Captain Aoife McKenzie stared down at the ancient ruins with her arms crossed as her science officer Lieutenant Shrin scraped the black overburden away from the temple’s floor as various artifacts were exposed to the light for the first time in thousands of years.
The USS Crazy Horse had been in orbit of Je’lon IV for the last four months as the ship’s science teams unearthed and ancient ruins of a past alien species, contemporary of the Iconians. The dig had been mostly boredom inducing to the captain and most of the crew who weren’t science focused until… the last few days.
“The power source is close,” the Andorian woman said holding a tricorder in her hand. Without closing the device she eagerly picked up her trowel and carefully scrapped away nutrient rich earth. Roots popped as she removed layer after layer into a bucket to be sifted later.
With the scraping of metal on stone Shrin used a brush to push the last of the soil away. The object was cut into a dodecahedron with ancient writing carved on at least three of the exposed sides. The face positioned at the top had a recessed panel and pulsed with a glowing blue.
Aoife pushed a crimson strand of hair from her face. The ocean breeze had wreaked havoc on her normally perfectly orderly regulation bun. “Any clue what it is?”
Shrin shrugged, “Not a clue. It’s emitting low levels of gamma rays as well an electromagnetic field.”
“Meaning?” Aoife asked
“Meaning… I don’t have the foggiest clue,” Shrin replied looking over her shoulder. She carefully dug around the artifact extracted it from its earthen tomb. She brushed the dirt from the sides as she rotated it in her left hand. It was a little bit bigger than a soft ball. The outside surface was grey and pock marked with age. “The exterior shell appears to be made up of a platinum-gold alloy. It was probably originally polished to a mirror like finish.”
She rolled the artifact around in her hand and stopped, “I don’t think this is writing… it looks like… well it looks like a… I think this is a star chart.”
“Star chart?” Aoife asked as she kneeled to get a closer look. “Well, your people think this is a temple. It is not very surprising that they would incorporate constellations into their ceremonies. At least this wouldn’t be the first civilization to do so.”
“No it wouldn’t,” Shrin agreed. “But it begs the question; what are they saying here? Is this a particular constellation a representation of a God or some religious symbol? Or maybe it marks the time of year for a particular ceremony.”
“Well, Lieutenant that’s your problem, not mine,” Aoife said with a grin. “At least we found something interesting here. Is this the only power source?”
Shrin set the artifact down and stood with her tricorder and scanned the area. “That’s it. That is the only power source within ten kilometers minus our own devices. I would like to take this back to the ship to get a better look at it. Maybe determine its function.”
“Let’s have Washington and Garza take a look at it before you beam it aboard. Just to make sure it isn’t a threat to the ship first.”
“Understood Captain,” Shrin nodded.
There was a sudden commotion as excited voiced rose from the far side of the dig. A group of archeologists clumped around a beaming blonde woman holding a dark brown object in her hands.
As they approached Aoife could make out the lines of a sword. The blonde handed the sword to Shrin. The Andorian woman examined it curiously, but didn’t seem to share the same excitement of the others. “A sword? It appears to be made of an iron alloy,” she added absently.
“I did my master’s thesis on the early medieval period. That is a classic Western European arming sword from around the 12th and 13th centuries. A metallurgical scan is also consistent.”
“Wait?” Aoife asked with a raised eyebrow, “Is this human in origin?”
“Not likely. This site hasn’t been disturbed for nearly two-thousand years. Radio carbon dating from the hearth confirms that much and we’re nowhere near Earth. This is likely the technological equivalent of convergent evolution. An interesting piece nonetheless. Tag it and we’ll add it to the artifact collection”
The blonde woman looking dejected nodded and the others dispersed. Aoife shook her head, “That was harsh.”
“She’s naive. What’s more likely; a human sword on a planet a thousand light years from Earth or function dictating form?”
“Okay point taken. Still felt a bit harsh.”
“Captain,” Shrin started patiently. “We are in the field. Our time here is finite. We haven’t the time to waste on idle speculation. We can do that while on the ship.”
Aoife sighed. That was part of the reason she was here right now. The whole science department had been going crazy over this discovery, but they had received new orders this morning. “You have a point,” Aoife agreed.
“We’re packing up aren’t we?” Shrin asked.
“Yeah… we are.”
“I can’t say I’m surprised. To be honest I’m surprised Starfleet gave us four months.”
“Yeah, not a whole lot going on right now though, but it was a matter of time.”
“When do we leave?”
“Day after tomorrow. Starbase 86, and then a diplomatic mission to Argosian VIII.”
“We’ll we have nearly ten thousand artifacts to catalogue, and we now have a language to translate.”
Aoife smiled, “It looks like you have plenty of work to do.”
“Yes Captain,” the Andorian replied with a fake smile. The disappointment clear on her face.
Aoife patted Shrin on the shoulder, “You can always resign your commission and join the archeological team Starfleet is dispatching.”
Shrin smirked this time with genuine amusement, “And risk missing the next discovery? No thank you ma’am. I’m just greedy. I want my cake and eat it too.”
Aoife laughed and tapped her combadge, “Crazy Horse, one to beam up.” The transporter chief acknowledged her and a moment later she was swept up in the energy beam and was gone.