With the passage of time, the settlements of Felinoux knew less and less about their common point of origin. While success was judged by the colonies that secured themselves to the bedrock of archipelagos, and time favorably viewed the empires that spread across the alluvial sands and shallow seas, the future dreamers, lovers, and fighters looked up at the cold giant of Proxima Tigres, peered through the hydrogen filaments of the Doghead Nebula, and could not find their home star.
A congress was called to solve the mystery of the Crossing, everyone fully aware of the technological declension of the Felinoux race, and how society’s prior advancements had lapsed. True, the nations of the small moon were a shade of their former spacefaring heights. But the builders expressed confidence that ‘telescopes’ -- in the language of the moderns -- could be re-obtained.
Budiapha ‘Half-tail’ Pentrolliquix seemed, on first impression, a minor player in this nascent renaissance. He seemed to content with his little hovel on the leeward side of Nichileu’s slopes. The place afforded him the best place to look away from the glare of Felinoux’s triplet of stars, into the Empty Quarter, the parallax of space that was the darkest, and most devoid of life. For his efforts to gaze away from Menagerie of Proxima Tigres’ moons, the pasturage-peoples would deride him in the paddock-squares in town. Nevertheless, he had saved enough to rent a guided-wagon and a nice suit with buttons. He soon arrived in Nichileu to present his studies.
Greeted by derision -- people laughed at his countrified origins -- Budiapha listened respectfully to each presentation. The philosophers of Felinoux had patiently measured the wobble of stars, and now could say, without a doubt, where their homeworld lay. Or so they thought. For they could not read the language of the ancestral scrolls.
Budiapha put a paw in front of his mouth, to cover his good-natured laughter. The rubes...
Others counted the stars in a set region of space, a region, Budiapha added, they barely knew, trained as they were to focus on the worlds of the Menagerie. Nevertheless, and with adventure, the nouveau astronomers peered deep into a sea of stars from where legends dared. Not more than a hundred thousand suns formed a study that counted the probability of worlds around each star, to produce an educated guess informed by statistics, as to the habitability of each planet. Yet no one had ever successfully understood the old maps of the ancestral starfarers.
Budiapha laughed at that one too, prepared himself to rise from his cushion, and make the long walk through the Cliques of Nichileu.
While the last team of well-funded scientists spoke of their discoveries, which produced a new catalogue of stars-- from the red giant, like Felinoux had at its solar-center, to the stellar beyond full of yellows and blues and browns -- Budiapha crossed the great divide of philosophical factions, waited until the last team admitted to their incomprehension of the scrolls, and took the stage amidst mewing guffaws of the brightest and best of Felinoux.
Budiapha stood behind the podium, a rough rock hewn from the holy heights of Mt. Erebus, and produced a small thing from a cloth in his belt. The room of philosophers went silent. At least, they seemed to appreciate mystery, and the sight of Budiapha with two strange pieces of rock, which he put on his face, produced the strangest explanation.
And Budiapha, thus, showed the best use of telescopes on Felinoux, in service as another forgotten technology.