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Chapter 45: Looking to the Stars

Eyes closed, Lilly freed her thoughts. Soaring on a gentle ocean of mental waves, her mind shifted into high discovery mode as it had done in the past. She sought Skye and realized how much she had missed her comforting companion. Eager to reunite, she conjured the same granny face she had fantasized as a child.

Her body jerked, then resisted. An onlooker might have feared a battle was being waged in her small body. That was true. With great effort, she exercised all the mental gymnastics her father had taught her to receive Skye. It was like in the beginning, a second introduction—this resurrection of Skye. She thought light, where dark chained and muted sections of her brain. That obstacle was new. Perhaps residual slime from the Dustman? Blockades dissolved, calm was restored, as she made room for her granny to enter.

Skye swooped in as if on the wings of magic. First order of business was to power up. As if touched by an EMP wand, Skye increased nerve impulses between cells in Lilly’s brain—zap, zap, zap—and they were back in business!

Lilly twitched. REM or rapid eye movement occurs when you dream. Behind her lids, the movie began to play and her eyes raced side-to-side as if dreaming, but she was speaking with Skye. They used a picture book method of communication.

Skye’s usual procedure was to make her delivery and vacate the premises, the premises being Lilly’s brain. This is not a finding. It is something new, different. She prayed it would be nothing like the Dustman. For that reason, she listened with the same caution she had once given Zilla’s palm readings.

“Lilly,” Skye said, “Rest assured I will never come to you uninvited. I speak now because I heard your call and your situation is desperate. You are in grave danger.”

“Yes. Nautilus.” Skye’s gentle tone washed away Lilly’s fear. Her grip on the afghan relaxed. This was to be a give-and-take conversation between friends, not an invasion. She had goose bumps.

“No, there is another much greater threat.” When Lilly didn’t respond Skye asked. “Do you trust me?”

“My father did.” She had a thousand questions. Was he alive? How did she find the tunnel entrance? Was Nautilus close? But first she needed one answer above all the rest. “Are you an angel, a spirit?”

“Of course not. You are too smart to believe that. There is a more logical scientific answer. Your father prepared me for this day. We need each other. In his absence, he gave me permission to disclose certain facts. Will you listen and give me a chance?”

“I miss him.”

“Me too. I have never met a better human.”

Human? Curious. Lilly sank down. It crossed her mind that she was standing at the edge of a mountain looking down into a fog bank, and below awaited the treasure her father had left behind. It was meant for her. She had been created to find it. She understood now—Skye was both the key and a lifeline. “Go on.”

“History is riddled with unsolved mysteries. Those mysteries don’t make the history less true, just more interesting, more open to investigation. Bear with me, Lilly. You are going to love this. If I know my granddaughter—”

“You heard that?”

“I believe you were six at the time. It made me proud that you would think of me like that. I hope you can still accept me as a family member after we’re done. Let me begin, we don’t have much time… This story is old and commenced more than two hundred and fifty years ago in the vast frozen tundra with James Cook.

“You know from your studies with your father that Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle in 1773 intending to reveal the mystery of the ‘Cold Land.’ What you didn’t know was because his team was plagued by strange and unexplained happenings, his exploration created more questions than answers. Future expeditions headed by Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott, reported hearing voices and suffering from bizarre accidents as they too drew close to the South Pole. Scott’s entire party died preserving the unknown.

“In 1946, the US Navy launched a secret mission called Operation High Jump into the same Antarctic region. Four thousand men, thirteen ships, and multiple aircraft were deployed. The scheduled eight-month expedition was scrubbed after only two months. No official reason was given. The leader of the expedition, Admiral Byrd, wrote in his diary that eccentric events and the erratic behavior of service personal influenced the change in plan.

“Skye, how does…”

“Be patient, Lilly.” She continued, “Byrd also wrote that just hours before their departure for home a small party of men was sent out on an unsanctioned mission. They flew into a remote unmapped region, landed on the ice, and retrieved a package. On the trip back to base they encountered ferocious winds and a blinding snowstorm. The plane crashed. The official documents do not mention the whereabouts of the package from this point forward.

Everything about this operation was classified top secret. The code name of that mission was ‘Skye.’”

Lilly gasped. “You? Were you the package they retrieved? That’s impossible.”

“Please let me finish and some of your questions will be answered. You know your father was a neurobiologist. He worked for a secret branch of the army and in his research in the archives discovered a sample from Admiral Byrd’s expedition. It was a chip of a fire diamond.”

“Fields and my father argued about a diamond.”

“This diamond is not only unusual in size, but content and properties. Do you know anything about diamonds, Lilly?”

Her head shook while in her mind she answered, no.

“Fire diamonds are shades of amber, similar to the color of your eyes. The largest recorded fire diamond in the world weighs 14.82 carats. The largest white diamond, the ‘Cullinan,’ is three thousand one hundred six carats and weighs a little over one pound. This, my diamond is nineteen thousand seven hundred and thirty-one carats and weighs almost seven pounds. Men have fought and died to possess it. It’s value as a gem is astronomical, but with…”

Lilly felt Skye’s hesitation and thought, here is comes, the big secret worth dying and killing for.

“… with an alien trapped inside the diamond is priceless.”

“What!” She nearly screamed. Calmer she asked, “Explain. Where did you come from? How did that happen? Did you hurt those explorers? How can you survive in a diamond? Are you really a savant?” First Zilla’s avatar…and now this? She needed clarity. Instead, she had become stranded in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

“Lilly, slow your thinking down. Yes, I am a savant. I am a life form. Remember your science. Carbon, what diamonds are made of, is the key element for most life on earth.”

Lilly thought about ET. “Sorry for stereotyping.”

“Yes. The movie portrayal is close, but I am more energy than physical mass. Carbon is the main component of sugars, proteins, fat, DNA, muscle tissue, of all living organisms. Humans included. It’s logical—my existence is logical.”

“Forgive me. It’s been a while since I’ve flipped on the scientific reasoning switch.”

“Good. Let me tell you about the people on my planet. It may help you assimilate the information. The citizens of earth have labeled certain people as…what is that crude phase? Mentally disabled. On my planet, minds that diverge from the norm were among the most admired. I am a savant and was one of the most revered scientists on my planet.”

“What happened? How did you get here?”

“This is going to sound like a Superman sequel and sometimes I think the authors of the comic book read Admiral Byrd’s diary, but my planet was destroyed by a rogue comet. I escaped by sealing myself in the fire diamond. With my superior mental capabilities, I adapted my body to draw sustenance from the diamond by breaking down the molecular… well…those details are not pertinent at the moment. The diamond’s hard surface protected me during my intergalactic travels. Earth was not my first choice as an explorer but gravity took the decision out of my control. A rather spectacular fiery entry fused me to the diamond. I cannot leave it. If I am separated from the diamond, I die. It saved my life and now I am its prisoner.”

“Skye, I am sorry. What can I do?”

“Nautilus wanted to cut open my diamond, your father rescued me. Cosmo treated me as an equal, not a specimen to be dissected. Cosmo preached that I had rights and that is when my story became human. He saved me and now I can repay his kindness by helping you. He protected me, as he did you.”

“I was unfair to him.”

“You didn’t understand.”

“Skye quick. Someone is coming. What should I do?”

“Lilly, this is very important. Keep taking your vitamins. Your dad made them for us. They are saturating your brain with nanos, elements that will help us communicate. Soon you will not need a headband or crystals. It is working. I have felt your mind reaching out.”

“I hear footsteps in the hall.”

“Lilly, you need protection. Confide in your friend Bobby. It is crucial that you stay away from Zilla’s dark crystal. It alters people. It is feeding on you. Guard your mind. Do not go…”

“Go…go where? Skye?” Questions she had stacked up to ask tumbled like dominos down a row.

Bobby burst in. “Zilla sent me to wake you. It’s almost time for dinner.”

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