CRYSTAL SKULL by Jessica Andersen
CRYSTAL SKULL (a Nightkeeper Novella) by Jessica Andersen
CRYSTAL SKULL -written by Jessica Andersen, is a novella in the Nightkeepers series. Found in the anthology ON THE HUNT, Crystal Skull uncovers two of the missing children from the 1984 attack on the Nightkeeper compound, but never actually reveals the true nature of their origins.
Natalie Albright is an archeologist hoping to find a lost Mayan civilization, but the allure of the dig, has always been more than just a hunt. Natalie has always felt disconnected from everyone around her, and she is searching for something or someone, that will answer all of her questions. But her current excavation has unearthed more than a few trinkets. A crystal skull, no larger than a few inches, calls to Natalie, like a beacon, and she is sure, that the answers to her questions, lie with the skull.
JT Craig, a former military man, and more recently Natalie’s ex, has tried every means to send Natalie home-to dissuade her from her search of the ruins. As a defender and guardian, JT knows that the Mayan tales of winged creatures known as the camazotz, are not horror stories, but real life evil, that has been gaining power and momentum with the approach of the Mayan Final Prophecy of 2012. Hoping his rejection would send her home, he is shaken when he realizes she has continued her search and is placing herself at risk for attack.
Natalie requires JT’s knowledge and assistance, but when she attempts to make contact, she is attacked and poisoned by one of the winged camazotz. Hoping he isn’t too late, JT uses all his fire-power to destroy the creature that has dared to hurt the woman he still loves. With his assistance, Natalie must tend to her wounds, but slowly succumbs to the poison, rendering her in a deep sleep. Thinking Natalie should be asleep for hours, JT recalls how he hurt Natalie, by breaking off their relationship, in order to save her life. But Natalie’s body does not metabolize the poison as does a normal human, and she awakens rather quickly, with little residual affects.
When JT, once more tries to send Natalie home, she realizes that he was responsible for shutting down their excavation, but not before, the local natives, surround the dig, with enough fire power to take out a small city. Sensing that JT has been lying, Natalie explains about her ability to sense and the lure of the crystal skull. Shocked, JT begins to suspect that Natalie has powers that she is not aware she is using. Before JT is able to question, Natalie recounts a history of the Nightkeepers, realizing that JT may be one of their descendants, but it is an angry JT that denies he is one of the warriors. His family has always ‘served’ the Nightkeepers as winikins, and he refuses to enter into a world of servitude even for the sake of the others.
Natalie explains to JT that she believes the crystal skull is part of her legacy. But when JT goes to retrieve the skull from the jeep, he realizes it has been stolen and the couple is once again under attack from the winged creatures. Nearly defenseless, Jake is surprised when Natalie comes to his rescue, and announces that she will stand and protect him as much as he will do for her. Their shared secret and knowledge of the Nightkeepers history, mobilizes their loyalty and fidelity to one another. With her ability to sense the crystal skull, Natalie and JT head into the jungles hoping to find the artifact.
Like an animal stalking its’ prey, Natalie quickly finds the nest of the camazotz hidden within another archeological ruin. But when Jake leaves to gather more manpower, the lure of the skull is too much for Natalie, and she enters the mouth of the cave in search of the crystal.
Finding the crystal skull, draped around the neck of one of the largest winged creatures they have seen, Natalie attacks the demon and rips the skull from its’ neck, but it is an enraged JT that must watch his mate, single handedly attempt to retrieve the powerful object. Knowing what she must do, Natalie is prepared to make a sacrifice with the crystal skull, to save the lives of everyone around and possibly the lives of everyone on earth.
Crystal Skull is a short story, that is somewhat disconnected from the main storyline in The Final Prophecy series. Although the background information and stories are related to the main series, Crystal Skull and its hero and heroine, seem to be outside of the norm. With little reference to the other Nightkeepers and their struggles to save the world, Crystal Skull, could very well be a stand-alone novella. None of the major players from The Final Prophecy are referenced, but then again, JT and Natalie do not know that any of the Nightkeepers or Winikins survived the attack of 1984.
reviewed by Sandy