I know some of you are bored with this story, not that anyone is forcing you to read it. :) Keep in mind this isn't going to be a short-story. The way I have plotted this story, it is going to be at least short-novel length (about 100 pages, give or take). I have tried to create a rich story with complex characters, not just another shoot-run-shoot story. If you'll hang in there, I promise you'll see plenty of action and suspense before I'm done.
Incident at Tei Tenga (Part 3)
Cadance, with a smile on his face, was still thinking of the wonderful goodbye Tami had given him as he strolled into the base Armory and stood at the counter. Skeeter, the Weapons Officer, looked up from the parts of a Mossberg 500 military shotgun spread out on a table behind the counter.
“Hey, Cadance,” he said in his quiet, southern drawl.
“Hey, Skeet. What’s going on?”
“Just cleaning Bessy. Got to keep her in good shape,” said Skeeter stepping up to the counter and wiping his hands on a rag. “What can I do you for?”
“I’m heading out on assignment and I thought I would take along the BFG for some more testing,” Cadance said.
Skeeter frowned and rubbed his chin. “That thing isn’t exactly regulation, you know. It still has some bugs in it.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why I want to do some more testing on it.”
“You’re liable to blow yourself to hell and back. Are you sure you want the damn thing?”
Cadance laughed. “Yeah, I want it.”
“All right, but don’t come crying to me if you blow yourself to kingdom come.”
“I won’t, I promise.”
Skeeter disappeared into the weapons locker for a few minutes and reappeared carrying a large silver case. He set the case on the counter and opened it for Cadance to examine.
The BFG-2074 looked like a silver box with a coffee can sized nozzle sticking out of the front and two hooks for a shoulder strap on either side. The weapon had that pieced-together look of a prototype.
The BFG fired a concentrated ball of plasma contained within a magnetic field. The magnetic field would destabilize when striking a target, causing the plasma to explode and destroying anything within the blast radius. The weapon was finicky though, and the plasma discharge unreliable. Cold fusion cells powered the BFG and five were in the case.
Cadance closed up the case and signed out the weapon. “Thanks, Skeet.”
“Anything else?” Skeeter asked.
“No, that should do it.”
“Take care, now,” Skeeter said going back to his Mossberg.
Cadance stowed the weapon, along with his luggage, on the Hummer waiting to take him to the shuttle port. “All set,” Cadance told the driver. The Hummer lifted straight up into the air, spinning in a half-circle and heading towards the L-A-X shuttle port.
Allison Clark, tucking a strand of blond hair behind her ear, studied the image of a metal tablet on her hand comp as she sped across the sky in a cab. The tablet, bronze with a plating of gold, contained a portion of the writing of the long dead Luandi. The script flowed across the tablet, each letter linked to the other in a continuous, unbroken line. Like the ancient Greeks, the Luandi had not used punctuation of any kind in their writing, so it was a challenge to separate one word from the next.
“We’ll be at LAX in about five minutes,” the cab driver said over his shoulder. Allison nodded, not looking up from her hand comp.
The archeological team had discovered the tablets in a cave in the rugged mountains north of the main city. Allison remembered that day when they had entered the cave. The flashlights the team members carried had revealed row upon row of bronze racks filled with tablets stacked like books in a library. The cave held thousands of tablets, all etched with the flowing Luandi script.
All of the tablets had been scanned and were in Allison’s hand comp. She had spent several months trying to decode the script, with no luck, until she discovered the Luandi equivalent to the Rosetta stone: a collection of tablets that had pictures etched upon them with corresponding script captions. The picture tablets had provided the key that had broken the Luandi language code.
The Luandi had been fanatical about recording their day-to-day lives and the tablets represented several thousand years of Luandi history. Scholars would be studying the Luandi tablets for years. What intrigued Allison though, was what was termed as the Religious Writings, a collection of a hundred tablets that represented the last of the Luandi writings. The tablets were about five hundred years old and described the coming of the Gods to the Luandi.
“Ah, got it,” she said to herself as the last tablet of the Religious collection gave up its secrets, the translated text appearing on her hand comp. She read the text to herself and frowned. While it did have some qualities of religious text, it did not have the formalism that one would expect of a religion.
“Gods came to us from a doorway of light,” she read, “appearing in the month of Q’tar in the year of the Great Light.” The Great Light had been the time in Luandi history, Allison remembered, when the Luandi sun had flared, bathing the planet in intense solar radiation.
She looked at the passage again. “No, that’s not right,” she said to herself. The word she had translated Gods, should have been translated Old Ones... No, the word had the prefix that meant a superior proper noun, the word itself meaning not just old, but ancient. She tapped the hand comp and the text changed.
“The Ancient Ones came to us from a doorway of light, appearing in the month of Q’tar in the year of the Great Light,” she read. The text described how these Ancient Ones had helped the Luandi through the period of the misbehaving sun and for several years after.
Quickly scanning through the text, making corrections, the passage toward the end caught her eye. “The Ancients had not appeared to us in a generation and the Elders said we had angered them. We kept a vigil looking for return of the Doorway of Light, for the return of the Ancients.
“Then one night, in the month of R’tar, in the summer of the year of the Moving of the Earth, the Doorway appeared. We were overjoyed and gathered to the Doorway to welcome the Ancients. It was not the Ancients though, that appeared from the Doorway, but monsters, demons, the Ones of Evil.
“They killed us and ravaged the land. A few of us escaped to the caves where we wait for deliverance. We pray for the return of the Ancient Ones to help us in our time of need, as They did in days of old. Come o’ Ancient Ones before we all perish in the face of the Evil that has gripped the land.”
Allison looked up from the text, a chill running down her spine.
“Here we are,” said the driver, “L-A-X.”