A week later, Emily was riding in the back of their new Volvo SUV down the main street of town. Her mother was driving as her Dad still had a bandage on his head. They drove past the big City Museum. The banners and posters proclaimed an exhibition of “The Treasures of King Tut.”
Emily! I believe that is where the other Stone is located. The energy is very fragmented and weak. We must visit this facility.
[I will take care of it. Watch me.]
“You know,” Emily said to her parents. “I’d really love to see that exhibition. It would be good for my history homework.”
Her parents looked at each other for another of those, ‘Is this our daughter talking?’ moments.
“I thought you were doing the Middle Ages,” said her Mom. “You got that A-double plus a couple of weeks ago.”
“Well, same difference,” fumbled Emily. “The Middle Ages came later. It’s ... like ... the New History Method, they call it ... working backwards.”
That wasn’t even a very good lie.
“Well, whatever,” said her Mom. “Do you want us to go together, or with a friend, or just catch the Metrolink and go by yourself?”
Emily tried to sound as grown up as possible, “Oh, by myself, I think. So much more reflective to see it at my own pace.” Emily’s parents gave each other ‘The Look’ again.
Emily came up out of the Metrolink station across from the Museum. Waiting with the crowd, she crossed at the lights and headed up the big, high steps leading up to the huge columns of the classic façade.
This is not an ancient building, yet the designers have gone to great lengths to make it look as such.
[Yeah, well, I guess we sometimes can’t let go of the old days. Everything comes around again.]
Like pet rocks, correct?
[You’ll never let me forget that, will you?]
Actually, I found it quite a compliment. Humans have great affection for their pets.
[Thanks. Remind me to scratch you behind the ears later.]
I am afraid I do not understand the reference.
Emily went between the massive pillars and towards the main entrance. She paid the admission charge and entered the Museum.
[I thought for a minute there I should pay for you.]
I can hear the other Stone.
[I don’t hear anything.]
Just a moment.
He ... hello ... I ... touch ...
Did you hear that?
I am passing that onto you.
He ... hello ... I ... touch ... me ...
[Is that all it says?]
Yes. It is also calling out in a language that I assume is ancient Egyptian at the same time. I am not sure what is wrong. It is very weak.
[Does it know we’re here?]
No, I do not think so.
[Which way should I go?
In the direction you are going now.
He ... hello ... I ... touch ... me ... I ... hello ...
Emily hurried straight into the central gallery of the Museum where the ‘Treasures of King Tut’ exhibition was the star attraction. In the centre of the main room, lit from several sides by spotlights, was the solid gold funeral mask of King Tutankhamen.
[Is the Stone in that?]
No, it is to the left.
Turning in that direction, Emily headed towards an arrangement of display cases covered in armored glass. At either end were armed guards in uniform. In front of the display case was a red rope on brass posts to keep people a couple of feet back from the glass.
The Stone seems to be in the centre of this case.
[I can’t see it. There’s just a bunch of necklaces and things.]
May I see through your eyes?
[I won’t get sick again, will I?]
I promise you will not.
Emily put her hand in her pocket, grasped The Stone and closed her eyes. When she opened them, everything seemed exactly the same. Then she noticed a bright spark in the centre of the display case. She walked towards it as if hypnotized.
The spark was a small gem in the middle of the centerpiece of the display case. It was a massive neckpiece made of solid gold and gems. It was a giant winged beetle standing in a golden basket and holding the gem above its head. The wings were spread out to either side, as if to go over the shoulders of the wearer.
[Is that The Stone? It’s a lot smaller than you are.]
You can close your eyes, now, Emily. I have seen enough.
Emily closed her eyes and opened them again. The gem on the neckpiece was now a dull, pitted yellow.
She read the legend mounted below the neckpiece aloud, “Worn by the Pharaoh Tutankhamen at his official assumption of the throne in approximately 1335BC. The scarab, the basket and the Sun represent Tutankhamen’s throne name. The gem representing the Sun is possibly to acknowledge his father, the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton, and his mother, Queen Nefertiti.”
Thank you, Emily.
[The Stone isn’t talking any more. What happened?]
It has become aware of my presence. I have been communicating slowly with it. This is only a fragment of the original Stone. It has little strength and intelligence remaining. It is very damaged, like a human whose brain has been hurt very badly and can no longer think correctly. It is like a new baby.
[Oh, that is so sad. How did it happen?]
The Stone was owned by Tutankhamen’s father, Akhenaton, who tried to change the society and religion of ancient Egypt. He wanted to do many good things. I believe The Stone was a big influence on him. It was carrying out The Mission.
The army and the priests did not like this, so they had Akhenaton killed. They then shattered The Stone and cast the fragments to all corners of the ancient world. That this fragment was in the coronation neckpiece was seen as an insult.
Emily could almost feel the loss her friend felt, coming so close to discovering another of its kind, only to find it was a hollow shell.
[Is there anything I can do?]
Yes. You must help me touch the display case, as close as possible to the neckpiece.
Walk over to that information kiosk and pretend to ask a question.
She did as she was told, knowing better than to argue, approaching one of the Museum’s information kiosks and touching the screen as if looking for information.
Hold me against the metal frame.
She brought out The Stone and, hiding it in her palm, touched it against the metal kiosk.
In 10 seconds, there is going to be a big distraction. Please walk back to the display case with the neckpiece. NOW!
Emily scuttled back towards the display, the two guards calmly watching this lanky 12 year-old as she entered their zone of attention again. Suddenly, all Hell broke loose: alarms blaring, lights flashing on and off, security doors opening and closing, even the sounds of gunfire and glass breaking coming out of the loud speakers. Eyes wide, Emily froze with fear.
The two armed guards, hands on the butts of their pistols, charged off in opposite directions.
Quickly, Emily. Go under the rope and touch me to the glass, as close to the neckpiece as possible. Hold me tight, no matter what happens.
Glancing around, Emily ducked under the rope and held the stone against the thick glass of the display case. The Stone began to tremble and vibrate against the glass, faster and faster. It made a humming sound, which only Emily could hear, as much in her mind as in her ears. She heard a cracking sound and at first she thought The Stone was going to shatter the display case, but then she saw that the gem in the necklet was crumbling. She continued to hold The Stone against the glass.
Thank ... you ...
The last of the gem crumbled from the neckpiece and the vibration immediately ceased.
Emily ducked back under the rope, pocketing The Stone and moving away from the display case as fast as she could. She joined a stream of Museum visitors heading for the emergency exit. She didn’t say or think anything, because she sensed a great sadness coming from her friend.
Emily was nearly home when The Stone finally spoke to her.
I want to thank you for your help. That was a very brave thing you did.
As I said, the remaining fragment of The Egyptian Stone was very damaged. For over 3,000 years, it has been alone and in pain. It could not remember The Mission or its purpose. It was also very weak. It asked for my help, so I helped it end the pain and complete The Mission.
[What? You killed it?]
No, Emily. We do not live or die in your sense. I simply helped one of my kind to find peace. What remained of its energy and experience is part of me now, so the fragment was no longer required.
Emily began to quietly weep. People sitting near her on the Metrolink looked away, so as not to intrude in this young girl’s sadness.
Please. There is no need for sadness or ocular fluid release.
This comment actually made her giggle, embarrassing those sitting near her even more.
[Ocular fluid release? You mean tears? I’m crying! That’s what humans do when we are sad. Not really because I’m sad, but because that was such a sweet and noble thing to do for that poor Stone. You said once that I was teaching you to be good, but I think you are teaching me even more.]
Thank you, Emily. I feel we will find another Stone some day. You and I together.
[I hope so, too.]
The senior EAU team members sat around the large oval table, O-1 in her customary seat. A senior EAU Analyst was addressing the meeting, “We have narrowed the area of greatest probability down to seven cities. All are large financial hubs. The overwhelming majority of alien activity has been through financial institutions. Our suspicions are that the alien force is amassing an enormous fortune in order to carry out some plan.”
O-1 interjected, “Pardon me, but why on Earth … sorry, that’s a terrible pun … why would an alien force concentrate on making vast amounts of money? It doesn’t make sense. Are they doing anything illegal?”
“Actually, no,” admitted the Analyst. “Surprisingly, every move they make is above board and squeaky clean. Everything is declared, they pay their taxes, and they have become one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations. Patents for many new advances in medical and computer technology have been attributed to them. Many third world countries are at this moment planting drought-resistant food crops developed by this company and given free of charge.”
“How much money are we talking about here?” asked one of the members around the table.
The Analyst melodramatically checked his notes and said, “Something over 150 Billion US dollars.”
The collective air inhaled by those around the table practically caused papers to flutter. The Analyst went on, “And that is just in the past three months. We have no record whatsoever before that.”
O-1 swore in French, displaying her Canadian roots, “That is incredible, but I still don’t see what they’ve done that is a threat to our way of life. Some would say they are a shining example to us all: How to make a Billion dollars a day.” That caused a bit of light relief around the table.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but whatever it is they are doing, it is with alien technology. Trades are done with lightening speed, faster than a normal computer. Money just disappears. No one seems to know who or what they are. Or where they are.”
“There must be a paper trail. You must have a name.”
“All we have is a Mr. Stone. Adam Stone. We’ve questioned every A. Stone from here to Timbuktu, with no result. None of the companies or banks working on behalf of Mr. Stone have ever seen him. Most correspondence is carried out by fax or computer. Some have recorded telephone conversations with him as a matter of security. He seems to be a native English speaker, aged 55 to 65, born somewhere in the United Kingdom. That said, he also seems to be able to speak 14 other languages like a native, including Russian and Mandarin.”
O-1 decided to close this part of the briefing, “Let’s move on. I understand you have some footage.”
The Analyst took his cue and pressed a button, causing the individual screens to rise before each member of the EAU Council. “We weren’t sure at first if it was a lead or some elaborate hoax. At 2.12pm yesterday, we had dozens of WAWAA alerts in and around the Museum of History in one of our seven target cities. We thought it might have been a robbery from the King Tut Treasures exhibition on show at present, but apparently nothing was stolen. One neckpiece in a locked, bullet-proof case seems to have been damaged, though they think it may have just been old age.”
“That tends to happen after three thousand years,” quipped O-1, happy for the opportunity to relax after weeks of stress.
“We discounted the damaged neckpiece, too, until we saw this footage.” On the screens began to play footage from various security cameras around the main gallery at the Museum before and during the mayhem of the alarms. The video was in black and white and very jumpy, like silent movies.
“Now, watch this young girl.” The video scenes rewound and then zoomed in on Emily. She walked up to the rope in front of the showcase housing the coronation neckpiece under the eyes of the guards at either end. First, she just stood looking intently at the neckpiece.
“She looks like she’s talking to it,” observed one of the Council members, “but she’s not moving her mouth. No, there! She’s saying something now.” Emily was reading from the legend beside the display.
Emily then walked over to the information kiosk, all the time looking around very suspiciously. “Not the world’s greatest secret agent … alien agent,” observed another member. The Analyst spoke again, “We’re not sure if this is an alien or a human under alien control…”
“Or just a very clever child up to no good. We all know what that can be like.” The others around the table nodded sympathetically at O-1’s aside, referring without doubt to her son. “How old do you think she is? Twelve, Thirteen?”
“She could be an adult alien in disguise, or maybe they have no gender at all,” added the Analyst. “Now watch closely. She puts her hand down beside the unit.”
Emily touched her hand to the side of the information kiosk. Then she took her hand away and rushed back towards her spot in front of the display case. Just as she arrived, all the bells, whistles, glass and gunfire sounds cut lose.
The two guards bolt away and Emily ducks under the rope, placing her hand on the glass opposite the neckpiece and standing perfectly still.
The video operator tried to zoom in on the neckpiece itself, but only a few frames as the fragment of Stone crumbles are clear. The scene zooms out again as Emily puts her hand in her pocket and joins the pandemonium of visitors trying to flee the Museum. The scene is replaced with a blurry close-up still of Emily’s face.
The Analyst paced now as he addressed the Council, “As you have just seen, this somewhat inept secret agent was able to hack the Museum’s network in a matter of seconds and create a very creditable diversion while she did something to that neckpiece.”
“She must have used mental powers or some power through her hand. No trace of any tampering has been found on the computers in the Museum or the information kiosk itself. No fingerprints or DNA could be lifted from any of the surfaces. As I said before, the only damage done was the shattering of the small stone in the neckpiece. We analyzed the fragments and they are simply low grade diamond of unknown origin, we assume African. As you saw, she didn’t even touch it, but placed her hand against the bullet-proof glass almost a meter from the neckpiece itself. Whatever power this person or thing was able to generate is beyond our understanding. It has to be alien, and potentially hostile, no matter how much she gives to charity.”
“Or feeds the starving millions,” interjected a Council member from a third world nation.
O-1 took over, “Thank you, John, good work. OK, we have our target city and a suspect, or at least an accomplice. I want all resources focused in this area. Circulate pictures of the girl to all operatives. None of this goes public yet. We don’t want a panic. Thank you.”
With that, the Council broke into small groups who discussed the new information in hushed and urgent tones.