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(Antar Date - 4.15.19628)
(Earth Date - January 9th, 1936)
(On a transport headed toward Earth - The Leptes)
General Nicaron sat at the desk in his quarters studying the information the researchers had gathered about the planet Earth. The planet's atmosphere was deadly to their species, immediately on contact, turning their bodies to dust. The scientific team on-board would use the time on the journey to devise a plan to help them survive in the planet's atmosphere.
Nicaron pulled up another file containing the information they had gathered from Zan’s scientist Jensto, concerning the Royal Four's cloning plan. He scanned it briefly, already familiar with the contents. It would take the incubation pods that held the Royal Four, approximately forty years to complete the combination of the genetic materials, after the shape shifters had gathered the human DNA. Nicaron had no idea how long it would take to find the appropriate donors but he knew the trait required to make the combination was rare among humans. Hopefully it would take some time, giving his troops an opportunity to discover the shape shifter’s location. But he was a realist and had no illusions about their chances.
The power of the Granolith would allow the Royal Four's transport to reach Earth in only a month while it would take his slower ship several years. The shape shifters would have plenty of time to accomplish their tasks and blend in with the native population. He sighed as he sat back in his chair, this would be the most difficult mission he had ever undertaken.
(Transport containing the Royal Four - The Sephtafus)
Kaldar rolled one of the communication orbs around in his hands, unconsciously embedding memory fragments in it. The addition of the Granolith's power to their transport's engines had cut their traveling time to practically nothing. They were rapidly approaching Earth and he was becoming increasingly nervous. Antar's future rested on their shoulders. It was a large responsibility and being somewhat empathic, he could feel the tension in those around him.
The scientists had discovered for the cloning to succeed, they needed human genetic material that possessed a certain irregularity in its DNA. And they had to find at least two different donors to allow for the pairing of the couples. Vilondra and Zan's clones could have DNA from the same donor or family but Ava and Rath would have to have a different donor. But Cuerena had already told them she wanted four donors if possible, to make the gene pool diverse.
They had brought two sets of pods to make two sets of clones. One set would contain the Royal Four and the other set would contain decoys.
The plan had included a set of decoys because they had been certain Khivar's forces would be able to detect the transport leaving Antar and if Khivar sent troops to destroy the clones there would be a good chance he would get the wrong set.
Kaldar had been assigned to watch over the decoys until they had reached maturity and then he would return to his place at Rath's side. He had served as Rath’s protector since Rath was a child and it would be hard to leave his master but there were other considerations and he had to follow his orders.
Kaldar's attention was drawn to a large gas planet they were passing, with large bands of color and a prominent red spot. It was impossibly beautiful. Images of other incredible celestial bodies they had passed on their journey flashed through his mind. Sometimes he wished he hadn't been born a protector and he could have followed his dream to become an explorer.
Wistfully he thought back to the one other time he had been off Antar. He had been very young and newly assigned as a trainee to Rath’s great uncle. Aladar Varros had been one of the leading scientists on Antar and he had led the team that destroyed the red giant star. Kaldar had never seen anything as beautiful as the dying star and he still mourned its loss.
The image of the red giant floated fondly through his mind as he considered the next phase in their journey. They did not know how far humans had technologically progressed in the four hundred years since the exploration team had visited the planet, but it was suspected the humans would not possess the technology to be able to detect their transport approaching Earth. Still it was decided they would take a stealthy orbit path closely following that of the planet's only moon and monitor the technology before attempting to land.
Kaldar felt the ship slow as they approached the small moon and their destination, the planet Earth.
(Earth Date - February 13th, 1936)
(The Sephtafus - Orbiting in the Moon's Shadow)
Over the next month, an overwhelming amount of data was gathered about Earth due to the constant broadcast of entertainment and news programming from Earth on various frequencies. The planet was divided into numerous regions called countries, and the shape shifters had been able to learn of the political systems in the larger countries. They also discovered that they had come to the Earth just a few years after a war, involving almost the whole world.
They learned of the military forces and the technology the humans possessed and determined the country called The United States of America would be the best area in which to settle. That country was the most technically advanced and also seemed to be the most stable politically and it was separated physically from the more aggressive and war-like countries. It also had a governmental system comparable to the type of government Zan had tried to instate on Antar. But perhaps most importantly, the United States was a large country with many unsettled areas. They all decided it would be the best choice.
It had only taken them a couple of days to learn the English language. It was a simple language, only containing twenty-six letters and a simple sentence structure. Then they had concentrated on the dress and customs of the country.
During this time, Cuerena had also looked for an area to house the pods and the Granolith. She wanted something away from human settlement, that was unlikely to be disturbed and finally she found the perfect place.
Cuerena approached Sodan on the transport's command center. "I have found an isolated area in the southwest desert that will be perfect. It contains a number of large rock formations we could easily alter to contain the Granolith and the pod chamber."
"Excellent," Sodan answered. "The humans have no technology capable of tracking our presence so we will simply wait until dark to descend and scout the area. If it is suitable, we will begin work immediately. Have you discovered a way to speed up the human donor selection?"
"No,” Cuerena said. “I am afraid we will have to gather samples for testing. The search for the proper DNA could take a very long time. It will mean abducting the candidates and extracting samples forcefully."
Sodan looked at her strangely. "I am not concerned about inconveniencing the humans."
(February 20th, 1936)
(The Desert outside Roswell, New Mexico)
Sodan, Kaldar and Letras had worked all night and most of the day to enlarge the rock formation and construct the chambers that would house the Granolith and the pods containing the Royal Four. The heat was greater than they were used to but their bodies naturally adapted to almost any conditions.
The pendant Sodan wore around his neck, swung back and forth, knocking repeatedly on the supports he was erecting. He stopped to remove it and ran his thumb over the raised pattern, the symbol of Antar. With a sigh of homesickness, he placed it on floor by the chamber opening, as Cuerena called him from the transport.
"Sodan, have you finished the work on the chamber?"
"Yes Cuerena," Sodan answered. "The Granolith will be installed tonight."
"Good. Return to the transport when you have finished, and just before first light we will go to a new area and start taking humans for testing."
"Have you decided where to start?" asked Sodan
(March 23rd, 1943)
Sodan glanced out the car window, absently watching the trees and rolling green hills. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor had pulled this country into the World War, he and the other shape shifters had been forced to restrict their search to human methods. Their search had originally been hampered by the planet's lack of technology and now ironically it was a technological advance that was continuing to disrupt the search.
The humans had developed a technology called radar that was capable of tracking metallic objects, including their transport. It was easy enough to alter the transport's shields to avoid detection but with all of the paranoia caused by the attack on Hawaii, many more Americans were watching the skies for foreign aircraft. They could not take the risk that the transport would be spotted and shot out of the sky, mistaken for the enemy, so they had resorted to traveling by automobile.
Sodan sighed. The search was not going well. They had been on the planet for over five years and had only located one suitable donor and that had just been pure dumb luck. The Dupree man had practically fallen into their laps, to use an Earth colloquialism. He had been mining outside of Tucson, near where they had landed and they had been forced to take him to suppress his memory of the event.
Sodan almost laughed aloud at the memory. He and Kaldar had altered their appearance to match pictures of extraterrestrials they had seen in a magazine, and had taken the man prisoner with their 'ray guns.' It had just been a lucky coincidence that the human had possessed the DNA irregularity they were searching for. They had also attempted to check the DNA of his family but he had no living blood relatives and had produced no offspring. Possibly because of the irregularity, he had also been practically immune to the memory suppressant and they had been forced to keep him on-board the transport until they had finished their search of the area. They had not been concerned when they had released him, knowing his stories would be dismissed as the ramblings of a mad man.
Cuerena had predicted that the search might take a long time but Sodan had never imagined it would be this long. The humans had no data storage devices other than crude written records and it made the search very difficult. Cuerena suspected that the DNA irregularity was most prevalent in a certain blood type but the humans had only discovered the differences in their own blood a little over two years ago and blood type technology was still not widely used.
The human's discovery of the blood types had helped to narrow the search considerably. They had started to check hospital records to find individuals with the correct blood type and then tested their entire family.
At first they had taken individuals at random for testing. They had been careful not to take too many humans from the same area because even with the memory suppressant drugs, it was possible the humans would still retain some fragments of the experience.
Suddenly Cuerena's voice broke into Sodan thoughts, "I believe the war can help us greatly in our search."
"How is that possible?" he asked, skeptical but interested.
She held up a copy of Life magazine she had been reading. "This article says that because of a new directive, human soldiers are required to wear a set of identification tags listing, among other things, their blood types. It also says a great many humans have been injured in the war and extensive medical records have been kept. We can start a new search in those records and narrow the possibilities considerably.
BOOK 1 - SALVATION'S CRUCIBLE |
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Book 1 Timeline
BOOK 2 - THE SCOURGE OF HOPE
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