For those with faith, the wide profusion of life across myriad worlds is a challenge to their culture-centric view of their self-importance in the universe.

Even when faced with ample evidence that life has evolved and changed over untold millennia, they still cling to the notion that a god created them after its own image in a flash of bored inspiration.

To a xeno-archeologist, the record of life is a wonder to behold, undeserving of a simple and dogmatic story, conveniently couched in the narrow prejudices of one particular world.

Archaeological research shows wave after wave of minor alien cultures rising and falling over the long years. While much of those civilisations have been lost, each successive wave leaves its mark on the next generation of usurpers to rule the stars.

Measured on that scale, the current ascent of man is but a footnote to history, a paragraph easily forgotten in the cosmic narrative.

Unlike the doctrines of religious conformity, the current theory of how civilisations have shaped our surroundings pretends to be a fluid and dynamic structure, constantly in flux as new evidence challenges the status quo. What I can relate now is only the current view of who came before us.

It was believed that prior to our current civilisation, encompassing the varied human populations of the Autocracy, and the alien races such as the Kal, Samir and Y'Tak, there was one great over arching culture known as the The Shepherds. The Shepherds' manipulation and interference of early humanity gave rise to the varied human cultures across space.

While our knowledge in that area continues to grow, there are great mysteries that remain unsolved. Did the The Shepherds destroy themselves in a great civil war, leaving shattered worlds and asteroid belts in their wake? Did they tire of this part of space and simply moved elsewhere?

My preoccupation has been with the dark ages that must have ensued after their fall. For nearly three hundred thousand years, the official historical record does not show any significant cultures until the rise of the forerunner of the Echolian Autocracy. In all that time, did no race or culture ever aspire to explore and dominate the stars?

Since my experiences both before and after the Hycaron II disaster, and my association with Captain Rhand in her dealings with the Lazloi, I am forced to conclude that other great powers must have existed in that time.

Since the Lazloi are adamant their Creators were not the The Shepherds, who else could have performed the intricate genetic changes that made the Lazloi what they are, cursing them with isolation and slow decline? Who else indeed, could have bequeathed the Lazloi with their extraordinary technology?

A similar conundrum confronts us on this nameless world. Who created the vaulted city-sized megastructures we have found here? Rhand says they are older than the Lazloi, but they seem too new for Shepherd origins.

Until we can enter these great mechanisms, we will know nothing more. I have asked Jaimila, our resident ‘Jack-of-all-Trades’, to find a way inside…

Cyana Bristo, formerly of the Echolian Science Institute


V3 figure with Jwear outfit, Hijab and International Beauties morphs and textures, all from DAZ.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 5 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 22 October 2006

© Mark Hirst, 2000 - 2018