Here is the draft of the first chapter of Book Two of The Rho Agenda Assimilation.
The Altreian Enigma
Book Two of The Rho Agenda Assimilation
Copyright © 2015 by Richard Phillips
As the bitter winter wind howls through the night, attempting to prevent me from entering the cavern housing the Altar of the Gods, its chill pulls my breath forth in smoky puffs that I barely notice. I crawl through the opening, light a torch that I take from its wall sconce, and allow my feet to carry me through the passage that leads to the Altar. There my footsteps halt.
The beautiful golden orb that graces the end of the Incan Sun Staff captures my gaze. Its intricately carved rings and complex arrangement of gears and shafts that form its inner workings hold me in a spell that I am unable to break. With my gaze locked to the symbols that cry out to be rearranged, a slow boiling fear floods my soul. Even as I stand alone, frozen in terror, in thrall to this wonder of wonders that rests atop the altar, I feel my hands move toward the orb of their own volition.
If the touch of the staff sends a mystic current through my body, the feel of the golden metal beneath my fingertips shifts my perspective and causes the cavern to shrink around me until I can see myself. It is as if I have become the cavern and everything within it. The thing in my head screams in a way that I have only heard in my dreams and my body shakes like the boughs of the trees out in that howling wind. Yet my hands continue to stroke the orb.
Now they twist it, first the bottom ring, aligning the symbols with new counterparts on the silver staff, before skipping up several rings to repeat the process. And as my hands turn ring after ring in a seemingly random order, the intricate engravings grab the torchlight so that its flames crawl across the golden surface and into the orb’s interior.
Shaking uncontrollably, my hands nevertheless turn the next to last ring until all the symbols feel wrongfully right, so much of the torchlight now absorbed by the orb that the cavern grows dark around me.
My right hand now wraps the last of the circular rings in a death grip, as my left hand clutches the silver staff; the muscles in my hands and arms bulge and slither beneath my skin as they war with each other for control. Cold, more deadly than ice, slides through my veins and into my chest, cramping my lungs on its way to my heart. Then with a final convulsion, my fingers twitch, imparting to the topmost ring one final shift and, as the golden orb pulses with power, a doorway slides open at my feet.
It summons me forward, down the steps that lead into a smaller chamber illuminated with a soft, magenta glow. As I step into the room, the knowledge that this place was not built by the hands of men is absolute. And at its center, a translucent pedestal rises from the floor as if extracted from the floor at the end of a glassblower’s pipe, molded into the form of a lone chair.
The recognition of this place floods into me from the being who shares my mind. I stand inside a small alien craft, sent here millennia ago with but a single purpose…to monitor humanity’s advancement and, should humans ever come to pose a threat to its makers, to cleanse the Earth of all life.
Jack Gregory opened his eyes. He didn’t dream anymore. Not like normal people. Instead he wandered through these strange lucid dreams that now dominated his sleep.
This one had recurred nightly since Jack, Janet, and their eight-year-old son Robby had accompanied Mark and Heather Smythe on their desperate flight from Peru to the secret Smythe facility in the remote mountains of New Zealand. Jack rolled onto his left side, placing his right arm over Janet’s naked body. She sighed softly and snuggled into him without waking. That was good. It was bad enough that his dreams were robbing him of sleep without inflicting that on his wife.
In this dream he had once again stood in the altar cavern beneath the Bolivian Kalasasaya Temple. And it had looked exactly as it had the last time Jack stood inside it, except for the fact that he stood alone in the torch-lit chamber instead of locked in a death match with the neo-Nazi albino, Dolf Gruenberg. Jack should have felt comforted by the memory of the explosion that had collapsed the cavern, burying the Incan Sun Staff and the altar atop which it had been mounted. But he knew that no amount of crashing rock could destroy the Altreian artifact or the craft that rested beneath it. And being buried beneath tons of rock wouldn’t prevent the thing from accomplishing its purpose should humanity’s actions trigger it.
Jack had no doubt about why Khal Teth, the banished Altreian mind that had attached itself to Jack’s, was amping up the threatening nature of these dreams. Humanity’s lifeline was growing short and there was only one way to prevent the coming catastrophe.
Unfortunately, that would require giving up everything he loved. As he pulled Janet’s body more tightly against his own, Jack gritted his teeth. Even though she and his friends would doubtless think he’d lost his mind, he could no longer delay the inevitable.
No matter how much he hated this, it was time to honor the bargain he’d made.