Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chapter One: Another Sneak Peek from Guardians of the Crystal Skulls!

And the saga continues!
~D.B. Stearns


                                                  
Chapter One 
   EACH GENERATION OF civilized societies look back on their accomplishments and proudly proclaim that they are the most advanced civilization to date. They look back arrogantly on the previous civilizations as primitive and ignorant, which is based on the accepted historical accounts in spite of the mounds of evidence that continues to pile up through new archaeological findings. 
   But what if historians got it all wrong? Children are taught a lesson about rumors by playing a game called “Pass It On”. The class gets in a circle, and the teacher tells a secret to the first student who passes it to the next and so on until the secret is passed back to the teacher. However, after being passed through the mouths, minds and ears of 30 students, the message that returns to the teacher is completely different from the original passed only moments ago. History has seen this same thing happen, but multiplied times thousands of years. 
   Time has a huge impact on everything. Many people believe time flows continuously, while others believe it comes in cycles. The truth is there is a beginning and an end to everything. At the beginning there was Light, and there was Dark. The Light created, and the Dark destroyed. Through the ages they battled for control, with Light staying just ahead of Dark. Ages passed as time moved toward the inevitable battle. This is not the final battle, but it is an important and ongoing battle. 
  The common people lived on, most times oblivious to the ongoing battles that surrounded them day after day. They went to work, loved and laughed as if this existence was meant to be. Occasionally, a few gifted people were shown visions of the Light or the Dark, and were drawn directly into the fight. Still, time continued its journey. 
   After many thousands of years, precious few were left who knew the truth. They continued their vigilant stand against the Dark as they waited patiently for the threat to arrive and the war to continue anew. Plans were made and set into motion, some at great personal sacrifice. The stakes were high and yet life continued. 
   The Guardians of the Crystal Skulls were some of those gifted and precious few who were shown the truth. They shared breakfast together before their short trip into the heart of the last Pyraportal. This ancient relic was the last operational Pyraportal on the planet. Built in secrecy by the Science Guild, it complemented the existing World Power Grid in ancient times. The Pyraportals served multiple purposes for humankind. They provided free wireless electricity by using the planet’s natural energies. They could concentrate that energy and direct the discharge as a lethal weapon that could protect the planet from asteroids or attacks from enemies. 
   The Masu`ri, the Balsarius, and the G`Alad were all races of humans who had once coexisted together as one society separated into five guilds: Artisan, Religious, Warrior, Science, and Worker. The Masu`ri and the Balsarius were peaceful societies who predominately made up the Artisan, Religious, and Science guilds. The G`Alad, however, were the Warrior Guild first and foremost. If any G`Alad failed as a Warrior, they became part of the Worker Guild. The arrogance of the G`Alad became so great because of their conquests in space that they demanded more and more of the other guilds. Eventually war broke out between the guilds for control of the crystals and gems that they used to power much of their highly advanced technology. 
   Ana’ka and Ukit lay beside each other as they caught their breath after another long lovemaking session. Lately their days had been filled with joy and lots of lovemaking. Ukit looked over lovingly at his life mate, not looking forward to the conversation that they needed to have now. He sighed and touched her face gently. 
   “You know it’s been three months since we had the visions,” Ukit said. “Our time approaches.”
   “I know,” replied Ana’ka. “Can’t we just leave, and not do this? Maybe someone else can do this?” 
   “I don’t think that’s what the Light has in mind for us, do you?”
   “But we don’t want to do this without you,” Ana’ka pleaded.
   “We?”
   “I think a son has a right to know his father, don’t you?” Ana’ka responded as her hands went to her stomach.
   “Are any of the others expecting as well?” Ukit asked.
   “I suspect Alana and MeNana both are, but they have not said anything yet.” 
   Ukit smiled as he rested his hand on Ana’ka’s stomach.  “My heart is filled with joy and sadness at the same time. The Light will find a way. For now we must follow our path,” Ukit said as he stood and got himself prepared. The visions they had received from the Crystal Skulls promised a final victory for their sacrifice. Now the time for that sacrifice was at hand. 
   Elder Danshe and Elder Salvatore dressed in their white silk robes stood at the mouth of the underground compound to say farewell to the couples. Elder Danshe kept his eyes averted as the women dropped their traditional dresses or huipils in favor of the ceremonial shoupa, which was nothing more than a wrap around their waists that ended in the middle of their thighs. This deerskin wrap was the only clothing the women wore aside from the light golden chain-mail tops. Ana’ka had long, flowing auburn hair that fell softly over her shoulders and down to the middle of her back. Her large, ample breasts stood out prominently for such a short woman. Like the other women she wore an open-backed golden chest piece of tiny interlocking links that resembled chain mail and lightly covered her breasts. Interwoven into the mail was a series of strategically placed gems and stones such as rubies, emeralds, diamonds, black onyx, and opals. A single four-inch-long crystal shard hung from the center of the necklace and nestled between the young woman’s breasts. The crystal at the center of the necklace matched the two-inch-long shards that hung from her ears. The golden chain mail left very little to the imagination and caused Elder Danshe to blush furiously. 
   “Everything’s in place,” said Elder Danshe. “May the Light bless your journey, and shine through you always.” 
   “The Pyraportal is active now, so choose your steps carefully and do not stray from the path,” warned Elder Salvatore. 
   “Isn’t the Pyraportal nearly out of energy?” asked Ukit. 
   “The energy reserves are nearly depleted, but there is still enough to kill you if you stray from the path,” replied Elder Salvatore. “Now go quickly before the G`Alad detect it.” 
   Ukit bowed his head as a show of respect to the elders, and the rest of the men bowed as well. Each man was well over six feet tall and wore long-hooded robes made of rich red linen. Each man had a black bag strapped over his shoulder that hung down his left side. Ukit Took entered first as was his right as the king. Their shaved heads and faces were painted over white and black to look like a skull. 
   As they exited the caves with their life mates, the men pulled the hoods up over their heads. A group of 40 local tribal warriors heavily armed with spears, bows, and arrows surrounded them. They wore loin cloths and were otherwise painted head to toe in red. 
   The group stopped at the head of a trail that lead through the forest. In the distance was a giant stone pyramid; its outer surface gleamed in the early morning sun with its polished stone that reflected the rays of the sun. Only months before the Pyraportal, which was covered over by tons of dirt, had resembled a simple hill at the base of the mountain range. The warriors stayed at the forest’s edge while the leaders continued toward the pyramid’s entrance. 
   The pyramid’s capstone was a large golden sphere that shone brilliantly. It had gems and quartz crystals embedded throughout that glittered in the morning sun. It spun slowly as it hovered a few feet above the pyramid. Thick bolts of electricity shot up to the sphere then out toward four giant obelisks made of polished pink granite. 
   Ukit stopped and admired the spectacle. “So that’s what the Pyraportal looks like uncovered. We need to hurry before the G`Alad spots it.” 
   The group continued toward the dark entrance and walked on a clearly visible path in single file. They took a deliberate path that everyone followed carefully. In the distance, a mad dog ambled toward them from the cover of the jungle, its maw dripped with foamy disease. 
   “Look!” someone at the back shouted.
   Ukit turned to see the dog as it wandered forward. “Stay on the path! Everybody down. Now!” Ukit warned as all of them dropped to the ground as ordered. As the mad dog approached the Pyraportal, a bolt of electricity struck down the poor animal with such a tremendous force that the group felt the aftershock as surely as if a bomb had just detonated. If any of the group had been on their feet, they would have been knocked off the path from the aftershock’s sheer force. The smell of burned hair and electricity filled the air as the group rose to see the dog’s charred remains. 
   The bolts pulsed toward the obelisks as they continued on the path to the dark entry at the base of the Pyraportal. As they approached the entryway, Elder Sandowski stood before them with a glowing crystal stone that he had placed in a cradle at the top of his walking stick. 
   “You must remain in total silence until you arrive at the Altar,” Elder Sandowski warned. Then he folded his hands and bowed his head and said, “Time is running out, so do not delay. May the Light shine through you.” 
   The men quickly disrobed to reveal lean bodies covered only in simple loincloths. They placed the robes on a long bench at the room’s right side and replaced the black bags back over their shoulders. Each man grabbed an ornately carved and decorated walking stick that leaned against the wall and picked up a crystal stone from a stone ledge and placed it in a cradle at the top of the walking stick. Ukit hummed to the crystal, which flickered to life to light the way forward. He paused momentarily and glanced back at Ana’ka before he ducked into the short, dark corridor at the back of the room. Ana’ka followed close behind him into the corridor. Each couple followed Ukit and Ana’ka down the corridor with their own crystal light. 
   The oppressive weight and darkness permeated throughout the Pyraportal, and it swallowed the light as the absolute darkness resumed quickly behind the group. They reached the bottom of the corridor and entered a large room with a slightly higher ceiling, which allowed the group to stand fully and stretch. The room had the feel of a type of living chamber, as there appeared to be sleeping mats in recesses along the walls. Ana’ka smelled the somewhat-damp and cool air in this chamber and marveled at the lack of stale air at this depth. She wondered how the builders of this massive structure could have provided ventilation. Ana’ka followed Ukit as he entered another corridor that ascended at an odd angle at the opposite end. The entrance was raised about two feet from the floor and was much shorter than the previous corridor, which caused everyone to crouch low as they climbed up the five-foot-tall corridor. The corridor floors were perfectly flat with no steps. This made the ascent difficult for anyone who was not in good physical shape. 
   A few feet up, the corridor turned sharply and reversed its direction before it continued for what seemed like forever and finally ended in a large high-vaulted chamber. Water flowed down the center from a hole in the ceiling and disappeared into a hole in the floor. Both holes had been worn from what looked like years of water pouring down the shaft. Ukit looked back at Ana’ka as they felt the air drafts drawn here as the water flowed. From this room several corridors and airshafts jutted off in multiple directions. Ukit paused to allow the group to stretch and take long drinks of water from skin pouches they carried at their waists. After a few short minutes, Ukit silently urged the group forward as he ducked into a small corridor opposite from the one they had entered. They followed him into a very small room that looked to be little more than a large broom closet, but the walls were encrusted with what looked like salt. 
   They exited the opposite end and entered another short corridor that turned sharply the opposite direction before it opened into a great room with a high-vaulted ceiling that continued up at a slight angle. They passed to the right of the resonators that hung from the ceiling and filled the room with eerie sounds. They looked like strings of golden balls hung from the ceiling, each ball smaller and smaller as it neared the top. The balls on the bottom were massive in size, big enough for a full-grown man to stand inside upright with his arms outstretched inside. Ukit felt the vibrations chime from the resonators as the silent group quietly passed without a word. The group’s soft footsteps gently crunched the salt-encrusted floors as they continued wordlessly. The resonators remained pristine while all the other surfaces glimmered with salt for a strange and beautiful contrast. The group continued to the end of this great room only to find another small “broom closet” at the end with yet another small corridor that led off the opposite end. 
   As they crawled through the last short corridor, they entered a large room with a high ceiling of perfectly polished dark granite. Fresh air entered from two airshafts at opposite ends of this room and water could be heard as it flowed in the distance. The Crystal Altar of their dreams sat dark and silent as they entered the room. The doors that had once held the Crystal Skulls were now closed at the base that held the giant crystal sphere. 
   Ukit reached out to Ana’ka and projected his thoughts, I love you. 
   I love you too, mi corazón, Ana’ka replied in kind. Her heart suddenly filled with fear. 
   Ukit turned to the others who silently projected to their own life mates. 
   It’s time! Ukit projected to the others as the Crystal Skulls now allowed them to project thoughts and emotions to each other. Ukit approached the altar and knelt before it with his arms outstretched and his walking stick in his left hand. Then he reached into a black bag that hung at his waist and pulled out the solid Crystal Skull. He used his right hand to thrust it forward toward the altar. Its incandescent glow reflected light from the stick-like lamps that surrounded the room. Each of the males in the room then knelt in a semicircle as a reflection of the altar with six men on each side of Ukit with the females behind. Each man in turn stretched his arms as Ukit had and produced his own Crystal Skull and thrust it at the altar. The women stretched their hands out to the shoulders of the men before them and began to chant in unison. Moments passed as the chant then turned into a song. Their song rang out and reverberated through the great room below filled with the resonators. 
   The Pyraportal rumbled to life and vibrated to the sounds of the song as each door opened on the upper altar. One by one, each man rose and placed his Crystal Skull into the recess left behind from the open door. The women sang in unison as the Pyraportal came to life from their song. Louder and louder the women sang in unison as the tune became more complex by the minute. The huge crystal sphere slowly began to glow and emanate heat. The women then began to harmonize and change the rhythm of the song. Three words from this woman, four words from another woman, then several from another. Another woman, another pitch and different words. The nonsensical words were unlike standard communication, but the sounds and resonance they created were important. 
   A pattern emerged as each man entered and removed his Crystal Skull in unison with his mate who sung behind him. Individual Crystal Skulls vibrated and illuminated as each woman sang her portion of the song. Sometimes she sang solo, sometimes in harmony with another woman whose corresponding male would simultaneously enter and remove his Crystal Skull. More and more complex, the song continued to ring until everything around them shook. Then all the women sang aloud together in perfect harmony as the men placed their Crystal Skulls into the altar, stepped back, and joined the women in their song an octave lower, yet in unison with their partners. The huge crystal sphere now floated above the altar and spun as the crescendo of joined voices reverberated throughout the Pyraportal. Lights flashed from the Crystal Skulls into the eyes of each of the men with the pulse of the song. Faster and faster, brighter and brighter, each flash drew something out of the men and into the machine that now spun impossibly fast. Sweat poured off both men and women alike as the heat radiated throughout the chamber now. Just as the heat seemed almost unbearable water began to enter the chamber. Higher it rose as each couple sang louder and louder. 
   A loud moan emanated from the Pyraportal itself as the Crystal Sphere shot a brilliant beam of blue light into Ukit’s eyes that was reflected back into his specific Crystal Skull. Ukit was now bathed in blue and locked in his tone. The Crystal Sphere then bathed another man in a brilliant red light. This continued to repeat for each couple. Another man and another tone and another color until all were locked together, and then a loud noise exploded from the altar. Willowy wisps of smoke escaped each man only to be sucked up into his specific Crystal Skull placed before him in the altar. The women’s vocals increased as the male voices began to subside. Color now drained from their faces; the men looked drawn and haggard as the song continued. The water was now up to the men’s chests. Slowly their life forces were drawn into the crystal machine before them, as their earthly bodies began to slump further and further down until all at once every man fell face forward into the water. They were depleted of all life. Abruptly the song ended and each woman grasped for her deceased mates. 
   Ana’ka struggled with the water now at her chin as she tried to lift the much heavier Ukit. She finally turned him over and held him close to her. 
   Tears flowed from the women and sobs of sorrow filled the room as the Crystal Sphere continued to spin, but released the lights that had bathed each man. One by one, each woman began a new song. They chanted its words first in unison and then broke up into harmony. The sphere spun faster and faster as the song became more complex. A brilliant blue light suddenly shot out through the altar room, and the Crystal Sphere no longer looked solid, but looked more like a bubble of water. The light filled the room and reflected off the polished granite. An elderly man floated through the sphere, dressed in brilliant white robes that opened in front to reveal a dark, multicolored one-piece suit underneath. Behind his back was a pair of curved crystal blades that were attached to long staffs that crisscrossed behind him. There was strength in his face, and a power that emanated from him. His long white hair was pulled back into a braid. His long white mustache blew softly around the middle of his chest. 
   There was nothing otherworldly about him; he was just a man. He looked at the women who held their life mates close to them and held on to the last note of the song. Then the room went silent. 
   “I am the Weapons Master, Yen Tsu, and a Warrior of the Light.” Weapons Master Tsu greeted them as he placed his hands in the shape of a triangle in front of him. “I understand that you were able to open this Pyraportal through your sacrifice. I’m sorry for your loss, but you’ll soon find that your loss is not as complete as you might imagine. Until you’re able to make contact through the Crystal Skulls with your true loves, you must train on how to use this Anti-Grav Suit,” he said as he flourished his hand over the suit he wore. “It uses the same technology as the larger Anti-Grav Units, but does a better job of putting you at one with the three states of matter. The Anti-Grav Suit will allow you to control the matter around you at the subatomic level, whether it is a solid, liquid, or gas.” 
   Tsu looked into the watery globe behind him as a number of dark chests floated through the event horizon to each one of the women. Tsu closed his eyes and reached back for the weapons on his back. The crystal blades glowed as Tsu held them out at arm’s length. Light shot between the two blades into a ball over his head. The light took on a life of its own and shot forward out of the Pyraportal. A second ball of light formed between the glowing crystal blades as soon as the first ball left. Again it shot out of the room and left the Pyraportal for some unknown destination. The next light ball formed immediately, but this one shot down into Ana’ka. As the light sunk down into her head, she saw visions that confused her. The visions showed her dressed in a suit similar to the warrior in front of the altar. She could feel the very earth all around her. She watched as she did things that made no sense. She burst things into flame, froze items solid in the heat of the summer sun. She turned rocks to liquid and exploded Earth’s natural gasses all around her. She felt invincible as she destroyed a MARs unit, and all with nothing more than her mind. Then she saw herself going through a new fighting style. Form after form flowed into her mind. She too would become a Warrior for the Light, and she would protect the sacred Crystal Skulls. After several minutes she became numb to the visions that crowded into her mind until finally they ended. Ana’ka gasped for air as she looked around the altar room and saw all the other women doing the same. 
   Tsu shot the balls of light into each woman, then continued to create them between the two blades and shoot down into the base of the altar. The women looked in wonder but were confused by what had just happened. 
   Tsu opened his eyes. “You’ll not likely be able to remember much of what I have just shared with you, so you must seek out the one you call Shihan Kahn to reinforce the training you just received. You need this training to survive, so if you can’t remember anything else remember to seek out Shihan Kahn. Use this power wisely, and the Light will protect you.” With that, Weapons Master Tsu began to back into the event horizon. 
   “Wait!” Ana’ka called out. The Pyraportal shook in protest to the errant sound. 
   Tsu looked up and replied, “Please project your thoughts while you hold this portal open. I can hear them.” 
   What are we expected to do? Ana’ka pleaded as she projected her thoughts. We have so many questions; please don’t leave! The G`Alad are defeating us, and we need your troops, not these suits. Please, send us some upgraded MARs before we perish. 
   Tsu looked down at Ana’ka and sighed, “Have faith, my child. We don’t always get what we want, but we always get what we need to defeat evil. Trust the Light that this is better and you will see once you begin to train with Shihan. I must go before we are discovered. And you must immediately dismantle the pieces of this Pyraportal. May the Light be with you all, but especially you, Ana’ka. Your sacrifice will be one of the greatest, but through you and your descendants is the salvation of this society. Just as you received your visions of what you must do today, the Crystal Skulls will help guide you in the future.” 
   With that, Tsu disappeared into the event horizon. A moment later, the watery surface disappeared in a blinding blue light. The crystal sphere slowed its spin until it stopped, and the only lights that remained in the chamber were the walking staffs that the men had dropped. 
   The water subsided as the Crystal Skulls floated out of the altar over to each of the women. The women grabbed the skulls and placed them into the black bags that still hung around the necks of their now-dead husbands. Ana’ka gently lifted Ukit’s head and was surprised at how easy it had become to lift him. She placed the skull into the bag and hung it around her neck the way Ukit had. Then she grabbed up his staff and hummed into it to regenerate the stone’s light that had begun to fade. Then on an impulse she reached down and picked up Ukit in her arms like a mother would her child. The other women looked in amazement at this tiny woman as she easily lifted her husband. Then she nodded to the others to do the same. One by one they all found enough strength to do the same, and they left the Pyraportal. 
*   *   *
   Shihan knelt at the altar in his private quarters. His hands rested loosely on his weapon, the Qatassendor that stood upright at either end of the small altar. The crystal blades of the Qatassendor glowed as the Holy Warrior knelt in prayer. Nobody in this time even knew what a Holy Warrior was, or how they had helped the human forces defeat the Klah and the Kaldori in the Crystalline War all those thousands of years ago. Now he sat there nearly helpless in the middle of a stalemate that had lasted nearly 10,000 years. When the burden became too much he went back into stasis to wait out a century or two. If I only had a purpose! 
   Shihan opened his eyes as the crystal blades of the Qatassendor flickered wildly. Then without warning a ball of light entered his quarters and filled the room with its light. Instinctively, Shihan spun around in a defensive movement with the Qatassendor in his hands. Then he sensed another Holy Warrior close by, and recognized the ball of light as the ancient means of mind bonding between Holy Warriors. Finally! Shihan knelt back down and waited as the light entered his mind and the visions filled him. 
   Shihan recognized his mentor, the Holy Warrior Yen Tsu. Shihan could see the visions of the new fighting forms enter his mind. There was real power in this new style using the new technology of the Anti-Grav Suits. Then Holy Warrior Tsu left with a warning: 
   The remainder of the Mayan Grand Council has become the Guardians of the Crystal Skulls. Like you, they are now Warriors of the Light. The skulls must be protected from your enemies. The Light gave them to the Balsarius to provide balance in the war. They will provide the Guardians with longevity, guidance and great mental and physical power. We have packed stasis containers with Anti-Grav Suits for the Guardians, and the raw materials and instructions for the Science Guild to make more suits. The Anti-Grav Suits were designed to only be operated by specific genetic markers found in Balsarius descent, and one for you specifically. You must reinforce the training they received as they are not yet experienced in mind bonding. Protect the descendants and protect the suits at all costs. We have foreseen that the G`Alad are close to discovering the location of the last Pyraportal. Use the Anti-Grav Suits to hide its components and the remaining Balsarius cities on the colony, all of which must now be abandoned. Return to the Ark and refrain from direct intervention in the daily lives of the commoners. You may still be among them, but keep your origin secret from now on. 
   Lastly, there is a traitor among you. Beware whom you trust. 
   Shihan watched as visions of more complex fighting forms flowed freely that were obviously meant for him only. After several long moments the visions ceased. Shihan rose with the answers he had sought for so long. 
*   *   *
   Religious Elder Eric Danshe knelt at the foot of his bed in prayer. He thought someone had entered his room so he turned to see a ball of light that floated into the room. The light had a warm glow to it as it hovered briefly above him. He felt a sense of peace come over him as though he should trust the light. 
   “I trust in my Lord to protect me from all evil,” Danshe said calmly as he looked up into the ball of light. 
   A moment later, the ball of light slowly descended on his head. Visions flashed in his mind of impossible things. His head shook in disbelief. Tears streamed down his face as a primal scream echoed in his room. 

   “Noooooo!”