The away team has returned to their ship and are reporting to the captain.  They begin to connect the glow from the planet with what has been found there…


Kiota dumped his bag of stone chips on the counter in front of Captain Smith expecting to see the dull pastel stones he’d put in the bag

          “What the…!  Where did those come from?” he stammered.  The other two men dumped their sacks in separate piles and stood mute before the dull shine of ruby, emerald and sapphire chips.

          “Where did you find these stones?” Smith demanded.

          “Right where we landed, Sir!” Brasker found his tongue and stepped back to the counter.  He picked up a fist-sized emerald.  Uncut, it still gave off a soft green glow in the brightly lit ship’s lab.  “These were common stones down there!  We chipped them off big outcroppings.  Do you suppose ALL those rocks are gems?  Why didn’t they shine like this on the planet!”

          Dobrowski looked from the stones to the observation window beside him.  The little planet below shimmered in the odd halo they’d wondered about before.  “That’s not common light,” Dobrowski whispered. “That’s the reflection of one damned big precious rock!”

          “But why couldn’t we see it down there?” Brasker scratched his head. “I gotta think about this, sir.  Could we discuss this after supper?”

          Smith motioned the men out of the lab while putting a stone under the microscope.  “To their backs he ordered, “Not one word of this, do you read me?”

          “Yes, sir!” came from all three as they headed for ship’s quarters.


          Kiota palmed his keypad and entered the small cabin he shared with three other junior officers.  He was still stunned as he turned over in his mind the events of the past few days.  Why couldn’t they see the gemstone?  What masked its real properties?  Alone in the quarters, he dropped down on the bunk, hands clasped behind his head.  In the corner on a small altar stood a statue of his family’s god, its sapphire eyes remote and mindless. 



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