“Careful. You must not damage any of it.”
Sopa controlled his response, careful not to let Maktin see how difficult it was to not react. “It is not my first job.”
Maktin paced behind him and Sopa worked to ignore the grumbles. The lead krako made him nervous. And being nervous led to mistakes. Mistakes led to being hungry and cold, two things he swore he’d never be again.
Ignoring Maktin became easier as he cleared more and more of the debris and his excitement grew.
This was different that anything he’d seen so far on the planet. The edges were smooth and straight, but beyond that, the object lifted and twisted in some kind of ornate pattern that repeated itself along the edges. Only along the edges.
As he cleared more debris it became apparent that the patterned shape was a frame of some sort. But for what? The inner texture was different. Softer. Flat.
Sopa angled his light and barely managed to keep in the gasp. He didn’t want Maktin rushing him, especially with such a special find. He didn’t even have a word for some of the colours on the item.
Blat after blat passed and Sopa continued his task, working until his lower extremities were numb from keeping his position. His uppers ached, but he kept them all moving, working to clear more and more of the wonderful object.
Eventually it was clear of the debris and Sopa straightened to pull it free.
When no one reacted behind him, he turned to find Maktin in a sleep cycle. Sopa must have been working for many blats.
But the object energized him. Bright with those colours he hadn’t seen along with the regular ones.
What beings had created such colours? The planet showed none of them, not that Sopa had seen. The air was smoky, the land devoid of anything alive. Had such colours once existed in this bleak place?
Sopa studied the item in front of him and wondered if it had a purpose or if it was a decorative piece. He rotated it to view it from all directions but couldn’t decide which orientation was up.
Sopa pressed along the edges and the various colours but didn’t get the item to react in any way. There was no indication it was to do anything other than be.
Decorative then. The first decorative find on the planet, proving that the beings had at least evolved to some level of sophistication.
Were some of the coloured shapes replicas of the planet’s one-time beings?
From the various orientations Sopa got different impressions. A landscape. Buildings. Beings. Nothing familiar and certainly nothing that resembled this planet.
But it was a clue. Perhaps a clue that would unlock the key to understanding the beings who had burned their planet and destroyed its atmosphere.
For long blats, Sopa allowed himself to appreciate the decorative item. Soon he would wake Maktin and they would record the treasure and search for more, but for now, he would simply enjoy.
This story is part of the WEP/IWSG Challenge. If you click on the link it will take you to a host of other stories using the prompt Cafe Terrace. Most of them will probably not involve aliens ... although that's just a guess.
Apparently my brain is still in SF land - even though I'm mostly a romance writer and this is the month of Valentine's Day. 😆
How about you? Did you join in the challenge? (There's still time to join in!) Thinking about it for next time? Any other SF fans out there?
(PS: If anyone has any interest in an ARC of my upcoming release, Dancing With Dementia, check out the previous post!)