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Nijil tr'Korjata

Lost Years


Lost Years

Nijil tr’Korjata as Kushana

Chirakis Kirel


Brubaker stroked his beard as he watched Whippet frolic with the children.  “Ten years,” he murmured with a tinge of regret as well as the thrill of awakening.  In the past ten years he had learned much about this planet and its environs, but he had also lost ten years of the life he once knew.  Those he left behind had searched, but in the vastness of space they found nothing— not even a clue.


His mind wandered, wondering what his burial was like… or if there was one.  Is there a tombstone?  Any kind of memorial? Did the academy mourn his passing?  If he returned to civilization now, how would his family react? How would everyone else react?  Would anyone even know him? Would they remember him?  Would they want the immense amount of data he had culled from this area of space, or would it be useless and outdated?  Should he leave on the Argos II or stay here, in the place he had come to love? And what if Argos II never made it off this planet?  What would they do?


He sighed into a fatherly smile as he watched Whippet play with the children.  Soon he, too, was sitting cross legged on the floor, enjoying the moment and glad that his constant companion had helped them move past their pain.


“Dr Brubaker?”


Jeremiah spluttered and picked a few dog hairs off his tongue, then leaned back to answer in a slight Scottish lilt,  “I am Dr Brubaker.”


"I came down once I learned someone was knocking on the side of my vessel." A youthful, but haggerered Rihan woman approached the doctor. "My name is Kushana and I command the Argos II, or what is left of her." She looked down and stopped short of walking over an animal, a touch annoyed. "As au may imagine, I have a few questions for au."


Brubaker stood as she spoke and picked at the few dog hairs that still clung to his disheveled clothes.  “Of course, Erei'Riov—or should I say ‘Captain’?  Or merely Kushana?”


"The translator handles it all, but I am not one for formalities, so Kushana is fine." She squatted down after being on her feet for days. She looked the doctor in the eyes. "H-How did au find yourself on this planet? Our sensors are inoperable and we were not even sure of the air quality."


A twinge of regret that they had crashed barely showed in his expression, but he nodded into a congenial smile.  “Then Kushana it is. I am Jeremiah, though most call me Jeremy. And I must apologize for tapping your ship’s exterior.  It was the only way I could get attention.


“As for your question, this very small planet is quite habitable. Not far from your vessel— just over the hills that you can see from this viewport.”  He pointed casually toward it. “I made my crashed shuttle into quite a cozy home with running water and a small garden. Unfortunately, you landed in one of the few desert areas.  They have plenty of salt, but not much more than that. I landed here ten years ago, Kushana, and it has been my home ever since.”


“How did I get here?  My shuttle was drawn into a crash landing. I lost power, but why?” He shrugged.  “I have no idea.”


Kushana gruffed. "This has to be a red or brown dwarf star, but it pulled us out of warp. Ten years? Surely not in this arid region. The temperatures alone." She stroked her chin. "I would share information on what happened, but if the sensors collected anything we can't find it." She considered him for a moment. "Are au the only one, other than your friend here?" The Erei'Riov put out her hand to the dog, seemingly friendly to everyone.


“As far as I know.  I’ve not seen anyone else, and ten years is a long time to go without seeing anyone else on this planet.  But… now that my wee brain is remembering a few things from our crash, I remember a push, like a heavy gust of wind, that drew us into the atmosphere. I do not recall much after that since I was trying to land.  But,” he chuckled a bit, “it didn’t work. We still crashed.”


She was getting more questions than answers. "We had only moments to even land to consider a 'wind' variable. I will have to ask my navigator in greater detail. We have been trying to undue the fail safes from our engine core. Our design does not allow us to simply turn off our main source of power. Given the situation perhaps it is better to leave the singularity as it is." She looked him up and down, then sniffed. "We have a method for au to, err, refresh yourself if that is something au wish." She wished it, but was an uncommonly polite Rihan to say so.


“Oh,” he said, sniffing.  “My goodness, I am sorry.  After ten years of living alone, I don’t even notice.  I would appreciate a ‘refresher’, as you call it, and I am sure you and your crew would appreciate it as well.”  Brubaker forced a broad smile in his embarrassment.


She stood up. "Au claimed to be a doctor, may I ask what discipline?"


“I am primarily a geologist.  And a paleontologist when the time warrants it and I find something interesting. And there is quite a bit of everything to explore here.”


Kashnana nodded. "I purpose an exchange of information so we may all leave this place. That being said, many of the crew need to take a break from what may be a futile effort in repairing the ship."


“Ah… a break,” Brubaker said, his Scottish lilt now in full swing.  “Perhaps you should all come to my home— the shuttle, that is— and refresh yourselves. The yard and garden are refreshing, and there is a fairly deep pond—no deadly creatures, mind you.  I’m not sure of the milage, but it took me just under an hour. And I will gladly share any information I have. I do keep extensive records.”

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