Strange days (Mars 12)

We made another trip to the site of the excavation, and, indeed, our previous labours had not been rewarded.  The frequency of sandstorms had increased, and the digging we had accomplished was for naught.  This was only a scouting trip to check on feasibility for continuing the dig.  We were able to ascertain one important thing, with sounding instruments:  The covering layer of sand and soil at the site was much deeper than we had thought.  The actual rock covering the artifact was but a few feet thick, and could conceivably be blasted with some hope of removing it.

About three months after our communication with Robert, he contacted us once more with the news that the supply ship had been launched some weeks before, with a change in its payload:  There would indeed be a new commander on board, one Sergei Bratya.  He was accompanied by an additional medical officer to spell those at the outpost.  There was a smaller payload of structural material for new shelters, but more excavation equipment was on board.  Earth command had thought this important, and Bratya was to take charge of its deployment, and of the outpost as well, once he had established himself.

We now had little to do, exploration-wise, because of the increased weather activity, and the weather maps we received from satellite transmissions were not encouraging.  More attention was given to analysis of the skulls and bones that were found in the caves.
Aside from having an elongated shape and outsized eye sockets, they were larger than life, in terms of our own.  Oceaxe made an observation that in her “dream”, she had seen figures assembling in front of a building.  Figures that would give flesh to these bones.  With nothing to compare their size against, all she would say was that they wore head dresses, and that she had modeled her sculptures after them.  There was some amusement as to her descriptions, and her halting demeanor when she spoke about them,  but Sasha thought otherwise.  She knew that Oceaxe never jested about anything, and, although it was a child’s dream, she gave it more credence because of her study of  the girl.

One clear and cold night, as most of us were preparing for slumber, there was a call from one of the outbuildings.  It was an alarm, of sorts.  An observation party was needed, because something had been spotted above, in the starry darkness.  We treated it seriously, and Mark organized several of us to don suits and head out into the clear night air.  We met the other personnel halfway, and were directed to a certain quadrant of the heavens.  There was a deep darkness outlining itself against the stars.  With complete silence, it moved slowly and obliquely away from us.  Without a reference point, it was a guess as to whether it was very close up, or further away and of considerable size.  We watched until it was no longer visible.


To be continued…………

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