This week, David Bowles’ stunning story transports us to the boundaries of the universe, with an amazing guide. ~ Fran Wilde, August 21, 2022
By David Bowles
Fen Zixsya did a final scan of the replica settlement. The slushy river moved with the same sluggish hiss as the original in the only habitable valley on the planet Lathe Dash. There were some minor variations in the hardy crops in stony fields to the south, but it was unlikely that the Kwilawpe' would notice. All three hundred and fifteen stone homes matched exactly.
A nearby drone had just finished pressing itself into the frosty soil, mimicking an Indigenous footprint, when a woman stepped out of thin air, so startling Zixsya that she nearly stumbled backward over a cold boulder.
“Ah! Dr. Fen. Not much time. We have to hurry.”
Zixsya gaped, at a loss for words. The woman was dark-skinned, eyes almost black. She wore a brightly patterned blouse that hung to her knees over an embroidered white skirt. Her feet were shod in rawhide sandals, and her close-cropped hair glinted with gray.
“Bit of a shock? Sorry. I’m always rushing in at the last minute. But that’s the job. No time for niceties. I’ll sum up. You folks—Renxlao Unity Node 87—are relocating three thousand and forty-seven Kwilawpe' individuals to this platform so you can dismantle their planet and complete your Dyson ring with those raw materials.”
Zixsya repeated the unfamiliar syllables. “‘Dyson’?”
“What’s the word in Dizhe Hao? ‘Gwizniy.’ Lathe Dash’s orbit is the perfect distance to harness your star’s energy without disturbing Galin, the planet you settled three centuries ago.”
Pausing, the woman took a step toward Zixsya. “But you have to stop. Now, Dr. Fen.”
“Stop the transport?”
“Yes. This year’s speaker for the energy collective is Dr. Xto. Your spouse. I need you to contact them. Put a halt to the relocation until I can explain why your plan is a massive mistake.”
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