Not a Historical Fiction - Higher Glyphs
So I just realized that I have not yet shared with you the semi-finalists and winning stories. I'm terribly sorry. I had life overwhelm me, and, coupled with Indie e-Con burn-out, I shut down.
Anywho, I'm getting back on top of things (and will be emailing all of the winners shortly, finally), so let's plunge in.
First off, we have the semi-finalist-by-default Higher Glyphs, which was not a Historical Fiction, but rather sci-fi. It was written by my mother, at the last minute, when she found out that I didn't have any submissions for this prompt. And then she sent me an edited document a few days later with a few edits. The first submission was the one judged, but this is the edited version.
I hope you enjoy!
Gabby gazed out into the desert, her eyes fixed on one of the “Great Wonders of the Ancient World” as the tourist guide droned on and on about them. This man was said to know a great deal about these “Pyramids of Egypt”. She chuckled, he knew nothing. It had been her people who had built that first pyramid, built and brought it to Egypt.
She glanced back down at the brochure describing the ancient burial chambers. She shuddered. How soon these people had forgotten the real reason for the pyramid. Imagine housing dead people with their organs removed. She chuckled. She could hardly wait to see the look of disgust on the faces of her superior who had given her the task of ship retrieval. She wondered how they would explain a missing pyramid.
The time table was getting short. After a year of work, they were now only days away from lift off. She thought back to the day she had been selected as team leader. It was a day of honor, until she understood that she would be allowed no farewells.
Skylort beckoned from the corridor, the motion slight but urgent none-the-less. She gave her excuses to her friends and rubbed her cheek against her mate’s. “I saw him too,” he murmured, “He went toward the blue exit.” He winked before turning his attention back to the card game. Gabby strolled out of the cafeteria and down the walkway.
Skylort was up to something. As a tech expert at the Nebrura Institute of Higher Learning, he was obsessed with the races that they had visited the last time their planet had wandered through these galaxies. “You were quick to observe. That will serve you well,” said Skylort as she caught up to him. She nodded and waited patiently. “You will come to a meeting tonight. After the bells.” And then he vanished. She wasn’t surprised. Nor was she surprised when her mate appeared soon after. Space jumping was a gift many of her people possessed. Her gifts were more rare, and included a perfect memory and the ability to learn new languages almost instantly, but alas, not space jumping.
That night, she had arrived unprepared for the task that was laid out before her. Eleven others sat in the room. “Some of you know each other. You can figure it all out after you leave tonight.” They nodded, glancing back and forth. “Tonight, you will learn the purpose for which I have shown interest in your minor selves. Each of you shows promise and should, working together, be able to retrieve a minor item that I have been researching.”
Skylort cleared his throat and an elder entered the room. In his hands was a very old book. “My father.” Skylort explained. “His father was a boy the last time we were here, and his father oversaw a secret mission to a special planet. The mission may have failed, or it may have succeeded. We do not know. Those tasked with the plans were abandoned to their fate due to the arrival of a great judgment.”
One brave arm rose, “Sir, you don’t mean the great Anglec Wars and the planet Ert?”
“Oh yes, I do mean. I’m surprised you know anything about it.”
“My great grandfather …. He was an abandoned. His mate had been left here with their children. My grandmother had already passed the age of understanding. I would not have said anything, except for that book. She also has one.”
Skylort stared at the young man intently. “Yes, there were a few missed, so was my father.” He cleared his throat and continued.
“Secretly, I have been researching. The purpose of achieving the status that I enjoy today, was to have access to the secret documents. But handed down to me, was my Grandfather’s Wordthoughts,” he motioned to the book his father held. “I read it. I mean to prove it happened, and to retrieve the great ship that was sent to Ert.”
The room was silent.
“When do we leave?”
“Were you not listening? You leave tonight.” You could have heard a pin falling.
The rest of the night passed in a blur. So many instructions. So much secrecy. It would be almost 3 full turns before they would return, hopefully in triumph. The hard part was not being able to say any farewells. Skylort assured them that as of this moment, they had no choice, and he would personally contact their families. He was startled to learn that Gabby had a mate, but assured her that he would be informed as well. But informed of what? She wondered. She was not worried, for one of her mate’s gifts was a heart link. He would always know where she was and that she was alive, but did it work across space that vast?
After a long trip, their arrival on Ert had been equally shocking. Where were the lush acres of endless trees and animals? Where were the giant creatures? This was a broken and dying world. Contact would be out of the question, the mission must have failed – their sole purpose was now retrieval of the great colony ship. The language in their data existed in a mere tiny number of the populace and was greatly changed. Where had all of these new languages come from?
It took a week to locate their directive. They would land in a place called Egypt to research and plan. Gabby’s language skills were tested and challenged as she encountered a dozen languages that must be understood and taught before they could move out into the population.
Leaving their ship for the first time was a surprising experience. Wandering into the city, some would reach out to touch them and pay respects and homage of milk and fish, while others would yell and hit at them. It did not take long to find their long-lost cousins, but they were unprepared for their lack of knowledge or the shortness of their lifespans. The readings said that, like themselves, the population of this world should live hundreds of rotations, some up to a thousand. Yet, it seamed that now that number had been shortened to less than a mere hundred. Absurd! And their cousins had been shortened right along with them … so instead of a mere 4 or 5 generations past, there were over a thousand between them and their ancestors!
Museums came first. At first, the guards would not let them enter. But three of their party were space hoppers. Ashgl was able to transport with another, and that way, they could enter any place they wished after the doors were locked. It was slow, but they success was their only option. They were delighted to find the glyphs of their own language and frequent documentation about the interaction of their own people in this land, for Punt was mentioned with great regularity, but without any knowledge that it was a whole new world! They did not know WHERE it was, only that it was!
Gabby gathered her thoughts as the tour guide finished his comments. This was the last group of the day, and they could return to the pyramid without delay. Repairs had taken months. Finding the proper chemicals and manufacturing so many of the broken parts had been time consuming, but necessary. She tolerated the touches as the people left the area. The cousins seemed to enjoy the touching, but they had lost much in their time on this world.
Pughl separated from the shadows. “I have the last piece,” he said, his tail slashing back and forth. “We have worked all day to transport the last of our supplies onto the Colony ship. Must we include these so-called cousins?” he nearly spat out the words in disgust.
“One of our objectives is to bring the people home, not just our technology.”
“But they are so backwards. I’ve not talked to any that have any knowledge of who or what they are. How will they even fit in?” Pughl demanded an answer, his tale bristling in agitation.
“Calm. I do have an answer. We will make a heart call. Those who still have the heart of a Punter will be beckoned to the ship, indeed, they will be unable to refuse. All others will be left behind,” Gabby explained.
She gazed with sad eyes toward a boy who walked along with a fish held high above his head. His nimble feet raced ahead of thirty or so of these cousins, each snarling and slashing at each other as they followed the child out of site.
“If they were like us, they would not be chasing a smelly fish,” Ashgl commented in disgust. “They act as if they have no heart and no intelligence.”
“How many are here?” she asked.
“Over 800 billion. But there is plenty of room on the ship and on Punt. They can all come home. But many of them will be missed,” replied Bil.
“Missed when we activate the gathering?” asked Ashgl.
“No,” replied Bil. “Missed by the natives who live here. Many of our people live with them and depend on them. Those will be missed. They may not respond to the heart call though. They may have given their heart over to this world without thought for their true home.”
The last of the twelve arrived with the Great Father of Skylort. In his hands, he held the Book of Thoughts. “It is time,” he rasped. He turned and strode across the burning sands and into the Great Pyramid. His whiskers twitched as he entered the cool inside, this was his first time to arrive. He and six others had never left the transport landing site, until now.
He looked back at his twelve followers. “You have done well.” A smile spread across his face. Then he turned and led them up and into the inner workings of the ship.
Force fields were erected. Engines began humming. Color warmed the massive stones as they came to life. Gabby led the way to the gathering chamber. There was the heart song equipment. She had cleaned and repaired it with her own two hands. Looking around at the others, she took a deep breath, and pushed the lever that would allow the mixture of chemicals to begin their call.
“All of you, go to the circle in the middle, and take hold. The song of Punt will broadcast far and wide and will call all Punters into our hold.”
Nothing happened. Was there no cousin left on this world who still held the heart of Punt? Then finally, first one, then another, and another popped into the chamber. “Like popcorn,” mused Gabby. The stuff had fascinated her. And then it stopped.
The new arrivals looked around, startled, but their eyes soon filled with joy, not fear. “You came back for us!” said one.
“How many?” asked the Great Father.
“Only 800 thousand.”
Most of that number appeared wild, tails slashed with determination as they eyed those around them.
“And when will we go?” asked a great large cousin, a thick mane surrounding his face.
“We have already gone. Ert is already disappearing into the distance,” answered Gabby. She flicked a screen into view and they stood and watched the tiny world disappearing into the distance.
“Waiting for your return seemed to take forever. So many of us came and went, so many died waiting and watching. What took so long?”
Gabby looked across their expectant faces. “But for us, it has only been a little while. We came as soon as we were able.”
“It does not matter now. Coming home again will be worth the waiting.”
Indeed, their home arrival was with the biggest pomp and ceremony. Awards were handed out. Skylort became a hero and awarded much prestige for his part. The rescued cousins were given the finest homes and care, their bodies responded to the perfect air and food and they looked forward to long lives.
Gabby only had eyes for her mate as she slipped from the crowds to greet him. “Welcome home!” He cried. “My heart has been singing the heartsong the whole trip that you have been coming home. When you turned it on, we, the whole planet, knew you were coming home!”