Stranger in a Strange LandOur challange this week: Pick a small, inexpensive toy from your childhood. Now give it to someone from a foreign (or alien) culture. What do they do with it?
Turion shifted the metallic carcass of the warp drive from the tangled mess inside the cockpit and crouched studying the layout. It had taken him two days to wriggle and worm his way through to this part in the wreckages in the dumps surrounding the citadel. Past wars and the crumbling of earths economy and place within the Empire had forced many merchants to simply dump their entire ships and cargo and walk back through the shifting sands to what little security they could hope to gain from the citadels high walls.
Over the centuries since, the Lost folk and the Condemned had found homes and safety within parts of the dumps. Scrappers were essentially lazy and would only salvage what they could see; a blessing for survivors like him; who spent their time fossicing around deep inside the dump, retrieving precious circuit boards and robotics to sell in the Twixt Markets.
Frowning, Turion realized that most of the easily portable and saleable things had been taken. He shrugged his knapsack from his aching shoulders and looked about for somewhere comfortable to rest. With nightfall approaching it wasn’t safe to be out alone. Chewing on a corner of protein loaf, he reasoned he may be able unscrew some of the larger circuit boards and take out the usable components. Although they would not have their stamped numbers, some of the merchants at the Twixt Markets weren’t fussy with details.
Having set up a rudimentary camp and ensuring the only entry was jammed closed for safety, Turion set about using what little sunlight there was to begin unscrewing panels to reveal wires and boards behind them. Out of idle curiosity he opened one of the crew lockers on the side wall. In addition to containing the normal crumbling matter, laying on its side was a clear plastic vessel with a tiny packet inside it.
Gingerly picking it up Turion turned it over screwing his eyes trying to decipher the spidery wording. With a laugh, he realized it was written in ancient Earthonian English. His mother had been insistent he learn this dead language and it was only when he was introduced to the Philosophers Music of Mr Flyod and the Shifting Rocks did he begin to appreciate his lessons.
“Sea-Monkeys® are a true miracle of nature. They exist in suspended animation inside their tiny eggs for many years. The instant-life crystals, in which the eggs are enclosed, preserve their viability and help to extend still further their un-hatched life span! Sea-Monkeys are real Time-Travelers asleep in biological time capsules for their strange journey into the future!”
Turion began to shake with excitement. He only understood half of what he had read, but realized he had uncovered survivors from ancient Earth, cleverly held in stasis until they were released. Turning the packet over to reveal more instructions, he worked out that they had to be immersed in water to unlock the sleep program.
The pictures showed pink smiling creatures similar to the Urath scrappers he had met. Shaking the little packet, Turion wondered how many water creatures it contained, how many had survived their centuries long sleep and if somehow they were distant cousins of the Urath. Snorting, Turion laughed; he’d never seen a Urath smile like the pictures on the packet, but he hoped they’d be as strong and single minded. The long shadows made it impossible to read any further and the strain of translating had given Turion a headache.
With is head spinning with possibilities, Turion curled up attempting to sleep. If these survivors could access their memories from ancient Earth, they would be an incredible resource for the Lost folk. He had so many questions on his own! Surely once they saw the degradation of Earth, its fall from grace in the Empire, coupled with the inequities within the class system, they would be more than happy to join the Lost folk and their rebellion. Shivering, Turion hugged himself, drifting off to sleep with visions of battalions of pink smiling Urath heading the frontal charge towards the citadel.