Story about an archaeologist excavating on an alien world.
| Dagera wiped the sweat from her brow as she walked to the dig site. A hot world, this one, but full of so much promise.... She looked eagerly on, as the workmen picked up where they had left off the night before. The work manager climbed up out of the pit to meet her.
“Greetings, revered archaeologist,” he said playfully to her. He swept a bow and turned, his tail nearly catching her on the shins. They walked down into the site and murmured together over what had been found so far. A few shards of metal and plastic, that was all, but it seemed like the greatest of treasures to Dagera.
Kalick watched her eyes light up as he shared the first findings. “We keep digging then, Dagera?”
“Most certainly!” Dagera looked up at the sun. It was early yet, but the day promised to be hot. “In fact, I shall stay on-site today.” Dagera sighed, thinking wistfully of her cabin and its coolness, but pushed the thought to the back of her mind. It was a long way to run if something important were discovered.
Kalick looked at her with sympathy, though not with understanding. He had been born on a hot, humid jungle world. The lizard-like bipedal enjoyed heat, like most of his species. “I shall set up a desk for you in the main tent,” he promised, knowing that she would spend most of the day reading. Unless, of course, they discovered something.
“Thank you, Kalick,” Dagera replied, and turned to walk back to the ship, thinking to fetch the latest reports from the other continents. Digs were being conducted simultaneously on four separate continents, all of them under her direction. She had seen the reports of a new solar system, recently explored by the Galactic Space Service.
Preliminary readings, conducted from space, indicated that the third planet from the sun may have supported life once.
Dagera had waited impatiently for the official request to filter down to the Archaeological Institute for an expert. She had volunteered promptly, stepping ahead of her rivals, and had received the assignment. She had waited a long time for this, the chance to conduct research on an entirely new species! Just as she neared the ramp leading to the rim of the site, there came a shout from one of the workmen.
Dagera turned and sprinted in the direction the shout had come from, spurred on by Kalick’s cry of, “Dagera! Come back!”
She pounded up to Kalick side and stood, breathing heavily, to stare at what the workman had uncovered. A curve, an arm length long, peeked out from underneath the rubble he had been clearing away. Yellow plastic, she thought, kneeling down to run a finger along it. Kalick gave an involuntary gasp, afraid it would crumble under her fingers, but it did not. Indeed, her fingers left a slightly cleaner streak in the dust that covered it.
Dagera sighed and dreamily motioned for the workman to hand his tools to her.
She typed furiously on the terminal in her cabin. They had discovered so much that day! The first discovery had turned out to be part of a large building, with many and varied artifacts. She had come back to her cabin to write up a report for the Institute, only to discover reports waiting from the other dig sites. All of them had found something, indeed, the artifacts they reported sounded similar to those uncovered at this site.
Dagera smiled happily as she typed away, recording her preliminary thoughts about what the artifacts could mean. Such a commonality could only mean a religion, with its own set of symbols and, possibly, language. They had found a sign, covered in unusual symbols. The symbols could mean anything at all, but the majority were likely words. One day, they would be able to read those words, she promised herself. In the meanwhile, she could only guess what thoughts they expressed, what mystic meaning they could hold. She reached out to touch the first artifact they had found that day. It lay on her desk beside her, somehow promising answers. She ran her fingers over the bright yellow plastic and around the curve of the unusual twin arches. Golden arches, she thought, and wondered at its significance.
Dagera took up a plastic cup, also recovered from the building, and looked at it in concentration. The pictures on the side were faded, but it clearly showed a being doing... something. It was a large cup, the bottom narrow enough for it to be held, but the top flaring up wide. She turned the white plastic, noting the embossed double arches, and made a notation in her report. She stood and stretched, catching sight of herself in the cabin’s mirror. She paused to admire her purple skin, darkening from this day’s work in the sun. She flipped her white hair over her shoulder as she turned back to the terminal, the cup, and the golden arches.