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“Under the surface of Mars lies an ancient, nuclear-powered city left by Martian citizens. At least, that’s what a group of space researchers think.”

“To Spite the Face,” Phoenix New Times, 12-10-02


Dr. Jones watched from a window inside the seminary’s dining room as Joe and Sheri drove onto the parking lot in an old pickup he hadn’t seen before. He didn’t know where Sheri’s car was, but a cellular call from her earlier had ended with him agreeing to meet them at the school. He too had unexpected news and was anxious to discuss his findings.

As he sipped from his coffee and watched the siblings jump from the ’68 Ford, they raced to the rear of the pickup and jerked a bulky looking object wrapped in a light blue blanket onto the tailgate. With help from Sheri, Joe wrestled the tubular item onto his shoulder and headed for the building’s side entry. Scanning the parking lot as he went, he caused Jones to think he was watching for traffic. Jones was wrong.


Thirty-five miles away, deep inside the reinforced walls of Montero’s underground laboratory, the encryption translator on Apol’s desk began downloading a top-secret communiqué from Security Chief, Robert Donner’s Instant Mobilized Encryption Fax. It contained positive news: The kids had been located and were under surveillance.

A demented smile crept over him as he read the dispatch.


Montero Research Security Division One

Level 10 communication



Special Agent to the Secretary of Defense

From: Security Chief Robert Donner

RE: Cydonia Enigma Confiscate and Target Delta Memo

As you know, on Thursday agent Blair nearly pinpointed Target Delta’s whereabouts using the subject’s cellular phone. Before agency representatives could acquire a signal fix, the transmission ended.

Earlier today, Blair intercepted a second cellular communication and successfully monitored a brief conversation between Target Delta and Donald Jones, a professor at Mt. Hood Evangelical Seminary near Gresham. The subject’s conversation led Blair to believe the item may be in the professor’s possession.

Agents Blair and Whitestone are currently located across the street from the Seminary in the HT Mobile Unit, and confirm the arrival of Target Delta. The subject’s conversation is being monitored with Mach 4 Bionic Ears and parabolic boosters and can be patched to your office immediately. Both agents have been advised to stand clear of Target Delta until verification of the item’s presence is made.

Please advise concerning any changes to the directive.

Security Chief Robert Donner


“Exsssellent!” Apol hissed forebodingly. “Soon the nations of the world will know who the god of thisss world is!”



Back at the school, Sheri borrowed Dr. Jones’ computer to send an email to Dave and the gang. She briefly stated her and Joe’s plans to be at the video store later that day, then added, “We’ve stopped to see the professor and to pick up the image. Boy, do we have something to show you guys! We should be there before noon. We’re hoping Dave can help us retain a good attorney. I’ll explain everything when we arrive.…”


Across the large complex in the dining room, Jones was astonished. Staring at the reeking specimen on the table, he asked, almost stammering, “Where on earth did you find this thing?”

Joe quickly rehashed the events leading up to the discovery—his visit with Buck, his trip up the mountain, the retrieval of the arm, the loan of Buck’s pickup, and the details of Sheri’s car—though Jones was too intrigued by the colossal extremity to hear half of what he was saying. An incredible proposition pressed in Jones’s mind. It involved prehistoric cosmic war, the Annunaki, the Biblical “stones of fire,” and the giants of the Old Testament. The call from Nathan Reel with the revelation of the head’s Martian properties had got him thinking. If Joe’s object really did come from Mars, NASA might confirm ruins of an abandoned city in the Cydonia region of the Red Planet during a future Rover landing. Did world governments already have proof of such and were covering it up? Would this support the theory of advanced extraterrestrials visiting pre-civilized Earth and creating Homo sapiens? Or was Joe’s artifact a link to biblical stories of Creation, heavenly war, and the fall of men and angels? Jones preferred the latter but was unsure how the related texts matched the physical evidence. Rehashing it in his mind for several hours, he’d finally called his friend and Vatican scientist, Bishop Renaldo Banducci.

Though Jones was evangelical and Renaldo was Catholic, this fact had never impaired the professor’s appreciation of the renowned scholar or his published works. Renaldo was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and was widely regarded as among the most progressive theologians in the world. Having met him years earlier during a lecture, Jones corresponded with the priest and on more than one occasion took him to dinner when he was in town at the local diocese. This was the first time he’d made a serious inquiry of the theologian’s knowledge of cosmology and Scripture. He had not been disappointed.

As it turned out, Renaldo believed Ezekiel’s citation of Lucifer moving “up and down amidst the stones of fire” was a reference to the once-glorious being’s dominion of the planetary belt, including Mars. He had long thought the Cydonia Face and pyramidal structures near it were curious, potentially illustrating a past Martian civilization that, if proven, would provide physical support for the Bible’s account of prehistoric war and the subsequent expulsion of Lucifer and his angels “from the heavens.”

“Keep in mind,” Renaldo shared over the phone, “Such evidence might also provide background for the building of the pyramids and similar structures on Earth—those monuments whose technical requirements seem far in advance of ancient man’s comprehension, the physical construction of which may predate Adam and Eve. The astronomical features built into the Great Pyramid alone are startling: how the four corners face true north, south, east, and west; how the antechamber points to the center of the universe; and so on.”

Jones, a history scholar in his own right, was fully aware of the pyramid’s enigmas, yet now as he listened, he learned something he didn’t know.

“Close to the Cydonia Face on Mars is a similar five-sided pyramid with detailed buttressing suspiciously positioned at 1/360th of the Martian polar diameter from the Face. In the same area, other structures form a perfect equilateral triangle in what some experts at NASA are now calling ‘the city complex.’”

Copiously scribbling the Bishop’s thoughts as he spoke, Jones said, “I wasn’t aware of the city complex, but the qualities of the enormous face are astonishing. Eyebrows over eye sockets with pupils. A parted mouth with lips and teeth. A nose tapered back toward the forehead. A crown strikingly similar to those worn by Egyptian and Mayan royalty.” Jones had done his homework before calling the scholar.

Renaldo agreed. “Indeed. Mathematicians have postulated the chances of the face arising by chance at a thousand billion, billion to one, so it is significant.”

“Significant enough to convince you it’s real?” Jones had asked.

“In my opinion, if what we are seeing in NASA’s photos represent intelligent engineering, not a trick of shadows and light, we may have no other alternative.”

“But isn’t that anethema? A challenge to biblical history?”

Clearing his throat, Renaldo had said, “Not really. In fact the answer to this riddle is found in the Bible, I’m sure of it, in such places as the book of Job, where the old prophet tells us that God destroyed the literal dwelling places of the angels that made insurrection against Him. Job specifically mentions the destruction of Rahab, a planetary body also known as ‘Pride,’ from which God drove ‘the fugitive snake.’”

“So you believe, tenuously I take it, that cities on Mars might actually have existed, and that these were abandoned during a pre-Genesis war between Good and Evil?”

“I’d go a step further. If pyramids on Mars are confirmed in my lifetime, disclosed by reputable governments and scientific institutions, mind you, I’ll present it to the Vatican as possible proof of such a war.”

Jones considered the far-reaching ramifications of that comment, then reiterated, “Not to belabor the point, but wouldn’t questions about the central doctrines of Christianity arise during such a discovery? Especially if the Martian buildings match the architecture of structures in Egypt?”

“Satan will use it to his benefit, undoubtedly,” Renaldo confirmed. “People will point to Mars and then to the Egyptian desert and say, ‘See! Here’s proof! We came from aliens! The Bible is a hoax!’ This could even be part of the strong delusion prophesied for the End Times.”

Having agreed with this and other assessments made by the Bishop, Jones hung up and painstakingly reconstructed each element of the conversation before drawing his own conclusions.

Now, with a giant arm in front of him, he dared not say what he was thinking. Armageddon was swirling in his mind.


Sitting in a phone cubicle at Portland International Airport, Dave impatiently asked his wife Sharon in hushed, low tones, “Well, where are they?”

“At the seminary,” she said. “Sheri sent an e-mail this morning. It’s obvious she hasn’t checked the website or read your message. They’re picking up the image and showing Dr. Jones some new thing. She didn’t say what it was, but they’re supposed to be at the video store in a couple hours. How about you? Corsivino arrived yet?”

“Nah. His flight was delayed in Denver.”

“How long’s the delay?”

Dave glanced at the illuminated flight schedules screen, then sighed, “An hour, and that was forty-five minutes ago.”


Before crossing the road to make a slow pass above Secure-It’s Storage Company, Swift and Justice confirmed the situation with the newly assigned angel, Perfect Love, then drifted shadowlessly overhead, observing the fifty-plus armed men hiding behind the neatly lined orange and blue storage buildings.

“Blair and Whitestone are monitoring the conversation between Jones and Joe from the ordnance van,” Justice said. “I’ll keep an eye on them, while you make sure only five of those security force members make it into the seminary.”

“It’ll be my pleasure, Commander,” Swift said with a tone of respect. “Which of us will go with Sheri?”

“Perfect Love. His strength is fear removal.”

“But is he powerful enough to withstand the legions at Montero?”

“Not without prayer. Joe of course should learn to pray, as will Sheri, but obviously these kinds of demons will not be stopped without combined prayers and fasting. This is where the seminary students can help, by dividing and confusing the darkness through concerted intercession.”

“Will they?”

“They must,” Justice said sternly. “Otherwise the suffering that is to come will be in vain.”

“It will not be in vain!” Swift exclaimed, his eyes suddenly fiery for battle. “This is our time, and it will be our victory!”

Raising his wings and grinning at his comrade, Justice said, “So, you are ready for resistance? Good. For it shall be as strong as we’ve seen in four millennia.”




Back at Portland International Airport, the flight from Denver had arrived and Dave was standing outside the security gates with a crowd of others, observing the flight’s passengers, when a short, unimposing figure said, “You must be Dave,” and stepped from the line toward him. He wouldn’t have recognized the little physicist if it hadn’t been for the photos posted on the Internet. Thin and balding with black framed glasses over baggy, dark green eyes, Corsivino looked like a miniature version of the television detective Colombo inside his wrinkled overcoat.

“That would be me,” Dave replied, sticking his hand out and receiving a strong handshake. This must be how it feels to meet a celebrity, he thought.

Corsivino nodded. “It’s my pleasure to meet you. I apologize for the delay. Something mechanical on the plane had to be double-checked before leaving Denver.”

“Better safe than sorry, huh?”

“Oh, my, yes.”

“How was the flight other than that? Pleasant, I hope?”

“Very nice. Of course I was involved with some last minute work on the laptop. I hardly paid attention to the view until descent. Then I took a moment to appreciate the scenery. My wife and I always love the Rose City. We come here whenever possible. Do we have a car or shall I secure one for us?”

“Mine’s outside…if that’s okay.”

Corsivino scanned the room, then said, “Certainly…and we don’t need to wait on luggage as I’ll not be staying overnight. My departing flight leaves this afternoon. The youths, Joe and Sheri, they are prepared to meet us?”

Dave looked at the floor. The renowned physicist had responded to him the day before with news so important that he had agreed to meet him face-to-face. In exchange for information, Dave was to allow the scientist to inspect the artifact and to determine its value to the Montero Research facility.

“Not exactly,” Dave said, looking embarrassed. “But I know where they’ll be in an hour or so.”

Corsivino stared at him blankly. “You do understand the imperative nature of my visit, don’t you, Mr. Pitzer? That I must examine the image?”

“You will, I guarantee it.”



In a secret corridor deep beneath Montero, a hooded figure drifted silently along a gore-encrusted hall. Six burgeoned-headed aliens known as “Grays” floated behind him, chalices filled with human blood and eyes in each of their three-fingered hands. Most of the government scientists, project directors, and mutation caretakers working nearby were unaware of the chamber. Those who did know of it were too afraid to say.

With motion like that of a python, the specter undulated to the hexagonal room at the hallway’s end, coming to rest on one knee before a bronze image of the Greek goddess Hecate. The smell of brimstone wafted around the idol, as two candelabras, each bearing candles made of human fat, cast faint, quavering shadows against her three-dimensional form. Light from the burning wicks and smoke from the same provided amorphous motion, as though Hecate herself had emerged from the pit to meet her devoted priest. To her left were the eyeless heads of recent victims, impaled on iron spikes jutting randomly from the wall. To her right was the emaciated shell of a young woman, driven mad with pain, chained and staring down pleadingly for the shadowman to help.

The hooded figure, dedicated to the goddess since birth, only chanted, the evil spirit inside him growing stronger with each reverently uttered word. The accompanying demons formed a semicircle behind him. They were swolen with malignancy, humming a monotone vibrato as they poured their goblets onto the towering goddess’s feet. They listened as the hooded one prayed.

“Oh great Hecate Brimo, daughter of Persss-es, thou who possess-es power over eternal dessstiny, receive my offerings and grant me victory over the enemies of my lord. Sssend forth your demonic hordes, your hounds and horrible serpents, to diss-comfit the children of light. Ssseize their hearts, oh Great One, cause them to tremble before our terrible power. Make them stumble, dreaded goddess, these ignorant children; make them fall down and deliver the Master’s key into my hands. Do this, and I will lift you on high. I will exalt your throne above the ssstars of heaven.”

As the final eye fell from the medieval cups, the Grays moved to embrace the shrouded phantom. He alone could control them, so dead and white, their cackling voices whining repulsively, “Ma-ast-er, we fear yo-ou! You’re the ki-ing of the Men in Bla-a-ack!”

Suddenly he seemed to them to be in transcendence, cheeks twitching as if metamorphosing, eyes fluctuating as brilliant as molten steel, gazing through them to somewhere beyond this dimension, to the lower world, no doubt. He was becoming a creature of the night, a powerful consociate of the Master of Darkness.

Since 1987, when his fateful visit with the UFO pilot fulfilled the course of his life, he had understood that the gods were returning, that he would become one of them. Now, as the appearing drew nigh, his eyes turned as promised, integrating the reptilian’s beautiful arch. His human form was but a cocoon these days, an incubator of his new, special self. His parents had foreseen this possibility when they named him, for a name could be a powerful invitation, they believed, even when abbreviated, like Apol.


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