“Like Australia?” The archaeologist’s assistant replied.

“Yup.” Noah responded pleased with the comparison his young assistant had made.

“You sound like someone who needs medication.” Will replied.

“The real kicker here is how close the Christians were to getting the whole thing correct. The Adam and Evelyn gang were exiled here after the earth was created as a new penal colony.” Noah expanded.

“The earth was millions of years old before humans evolved though. How does the cylinder explain that?” Will retorted.

“My guess is they can either speed up or slow down the process or even crazier the amount of time simply did not matter.” Noah hypothesized.

“Thank God” Noah exclaimed.

The two of them suddenly relieved to see their jeep as they made their way back to the camp. The conversation stopped as they made way for the water cans in the back of the jeep. The water bottles hanging off of their packs had been empty the entire 30 minute trek from the dig site. Will was disappointed that he was unable to find a way to reignite the conversation they were having on the hike on their way back to the base. Noah seemed even more preoccupied with his thoughts then usual and Will did not want to interrupt him.

When they got back to the base they were greeted by the team that would escort Noah to the colonel for his debriefing. It always made will nervous watching him walk away surrounded by armed guards. It reminded him of a criminal being transported somewhere. He could never wrap his head around why they were only shadowed by military escorts on the base. It was like once they left they no longer existed to them.

“Anything new in there?” The colonel asked in his usual jovial tone.

“Actually quite a bit” Noah replied.

“Good this should be interesting. It has been far too long since there has been any developments from within the cylinder.”

“Well, we got one of the screens to turn on.”

“Oh?” The colonel’s demeanor shifted as he suddenly became intensely interested in the conversation at hand.

“We now know that the vessel was a transport ship and original estimate of it being approximately 4,000 years old was correct.”

“What was it transporting?” The colonel interrupted in anticipation.

“Prisoners. 43 of them”

“Is that the only thing that was on the ship?”

“Yes, sir. Will is still leading the excavation in the surrounding area. They have located several camps. It does not look like they arrived with much and we have been unable to find the remains of any lifeforms.”

“Very good. Thank you Noah you can be dismissed”

“Sir, one thing. It will really help to be able to have my assistant inside the cylinder.”

“Given the new developments I agree. His access will be updated.”

Noah was taken back to his hotel room on the base. He was excited when he saw Will waiting for him in the lobby working on his laptop. He was been trying to get Will into the cylinder ever since it was found and he finally had the good news.

“C’mon. I got some good news.” Noah called out to Will.

“You’re in.” Noah said quietly as the two of them begin walking to their rooms.

“What?” Will exclaimed trying disparately to hold back his excitement.

“You get to come with me tomorrow when we get back to camp. Instead of digging up those old tents.”

“How did the colonel take the news?”

“He is still hopeful we will find weapons but, it is simply not that kind of ship.”

“Are you going to watch the news tonight the mars orbiter will be passing the moon? Furthest any human has ever travelled from the earth.”

“Don’t think that is something you would want to miss.”

Adam Everett had been in space many times but this time was different. In just a couple of minutes he would know for sure if he had accomplished his goals. As his ship passed the moon he was in the capsule so he could get the best view. The next few minutes were unbearable as he searched out of every window. Could this be it? Was he finally free of that rock? He could no longer stay. Everything reminded him of Evelyn. He would outrun her memory even if it meant running back into their hands. A flash of light sent panic through Adam to his core he would not be allowed to leave they have come back for him. He searched the windows to find it was only a momentary reflection in the glass. The realization hit him far greater than he ever thought it would. They were not coming. No one was going to stop him from leaving. They had been tethered to that rock by their own fear of what the consequences may have been. No one had ever escaped one before. He turned the radios off and started to burn the engines. He had no plans of stopping at the 4th rock after leaving the 3rd he would find a ride somewhere.