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Episode IV -- Five Sided Buildings

Premiered 20 March 2009

 

Multiple Choice -- Episode IV

Five Sided Buildings

 

David was standing in a modern, spotlessly clean shower stall with the water being directed on his face with full force.  His face and beard were strewn with bits of ice that were only now melting as the stream of water did its thing. Suddenly, he reacted as if the hot water had suddenly been turned off, and he was experiencing only the cold portion.  He dodged the impact of the water (within the confines of the shower), and frantically turned the water off.  For a long moment, he simply stood there, leaning against a shower wall. Then he began to assess his situation.

He was dressed in the jeans and loose shirt from the earlier scenes, but which were now torn and bloodstained (the blood primarily that from Ugly Dude). There were also several icicles hanging from shirt lapels and pocket flaps -- all remnants from his previous encounters.  He was also soaked – a condition common in shower stalls.

Opening the shower door, he glanced around, trying to orientate himself by peering out at an empty, spotless bathroom -- a modern one with four shower stalls along one wall, a matching set of washbasins on the opposite wall, and at one end, benches and towel racks.  Everything was clean, modern, well lighted and militarily organized (i.e. a suggestion of everything being spit-shined).  The only sign of use was a uniform hanging on one towel hook, along with shoes and socks neatly stored just below. 

David stepped out of the shower, grabbed a free towel off a nearby hook, and approached the uniform.  He examined the Lieutenant Commander stripes, and the name tag attached to the jacket.  The latter included his photo, the name “LCdr David Walker”, and below a Pentagon insignia, there was the label: “Office of Naval Intelligence”.  David glanced around, saw no one, and shrugging his shoulders, began taking off his wet shirt and tossing it into the nearest shower stall.  With the towel around his neck, he began unbuttoning his wet, torn, blood stained pants. It was clearly time for a whole new persona. When in Rome...

***************

David stepped out of the Officer’s Lavatory and Locker Room, to quickly find himself in a wide hallway with numerous uniformed personnel moving with apparent serious intentions. David in his full, newly acquired uniform fit right in with the others.

For a moment David was tempted to grin. As soon as he had seen the others, he had thought “personnel” and not “persons” or “people”. Why was that?

A few glanced at him, wondering why the officer was simply standing there. Didn’t he have somewhere important to go, or have pressing duties? David could feel the questions, and then with apparent clear intentions (and a degree of sheer bravado), he began striding down the hallway. He had no hint of where he was, or where he was currently heading. But he did understand one thing.

‘What I need now is a way out,’ he thought. It’s the typical reaction of someone finding themselves in a spotlessly clean environment; i.e., time to get out and get dirty.

Walking down the hall, he began to notice that there were also numerous civilians interspersed among the uniforms. That was marginally encouraging in that it suggested the press of military discipline might not be quite as all encompassing as one might have feared. Hopefully, the nagging question of who and when did one salute and at the same time expect others to salute you... could be overlooked. Still... in an effort to avoid any hint of having to make such menial decisions, David avoided looking directly into anyone’s face.  He then turned a corner, just as Evyr was walking in the same direction but from another hallway.  She quickly saw him and rushed to catch up with him.

“Commander!” she said, almost breathlessly. “I’ve been looking for you. We’re late for the meeting!”

David stopped in his tracks, whereupon Evyr stopped as well, turning to look at him expectantly.

David quietly asked, “Evyr?”

Evyr frowned slightly, with just enough color to suggest embarrassment. “Sir… with all due respect… It’s Ensign Annah.”

For a long moment, David looked at her blankly. Then taking in her name tag that read ‘Ens Evyr Annah’, he seemed to accept the situation… except for one thing. Slowly, he raised one hand to emphasize his question.

“How is it I remember everything, and you… apparently… don’t?

Evyr could only look bewildered. “Sir…?”

David frowned, and turned away. “Man! When I get my hands on who ever…”

“I’m afraid I don’t quite understand, Sir,” Evyr quickly added… in part to fill the space left by David’s ‘ever… (long pause)’.

Then David turned his attention to her. “Yeah, right. What... ever. Let’s go.”

Evyr watched him for just a moment, before turning and beginning to walk down the hall… her expression tense. David, still frowning, said nothing as he began to walk abreast of her.

***************

It was your standard Pentagon briefing room: Lots of shadows and darkened corners with only indirect lighting from the ceiling... the purpose apparently intended to focus everyone’s attention on the selected (by lighting) subject, and avoid distractions (by lack of lighting) on anyone and anything else. The room was equipped with the latest in modern audio/visual and interactive communications technologies, and populated with gold braided brass of different varieties, colors, and complexions, and just enough of a civilian presence to remind the military types who their ultimate boss was.

The dramatis personae in this particular briefing room included a three star Lieutenant General Matthew Green, a two star Rear Admiral Stanley Blue, an Army Captain named Austin Francis, and then… inexplicably… Jeremiah dressed as a Marine Colonel. All were sitting behind a long briefing table, their faces at the edge of light and dark… such that one could not see their faces when they leaned back, but could when they leaned forward to make a point or otherwise provide evidence that they were awake and paying attention. A NASA official, her name tag reading ‘Aris Holyn’, was standing at the light/dark interface and was in the process of providing the briefing. Another woman civilian later identified as Kayleigh something or another, was sitting in a darkened corner where she was possibly observing, taking notes, and/or indulging in some silent martial art... but where in any event her identity was effectively hidden.

On a screen in the center of one wall, was a combination photo of the two sides of the Moon, showing the stark differences in appearance of Earth’s only natural satellite.  As David and Evyr entered the conference room, Admiral Blue looked up, but said nothing. There was no reaction from the others… or at least, apparently none. Typically, superiors do not acknowledge the arrival of inferiors. It just isn’t done.

At the same time, however, it must be admitted that General Green was asking a question – and the very idea of a military intellectual being able to speak and acknowledge anyone’s arrival more or less simultaneously was far less likely than said soldier being able to chew gun, walk straight, and see lightening at the same time. General Green was not so sufficiently ambidextrous.

“Ms. Holyn… you’re telling us… and there’s no longer any doubt in your mind… that they’re here? And that furthermore, they’re here in force?”

Holyn calmly replied, “Yes, Sir. And as far as we can tell, they’ve been here for millennia.”

To buttress her answer – and to simultaneously demonstrate just how well she had prepared for this briefing – she touched a button, one that yielded a second slide: a hand drawn version of an ancient Sumerian artifact.

Her hand gesturing to the new visual aid, Holyn added, “That’s what all of the ancient texts were all about. As you can see here, in this print of an ancient Sumerian cylinder seal depicting the creation of man…”

Admiral Blue snorted. “This is fantasy! You’re trying to tell us that the gods and goddesses of mythology were actually extraterrestrials visiting Earth? Are you serious?”

Holyn maintained her cool. “More like lording it over the Earth… Yes, Sir. And probably Mars as well.”

General Green couldn’t resist that one. “The so-called ‘Face on Mars’?”

Holyn pressed the magic button again, revealing a photo of the Cydonia region of Mars with lines drawn between various sites.

“Afraid so, General. Our Mars probe…”

“The one,” Jeremiah suddenly interrupted, “with which we supposedly lost all communications…?”

Jeremiah’s voice had been raspy and throaty. He acknowledged as much by touching his throat, as if to sooth an old war wound.

David took a quick, surprised look at Jeremiah, and then at Evyr. Evyr’ attention, however, was on the screen. Then as David looked away, she intuitively glanced at him. For reasons never really understood, women had always been able to sense men who looked their way, but then possessed the superb timing to always be able to refrain from returning the gaze until after the man had looked away. In this case, Evyr could avoid making eye contact, but still study the man who had been watching her. Now, for example, she was able to see David lower his eyes and become pensive, apparently in deep thought. He was kind of cute that way, Evyr thought. Especially when he's not trying to make an impression.

Holyn, unaware of any budding personal relationships, was continuing. “Yes, Sir. Obviously the Mars probe was still working, but we couldn’t very well tell the public. There would have been too many questions. We knew what we were looking for, but then again, so did a lot of other people… enterprising... albeit pesky gadflies.”

Jeremiah leaned toward General Green. “Most of whom probably don’t possess anything resembling a proper security clearance. Or… better yet… ‘a need to know’.”

Holyn turned back to the visuals, the still photograph replaced by a moving, computer-generated, detailed close-up of the Face of Mars, showing the various sides of the Face.

“Our probe provided us with some exceptional photographs of the entire Cydonia region. The resulting analysis makes it clear that the place was inhabited thousands of years ago by a technologically sophisticated intelligence that, quite frankly, left a hell of a lot more stuff than traces of a few microbes on a meteorite. We now have as a primary mission investigating the area on the ground using high level close up photography.”

“And the same connections…” Admiral Blue asked, “these links between sites on Mars… are somehow duplicated in the English countryside?”

Holyn resorted again to her magic button. A slide popped up showing the Cydonia Region of Mars overlaid with a detailed map of the area encompassing Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury, Brent’s Knoll, and Weston-Super Mare. She then began to point out similarities with a laser pointer.

“It matches up exactly.”

Admiral Blue shook his head. “Unbelievable!”

“And now,” General Green asked, “They’re back?” Green’s question did seem to be a bit more pertinent than Admiral Blue’s statement.

“Actually, General,” Holyn answered, “We don’t know that they ever left.”

“That makes absolutely no sense,” the Rear Admiral replied. “If they were still here, why hasn’t anyone seen them? Why aren’t they camped out on our doorstep?”

Holyn frowned slightly. It was one thing to talk to those with “ears to hear” or “eyes to see”, and quite another to deal with the closed minds of skeptics... those who would go to enormous lengths just to avoid learning anything new or encountering even the slightest challenge to their narrow world view. “Among other things,” Holyn began cautiously, “they appear to be somehow… inter-dimensional. They kind of blink in and out of our four dimensions of time and space.” There was a hush in the room… as the statements ran into the various brick walls of established paradigms. Nevertheless, and inasmuch as one of the best places to insert fantastical news is immediately after other fantastical news, she kept at it. “Secondly,” Holyn began, “we believe there are different… groups… and with radically different agendas. Our best guess is that none of these… aliens… have been in a position to do whatever they damned well pleased with respect to the Earth. They may have been keeping each other at bay.”

With the deft hand of the professional, Holyn had already caused a series of slides to appear on the screen… the latest pieces of evidence showing allegedly mythological creatures from The Egyptian Book of the Dead and other sources.

“I must admit,” General Green replied, “this sounds totally fanciful!”

“Perhaps,” Holyn admitted, “but the theory is sound. It’s what has kept some big nations on Earth from invading smaller nations… the threat of retaliation from another, bigger nation. We can survive as small players, as long as there are two or more larger players, all with a degree of possessiveness. The same reasoning would apply to aliens as easily as to different groups of humans. One group of aliens keeps any other group from trying to impose their power on the human race.”

Jeremiah, taking the part of the Marine, replied in typical jarhead jargon, “Maybe so, but perhaps they’re just a little hesitant about humans defending themselves.”

Holyn, a bleak smile on her face, took a long look at Jeremiah… the latter who stared back with the ferocity derived from having spent years refusing to back down from anything. There was also the implied assumption that Jeremiah, in general (pardon the pun), seldom tolerated female opinions. Despite his glare, however, Holyn was not intimidated.

“With all due respect, Colonel,” Holyn began, “we suspect that their technology is sufficiently superior to ours that even with the most advanced weaponry from Area 51… or for that matter from the really top secret weapons research facilities… we wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of even putting up a fight, much less defeating them in a pitched battle.”

From the back of the room, Kayleigh finally made herself known, “So what do we do about it?”

When no one immediately answered, David suggested, “How about telling the world what we know?”

“We’ve already discussed that,” Jeremiah said. “The whole fabric of our society would come unraveled in a minute if the United States officially admitted to the existence of extraterrestrials! Traditional religions would be obsolete overnight. The economy would go belly up faster than a computer sell program. There’d be wholesale panic in the streets, and we’d lose control so fast…!”

“But polls,” David interrupted, “have shown that a majority of the populace is already convinced of extraterrestrials!”

Jeremiah played the RHIP – aka “Rank Has It’s Privileges” – card. “It’s not going to happen, Commander! Not on my watch!”

Holyn then provided cover for David. “Actually, Colonel… it may already be happening.” A series of slides began to appear, showing the latest crop circles and other “anomalous” evidence. “We’re not the only ones with information. There are groups and individuals that have allegedly already made contact, people who’ve figured it out for themselves, not to mention those individuals within various federal and state agencies who are no longer abiding by their secrecy oaths – who in fact are even claiming that their secrecy oaths are no longer binding because of the nature of the information.”

Admiral Blue snorted… again. It was one of his more accomplished means of communications... or in announcing his intention to actually speak words and phrases. “We have ways of dealing with traitors?”

“Perhaps,” Holyn admitted. “But the word is already out. The inter net is filled to overflowing with information.”

Jeremiah groused, “The inter net was always a bad idea. Information flowing that freely and without any kind of real control…”

David… not really in the mode of acknowledging the privileges of a superior officer... commented (albeit as an aside, mostly to Evyr), “It’s called freedom.”

David missed Jeremiah’s hated filled stare. It seems that Jeremiah, despite years of being in the close approximation of artillery fire, still had exceptional hearing.

Holyn, however, was again… coincidentally covering for David. “Our biggest problem is we simply don’t know what they want, why they’re here, or what we can do about it. Plus which, we can’t even tell the good guys from the bad… assuming that such a distinction even exists.”

Evyr leaned toward David, and as an aside, remarked, “Sounds a lot like D.C.”

Not being quite as accomplished as David in aside remarks, Evyr managed for her voice to carry quite well to every other ear in the room. Several turned to give her one hell of a put-down, intimidating glance. Evyr quickly looked down at her lap, and made a few notes on her knee. She was saved by a telephone ringing. Captain Francis, the duty officer for such matters, answered the telephone on the first ring.

“Conference Room Alpha Charlie… (long pause) Understood.”

Hanging up the telephone, Francis turned to General Green. “Code Four, Sir.”

The general took a deep breath and turned to the Admiral. “Admiral,” he asked, “If I could trouble you…”

“Certainly, General,” was the immediate response.

Everyone in the room stood up. General Green took another glance at the last visual on the screen, breathed a heavy sigh, and then turned to Holyn.

“Thank you, Miss Holyn,” he began. “For your… enlightening briefing. Stay in touch with Captain Francis. I’m sure we will want to talk to you again later today.”

The lights went up as if by some mystical power… okay… Kayleigh flipped the o-n-o-f-f switch to the o-n position. The general and admiral left. Captain Francis walked over to Holyn and they began to confer privately. The increased lighting also revealed the first real glimpse of Kayleigh, who was still sitting in the back of the room, making no apparent move to go anywhere – either because she was not vitally needed elsewhere... or because she might be needed at the lighting controls again.  David noticed her, taking a good look at the mysterious female.  Kayleigh looked back at him with a noncommittal stare, showing only a mild interest in him.  David was then interrupted by Jeremiah as the latter prepared to leave the room.

Jeremiah’s voice was gruff and brokered little space for debate. “The next time you have something to say, I want you to clear it with me first.”

David’s life had not been wholly without military experience and thereby the acquired ability to know when to duck and run... and on the other hand when to stand up for principles. It wasn’t a hard talent, as it turns out, if only because in the military the first response is inevitably the only response acceptable. Accordingly, David only said, “Yes Sir!”

Jeremiah also knew the rules of military decorum (one of the true oxymorons – rather like military intelligence). He stared at David just long enough to convey the threat of dire punishment, and then turned and left.

By themselves, and now in a low voice, Evyr said, “I agree with what you said, Sir. But I don’t think you want to cross Colonel Bradwurst again. He’s a…”

As Evyr searched for just the right word, David helpfully offered, “Jerk? An anal retentive, control freak who eats dog excrement for breakfast? Is that what you were about to say?” David smiled with the blissful face of a singularly uninformed angel.

Evyr could only look wide-eyed at David. David then shrugged his shoulders and left the room, followed on his heels by Evyr.

Once outside, he turned and gesturing back toward the door of the conference room, he asked, “Who was the woman in the back?

Evyr was perplexed. “What woman? Who are you talking about? Miss Holyn and I were the only…”

David added, “The gal who asked the…”

His voice trailing off, David stared at Evyr, the latter who had a decidedly puzzled look. Abruptly, David laughed and turning away from Evyr, shook his head in apparent disbelief.

“Never mind,” he said, “it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.” Then he smiled with considerably more mischief and looking at her with a twinkle in his eye, asked, “And I don’t suppose you remember anything about our being lovers?”

“Sir!” Evyr was suddenly on very uncertain footing. “Please… there is such a thing as sexual harassment!”

"No,” David admitted. “I didn’t think so.”

David turned to walk down the hall, with Evyr hesitating at first, and then quickly moving to catch up with him. She touched his arm and then gestured in the other direction. David raised his eyebrows momentarily, before turning to walk in the other direction. Evyr began walking alongside and just a few inches behind. Neither person said anything for several minutes. Evyr did manage several glances at David, but he seemed to be unaware of her fleeting appraisals. Instead, he looked around at the barren, militaristic, no-nonsense hallways.

“Nice place you’ve got here,” he commented. “Who’s your decorator?”

Evyr was still in something of another mood. After a few more moments of silence, she said, “I will admit, Sir, that I do seem to be having flashes of… maybe it’s déjà vu. As if I’ve seen you in other situations.”

"Like having strange dreams…” David asked helpfully.

Evyr grimaced. “Something like that.”

David shrugged his shoulders. “It’s a start.”

Evyr decided she was not going to understand David’s reply in the immediate future, and therefore decided to follow another tact.

“Sir,” she began, “Where’s all of this heading? I mean, if extraterrestrials are really here on Earth, and…”

“… and if we keep lying to the citizenry whom we’re pledged to protect? I don’t know. I really don’t. Right now, I don’t know if I believe anything that’s happening to us. Bouncing around from one damn… situation… to another…”

David’s voice trailed off, as he looked over at a puzzled Evyr. Then he stopped and turned his full attention to her. “There’s an old saying: ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set yet free. But first… when you first learn the truth, you’re going to be really pissed off.’ Now… can you imagine what will happen when people start discovering the truth?”

Evyr grimaced. “Not a particularly pleasant thought. But I do remember the old Turkish proverb that says, ‘He who tells the truth, should have one foot in the stirrup.’”

David smiled, and turned back to walking down the hall. “Sounds like good advice. I’ll have to keep that one in mind. But meanwhile… secrecy breeds contempt for the government, who then in turn… because of all of its self-generated contempt… is forced to exercise more and more control in order to maintain the status quo. Which then demands even more secrecy…”

Evyr frowned. “All of which leads to tyranny.”

David shrugged his shoulders. “Something like that.”

Suddenly, alarms began going off, followed by the overhead sprinkler system beginning to dump water in their immediate vicinity.  Evyr reacted by looking around for an exit, and trying to shield herself from the water.  David simply stood there, looking pissed.

With a heavy sigh, he said, “Oh, shit! Not again!”

With no further fanfare, the scene phased.

 

Episode III - High Plains

Forward to:

Episode V -- Spinmeisters

               

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