The Prodigal Son of Satan

Prologue: 66.6

Noah had been sitting by the telephone, waiting for it to ring all day long when someone rang the doorbell. Everyone had already heard the news despite the fact that they had found it just that afternoon. It was nearly midnight now, and every single channel, every single website, radio station, newspaper, every single everything everywhere was blasting the news to everyone. The whole world was awake and watching. If you were sleeping when it happened, you could’ve been sure a friend would have called you. If they couldn’t get hold of you, they’d drive to your house and wake you up just to tell you what happened. That’s how big this was.

The doorbell chimed with more urgency. “That must be them,” the old man muttered as he rose from his armchair. Noah had been wondering when they’d come to get him. Every nation was working together on this. China, Russia, America, even Ukraine and Syria managed to send their best personnel regardless of the fact that they were in the midst of civil war. Noah turned off the television after seeing the same footage being commented on by the thousandth politician or scientist. They were knocking very hard now, but Noah wasn’t in any rush. He grabbed a suit and his favorite tie. He was sure there’d be cameras there.

Noah started to worry they might dent the wood on his door. “Professor Chomsky, head of linguistics at MIT? I’ve been sent by President Obama to escort you to Ground Zero.” She was shouting loudly, probably not concerned with waking the neighbors because who in the world could possibly be sleeping at a time like this?

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Noah tried to appear austere, but beneath the distant facade this was the most amazing moment in his life, and this moment was going to be like a candle to the sun compared to what he’d find six hours from now.

The agent nearly banged her fist on Noah’s forehead when he opened the door. “I’m assuming you’ve heard the news.” She said after regaining her composure. With a nod Noah stepped past her and entered the cruiser running in his driveway. He could barely keep his thoughts straight; there were so many of them. They had already left the neighborhood by the time he remembered a person was driving the car.

“We couldn’t land the helicopter in a residential area,” She said after reporting in to her superiors on the radio, “It’s just up ahead.”

Sure enough, there was an HH-60 Pave Hawk waiting in Hanscom Field to bring them to Arrecife Alacranes, The Scorpion Reef. A fisherman and his daughter found it while digging for worms on La Isla Perez, just off the Yucatan Peninsula. By the time Noah had arrived, the half dozen shacks and huts he had seen on the newsreel had transformed into a full-scale military operation. Teams were flying in on helicopters; floodlights and tents had been raised everywhere. They landed next to Air Force Two as Joe Biden was leaving the plane with a dozen heads of state. The Vice President even stopped to shake Noah’s hand before a handful of blue berets escorted them to the discovery, shoving less important people out of the way.

A detachment of South Korean K2 Black Panther tanks had all of their barrels pointed at the tent, just in case. A unit of Navy SEALs had Kim Jong Un and his bodyguards surrounded at all times. Nobody knows who invited North Korea, but Noah spotted a SAS sniper in the corner with a laser pointed at Kim’s forehead. When he entered, none of his escorts followed. The only people inside were academics and scholars. Good, Noah thought, that’s the way it should be. He made his way to the circle of scientists huddled around what must have been it and stood behind Stephen Hawking, where Noah could see because Hawking was in a wheelchair. A couple faces glanced in his direction as he entered the tent, but no one uttered a word. Everyone was far too focused with the discovery. Then he saw it.

It was a cube made entirely of what appeared to be gold, about five feet tall, wide, and deep, but the surface was constantly shifting. At first Noah thought it was random patterns, then it quickly became clear. It was alien script. He wondered how many of the others had figured that out by now. Definitely everyone. They didn’t need the authority on linguistics to reason that. They needed the authority on linguistics to reason what the hell it was saying.

Not a soul had spoken a single sentence in the twenty minutes he had been there, and he did not dare ruin the austerity with any observations he had made. Every minute or so the text would change languages from one unknowable font to another. The calligraphy was of a beauty he thought he could only dream of. He witnessed such intricate letterings and pictograms formed with such detail that he could not believe they were not designed by a master craftsman. There were languages in alphabetic, logographic, abjad, abugida; Noah was sure he saw a base-19 numerical system and hybrids beyond count, each more exotic than the last. And he had yet to see any repeat. Immediately this had far reaching consequences. It told of a civilization that spanned across countless stars, maybe even galaxies. It seemed as though nearly everyone was waiting for it to change to English, or at least something remotely human.

Neil deGrasse Tyson broke the silence. “Well, at least we’re not alone.” It was a welcome bit of comic relief from the intense analysis. Soft laughter filled the room until suddenly the text stopped shifting and melted away into the cube’s flawless sides. Mortified would be a gross understatement of the scientists’ reactions. Before them stood a completely blank slate of gold on all sides. People were holding their breath in fear of changing the cube any further. After a minute’s silence it returned to normal, and a collective sigh of relief filled the room.

“Hello? Anyone in there?” Noah asked it. Like clockwork, the text disappeared once again. Suspicions confirmed, it was sensitive to audio. “My name is Noah Chomsky, what are you?” In response glyphs formed on the surface, but only several, as though in mid-sentence. No, no, that was definitely a punctuation mark at the end of the line, although it were only a few inches across the cube. Save the several symbols in front of him, the entirety of the cube was blank. Alain Aspect spoke in English, probably thinking to not confuse the golden cube, “How long have you been here?” More text fleshed out the first line slightly more. Then they inundated the cube with questions after that. Before long everyone was asking it something. Soon the cube was filled on all sides with all manner of writing. Then it stopped being a cube. Its corners and edges folded and warped in the most extravagant ways, as if a glassblower were sculpting with molten gold. Seconds later a humanoid figure began taking shape before them as the lustrous gold faded to the hue of midnight black.

Its limbs grew more defined now. A metal frame of a robotic skeleton stood surrounded by a circle of scientists as the mercurial substance filled the gaps in the extraterrestrial hull like a horde of intelligent slimes inching and melting into place. Then the last of the viscous gold, now a sleek, solid sable, hardened into a machine made in the image of man. Noah refused to believe his eyes. When the android hummed to life and two dim red flickers flashed on in its head, Noah refused to believe his ears. A deep hearty laughter erupted from the machine. Its head held back, arms holding its sides together, the robot was in a fit of hysterics. No one knew what to make of the situation. Many questioned their sanity.

“Holy shit! We’re still alive,” The laughter finally died down as the machine’s eyes met Noah’s. “What’s your name?” It asked addressing the linguist.

“Noah,” he said with an excitement he hadn’t known since losing his virginity fifty yearas ago. Then it threw its arms around him, hugging Noah just hard enough to hurt. “You have no idea how good it feels to see humans right now.” There was a warmth to its voice and a sincerity to its actions that made Noah feel as though it had truly missed him. Machines with emotions? Noah smiled at how this discovery had just defenestrated another age old debate. The inconceivable shock on everyone’s face had by now given way to rapture.

“Where’s Krade?” The machine asked with a smile, pulling away from Noah.

“Krade? What is a Krade?” When it heard his response the machine became distraught. Too overwrought to answer, it pushed its way through the scientists and dashed through the flaps of the tent to gaze deep into the night sky.

“Sixty six…” It muttered, an expression of worry growing on its face as Noah and the others followed the machine outside where the whole island had frozen to witness the wonder that had woken the world. The barking of orders ceased, the rush and commotion flowed to a halt, and every eye was so enrapt that not one dared stray. “No… no… how can it be? Sixty-six?” All the while the machine’s gaze stayed glued to the heavens, and everyone wondered the significance of sixty-six. After a while Noah almost spoke, but suddenly the machine fell to its knees and pounded its fist into the Earth as it cried out, “Krade you fucking bastard! Die and never wake me up!” The realization had set in for the machine.

It rose to its feet and turned to face Noah, “How far back does your history go?” It asked solemnly.

“Over ten thousand years! Noah proudly exclaimed, but the machine shook its head in dismay. Its attention returned to the stars. “I don’t fucking believe it.” The machine said beneath its breath.. “Buried for sixty-six million years…”

The machine gazed back at the tent where a fisherman had caught sight of a glint of gold early that morning. It sprinted back into the tent and searched for a spot in the flooring placed atop the ground. Noah watched in fascination, perplexed to the machine’s motivations. It began stomping into the hastily laid tiling, shattering the ceramic as a metal foot smashed through the floor and into dirt below. Its hands dug into the soil, and handfuls of earth flew across the room. A growing crowd had joined Noah in observation, every mind wondering why the machine was digging and digging so desperately at that. The hole was nearly half a man deep when it finally turned to address the onlookers, mesmerized and silent. “Well?” It asked in frustration, “You wanna know why I’m digging don’t you?” The look on every face screamed ‘Yes.’

“Then fucking dig.”

Dawn had cast a scarlet glow across the ocean when the last CAT 325C excavator unloaded the final haul of dirt from its tilting bucket fifty feet above Noah, where he and the others had joined the machine in the night old quarry. When they reached the bottom, a chorus of gasps and exclamations joined the coalition of soldiers, workers, and able bodied aides who had been shoveling all through the night and now marveled at the fruits of their labors. A massive sphere of silver loomed above their heads. Its flawless surface basking in the moonlight, the sphere drew the people in like moths to a flame. The machine placed its hands upon the silver sphere. When nothing happened, the machine gave it a kick, “Dumb ass Ralosi safety measures…” It grabbed the wrist of the nearest person and placed his hand upon the sphere. A red iridescence rippled from where his hand met the alien thing, waves of glowing rings emanating throughout it faster and faster until the silver sphere became a ball of burning crimson that brightened the quarry so that light streamed out from the pit like water gushing from a geyser. Noah had to shield his eyes in fear of being blinded. When he could see again the sphere was silver once more, but it was beginning to melt. The substance flowed over their feet and lapped at their knees to reveal a human woman encased in a crystal cylinder. Her clothes were elegant like feathers dancing in the wind. Her face held an expression of shock frozen in time. Her eyes pleaded for someone.

The machine walked up to the cylinder and took in the sight, “Of course he saved you.” It placed its hands on the cylinder. Tiny fragments of crystal slowly chipped off and began to drift away into the early morning sky. Clouds of crystal dust soared high into the air as the frozen woman burst back to life. Gasping for breath, she fell on her hands and knees as she returned from stasis to reality.

“What happened?” The young woman asked, looking up at the machine as she found her bearings.

The machine glanced around at the crowds of faces lost in disbelief, “Well looks like Krade did it.”

“Crazy motherfucker…” She dusted off her pants, “Where are we? Naileh?” She asked it, looking around the dim pit.

“We never left Aurin, Daliya.”

An expression of horror erupted on her face, “Krade! Where the hell is Krade?”

The machine shook its head, “Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…” It produced a second golden cube from the palm of its hand before tossing it to the wondrous woman, “He left you a message.”

She caught the device and a bright light flashed through the darkness as a hologram spewed forth from the device in her hands. The image of a man floated a few feet above them in the air. Dry, cracking blood covered his face and clothes. His right arm was missing beneath the elbow, and he spoke with the solemn air of a dying man.

“Hey Daliya,” The man coughed, blood spewing from his mouth, “I know I’ve done things you don’t agree with, things no one agrees with, but I hoped that maybe if you knew everything you could understand.”

Suddenly the scenery flashed and the broken man’s confession gave way to a landscape of ruined cities, the ancient remnants of a grand metropolis lost beneath forests that sprouted from toppled skyscrapers and greenery that scaled the concrete skeletons like emerald gilding. “Do you remember home, Daliya?”

Noah and the others watched on in stunned silence as the man recounted a life sixty-six million years past.

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