Perils of S.P.A.C.E.
Episode 24: Return to Mechatropolis, Part I: Hidden Treasure
Sundance and Timmy raced along the New Earth desert landscape in their trusty hovercar, kicking up a trail of dust behind them. Timmy carefully held three cups of coffee in his lap. They were very hot and in the process of burning his thighs something awful. Each time the car jumped, he struggled to keep everything from spilling.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t have gotten a cup carrier,” Timmy complained. “And who drinks coffee in the desert? It just doesn’t make any sense!”
“Shh, we’re almost there!” Sundance accelerated the car unexpectedly, causing Timmy to almost spill the coffee for the thirtieth time. “Astralyn will be happy to see us.”
“What is the deal with you two?” Timmy asked. “Ever since we got back from the Venga System, you two have been acting weird. She said something about you and some maidens…”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Timmy.” Sundance did his best to avoid making any eye contact that would betray him.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Timmy sighed with disappointment. He had expected to be shut down.
Sundance continued to drive in silence until they reached a remote archeological dig site. People were gathered around a large crater that had to span for several thousand yards in diameter. At the southernmost rim, Sundance parked the car and climbed out. “Come along, Timmy.”
With some creative juggling, Timmy managed to hold on to all of the coffees and climbed out of the car, no thanks to Sundance.
Astralyn, wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a faded blue button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and what looked like a fishing hat with misters all along the rim; all of them dirty, walked over to them and smiled.
“You found us, great job,” Astralyn said. “I was afraid you’d get lost coming from Citadel City.” Timmy offered her a cup of coffee. “I’ve got some, thanks.” Timmy rolled his eyes. “Come with me, I’ve got something great to show you.”
Astralyn led her two friends down into the crater and passed several people on their knees picking away at the dirt. Timmy offered each of them Astralyn’s coffee; they were not interested.
“A couple of days ago, one of our interns found an ancient tomb that we believe to have housed
the leader of the village and their family!” Astralyn informed, positively gushing with excitement.
“I am so over tombs and temples at this point in my life,” Sundance replied. “Tell me we’re not going to a tomb or temple.” Astralyn’s intentional silence made him roll his eyes and groan.
She continued to lead them towards a large hut that was close to the rim of the crater. “We are pretty excited about this find. This could give us a glimpse into the life that existed here before the Old Earth Colonists arrived.” She stopped at the hut and insisted they go inside. They reluctantly acquiesced.
Inside was a thin man with short, spiky, blonde hair, fair skin, wearing gold-rimmed glasses, bent over in the farthest corner staring at something. He didn’t acknowledge their entrance.
“Kjartan, this is Captain Sundance Starmont and Lieutenant Timmy Falken,” Astralyn said.
Kjartan stood up and brushed the dirt off his knees. “Oh, Ms. Winner. I didn’t hear you come in.” He wiped his hands on his green button-up shirt and extended his hand to Timmy. Timmy only placed Astralyn’s coffee cup in it. “Thank you?”
“Don’t mention it,” Timmy replied.
“Did you find something?” asked Astralyn, staring into the corner.
“I think so.” Kjartan stepped aside and let Astralyn access the corner. On the floor was a raised rectangular mound of dirt with a couple of pick holes in it. “As I was digging, I came upon this. I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I think it’s a box.”
Astralyn reached into her back pocket and pulled out a mini pick and chisel. “Let’s find out, shall we?” She got on her knees and began to pick away at the dirt.
Sundance grabbed his cup of coffee from Timmy and sipped as he watched her. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was intrigued.
Astralyn kept tapping away until there was a loud metallic thunk. “Kjartan, I think you might be right. Come and help me with this.” Her assistant got down on his knees and helped her excavate a large silver box from its earthen prison.
“This is unlike anything we’d seen before,” Astralyn noted. She held the box in her hand. “Everything else we found has either been bones or pottery. This is something else.”
“It’s a metallic box,” Sundance scoffed. He took another loud sip of his coffee.
“Actually, Captain, I think it’s a book,” Timmy said.
Astralyn turned the box about in her hands and noticed there was a clasp keeping the metallic pages within bound. “Good eyes, Timmy.” She wiped the remaining dust off of it and tried to read what was inscribed on the front. There were jagged symbols etched all over the book, nothing legible. “I can’t make out what it says. Some ancient language no doubt.”
“I don’t think it’s human,” Kjartan added. He yearned to hold the book. “May I?” Astralyn handed it to him. “I’ve seen something similar to this during my work as an undergrad at Citadel University. If I could see inside, I might be able to tell you more.”
Kjartan tried to undo the clasp, but it refused to open.
“May I?” Sundance reached to his utility belt and pulled out his laser pistol.
“Sundance! You can’t do that!” Astralyn shouted. “It’s a relic of the original civilization!”
Sundance sighed and placed his gun back on his belt. He sat down next to Kjartan and examined the book. “Oh, I see it.” He pressed a little silver button on the spine and the clasp popped open. “Shooting it would have been more fun though.”
Kjartan opened the shiny book and instantly the hut began to shake. Everyone braced themselves against a wall. The wall Astralyn was leaning on suddenly opened and revealed itself to be a door. The hut stopped shaking. Mist flowed out into the room and collected at their feet. Timmy and Sundance dropped their coffees and pulled out their pistols, waiting for something to come for them.
To be continued…
Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!