Enchanted Valley: The Sentinel - Part 4 - Conclusion

Enchanted Valley:
The Sentinel - Conclusion

Written by Nuuan

October 5, 1951
Inside Captured Alien ship, Groom Lake, NV

Rushing over Bobby found Cliff and Traci in a small room in the other passageway discussing what they had found. Looking at the back wall of the small room Bobby gasped when he spotted the item that had them so concerned, “A sentinel!”

“What’s a sentinel?” Betty spotted the sole object in the room that put her in mind of a suit of medieval armor.

“It’s a Fruell battle suit,” Traci answered.

Walking over to get a closer look at the armor Betty stated, “So it’s an alien suit of armor. Why would you need to destroy the ship because of this? Why can’t one of you put it on and walk out with it?”

“It’s also armed with weapons way beyond the technology of this world. They have built in safeguards that keep their slave races from opening one,” Traci reached over placing her palm on a round plate on the chest of the armor to demonstrate.

“So we destroy it. We need some dynamite or something to do that don’t we?” Betty asked.

“We found a black star container in the damaged section, we can use that to blow the ship.” Traci replied.

“What is a black star and how big of a blast will it make?” Betty nervously asked.

“It’s what a star becomes when it collapses in on itself becoming so small and dense with so much gravity that even light can no longer escape.”

“As for the size of the explosion, we’ll have to find a way to evacuate this base,” Traci sighed. “I doubt even the underground areas will survive the explosion.”

“Is that the only way?” Betty asked, “Isn’t there some way we can get this out of here without blowing up the base?”

Cliff stated, “This sentinel was probably the ship’s commanders, only she would be able to operate it. Only thing we can do is destroy it.”

Something that Cliff said triggered something in the back of Betty’s mind. While she couldn’t place her finger on what it was he said but it gave her an idea. More of a hunch than an idea but something she wanted, no not wanted, needed to try. Stepping quickly over to the armored suit before her new friends could try to stop her, Betty placed her hand in the same spot that Traci had shown her. Seeing that nothing happened Betty sighed as she turned around shrugging her shoulders at her three companions, “It was worth a try.” Although none of the three were looking at Betty when she turned around, they were all staring past her at the sentinel.

“I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Cliff exclaimed.

Turning back around to see whatever it was they were looking at, Betty saw the large dark man shaped armor had a soft blue glow coming out of what appeared to be seams that were slowly widening along its torso, arms and legs. “Is it opening?” Betty glanced back to the others.

“I always thought it used a genetic lock, apparently it must be the micros.” Traci grinned at Betty, “And my dear, you have Fruell commander micros in your system.”

“Your chariot awaits,” Bobby waved his hand in a sweeping motion at the sentinel, which had opened to reveal a human shaped area inside it.

“What?” Betty’s eyes grew wide, “I can’t drive that thing! One of you do it.”

“We can’t, it won’t respond to us,” Cliff stated. “You have to do it.”

“Don’t worry,” Traci confided, “Once you’re sealed inside, it will feel like an extension of your own body.”

Feeling that Traci would not lie to her, Betty backed up to the opening and stepped into it before pulling herself into the cavity inside. Once positioned inside the large beast of a machine Betty looked at her friends, “Okay what now?”

“Think about closing,” Cliff suggested.

Bobby quickly added, “Do the same thing to open it to get out.”

The three watched as the armor panels closed encapsulating Betty inside the powered armor. Seconds later both hands of the huge sentinel came up in front of its smooth faceplate rotating and making various finger movements. The sentinel looked over where the three stood and with Betty’s voice spoke, “Wow, these feel like my real hands.”

“Yes the sentinel integrates with your micros to become part of you,” Cliff explained.

Suddenly the sentinel went stiff and the panels opened exposing Betty once more. “Thank god!” Betty gasped, trying to catch her breath while pressing her own hand into her stomach.

“You alright?” True concern showing on Bobby face as he stepped over placing his hand on her shoulder.

“Yeah, just needed to make sure I could get of that thing.” Betty let out a huge breath then looked at Cliff, “When you said it would become part of me, I was afraid I would be stuck in it like the thing that changed me.”

Bobby smiled at Betty, “Well now that you know you can get in and out of the sentinel when you wish, are you ready to close it up and get out of here?”

Still nervous, Betty smiled thinly nodding her head. Once Bobby removed his hand she willed the armor to close around her once again.

Traci was the first to reach the floor of the hangar after climbing down the scaffolding from behind her she heard a female voice, “So did you find what you were looking for?” Spinning around in the direction of the voice to find a blond haired woman standing there.

“You, you’re not Betty?” The blonde’s eyes went wide.

“Susie what are you doing here?” The blond heard Betty above them. Looking up Susie could make out three figures in the darkness climbing down.

“I came to help,” Susie looked at the three as they finished climbing down, trying to figure out which one was Betty but even in the dark hangar she could tell all were too tall to be Betty. “Where’s Betty? And who are all of you?”

“They’re friends,” Susie heard the voice of Betty coming from the tallest of the group.

“Betty?” Susie peered at the tall dark figure.

“Yes it’s me.” Betty spoke, “Don’t flip or anything, I’m in the alien armor.”

“Holy cow!” Susie stared as she walked over to get a better look, “You’re really inside that thing?”

“How’d you get in? What about the guards?”

Susie giggled then pulled a couple of syringes from her purse that she held out for display, “Last I saw of them one was chasing imaginary butterflies and the other was peacefully sleeping.”

“What?” Betty’s voice rose in pitch, “What’ll you do when they wake up?”

Susie bowed her head down toward the ground, “I… well I was kind of hoping to go with you, after I free my father.”

“Your father?” Betty asked.

“Yes, my father.” Susie explained, “My real name isn’t Susie, it's Greta, Greta Kuehn. Doctor Kuehn is my father and they won’t allow him to leave the base.”

“He’s a prisoner?” Cliff asked.

Susie, or Greta as that was what she said her real name was, could feel that being totally honest with Betty’s friends may be the only way to get their help, “My father was one of the scientists that were forced to work for the Nazis during the war. When the Americans came they offered to take us both to the United States where he would be allowed to work for the government, but they have not been much better than how the Nazis treated him and haven’t allowed him to leave this base for the past five years.”

“Is this true?” Cliff looked toward the taller armored Betty.

“Few weeks ago that Smith guy did change me to following the Doctor around,” Betty began. “At first I figured it was for his protection but some of the things Smith ordered me to do started to seem a bit strange especially when he began debriefing me every night on where the doctor when throughout the day.”

“Sounds to me like Miss Kuehn is telling the truth,” Tracie stated.

Cliff looked toward Bobby, “You get the doctor and head directly toward the rendezvous point while Brown, your mother and I see if we can gather enough supplied for them to make it there.”

“I should get the doctor,” Betty interrupted, “I know the layout down there.”

“I have a car in Crystal springs,” Greta added.

Traci shook her head, “That’s the nearest town, it’s the first place they would look for us.”

“And we have something better than a car,” Cliff grinned. “We have an airplane.”

“But this is a no fly zone, they’ll shoot us down!” Greta gasped.

Traci turned to Greta, “That’s why you and your father will need plenty of water. With you with us it may take us three days to walk to where it’s safe for the plane to pick us up.”

Slipping back out of the hangar the group quietly made their way around the numerous buildings. As they passed the women’s barracks Betty reached into the open window of her and Greta’s room, retrieving the carbine that had been her best friend and ally for so many years.

Once they were far enough away from the base that they no longer had to worry about being heard, Betty carried Greta piggy back style while Cliff did the same with the doctor allowing the group to move at a faster pace than would have been possible if the two had been left to walk. Staci and Bobby brought up the rear carrying the makeshift supplies they had managed to commandeer while Bobby and Greta located Greta’s father and brought him back. As the sky grew lighter in anticipation of the rising sun Bobby ran ahead to scout for a cave or large rocky overhang where they could rest and sleep hidden from the blistering heat of the sun and any search planes the military might send out once they realize several of their people are missing.

Bobby managed to find a small cave, its entrance was small requiring everyone to crawl in on their hands and knees although it opened up quickly into a much larger cavern. While the ceiling was not quite high enough for everyone to stand completely upright it was enough that they were able to get up off their hands and knees after entering. Betty had the most difficulty of all inside the seven foot tall alien suit of armor. Crawling further back into the cave out of the way Betty laid down on her back and thought of the suit opening so she could get out.

Doctor Kuehn gasped when he saw the black armor open and Betty climb out in the dim light of the cave, “Unbelievable! You my dear are unbelievable.” Doctor Kuehn smiled at Betty, “Would it be possible for me to use it?”

“Sorry doc,” Cliff interrupted, “None of us can use it but her.”

“Why is that?” Doctor Kuehn turned to look over where Cliff sat against the cave wall.

Cliff explained about the microscopic machines they had and how the device they had put on Sergeant Brown was akin to a survival device that would change the wearer into a very realistic impersonation of the race it was set to mimic. “So you three have put on these devices too?” Doctor Kuehn interrupted.

“No,” Traci took over, “We were genetically engineered differently as slaves to the Fruell, we could only use those items that the Fruell created for us to use. We never knew any race but the Fruell could put the device on that changed Betty. Our best guess is since it was set to mimic human genetics it reacted when a human to put it on.”

“So why is Betty the only one who can use that robot armor?” Doctor Kuehn quizzed.

“Best we can reason out is that since the microscopic machines that changed the Sergeant were designed to be used by Fruell and not one of their slave races, the sentinel armor recognizes her as a Fruell,” Traci clarified.

“I would really love to meet one of these Fruell one day,” Doctor Kuehn stated.

“Doctor please believe me when I say this,” Traci grimaced, “The last thing you want is to meet a living Fruell.”

“The Fruell make the Nazis look like boy scouts,” Cliff added.

Bobby interrupted their discussion as he began passing out large metal cups that he filled with water from the jerry can that had been appropriated before they left the base.

“We should all find comfortable spots and try to get some rest, we’ll be moving out soon as the sun starts to set,” Bobby stated as everyone began handing him back the empty cups.

October 8, 1951 7:46AM
Somewhere northwest of Groom Lake, NV

Cliff and Jack had been in contact over their comms for close to an hour before the sun began peeking over the mountains to their east. Stopping at the edge of another of the numerous dry lake beds that dotted the barren landscape, Cliff turned toward his companions while letting go of Doctor Kuehn’s legs so he could get down from where Cliff had been carrying him on his back. “Where’re here,” Cliff grinned, “Our ride is about fifteen minutes out.”

It was closer to twenty five minutes when they spotted a small gray dot in the sky to the north flying low, almost seeing to scrape the distant mountain peaks. Crossing above the last of the peaks, the plane dipped down into the valley flying no more than fifty feet above the dry lake bed. As the plane closed the distance Betty could make out that it looked a lot like one of the twin engine sea planes the Navy used during the war. Two large wheels lowered down out of recesses in the fuselage under the wings as the aircraft lost altitude and speed until the two wheels touched the sunbaked dry lake bed. Continuing to lose speed, the tail of the aircraft lowered down until it rested on a much smaller wheel that had lowered down out of the bottom rear of the fuselage when the two larger main wheels had lowered. The aircraft continued to slow as it continued toward the group, Around fifty feet from the group with the aircraft now slowed to the point of a person’s walk, the port engine powered up faster and the aircraft pivoted on its starboard front wheel to turn and face the direction it had come from before both engines powered down to an idle and it stopped.

A small side door swung open right before the top of the opening swung upward and inward creating a larger opening as the group walked toward the amphibious aircraft. Betty saw a thin man lean down and hang a metal framework of steps out of the bottom of the opening. From the gray hair Betty figured this man had to be at least fifty to sixty years old. “Fer y’all that don’t know me, I’m Capt’n Jack, welcome aboard. Betty you first, That way we can get you out of that tin can you’re in,” Jack motioned as he backed up out of the opening so she could climb into the aircraft. Once Betty climbed in he directed her towards the front of the aircraft, up past six seats that sat three on each side by the long rectangular windows on each side of the aircraft and into an oval hatchway into the cockpit. Each side of this area of course had the pilot and copilot's seats along with the controls, gauges and instruments they needed to fly the aircraft duplicated in front of each of the two seats. The bottom lip of the center section of the instrument panel thinned upward causing the bottom of the instrument panel to have almost an arched look to it. Under this arch was another hatch, smaller than the entrance hatch but still large enough for someone to crawl through easily.

Opening the hatch, Jack back out of the way, “Should be enough room fer ya to lie down and get out of that tin can you’re in.”

Seeing there were a couple of steps down into the compartment, Betty turned around and crawled down into the room feet first. Once inside the small compartment Betty saw that it was probably near eight or nine feet in length. Along the right side it had two small bunks, one above the other, made out of canvas stretched across metal tubing. The left side of the compartment held various machinery, most of which she had no idea what function they served. What she found the strangest was the coil of rope hanging on the wall attached to a boat anchor. Although after thinking about it this was an amphibious airplane capable of landing in the water so having one did make sense even though it felt out of place. The compartment narrowed sharply away from the door as it was in the nose of the aircraft so Betty lay down in the floor with her head near the door, her feet stretching toward the narrow end before sending the thought command to open the suit of armor, allowing her to climb out of it.

Climbing back out of the forward compartment, through the cockpit into the main section of the aircraft, Betty found Jack passing out bottles of water. “There’s more in the cooler in the back,” handing one to her Betty as she sat down in one of the empty seats.

After looking at the label on the large glass bottle Betty looked up at Jack, “Mineral water?”

Already back in the cockpit, Jack twisted in the seat he was in to look back at Betty, “Figured y’all would want something cold and wet. I’m surprised I could find that. It’s not like a lot of people want to pay for something you can get for free out of your kitchen sink.”

“I must say that I am very glad to have this cold water after our trek,” Doctor Kuehn raised the quart glass bottle while voicing his gratitude.

Cliff stopped, turning around at the opening to the cockpit, “The seats recline, latrine is through that door,” pointing at another hatch type door with rounded bottom and top like the opening to the cockpit. “We got about three hour flight where we’ll be stopping for fuel, stretch our legs and grab some food before we take off for home.”

October 8, 1951 11:04AM
Lake Tahoe, California Nevada border

The sound of the flaps lowering at the same time the engine pitch changed woke Betty. Bringing her seat back upright from where she had reclined it before falling asleep, Betty looked out the window. Seeing water below them that was quickly getting closer made her gasp, but then she remembered the aircraft was amphibious and built to land in the water. Betty watched as they came closer to the water below them until the sound of the aircraft became the sound of a boat’s hull cutting through the water. Looking around at her new friends, those that were still asleep were awakened when the aircraft landed in the water. Ten minutes later Jack and Cliff had maneuvered the aircraft to an empty dock and shut down its twin engines. While Cliff, Jack and Bobby tied the aircraft off to the dock, Tracy pulled Betty and Greta into the forward compartment where Jack and told Betty to store the sentinel suit.

In the forward compartment Traci came up with clean skirts and blouses for all three women, who were luckily close enough to the same size to borrow some of the clothes she had stored on the aircraft. Once the three had clean clothing they took turns in the small bathroom in the rear of the aircraft to give themselves a sponge bath and change, once presentable Traci led the girls out of the aircraft onto the dock.

Looking around there was no sign of Cliff and bobby, Jack had found a shady spot to sit under the wing on one of the large wooden pilings that supported the dock with a fishing pole in one hand, its line trailing down into the water between the aircraft and the dock. Believing the area looked familiar, Traci gave jack a questioning look, “Tahoe?”

Jack nodded with a grin, “Cliff send Bobby down to grocery to pick up some things while he went to arrange the refuel.”

“We’re going to walk down to the marina’s cafe to grab some lunch. Care to join us?” Traci invited.

“Naw, think I’ll sit and keep this old girl company,” Jack nodded toward the airplane. “Wouldn’t want anyone nosing around that thing it the forward cabin either.”

“Sure the reason’s not that fishing pole in your hand?” Traci rolled her eyes.

“Well figured this was as good a way to kill some time as any while I guard the plane,” Jack grinned.

“Want us to bring you back anything?”

“Nope,” Jack’s grin widened as he reached down picking up a bottle of beer he had sitting on the dock. “Got everything I need right here.” Holding the beer out so the women could see it before he took a long drink from the bottle. As the women turned and began walking toward land Jack raised his voice to be heard, “Now don’t y’all go filling up on that stuff at the diner or y’all miss out on tasting my famous beer battered fish when ya get back.”

Realizing the plane had no kitchen area Betty stopped and turned around, “How are you going to cook em?”

Throwing his head back toward the hatch that led into the aircraft, “Got me one of those fancy Coleman camp stoves in the aft compartment cooking ‘em won’t be a problem.”

The marina had a small bar that was more of a cafe that served alcohol than a normal bar, but then this was lake Tahoe and even though they were in Tahoe City and not the areas to the north where the casinos were located but with the fact that the lake did not freeze over in the winter and the casinos and skiing the whole area was quickly becoming a vacation area for the well to do. Sitting at a table where they had a good view of the docks Traci ordered three iced teas and three chef’s salads for everyone.

Betty leaned over to Traci whispering, “Really, Thanks for the meal but a salad?”

Talking low enough so that only Betty and Greta could hear, “One of the things you’re going to have to get used to now that you’ve changed. You need to eat like a other women when in public.”

Greta leaned in, “I haven’t had a decent salad in some time and you might find that you don’t need as much to fill you up as you used to.”

“I’m suddenly hoping Jack catches a lot of fish,” Betty giggled.

When the food arrived Betty tried to mimic the way Traci and Greta were eating with small bites and taking her time. At one point she remembered the rattlesnake Bobby had killed and cooked for them on their last day in the desert and how it tasted. Looking up at her two new friends, “You know I think that pieces of that rattlesnake Bobby cooked would have gone really well with this.”

Greta shuddered as she remembered the meal, “While I’m glad we were able to eat something other than those horrible C-Rations we had with us, I thought it tasted quite gamy and nothing like chicken.”

While they ate they saw the fuel truck arrive and then depart so when they finished their salads Traci waved the waitress over to settle their bill. “It’s been taken care of by the gentleman at the bar,” The waitress motioned to a lone man sitting at the bar wearing black trousers a white short sleeved shirt and a straw fedora.

Looking at her friends as she stood up from her chair, “ladies I think we should go thank him for his kindness.”

Walking over to the bar with Traci in the lead Traci stepped up beside the gentleman, “Excuse me sir. My friends and I wanted to thank you for paying for lunch.”

Turning around with a wide smile to face the women, “It was my pleasure.”

Greta’s mouth fell open and eyes widened, immediately recognizing the man once he had turned to face them. “You, you’re Frank Sinatra!” she gasped.

Guilty as charged ma’am,” Reaching up with one hand to the brim of his hand to pull it down slightly then back up. “I was wondering if you ladies might know who you chartered that aircraft from. My friends and I could use the services of a seaplane and pilot from time to time.”

“Sorry it’s not chartered,” Traci stated. “It’s ours or I should say my husband's, he flew it in the war.”

“I’m surprised the government sold it to him?”

“They didn’t.” Traci explained, “It was crash landed on some island during the war. After the war my husband went back and repaired the plane good enough to fly it out of there to a place where he could make better repairs. It took us close two years to go there and bring it home.”

Frank shook his head, “That’s a long time to be away from your family.” Traci came close to correcting him and telling him that she and Bobby had gone with Cliff but thought best to leave out that out of the conversation.

“So I’m guessing you’re on vacation with your lovely sisters?” motioning at Betty and Greta.

“We just stopped for gas,” Deciding that leaving him thinking they were sisters added to the story they had agreed upon. “We’re on our way home from LA.”

“Oh and where is home if you don’t mind me asking?”

“A little town east of Seattle up in the mountains called Enchanted Valley. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, no one has,” Traci answered. Glancing over her shoulder at the dock, “I’m sorry but we really need to get going. I’m sure my husband is anxious to get back in the air. Thank you once again for buying our lunch Mr. Sinatra.”

October 8, 1951 6:28PM
Enchanted Valley, WA

Betty climbed down out of the plane onto the sandy beach wearing the sentinel armor once again. “This way,” Jack motioned at the large dark robotic suit. Betty followed Jack to what Betty thought of as a large tool shed or small barn. Jack opened one of the double doors and held it motioning Betty to go in, “We can store the suit here for now.”

Betty walked inside then turned around facing the door before keying the suit to open and release her. Before down stepping out of the suit she couldn’t help but think about how secure the armored suit against anyone trying to steal or tamper with it. Hopping down the ground she turned to watch as the armor closed back up, when she heard, ~Temporal stasis initialized.~ Followed by some strange noises. No sooner had those words echoed in her head an opaque substance began forming on the armor and expanding outward several feet in all directions around the armor.

“What did you do?” Jack gasped.

“I don’t know,” Betty stood staring at the opaque cocoon that had formed around the armor.

From behind both of them they heard Cliff, “Well I guess that’s one way of making sure it don’t go anywhere.”

“What happened?” Betty turned around to see cliff standing behind Jack.

“It’s a stasis field,” Cliff informed.

“It said something about stasis,” Betty relayed what she had heard. “Temporal stasis was the word.”

“Did it tell you anything else?” Cliff quizzed.

“Um yeah but it sounded really weird some kind of low growl followed by a clicking noise.” Betty relayed before asking, “What was it?”

“I’m guessing that was the timer telling you how long before the stasis could be removed. Sentinels have tremendous firepower in a small mobile package, thus some real serious security to keep them from being reversed engineered by other races.”

“Okay so after the council figures out what to do with it we get a forklift,” Jack chuckled.

Cliff shook his head, “Till its timer counts down you couldn’t move it will an A bomb.”

“Any guess as to how long that timer is?” Jack asked.

“I’m only guessing, but since it was designed to keep the sentinel from falling into enemy hands they would want it to remain in stasis for the remainder of whatever war they were fighting so I would guess at least five years and possibly up to fifteen years. Then of course only Betty or one of the Fruell can take it out of stasis once the timer has run down.”

“Or if we find the other survival pack and another human volunteers to put it on,” Traci added after walking up in the middle of the conversation.

“So what do we do with it?” jack asked.

“Nothing we can do but leave it there,” Cliff shrugged.

The end
For now

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