeringly advanced civilization at a time and place it should never have existed.
Mariah was excited about the ancient city she found before she discovered the alien artifact.
With no inkling she’d been sent to find something her benefactor already knew existed, and a degree in archeology not space, Mariah is totally out of her element when she finds herself on the ship of the Paladins Nelik, Tor, and Talor. They are the aliens of the guardian sect sent to retrieve their property—the Infinity device—an apparatus so powerful and potentially dangerous it could wipe out the universe.
What Mariah doesn’t understand is how they could be alien and total strangers to her and seem so completely familiar to her.
It’s as if they have known her forever.
Mariah was so stunned when she’d moved the last piece of debris and very carefully dusted the artifact beneath it that all she could do was stare at it in shocked disbelief. Slowly, the shock gave way to comprehension and then a burst of adrenaline went through her that was so potent she felt dizzy.
The voices of some of the people that were helping her on the dig finally penetrated the dull ringing in her ears.
“What is it?”
The question was almost a chorus from the spectators/student helpers.
“Junk,” someone responded. “No way is that as old as the dig.”
It was, though.
Older, she thought.
Mariah’s mind had also leapt to the certainty that someone had dug down and planted it, but she knew that wasn’t true—not from a recent encroachment. If it had been planted, it was still thousands of years old because the ground above it clearly hadn’t been tampered with in centuries.
In fact, her gut was telling her that the artifact she’d found predated the civilization she’d been so carefully exploring.
It wasn’t just that it was deeper than anything previously discovered.
It just didn’t belong.
The culture that had built the civilization she’d been working to uncover had been amazingly advanced for their timeline—but not this advanced.
Shaking herself, Mariah sent the students back to their own work. After a few moments, feeling shaky, she leaned forward and began to work the mud away from the object until she could see the full measure of it and then she began to remove the soil around it until she found the thickness of it. Finally, terrified that she might break something that was almost entirely intact despite the thousands of years it had been buried, she began to remove more dirt out from around it until she’d cleared an area that was big enough to work something beneath it to help pry it up from its ‘grave’.
It was heavy, far heavier than she’d anticipated.
Either that or it was anchored to something.
Deciding to err on the side of caution, Mariah summoned a couple of the stronger male students and instructed them to start digging outward from where she’d been digging until they were at a depth of two feet overall. She worked closer in to object because she didn’t trust anyone to get too close.
And, indeed, it did appear to be anchored.
Disappointment flooded Mariah—almost as much as anxiety. If it was anchored, they weren’t going to be able to move it without a lot more work and that meant it was going to be exposed to damage and the threat of theft.
She turned that dilemma over and over in her mind while she worked, trying to decide the best way to handle the situation.
With great reluctance, she finally accepted that the only thing she could do was to notify the company that was funding the project. Hopefully, she wasn’t going to have to turn her ‘find’ over to the bastards, but she couldn’t risk such an important find out of sheer ego. Leaving the students to continue the dig until they reached the bottom of whatever the object was anchored to, she went to her tent to make the call on the sat-phone.
“Yes. This is Dr. Mariah Tyler on the Colombian dig site. We have a … uh … situation and I need to talk to someone about security at the site.”
The operator transferred her.
She allowed her mind to wander to the possibilities of what the object might be while she waited. She’d just gotten focused on the internal when someone picked up the other end of the line. “Dr. Tyler … are you there?”
“Oh, sorry. We’ve found something that could be … uh … important, but we can’t remove it and we need to get some help with security until we can.”
“What sort of thing?”
“I … uh … I don’t think this is a secure line, is it?”
There was silence for some moments. “I’ll get someone there to assess the situation as soon as I can.”
Uneasiness flickered through her instead of relief. “Thank you.”
Published: November 2021
Word Count: 20,000
Genre: Futuristic Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
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