-Prolog-

Martha, as a little girl, is in the swamp near the ranch home where she is being raised by her father as an only child. Martha is dressed in a short sleeved T-shirt and blue jean coveralls with the name "Martha" stitched in faded red lettering across the left side of her coverall bib. She is barefoot, hair in pig-tails, an obvious tom-boy. She is munching half a sandwich as she approaches a clearing at the edge of a pond. There is a large tree at the edge, with another nearby laid out on the ground with the top branches splashed into the pond. The roots of the fallen tree have pulled from the ground, forming a disc of tangled roots as tall as a man, leaving a shallow hole in the ground where the tree used to stand. Grass has grown around this area, as sunlight can now get through.

Martha is listening to the thrumming of the frogs, a chorus, and has stopped munching her sandwich in fascination, looking out over the pond in a type of rapture. There is a splash to the side, a racoon at the waters edge, and Martha forgets the frogs, turning her head sharply toward the sound with a slight smile. She knows this racoon. She leans over putting her sandwich on the grass and creeps back behind the huge roots of the fallen tree, which easily hide her small frame which is half the size of the root base. The racoon scuttles over to investigate the sandwich, then chitters at something it sees descending from the sky. The area is lighted, soundlessly, for a moment, while the racoon grabs the sandwich and runs off with it.

A sport size space ship, 25 feet in diameter, is descending rapidly into the clearing Martha is exploring. Motion is very rapid at first, slowing suddenly near the ground. A ramp lowers from one side, and a small beige Zeta bounds out, not bothering to walk down the ramp as much as touching the ramp only at a couple points. Another floats out, touching down on the grass. Martha has her mouth slightly open, is blinking a bit too much, and is stepping further behind the tree roots.

A small beige colored Zeta, no larger than Martha, comes around the root base, leaning forward head first as though to establish eye contact first, to not startle Martha. He walks up to Martha, takes her hand, and turns to lead her back into the grassy area at the edge of the pond. Martha displays no fear. Two other little Zetas are outside the ship on the grass, one bent over and reaching a hand out to the racoon who is also not fearful and standing on rear legs, as though the two of them were having a conversation, silent and telepathic.

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Now in the current day, the fallen tree has rotted, is sinking into the ground, and more brush has grown up where the grass used to be. Billy wades along the edge of a pond, his jeans rolled up to just below his knees and his shoes tossed on the edge of the pond. The water is cool against his bare legs, taking his mind off the hot sun. A large fallen tree that has thrown its branches into the pond when it fell has rotten so that most of the branches are broken off and sinking into mud. The trunk of the tree is falling apart, covered now with moss in places, and brush has grown up along the sides of the tree. The rain has reduced to a steady drizzle and drip, the fallen tree looking wet and Billy's flannel shirt looking damp and clingy.

Billy freezes and moves slowly, his hands out in front of him as though to grab something as he lowers his body slowly toward the side of a tall grass clump at the edge of the swamp. He grabs a frog.

Gotcha!

The frog is struggling, long legs hanging down and kicking. Billy lets it go, the frog leaping out of his hands into the pond. He's good hearted, while being all boy. He leans back against the fallen tree trunk, digging a cookie out of his pocket and takes a bite. Billy looks around the swamp edge, scanning the water. All is silent, no chorus of frogs. A puzzled look comes over his face. He blinks.

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Red is in the tool room in the barn, hiding out again. Retirement does not suit him, and where he has no cause to regret living with his daughter on the farm, being a perpetual guest is also a difficult role for the guff old man to maintain. Here, among the tools, he is in his realm, unchallenged as the authority, and feels he is adding something solid, something real, to the family's well being. Going by the nickname Red, more for his tendency to get behind issues quickly and passionately than the touch of red in his shock of graying hair, the old man finds these moments when he is alone and unchallenged restful. His kingdom may be a dusty room full of rusting tools, but increasingly, this is where he spends his day. Billy comes up to his Gramps, uneasy and wanting to share with the old man, who always has an ear and a keen interest in his grandson's exploits and discoveries. Billy is upset.

Gramps . . all the frogs are gone!

The old man says,

. . What you say Billy?

Billy is distressed.

There's no frogs . . there's no noise, no jumping around. Did someone else catch them all?

Red considers for a moment.

. . I just heard something about that on the radio, that all the frogs were disappearing and no one knew why, for sure.

Red turns, muttering to himself.

Maybe it's got something to do with those circles we found in the field.

Pondering mysteries comes to an abrupt halt for higher priorities when they hear Martha, Billy's mom, giving a dinner call from the house.

Dinner, don't be late!

An unnecessary warning. On a farm, the men folks are seldom late for dinner, and then not by choice. Red puts down his tools and starts walking towards the farmhouse.

Come on Billy.

Billy runs ahead towards the farmhouse.

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A white-haired man, balding on top and with unkempt white hair springing out from his head in all directions, is bending over the viewing eye-piece of a telescope.

He's a bit wild-eye'd, clearly in his 80's. This is an older observatory, small, and thus one that has escaped the cover-up blanket as it is not seeking government grants. The Astronomer is retired, no longer under any employment restrictions, another arm of the cover-up. He looks up with glee in his voice, speaking to his middle-aged daughter at the side of the room.

Pourrait être une comète. Est sur un des bras d'Orion.

The daughter has her bland face toward her father, taking this in. She smiles and turns to a laptop she has on a table in front of her, typing.

From my father's observatory, his first comments. Could be a comet near the arm of Orion. It emits waves. Father is excited!

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A young man with short sandy hair is approaching a modern day observatory, high in the hills in an arid region supporting only pine trees in the rocky soil. He opens the door and strides in. The young man, an amateur astronomer, is greeted by the attending assistant astronomer. The attendant is wearing a lab coat over his sweater. The evening is cool. The amateur keeps his leather jacket on. He says,

Hi. I'm Joe. I rented this scope for this hour. I've got my coordinates here . .

The amateur is pulling out a piece of paper and hands it to the assistant. The attendant frowns on seeing the coordinates, gesturing toward some scaffolding placed to the side of the scope.

Can't look in that direction. I'd move this equipment but I'm not authorized. .. Huh . .

The attendant is puzzled, as there is no rational reason for the scaffolding, especially since the scope had been rented. He is muttering to himself, under his voice.

Why is that there?

The attendant's face brightens. He begins walking sideways toward a side door.

We can use another. Come this way.

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Both are now huddled over another telescope, having pulled stools up to the viewing piece, side by side. The attendant is ready to enter coordinates into the scope, has his hands over a keypad, and looks at the amateur expectantly. The amateur has his piece of paper out and unfolded. He reads the coordinates off.

Right Angle 5.151245, Declination +16.55743.

The attendant says,

Orion, eh? Lots of interest in that area lately.

The telescope hums and moves to a different angle. The attendant leans back and says,

Take a look.

The amateur curls over the viewing piece, pulls back, moving away from the eyepiece with a scrape of his stool. He gestures toward the eyepiece with his hand.

Can we center on that light blob just to the left of center? Is that supposed to be there?

In the viewfinder are several bright to medium bright stars with a light blob off to the left hand side. The blob is lightest toward the center of the blob, the light diminishing toward the outsides of the blob. The blob overall is larger than the stars, which tend to be pinpoints of light. The attendant leans forward to view. He adjusts the telescope to center the object, takes note of a reading, and then gets up and walks to the side of the room where large star charts are laid out on a table. He pulls one to the top of the pile and locates the coordinates by checking the top and side numbers, running his finger first down from the top and then in from the side. He turns to answer the question, surprise in his voice.

No.

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Out in space, Niburu, aka Planet X, the Planet of the Crossing, is seen approaching. The whole scene is bathed in red, with red dust swirling about, filled with debris. Stones and a type of gravel are on occasion seen in the swirling mix. The planet appears to be a water planet but this is not obvious because the red dust does not give it a blue hue. There is little land, less than 10% land in various small continents, basically islands.

The tail, seemingly never-ending, has an occasional moon sized object, most often in a dance with another such moon sized object. The debris continues, but always the swirling red dust. A number of moons swirling around each other curl like the tail of a scorpion. The red dust tail itself, electrically charged, is likewise whipping and curling. Gray gravel and fine debris forms its own cloud in the tail, and reacts to the motion of the moon swirls and red dust swirls by swirling itself. The whole complex is a writhing monster as it moves off into dark space.

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Helicopter blades can be heard pulsing as the chopper looks down through whispy clouds at a broad wheat field, golden in color. As the clouds part the crop circle laid into the wheat is exposed. The wheat has been bent at the nodes, not broken. Some grasshoppers are hopping across the bent wheat, trying to avoid the approach of the noisy chopper. A crop circle investigator is sitting next to the pilot of a helicopter. The investigator has a video camera up to his face, but has pulled this away from his face in order to speak. He has a distinct British clip. Through the chopper window the wisps of clouds are still clearing in the early morning light. The investigator says,

What are they trying to tell us?

The pilot says something almost unintelligible, given the background noise of the chopper, and the investigator responds.

Yes, yes, overnight. . . There's not a foot print down there. We're the first here. . . This is huge!

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Red and Martha are sitting on the porch swing just after dusk. It is summer and the night is filled with the thrumming sound of singing insects. Red has his elbow on the armrest and is holding a can of beer, one foot resting on the knee of his other leg. Martha is adjusting her hairpins, and sighs by way of saying that at last the end of day has arrived and she can rest as she drops her hands into her lap and looks out on the view. Martha points to the horizon at her left, at a Half Moon rising.

Dad, has the Moon ever come up over there? It's always more . . over there . .

Martha gestures toward the right, more centered in the view from the porch swing. Red says,

Been that way lately . . but not in all my years here, no. Damned peculiar.

Big Tom's muffled voice comes from within the house, but we can barely hear what he is saying.

. . bath night, kids . .

Martha springs up and dashes off, with Red not able to catch her with his free hand as he gropes to catch her arm.

Rest awhile. Martha!

Martha throws a comment over her shoulder on her way into the house.

He always forgets their ears . .

Red smiles affectionately at the backside of his hard-working daughter, as though he should have known better than to stop her. His gaze returns to the rising moon while his face gets somber.

What's chasing you lately?

Red sighs, as though to say that there is something amiss, but he doesn't know exactly what it is.