Anaxis stared at the ground as he walked along beside the river, lost in contemplation. It was only when a cliff started to rise before him that he looked up at the sky and realized he had strayed from his path.
“Oh, no,” he said to himself. “The river must have split. Where am I?”
The river was hardly much of one at all now, in fact it was more of a narrow stream, which disappeared under the sand not far from where Anaxis was standing.
“Great. How much time have I wasted following this tributary? Just perfect. Guess I can just turn around now.”
He did so, sighing a deep sigh, and then he began to trudge back in the opposite direction.
Anaxis looked up to find the Guide Star. It was there, constant as ever, but next to it there was a brighter star, one he had never seen before.
“What is that now?” he wondered aloud.
The star grew brighter and larger as he continued along, so bright in fact that it rivaled the luminance of the moons.
“This doesn’t make any sense at all,” he said.
The strange star, bright as the sun, now started to move in the sky, as if it were falling.
“I wonder if this is just the bioma still acting on my brain,” Anaxis said.
The star turned a bright green as it continued to fall down through the sky, until it caught ablaze and dropped from amongst the other stars, in a flaming line straight down toward Valor. The star, or whatever indeed it was, perhaps a meteor, Anaxis surmised, smashed into the ground somewhere over a dune to the west.
“Incredible!” Anaxis exclaimed. “I know I’m going to regret this when the sun comes back up, but I have to go see the impact site!”
There was a famous meteorite back home which his instructor, Xala, kept at her house. Its strange sheen had always fascinated Anaxis, and he hoped he would be able to carry this new meteor home to show both her and Mills.
“What luck!” Anaxis said. A pang of guilt struck when he thought about the poor cannar who had died due to his mishandling of his lens. “Er, not luck. I guess it’s just coincidence, actually.”
In a half-run, Anaxis scaled dune after dune, until he saw from one of their tops the crash site. Only it wasn’t a meteor before him; there were pieces of what seemed to be flaming wreckage scattered all about the desert sand.
“Now what’s this?” Anaxis wondered.
He walked down hesitantly toward the wreckage clenching his hands into nervous fists. When he came to the first piece of debris, he noticed that it was metallic. The second and third pieces were similar, small pieces of shining junk, though the fourth was a much larger chunk, which had what looked like charred cording spilling out of one end.
“Is it from Gnirean?” Anaxis wondered.
He tried to put his hand to the bizarre object, but found that it was extremely hot to the touch. He pulled his hand back and cursed, then stuck his fingers in his mouth and started sucking on them to cool them off.
Anaxis continued on past a white-hot fire consuming a piece of the scattered object. The flames had already turned the ground beneath the object into glass.
“That would make a great lens,” Anaxis said. “Too bad no one will ever listen to that idea again.”
The largest piece of the fallen object was in the middle of the debris, a mass the size of a large boat. As Anaxis came to it, he saw that there were what appeared to be portholes on its side, and writing on its side, characters he had never seen before. Anaxis approached one of the portholes and looked inside. To his complete amazement, he saw what looked like the hold of a ship, but full of bizarre, incredible apparati that blinked in the darkness.
“It has to be from Gnirean,” he said to himself.
He moved to look into another of the portholes and jumped in fright when he saw a pair of wide eyes staring back at him from within the otherworldly transport.
“Whoa!” Anaxis shouted. He turned and ran out of sheer fright, then steadied himself and turned back around.
“Stay calm, Anaxis,” he said. “Just what is going on here?”
He tip-toed back to the fallen vessel and looked again at the strange face staring out from within it. The face looked much like one of his villagers, but it was ashen white, and had no hair on its scalp or face whatsoever. Like at a fishtank, Anaxis tapped the glass to see if he could illicit a reaction. There was none; whatever it was that was inside seemed to be dead, or at the very least unresponsive.
Anaxis walked around to the other side of the vessel, and saw a door that was nearly busted off its mooring. Swallowing down his fear, he stuck his boot into the space where the door was broken, then pulled back, popping the door open.
He took a deep breath and stuck his head into the capsule to look around. The blinking lights cast strange shadows in erratic patterns around the tight space, off bizarre glass and metallic objects the like of which Anaxis had never before seen. It was apparent that there was not one, but two beings in the capsule. One was bent over a broken counter and bleeding red blood from its mid-section, and the other was the first Anaxis had seen, pressed against the wall and porthole glass as if it were trying to escape when it perished.
Anaxis had the impulse to enter the capsule, but he couldn’t bring himself to; his fear was too great.
“I need Mills,” he said to himself. “I need Xala.”
He ducked back out of the capsule and took another look around at the crash site.
“I need help with this,” he said. “I’ve got to get help.”
Despite his broken toe, Anaxis started to run, back over the dunes to the tributary, all the way to the river he should have been following all along, and straight on until morning, when, just before dawn, he saw Ancestor Peak arise in the distance, and he knew he was almost home.