“The blackness of space contrasted vividly with the brilliant silver light emanating from the small cube traveling at incredible speeds through the void.  Driven by an internal fire, Scyndelaine had a mission to fulfill and nothing was going to stop her.”

Chronicles of Ramonathra.

 

 Chapter 1 The Shooting Star

"No one can stop me now!" chuckled Noah with a sinister laugh.

Eiphen sat in a chair with his arms tied behind his back, helplessly watching his little brother, Noah, but Noah was wearing a white lab smock, and his normally short, red hair grew and was sticking straight out of his head like a scientist who's had one too many jolts of electricity. 

"No, this can't be happening!  Noah, stop it!  You’re crazy!  Don't do it!  I'm sorry for being mean to you!  Untie me, Please!"  Eiphen struggled uselessly against the ropes that bound him to the chair.

Noah pulled out of his lab coat, an amazingly large bottle labeled nitroglycerin.

"No, don’t do it!  You don't know what that will do!  NOAH PLEASE DON’T!" Eiphen frantically yelled, while struggling to get free.  "I'll be nice to you!  You don't have to do this!"

The clown Noah just turned back and looked disdainfully at his pleading brother, then paused,  slowly smiled, and waved. 

Eiphen screamed, "Noah!  What are you doing?  No! No! You can’t do that!  It will explode!"

Noah held his arm out and with a quick twist of the wrist, let the contents of the bottle go streaming onto the ground.

"KABOOM!"  The whole world jumped and jostled and Eiphen screamed.

"Huh?" Eiphen said while his mother shook him awake.

"Are you all right?  Wake up!" Mrs. Eina Nosh said, gently shaking Eiphen’s shoulder.  "Bad dream?  I heard you say, “Noah, don’t do it.” 

Eiphen carefully unstuck page 305 of his science book from his forehead.  It took a moment to reorient himself to his surroundings and Eiphen was relieved that it was only a dream.  He remembered studying and then he must have dozed off. 

"I had the weirdest dream, Mom!  Noah destroyed the world!" said Eiphen as he leaned back arms in the air, yawned, and extended his wiry frame fully. “I wanted to stop him, but I couldn’t; he had me all tied up in a chair!”

“Now why would Noah want to do a thing like that?  Feeling a little guilty about that trick you pulled on him last week?"

"But Mom, he was being a royal pest!  He wouldn't leave us alone!  We couldn’t do anything with him following us wherever we went!"

"That may be, but it didn't give you reason to take advantage of him like that!  He just wants to hang around the big kids.  Whether you like it or not he wants to be like you!"

"How was I to know that he would believe me and get stuck in that tree looking for pterodactyl eggs?"

"He'll probably never climb a tree again because of your trick.  Serves you right to have nightmares! That imagination of yours is going…"

Rather than argue, Eiphen interrupted, “I think I’ll go for a bike ride!” he said and hurried out the door.

“Just be back for dinner! 6:00 sharp!” his mother called after him with an exasperated look.

Eiphen lived with Eina Nosh, his mother, his older sister Basile and his little brother Noah.  Their house was a modest three-bedroom, split-level house in the San Bernardino valley.  Eiphen's room was on the top level and he bounded down the stairs three at a time to get out of range of his mother’s frustration.  He did not understand why she was always harping on him.

Eiphen raced through the kitchen and arrived at the garage.  "I don’t know why we call it the garage. We’ve never parked a car in it.  We should rename it the junk room instead." Eiphen told himself absentmindedly as his eyes sought for his bicycle in the dim light.

"There it is!" Eiphen said, grabbing his helmet while admiring the shiny metal and sleek green exterior of his bike.

Last month he entered his project titled, "Why Bugs are Small" in the All-City Science Fair, and  Eiphen definitely had the most unique project there.  The exo-skeletal research that Eiphen had done, proving that bugs would not be able to be human sized was intriguing, but the thing that was most impressive, was the six-foot long, papier-mâché cockroach that accompanied his project.  It was the favorite of the competition, though some girls didn’t seem to like it much, from all the "Yuck!" and "Gross!" Eiphen heard them say as they went by it.  His project won Eiphen the green, 18 speed mountain bike as "First Prize." 

Eiphen exited the side door of the garage with his bicycle, put on the green helmet, and mounted in one swift motion.  Whoosh! He zoomed down the driveway and up the street.  It felt good to be out side, the wind rushing through his wavy, sandy brown hair.

Eiphen could zone-out anywhere and any time, even on a bicycle, and today was no exception as he raced down the rows of neatly manicured lawns and nearly identical houses.  Everyone daydreams, but Eiphen "chain-dreams". He has one dream right after another and before he knows it, his mind is catapulted into a reverie of possibilities that has branched out several times from the original subject with which he started. Today, Eiphen didn’t try to control it and let his mind wander aimlessly, flitting from one topic to another, while his body, which was on auto-pilot, performed the mechanical operation of riding the bicycle. 

The weather was beautiful as Eiphen pedaled up the shady, tree-lined streets of the northern part of the city of San Bernardino, California.  This April was unusually green and cool for Southern California, which is normally sweltering by this time of year.  He began to think about all of the different things that he was going to do to take advantage of the marvelous weather during the upcoming spring break. 

The sky was crystal clear and the usual haze was nowhere to be seen.  The San Bernardino Valley normally lived up to the name of "Smoky Valley" that the ancient Serrano Indians gave it centuries before. The mountains on the North and East of the city form a cup that gathers all the smoke and pollution from Los Angeles and other cities from the West.  Eiphen looked towards the Northwest and saw Mount Baldy and he noted that this year he'd seen days when the smog was so bad he couldn’t even see it at all, and it was only thirty minutes away.  As if by their own volition his hands steered the bicycle towards Hillside park, carrying with him his own mental smog. 

“ Why is Mom always on my case?  She is always nagging me.  Aren’t I good enough for her? …and why did Dad have to abandon his family?” The bitter resentment that arose in Eiphen only made him pedal faster.

Eiphen new his mother was concerned about him, but sometimes he wished she would just leave him alone.  His thoughts were interepted when suddenly he saw a flash of white fire streak across the afternoon sky.  It was so close he involuntarily ducked as it screamed through the air.  He followed the bright ball of flame with his eyes as it passed and he saw it hit inside Hillside Park.  Then he heard a small "BOOM".

"Wow a meteorite!" Eiphen said out loud and began to pump the pedals of his bicycle even harder to be the first to arrive at the meteorite landing spot.

Surprisingly the park was deserted when he got there. Eiphen slowed down to get his bearings.  "There it is!" Eiphen exclaimed and pointed to the tendril of smoke that he had seen close to Dead Man’s Hill near the top.  He increased his speed and headed into the park.

Hillside Park was situated between two large ridges that had been eroded out of the south side of a bald hill.  The ridge to the east was called Dead Man’s Hill because of the steep access trail that followed the power lines to the top of the ridge all the way to the summit of the hill.  The rough trail wound through the angular metal poles of the high voltage towers that bring power to the northern side of San Bernardino.  It was a popular trail for joggers, fitness buffs and mountain bikers because it was so rugged and steep.  Eiphen had heard more than one person tell him that it was called "Dead Man’s Hill" because if the way up didn’t kill you, the way down would.

Eiphen raced through the green grass of the baseball fields, the playground equipment and then the basket ball courts on the east side of Hillside Park, and pedaled hard towards the gate in the fence that separated the green, manicured park from the scruffy vegetation of surrounding hill.  The gate opened to the trail twisting its way up the ridge next to the park.  Eiphen started up the rough trail and after a few minutes of hard pedaling, had to dismount and push his bicycle the rest of the way.  He finally reached the top of the hill, huffing and puffing.  From here he could see the whole San Bernardino Valley.

"Wow it’s beautiful!" Eiphen exclaimed as he caught his breath and took in the view.  Hot weather had not yet turned the hills the usual golden brown and the tall grass, still bright green from the extra spring rains, rippled in the wind. 

"There’s my house!  There’s Golden Valley Middle School!" Eiphen’s eyes automatically sought the familiar landmarks then he remembered why he was there and continued to scan the hill for the meteorite.

Eiphen quickly spotted the charred smudge and a tendril of smoke from the landing site on the opposite side of the ridge next to the trail.  Eiphen laid his bike down and started running down to where the shooting star had landed.

As Eiphen approached, he froze for a moment, as his mind was bombarded with questions "What if there is radiation?  Is it alive?  Will it blow up?" Eiphen asked himself silently. After all, he had seen more than one science fiction movie in which arriving first at a meteorite site did not end up well for the discoverer. 

"Man! I'm starting to sound like Mom!  It’s just a meteorite!  They hit the earth all the time."  He ignored the cautions nagging at his brain and ran to see the meteorite.

He approached the still smoldering gash, all his senses focused in front of him.  The gash was only about a foot wide and a foot deep, but 20 feet long.  At the end he could see a perfectly shaped cube about two inches on a side, which was glowing reddish orange.  He could feel the heat as it sizzled in the moist earth. Eiphen recognized that what he mistook for smoke was actually steam created by the intense heat of the cube and the damp soil.

"A cube?  What’s a cube doing here?" Eiphen said to himself out loud.  He had been expecting rock or a melted piece of metal, not a perfectly shaped cube.

The full realization of what finding a cube from space really meant gave Eiphen a sudden jolt as if he'd just been hit with a cold-water balloon in the face.

"I knew it!  Life does exist outside of earth!  Cubes, especially ones that can withstand the heat of the atmosphere don’t occur naturally, they have to be made!  That would mean that this is proof that there is intelligent life on other planets!  Wahoo!" Eiphen said jumping and shouting with his hands in the air.

"Wait a minute, maybe it’s a spaceship, or a message container like a note in a bottle from some far away galaxy?" Eiphen’s brain was feverish with excitement.  A vision of far away worlds with multiple moons flooded his mind.  A blue skinned maiden with flowing red hair, records a message of distress and seals it in the cube.  A scaly green lizard the size of a dog, grabs it with its tongue and trots to an ornately decorated golden dragon’s head with a square hole as a mouth.  The lizard deposits the cube in the hole, flicks his tongue at the dragon’s snout and sends the cube on an interstellar journey....

"Buzz.  Buzzzzz!" Eiphen's day-dream was interrupted.

"Ah get away from me!" Eiphen shouted as he swatted the fly that had landed on his face while his mind was a million miles away.

Eiphen turned to see that the object in the gash had stopped sizzling.  The orange glow was replaced by a shiny bluish-black, iridescent metallic color.

Eiphen stood up and stared for a moment longer at the cube the size of a small rubiks cube, hesitating about what he should do next.  He knew that NASA and museums and such would want the meteorite, but he also wanted the cube for himself.  After all, he was the one who found it!  "Finder's Keeper's!  Right?" he said out loud.

Then without another thought, he jumped to the end of the gash and tested the cube’s heat by sticking his finger in his mouth and then gingerly touching the smooth surface.  Finding it to be completely cool, he scooped it up and held it in the open palm of his hand to look at it more closely.  Eiphen saw a shimmer in the cube’s surface and then he felt an intense, soothing warmth run up his hand and up to his head and then down to his toes. All of the questions and doubts jumbling about in his mind just vanished!  They just didn’t matter.

"I can't wait to show everyone what I found!"  He cheered as he started running back up to his bike at full speed, with the cube in his fist.

He was on fire with excitement.  The steepness of the hill didn’t even slow him down and in seconds Eiphen arrived at his bicycle.  He jammed the cube into his pants pocket, put on his helmet and he mounted the bike.  Eiphen had never felt this exhilarated before.