It was a few minutes before the lights came on in the ship and Glen’s voice echoed up from below. “Miss Watson and the young man can come down. Grumpy too if he promises not to yell anymore. Be careful where you put your feet, though. This whole thing is tipped on its side.” Glen was glad all they could really step on was visuals, scanner arrays and the opposite door, not weapons or engine works which were on two of the walls.
The young man came first. Miss Watson followed with a word. “The Professor said he can wait until it gets uncovered.” Glen nodded as the young man stopped, stared and asked what was on his mind.
“What happened to that other man?”
“He went home for the present,” Glen said.
“Yeah, roughly fourteen hundred years or so in the future.” Both Miss Watson and the young man looked at Glen like maybe he was lying, but Glen ignored the reaction. He took a hand from each and spoke of three things.
“First, I am going to need you to tell the professor to get everyone back at least a hundred yards from this site. Think football field. Second, I never should have changed like that in front of everyone. That is top secret and so is what you are about to see. I will give you a phone number you can call and have this ship picked up, but first you must promise you will never speak of this to anyone, especially me.”
“You?” Miss Watson could not help the interjection.
Glen nodded. “Normally I don’t remember this stuff, like I am sleepwalking through life or something. If you talk about it with me when I’m just normally walking around that might be like waking a sleepwalker. That can be very dangerous, you know.”
“And the third?” The young man asked.
“Promise you won’t let go. It’s tradition.”
Glen did not wait. He vanished and a woman took his place. She was dressed in a kind of dress that could only be described as Roman. Miss Watson shrieked and let go. The young man gulped but held on.
“I better go back up and see the Professor gets everyone away from this thing,” the man said with only a little shakiness in his voice.
. ”Good idea.” The woman encouraged him. “I was born around 761 BC. No telling if I can fly this thing.”
The man merely nodded and swallowed some more while he climbed back up the rope.
“My name is Valencia by the way, like the orange.” Valencia rolled her eyes at having to say that every time, but she stuck out her hand to shake with Miss Watson.
“Debbie Watson.” The woman put her hand out, but with some obvious reluctance. Valencia grabbed the wrist and shook it vigorously.
“I know who you are. Just as well your man left it to us women, don’t you think?”
“Oh, no.” Miss Watson shook her head, shyly, but a little smile crept into the corners of her lips. “He is not my man.”
“He should be.”
“What do I look like to you? I know I can come across as butch sometimes but really!”
“Oh, no. I get it. I just thought Glen, you, you know, he—“
“I was born in 761 BC. Want to know when I died?”
“No!” Miss Watson shouted the word. “I mean, I don’t get it. Why did Glen pick you? I assume he picked you somehow.”
Valencia smiled and took a moment to brush her long red hair straight back. She had no bangs and no center part, either. She picked up the rope and finally answered. “Because I can fly,” she said, and she left the ground. Miss Watson shut her eyes and began to mumble.
“No, this is too much. I can’t take this. This is too much.”
Valencia carried the rope up to the hatch and threw it out of the ship. “Hey you!” She shouted as the young man was coming back to give them the all clear. Valencia wagged her finger to call him in close. The young man came without hesitation. He ignored the fact that Valencia had to be flying, like his brain simply refused to process that thought.
“Ask her out,” Valencia said. “She would really like that. Now, get that Jeep out of here.” The man nodded and ran to the jeep while Valencia closed the hatch.
“I can’t believe you said that!” Miss Watson came out of her mumbles long enough to yell.
“What else are girlfriends for?” Valencia asked and she flew to where she could stand on the actual floor of the ship. That put her at ninety degrees to the earth. “Ready to slide to the floor?” She asked, but she did not wait for an answer. She touched the necessary controls to cause the center of the ship to rotate within the hull. It took a second, but as Miss Watson slid to the floor, exactly as prophesied, Valencia found herself standing upright. “Now, let’s see.”
Valencia was not sure how to work the rest of it. There seemed to be some division of opinion in time. At last she picked the consensus route and the whole ship shook rather vigorously. It was like an earthquake outside the ship, but they felt little on the inside until the ship broke free of the earth and shot up about three miles into the sky in almost no time.
“Wee-hee!” Valencia shouted.
“My God!” Miss Watson had a very different reaction. “Can we get back down?” She ran to the hatch window and looked out on the clouds.
“Not yet.” Valencia said, and she moved them to an upper Earth orbit in about five minutes.
Miss Watson said nothing at first while Valencia came to stand beside her. At last Miss Watson shared her feelings. “It’s beautiful.”
“It is.” Valencia said. “I always wanted to see, but I didn’t dare tell Saturn.”
“The planet?” Miss Watson wondered.
“The god.” Valencia answered without batting an eye. “But now I suppose we had better all go home.” She returned to the controls and within another fifteen minutes, managed a relatively soft landing on the archeological site.
“One thing I don’t understand.” Miss Watson had apparently been thinking that whole time. “If this is a sphere, why is it square inside?”
“Ah!” Valencia had already figured that out for herself and was rather proud at having done so. “The six corner sections are cryogenic chambers. This is an escape pod. Normally, it is programmed to fly at near light speed to some destination. Depending on where that is, though, they might sleep for a hundred years or even a thousand years if they aren’t picked up. So they sleep until rescue so as not to age in the waiting time.”
“But by the time they get rescued, everyone they know will be dead.”
“Not human,” Valencia reminded her. “Why it crashed to earth, I don’t know. If there were humanoid survivors, the pod would have been picked up with the humanoids. You may find some interesting bones on this dig, you know.”
“You don’t mean—“ Miss Watson paused in thought while Valencia nodded. “Sleep chambers? You mean like, what do they call it, suspended animation?”
“Here, let me show you.” Valencia uncovered the view of one of the chambers and Miss Watson screamed. There was a snarling wolf head staring at her, dead eyes open.