The scene: A cavern so deep and forbidding that its depths have never been fully explored. Three helmet-mounted searchlights pierce the darkness, which gives up its secrets only grudgingly. The explorers reach a seeming impasse, at which point a long-haired, scruffily-bearded young man known only as The Drummer points to a twelve-foot stone in their path.
DRUMMER: Through there. Hurry, all right? Hate this dirt garage.
Without looking up, the white-suited man named Elijah Snow pauses from looping the rope they’d used to traverse the chasm that led them here only moments ago.
SNOW: Stand back away from it.
DRUMMER: It’s your show, man.
SNOW: Magic without tears.
The Drummer obliges the man’s command, and feels a brief but unpleasant chill pass through the air between Snow and the stone. A loud CRACK is heard, followed by dozens of of smaller snapping sounds, and a network of hairline fractures appear all over the surface of the stone. The third member of the group, and the only one appearing to be enjoying herself, is the fiercely confident Jakita Wagner, dressed in her black and red bodysuit, oblivious to the cold.
JAKITA: BOTH of you stand back.
DRUMMER: Oh, what a glorious day, huh? You get to hit something big.
JAKITA: Weren’t you just about to shut up?
Jakita pulls back her right arm as though pitching a baseball, and almost too quick for the eye to follow, strikes the stone close-fisted, sending sharp pieces of volcanic shrapnel in all directions.
DRUMMER: OW! Goddammit!
SNOW: She DID warn you.
Light pours in as a small passageway is uncovered by the stone’s decimation.
JAKITA: Drummer, is that light source artificial? How do we get sunlight this far underground?
DRUMMER: No signal. Whatever it is, it’s not any kind of tech. Some sort of natural phenomenon.
JAKITA: So, what is it? It looks like a valley…a habitat of some kind.
The three look out over the incredible panorama stretching for miles in each direction. Remarkable vegetation manifests itself as ten-story trees and foot-thick vines. Small, primitive structures, apparently man-made, pepper the valley, but no movement or sound is heard…nothing at all.
SNOW: It’s not just a habitat. It’s a city.
The three explorers make their way down to one of the small, apparently abandoned dwellings.
JAKITA: It’s…kind of beautiful, isn’t it?
DRUMMER: Just looks like a bunch of rocks to me.
SNOW: The entire “house” appears to be made out of stone. Drummer, do you sense anything at all?
DRUMMER: Look around you, man…does this look like my kind of thing? I don’t even know why I had to come. I don’t do the field.
SNOW: You came because you were told. Try to keep your eyes open and be useful.
JAKITA: It’s like a mockery of a suburb. It’s like any neighborhood in America, only carved in granite. But, who would build such a thing? What is it for?
DRUMMER: Maybe it’s a zoo…maybe it’s like a Habit-trail or something. But where are the hamsters?
SNOW: It feels like someone LIVED here, though. Good lord, what’s THAT?
DRUMMER: HA! Look at that thing! It’s a CAR! Unreal! Ha ha ha!
JAKITA: Can’t be a car. It’s got no engine.
DRUMMER: It’s a CAR! Look, it’s got a steering wheel here. Jesus, the whole assembly is carved out of wood! Who would BUILD something like this? It can’t possibly function…can it? What are you supposed to do, push it with your feet?
The three primary members of the Planetary team enter the dwelling, and it is immediately clear that the structure’s inhabitants met a violent end. Blood is spattered on the walls and stone furnishings, and human bones, some with meat still on them, are strewn carelessly across the floor.
SNOW: Whoever they were, they were massacred. Something tore them apart.
DRUMMER: I don’t like this place. It’s as though a family of Neanderthals tried to mimic 20th century life. Look at that thing! It looks like an old-fashioned record player. Right up your alley, huh, Granpa? Except, is that a dead bird they were using for a needle? Christ! What IS this place?
SNOW: Maybe the bird was alive. Maybe the creatures who lived here trained it somehow…
JAKITA: STOP CALLING THEM CREATURES!
The other two team-members turn in surprise to face a sad-eyed Jakita, standing in front of a stone cradle, holding a bloodied infant’s blanket…
JAKITA: They weren’t ‘creatures.’ They were…they were a family.
DRUMMER: Sorry. Sorry. You’re right.
JAKITA: Never mind. Just…let’s finish this.
DRUMMER: Hey…over here! I think I found something!
Half inside and half outside the rear door of the dwelling lay a paleontologist’s dream. The seemingly-fresh skeleton of a dinosaur, perfectly-preserved were it not for the huge wooden club that had bashed in its skull. Nearby was the clawed and torn remains of a small humanoid, perhaps a meter in height.
SNOW: It looks like this one…
JAKITA: It’s a child. It WAS a child.
SNOW: Yeah, all right. It looks like the ‘child’ somehow managed to brain this lizard. But not in time to save the rest of the family. Or himself, apparently.
DRUMMER: Nuh-uh, no way. This club weighs a ton. I can barely move it. That’d mean that kid was as strong as Jakita.
SNOW: Well, how else do you explain it?
JAKITA: I think these people were like us. Look, that lizard has a collar. I think they tried to tame the untameable, and one day, the untameable fought back. That’s what it does. We’re just the same. You’re looking at rumors of our own history, here.
DRUMMER: I think you’re struggling too hard to find a point to all this. Why do you always do that? Everytime we see something cool, you try to find a POINT in it.
SNOW: “Save the world, and it will repay you, every day.”
JAKITA: What’s that, Elijah?
SNOW: Nothing. Like always, we’re too late to help these people, Jakita. Let’s leave them be.
DRUMMER: Hey, let me try to play the birdie boombox. Hang on.
…So let the sun shine in!
Face it with a grin,
Smilers never lose,
And frowners never win, so
Let the sun shine in!
Face it with a grin,
Open up your heart and let the
Suuunnnn shiinnne in!
DRUMMER: Man, that’s just ****ed up. Hey, look in here! There’s a guy who got strangled in his shower by a wooly mammoth! COOL!