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    drsawzall
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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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This tale owes a debt of thanks to Shirly Jackson’s 1948 short story called The Lottery.  It is well worth the time to check out.

La Tombola - 11. Chapter 11

“There is nothing, a dearth of resources that would be of any value to the Galactic Consortium. As such I insist it be reserved for study, not commerce.”
“Who are you to tell us how to conduct our affairs, what is or isn’t of value to us?”
Buck Rogers addressing the Galactic Consortium in ‘Buck Rogers and the Mystery of the Sentient Planet circa 2134 AD

Ned Boone 9

The morning of the lottery dawned bright and clear. Up before the others, Ned had breakfast ready and hoped to leave for the town square shortly after with Thad. There was an underlying current of unease that had permeated the household over the past couple of days. Ned knew it was because Thad would stand for the lottery for the first time, his chance of being the one picked to leave to go with the Gnos was every bit as good as any other of the seventeen boys. He knew it was all down to chance and if, on the off chance, Thad wasn’t picked but selected to accompany the one chosen, there would then be a host of different issues to sort out.

He knew the three chosen to accompany the other boy, would go up as boys and come back as changed young men. They would become part of a select group and would forever be interwoven into background fabric of their community. Not surprisingly, Thad managed to be the first of the household to enter the kitchen. Without saying anything he began to assist with the breakfast preparations. By the time they were done and the food ready to be brought to the dining room, the rest of the family had found their seats at the table. The undercurrent of concern and silence proved too much for Thad and he rose from his seat. “From the beginning of our time here, the Boone family has stood proudly when called upon, I am ready to carry on in that tradition. I go with a desire to serve my community as I am called to do so in whatever manner the fates have for me. I love each, and every one of you and ask only that you remain proud of me this day.”

~~~

The recovery of the droids went smoothly. Engineering had poured over the records of the one that had captured the signal, however brief it was. The data from that signal wasn’t lost or corrupted. What was found was a standard distress signal from a typical deep space craft of the 21st century.

With Captain Jameson’s assistance, records were checked trying to identify the unique signal designation. All hands knew it could only be one possibility and were waiting on pins and needles for the confirmation, the name of that vessel.

“Sir, I have cleaned up the transmission as best we can without further corrupting what we have.” Captain Jameson knew that it was standard operating procedure that all space faring vessels were given unique identifiers. At issue here, was that there had been several attempts to find the Mayflower, Speedwell, and Discovery over the years. Trying not to get his hopes up, he reminded himself that all those expeditions, not only failed to find the three spaceships, but that several had been lost in the vastness of space.

Everyone sitting in his ready room either had their fingers crossed or were saying silent prayers waiting for the computer to confirm their initial findings. Literally there were tens of thousands of records for the computer to work through. After the first hour, the computer had narrowed the possibilities to a few hundred, things started to move quickly, the next ten minutes saw the possibilities winnowed down to slightly more than twenty-five. The tension in the room was palatable as they waited for the result that wouldn’t be long in coming. It was as if everyone had forgotten to breathe. Everyone sat bolt upright when the computer announced it had a result.

As calmly as he could, forcing himself to carefully modulate his voice, Captain Jameson asked the computer to announce the results.

“Sir, the records were checked and rechecked, the signal matches the unique identifier of the Discovery,”

Erupting in loud, boisterous cheering they nearly missed the second half of the computer’s announcement.

“and have confirmed the approximate location of the planetary beacon.”

~~~

Thad thought the responsibility would crush him. Along with Billy Graves and Evan Miller he tried to process what the three of them had learned. His great uncles Billy Dunbar and Tom Harrison had spent the remainder of the afternoon with the three boys. Educating them on the importance of the task they were charged with. They had seen the records. In addition, they had seen the archives of the settlements, that had failed in their basic obligations. He knew they needed no further persuasion. In a few minutes both Billy Graves and his boyfriend Evan would be dismissed and he would meet with his grandfather to collect the obsidian knife. The blade was older than a thousand cycles of the sun, a gift to the settlers from Mithras.

Ned was concerned, what was being asked of Thad went against the boy’s nature. A quiet well-mannered child with a sunny, pleasant disposition, what would be asked of him would test his very nature. He watched with concern as Thad entered the room, looked at the obsidian blade laying on the table beside him.

Squaring his shoulders as he approached his grandfather determined to uphold the tradition and obligation of the lottery, his face reflecting the seriousness of the task ahead of him. He could see the obvious concern in his grandfather’s face and was determined not to let him down.

They spent the remainder of the afternoon together in deep conversation. Thad fully learning of his grandfather’s time in the lottery and the task he had been charged with. It was incomprehensible at first and so difficult to come to terms with, and he wondered if he would have had the same strength of character as his grandfather if it had been Evan selected. All he could do was to thank his lucky stars it would be a choice he would not have to make.

His grandfather was stunned to learn of his and Evan’s dreams involving James Bishop. He began to remember parts of the conversation with Mithras, and now he needed to have a long discussion with both Billy Dunbar and Tom Harrison. He would need to send a runner to the Gnos, letting Thery know they needed to meet after the rite of obligation at the site of the first landing.

~~~

Nothing is static Captain Jameson reminded himself, including objects in the limitlessness of space. Everything is in flux, constantly moving at the direction of an unseen conductor. As they drew closer towards the location of the beacon, they were able to intercept additional fragmentary signals. The droids they had sent out ahead of them were unable to lock on to the exact location.

As they drew closer, the reason became apparent, there wasn’t anything left of any appreciable size of the Discovery. All that was left was a portion of what had to be the bridge and the central computer core. With some delicate maneuvering they were able to bring the badly damaged remnants into the main cargo bay.

All ship operations slowed to a near halt as they hovered there in awe of what they had accomplished. They had traveled further than any of their predecessors except one, searched more of the vastness of space than their counterparts, and here they were, on the doorstep of the discovery of the ages, just a step away from finding the lost pilgrims.

It took the better part of a standard earth week and after much trial and error, careful observation, and delicate handling of the ancient computer core, they were able to extract more information, much more, that what was recovered from either the Mayflower and Speedwell. After verifying their findings and triple rechecking, they were certain they had the probable location of Orion-24ZFX.

“Helm, set a course at all practicable speed, engineering, I want a minimum of two droids a minimum of two standard earth days in front of us, let’s see if we can find our missing cousins!”

~~~

Thad took little note of the storms that raged incessantly around him, he dispassionately watched as the Gnos paid their tribute and as Banr lay on the ancient rock table, the storms fading as his life was given to Mithras. He heard the multitude of voices, softly singing in the background, his hand on Josiah Trimble’s shoulder, knowing it was soon to be his turn to walk him to that ancient surface.

The voices were coalescing, becoming singular in nature, guiding them for what was to be done. It was something he would never forget; it was if he was standing outside of himself as he placed the edge of the blade against Josiah’s neck and he watched as the life drained from the body. Surprised as he watched the carefully wrapped body disappear into thin air, as they let him over the edge of the cliff face.

It was what happened next that shook him along with Evan and Billy Graves, to the very core of their souls. One moment they were standing in the softly falling, gentle warm summers rain and the next…standing before Mithras in her garden among the valleys across the great river. Alongside her were, as they would come to learn, were Peter Miller and a face Thad instantly recognized, James Bishop. They learned of the danger they all faced from out among the stars, dangers that could destroy the very foundations of the planet. The difficulty, rather the issue was, that electronic signals and devices were harmful to Mithras.

As a sentient entity, Mithras was the unique lifeform that all life and evolutionary progress sprang from. That somewhere down at the site of the first landing and township, was a device that was cleverly hidden and it needed to be destroyed. That device, while weak and by itself posed little danger, if it were able to call others to its signal, the danger to Mithras would be fatal, the consequences to the planet…irreversible. The danger they faced required extraordinary assistance; Mithras informed them. They would not be alone or unassisted.

They were stunned to learn that James Bishop would accompany them to locate and retrieve this device. Once found, Peter Miller would guide them to the lava vent where it would be tossed into. The journey to this vent and back would take nearly a half moon cycle. While they would not be alone or unassisted, others from their town would be joining them as well. They would meet them once they returned to the old town square.

~~~

They simply could not travel fast enough, over a thousand years of differing gravitational forces had caused the remnant of the Discovery to set out on its own journey. A swarm of galaxies lay before them, an all-encompassing, multitude of suns and so many possible habitable planets. They had a direction and an approximate location to search, whatever signal the beacon was receiving, was weak and intermittent. Literally there would be possibly hundreds or more locations to search.

The frustration was evident, everyone did their best to remain focused. Compounding their weariness was the simple fact that the universe, and particularly this quadrant of space, was the straightforward fact that the universe generated all sorts of ambient noise.

They needed a miracle, the past thirty days had everyone on edge, they weren’t at the point where they would have to begin the journey back, but it was coming closer that he would like, thought Captain Jameson. The finding of the only remnants left of the Discovery would be heralded an enormous success, the pinnacle of anyone’s career and a heralding achievement noteworthy in the annals of their history. No, he wouldn’t give up, he’d push past the margins of safety until they had no other choice to either abandon ship or reluctantly, as a last resort limp back home.

It was time for his watch on the bridge, he’d spend his time reviewing the logs collected over the past twenty-four hours. One thing he prided himself on was his crew. Advances had made it possible to crew as spacecraft of the size of his with a team of twelve. Automation and a semi-sentient AI. It was a marvel of the latest in technology and in all honestly, flew itself.

The process of weeding out the chaff from the considerable background noise had become easier as the main diagnostic computer learned what it was, they were looking for, saving them hours of time. Much to his chagrin, there wasn’t anything new to report, and as he was closing his station for the night, the announcement from the main diagnostic computer startled him.

“Captain, we have received a signal from a planetary beacon and have identified the location, it is compatible with the device from the Discovery.”

~~~

Their obligations to Mithras fulfilled and understanding the task ahead of them Thad, Evan and Billy Graves met with Thery. They learned he and a few other Gnos would accompany them on the trek to and from the lava vent. There would be much to do to prepare for the journey. Larger packs would be needed, basic foodstuffs would be augmented with what they could glean from the countryside as they passed through.

It wouldn’t be an easy trip Thery told the, parts of it would be an arduous walk-through unsettled land. As they neared the lava vent, the last days journey would be very dangerous. Unbeknownst to the boys, a runner had reached the Gnos bearing a message from Thad’s grandfather Ned. They would be accompanied once the device they were looking for was found.

On the walk down, James Bishop told them of what life was like for the first settlers, the difficulties they encountered, the failure of the technology they had brought with them and the sickness that took half of them away. While Thery accepted the presence of the two ethereal beings now represented once again in the flesh, it was disconcerting to Thad and his two friends. So much had happened, so quickly, that it left his head reeling when he focused on the implausibility of it all.

~

In consulting with Billy Dunbar and Tom Harrison, Ned knew the only decision they could make was to head up to the old town square to meet the boys and hopefully Thery to see what answers awaited them. For reasons not understood at the time, it just made sense, they each had taken their fully laden packs and sleeping gear and headed out just after the mid-day meal.

The walk up to the site of the first settlement brought back many memories as they reminisced about the boys they used to be. How much changed for them as they fulfilled their obligation to the community, the Gnos, and Mithras. For Ned, the sadness that a life in the present with Peter Miller wasn’t possible, but comforted and secure in the knowledge that they would once again be together once Ned finished serving Mithras.

For Billy and Tom, it was a loss of innocence and yet, at the same time, forging lasting friendships, knowing they could depend on each other and share private, intimate moments. Not much had changed since they were last up here, the trees were noticeably larger, and as they passed the old Begins farm, the mounds that had grown over what was left of the original settlers failed equipment seemed smaller through their adult eyes.

It was Ned as they walked into the old town square who first noticed James Bishop, standing there talking with Thad and his friends. Thery was busy making a cooking fire when he saw Peter Miller walking towards him. Almost too much to take, Ned faltered for a moment, wondering if his eyes deceived him, when he felt Peter clasp his hand.

“We have much to discuss Ned, and I need you to be patient a bit longer. James has a story to tell and we all need to listen.”

“Good, we’re all here,” James stated. “There is danger facing us from a device Captain Reynolds and his crew secreted shorty after landing. The device signals its location to any space going vessel. The device was secured in a container made to withstand the ravages of time. That container has been failing, intermittently allowing weak signals to escape the shielding.”

“It is critical that we remove what is in the container to a place where it can be destroyed. While Peter and I stand here before you in the truest sense as physical beings, there is only so much we can do, and that’s where all of you come in.”

James, continuing, hoping he wasn’t going too fast, “I know of the location and in the morning, we will remove it from its hiding place. I will need Evan and Thad to open the vault that lies beneath the old granary. In order to access that vault, I will need you adults to prize the stone flooring up. We will talk more once you’ve had your evening meal and Mithras wishes to commune with all of you.

As always...thanks for reading, your thoughts and comments are welcomed!!
Copyright © 2022 drsawzall; All Rights Reserved.
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Thanks for reading, your comments and thoughts are appreciated. Please take a moment to let me know your impressions.
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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

On 3/29/2022 at 10:08 AM, raven1 said:

Wow @drsawzall you really packed a lot into this chapter.  I have to admit that I am relieved that neither Thad or Evan were sacrificed, but now they are on a mission that sounds dangerous.  The earth space craft is approaching the planet and although with very good intentions will bring death to Mithras and destroy the wonderful society that has evolved on the planet.  

I was amazed that both Peter and James have been given bodies to help the boys to destroy the signal box.  You do sent some intriguing twists our way in this chapter.  I will have a very difficult time waiting to find out what happens next.  Brilliant story! ❤️

Thanks!!! Sci-fi is a new genre for me and I like the freedom it gives, sort of like how the shapeshifters and wolves, and lets not forget vampires can get up to all sorts of implausible things!!

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On 3/29/2022 at 10:19 AM, scrubber6620 said:

Wow, this is a new story dynamic !

Those who took part in the sacrifice and lived are now joined with two spirits and others on a mission from Mithras. They must find and remove a device  and travel to a lava place and destroy that device from the original ship. This action is so foreign to them , but they must succeed to save Mithras and stop another ship from finding them.

 

It appears to be a race against time. Will the people on the planet act fast enough to protect Mithras and escape detection? If not, what will the people on the mostly automated ship ( a great danger to Mithras) do? From the story heading, Buck Rogers and crew make it back to earth with knowledge of the planet but recommend it not be exploited. The higher council questions this limited usage of the planet.

We aim to please, you will find that both Peter Miller and James Bishop are in fact and for the most part, are as real as everyone else...with some limitations., such as not being able to complete the task Mithras has sent out for Ned to complete.

The quotes from the Buck Rogers book were written after the original settlers escaped Earth, it is a book that any young boy or girl would have read! I am just using it as a plot device to give another dimension to the story!

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On 3/29/2022 at 10:38 AM, Mawgrim said:

An unexpected twist in the tale. Now it's going to be a race against time as to whether they can find and destroy the device before the ship homes in on it. And hurling it into a lava vent is an excellent way to get rid of it - shades of Mount Doom there. 

Did not think of that angle but it does work!! 

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On 3/29/2022 at 5:52 PM, CincyKris said:

The original pilgrims probably didn't intend to do evil either, the genocide of Native Americans happened anyway.  Will the Captain find the planet?  If he does, can be be convinced to leave them alone?  Eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

As they say on TV...We will be right back after this short commercial break!!

Thanks for the comment, it is appreciated!!

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On 3/29/2022 at 8:38 AM, Mawgrim said:

An unexpected twist in the tale. Now it's going to be a race against time as to whether they can find and destroy the device before the ship homes in on it. And hurling it into a lava vent is an excellent way to get rid of it - shades of Mount Doom there. 

Yes, there are shades of the ring bearer. Don't forget the shades of a certain nefarious Bronze Rider and his fate! Lol!!!

On 3/29/2022 at 12:57 PM, weinerdog said:

What makes this interesting is there is no good vs.evil element here.

This perhaps is the greatest part of the story.

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4 hours ago, Al Norris said:

Yes, there are shades of the ring bearer. Don't forget the shades of a certain nefarious Bronze Rider and his fate! Lol!!!

This perhaps is the greatest part of the story.

Thanks, so glad to have your reactions!!!

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23 minutes ago, Albert1434 said:

This just so overwhelming Peter is back Ned must be beside himself omg. :kiss: 

I can only imagine what must have gone through Ned's mind when he first spotted Peter after so many years, one wonders what Mithras will reveal when the meet with her shortly...

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