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Who are The Shadows – Excerpt from Aeverless

The Shadows

Outside of Dugway Proving Grounds, New Region Utah – Year 2211


A lone rancher was settling his horses for the night when a fiery flame hurled from the sky outside of Salt Lake City.  Remnants of it landed over a two-hundred-mile radius.  He lived just outside of Dugway and the old Army Proving Ground, which had sat vacant now for over seventy years.  He watched with great interest as a piece of what he thought to be a meteor landed on his ranch.  He was proud of the hundred and sixty acres that had been passed down several generations to him.  Gathering his weapon, he made his way to his vehicle and drove to the point of contact. The closer he got, the worse the stench became.  About a mile from the crash site he stopped.  The smoke was so thick and heavy, he could hardly see much less breathe.  He called the local sheriff and reported what he saw, backed up another mile from the crash and waited.  Fifty feet from his position a shadow shifted in the woods intently watching the man in the truck.  The crash had startled him as he had been camping illegally on the rancher’s property. With the smoke increasing filling his eyes and lungs he turned south heading towards one of the six man-made lakes on the property. He paused for a second as he felt something sting his neck.  Swiping at it, he continued his way. Best to lay low for a while so he retreated to his hiding spot and watched the excitement unfold.

Ninety minutes passed before the local law enforcement and what appeared to be some soldiers from the closest military facility pulled up in large tank like vehicles.  A chopper flew in from the south and landed about 100 to 300 feet from them.  A couple of men got out of the chopper, wearing these weird silver suits and approached his vehicle.  He pointed in the direction of where he thought the rock landed.   They turned to the tanks and headed in the direction of the heavy smoke.  The sheriff and another gentleman in a fancy suit, accompanied him back to his ranch.  They cautioned it was for his security, but he knew better. They didn’t want any word leaking out about the crash.  Only seemed appropriate as he currently had a son serving in the Arm Corp.  Several weeks passed before the team of man cleared his property.  Each evening he could see the tanks coming and going from the area they had lit up like a Christmas tree with full decorations.  Around the third week for eight straight days several choppers lifted pieces of ground and whatever it was.  He knew then that it was more than just some meteor, but he knew not to ask.  He just kept his mouth shut and minded his business as if they weren’t there.  At the end of the fifth week, they informed him that the crash site and the surrounding ten miles radius was now property of the government.  They handed him a fat check and a non-disclosure form to sign.  He accepted, halfway grateful and relieved that they were finally leaving his property and not seizing all of it.  Another few weeks went by and he continued to see vehicles come and go.  They were shielding the site from entrance in every direction.  Week nine was when things got a little hairy.  Slowly his animals started getting ill, lethargic and slowly dying.  He didn’t call the local vet but instead the lone number left by the gentleman in the fancy suit.  He showed back at his doorstep within two hours.  At the time, the rancher didn’t think anything of it, but he should have.  That would have told him that the government didn’t go far and had his ranch under surveillance since the crash.  Fancy suit asked him if his irrigation system was connected to each of the lakes. He nodded that it was.  Again, a couple of tanks showed with the men in the silver suits.  They took water and soil samples surrounding his barn and home.  At the end of their study, they marked the entire ranch as property of the government, with giant no trespassing signs.  The rancher had died.  In his hiding place, the trespasser was alive but barely.  The changes in his appearance were hideous and his DNA was rapidly changing.  He lived another three weeks before the men in the hazmat suits and fancy suit came and took him away.  The chopper flew a short distance before landing again in an underground facility.  Fancy suit made his way from the landing spot to the bank of elevators. His phone chimes as he stops short of the elevator.  He gives the standard response before confirming that the rancher and the trespasser resembled a similar case reported in New Kentucky in 2195.

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