The Story of the Whos as of 3 31 15.pdf
altar, a flat piece of stone supported by two smaller ones, dominated the center of the room. On the
ground in front of it were various pieces of metal; though, unlike the other artifacts Peter had found, they
were not iron, as there was no rust. The pieces seemed to be bent wires of some sort, looking almost like
a messy clump of twine. Peter ignored them, but Thale immediately reached for them with a pair of
tongs, and bagged them.
“I think this was some sort of shrine or temple,” Peter observed, though he was pretty sure that
this was evident to everyone else anyway.
“Right,” said Thale, who seemed transfixed by the remaining pieces of wire on the ground.
There was a quiet moment as one of the others who had accompanied them, someone Peter was
fairly sure was called Derrick, snapped a series of photographs of the room and its contents, the flashing
lights of the camera reflecting off the walls giving the chamber an eerie, otherworldly quality. Then they
were finished, and Thale led them back to the main chamber.
There they found the group; little else of interest had been found. Nelc collected sample bags
from them; Peter saw a few engraved stones and primitive wooden tools, distorted behind the wrinkled
plastic. Nelc seemed more disappointed with each mundane item that was given to him, but Peter was
excited; finally, it was proof that someone had lived outside the valley, a long time ago, somewhere that
was not “officially sanctioned” or had to be reviewed first.
If this was the past, then it could be the future.
The sun was beginning to sink into its lazy afternoon color, that of an old tallow candle. Clouds
dulled its light, cooling the air; Peter felt none of the sun's warmth on the back of his neck as the air
sloop whisked through the air on the return journey to the valley. This was the fifth expedition he had
gone on since he had joined at the start of summer; now, as traces of color crept into the leaves, the
months of learning and searching seemed absolved at last. What they had found was nothing special;
traces of civilization had been found outside the valley before. But to Peter, it was only now that he was
sure that that “fact” had not just been another lie.
Resignation stole the edge from his happiness as he remembered he had to go to school the next
day. Expeditionary Battalion members were expected to keep their marks high, and Peter had never
failed to meet this requirement. Even so, school was not something he enjoyed as a whole, though there
were certain redeeming aspects...
The valley came into view as the air sloop rushed over the trees. Peter had little to do now that
they had left the large forest; there were no obstacles tall enough for the air sloop to have to worry about.
Even from five hundred feet up, the Wall looked imposing. Peter looked disdainfully at it. He could defy
it for a few hours, even a day, but like a knot around his ankle, it always ended up dragging him back.
Landing was always one of the least pleasant parts of flying; as the Expeditionary Battalion ships
were old, they did not have any shock absorption on their landing struts. Peter felt his entire midriff jolt
as they landed. His knees buckled, and he fell forward, catching himself on his hands. He pushed
himself back up, scowling at Galwin's gleeful grin as he watched Peter's mistake.
Boots clicking metallically down the exit ramp, he looked around. They had landed at one of the
smaller airports in Nalio, the largest city in the valley. Peter's father worked here, and usually picked
Peter up from the airport on his way home on days when the Expeditionary Battalion was flying
somewhere. But as Peter followed the others to the parking lot outside the landing areas, he realized his
father wasn't there; he did not see his car anywhere.
At once he remembered; Emily was supposed to pick him up today. She had recently received
her license, and as a result had driven as much as possible. His father had appreciated the news that
Peter would not need a ride home; he was able to drive but his family only owned one car, and that was