John’s SciFi Space Short Story
But what could he be looking for? Gabriel thought. He must have inhabited this planet for eons for its occupants to have established a worship religion with him as their god. Why not reestablish that instead of gallivanting throughout the galaxy? Although he had been trapped in a container. No, she reasoned. The container had been its means of escape. But he didn’t confine himself in it by himself. He had help. Ric Le Fu must have heard of the discovery and ordered his archeologists to package him to bring Moloch to Kish. But something went wrong. Moloch had other ideas and now he’s loose doing goodness knows what.
Myths of Moloch’s feats of destruction were legendary, which was what had caused Gabriel’s shock when she saw the glyph. He was nothing but trouble. Gabriel looked up the database on him with her hyperspace connected tablet. A perusal of his history detailed his antics wherever he went. As she read through the file, she discovered he had always eluded capture and incarceration, but the notes didn’t convey why.
She continued reading, coming to the section on associations. One name kept cropping up—Legion. She stared at the name — one she knew well. Gabriel was instrumental in capturing them and throwing them into the Hades prison on Memphis, a deed she would never forget.
“Can I help you?” a baritone voice asked from behind her, disturbing her concentration with a jump of surprise.
“Who are you?” She asked when she turn her head toward him. An obese man with huge jowls and a triple chin stood there, wiping perspiration from his forehead. The effort to traverse the distance to her must have taxed his stamina.
“Belshazzar. And you?”
“Gabriel. I was admiring the hieroglyphs here. Do you manage the site?”
“You could say that. But I have no site to manage since the disturbance. I can’t get anyone to help with the excavation.”
She raised an eyebrow, wondering if he worked with Ric or was a contractor. “Why is that?”
“They believe demons haunt it. Total barbarian rubbish. We have a few deaths, and they leap to supernatural conclusions.”
She nodded. “What do you think happened?”
“Part of the scaffolding collapsed. It’s not an uncommon occurrence with such endeavors, despite our efforts to ensure their safe construction. Unexpected movement in the ground caused a section to topple.”
“The accident happened here where I stand?”
Jowl face raised his brows with surprised eyes. “How did you discover that? We removed it days ago.”
The incident was a typical Moloch trick, repeated throughout the ages.
“What happened to the statue?” Gabriel asked.
Belshazzar’s face changed from surprise to wary caution. “Who said anything about a statue?”
“I did. It’s obvious from the glyphs and etchings on the wall.”
“We packed it and shipped it off too, Kish.”
“But it never arrived.”
“You’re well informed.”
“It’s my job.”
They both fell silent. She considered her next question.
“Did you find anything else? Other than trinkets?”
She waited for him to finish his sentence with another raised brow.
He rubbed his chin before continuing. “We found several scrolls with indecipherable text.”
“Where are they?” The disclosure excited Gabriel.
“I stored them for safekeeping until Mr. Le Fu tells me what to do with them.”
“Can I inspect them?”
Jowl face wobbled his head, his rolls of fat shaking back and forth until they settled again. “You want to steal our discovery.”
She sighed, but she was surprised he had been so talkative so far without asking for any identification our reason for her interest in the site. “I want to find the statue. It disappeared on Babylon Station. The scrolls might offer a clue. I won’t steal them.”
After a vigorous, hostile stare, the man capitulated. “Follow me.” He walked off to a large rectangular building at the edge of the site.
When they approached the structure, Gabriel studied the building intensely. It stood two stories tall and twenty meters wide. She couldn’t tell its breath from her position. The wall was constructed from solid plasto-crete and a door in the center of the near wall and bolted with biometric locks secured the contents. Jowl face approached the door and after verifying his identity, the door opened. He stepped aside, giving her room to enter.
“You first,” Gabriel said, distrusting him. She watched him conduct an internal debate on whether to insist before he walked inside the building. She followed him.
The space was dark, damp, and musty; an unusual atmosphere in which to store valuable archeological discoveries. But she didn’t comment. Lights activated, and the man waddled to a bench along the far wall. Scrolls lay stacked on top of it.
“Here they are,” he said.
She nodded and fronted the bench, nursing the delicate parchment. When she touched them, Gabriel realized the material used was papyrus, which amazed her. They must be ancient indeed. “Have you attempted to unravel them?” she turned and said.
“No. They are fragile, and I don’t wish to destroy them.”
Gabriel nodded with approval, but that left her in a quandary. She didn’t want to damage the artifacts. She also didn’t want him to see her abilities. “Can I have some privacy, please?”
“You might steal the manuscripts.”
“There’s only one way out. You can search me if it placates you.”
Jowl face’s eyes brightened but changed when he saw her vicious expression. “OK. I’ll stand just outside.”
“No. Go over there a turn around.” Gabriel point to a spot where she could still keep her eye on him from her periphery.
Jowl face made to argue but thought better of it and obeyed her wishes.
Once he had retreated, she gathered the scrolls and stared at them, using her celestial implants to unroll them in virtual space one at a time. They all bore insignificant information, all except one. She stared and read it a second time. Moloch and Legion had been a tag team back in the misty past, which she knew. The scroll outlined their game plan for world domination then. Maybe they intended galaxy wide domination now if Moloch could break Legion out of prison. She had to go to Hades immediately.
To be continued…