Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Temple

14 November…

This morning the sky was a fiery red as the sun rose above the jungle landscape, though it was only a matter of hours before the sky changed to a bluish-green color we have come to recognize as stormsign. The wind blew in, cold and hard. The clouds broke loose with a fantastic light show and the rain came down in sheets of massive, dollar-sized drops. Lightning struck in the middle of camp with the blinding fury of God; luckily, no one was in the open or they surely would have been killed. There was also a streak of lightning that seemed to hit near the temple as the white lightning turned a bright blue. After a few hours, the freak storm passed and the cold wind and driving rain was replaced by the more usual 85 degree heat and drizzling rain. The force of the brief storm was devastating, and we are lucky we did not lose anything.

We finished ten more base structures today, so the count is now up to fifty-two. We will start erecting the walls and roofs alredy prepared by our fabrication crew working at the pole barn. Their work is not easy using older methods of construction, and I know that Lance Corporal Jones will be happy to have the steam sawmill when it arrives. I talked to Mr. Griggs last night about promoting Jones, as he has sufficient time in grade and is the most senior of the lances we have with us on Venus. Mr. Griggs says we will wait on the RTS Santa Fe to see if replacement NCOs arrive, and if an insufficient number arrive to fill our command structure properly, Jones will be promoted on the spot. Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Cromwell have also been doing a great job as usual and catching the things I do not, as it is easy to forget some details when you are as short-handed as we.

The officers went to investigate the blue lightning after Mr. Griggs and I were finished making our rounds and discussing the plans and schedules of the fort. Mr. Griggs and the other officers headed out on their mounts shortly after the drizzle began. Mr. Griggs returned prematurely a few hours later and was filled with much excitement and almost dragged me by the collar to go with him. I let Sergeant Garcia take over supervision of the construction, and hurried off with Mr. Griggs and RSM Taggart. Taggart and I mounted our Pachysaurs and tried to follow Mr. Griggs, who was pushing his mount to run as fast as it was able through the thick undregrowth which still flourishes far too near our walls. Upon arrival at the temple, RSM Taggart and I understood the haste in which we had traveled.

The flora and fauna had a static charge and the air crackled with electricity. The four guardians' eyes and spear tips were glowing, and the whole temple was cast in an eerie blue light as if the stone had come to life. The hair on my neck and my arms stood up, and I readied my carbine as did RSM Taggart. The ID disc and holy crucifix that I wear on a thong around my neck seemed to jump from my chest, as everything made of metal seemed to be pulled toward the central platform surrounded by the columns.

We could not believe our eyes. Was the place alive? Did the lightning awaken something? Did the magnetism have something to do with the guardians that stood at the four points of the compass? These were just a few of the questions we had. We were ordered not to set foot on the blue stone. Captain Higgins had already tried, but the stone shot a blue arc to his foot before it touched the stone floor. The electricity sparked through his thick leather boot and burned his foot badly. As we left the temple area, we were sure that we really needed an archaeologist or scientist assigned to our expedition as soon as possible.

Once we returned to camp, Mr. Landowski sent one of the repawks the Brits gave us to carry a message to Camp Trafalgar. The message was a standard personnel request for two scientists or archaeologists to explore the region around Fort Humid. It should go outbound on their next ethership headed to Earth, due to depart in a few days.

Well, what a day! After all the excitement, I am glad it is time to turn in.

[Editor's Note: Repawks (or more correctly, Pteranodon venustica buteo) are small, carnivorous flying reptiles approximately the same size as the Earthly red-tailed hawk (B. jamaicensis). The first British exepedition discovered by accident their ability to act as homing or carrier pigeons, and have begun keeping the creatures in replacement of the terrestrial birds, who have difficulty on Venus. No carrier pigeon has ever safely arrived at its destination on Venus; it is assumed they have fallen prey to the large number of pterosaurs of all sizes that rule the Venusian sky.]


Jenn said...

An amazing discovery. Good to see that the colonial powers are getting along nicely on Venus.

Eli Arndt said...

Very nice work on establishing the fauna on Venus. I am curious what your conventions for taxonomy are, that is if you have one?

J Womack, Esq. said...

Jennifer: Well, you have only heard from the two friendly powers. The Imperial Germans are not quite so cordial to the British 'interlopers' and their 'tame barbarian' Texican allies. Jim hasn't gotten around to any sort of conflict with them as yet, I think because they are quite far away and the terrain between their colonial settlements is rather dangerous.

J Womack, Esq. said...

Eli: Yes, there is a sort of system. I take scientific names for similar creatures and add a notation between Genus and species to indicate planet of origin. "Venicus" or "martius", depending. Naturally, the Earth-centric nature of the colonial powers makes it unnecessary to add "terrus" to Earthly animals and plants.

In abbreviated form, the repawk would be P.v. buteo. The genus Buteo on Earth includes what Americans call hawks (Buteo jamaicensis, for example)and Europeans call buzzards. Since they are flying lizards like pterosaurs, they got the Pteranodon genus, the venicus planetary tag, and buteo from the hawk-like ecological niche they fill.

Make any kind of sense at all? Mostly I do it because it makes things seem a bit more realistic.

Eli Arndt said...

Nothing wrong there. I was just curious. I do suppose it becomes more complicated when there is no earth-analogous creature such as in the case of my aerofauna.

Eli Arndt said...

BTW, Jennifer's comment was a comment made by me when I hadn't realized she was still logged in.

Sorry for the confusion.