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I would also like to thank the following for making this book possible: My mother, Shirley, for... everything! Kate, Kristen, Carrie, and Olivia for giving me insight into the thoughts and feelings of this newest generation of girls as well as planting most of the ideas in my head for many of the characters (they're sneaky like that). Rich, for encouragement. Scott, for hashing out the intricacies involved and for trying to tear apart every theory I had and eliciting controversy at every turn. I would also like to thank everyone who has, and continues, to stand by me through everything! And a special thanks to you, the reader, for supporting me!

Nobody is to blame except myself for any errors, screw-ups or omissions, although I'll try to blame whoever I can, if I can (those pesky aliens).




Part I — Buried Treasure

Prologue

March 21, 1756, 8:47 PM, Appalachian Mountains.


Branches, bushes and trees flew by on the amazingly stable video display. The man’s labored breath was exceptionally clear. You could almost hear his heart pounding out of his chest. Occasionally, an upside-down glimpse of his face came into view. He appeared to be quite young, perhaps thirty, but had a look in his eyes, the eyes of an old man. A wise old man. The video oddly seemed to be recording from a camera mounted on a chain around his neck. His dirty complexion and half-inch beard growth gave hint that he had dwelled in these woods for days. The perspiration on his face and tenseness of his forehead and jaw reflected his fear — and determination. He had several scratches on his face, mostly from running through the heavy brush. Looking down, his right hand was bloody, as was his left side, where a small hole pierced his buckskin jacket at the bottom of his ribcage.

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