Teyha enjoys being a historian and educating the next generation of Gaia on how they arrived. Her weekends and time off is spent exploring the new home for humanity, bringing back information and tales of the abandoned cities of the previous civilizations.
Two Shadow Folk come to ask for her help as a guide, and with a little convincing, she agrees to head to the ancient city that their people had once thrived in.
On the way to the city, she finds that she is not taking two men on a pilgrimage, she is leading a rescue party. With one shadow keeping secrets and the other too close for comfort, she does what she was asked to do. She guides them in, and she gets them all out.
…looking up at the sky, Henrietta Barrows knew that she had to leave the Earth. The tiny sliver of sky was so small, she could barely make out a single star. The moment that she made up her mind, she signed the paperwork and prepared for her journey. For better or worse, she was going to Gaia.” Teyha smiled. “And that is all for today.”
The two-dozen children groaned. They were seated in a semicircle around her chair with their faces turned up, eager to catch every detail of their ancestors’ voyage.
Teyha closed the book. “Same time next week, and we will find out how Henrietta fared on the journey here.”
The teachers thanked her and herded the children out of the Archive of Gaia. The plan had been to introduce a bit of Gaian colonist history into the classroom, but Teyha found that the children became part of the story if they were surrounded by it.
She tidied up the Hall of the Colony, smiling at the shift in shadows near the doorway. When she was finished, she turned her head, “Was there something you wanted?”
The shadows parted and Daphne Leoraki came bustling up. “Teyha. Am I glad to see you.”
Teyha had gone to school with Daphne and came forward to speak to her as the shadows continued to shift. The children had probably run right past them, but they stood out like bright candles to Teyha’s senses.
“Nice to see you too, Daphne. Who are your friends?”
Daphne smiled. “Shadow Folk. They need you to take them to the Temple of Shadows. Does that ring a bell?”
Teyha blinked and laughed. “Yeah, I know the spot.”
She walked out of the hall and shooed her guests out in front of her, putting them in the light of the atrium. They were either male or the Shadow Folk had some enormous women. Each man was over a head taller than she was and wreathed in ever-shifting shadow. It was easy to see where they earned their name.
“What do you want there?”
The shadows shifted and one said, “You do not need to know.”
She crossed her arms and scowled up at where she imagined his face was. “I do need to know. I take folks into the forests and hills so that they stay safe. Once we hit the foothills near the temple, no electronics work. We will be in a silent zone and unable to call for help by standard means. It is not a place for sightseeing.”
His head shifted, and he looked at his friend before directing the shadows back to her. “It is a religious pilgrimage. We have not been able to walk to the temple on Naccru due to our placement on the mother ship of the Nine. It is important to us, and you will be paid well.”
Teyha listened to what he wasn’t saying. The tone of his voice was urgent and not with religious fervour. There was no greed or manipulation aside from the obvious. He was lying to her.
“Fine. I am guessing that this is an urgent pilgrimage?”
“Yes.” He paused and said, “Please.”
His friend spoke, “Please.”
Teyha looked to Daphne. “Introductions?”
Daphne smiled, with relief on her face. “Ekinar Rossing, Representative of the Shadow Folk of the Nine.”
The shadow that had spoken to her bowed low.
“Nosku Sheval, biologist on the mother ship.”
The other man bowed as well but said, “Can we leave now?”
His urgency was palpable, and more than that, he was worried.
Teyha nodded. “I need to stop for a change of clothing and supplies. Do you have rations that are suited to your biology?”
Daphne nodded, “I will get them.”
“Do you have a transport to the foothills?” She started calculating the supplies she would need for the one day in and one day out journey, with some extra for unforeseen circumstances.
“We do.” Ekinar replied.
“Good. Meet me in the field nearest the embassy in one hour. I will be waiting. You will need food, water and boots. It is a two-day round trip.”
She turned and left the men staring at her with Daphne snickering between them and trying to get them moving.
Teyha checked in at the office and informed the facility manager that she would be out on a guiding tour for a few days.
Reesha smiled and nodded. “Take pictures. That area is amazing.”
“Can I use the manual cam? I am going into the foothills.” Teyha raised her eyebrows.
Reesha sighed. “Take good care of it, or you will have to make another one.”
Teyha crossed the room and opened the safe, getting the camera bag and several spare rolls of film. Since she was heading into an ancient settlement, there was no reason not to use the opportunity to take more images of the Temple of Shadows and the glyphs and markings that it contained.
The first time that she had gone to the temple area, it had been curiosity, and she had been rushed. Now, she had another chance, and she wanted to go in prepared.
With the bag over her shoulder, she waved cheerfully to Reesha and headed out to her small apartment.
As Teyha entered, she began to shed her clothing on the way to her bedroom. The wardrobe that held her expedition gear was code locked, but a few well-placed digits and it opened to her touch. Humming to herself, she tugged on her wilderness suit, stomped into her hiking boots and wrapped her wrists.
Her hair was swiftly wrapped up in a tight braid that restrained the fine tendrils from floating loose.
Whistling softly, she strapped on her knives, checked her compact bow and bolt supply, grabbed two weeks’ worth of compressed rations, placing them and water packs in her backpack on top of the flare gun and flares. She could only carry enough water for two days, but she knew where the streams were in the area, and tests had proved them potable.
Her first trip into the foothills had been to discover why the area repelled technology. Between the mineral samples that she had obtained, the water samples, and the first-hand viewing of an ancient city of the Nine, it had been a surprising and bittersweet success.
Teyha’s exploration had been her attempt at grieving. Her parents had been a geologist and a historian respectively, and looking for proof of the previous occupation of Gaia by the Nine had been her way of honouring their memory. They had died in a landslide in the foothills six months before the Tokkel attacks, and when the planet had been at risk, Teyha had found other things to occupy her time.