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She sat back on her heels and wiped her brow. The dual suns were both high in the sky, and most of her workers had retreated into the shade. It didn’t take fifteen of them to catalogue the finds, and on most digs they would all do anything to avoid the paperwork, but here it was preferable to the heat of the double-noon.

She was the only one willing to endure the heat for the sake of her search. She was so close to a breakthrough that she was reluctant to waste even one moment.

“Mesri,” one of the assistants called from the tent, addressing her by a local term or respect. “Mesri, please, come shelter. Is bad to be out in both suns. Bad luck.”

The other local assistants nodded and beckoned. She smiled and adjusted the peak of her hat to keep her eyes in shade.

“I don’t believe in luck,” she called back. “I trust in hard work and good research.”

She bent over again, deftly brushing dust away from the plaque she was halfway to uncovering. The weather out here was unpredictable, and just one of the frequent dust storms could destroy the fragile artefact if she didn’t get it uncovered and lifted quickly. There was no time to waste.

She cleared a large enough section to make out some of the text, and her brain shifted into translation mode.

“In the reign of D’Brias, a great wave brought destruction upon the lands.”

She shook her head and smiled. Wave. It was the proof she had been looking for, proof that this barren, arid planet had once been green and damp, before some planetary catastrophe had shifted everything.

The plaque was suddenly thrown into shadow, and she gasped and looked around.

“Relax, Doctor,” a deep, rasping voice said. Her sponsor, a rich Bartellian, was standing over her, spritzing his scaly skin from a large bottle as a group of servants set a tent up above her. “I simply provide shade and comfort for my investment.”

She sighed and looked down again.

“Not necessary, Brikat,” she said. “I’m quite accustomed to dual sun systems. The heat doesn’t bother me.”

He smiled, his sharp teeth showing all around his long snout. “You? Doctor, I care not if you fry. But this plaque has been buried for centuries, and it is cool beneath the sands.”

She grimaced and returned to work, hoping that between the locals and her one human assistant they would be able to document the findings before the lizard took them off to auction.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Three Word Wednesday this week has the words Destruction, Endure and Trust.)

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