Saturday, March 2, 2013
Darkness Falls on a Dark Land, Part 10
I don’t know how I’ve gone on this long without mentioning it, but I have a peculiar pet. His name is Faneuil and he is a snake. He is a reminder to me of my favorite sister’s snake. She served in the Space Corps, as has most of my family, in one form or another.
One thing I know about Bondquan is that she never served in the Corps, just like me. It’s not so surprising, given that very few Omoxians have, and this is very likely to never change. Most Omoxians never leave the home world, though, although if they want to address the planet’s increasing instability they will have to change that policy. Unlike Ureic, the decision to place the capital of the budding Alliance at Shibal was very much a selfish one.
I mention Faneuil now because I’ve been thinking about him, how he can sometimes prove useful in my work, find the crevices I might otherwise overlook. Even I’m starting to be concerned at this point. Bondquan has been telling me for the last few days that she’s run out of permits and the extensions are going to expire soon, too. I will have to leave, and I don’t think she’ll follow. If Faneuil were here, I’m certain that he would slither into the discovery that has eluded me. I never expected that Omoxians would cover their own history so thoroughly, but I’ve been studying past archaeological efforts and the story is always the same. That’s just what they do, which means their impatience has less to do with my efforts and everything with the fact that I’m human. Bondquan has stopped socializing with me, and I really want to believe that it’s from external pressure, but then I’ve never been able to convince myself that what I was perceiving was real, that I wasn’t only fooling myself. I think she just got caught up in the same frenzy that I experienced when I found the clay statues of Modoc. Maybe part of her thought that the fertility goddess could help her, that I was somehow serving as a conduit to a future where pregnancy and childbirth were no longer barred.
I feel a little of what historians must have thought about Shibal all along, chasing a ghost of something that may never have existed. It wouldn’t be the first time Omoxians blatantly lied about something. Who’s to say how much of the foundation story is true? Who’s to say there was ever even a Trey the Conqueror at all? Doesn’t it seem outlandish for such a xenophobic race to even consider inspiring something it so clearly despises now? Perhaps it was a lie to further embarrass the Tikanni, who will never offer a defense, a counterargument. If you listen to the Vitell, Alliance history begins at Clustus, with Ureic. Perhaps after all, that is the truth.
There have always been eyes watching me during my time here. Someone has been curious, perhaps a number of them. It’s not simply that I’m an anomaly. Omoxians are good at looking at the world around them with filters. There are those who wonder the same things I do. They want to know if Shibal exists.
That’s why I started asking if there were any creatures like snakes on the planet. If I couldn’t have Faneuil I would accept the next best thing. I had to repeat my request several times. I wasn’t sure if Bondquan was just being difficult or that she truly didn’t understand me. She explained that there are no animals on Omox. They all died away long ago. It must be strange to be a solitary species. I then asked if there might be some alternative, perhaps a technology that might provide a similar function. It had never even occurred to me to make such an inquiry before. Usually when one excavates something, it’s in a remote location, yet there’s no such thing on Omox.
They had a search beam, and that’s what I’ve been using today, and there are new signs of promise, but progress is still slow, maddening, and Bondquan is no longer the woman I knew. I wish I knew what changed. I’m lonely for the first time. It’s unusual for me, but then I normally have Faneuil with me, and in the absence of affection, real or imagined from Bondquan, I find myself increasingly incapable of overlooking my pet, whom I hate leaving behind on trips. One thing my family has always been good about, and something I have helped maintain, is a fondness for pets.
When I finally leave Omox I think I’ll ask my sister how her snake’s doing. I haven’t seen either of them in too long. The truth is I don’t know if my sister is even in the Corps anymore. Seems odd.