The Passing of Time
Copyright William Morris and Cyberhorn
It has been said time and time again, that all things come and go in time. That in the end it’s all immaterial and pointless as time is the great eliminator the true judge of a person race or its achievements.
Just as over time a mountain can be worn to nothingness it gives via time to build anew somewhere else, a new mountain rises which apart of it was once a mountain many times before.
Time can heal as well as destroy though if it is given its way it will work many things out.
Archeologists study the past hoping to learn about those who time has removed from the grand plan of things. People places things all are subject to time but as said before time can also heal. Even now we study and learn to find ways to bring back that which time has taken away we heal then time can take over
If the time is right that is.
Looking at his list of ‘jobs’ he sighed this was not his favorite clearing the work areas of debris the full researchers and scientists tended to not give a care and dumped the worst things all over the work area.
Turning to the west he shaded his eyes with a palm thinking to himself a dust storm would be welcome right about now
But those came in the transition months between winter an summer on the dead world of Drava they had landed their 7 ships near one of the huge bombardment craters which was miles across it was where as legends and archeological evidence from dozens of other nearby worlds stated cities of immense proportions had once existed but had been destroyed by unknown parties.
Being an apprenticed researcher he got the dirty jobs never really learning anything just cleaning staff, but he had through school been exceptional, well almost, his math and interpersonal skills were not exactly the greatest but he did try. He had drive to be a perfectionist incredibly careful of time worn artifacts and yet the eyes to see the obvious which some of the best couldn't when it literally hit them in the nose. He had saved one of the very researchers here from such a fate earning him a warm spot in head researcher Higgins’s heart.
This trip was a big bonus for him he had all his life heard tails about the legendary Drava but so little had been found beyond the fact that once they had been incredible warriors, defenders of other weaker worlds which had in time come to see them as gods. Temples and edifices to the Drava had been built but then suddenly the Drava disappeared and their friends suffered several were ultimately destroyed by unknown forces others fell into a stone age finally dieing off.
The Drava were a keystone, they in their strength had fostered and helped forty four other worlds and races to flourish in the end now only 3 still existed in any form to be called a race.
They had come from the Tilligan home world a race of stone age feline like hunters surrounded by huge buildings collapsing from their age the jungles had long ago retaken the empty areas there and were well on their way to destroying it back to the dust
It was there they finally had found a galactic keystone, a map reference of sorts used by the Drava; it gave them the full coordinate for the Drava home world.
And thus now bill stood on Drava, near the legendary city of Hursall the great or what remained of it, cleaning up the empty coffee cups of those who many saw this as a dead end, saying the Drava had been obliterated by some great enemy who finally beat the Drava back to their home world and then eliminated them from the galactic playing field.
The expedition had brought enough supplies to survive in the field for 5 years if needed and with one ship a virtual machine shop they could fix any of their equipment, in orbit was the main sections of the ships they were linked to form a base station from which the Landers had come down to set up base camp the huge star drive engines idle save for minor orbit adjustments
Bill looked from his wiping of spilled and drying cleaning solution out over the distant tumbled ruins to the south remains of Drava suburbs outside the main city thinking to himself they were concentrating on a supposed blast crater the real finds are there out in the collapsed ruins damn no one listens to me so I get into trouble and have to be a maid. Sighing to him self only another couple hours and he’d be free of the work detail
He had every right to go off and find whatever he wanted so long as he was there to help and assist as needed, which right now all they were finding was powdered and shattered remains of bedrock.
His big bone of contention and even his fellow assistants failed to see it much less the very captain in command! It wasn’t a damn blast crater it was to perfectly sloped even after eons of erosion.
It was an eons old excavation, albeit one of immense undertaking and proportions but still it was a dig and they were not the first to try and find the Drava.
It was that fact and his big mouth that got him into an argument with one of the field researchers, the captain had backed up age and experience before youth and common sense; they had refused to look at his collected information and dismissed him to work detail for a week.
Grumbling to himself about the perfectly flat area they were sitting on, compacted and sifted fine grain materials as if from a huge mechanized sifting process it covered areas miles around the crater thus it gave them a perfect place to land and set up camp years later, fools all of them he growled.
Taking a final hard scrub at a sticky spot by a
scanner imager he snarled “fine I’ll let um spin their wheels in the dusts of
others tailings I’ll find the Drava screw um all”
after a couple hours he dumped the trash and other junk into the recycler system and dusted off his hands he set out to find the captain.
The captain was looking over the areas deep sounding scans she knew the young apprentice was coming from his tread on the ground, he was a big one she thought and damn opinionated but she thought again he was starting to look right about the crater, they were finding nothing in it but bedrock and sand all the building remains and made materials were up on the rim processed into granular sized bits.
She noted part of a water system that once fed into the city; the scans showed the edge of the conduit was cleanly ground off
“Captain” the young man stopped and saluted waiting for a response
She sighed “alright bill your free to run”
“Yes! Thank you captain” turning to run for his things
He stopped and looked back “just between you and me it’s looking like you were correct even the water mains feeding into what was the city were ground clean off, But! I want this clear you are a part of this team and a junior member without full license; you find anything I want to know immediately”
“Yes sir captain”
“Oh and log your direction incase you get stuck or hurt we can save your butt”
He smiled and waved
She sighed knowing the old timers were being far to stiff with the apprentices they were the youth who would gain the most from this information and bill would be in the front on this trip.
Behind her in the shadows of a ships landing gear several pairs of eyes watched one set broke off to follow the apprentice
He gathered his gear one item he had spent most all of his savings on was the armband scanner, it could record a dairy of his progress, scan and video log items, map areas with a holographic display it even acted as a communicator it was one of the newest tools available to felid archeologists he snapped a memory card in and checked its status while packing his food supplies, sample kits, lights and guidance beacons.
He smiled as the scanner greeted him by name and stated it was fully functioning “good-good system, voice lock please”
“Ready for code”
He then grabbed a few sticks of good old fashioned chalk stuffing them into a chest pocket, his studies of areas out side the crater rim showed several possible underground complexes that alone made him wary of getting lost thus the chalk for marking his way
He snagged his solar charged scooter, which folded up into a compact shoulder pack able size and ran for the ground outside his vest and back pack ready he hit the ground running flipping the scooter out he was on it with a hop and whizzed away to the south at top speed
After several hours of travel he slowed and unlocked his scanner accessing his data on the scans. He was within several large underground areas a complex of them arrayed underground in regular patterns he stopped moving seeing a thin area was to his immediate left
Walking over to a pile of debris he shoved several cube shaped chunks aside seeing a recessed cover a huge grin came, a quick scan later and he started working to clear it
After 3 hours he stood back from a huge cover of an aluminum alloy that was known to come from Drava the alloying component was unknown but it gave the material the strength of titanium this 3 by 3 meter square cover was worth hundreds of thousands of credits
“Now how the hell to move a nearly ten foot square access cover with no visible handholds” he felt around the edges and found nothing twitching his nose side to side as he taped his chin he didn’t want to do it but it was time for a persuasion device
Reaching into his back pack he pulled out an extendable crowbar and wedged it into the crack his scan done when he first found the cover showed the air was circulating thus wasn’t sealed thus this brute force wouldn’t be harmful to the insides
He got a bite and leaned hard on the bar finally hearing a creak he put all his weight on it and the bar gave flopping him face first into the dust
“Son-ofa’- bitch!” grabbing the bent bar he whacked the cover hard in anger with a loud bang and it popped up slowly rising into the air on support cylinders
Slowly he drummed his fingers on the bar growling to himself. A quick examination of the latching system showed his impact had popped a brittle locking rod which had held the cover down the lock was actuated via electronics he scanned the assembly for the record he had his first discovery!
He spoke as he scanned it in place “looks from the historical examples we’ve found of Drava electronics this was activated via an optical code signal from a key” figuring the key was forever lost in some maintenance workers coveralls buried under tons of rubble long before man ever thought of traveling into space breaking the pin was a forgivable crime
In fact he paused his removing of the assembly to put time in its perspective when the last of the Drava disappeared man had just entered the year 125bc so man had civilized to a point but now it was the earth year 2634, contact with a runaway freighter of a alien race had exposed humans to the space fairing community to the horror of many of those worlds man was a quick learner, the ship had crashed into the pacific ocean and sank just off the coast of the then San Francisco harbor and the golden gate bridge
The alien owners came to reclaim the ship a year late it was now public knowledge and all of the earth was ready thus when they asked for it back several agencies said hey its salvage now you want it we want this in exchange, they paid it
“Ahh humans the redheaded stepchildren of the galaxy no one wants us yet they can’t say we don’t belong now” he found the retaining clips and slid the lock out of the housing
His comm. beeped he paused slipping the lock into a sealing bag for transport “comm. activate”
“Bill this is lead researcher Jonas, where in the hell are you? You were not given leave to run off destroying valuable artifacts in your “
He tapped a button to shut him off, sighing to himself he finished sealing the bag and then called the captain who was just groaning hearing the researcher fuming at being snubbed by some damn apprentice
“Captain id like to report that I have found a Drava locking mechanism for a hatch cover which I had to break the pin but the hatch is open to exploration below ground”
“A single day is all I asked bill” eyes covered as she listened to the ranting across the way
“Its not my fault he got some attitude with me I disconnected before I said something about his manners, I have taken all the field procedures required I am not out an about smashing relics” taking a deep breath “ sir”
She looked at his image in the comm panel “did he really say that?”
Bill taped a button then another on his arm and the screen split and replayed Jonas rant “as I said captain I'm just out here doing my job I'm finding the Drava” holding up the sealed bag for her to see
“Very well bill keep at it send me your position so I can log it for mapping, I'm going to have a word with these old men” she turned away as the image faded
He smiled “finally!! Someone believes I can do the job for once” packing the lock away he sent a signal up to the orbiting station and went down the wide stairs into the darkness scooter slung over his shoulder
The follower made note of the place and found a shadier place to hide and wait the leader would be pleased
Bill reached into his pack and got out a light stick thwacking it over his knee with a quick flick and shake it glowed a bright white holding it out the area lit up showing layers of dust and the shaft of sunlight from the whiter hot Dravan star showing the dust motes floating about the passage
Bringing up his scan he was just off to the right of one of the bigger open areas. He spent a few minutes finding the panel and pulling it open proved easy he was mid way up the wall of a lower passage tossing the light stick down it bounced off what looked like a decoratively tiled floor the light perhaps the first in the hall for thousands of years showed even here the destroyers had found these passages and left their calling cards of destruction and stripping.
“System personal log “
”Entered the larger hallway from the access hatch via the maintenance corridor looks to be stripped and vandalized like the other drava sites we’ve seen on other worlds I do hope I find more than just a lock who were these people who would come to drava and do this?.. Bastards”
He tied off a short rope ladder thinking that they had taken air and water samples and found nothing harmful but what had killed the Drava? Sighing as he looked down the passage to his right it was partially collapsed and he saw a ramp leading up filled with debris the other way led him out into one of the open central areas of the network
He stopped, realization finally hitting him seeing the smashed benches and doorways with larger openings grid work pulled down and decaying doors ripped off ornate hinges the intricate tile work the general layout
“A mall, it’s a drava shopping mall oh for crying out loud” laughter echoing off into the depths of the shadows he soon went on looking into the individual stores
Finding shelves and empty spaces he took meticulous scans and images as he went
He stopped and froze as he saw a scrap of fabric! Hanging on a display careful scans showed it was nearly totally lost to decay his scans showed weave patterns and colors faded by time
A quick snag with his sample bag he got it but the age of it was his undoing the fabric turned to powder in his bag. With a heavy sigh he tossed it in his pack and unfolded his scooter “time to report in”
He followed his foot steps in the dust and returned to the access hatch a few minutes later climbing out and sitting on the covers edge he shifted over into the shade of the cover the days here were twice as long as earths
“Ship base captain?”
It beeped as she appeared in his hologram “good timing bill I was about to give you a call”
“Researchers getting all mad I'm off finding things?”
She clearly sighed “not exactly, but were having troubles past hour several big pieces of equipment have broke down. So what have you found so far?”
“Found a Dravan shopping mall”
Her eyes lit up with interest “and?”
“A small sample of fabric that unfortunately turned to powder as I collected it. But I did a full detail scan of it before getting close thus I did get that”
She for moment had a crestfallen look then smiled “good job bill! Can you send us the data? I’ll start getting the ships ready to move over there”
“Captain can you wait just a bit? Let me check on this a bit more? Give me the rest of the day?”
She thought about it then smiled “well the techs need to get that heavy equipment up and running before we can, okay bill you have your extra time”
“Well in that I've got good news they can use it to clear out a ramp right into the mall passageways its filled with debris which I'm sending the data I've gotten so far, the debris is a lot younger than the surrounding materials “
“So its not from the city above?”
“Yes it is but when it was crushed and processed it went through some kind of melting and reforming which reset its age clock thus it all dates to when the place was destroyed not when the material was originally made. The mall tiles show an age of earth time of around 250 BC “
“That’s quite a bit older than the last reported sighting of a Drava”
“Indeed it is captain I think there’s more here than what were seeing. Someone wanted all traces of the Drava erased from history for whatever reason”
She took a deep breath then sipped some water “bill what I'm about to tell you is between us alright, it will explain this expedition and the four others that are out on extended posting, the human race is in terrible danger from several races one of which is the hydroxian they claim we have no right to be off our own planet much less running about in their space which earth just happens to be in”
“They’re an insectiod race aren’t they if I remember my classes correctly”
“ They are, well earth needs technology and fast they are pressing the galactic counsel to lift the protections on earth due to the fact were no longer ‘primitive’ they want our recourses and even us, if were classified as advanced were fair game for anyone who wants to harvest us the counsel would see it as were just not willing to protect our people thus we need advanced technology to be able to compete with them and defend earths interests”
“Captain the drava were legendary warriors but I don’t know how much of that is hearsay or fact, and with no way to tell how much of there technology survives this may be a dead end for that issue”
She nodded “ I know bill but they are enough of a fact that earth wants us to find out if it is a dead end or not. That hatch cover alone is worth a fortune to metal alloy studies the trip wont be worthless but the more we find the better”
He nodded “then let me go captain I have a hunch that they would have their malls set up like ours are..A logical toss of the dice “
“Set up a relay I want better comm. Connection”
He nodded and clicked it off he pulled the relay out and set it up on the edge the tiny box beeped and he went back down setting another at the access hatch he sighed and walked over to the nearest store and scanned the back walls watching closely as his hologram showed wall thickness and workings along the insides he grinned seeing another locking mechanism on a door to the back areas
He found a shelf that would hold his weight and stood on it like a step stool examining the wall over the lock and found the cover a gentle pry with his pocket knife and it fell into his hand and a gentle push with the blade and the lock slid aside the door easing open to another passageway
His scanner started updating the maps he had showing the passages went behind the stores he had already gone along the dust here was far older than the dust out in the mall and it was not filled with the trace residues from the weapons used to destroy the outer mall areas
“Personal log, as I had hoped the drava were logical in there ways of business, supplies were kept in storerooms behind the business fronts and workers could go about stocking after hours I know its reaching but they seem to be logical thus you don’t show customers your back areas you keep them in the pretty front areas and the back workings of things stay out of sight. The corridor shows little in the way of being disturbed, a light fixture fallen here a chunk of wall here but remarkably intact unlike the outer mall which looks like a hurricane rolled through”