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About the authors
At the time of publication of this book, David Thirgood and
Kaspar Lembryk-Walsh had known each other for twelve years. Kaspar has listened
to his Poppie’s stories for most of those twelve years. When he was nine,
Kaspar, together with his Poppie, made a decision that very few with this kind
of relationship would venture into. They decided to write a book together.
In a very short space of time they had the framework of a
book which was to become known as The Blue
Crystal. Many hours of meeting together to discuss, plan and create it,
chapter by chapter, character by character, with new inventions based on crazy
science but informed by explorations of true science culminated into the
development of a book.
This book is created from youthful imagination and the
ability of an experienced author to weave an adventurous story that would appeal
to young people everywhere.
The Blue Crystal is the beginning of a partnership that will continue to write wonderful stories. David and Kaspar have the special relationship of the young and not so young. They have fun together imagining the strangest and most unlikely situations. Their first rule is to “Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story”.
The silver Pajero bumped across the rocky desert, its driver willing it to go places and do things far beyond its design expectations. There aren’t many farms in this part of South Australia – the hostile terrain, almost nonexistent rainfall and sparse vegetation keeping away all but the hardiest of the hardy land owners. When the CSIRO received a report from a local cattle farmer about an unusual rock formation promising the discovery of an ancient civilisation, it dispatched its two most knowledgeable archaeologists to the scene for investigation. Professor Matthew Henderson may have been brilliant in his field, but he was an atrocious driver and Dr Edwina Pennywinkle-Smythe was getting the white knuckle ride of her life and hating every bumping, bouncing, bone jarring, terrifying second of it. She breathed a sigh of relief when the car skidded to a halt in a cloud of dust in front of a ramshackle building that served as a farm house.
The boards of the verandah creaked as Joe Reynolds swaggered towards them. His 190 centimetre splinter-like frame seemed to be preceded by his enormous nose and gigantic feet. Holding out his sun tanned, work roughened hand, he ushered his standard greeting – “G’day mate, how ya goin’?”
Matthew bounded up onto the verandah, grabbed Joe’s hand and shook it firmly. His whole flabby body quivered, conveying excitement and anticipation, notwithstanding the fact that he had just driven five hundred kilometres over rough and unforgiving outback country that would test the skills of the very best of drivers. Perhaps it was the fact that Matthew was probably one of the worst, and that, combined with his oblivious attitude to danger meant only luck played a part in his and Edwina’s safe arrival.
In contrast, Edwina was stressed and angry and preferred to sit in the car for a minute or two to calm down, even though she couldn’t wait to get out and take a deep breath of the dusty air and stretch her tortured body. Finally, composed, she stepped out of the car, straightened her designer jeans, sunglasses and fragile mood in readiness for the business at hand. As she approached, she removed her Akubra hat to release a stream of long blonde hair that framed a beautiful, softly sculptured face. Raising her sunglasses, she revealed stunning, intelligent blue eyes which were accompanied by the hint of a smile and perfect, pearly-white teeth.
Conversation over a
mug of tea and generous slabs of freshly baked damper smothered in golden syrup
centred on Joe’s findings. Just six days ago during a regular check of the dog
fence that formed the eastern boundary of his property, he was distracted by a
strange blue glow about forty kilometres from where they now sat. It was just a
few hundred metres from the dog fence. He couldn’t understand why he hadn’t seen
it before, because he visited this part of his expansive property at least three
or four times a year. Access to the area was difficult at the best of times, and
with fading daylight, he wasn’t able to get right up to it, but from what he
could tell, there were hints of buildings unlike he had ever seen before and
something that looked like human bones. What puzzled him most though, was a
hauntingly beautiful, crystal-like rock with a pulsating, brilliant blue glow.
It was something he didn’t really want to mess with, and as soon as he drove
back to the house, he rang his mate, an ex police officer, who suggested that
Joe report it to the CSIRO in Canberra. He hadn’t been back to have another look
because, ‘quite frankly, it scares the living daylights out of me.’
Even though the sun was fairly low in the sky, the temperature was still in the forties and sucking the moisture out of the three inquisitors as they clambered over the last fifty metres of sharp and jagged rocks that formed the sloping sides of a mesa. Joe pointed it out as soon as it appeared on the horizon. Edwina was thankful that Joe drove, even if he was a bit slow and the scientists were eager to have their first glimpse of the unusual discovery. Now they stood on the lip of a small crevasse that, to Edwina’s trained eye, had formed in recent months as the result of a rock fall. It had started at this point and tumbled down to the plain below. Being careful not to slip on the loose rubble, the three of them finally stood in wonderment at Joe’s discovery.
The archaeologists looked puzzled at what they saw. Among the rubble were remains of buildings, constructed entirely of a plastic like substance unlike anything they had read about or seen in any archaeological dig. Matthew picked up a small piece and rubbed it feeling its smoothness and strength. He turned to speak to Edwina, but she was twenty metres away reaching out to pick up the glowing blue crystal that Joe had spoken about earlier.
“Wait!” Matthew yelled urgently, but too late. Edwina had already picked it up. She looked back at her male companions with fear in her eyes and a call for help on her lips, but her body was already enveloped in the blue glow of the crystal as she faded from view. The now dull crystal fell to the ground where Edwina had been, mixing with the rubble of the mesa.
Rooted to the ground in disbelief, long moments passed before Matthew could overcome his paralysis. Finally he let out an agonising scream resembling a wounded dingo’s howl. Before he could lift his leaden feet and wobble his way forwards, Joe had acted. He waved his arms as if sleep walking, hoping that he would, somehow, scoop up the missing woman in his arms, but there was no-one to be found. A moonless night was soon upon them, stealing the light, leaving only the faintest glow of the stars above. They turned and stumbled back towards the truck, promising that they would return at first light and keep looking until they found the beautiful young archaeologist.
- part sample
- part sample
The only sound that could be heard as a faint glow appeared on the horizon was that of two men speaking in whispered tones. The soft soles of their footwear muffled all sound as they trod, careful not to dislodge anything that might give away their presence. They stopped in unison and listened, not breathing, concentrating on a foreign sound. Two body lengths in front of them, partly hidden by long grass was the mound of an animal of some kind, breathing softly with an almost imperceptible whimper in its voice. Raising their weapons in a defensive mode, they crept closer, quietly, their camouflaged clothes blending into the grey rubble of a deserted and dilapidated industrial building.
“It’s a Huloid,” the younger one stated matter-of-factly, lowering his weapon.
His companion had a puzzled look on his face. “It must be a Breeder. Look how soft it is.”
“Hmm! I don’t know. It’s certainly not a Worker or a Soldier.” He then giggled as he took in her beautiful figure. “A Breeder alright – wow look at that, she’s stunning.”
His comment earned him a solid whack over the back of the head. “You keep your eyes off it, Gunther. Since when did you start admiring Huloids?”
Before he could think of an adequate response, the mound came to life and sat bolt upright, alarmed. “Who are you?” it cried, scared.
Gunther and his companion looked at each other in disbelief and then looked back at the Huloid. “You spoke?” Gunther retorted.
“Of course I spoke. What do you think I am going to do? Where am I?” she asked while looking around at the unfamiliar landscape and vegetation beyond the rubble. “Who are you?” she said.
“I am Gunther, and this is my father, and you are in danger here,” Gunther replied getting the formalities out of the way. “Breeders can’t talk. How come you are talking?” he demanded.
“What?” she gasped holding her arms against her chest protectively, scared of what might happen next. She scurried backwards in an attempt to stand up and put a bit of space between herself and these two aggressive men.
The sound of dry grass crunching in the distance alerted the two men. With unspoken communication, they grabbed their quarry by the arms and threw her over Gunther’s massive shoulders. Before she could scream, a huge hand was clasped over her mouth, as the jolting of her captor’s running knocked the wind from her lungs. Unfamiliar whirring sounds penetrated the scrub while branches and leaves disintegrated all around them. Edwina’s heart seemed to jump out of her chest as she felt herself falling down into a bottomless pit. An eerie quietness descended upon them as they floated in a controlled fall, down, down, down into the darkness. They landed softly and Gunther removed a large belt from his waist and placed it in a thin backpack. His father did the same. They stood at the bottom of a deep shaft, its opening a mere pinprick of light far above their heads. In front of them a dark, narrow tunnel, as high as Edwina’s shoulders, twisted away to the right. “Come!” the old man commanded after he gently placed her on the ground. “Follow us, Breeder, and watch your head.”
“My name is Edwina, not Breeder, and I would appreciate if you would at least pay me the courtesy of addressing me by my name,” Edwina complained, plucking up a small amount of courage. “What’s happening here?” she demanded desperately – confused.
“We are being chased by Fighters. If they catch us they will kill us, but we are out of danger for now,” replied the older man. “Soon we will reach safety where we can stop and talk.”
Safety was a rock ledge no more than a metre wide, high above a fast flowing river cascading over boulders. Beyond the river was a steep, rugged slope sparsely dotted with stunted trees and shrubs that Edwina could not recognise. She cowered against the cold, vertical rock wall behind her wanting to return to the tunnel, its entrance enticing her back. The two men sat with their feet dangling over the edge, oblivious of any danger.
“We’ve got to go back,” the old man broke the silence.
“You’re joking!” Edwina retorted rudely.
“We need to check if we secured our escape route. If they find it, our settlement will be in great danger.”
“Look … whatever your name is…” Edwina started to say, losing her temper.
“My name is Gunther, but I am known as Puddie. All men in our family are known as Gunther and we change it to Puddie in respect of our maturity.”
“Great!” Edwina retorted rudely. “Who are you people?”
“We are Primoids and we treat most of you Huloids with deep suspicion.”
“Primoids, Huloids – what on earth are you talking about?” Edwina asked showing her exasperation.
“We have no time for your games, Huloid. You stay here. We’ll be back.”
As if anticipating Edwina’s objection, they quickly disappeared back into the tunnel again. Before panic could paralyse her, she crawled gingerly into the tunnel entrance and placed herself down several metres away from the cliff edge, resting her back against the wall where she could peer into the gloom on her left and look out to the daylight on her right. Trying desperately not to cry, she composed herself as best she could and started to think about how she had got herself into this situation.
Blind panic gradually gave way to reasoning. Starting with her farewell hug from her mum at Fairbairn Airport in Canberra, she remembered the stimulating conversation with Matthew. He had spoken of his early days as a lecturer at Qld University and how the lure of intellectual pursuits led him to his PhD, studying in various places in South America and New Guinea, before taking up a place as Associate Professor of Archaeology and Geomorphology at ANU. After publishing numerous books and papers, and a lot of hard work, he was granted a full professorship before being offered his current position in the CSIRO.
What was shaping up to be a pleasant trip came to a sudden end the minute Matthew sat behind the wheel of the hired Pajero. She was still in a state of shock and disarray hours after reaching their destination and the last thing that she could remember was reaching down and picking up a glowing blue crystal. Now here she was – wherever ‘here’ may be.
She wished that she had not left Canberra for this wild ride, but taken up the offer of a field trip with her local environment group to study the effects of cane toads on fauna in the New England area. Natural systems were more than an interest to her, they were a passion. She knew more about native species in Australia and Africa than she did about archaeology but had not embarked on any formal studies in the field. Her reasoning was logical to her but difficult to explain to her friends and parents. The understanding and attraction of native flora and fauna all came easily to her. She would always keep it there as a deep passion while going on to study archaeology which had interested her ever since she was ten years old, following a visit to Egypt with her parents. Her brother Dan understood her. Just eighteen months younger, now twenty two, he was still studying full time at uni. Not just one degree, but two – Civil Engineering and Information Technology. The siblings were always close, sharing common interests in the natural environment, sporting endeavours and each other’s studies. Dan often boasted that he knew more about archaeology than Edwina, whilst she understood that she could grasp many IT and Engineering concepts more quickly than her younger brother – not that she would ever tell him.
A rumbling in her stomach brought her back to the present with the realisation that she hadn’t eaten for many hours and her new companions, captors or whatever they were, didn’t seem to be carrying any food with them. The thought of these strange men brought a crease of concern to her brow and a need to assess her situation. Creeping out into the daylight on all fours, she lay down flat on her stomach about half a body length from the edge of the cliff. With the sun directly above, she could easily make out the vegetation on the other side of the river, perhaps three or four hundred metres from where she lay. To her astonishment, she could not recognise any of it and none of it resembled her beloved Australian flora in any way, nor did it bear any similarity to any introduced species that she knew so well. Straining her ears above the sound of rushing water below, she couldn’t hear the sounds of birds, though it was quite likely that any such sounds would be drowned out by the gushing river. Nevertheless, she lay still for several minutes, watching and listening. Her body stiffened in alarm when she heard a loud screeching noise that sounded like a couple of tomcats challenging each other for supremacy, only far more menacing and blood curdling. She slinked back into the cave and waited for her captors to return. What of them? What did they call her? A Breeder! Enough to make her fear for her life. Then there was all this talk of ‘Huloids’ and ‘Primoids’ and how they were being pursued by ‘Fighters’. What caused the leaves and branches to virtually disintegrate? As for these ‘men’, they were tall, broad shouldered and muscular beneath their strange leather-like, camouflaged clothing. The younger one, Gunther, was very good looking, short, black, thick hair, clean shaven and with flashing, observant eyes. Puddie had sparse, steel grey hair, thinner than Gunther but very wiry. He looked as though he could run all day and then fight a battle at the end of it. His eyes were piercing, unnerving. A shiver ran up her spine. They had a lot to answer for, she decided.
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