The Herringbone Meteorite
by Tony Noland
His Imperial Majesty, God-Emperor Xiang Chu Siquiera Charles IV, of the Celestial House of Kaminski, asked, "What is that supposed to be? Is it a potato or a rock?"
The curator of art cleared his throat before speaking. "Your Majesty, we believe it to be a representation of a meteorite. If I may direct His Majesty's attention to the herringbone pattern?" The old man's papery thin hand waved at the case, then withdrew as the monarch leaned forward for a closer look.
"Why a herringbone pattern? This was drawn after the invention of synthetic fabrics, was it not?"
"Yes, Your Majesty, in the century following. During the first decades of the twenty-first century, animal fibers were still occasionally used in weaving cloth. Some of the more traditional patterns were still in vogue."
"I see." The Imperial eyes squinted. "Why is the meteorite covered in a pattern of a woven fabric derived from animal fibers? I see now that it's clearly a cavorite ore deposit."
The curator cleared his throat again, a slight sheen of sweat on his brow. "His Majesty may be gracious enough to forgive the foolishness of ancient artists. The proportions of the image suggest that this was not intended to be a scale-accurate representation of meteorite harvesting."
The lord of ten thousand suns frowned. "But this was done at about the same time as mankind first established the presence of cavorite in Oort cloud debris. It's a perfect picture of cavorite extraction. The electron spindle, the sonocavitation focusing crystal, even the positron-matrix webbing around the meteorite, although why it's cast in a herringbone pattern is a mystery."
The royal historian shifted slightly, a subtle invitation to be invited to speak. The monarch nodded to him and his said, "Your majesty, the first cavorite ore deposits were discovered in 2098. This drawing dates from earlier in that century, possibly from as early as 2020."
"Are you telling me it's just a coincidence? That this picture, which is a perfect representation of the cavorite extraction process, the heart of translight drive and the entire basis of our star empire, has no connection to it at all? Rubbish." He turned to the curator. "Relabel this exhibit. It is clearly an early schematic of a cavorite extractor." The curator bowed low, his face hot and flushed.
The decision made and the mystery cleared up, the monarch moved on to examine an internal combustion engine and a set of stainless steel knives, both recovered from recent archeological diggings.
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