But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images,
the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.--Amos 5:26 KJV
Seated in the stark assembly room I looked over at the special travelers that I had the good fortune to join. Actually, I did use up almost all of my fortune getting a ticket to the first trip to Andromeda. Among them was Mr. Mack Zanckerberg, Elan Misk, and Josef Bizontos, the richest adventurers ever in the world. Nikola Tesla was smiling down them I bet for more than one reason. Ironically, I made my money investing wisely in their stock, and now, here I was embarking on the most earth shattering, heh, universe shattering journey, mankind has ever witnessed. (Of course they won't see the transmission -- all of our relatives are long dead.)
We were awaiting the prep time for traveling through the wormhole just recently discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope near a black hole that had peculiar properties. though we would be eliminating millions of light years of analog travel, it still would have us in suspended animation for the multiple decades of earth years needed to reach planet "Z" as was known. Of course Facebook founder (should it now be called Spacebook?) thought it was his initial that was used.
The procedure was quite painless; we first got a hypodermic needle of something or other, however when the mysterious aquamarine fluid kicked in I thought I was going to need a barf bag (do they have those on aerospace planes?) And I must confess I felt a bit claustrophobic while climbing into the bubble-like pod shaped chamber, where I would spend a normal generation.
Questions kept popping into my head: "Would I dream during this somnambulant state? What kind of welcoming committee would greet us on Zee?" (I comforted myself with the joke that there would not be a marimba band like in the Caribbean.) But in a matter of minutes all conscious brain activity went into hibernation.
"WELCOME TO THE OUTER REACHES OF THE SECOND HEAVEN," a voice boomed and reverberated throughout the ship as I, and everyone else popped instantly awake. Once again thoughts bounced around in my head, this time much more troubling.
"Whose broadcast was that?" I wondered aloud, "From the ship, or outside?"
All of us scurried to the observation deck, after disconnecting ourselves from our umbilical cords and safety straps, to see our status, visually. There was no sensation of panic, fortunately, because of our previous sedation, but a survival instinct did drive us towards solutions. Through the virtual porthole we saw a huge blue green, tinged with white puffs and swirls, globe looming increasingly larger before us.
The Captain, who had been in as much shock as the rest of us, finally had presence of mind to try to take command of the situation. "We arrived earlier than anticipated, and thus the mechanisms for re-animation automatically assumed their functions. I assure you, that message you heard was not emanated from us." Let us quickly go to the landing craft aft of us here."
Having been trained to follow leaders since a schoolboy, we hurried along after our skipper, where there were five planes obviously for the purpose of planet-fall vehicles.
The descent was uneventful, looking identical to our test flights in preparation for this endeavor, the landing was on a large grassy plain, and we already knew the safety of the environment, that is atmosphere and temperature beforehand. We exited the re-entry transports. The Captain began to assert himself again by having the assigned personnel begin to set up their camp, knowing that the only thing that was unknown were what kind of creatures might beset them now, and especially during the night.
Settled in, and having a real meal, hot and tasty, the previous tension subsided, but that welcome that they heard -- could it have been just some kind of corporate dream? Where was his Jung textbook now? He laughed and pondered to himself. Tomorrow was exploration day, and if all was well, they could expect another two ships to follow them through the space-time portal, unless they sent the distress signal.
They saw that at the edge of a plain was a pyramidal shape beckoning them on the horizon, (it would have been missed in earlier scans); in their Jetsons' looking SUV, they headed for it, guessing it was half a day's journey. To their amazement upon arriving at the base of this pointy hill, it looked manmade, well, something or someone crafted it; though it was eroded by millennia of sun, wind, rain, and jungle growth. All those conspiratorial YouTube videos came to mind. Also the song "Walk Like an Egyptian" did as well. Was there an entrance to this thing? Excitement raced through these gilded explorers, more than even driving their 200 plus mile per hour sports cars back home garnered.
And there it was, an arch rising 30 feet, and a thick door made out of the native exotic woods. A mix of Mayan, Babylonian and Egyptian motifs were all around the posts and lintels; could they even open it? Immediately upon touching the surface another voice similar to the one before thundered: "Come in!." And the immense portal was opened.
Trepidation was mixed with curiosity as we traversed the vaulted hallway, lighted automatically as we continued to who knows where. Was that a humanoid up ahead? Kind of hesitantly they approached the creature, but stopped about 20 yards shy of him/it.
Then the thing spoke: "I am Moloch, also known as Set, Chac, or Kronos, keeper of this place, called Tartarus, some of your affluent and powerful friends have bowed even in your modern times to that great Owl, one must know that I can see through the dark. You set up your tabernacles for me, did you not? With me is Ashtoreth, my lady partner in darkness who will attend to you, while I await the next guests, with the females onboard, Later your progeny will be satisfactory sacrifices to appease our...uh, needs. You better hope my other fallen angel brother, Horus won't come to do battle with me, because you mortals always suffer as collateral damage and from your arrogance, naivety, and lack of obeisance to us! In fact we thirst for blood right now, it's been a long, very long time!"
At this point we terrified travelers knew we had to warn the others en route, and ran out of there as fast as wobbly feet could muster. But like the fire in the bowels of that same bronze idol, that consumed men, women and children alive like some pot belly stove from Hell, a flame emanated from the entity and the last thing we thought before I sent this letter, was that this was the most painful way to die.
For SciFiQuest 3017: The Frontier That Wouldn't End