Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Parody Week 2: Temporal Anthropology

The Expedition
34 Dunei 3860 - New Capitol, Rathea

I was approached just five days ago by a friend of mine, Hanhoa Sheiwu the theological historian from the Academy of History, not as a subject but as friend seeking counsel. She had discovered an old carving with circular pictographs which looked uncannily like Gallifreyan writings, and asked me if I could translate it for her. I told her that the symbols looked like shorthand ideograms for celestial objects, like stars and planets, then asked her where she had come across such writing.
Hanhoa explained to me then that the carvings were over three thousand years old, and that she’d hypothesized that Gallifreyans had visited Rathea millennia ago and seeded neroth (i.e. native Rathean) life upon it. I was intrigued, so when she informed me that, she would lead an archaeological expedition to test this hypothesis, traveling to find the source of these pictographs from original dig site at the Howling Mountains, I announced my intention to join this expedition.

As a Gallifreyan myself, I was curious to see if one of my fellow time lords had visited Rathea before me. But, more than anything, I suspected that these were not the results of other time lords, but rather some venture into the past on my part that I was yet to make. If that was the case, it was best that I see what mess I was going to make. If not, well, I have to say that my scientist’s curiosity had peaked.
I assigned the Marquess to keep command in my absence, but when word spread that The Duke of Rathea was to set off on a scientific expedition, Hanhoa’s project gained a great deal more support and volunteers in a very short time, as well as a few minor political detractors. She quickly accumulated a team of intelligent and talented expeditors to join us. There were archaeologists, paleontologists, biologists, historians, dune-walkers, squid-hunters, ice-haulers, warriors, caterers, sumpter herdsmen, navigators and even two publicists. Our expedition numbered just less than forty, myself included, but I had faith in every single one of us.

Our journey began at the gates of New Capitol, where my people were waiting to see us off in a grand ceremony, all of the citizens of New Capital had gathered to fare us well. After an impromptu speech and some cheering, we left the city by large sand-skimmers, hovering across the Capitol Expanse towards the Brum’hara Desert. The soldiers and squid-hunters stood vigil by the open deck of the skimmers, keeping an eye out for sand-squid, for they have a nasty habit of killing those that disturb them, even when hovering above their sand.
It took a full day and night of travel across the Brum’hara; over the Great Southern Salt Lake and through the cracked mud-plains of Entropy before we arrived at the Howling Mountains.

In early morning, we set up a base of operations on a clearing with a solid rock base that no sand-squid could penetrate, and spread out to search. The mountains are named for the sounds the severe winds make as they whistle past the curved, mountain crags, and we heard the roar and howl of the stormy sands as we spread out through the range. Hanhoa directed the teams of scientists around the mountains. and into the mouths of caves, looking for the original site where the etching was found, as the sands had been unsettled in that time. There were scattered remnants, but nothing we could identify, due to erosion of the artefacts.
It was nightfall before we found what we were after. In one of the cave systems, there was evidence of an abandoned settlement. However, upon inspection the paleontologists declared that, rather than nerothkin, this was the ruins of a homas settlement.

The evidence was clear due to the height of the cave drawings; also a makeshift graveyard, within which we discovered several worn down and fossilized bones, including a jawbone which, unlike a neroth mandible, was not split in the middle; a sternum with notches for 7 rib pairs rather than 9, and even a section of pelvis too wide for a neroth. Also, the fact that the remains had been buried rather than burned was enough to convince the historians.
It was then that the biologists pointed out that the settlement, despite having great shelter, had no fertile ground, no plentiful supply of fauna to hunt &, as homas could not retain water like a neroth, there was not enough fresh water to sustain them. They suggested that, since there was fertile lands across the mud plains of Entropy and that Gamera - a small, homas populated city was there - it was likely that the original settlers of this encampment had trekked there to resettle, and were the ancestors of Gamera citizens.
Some were doubtful, as such a walk would take almost a week, even riding on a sumpter beast, and many more were disappointed at discovering homas ancestry rather than neroth, but Hanhoa was excited to be so wrong, and she took two squid hunters, three biologists, a historian and myself to the city by sand-skimmer to speak to the locals.

Although the entirety of Rathea is within the boundary of my duchy, I have seen a scarce fraction of my full domain. So, although the homas fall under the reach of the throne, this fact-finding venture was the first time that the homas had been formally introduced to their duke, or me to them. So, when I met with a homas ambassador, Due to my time lordship, their words were easily translated to me; but also, I recognized the people from the timeship’s database, they were catalogued in the system under “homo sapiens”; I knew then that someone had been meddling with the sub-light species, as these homas “ape aliens” originated from a far-flung world in the Mutter’s Spiral. I translated for my fellow scientists as we asked about their recorded history. Their only memory of the past was by oral tradition, told in song, legend and verse.

Their oldest legend was one of being born when Ego (their creator god) spoke, and the thunderous voice bore them amidst a fire. Then a bolt of lightning lifted them up and they, sailed the sky in the eye of a storm, calm through the turbulent torrent, as Ego calmed the chaos of the world. They were then left on a green and empty land, and were told by Him to live and prosper. There, a chosen few, lead by a prophet, were lead to a magic well, which they dived through to find this new, promised land. Although this land was empty, after wandering the sands, Ego was graceful and He gave them the tools to live and prosper.
Although the story was forgotten and misremembered, their religion said that they stepped through an empty door to find great Mount Mosi, and Hanhoa was convinced that they had come from somewhere within the mountain.

At my behest, the ambassador came with us back to the Howling Mountains with two masters of the church, and he inspected our progress that afternoon. After some short discussion to take possession of the “useless” artefacts that had eroded away in the sands, the local homas told more detailed stories of their journey to Mount Mosi. They said that the prophet had told them to take the well and the pearl and guided his people deep into the caverns, to keep these relics from the dangerous beasts beneath the sand.
With this information, the homas lead a search to the tallest mountain in the Howling Mountain Range, in the hopes that this was the legendary Mount Mosi, and that whatever Gallifreyan influence that brought them could be found there.

We found a deep and twisting cave system under the mountain, but with the guidance of the homas masters of the church, with their knowledge of homas superstition, they found the path of their ancestors and we came upon a deep shrine underground. We set up torches and equipment in that opening, and finally found what we were looking for.
The walls and floor were decorated ceremoniously, but against the back wall and in a divot that had been carved into the rocky ground, we found the legendary “magic well”. It was A great silver ring, seven metres wide, with intricate technology laced within it and nine golden lanterns evenly spaced around the edge within a chevron-shaped frame; and, on an inner ring there were thirty-three panels, and on each was a Gallifreyan ideograms for celestial objects and galactic waypoints.

After observing the technology closely, I was quite impressed by the workmanship. It was obviously due to the ostentatious use of precious metals that this was the work of some proud, renegade time lord, and by its circuitry I identified its function as a wormhole generator. When I also discovered a spherical hologram projector resting on the floor in front of it, I told my fellow scientists to stand back, and I activated the projector. The sphere rose a metre off the ground, then hung in mid-air and projected a holographic interface in a flower-like pattern of thirty-three blue hexagons, each with a symbol on it identical to one present on the wormhole generator itself.
By accessing the dialing computer’s sub-directory, I quickly found the last address dialled, then I entered it into the interface. The lanterns either side lit up consecutively as each symbol was dialed, and as the top lantern was illuminated, a rush of unstable blue energy filled the middle of the ring then the unstable vortex burst forth in a great geyser before receding back into the ring and stabilizing into a rippling event horizon.

We declared the expedition a success and after deactivating the wormhole, Hanhoa declared her expedition an outrageous success and began preparing to transport the wormhole generator to the Capitol for study. However, as my work was done and I needed to return to my duty, I left them to collect the device themselves. So, I boarded a sand-skimmer, alongside the publicists and several soldiers to announce our find to the peoples of Rathea.
It seems that this trip into our past will undoubtedly pave the way towards a more connected future. I am proud to be Duke during this time of advancement, and I can only hope that this discovery will inspire my people to reach for the stars.

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