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9:27 a.m. March 24, 2015: somewhere in northern Montana
Beads of sweat quickly turned into rivers running down his forehead and basically the rest of his body. All he could think was, had it always been this hot?
With a tired arm and a hand clasping an already-soaked and dirty cloth, Wilson made an unsuccessful attempt to wipe away the sweat that coated his brow. With each passing summer, the heat seemed to become more and more intense. If it continued at its current rate, how could he continue his work?
The fossils needed to be removed properly and it was hard to do with slippery, sweat-coated fingers. Preservation and protection were vital for transport to the museum but all this heat just made the job that much more difficult. Perhaps it was the depleting ozone, who knew? He had no power over it but it certainly held great power over him. His entire tan dig outfit was absolutely coated in sweat. He felt more like he was taking a dip in a pool of hot, stagnant water rather than sitting in one of the driest places in North America. Just a year ago, he was surveying this very site for the possibility of finding the remains of some of the long-gone ancestors of Montana. Now, he was debating if his choice had been a wise one.
"Why did I have to pick the hottest damn place on the planet to dig?" he asked his old friend and fellow paleontologist, Jeff.
Jeff, an older gentleman in his early 60s, with a nearly-white beard that ran from one ear to the other and a thick set of glasses, simply chuckled at Wilson’s comment then added, "You know as well as I do, the bones don’t come to you -- you go to them. It’s as if their former owners are whispering to us from the great beyond to be rescued from their rocky prison."
"When you put it that way..." Wilson paused for a moment to collect his thoughts then decided to keep cleaning what appeared to be a Tyrannosaurus rex femur. "It is quite a find though. If things keep going well, we should have the most intact rex ever found."
"I can’t believe how many fossils we’ve found," Jeff continued. "It’s like a dino graveyard here. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s no signs of tar pit remnants, no shattered bones, no signs of a fight -- just a bunch of nearly-complete dino skels."
Wilson sighed for a moment thinking about the large undertaking they hand begun. So much work left to do and already they had put in a year on this project. It seemed like they may never finish. But, that was the tedious life of a paleontologist. Finding locations, getting rights to dig and remove fossils, contacting museums, arranging transport, and the extremely slow job of carefully extracting each and every bone from its grave.
Laying down his cleaning brush, he got up to stretch. It had almost become a reflex now, but after sitting in certain positions for a long time, his legs would start to tingle and he knew it was time to get the blood flowing again. After a few seconds, he was ready to hit the dirt again. He picked his brush back up and started brushing at the femur again.
"Uh, Wilson..." he heard Jeff stammer.
"Yeah, what is it?" he asked.
"I’m not exactly sure..."
Wilson glanced over Jeff’s way, uncertain of what his friend had meant. Jeff was brushing frantically at a spot now. Wilson’s curiosity piqued, he stood up and headed Jeff’s way.
"It’s some sort of metal," Jeff said as Wilson approached and started looking over his shoulder. "What would metal be doing beneath a layer of ancient fossils from the Cretaceous period?"
Jeff looked up, wide-eyed at Wilson, who reflected Jeff’s look nearly as accurate as a mirror.
11:42 a.m. March 24, 2015: 10 light years from Earth
Stars shot by the portside visual of Burbuja Pompa’s quarters aboard the intergalactic warship, Vejiga. The enormous battleship housed more than five-hundred Blobonian officers, ten-thousand troopers, thirty G-350 astrofighters, some thousand crew members, and weapon systems too numerous to mention.
The surface of the blob’s body shined a resilient shade of green; it was almost a neon green. The body’s shape altered slowly for no apparent reason. Periodically, an air bubble would emerge on the surface of the being’s body and ease forth to meet its brethren. Falling into the classification of Liquidoid, these Blobonians possessed the ability to use muscles under their surface to reshape their body in any way -- even to look and feel solid without ever being so.
Burbuja was resting between missions; exhaustion from long hours and heavy responsibilities had tired the middle-aged Blobonian. Nothing was better for relaxation to the workaholic than being in a sleep system module while examining the latest Pico card on philosophy. Using a rubbery-like appendage, the blob slid the card into a reader beside the module. Instantly, a realistic image of the card’s author appeared.
"The future of the past," an even more rubbery and wrinkled looking Blobonian began. "What does this concept entail?" The older Blobonian appeared 270 years old to Burbuja’s perception. It wore white flowing robes. A mist whipped around the old one causing the robe to flow slightly, but perhaps it was a light wind that caused the effect.
"One interpretation by my colleagues states the past has some control over the future, but most probably it means -- what we do now reflects on the future. Everything we do, no matter how insignificant and infinitesimal it may seem, might have some effect on someone, something, some place or some event in the future -- even a dead race can save the living races, but only if the living remember the past. Heed the warnings of times gone by. If the past is forgotten, it may be repeated..."
A chime sounded throughout Burbuja’s quarters. "Freeze." The Pico card data paused in mid air and the ancient Blobonian stopped orating.
//Pompa?// came a voice over the room comm.
"Yes?" Burbuja replied to the Blobonian outside the quarters.
//You’re needed aboard the command center.//
"I’ll be right up," Burbuja replied.
The chime sounded again, but at a lower pitch to signify the being outside was gone. Burbuja oozed up from the module, stretching muscles and body out, and hoped the sore muscles would relax; the Blobonian had been playing zero-gravity splat too much lately to keep in shape. Besides that, the holo-fighter simulation had been aggravating him lately. He had been trying out some new, advanced maneuvers being adopted by the Blobonian Armada. Between the two, his muscles were getting more of a workout than the great creator had intended. Besides, sleep was a commodity; responsibilities required a great deal of Burbuja’s time and skills. But falter was not one of his traits; plus, there was too much at stake right now to worry over lost sleep. Reverting to normal shape, the Blobonian left the sleep module.
Gunner Enojoso greeted the officer of the Intergalactic Defense Force and made known the current situation.
"A Trajonian freighter has called for assistance by Hyperspace frequency," Enojoso explained. "They’re near Mrodin territory in Quadrant Three."
"Can’t the captain take care of this?" Burbuja asked, obviously not happy about being brought from his module for such a miniscule task.
"Well, the Trajonians have requested to speak to you directly. They out-right refused to speak to anyone else," Enojoso answered.
"Did they say why they were requesting me?" Burbuja asked, uncertain of what could possibly be so urgent.
"I have no idea."
The command center loomed ahead and the automatic entry thrust open as Admiral Burbuja Pompa stepped forth onto the command ship’s center. All bio-visuals directed toward the admiral. All Blobonians formed the salute of the IDF. The salute was a somewhat complicated maneuver their main enemy could not physically execute due to eons of wrongful genetic manipulation of their Humanoid form. The saluting Blobonians used their right limb and digits, with a twisting effect, to strike the upper body, finally the limb would thrust into the air. The admiral found the salute quite amusing.
The Blobonian leader oozed over to the command seat and slogged into it. The moment the slogging ceased, all personnel relaxed and immediately returned to their work at hand. The visual screens lit up and an image formed in the center of the command center.
//Hello, Admiral,// an electronic, translated voice began. The voice vibrated, as if off steel.
"Xenex?" Burbuja asked, pausing for a moment and gazing at the robot-like being contacting him. "It is you," he added after noticing a special marking on the metal being’s head. "What’s happening?"
//The sensors on our freighter were damaged during a Gobarian conflict. We are currently drifting nearer to Gobar II, ally of our nemesis, the Mrodin Empire. Our current heading is Juncture 20398-437, Sector One, Quadrant Three -- standard space-time. Please assist.//
"Assistant Commander Fibra, lock onto that bearing and set a heading."
"Right away, admiral."
"Xenex, I’m accessing a coordinate fix on your vessel; we’ll be there shortly."
//Thanks for the assistance. Trajon Parsecer freighter out.//
A few audible beeps could be heard prior to the transmission’s end as the translator cut out.
That’s the true language of the Trajonians, the Blobonian thought. A digital language consisting of simple beeps and pauses to represent "on" and "off," or rather one and zero. Thank the great creator for translators. No one knew where the Trajonians had originated, Pompa thought on. It couldn’t even be proved they were a manufactured race -- they just existed. Sentient beings made completely of metal, with electricity as their life force, rather than blood. A truly unique race. Although most of the races in the known galaxies were part of the mammal species, only the Blobonians and a few others were not. Nevertheless, the Blobonians were more closely related to the mammals just in the fact alone they had blood running through their bodies. It was harder for Burbuja to contemplate the thought of electricity or other forms of energy running through a being. But no matter, although they were different and hard to understand, the Trajonians were members of the Intergalactic Defense Force and had proven their value time and time again. Especially Xenex. That android had been a powerful ally at many times in Burbuja’s military career. Xenex definitely deserved the Vejiga’s assistance. But, this might not be the actual distress signal it appeared to be.
Captain Jefatura, Burbuja’s second in command looked over at the admiral with a quizzical look on a distorted face, "You know this Trajonian?"
Although Burbuja was familiar with Trajonians, they were not one of the more common races in the galaxies. Jefatura had only seen them a few times himself.
"I met him at the Tarbon Academy during training. We’ve allied on several past missions," Burbuja replied matter of factly.
"What’s our heading, Admiral?"
"That’s the interesting part, Jefatura," the admiral started.
"In what way?"
"My Trajonian friend has been trying to find the lost planet in the legend of Homo sapio."
"And how do we fit into that picture?" Jefatura was obviously more confused now than before.
Finally certain it was time to reveal the ruse to the captain, "Well, Jefatura, Xenex’s speech about the emergency was just subterfuge. He needs our assistance, but not how anyone overhearing the transmission is intended to believe."
"But...he gave the coordinates!" Jefatura said, still not understanding the magnitude of what Burbuja was trying to explain.
"That’s exactly what I hope the Mrodins believe," Burbuja stated. "It was a code, but even a decryption of that code would not reveal to them the location of the lost planet."
If there ever was a broader smile on a Blobonian, Jefatura didn’t think bio-visuals had seen such as the admiral was displaying now. "So what’s the key?"
"The key to the code is right here," Burbuja said lifting a formless appendage to the uppermost part of the blob’s formless body. "Three missions ago, Xenex took a leave of absence from his military duty. The Trajonian joined up with a group of IDF scientists who claimed they had nearly found the lost world. In all my years of knowing the android, he had become obsessed with the whole concept -- another world of Humanoids. His theory is that a world of Humanoids evolving without the influence of the Mrodins might become a powerful ally to finally put an end to this ridiculous conflict. Who better to defeat Humanoids than more Humanoids? They have been the greatest threat to all the races. Instead of seeking wisdom, peace, prosperity and improved trade, they have constantly tried to take us all over with their war-like ways. The problem has always been lack of information. The planet’s location was never even in the intergalactic records and anyone who knew has been dead for thousands of generations. Even the Mrodins themselves have no clue as to its whereabouts."
"Thousands of generations? I know I never studied that old lore, but I had no idea it was so long ago."
"Long before the IDF was even a concept, there was a powerful ship rumored to have been stolen and fled the old Delain Government -- predecessors to the Mrodins. The planet it landed on is what we call the lost planet. Nameless -- we don’t even know that much about it. Anyway, the Gobarians were probably scanning that frequency and will be moving in on those coordinates to try and capture the derelict transport. Of course, they’ll find nothing. If their ship had really been in trouble, we would have received the flashing authenticator on the hologrid."
"I’m now back to my original question, where are we headed?"
"We shall know soon enough," Burbuja said with another beaming smile. "Fibra, run the juncture number backwards and divide my Manor’s alpha-number. It’s the most likely Trajon decepto-code Xenex would use."
//The answer is T-Q4,// answered the TR-F5 terminal at Fibra’s post.
"Trajon, Quadrant Four," Jefatura said, finally understanding the admiral’s devious plot.
"Set course for Trajon," Admiral Burbuja Pompa ordered.
The TR-F5 calculated the new coordinates and on command shot the ship off through the vast emptiness of space toward a world comprised of metallic beings.
Finally getting a chance to relax again, Burbuja went back to his module to continue his Pico card.
"Those who forget the past are often condemned to repeat it," the elderly Blobonian in white robes continued before Pompa’s sleep module.
Burbuja thought on that comment for a moment, pausing the data flow from the Pico card. The blob began to feel drowsiness set in and decided it was time to put the card up. Oozing over to the Pico holding system, Pompa put it away and oozed back to the sleep module and relaxed, drifting off into a state of sleep.
In dreams, a fantastical journey began -- the quest for the lost planet. Seeming as real as life itself. Visions of what might be, perhaps, maybe desires or even just delusions created by the thoughts the brain held prior to sleep.
After several hours of sleep, Burbuja briefly came awake. One thought was filling his entire consciousness: "Could the past aid the future?"
Briefly musing over the idea, the admiral’s only response was, "The past certainly influences the future but is the influence that strong?"
A moment later, Burbuja was fast asleep again -- entering the realm of relaxation so direly needed.
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