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    Cia
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
2019 - Spring - Into the Stars Entry

Twin Stars - 1. Twin Stars

“Twin stars, see?” He tapped the air above the stone tablet, and the magnified projection shimmered. “There is evidence that early people saw the reality of other galaxies, other solar systems, well before the first telescopes made it possible.”

A student raised their hand.

“Yes, go ahead,” Professor Trestan said.

“But what about the Egyptians? They had pictures early on of supernovas, right?”

“Yes, they did make the first recordings of those events. Those are observable phenomenon from right here on Earth. But this predates the Egyptians. This predates hieroglyphics. Not cavemen, but some society we have no name for, from a region with no access to materials that should have allowed them to create any advanced technology. So how?”

Another hand went in the air.

“Random art? Dots and circles, the easiest things to carve or paint?”

“Perhaps. Except this exact system, with these stars and these orbiting bodies, was recently photographed by an experimental probe sent out by the space commission. It’s so far away, it’s never been photographed before.” He traced the stars and the planets orbiting around them. “So how did they know?” he asked in a whisper.

One last slide, the recently received photo in all its glory, superimposed over the carving projection. It rotated slowly, then the image faded. The lights rose in increments as the class sat blinking. They clapped politely, but he only saw a few who actually looked interested.

Leith kept his sigh to himself. “Thank you. I appreciate everyone who signed up for my lecture. You can find more information on my handout.”

He stepped away from the podium, his tablet in his hand. He tucked it into his bag as the students filed out. A few took the handouts, then a few more students trickled down from the back rows he hadn’t noticed before, but they didn’t linger after they snagged the handouts without making eye contact. He smiled and thanked everyone who took the time to chat with him on their way out of the hall, casually discussing their opinions on his life’s work.

These guest gigs were really almost more effort than they were worth. He’d rather be researching. That didn’t pay the bills though. Not that his beat-up car or tiny apartment were anything fancy. He sipped black coffee from a drip coffee maker almost every day and ate frozen heat up crap.

The real reason for these lectures wasn’t the students, it was the exposure for his theory. To get buzz going, to get some recognition, so he could get some damn grants to go back and find more artifacts. There had to be something to explain these primitive beings’ knowledge, and he was dying to know what it was. It was like an itch inside him.

All it would take was one yes.

 

Leith schlepped up the stairs to his fourth-floor apartment, unlocked the door, and dropped his bag on the floor. He sank down on the couch with the last beer from the fridge and ignored his rumbling stomach. The first swallow of cool, bitter relief hit his sore throat when his phone went off.

It wasn’t a number he recognized. He ignored it.

A minute later it started again. Same number.

Then again. Three times was weird. They had to have heard his voicemail. But they didn’t leave a message. Telemarketers only ever called twice. Not three times.

Or four. So he answered. “Hello?”

“Is this Professor Trestan?”

“Yes?” It was after nine at night, far too late for any call from a college administration. Had a student got a hold of his number somehow? Damn it. He took another drink, ready to be done and not willing to deal with the antics of a twenty-something kid.

“I have a proposition for you. I recently read a proposal of yours, and I am intrigued.”

“You did?” Leith sat forward, sliding his beer onto the coffee table. “What’s the proposition? Um, proposal I mean? That you read?” He should ask what the guy had been interested in, not just what he was offering. And try not to sound like a whore panting after money and willing to jump on any offer if it meant some cash coming his way.

And that sounded really bad, like he’d do something else.

“Yes, it did.”

“What?” Holy hell, had he said that out loud? His brain had snapped under the academic pressure, that’s all there was to it. Researching, publishing, speaking, teaching… he’d lost his damn mind.

“Yesterday, I said, I came across a proposal for an expedition to discover the source of the artifacts your team discovered in a region you’re not willing to disclose without a binding contract. I understand, as I am of a similar mind on funding the grant you propose without knowing more about your plans for the expedition. The area you indicated in your publication is vast—far too large to comb without having some idea of where to go. I’m guessing you know where that is.”

“I do,” Leith said. “The grant was for a small team, transport, gear, a local guide, and any miscellaneous unpredicted expenses.”

“And this guide knows where to go?”

“No. They know the local area, the dangers from the wildlife, and can facilitate communication with natives. I have the location and will provide the coordinates on the ground. The guide will just lead the team to them.”

“Okay. But I will need to be part of the team.”

“Mr. um….” Leith trailed off. The guy hadn’t even introduced himself, and Leith had been so excited, perched on the edge of the seat on his couch, he hadn’t even realized it.

“Zakai.”

“Mr. Zakai, I’m afraid I can’t—”

“Then I’m afraid I can’t fund your grant. That is my non-negotiable condition; I must go in person and see these artifacts in place. If you are worried I’ll slow you down, don’t. I am in excellent shape.”

Oh great, an amateur archaeologist scientist wannabe that probably saw too many movies. The guy didn’t sound old, or really young, either. His voice was strangely average, pleasant, with a faint burr. Leith couldn’t place the accent.

“Fine, fine. We’ll need to meet in person, though, to discuss the grant and sign paperwork so I can start planning the expedition.” It would take some time.

“I believe I can help with that. I have a private plane; my business is in wilderness survival gear and equipment, and I’m assuming you and your team have passports.”

Leith blinked. “We do.” Why was this guy trying to rush him? Or willing to put up so much cash and supplies? “But I will need to contact my team and ensure they are free, get travel permits for the scientific expedition so we do not violate the law in regards to historical antiquities, and I will want to meet with you before I commit to anything. Plus I have two lectures in the next two weeks.”

“Fine. But we can meet sooner than that, right? So you can start the planning?” Now Mr. Zakai did sound young. And like he was pouting.

“Yes. I am free tomorrow or Friday morning between ten and noon.” He was free more than that, but it made him sound less like a lame academic with no life.

“Tomorrow. Coffee meeting at Twist & Perks?”

“Okay, tomorrow. Will ten work for you or will you be working?” Had the guy seen his cup? Had he been at the lecture earlier? Leith had treated himself, but it was on his way to the college, and he’d been up late the night before fixing some technology glitches.

“Yes, that’s good, that’s great. I’m very excited for this project, and I don’t have anything else I gotta do, Professor Trestan. See you soon.” What had sounded like a somber, older adult when he first got on the phone sounded more like a giddy school kid by the time he hung up.

Leith picked up his beer, shaking his head. “Weird.” But… money. Finally, the trip he needed. He just knew they’d find what he was looking for this time. His gut was sure, and it couldn’t be wrong. Then it rumbled…. Okay, or he was just really hungry for more than beer. He jumped up and grabbed a coat, deciding to go pick up some takeout for dinner.

 

“He knows the location. I’m sure of it. I’m meeting him tomorrow to sign his silly little human paper, then we’ll have to wait a few weeks before he can go.”

“A few weeks? Zakai, we need off this planet now.” Reyan curled up under a blanket. “It’s freezing.”

“You have been here for months. Don’t you think you’d be used to their weak single sun by now? It’s not even that bad!” Maceo sneered and paced by the window. He might mock Reyan, but he was wearing a few layers even though they were indoors.

“Stop! That’s enough. The portal collapsed, and we lost half the rig. This is our chance to get the parts we need in order to get a makeshift portal back up and head home. Professor Trestan is the only one who seems to have discovered our technology, but he left it in place. It probably won’t still be there for long if we don’t get there before someone else does.”

Reyan nodded. “Without the masking sequence, any human could just walk right up to it instead of being pushed out of the region. We need to get a portal back up. I saw the notes he has online; your professor is dangerous. He has information the tribes had from the first jump, evidence of the portal, and it’s not just going to go away. Someone else could figure it out. And even once we find it, he could still be a danger. Maybe he will need go away.”

“We’ll have to hope they don’t. And maybe he will.” Zakai just shook his head enigmatically when Maceo asked what that meant. Hurt him, help him expose them, or… take him with them? What should he do? Zakai had always known there was a possibility of a jump going bad, of being stranded, of having to initiate a culture into first contact, but did he want to make that choice? Not really.

If he took the professor with them, think what the man could learn. He’d probably be thrilled, and then telling him and then maybe the rest of the human race the truth of the universe would be Zakai’s superiors’ problem. Besides, what scientist studying the stars wouldn’t dream of journeying through them to a brand new solar system as the first human to travel with aliens in living memory?

Copyright © 2019 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
2019 - Spring - Into the Stars Entry
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Chapter Comments

This is so typically Cia, which means to say there is nothing typical about it. I see so many possibilities here, yet have no idea where you would take it if you took us on a journey... and I'm all for a journey with these characters. As always, you leave me wanting more... cheers... Gary....

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That was a great short, Cia! I also feel like it’s a set up for a longer piece. Would not complain. Lol. 

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  • Site Administrator

I’m nor sure what everyone is taking about :unsure:.  That was a nice little story all wrapped up by the end 0:) 

Okay, yes, the story is an intriguing idea. Kind of thinking the aliens have a prime directive like in Star Trek. Now to see if they can uphold it :)

 

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SO fun! I can't help but agree with so many of the other comments - I would love to read a longer version of this story!

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