We stood stock still. Starstruck. In front of us was an obsidian pyramid, the late light glancing from it in spitted reflections, directionless.
The building, if such it was, might have been within two hundred yards of us. We judged this by the activity seen along its perimeter. There were figures moving slowly and deliberately. They looked tall. Slender. Graceful. When we had held our position for upwards of five minutes, this assembly, as one, brought their long arms up from their sides to form a “V” above their shoulders. The gesture, together with their tall head dresses, reminded me immediately of our sign of “Peace”, but inverted. They then bowed for a full thirty seconds, and stood erect.
Taking this as a sign to approach, we did so. Weaponless, we were at their mercy.
Oceaxe had a confident smile and bade us to go on. In a short time, we stopped, and looked upon the first advanced beings that modern humanity had ever seen. Less than twenty feet separated us. They were indeed as we had perceived them from a distance: Seven to eight feet in height, over ten with their head dresses. Slender limbs, with long bony hands seeming to have extra knuckles. But their faces. Their faces. Olive skinned, oval, with startling almond eyes set at an acute angle. The lids, when they did blink, flicked from the center of the face to the outer edge. Their mouths seemed an afterthought. They were truly alien to us, but we, all of us, did not feel a menace. They made no sound. Oceaxe was trembling, and did not blink at all.
Without seeming invitation, she stepped forward to the center of the assembly and performed the same gesture of greeting, then lowered her hands in front of her, palms up. Two more figures came from within, bringing a chair and easel of sorts. There still was no sound. Oceaxe was seated, and a figure on either side of her began showing tablets and charts of undetermined meaning. A third figure was behind her and at times laid its slender hands upon her shoulders. She was not alarmed, nor did she seem to notice. She sat in rapt attention, occasionally nodding at her guides. At last, the two began to draw what might have been a story of sorts, and made gestures to her. We knew instinctively to hold our peace and wait.
The ceremony having ended, Oceaxe returned to stand with us, bowing her head. The assembly once again performed their welcoming gesture with grace, then turned toward the imposing structure before us. Without the smallest sound or quiver, it rose majestically until it was three feet from the Martian sands. There we stood, transfixed, until it settled once again. The figures faced us, then filed inside, through an area of deeper blackness. All was quiet.
Oceaxe seemed to slump for a moment, then raised her head and told us we must go. As we prepared to leave for the outpost, there of course was a flurry of questions, but Sasha raised her hand sternly and told us to save them.
Oceaxe’s only words: I will sleep.
To be concluded……………….