Author : Clint Wilson
The intelligence level of the Xzeckqi people was growing at an exponential rate. Just a few centuries prior they had been cooking over open fires and using stones to sharpen animal bones into spears. Now they were hunting with exploding projectiles and using electric ovens to prepare meals. And in the populous Jagxso region, a wide flattish land running nearly half the circumference of the tiny green world’s equator, there were wheeled carts moving by means of autonomous engines. All in all the Xzeckqi were proving to be quite inquisitive and inventive.
Their curiosity and thirst for learning had recently caused them to take up great interest in their planet’s geology. Prehistoric Xzeckqi had taken for granted the random and varying intricate formations of their world’s topography. Geometrically perfect shapes and angles littered the globe, all covered by the vibrant green of the thick ever-nourishing moss that grew from pole to pole. But the people knew that when digging down through the life-giving organism one found many different colors and strange materials. The moss was thought to feed directly on some of this mysterious layer that occupied the space between the biocrust and the ‘dock’ or dirt-and-rock layer whose great depth had yet to be determined.
Their curiosity of the middle layer went all the way back to the early development of tool making which was based on the study of some of the strange giant ‘stones’ found there. Early Xzeckqi people had studied the threaded lines on house-sized spiral formations and by copying them had developed one of the earliest simple machines — the screw. Of course the wheel had already been long invented by now, as giant wheels seemed to occur naturally nearly everywhere in their world, along with other wheel-based phenomena such as cogs, gears and pulleys, plus axles, levers, hinges, and countless other devices, waiting to be studied and then duplicated down to a manageable scale. Almost all modern technology now owed its existence to the excavation and copying of various formations found in the layer.
But the people wondered — how could natural formations be so perfect, with parts that looked as though they could still move with the precision of any modern machine or device. On they poured, searching for answers.
Meanwhile aboard the star freighter Constantine.
“Sergeant, why haven’t we stopped to dump our garbage? I want to get into warp before lunch!” The Captain rubbed his weary eyes and sipped his coffee. He could view the navscreen from where he stood well enough to see that the bright green dump planet, Tilpot IV, was below but falling away, yet the yellow lights on the custodial array glowed bright, showing the ship’s waste containers still quite full.
“Sorry Cap,” the young sergeant replied. “Collective orders. No more dumping on Tilpot IV until ecological survey performed. Don’t worry though. Jack’s Port, the big moon of Tilpot VII has been designated temporary dumping site until the survey is completed.”
The captain didn’t look impressed. “All the way out to the seventh planet at fuel-speed? I’d rather we drop back and do a little illegal dumping that aint gonna hurt a soul.”
Knowing fully that he could exercise his legal right at any time and place his superior under arrest based on Environmental Absolute 1.9 he decided to let his captain finish his coffee. “Like I said, don’t worry sir. I can get us up to .002 by fusing some of ‘hotter’ waste we have in container three. We’ll be there in no time. And besides…” He said sternly. “There might be something intelligent down there.”
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows