I saw this prompt and just had to have a go. It’s for Esther Newton’s writing competition on the theme of Discovery—and there’s prizes! Look here. Just a couple of days left to hone your entry.
Atallus let the telescope rove among the stars, searching for the world that would make of him the Visigoth who conquered the stars. The moon goddess had watched over the Visigoths’ early conquests when they and the Mongols had carved up the world between them. She would surely light the way to new conquests beyond the Earth. Atallus often made the journey to the exploratory base on the moon, to watch the vessels leave and dock, to see for himself what the astronomers discovered among the bright lights of the universe. When they discovered the canister, half-buried in moondust, he felt the stirrings of triumph.
The canister, shot into space from a distant planet, the scientists said, contained artefacts and primitive attempts at reproducing the beauty of nature. His heart leapt. Barbarians, ripe for conquest. But something troubled Atallus. He examined the creations minutely. One in particular fascinated him, a round piece of gold, a coin no doubt, showing a man’s head in profile, a head crowned with leaves. A piece of his past was surfacing.
The name rattled around in his head. The coin was from Rome, a place so far distant in history as to be almost a fable. The Visigoths sacked Rome in a vague story told to children. Standing in the motionless dust, he weighed the coin in his hand, and watched his blue planet as it turned slowly, bathed in the light of the sun. As he watched, the light, time itself shifted, and he gasped. He glimpsed a strange grey world, of sprawling cities, bridges, tentacular roads, and the heavy smoke pall of war. Only for an instant, then time and place shifted back. The blue planet bathed him in beauty again, but he had seen, and he had understood. Atallus had pierced the moon’s secret. This dead rock, that lived in legend and story, bathed in glorious silver, drawing up the tides, filling the Earth with women’s magic, was the key, the gateway, the place where worlds touched and nothing was as it seemed.
He bent and picked up a handful of dust and fragments. This was here. It was also there. The primitives who had stuffed the sum of their achievements into a tin can and tossed it into space in an act of arrogance and pride, populated his own planet, but on another plane, so close they breathed the same atmosphere. Here the worlds touched. Here, with moon dust about his ankles, Atallus saw their Earth. He grinned to himself. No need to scour the universe for conquests. No need to travel light years into the unknown. There was conquest here, so close at hand he could see it with the naked eye. The moon goddess showed them the way. His engineers would plot a path from here to there, passing through the planes of being, to enter a new world that he would make his own. After a thousand years of idleness, the Visigoths marched again.