The archaeologists had officially found the strangest thing any of them had ever seen.
It was a skeleton of no creature that anyone could identify. It seemed like some kind of hunchbacked, 3-foot-tall lizard, not enough like a dinosaur to properly draw the comparison. Perhaps calling the skeleton the strangest part was misleading; there seemed to the be old, burnt-out remains of some sort of metallic technology scattered around the skeleton. The technology itself seemed to be modern at the very least, if not futuristic. Even among the archaeologist crew, it caused quite a buzz.
The primary line of thinking at first was that these bones and the technology had to have been planted. How could they exist together, and what was this creature? It wouldn't be the first time some someone had shoved together a skeleton in an attempt to grab fame for discovering some new animal. That was why cryptozoology still hung on like it did, in a way. Everyone had their personal mothman or chupacabra somewhere, it seemed.
Further analysis called everything into question. Who would go so much trouble to make all signs point to the creature and technology being 100,000 years old? Every single analysis that was run came up with the same results. Furthermore, the skeleton left behind simply fit together too well. These remains weren't jammed together from pre-existing parts. At some point, this being existed and brought its technology with it, conveniently lodged in prehistory so that no records of it could exist but its bones.
One of the more tech-savvy archaeologists sought to examine the metal pieces found around the bones. One could be opened up, and what looked like a circuit board was inside. It seemed that it might be possible to reverse-engineer the device and somehow get the data off it, but that was a different department's job. Once the device was sent off to the department in question, the air at the dig site became dense with anticipation.
Some of the archaeologists had gotten to talking. A conversation between two in particular, David and Andrew, comfortably encapsulated the concerns everyone had.
"What do you think this thing might be?" David asked, nudging a small rock with his foot.
Andrew shrugged. "I have no idea. It's something, that's for sure. Everything adds up too precisely for this to be a hoax, but it flies in the face of everything we know about how things are supposed to be."
There was a pause, and David rested the toe of his boot on the rock. "Do you think we might have found an alien?"
"No way," Andrew said all too quickly, his laugh more nervous than dismissive. "I don't think the world is ready for aliens right now. There's too much going on in the world to throw everyone into a panic about ancient invaders or precursors or whatever."
"So, if it turned out we did find an alien, you wouldn't want the rest of the world knowing about it?" David asked.
"I don't think so." Andrew's eyes went to the rock that David kept fussing with. "Like I said, I don't know if the world is ready for it right now. Consider the political climate and the PR nightmares and all that."
At that point, another archaeologist, Cory, came darting out of a tent. "You two, come here! You're not gonna believe what the tech analysis just came back with! Get in here!"
"What's the rush?" Andrew asked, only for David to nearly drag him into the tent with Cory.
Inside the tent, Cory was frantically gesticulating at a laptop screen. "You're not going to believe this," he said again. "Look. Not only were they able to pull actual data out of the device, but it's in some script no one has ever seen before. Look! Look!"
Andrew thought about telling Cory to calm down, but when he looked at the screen, he knew the meaning of "seeing is believing." If he had to guess, the script looked most like Thai script, but the shapes were all wrong for that. "Are they sure this is a script?" he half-mumbled.
David was staring at the screen. "Even from here, this looks awfully consistent. Are they letting the linguists loose on this yet?"
"Yes and yes," Cory said. "Like David said, there's definitely some consistencies in the script that point to this being some kind of alien language or code. The linguists are having a time trying to find the patterns and decipher it all, if it even corresponds to anything equivalent on Earth."
David gave an impressed whistle. "I think we've found something big here, folks."
"That's an understatement," Andrew said. "Is this news going to be released to the public, or...?"
"Probably not yet," Cory said. "We're hoping to chew on it for a while longer before we decide how to release the information."
Andrew shook his head. "I don't think the world is ready for this," he mumbled, striding out of the tent to settle his thoughts on the matter.