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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In the distant future, some space travelers from Earth discover an apparently primitive civilization that may not be so savage after all.

Submitted: November 18, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 18, 2013



The officers reviewed the computer's preliminary report. Generally, the planet was very earth-like, but was largely desert. Most of the creatures resembled those already known; however, there were several fungal and virus species that appeared to be entirely unique and worthy of study and analysis.

One humanoid species inhabited the planet, but appeared to be quite primitive, and there was little hope that anything useful could be gleamed from them. In appearance, the alien species were remarkably human; indeed, the only real differences between the aliens and humans that the computer detected were that the aliens seemed to have an average height of seven feet, smaller, more delicate noses but larger eyes and slightly larger brains.

The society appeared to be entirely primitive much like that of the early inhabitants of Earth. The aliens lived in huts grouped together in small villages, cooked over open fires, and were clothed animal clothing. The most advanced weapons that were detected were wooden bows.

Indeed, the only feature of the Alien race that seemed to offer any hope of interesting study were the small white marble temple-like structures that every village seemed to be built around. Although still fairly primitive, these structures appeared far more advanced and elegant than anything else the aliens possessed. Perhaps these were their centers of worship and special care was taken to build them; perhaps the temples were the remnants of an earlier, slightly more advanced race that was now extinct.

At any rate, it was decided, a small investigation should be carried through. The new species would be studied and documented, the language and culture of the savages learned if they were cooperative, and the savages proved hostile, though they could not pose any real threat, the ship would move on to investigate other, potentially more interesting, planets.

Having reviewed the preliminary computer report, one officer joined by two assistants put on their protective gear that would prove more than adequate for any potential hazard that awaited on the planet. It was decided that the party would not need any weapons.

The men traveled to the planet's surface, and the officer immediately found himself looking up at one of the aliens. The alien savage stood a full eight feet tall and was clothed in a sort of leopard's skin. His tan, sweaty muscles glistened in the sunlight; in his right hand he held a wooden bow very skillfully made and covered in extravagant carvings, and in his left hand he held a small rabbit-like creature. Apparently he had just returned from hunting. The alien stared at the officer silently for a moment with his large eyes; yes, the alien seemed savage enough, but even so the officer thought he detected a glimmer of intelligence in the alien's eyes.

“I see you are from Earth,” the alien stated slowly articulating the syllables in the officer's own language.

The officer was staggered at the simple words and stood there blinking dumbly. Every assumption he had made about this alien, except the now all too obvious intelligence, crumbled at his feet. Here was a new, apparently primitive race of aliens, yet they not only knew of Earth, a full thousand light-years away, but knew how to speak the language of Earth as well. The officer knew very well that no one from Earth had ever investigated this planet before; either these aliens could read minds or were far more advanced than they first appeared.

The alien smiled gently and laid his bow and prey on the ground, speaking as he did so, “I see you are surprised that a savage like me knows about you while you do not know about me.”

“Well,” the officer stammered trying to compose himself, “I didn't really consider you a savage, but I must confess that I was a bit surprised that you can speak my language.”

“Let me show you something,” the alien replied quickly. He did not seem to be one concerned about lengthy introductions. “Follow me,” he said simply, and they walked a short distance to one of the marble temples the computer detected.

At this point the officer decided that the judgments they had passed upon these aliens were very possibly entirely wrong, and so he was not surprised to see that the marble temple was skillfully covered in remarkable carvings that the greatest sculptors of Earth would have looked upon in envy. When they entered the small temple, which the officer now suspected held some great laboratory or computer, he was surprised to see that it was entirely empty. However, the smooth walls, floor, and ceiling sparkled and appeared to be made of some kind of highly polished silverish metal. In the center of the floor was what appeared to be a golden trapdoor. The alien walked to the trapdoor, still without saying anything, opened it, and descended.

Now the officer had misgivings about following the guide. Very clearly these aliens were not primitive savages, and there was no telling what awaited below. The officer no longer felt safe in his laser-proof suit and suspected that perhaps it would be better to return to his ship. Still, the alien certainly had not appeared hostile and certainly was not forcing the officer to enter the door leading beneath the temple.

Several seconds had passed since the alien descended, and he had not reappeared. The officer turned to his assistants, instructed one to return to the ship and give a full report, and for the other to wait there in the temple for his return.

The officer descended crystal steps and found himself in a dark stone corridor: the alien was not visible, but light was visible at the end of the hall. The officer took a deep breath and walked ahead.

The hall opened into a massive, cavernous room filled with bright light. The alien had been waiting at the entrance, but the officer could discern nothing else for a few seconds until his eyes strangely seemed to grow comfortable in the blinding light.

The officer had tried to prepare himself for anything, but even so he was staggered. He seemed to be in one enormous library and tall shelves of books stretched away into the distance. Hundreds of aliens were seated at tables; some seemed to be writing books; others reading. Yet everyone seemed just as primitive as the officer's guide, and they were all dressed in animal skins.

The alien now whispered, “The moment I saw you; I could see that you had already concluded we were a savage, primitive race. You see now, perhaps we are not so simple-minded as we appear.”

The officer said nothing but nodded dumbly.

The alien continued, “My people have visited and inhabited many thousands of worlds. We knew of Earth long before you even ventured into space at all, and we have technology you could not begin to comprehend. Even now,” the alien continued, “we have scientists developing new technologies and people exploring distant regions of space. However, most of us reverted to this lifestyle long ago. We keep our minds agile reading and writing, but prefer the joys of primitive living over the conveniences of complicated technology.”

The officer was dumbfounded but finally spoke, “You mean to say you have technology more advanced than ours? Then why would you possibly want to limit yourself to such such a primitive, savage lifestyle, when the entire universe is available to you?”

The alien smiled sadly, “If you do not understand already, you never will.” Then he turned and left.

© Copyright 2020 Zachary Zuccaro. All rights reserved.

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