“I don’t think you should touch it yet,” Triona said with some concern as she glanced at the readings coming from the tricorder in her hand.
Methos drew back from the alien artifact. “Why not? You’ve pretty much established that whatever powered it is long since dead.”
She chewed at her lower lip, scanning the ancient alien device one more time. “Maybe… probably,” she amended. Looking back up, she shook her head. “It isn’t entirely dead. I’m getting some very confusing readings. Almost negligible, but there.”
“It’s probably just residual radiation,” he countered. “After all, it’s over five-hundred-thousand years old. It would have absorbed a fair amount in that time.” She nodded uncertainly as Methos continued, “The translation I did indicated this was nothing more than a device to record and archive this culture’s history. A culture that’s been dead for hundreds of thousands of years!”
Triona smiled a little at the enthusiasm in her husband’s voice. Finding this planet had been his pet project for the last two decades, and he was so close to the end now. But it was her job to curb his enthusiasm with scientific caution. “And what if your translation was wrong?” she asked as gently as she could.
“Do you have reason to think it was?” he asked a little stiffly.
“No. No, of course not. I’m sorry, I guess my past experience with an ancient alien device just makes me a little paranoid. I’d really prefer to avoid a repeat performance!” Considering her last encounter had resulted in her reliving the life of a slave in Pompeii just before Vesuvius erupted, that was an understatement.
“Okay, point taken.” Smiling, he came closer, leaning down to kiss her. “And I’m sorry for being so touchy.”
Running a hand through his short hair, she kissed him back. “Apology accepted.”
“Making up is one of my favourite things,” he murmured, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close.
“Uh huh.” Scanner forgotten at her side, Triona slipped her hands under his shirt, pressing cool palms against the warmth of his back, leaning into his kiss as his hands tangled into her long hair. Sighing regretfully, she pulled away.
“What? You have something better to do?” he asked impishly, running his thumb across her lips.
“No, but you do.” Pointing to the alien artifact, she said, “It’ll be dawn in a few hours, which means I have to spend the day in the shelter of the ship. So if we want to do this today…?”
“Right!” Picking up her tricorder, he handed it to her, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “One more scan, and then we see what we can discover from our silent friend over there.”
Methos was practically rubbing his hands in anticipation, and despite herself, Triona found his enthusiasm infectious. “Fine, but if it blows up, I expect groveling for the next several centuries!”
“Deal!” he agreed. “But it won’t, so I get to say ‘I told you so’ frequently.”
Triona just laughed, walking around the shoulder high device, paying close attention to the readings from her tricorder. For a mysterious alien artifact, it didn’t look like much. In fact, more than anything else, it reminded her of the modern art sculptures that had been so popular in the lobbies of office buildings in the latter part of the twentieth century on Earth. It resembled titanium formed into multiple triangles, fitted together like a puzzle. It seemed to absorb the light around them as opposed to reflecting it. And on its nearly black base of the same metal, was writing in the long lost language that Methos had spent the last twenty years translating.
The readings hadn’t changed, and while she wasn’t entirely happy with the result, she had no good reason, other than her own fear, not to continue. “I guess you get your wish,” she told Methos. “I’ll keep scanning as you work. But promise me that if I think something’s not right, you’ll get away from that thing if I ask?”
“Cross my heart.” He grinned, doing just that.
“Doofus,” she muttered, rolling her eyes.
“Hey, I heard that!”
“The truth hurts!” she shot back, amused.
“You,” he pointed at her with one long finger, “are the most disrespectful wife I have ever had.”
“Really? Is there some sort of prize?” She quirked one eyebrow, hand on her hip.
His eyes slowly and deliberately ran down her body and then back up again, and her heart skipped a beat. “I guess you’ll find out later,” he promised in a voice that was like cool syrup.
She took a slightly shaky breath. “If you keep this up, you can forget that damn thing till tonight,” she said, making a promise of her own, waving her free hand at the artifact.
Smirking, he replied, “I’ll make it up to you.”
“You’re damned right you will! Now stop distracting me with carnal thoughts and get on with it!”
“Getting on with it, ma’am!” was his cheeky reply. Once again, he approached the object, this time placing his left hand on the symbol at the top of the plinth, the other hand over a raised rectangle on the triangle to his left. According to his translation, that should open the device.
Triona eyed the readings intently. There was a small fluctuation, barely registered, but it was there. “Methos,” she began. After that, it all happened so quickly, she only had time to scream his name before the flash point of the energy wave hit, throwing her against the sheer rock wall behind her. A moment of searing pain as bones broke on impact, then nothing as unconsciousness claimed her.