The creature looked dubiously at the disc in its hands; what could it mean? It placed the disc within the box that had protected it so far and in its satchel to be shown to the scientist on board the ship before moving forward. The planet they were orbiting around now was once rich; they’d already identified numerous layers in the earth’s crust and found it was once made of 70% of water. There were traces of civilization albeit of the most primitive sort. Maybe the disc would tell them something.
Standing tall on its hind legs, the creature cast a glance around; the air was dry, clean although it wasn’t always so. Something had destroyed this planet ecosystem but what? After it gathered some more samples, the creature locked its transporter with the ship.
A quick mind contact with the officer in charge of landing and the creature made its way towards the lab.
“You found something.” The scientist connected just as soon as they entered the lab.
Without so much as a thought, they pulled out the box containing the disc. The scientist’s face broke into a smile. “Communication device.”
The gatherer felt pride: he knew what an important discovery a communication device could be. They’d been looking for proof that other inhabitants of the galaxy could exchange messages, but in their centuries of searching they had failed to find any civilization that had developed this far.
The scientist grabbed the box and opened it before placing the disc on the reading plate. The gatherer couldn’t help but being fascinated. No matter which planet, which system they discovered the reading plate could understand anything. It decoded, decrypted and translated into their language whatever was written or spoken on the objects they found.
Here something appeared; it was in a curious shape. It had a head covered with some type of fur that fell down to what must be the creature’s shoulder. Its face was pale doted with red and its eyes were blue; it possessed a mouth so it mustn’t be able to communicate with thoughts. Such a primitive civilization; talking in order to converse, what waste of time. But from the neck downwards, the creature was like a grey lizard, as if it had scales.
“They’re clothes,” the scientist corrected. “This is a woman belonging to the human race, which once inhabited this planet. We believe they were annihilated 25 centuries ago after they ran through all the planet’s resources, destroying the protecting layer around the planet and their star burned it all.”
How did the scientist know so much? Well, there was a reason there were scientists and gatherers. Scientists had more knowledge, more power. And maybe there were things the gatherer didn’t know about the worlds that scientists did. Still both stopped mind connecting when the ‘woman’ opened her mouth. The noises she made sounded like disturbing moans; but the reader translated.
“Jake, I don’t know where you are. I hope you escaped the latest solar flare. I can’t wait any longer. The military won’t let us stay another day. Colonel Jeffreys said that if you found this message and could make it to Zone 43, the last ships will be waiting another 2 days before leaving, but here we can’t. According to the patterns of the solar flares, the next will hit us. If we don’t leave now, it’s 2500 people who will die. I can’t allow it. Even for your sake. I wish I knew where you were. I hope to find you on Earth #2 in Alpha. Please know that I and the kids love you. Come back to us.”
The scientist’s shock was palpable. Apparently the discovery was more than anticipated.
“Humans left this planet. And they knew love was at the core of reproduction. I need to let our Academics know. They will want to keep track of that.”
“What is Alpha?”
“Maybe Alpha Centauri. It used to be the closest star to this planet then. Can you believe they had developed means to travel as we have? That’s the biggest discovery since… since we realized the universe expands for thousands of millennia and retracts itself to restart in another big explosion.”
The gatherer felt a sense of awe; not that another civilization could have developed means to travel through the stars, but rather that the universe it knew wasn’t the first. That was a discovery.
In response to Deviant Art Flash Fiction July 17 prompt
Prompt: A single disc is left behind on a ruined Earth as humanity goes off to the stars. What’s on it? Who is it left for? Who finds it? – by Megan1289 (Year 2016)