In 1992, Army engineers stationed in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm stumbled on an object in the sands. It was a section of a large stone object with strange symbols carved into it. The stone was reputed to have been home to a demon of the sands, an ifrit, until a Muslim holy man drove it out and established a small shrine in the cave in front of it. A lieutenant visited the site while on weekend leave and took pictures of it, which he would scan and send back to a friend of his.
Majestic Project DELPHI picked up a copy of these pictures and had them analyzed. Someone recognized them as being similar to the hieroglyphs that had appeared on the Bucket, which meant an immediate red flag. ARCHINT was notified, and they went a team over to the site in Saudi Arabia, where they unearthed the stone, which would later be dubbed the BOTTLENECK.
When the team uncovered the entire stone, they saw that it was a large ring about 20' in diameter, with a series of glyphs on one face. They also found large slabs with glyphs on them, which later experiments revealed to be a base for the ring. With great difficulty, they managed to shift the stone onto flatbed trailers and take it to an Army base. From there, it was placed on a Superloader aircraft and flown to the United States and eventually to the ICE CAVE facility in the Arizona desert.
Where it sat as enigmatic as the Roswell spacecraft for the next decade. Like the original hieroglyphs, the writing on the stone was indecipherable. Enough of the symbols were similar enough to those on the BUCKET that the ARCHINT staff would claim with certainty that they were the same language.
As far as ARCHINT was concerned, this was a momentous discovery. It was the first tangible evidence that the Greys had visited Earth before, and may even have had contact with previous civilizations, hundreds or even thousands of years ago. They said that it was the first proof that the Greys were lying.
The Steering Committee wasn't impressed. They acknowledged a link between the Bucket and the stone, but didn't see how that could have an effect on the Accord. So the Greys had been in contact with humans since the dawn of civilization. So what? The humans evidently were not sufficiently advanced for the Greys to make contact, and they had to wait until the twentieth century before finding humans that they could work with. The BOTTLENECK sat in its own room in the ICE CAVE, where analysts wrote papers about it and it quietly gathered dust.
Which is where matters stood for the rest of the 90s.
In 2002, while US Intelligence was looking for evidence that Iraq was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction, a report crossed the desk of a Project LOOKING GLASS analyst that changed everything. This report, from a friendly nation working the region detailed a secret project in Hussein's intelligence service that had discovered something in a cave in northern Iraq. A picture accompanied the report, which showed part of a stone tablet incised with glyphs very similar to those on the stone. This report was forwarded to ARCHINT, who confirmed the similarity.
Suddenly, the Steering Committee became very interested in the situation in Iraq. They had to decide if there were any signs that the Iraqis were able to decipher or use the sigils, and if so, what they were able to learn from them. Unfortunately, no conclusive answers were forthcoming.
This lack of clarity came at a bad time for the Steering Committee, because one of their primary resources was being frustratingly useless: the Report of military assets they received from the Greys. While very specific and detailed when it came to active units, the Report was maddeningly vague when it came to developing projects. As far as the Report was concerned, something was either currently usable, and listed, or currently not usable, and not listed. It gave no indication whether or not Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.
Worse still, it gave no information at all regarding biological weapons. Repeated inquiries by PLATO met with silence, and the committee hypothesized that that, since the Greys could be immune to any such weapon, they might not consider it a threat worth putting in the Report. Some members wondered aloud if it was a deliberate oversight.
So when President Bush approached the committee, they were put into an embarrassing situation. On one hand, they didn't have any clear answers one way or another to the President's questions. On the other hand, they thought Iraqi intel could have clues to ancient contact with the Greys, including artifacts of unknown power. They decided to support the invasion of Iraq because they had no other way of investigating or containing Iraq's secret developments. They also feared revealing the Report's shortcomings to outsiders, so they went with the intelligence community's general consensus.
During the invasion, an NRO Delta team was infiltrated into Baghdad, where they were able to capture the artifact that had appeared in the photo. They also took a large number of manuscripts what were being kept in the same location, and also featured the mysterious glyphs from the stone. They seemed to be hundreds of years old, and were taken for translation and analysis. Following notes that they discovered at the site, the team investigated the museum and took a couple more artifacts for ARCHINT analysis. They were all brought back to the ICE CAVE.
The manuscripts were a hodge-podge of local superstitions, copies of the glyphs with spurious translations and speculation on the origin and use of the artifacts. At first dismissed as gibberish, cross-reference with the surviving notes from Dr. Courtis' experiments with the Bucket revealed a few striking, though enigmatic parallels.
The analysts who pursued this line of study eventually followed it back to the slabs originally found under BOTTLENECK. Along the base of it were three parallel lines of glyphs, similar to the pattern around the inside of the Bucket. A portion of these lines appeared in one of the manuscripts, signifying an enchantment to call on the power of the ifriti. Using heavy equipment and several weeks, the team managed to discover that the base, in conjunction with the ring of stone, duplicated the gravity-altering effects of the Bucket when the ring stood vertical, floating some two feet above the base, dragging the two forklifts that had been lifting it with it.
However, much like the Bucket, getting it to do something didn't mean that they understood how it worked, nor could they reverse or reduplicate the process. The ring stayed fixed above the base, but would only spin slowly in place, like a bicycle wheel.
While this didn't give MJ-12 any new information on the Greys, it changed the balance of power inside the Steering Committee. ARCHINT had more than tripled their personnel and increased their budget more than tenfold. Other members were beginning to have to listen to what Dr. Harl has to say.
Their position was strengthened even more when another artifact came into their possession. It came through the Department of Justice, and was supposedly captured from a Colombian drug lord during a raid.
Dr. Harl is one of the main voices opposing the Accord. His influence is waxing in part because of the ineffectiveness of the Grey "help" after the end of the Cold War, and in part because ARCHINT has produced the most dramatic discoveries.