It was the 1860s, the frontier times and a small expeditionary force sent by Brigadier General and (former Governor) Issac Stevens made it’s way through Alaska to a remote location rumoured to have been supplied from his dealings with Red Skins. The Force, led by Captain Ronald Rayner was supported by Issac’s own Negro Freeman, Henry Christmas and a small academic and Prospectors corp (the United States Army Corps of Engineers) Amidst the 60 odd men were two brothers, Willard McCabe, the elder and Academic geologist and prospector, the other, the younger, Douglas McCabe, enlisted man and Corporal; together, they had travelled for months up into the North western mountains and into Alaska.
Winter was drawing in as the party moved through the coniferous forests and into the rocky crags of a small valley lead by their Sergeant, a gruff New Yorker called Raynor, food was becoming scarce as the group reached the valley and game seemed unusually scarce in the area; eventually they set up camp near a stream and Douglas began to oversee the setting up off watches and posting guards around the area so that the scientists and geologists could do whatever it was that they did in relative safety. Henry Christmas with pride in his voice lead the group over a rise in the valley and smiled as the ground suddenly plunged away into a huge crater with a tiny stream winding through it, this was what they had come to find, he beamed and in a wood-smoked voice said “There’s a prominent vein of silver runs through their i’ll warrant and we’re gonna tap it.”
Later whilst patrolling the area (after all there were rumours of wolves and bears in the area), Douglas came across what appeared to be two strange obelisks jutting from the ground near a rock face, the obelisks were adorned with strange writing and the rockface itself had a crack or cavern penetrating deep inside it, the smell of rotten meat wafted out of the dark entryway. Running back to fetch Mr Christmas and his fellow soldiers Douglas pointed out that there were a number of wolf tracks in the area; as Christmas sketched the obelisk Willard moving into the cavern and began exploring it whilst the soldiers remained outside on guard. Inside he found the crumbling remnants of tribal wall paintings that seemed to show strange giants with lines beaming from them receiving worship from human tribes; when he reported this Christmas implied that it should remain a secret between them and that, in exchange for his cooperation, Willard would receive an extra share in his pay packet.
Whilst Christmas left to collect some more gear Willard carried on his explorations and was astounded to discover, after scraping aside some of the dust and grime coating the floor that the cavernous corridor burrowed into the rockface seemed to be made from a single piece of smooth silver alloy; his eyes lighting up with thoughts of profit and discovery he smudged the dirt and soil back over it and did not mention it to Christmas upon his return.
Outside, one of the soldier Rollins was complaining that the place gave him the creeps, Douglas agreed and then, as the curried bean rations began to take their toll, grabbed a shovel and made his way to the makeshift toilet area; it was only after he had sat down that he noticed the strange absence of normal animal and forest noises. Crossing himself, Douglas finished his business quickly and returned to camp.
Two days passed in the blink of an eye.
Willard managed to clear a caved-in portion of the cavern and revealed more of the tribal painting, he also discovered a huge door that appeared to have been crafted from metal and be worked by some form of cog and gear mechanism; Christmas had directed the soldiers to begin erecting more permanent structures in the area, but again reminded Willard that they should keep the contents of the cave secret, implying that what lay beyond the door was not for mortal minds to comprehend.
The following day there was a wolf attack on a hunting party by no casualties were sustained.
Unable to contain his curiosity any longer Willard called for his brother and showed the bewildered soldier into the silver floored cavern, advising him that the two of them could make a fortune if they handled the matter right; a little shell-shocked and bewildered Douglas agreed and returned to his patrol duties. Dying to see what lay behind the door, Willard discovered a series of five glyphs that seemed to act as a sort of control panel, theorising that they may represent the four elements plus some unknown fifth substance he pressed them and was rewarded with the clanking of the cogs and the door grinding open.
Outside one of the other prospectors working in the crater shouted in delight, he’d discovered a small ball of a strange opalescent black metal, but the excitement was dampened when a wolf howl sounded nearby putting all the soldiers on alert, however, there was no sign of the animal (presumably the guns and shouts from the soldiers had scared it away).
Back in the cavern Willard moved through the door, something lay in the dust on the ground, it appeared to be a suit of old cloth armour, crumbling and falling apart with age.
Later that evening Douglas was on patrol when he came across the body of Rollins lying dead on the outskirts of the camp, he shouted to raise the alarm and the body was taken away as the camp went on high alert, although Rollins bore no visible injuries.
Christmas meanwhile had discovered that Willard had opened the door and, having seen what was inside, said that they may require some additional help, Willard recommended his brother, saying that they could rely on his discretion, Christmas called one of his men to fetch Douglas. When the two brothers were both in the cavern Christmas began to speak:
“Gentleman we have a situation, this place was revealed to General Stevens and it contains a power that could re-write the history books.”
He went on to talk about how a race of beings from the heavens had built this place, educating early man and bringing him technology beyond that of simple savages; Christmas explained that he was building a permanent outpost here and that he wanted the two brothers to help guard and protect this place. Continuing he described a secret organisation of men who helped protect humanity against the things that lurked in the darkness, apologising that he must leave the camp soon and report to his superiors he handed a ring bearing a strange triangular sigil to Willard and said that he should show it should he every really be in trouble. Somewhat dumbfounded the two brothers agreed and wished Christmas a speedy and pleasant trip.
Christmas had been gone a few hours and two brothers still stood in the cavern, Willard showed Douglas the crumbling cloth armour and, as the soldier poked around in it he found a small pendant, without thinking he reached out a hand.
Instantly the two of the them collapsed in agony and experience a vision of a different place, the past of the creek when it had been little more than a field with the two obelisks standing in it, a huge silvered citadel rose above the field, storm rains lashed down and the skys were full of huge birds… no wait… they were people, people with wings. Balls of fire arched down from the sky setting fire to the grass and causing the tower to crumble, it began to sink into the ground as screams rent the air, twin jagged peaks of rock blossomed from the ground, dwarfing the now sunken citadel and forming the valley that the explorers would one day visit.
A ball of flame landed in the creek and then the years rolled passed like calendar pages and, sometime in the future, a man wearing hide armour walked along the creek, huge black wings grew from his back and he glanced down at a piece of black rock in a small crater; suddenly the sky was filled with a roaring sound and a huge fireball from the heavens struck the figure creating a giant crater and throwing the figure into the nearby rockface, dust and rubble rained down on the winged man, burying him.
Waking from their shared vision the brothers agreed not to discuss it lest they were thought insane, but it quickly became obvious they were thinking the same thing; if they could find the rockface from their vision then perhaps the body of the winged man was still inside. They were easily able to locate it and, over the course of the next few days, they tried several times to excavate the rockface, but each time they were scolded and told to stick to their patch by Sergeant Raynor; eventually when Willard was making a solo attempt at further excavation he grew tired of Raynor’s constant interference and, thinking there was nothing left to lose, pulled out the ring given to him by Mr Christmas.
Nodding Raynor lead him to the cave and asked whether anyone else knew about what they had discovered, shaking his head Willard said that only him and his brother knew about it.
“Do you know that once the Fallen gave up everything they had to look after man?”
Willard barely had time to register what Raynor had said when he found a small pistol pointed at him, the gun barked twice and Willard felt his blood and breath fleeing from him as he collapsed to the floor.
“It’s nothing personal but he wants to remain hidden, you’re going to be a loyal servant for the angel of death, I envy you… don’t worry, your brother will join you shortly.”
Over the next few days Douglas was sent out several times to hunt, each time bringing back precious supplies, although as the days went on they lost more and more hunters in the woods; there was not sign of Willard, but it was not unusual for him to lose himself in his studies and so Douglas thought little of it.
That was until he was dropping off a brace of connies in the cookhouse when he happened to glance in the offal and refuse bucket and saw, amongst some stomach churningly human looking pieces of bone, the shining ring with it’s triangular sigil; pocketing it, Douglas crept behind the cook, placing his pistol against the cook’s skull he spoke in an emotionless voice:
“Where has all this meat begin coming from?”
Cook began to babble that he’d just been following orders, but didn’t get halfway through his sentence before Douglas squeezed the trigger and blasting his head across the inside wall of the tent.
Drawn by the sound of the gunfire a crowd gather outside whilst inside Douglas hunkered down behind a wooden bench, lining his rifle up aimed at the door; outside Raynor shouted for the men to stay back and that he would deal with the matter personally. As he entered Douglas repeated the same question that he’d asked the cook, this time allowing his subject to make an excuse about Willard having died of natural causes and supplied being short before the gun barked out an answer.
Collapsing with blood pouring from his chest, Raynor laughed and began to babble that he could not be killed, he had been blessed; not really understanding anything other than this son of a bitch had killed his brother, Douglas placed his rifle against Raynor’s head and fired at point blank range.
Incredibly Raynor continued to laugh in a burbling voice saying “This vessel is already dead, but I have tasted the flesh, you cannot kill me.”
Douglas continued firing until he had emptied both his rifle and pistol of ammunition, but somehow Raynor still moved with unholy life, grabbing a cleaver and a lantern Douglas emptied the scant amount of oil onto Raynor’s body intending to burn the godless fiend but, realising their wasn’t enough oil, began pouring through the cook’s supplies. As he located a barrel of oil, he turned to see Raynor rise to his feet, wounds closing and bullets falling from his mending flesh.
“I whispered such sweet things to your brother as he died, such pretty words; you cannot burn me” began Raynor, but his sentence was choked off when Douglas hurled the cleaver through the air, it embedded itself in the creatures face; before Raynor could recover the soldier kicked the lid off the barrel, sending it rolling into Raynor, splattering a wide trail of oil across the tent.
As the Raynor-thing began to curse and scream, Douglas lit a handful of matches before shouting “All the pretty words in the world won’t save you from me!”
The burning matches tumbled through the air, striking the oil and the entire building burst into flames.