Cat nodded her head yes and they proceeded inside the dark chamber. She looked all around recording everything she could see as they slowly walked through the unusually large cavern. There were stalagmites and stalactites everywhere and there was a musty smell in the air from not being open for thousands of years. As Cat was looking around she noticed some writings on the left walls.
“Look over here,” she whispered to the others. “There are some strange writings on the walls.” All three Rangers looked at the writing, strange looking letters chipped into the stone.
“I hope there’s enough to be able to translate,” Parry said, as she recorded the image of the writing, as well as transcribing it as best she could into a porta-comp.
“I wonder if it is some sort of signboard,” the Minbari Ranger said, looking past the wall with the writing to the back of the cave. “It looks like this section was cut out of the stone, not a natural part of the cave. And there’s another door. Maybe this is where the actual bunker begins.”
“Is it safe to check out?” Cat asked.
“We’re not entirely sure that is safe, but it is worth a try,” the Minbari replied.
“Let’s go then,” Cat said and they tried to push the door open. It wouldn’t budge. Parry ran to the entrance of the cave and found an object to use as a lever. It was no use either.
“Well maybe it’s like the door in that old Earth story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Maybe this door needs a password too,” Cat said while out of breath.
“I don’t know but I highly doubt it,” Parry replied. “Maybe there is something blocking the door on the other side, or it’s just been sealed shut by natural means.”
The three of them were leaning against the walls of the cave, resting, when Cat noticed what appeared to be a small tablet placed in a niche beside the door. To her surprise, it didn’t appear to be decayed or corroded, despite the fact that it must have been there for nearly two million years. A strange tingle ran up her spine as she looked at it.
She slowly got up and walked over to the tablet, her strange tingling growing more intense as she picked it up from out of the niche. It looked as it had been made only yesterday. She looked closely and saw strange alien writing on it, that looked almost like the writing they had found on the wall.
“Parry!” she said.
“Can you translate this?” Cat asked.
“I might, let me have a look,” Parry said. She took the tablet and looked at it. The Minbari looked over her shoulder. After a moment, they glanced up and smiled, first at one another and then at Cat.
“It’s a mathematical formula,” she explained. “Someone must have left this here, assuming that in a very, very long time, someone else would come to find it. Actually, we humans did the same sort of thing when we first started sending out deep space probes.”
“Mathematics is universal,” the Minbari said. “It transcends any language, if you can recognize the symbology for the numbers. This message could also be rendered as a short series of simple tones.”
“Like a song?” Cat asked.
“Sort of,” replied the Minbari. “It looks to be a lot shorter than what you would call a song.”
“Maybe it’s a key to opening this door,” Parry said after staring at the tablet, “but how would we interpret this and use it?”
“I don’t know,” replied Cat.
“If we can write out the notes, perhaps someone with a little skill in music could play or sing them,” the Minbari said.
“Hey, Brenda plays in a band,” Parry said. She turned toward Cat. “Could you go and bring her here? We’ll render this into something she could play while you do that. What do you think?”
“Sounds good to me,” Cat replied, “I’ll be back in a little while.” Cat then parted from the others and walked out of the cave and towards camp. She stopped for a moment and remembered that she had her link. She stopped, and contacted Brenda. “Cat to Brenda, Brenda are you there?” Cat said.
“Brenda here. What’s up Cat?” Brenda replied.
“We have a musical problem up here, we were wondering if you could help. We need to enter a door but it’s locked. We believe that the only way to get in is through song and we remembered that you play in a band. Could you come up here and help us?” Cat asked.
“Sure, I’m on my way. See you in a few,” Brenda said and broke communication.
Brenda arrived in a few minutes, carrying what at first looked like a short, heavy stick in one hand. “A musical door lock, eh?” she said as she greeted Cat. “I thought those sort of things only turned up in stories or old movies. Anyway, I guess it’s a good thing I brought this instead of my drums.” She held up the stick.
“What is that?” Cat asked.
“It’s called a didgeridoo,” Brenda answered. “It’s really, really old. The Aborigines of Australia — my ancestors, in part anyway — have been playing these for probably ten thousand years.”
“That’s really interesting,” Cat said “I only play a little flute myself.”
“I want to hear you play sometime,” Brenda said.
“Maybe,” Cat replied. The reached the beginning of the cave and started to walk inside.
“Wow,” Brenda said in awe.
“I know,” Cat replied.
They found Parry and the Minbari at the door waiting for them. “We deciphered it,” Parry said and handed a piece of paper over to Brenda.
Brenda took it, looking it over. “Hmm, this shouldn’t be too hard,” she said. After a minute or two, she lifted one end of the didgeridoo to her lips and began to play. The notes were long and deep, shifting from one to the next only by alterations in her breath.
With a faint grinding sound, the door slid open. Beyond lay a series of rooms, plainly furnished with things that would have fit humans or Minbari fairly easily.
The Rangers moved through the rooms, taking images of everything. There were no traces of the inhabitants of the place, though. “It’s like it was abandoned,” Parry said.
“But if they were survivors of a nuclear war, to abandon this place would mean certain death,” the Minbari said.
Then Cat spotted a book, lying on one of the beds. It appeared to be a diary.
Suddenly, the remaining Ranger who had been left outside to help keep watch hurried into the bunker, coming to a stop in front of Cat. “There’s an urgent message from the Phoenix,” he said. “You and Brenda need to get back up there right away!”
“Okay,” Cat replied. Almost without thinking, she picked up the diary off the bed, tucking it into her coat. Then she turned to the Minbari and Parry. “We have to get going. We’ll be back as soon as we can.”
“All right,” replied Parry. Cat turned to Brenda, who nodded her head. Then they both raced out of the cave and down to where their ships were grounded.
“Let’s get going,” Brenda said. “I have a bad feeling about this.” They jumped into their cockpits and got ready to launch.
Copyright (c) 2004 Catie Dwinal and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.