Gibson City

The Valley of Steel

Seventy years ago, what should have been a routine survey flight led to the death of the pilot under mysterious circumstances.

Excerpt from “Gibson: Our Mysterious Planet; An Analysis of Modern Myths and Mysteries”, by John Gates and Francis Drake, Gibson City, Emshir 189.

Throughout Earth’s history, people have reported mysterious events. Haunted Houses. Angels and Demons. The Bermuda Triangle. The Yeti. Alien Abductions. Tabby’s Star. The Wow Signal. The Cydonia Incident. There seems to be a deeply-rooted need in the human psyche for mysteries and the unexplained. And it is perhaps no surprise that similar events have captured the public imagination here on Gibson.

“I’m telling you, there’s something down there. Down in the jungle.”

Captain Juan C. Adams-Koval

The most famous of these has been the inspiration for a number of books, three movies, and a major VR adventure game, “The Valley of Steel”. It is based on the observations Captain Juan Charles Adams-Koval made during a low altitude survey flight in 132. Captain Adams-Koval was one of the most senior pilots working for the Gibson Colonial Government at the time. Nothing could prepare him, however, for what he experienced on the 33rd of Hathor 132.

The Jungles of Gibson.

Adams-Koval took off from the Gibson City air field on the 32nd, at about 19:00. His flyer was a General Gravionics 771 Mk II, an aircraft that was being phased out for the more modern Mark Three. The Mark Two had an excellent service record, with only two previous crashes caused by mechanical failures, and Adams-Koval had several thousand hours experience flying this particular craft.

At first, the flight was uneventful. Adams-Koval kept in touch with Gibson Air and Space Traffic Control for routine status messages. At 0:55 on the 33rd, Adams-Koval made an unscheduled call to Traffic Control. A recording of the conversation survives to this day.

Adams-Koval: Guys, are you seeing this?

Traffic: Repeat that, Sierra Victor Three. Are we seeing what?

Adams-Koval: Lights. There’s something below me.

Traffic: That’s, uh, that’s a neg from us. No other birds in the air, well, pretty much on your side of the planet.

Adams-Koval: I’m telling you, there’s something down there. Down in the jungle.

Traffic: Tell us what you’re seeing. Can you activate visual feed?

Adams-Koval: Uh, visual, yes, camera is active. Can you see it? It’s like a glittering grid of lights. Looks almost like streets. Old fashioned, not too bright. Glittering. Shining.

Traffic: Negative, Sierra Victor Three, no connection on the visual.

Adams-Koval: It’s beautiful, it’s – WHOA. (Static, then silence)

Traffic: Come in, Sierra Victor Three, keep us posted. What’s happening Johnny?

Adams-Koval: The entire valley just lit up. Blindingly bright. There’s lots of activity. I think they noticed me.

Traffic: We, uh, SatCon says we’ll have eyes overhead in two minutes. What do you see, John?

Adams-Koval: Are you really not getting any (static) this? It’s beautiful. I can see better. Entire valley, covered in cubes, steel cubes, (static) like a polished steel mirror, bright lights. White. Some colors. I see movement, and a grid-like structure. I can see the contours of the mountains, brightly lit against the black (static). Oh, god, above me. Planes?

Traffic: Negative, no planes in your area. Keep talking John, what’s happening?

Adams-Koval: I’m coming around for a better look. This is spectacular. Beautiful. They’re closing in. Wow, that one just about missed me. (Static) looks like an air field at 3 o’clock. I think they want (static) land.

Traffic: John, do not land. There’s nothing but jungle and mountains out there. Not sure what’s going on, we’ll have eyes in one minute.

Adams-Koval: (Static) not alone. It’s so beautifu- (static)

These were the last words anybody ever heard from Captain Juan Adams-Koval. When the Planet Observation satellite came into range a minute later, it could not observe any of the lights Adams-Koval had reported. His aircraft was also nowhere to be seen, and no contact was ever established again.

A search and rescue mission was launched immediately, and despite an intensive search, it took them two days to locate the wreckage of the 771 Mk II in the mountain jungle. Its emergency locator beacon had failed. The rescue team found blood and some shreds of Adams-Kovals uniform, but his body was not recovered. The flight recorder was wiped for unknown reasons, with the exception of the audio recording.

Neither did the team spot any structures, powered or not, in the valley or the surrounding areas. The incident was thoroughly examined by the Flight Safety Council. Based on an analysis of Adams-Kovals blood from the wreckage, and witnesses who told the crash investigators that Adams-Koval was prone to using drugs to alleviate the boredom of long missions, the Council concluded that Adams-Koval had crashed his flyer in a fit of drug-induced hallucinations.

But this official explanation is not accepted by everybody. What happened to the body? Why was the flight recorder partially wiped? Why did the emergency locator beacon not function properly? And why had there been no record, medical or otherwise, of Adams-Kovals drug addiction prior to his death? Some even claim the crash investigation surveyed the wrong valley.

Nearly sixty years on, a dedicated group, the Valley of Steel Investigators, have petitioned President Sanchez to launch a new inquiry into the incident. So far, the government has not responded. But the Investigators are not deterred, and are already looking into raising funds for a private investigation.

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