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The Lesser of Two Evils

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Introduction

Federation Archaeological Survey, Kloniat 4
Earth Date: 14th January 1992

The man stood from his work and began to clench his shoulder blades in an attempt to relax the kinks that had formed in his muscles during his extended period bent over his work. He placed a small metal brush down on the work table next to him.

A fairly tall man with brown hair, somewhere in his thirties by the look of him. Dignified in his appearance, perhaps carrying a few more pounds than was strictly necessary but in the 0.8 g environment of Kloniat 4 it hardly mattered. Dusty, hot, and perspiring he picks up a flask of water, takes a long drink and then examines the artifacts layed on the table - unseen by man or any other species for thousands of years.

*Professor.*

He hears the call and responds to it immediately.

*Yes, May'Ta'Kia. What is it?*

*I've found something that you may want to see.* The excitement in her voice was obvious. He puts down the flask and places his right hand to his left wrist and disappears from view -

to reappear an instant later over 25 miles away at the secondary dig site. He sees his young students standing all around with one group clustered near a small opening in the cliff face. He hurries towards this group. Those in his path move aside in respect as he approaches. He is one of the Federations foremost archaeologists and it is considered a privilege to work and study under him.

"In here, John!" Professor May'Ta'Kia looks up and gestures to him with one of her forelimbs. "You have to see this!"

'May'Ta'Kia does not get excited. It just doesn't happen.' John begins to move towards the cave gaining speed as he approaches as he sees the engravings above the cave entrance. As he gets near he snaps out "Torch!" and a light is thrust into his hand from one of his eager students. He pushes his way into the cave almost bending double under the low overhang. The muscles in his back protest the return to that position.

And then he can see it. The Lost Temple of the Fathers, Patriat Terrakaht. Erected by the Pashiana of Kloniat ages past in memory of his two fathers (his was a monosexual species) who had combined the planet into one homogenous and peaceful nation and from there begun the expansion to the stars. And whose influence had lead ultimately to the formation of the Galactic Federation.

And he had found it. The others were pushing their way into the chamber now and he found it necessary to restrain the younger ones from doing anything that might damage the site. It wasn't hard to calm them. He had a lot of experience with eager young people and, over time, had learned how to guide them. It was a skill he had been forced to acquire.

 



Torquay, Victoria, Australia

The boy turned and paddled harder trying to get the right wave. Off to the right he could see Simon on his surf ski turn and begin to shout something at him. His friend should have looked where he was going as the wave blind sided him knocking him from the ski.

He began to stand waiting for the wave to take his board when suddenly pain struck. A searing cut into the side of his body and blood was in the water. He turned to see the shark coming around for a second go.

His board forgotten, his hand clawing at his belt for the knife that hung there, the knife his mother had forbidden him to own but that he had purchased anyway, that was now necessary to protect his life. He got the blade out, fighting the waves of nausea and pain that wreaked his body and brought the blade back aiming for the eye.

And he stopped. He couldn't do it. He couldn't kill this shark. He wasn't sure why, it just wasn't in his nature. If he didn't he would die. There was blood in the water everywhere and the shark was in a frenzy. He had one chance to strike, only one, and he could not take it. He was going to die.

Then from over his shoulder came a paddle crashing down on the sharks nose and it came down again and again. The shark retreated for a moment confused by this attack and Simon had him by the collar of his torn wetsuit and was paddling for shore for all he was worth. There was a surf boat coming towards them now and Adam knew that he would be safe. Strong arms lifted him into the boat and then pulled Simon in. While the lifesavers swore at his wound and turned the boat past Rocky Point to head for the clubhouse, Adam could feel something at the edge of his mind, some sort of tantalising thought, a revelation lurking there. Something significant had happened, he was sure of . . . and then he passed out through loss of blood.