Paul jumped into the car, and as soon as she climbed in, he floored the gas and turned the car around in the opposite direction. Her eyes were glued to the side mirror where she could see the green tentacle, chasing them. Other tentacles popped up all around the small hill.
“Go, honey. Go!”
December 21, 2030
On the surface, Area 51 was a small restricted military site in the middle of the desert with nothing but air defenses and a building that contained elevators.
The real Area 51—the one Mara had been after—was an underground complex that extended for kilometers. Malik gave her a tour through the different sections of the complex. He showed her the manufacturing facilities with the latest military R&D in airships, weapons, and deterrents. He explained everything in great detail and with a hint of pride in his voice.
The tour would’ve had any human jumping and screaming in excitement, but it had failed to impress her—parts of the tour put her to sleep. Futuristic breakthroughs on Earth were what Mara would find in a history hall on Korr.
“The Roswell Wing is next,” Malik said, with the same excited tone he maintained for the past hour.
A small ship was in the middle of a great hall behind a glass wall. Once Malik waved his palm, and the door opened, Mara dashed inside, her eyes glowing.
The ship had a long tubular body with a pointy front end, a glass-like material on top of the body, and a small door in the curved back end. The ship’s body and the two flat, round wings were made of silver metal. During the crash, the right wing sustained significant damage as did the clear glass above the pilot seat. The ship’s interior remained intact. They squeezed four comfortable chairs and wide dashboard, facing the two front seats.
“When did you capture it?”
Mara found many rumors on the internet about the event, but they were unconfirmed. Until now.
A surveillance ship. Mara felt as foolish as she did the day of the invasion when a large, powerful army appeared in the sky of Korr out of nowhere.
“I can’t believe we missed that,” she said, her voice soft.
Malik’s eyes widened in confusion.
She hovered closer to the ship. “The ship had been here for decades before you found it. They’ve been watching you.”
“Who are they?”
Mara pointed at the vessel. “This is a Manakari ship—a hostile alien race—most likely for surveillance. It’s fast with medium armor and light weapons. It has no energy shield or deep-space drive.”
“How did it get here, then?”
“Have you heard about the Tunguska event?”
“I’m not surprised, it was a long time ago,” Mara said. “In 1907, a meteor exploded a few kilometers above Siberia and flattened an area of 2,000 kilometers. The meteor was two hundred meters in diameter.”
Her words added to his confusion. “How is this related to the ship?”
“The explosion was devastating,” Mara continued as if she didn’t hear him. “Oddly, it didn’t create an impact crater. I believe the mothership exploded that day, not a meteor like your scientists suggested.” Mara circled the ship and examined the four seats. “Did you find the pilots?”
Malik’s eyes narrowed. “We found a dead pilot. From his injuries, I’d say he died on impact when the ship crashed.”
Mara examined the dead navigation panel and shook her head. “If Shara was here, she could tell you more. But there had to be two aliens on this ship when it crashed. The second must is hiding somewhere.”
Malik’s jaw dropped. “You think an alien has been living on Earth for more than a century without detection? That’s crazy!”
“You found us because we allowed it.” Mara pointed to the ship. “When they landed, evading detection would’ve been even easier.”
“Can you help us locate him?”
“He uses a powerful signal to communicate with the Manakaris fleet. It is stronger than anything you use to communicate. Find the signal, and you’ll find him.”
Before he asked another question, Mara hovered toward a narrow corridor to the left. They tucked away the dead pilot in a small chamber. Mara looked through the glass at the six-foot tall alien.
They preserved him in a liquid-filled, glass cylinder. Mara didn’t hide her hate when she looked at the large head, the long arms and legs, the frail frame with protruding bones, and the haunting look in the blue eyes that occupied half the oval face.
Malik shrugged. “That’s how he looked when I saw him last year.”
An agent walked into the large hall. “They’re ready.”
“We’ll be there in a minute,” Malik said and watched the agent leave. He sighed and lowered his eyes to the floor as if he lost a duel. “The Secretary of State and the CIA and NSA directors arrived to meet with you in person. They’re waiting.”
Mara chuckled. “I was wondering why you stretched the tour?”
They had that in common. Mara didn’t like meetings either. They undoubtedly had a mountain of questions as high as their ranks.
“There is an upside,” Malik said. “The Secretary of Defense will not attend the meeting.”
“That’s the commander of the army?”
That was good news because even though she spared his men, the property damage and humiliation were enough to push him over the edge.
“Let’s not make them wait,” Mara said.
They exited the Roswell Wing into the hallway and walked to a meeting room.
The CIA director smiled at her as she stepped inside. Mara remembered his picture from the agency’s online network.
“Thank you for joining us.”
Mara flashed a polite smile on her face. Her mother would be proud. “My pleasure!”
She wasn’t about to sit through a dreadful meeting and watch them bicker. “I could show one person what you need to know.” The only thing worse than her world being destroyed was living it over and over again.
The woman in the room stood up. She was thin with a small frame, a tad taller than Mara’s.
“Jessica White, the Secretary of State,” the lady said.
“I will show you a vision of my world. It won’t hurt.” Mara reached her and grabbed her head to show her Korr and the battle that destroyed it before she let her go.
Once Jessica caught her breath, she grabbed a tissue and wiped away sweat off her forehead. She picked up a bottle of water and took a sip before she sat down and leaned forward in her seat.
“You couldn’t stop them?”
Mara shook her head, her eyes dim.
Jessica closed her eyes in despair as if the planet’s fate had been sealed. Her shoulders slumped, and her face was pale as a ghost. She looked like she’d aged years in mere seconds.
“What chance do we have?”
Mara leaned forward. Her face was inches away from Jessica’s. “We lost because we couldn’t use our deterrents close to our world without destroying it. Our enemy used everything at their disposal to win the war. Now their planet is destroyed, and they need yours intact. They will not risk using their heavy weapons.”
“That’s not enough. Their army is enormous.”
“Maybe you can defeat them and maybe not. The question is would you rather give up or die fighting?”
Determination returned to Jessica’s eyes. “Okay, let’s prepare?”
“We have to wait for the Queen.”
“She will land in Egypt any second. I’m heading there soon.”
Jessica’s jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide. “What?”
“It’s a tradition. Last time we visited Earth, the Egyptian King received us at the Pyramids.”
“I assure you, she can do everything from here.”
Jessica was a strong woman. Under different circumstances, they’d get along just fine, but Mara was running out of time. “We can discuss logistics later.”
“How many seats does your ship have?” Jessica asked.
Mara pressed her lips. “Four.”
“I’m coming with you,” Jessica said before she spun around to speak to Malik. “Good work agent. Now find me the second alien.”
Emily yawned for the second time as she moved her eyes between the hologram and the Cosmic Energy Monitor. She struggled to open her eyes, so she walked to the kitchen to make herself a fourth cup of coffee.
Ever since she detected the landing, Emily had been staying after hours to make sure she was there when it happened. The director of the Space Center informed her yesterday that another alien was about to land on Earth. A queen. Ever since, Emily couldn’t think about anything else. She didn’t sleep last night, thinking about what the alien Queen and her ship might look like, and where would she land.
The Space Center had never received this much attention because nothing of this caliber had ever happened. And although there was no publicity because of the confidential nature of the events, Emily was thrilled to witness it firsthand. The director—being a killjoy—was more concerned with what would happen if the landing happened, and they missed it, but even that didn't dampen her enthusiasm.
Another upside was that her overtime requests got approved, no questions asked. With the extra cash, she could take her long-overdue trip to Asia.
Emily picked up her coffee, glared at the coffee machine, and strolled to her office.
A loud beeping sound from the Cosmic Energy Monitor—her new favorite device—had Emily hurrying back to her office. It had picked up something. An energy pulse that originated here on Earth.
Amazing! Although the footprint was small, the proximity of impact allowed the receiver to pick up the signal intact. The origin of the signal was Egypt, near the Pyramids to be exact—a travel destination she’d only visited in virtual reality.
Another cosmic event took place on Earth, and it was big enough to generate such a clear energy signature. And she knew what it was. The Queen was about to land.
Emily charged into the director’s open office. She startled him. In her defense, he should have gotten used to her, barging into his office by now. She did it every time. He only had himself to blame if he didn’t see it coming.
As usual, the director buried his face in the hologram—the same ancient hologram a family of dinosaurs used. Maybe a new celestial object appeared for every hour of focus. Emily felt bad judging him. How could she know what it was like to be a hundred!
“I think she’s here.”
The director followed her. He didn’t argue, protest, or tell her to knock next time. He was learning. They arrived at her office. Emily jumped behind her desk and enlarged the signal for him.
“I know, right?”
He studied the hologram for a few minutes while she resisted screaming at him. The signal was clear as day. What was there to study? Emily waited until he was satisfied. She could’ve made another coffee.
“This is the ship,” the director said.
She gave him a who-was-going-to-give-me-back-the-last-five-minutes-of-my-life look. But the director didn’t notice her comical facial expression.
He grabbed his phone. “Agent Williams, the Queen landed in Egypt... Yes, I’m sure… The Pyramids in Giza.”
The director hung up or, more likely, the agent ended the call. He continued to stare at the signal in disbelief. The same signal they received two days ago, but ten times larger.
Emily couldn’t blame him. After all the hoax in the past century, aliens landed on Earth. An alien royalty in a large spaceship would soon land. And her best friend went to business school!
December 22, 2030
“The Nile flooded the valley for two or three months a year,” the tour guide said as he led a group of Russian tourists closer to the Great Pyramid. “It sounds bad, but for ancient Egyptians, a flood was good news because it meant they had an ample supply of water for the following year.”
He gave them a minute to take pictures and catch up with him before he continued. “In fact, they sacrificed a beautiful girl—a pride of the Nile—every year to make sure they had enough water. During the flood months, they couldn’t cultivate, so the Pharaoh recruited them to help build the Pyramids. They assisted the permanent builders by cutting stones and transporting them from the far south to the Pyramids’ location through the Nile in gondolas.”
The tourists were astonished to see the large ancient structure that stood the test of time. The Great Pyramid was over a hundred meters long with stones as big as busses.
“The Great Pyramid is an engineering miracle, but you’d be surprised to know that Ancient Egyptians built it as a tomb for the Pharaoh, King Khafra.”
They gasped, their eyes widened, and their jaws dropped. Their reaction was exaggerated. He’d seen the audiences’ respect, surprise, and shock. Some even laughed at the irony of how many people died to make the Pharaoh’s afterlife pleasant and comfortable.
“Can you believe it? It’s thirteen acres…”
No one paid attention to him. They stared at something behind him. The guide spun around to see what was more impressive than the Great Pyramid.
A huge ring of green light.
Feeble as a new moon, at first, it glowed until it lit up the sky and overshadowed the sun. With a soft humming sound an airship emerged from the ring. A perfect golden sphere with two small wings on the sides. The front of the ship had a large clear window and two smaller windows above the wings. At the bottom, it had square base for landing.
The ship hovered in the sky near the Great Pyramid. The ring of light disappeared, and the ship descended until it landed.
Alex exited the small ship after Shara who darted toward the royal ship. He then assisted Charlotte out—the CIA agent who had accompanied them. The five-minute trip took a toll on her. From Australia’s hot summer to the chilly winter winds in Cairo in five minutes, and she only had time to grab her sweater from her office chair.
Once she exited the ship, Charlotte walked a few steps before she emptied the contents of her stomach on the sand.
“Are you okay?” Alex asked.
Alex patted her back. “Your parents didn’t take you to Disney World, did they?”
Charlotte glowered at him. “I’ll have you know I’m the queen of rollercoasters in the family.”
The royal ship landed on the ground near the Great Pyramid. There were two aliens inside, piloting the ship and a third behind them. She could be the Queen. Alex turned his attention to Charlotte until she recovered. They both strode to the royal ship.
The Queen hovered outside the ship—her features were similar to Shara’s and the pilots, but she was taller. An ancient being with a slight hump, and to his surprise, a walking staff.
When Alex reached her, she stared at him for so long, he thought he had something on his face.
“A walking stick? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Charlotte whispered.
The Queen hovered toward the base of the Pyramid. Alex followed her next to Shara for a while with Charlotte two steps behind until the Queen stopped.
The Queen spoke in English, her voice deep as if it echoed from an ancient tomb. It sent a cold shiver down his spine.
“Your majesty, I’m Alex.”
Carilia examined him again. “Shara must’ve seen something in you to grant you the Mark of Korr.”
He smiled. “The other guy in the room was old.”
Carilia smiled, then she spun around and hovered around the Pyramid. “This is not my first visit to your world, you know. I’ve been here in this spot thousands of years ago, but I was far too young.”
When he visited Egypt, Alex saw futuristic paintings on the walls of the ancient tombs. He always thought it was a product of the wild imagination of ancient Egyptians.
“Last time I was here, I brought my daughter, Mara, with me. Your world was under attack by the Manakaris—a race bent on war and dominance. They tried to invade our world, but we were ready for them. We annihilated their invasion force.”
Carilia stopped and looked up at the Pyramid. Her eyes widened with nostalgia. She was old with grayish-green hair, thin eyebrows, green eyes with a shade of gray, and pale-green skin. She wore heavy green and gold armor. Silky, wide, golden straps hung from her wide belt like a waterfall that ended at her feet. A large, green and gold helmet covered her head.
The way she hovered differed from Shara’s. Carilia didn’t keep a set distance from the ground. She looked like an elderly person, struggling to walk.
“We found out they planned to attack Earth,” Carilia continued, a hint of pride in her voice. “I mobilized my forces and defeated them in their own world which I did. But the invasion force had left the planet on their way to Earth. I chased their force, intercepted them outside your planetary system, and defeated them.”
Alex listened. He tried to absorb as much information as possible. The Queen wouldn’t appreciate a video camera capturing her every move.
“After the battle, we landed here,” the Queen said. “It was a long time ago, but I remember how the young King and his advisors welcomed us. They were grateful, and with our technology, you know, they may have thought we were gods.”
That would explain why the ancient Egyptians bowed for the flying saucers, and why they treated their Pharaohs as demigods—they were representatives of the aliens.
“Thank you for taking care of my daughter.”
Shara is a princess? Why didn’t she say anything?
“It was my pleasure,” Alex said, with a wide smile. “I’m here to invite you to join us in Australia, your majesty.”
She gave him a stern look. “I must pay respect to the ruler of this country.”
Alex hesitated. Did she plan to stay in Egypt forever or only until she met with the President? He had to convince her to go with him, but was it wise to be forceful?
The Queen’s eyes pierced through him. A blue shade overwhelmed her green skin, and her grip firmed on the staff. Can she read his mind? He could read hers. His body tensed up at the thought.
“Do not push your luck, agent. If you think you have the power to force me to do anything, you’re misguided.”
Alex stepped back.
She went from cold to burning hot without a warning or a transition. He motioned Charlotte to retreat. The Queen was too agitated, no telling what she would do next.
Shara had an odd look on her face. It wasn’t a look of understanding, agreement, nor anger. Her eyes narrowed and dimmed, and her eyebrows lowered and curved above her eyes. A look of confusion.
“Mother!” A voice came from behind him. Another alien—a younger version of Shara with a wide smile and a teenager’s abundant energy.
Stirring up sand, the young alien rocketed toward the Queen, who calmed down. The wide, burning eyes faded. A loving smile covered her face.
“Alissara,” Carilia said.
An Egyptian official in his fifties appeared in the distance. A group of suited men surrounded him. When they approached, Alex recognized the Director of the Egyptian Intelligence Agency.
The director glanced at Alex. “Agent Callahan!”
“Sir, thank you for granting us access.”
The Director nodded and strolled past him and saluted the Queen with great respect. “Welcome, Queen Carilia! The President is on his way.” He spoke in proficient English with a thick Egyptian accent and an excited smile on his face.
“Call me Carilia, Master of Spies.”
The Director shook Carilia’s hand. “These are my agents. If there is anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable, please let us know.”
“You are too generous.”
“I visited the Pyramids a few times before,” the Director said. “It would be my honor to give you a guided tour.”
“I would like that.”
The Director strode forward to lead her into the Great Pyramid while his men spread out and cleared the area.
“This takes me back thousands of years,” Carilia said, with a wistful smile.
Alex almost died a few times—the most recent was ten minutes ago at the hands of Carilia—but days like this made the job worth it. She was an ancient being who lived and ruled for millennia.
Charlotte pocked his arm. “Are you coming?”
He shook his head and followed the crowd into the Pyramid.
Mara sat down next to her mother and sisters with the Egyptian President, the US Secretary of State, and the Australian agent in the meeting hall of the presidential palace.
The Egyptian President cleared his throat. “Thank you for joining this meeting, Queen Carilia.”
“My pleasure,” her mother said.
They were curious to hear what her mother had to say. Why they traveled through the universe to come to Earth? And what did they plan?
“I will tell you why we are here,” the Queen said, “but first, you need to know a few things. Although the universe has billions of planets, only three have life, and our planet, Korr, is one of them.”
Mara recalled Korr before the battle ensued. A spectacle of might and civilization. Lush green forests that surrounded splendid cities. And a crystal, clear ocean that took Mara months to explore.
“Fifty thousand years ago,” the Queen said, “we developed our first deep-space drive and explored our galaxy and beyond. For a long time, we found nothing. Then we discovered the Manakaris planet of Krath. A planet as big as Korr, inhabited by a race of warriors ruled by a powerful and ambitious emperor.”
Her mother’s eyes smoldered for a moment. “They were not capable of space travel, and their weapons were far too primitive. Based on our scouting missions, we decided not to contact Krath, but we watched them.”
She cleared her voice and continued. “Over time, they learned of our existence and developed the means to transport an army to our planetary system which led to our first intergalactic war. I led our army to victory and chased the remaining invaders to Krath. We disarmed the planet, destroyed their technology, and sent them to the dark ages.”
“That’s how we found out about your world,” her mother said. “Before our force reached Krath, they had dispatched a smaller force to invade your world. You can imagine our surprise. We didn’t know your world existed. Nonetheless, we tracked the invasion force to your solar system. We defeated them and landed on Earth.”
The Queen tapped the top of her staff. “It took the Manakaris thousands of years to rebuild their army and plot their revenge. Two weeks ago, they launched a massive attack on Korr.”
She paused to calm her nerves. “In the final battle, we destroyed the majority of their battleships. When they destroyed our planet, I sent our most powerful bomb to their planetary system and erased it from existence. We had protocols in place to make sure the planet’s leadership survived catastrophic events. Once we got away, we traveled across the universe to make sure your planet doesn’t suffer the same fate. The remaining Manakaris force is heading your way.”
“Are you sure?” Jessica asked.
“They need a place to live,” Mara said, “and they’re driven by power and bloodlust. Even if their world remained intact, they’d invade yours to expand their empire.”
Eyes widened. They knew bits and pieces, but hearing the whole story overwhelmed them.
Sympathy cracked Mara’s wall of boredom. She didn’t see the end of Korr coming, and it was the single worst day of her life.
“We’re truly sorry for what happened to your world, and we are very grateful you’re here to help,” the President said.
“Your planet doesn’t have to face the same fate,” the Queen said. “I believe with our technology and your manpower and resources, you have a chance. The drives we used to come here is beyond the Manakaris’ reach. You have time to prepare for war.”
“How big is their remaining army?” Jessica asked.
“Thousands of battleships,” Mara said, “and hundreds of ghost ships. Your main concern should be the Imperial Ship though. It carries a thousand soldiers and an arsenal of devastating weapons.”
They also had to worry about other nations on Earth. Everyone must’ve known that Mara and her family had landed by now. Some of them would see it as a once in a lifetime chance to meet a life form from outer space. Others would regard it as an opportunity to get their hands on advanced weapons and technology. If this planet’s history was any indication, some countries were busy planning their move.
“That is more than anything we can put together in two years,” Jessica said. “Maybe we can ask our allies for help.”
“Are any other nations aware of our arrival?” Her mother asked.
“A handful by now,” Shara said.