"Are you ready for the upcoming archaeological dig?"
"Am I? I thought it would never come! If I hear internal strife caused the downfall one more time..."
"Don't you like these traveling classes?"
"It is the slow boats that get me."
"Well, we're almost to the site. Thank goodness they installed this train or it could be another couple of days."
"I cannot imagine how long it would take a sail barge to cross the desert."
"If this place's infrastructure were still in tact, we could have gone by some electric vehicle."
"There just is not enough reason rebuild it yet."
"If it were important, they would develop a faster form of transportation."
"You know, in ancient times..."
"Uh oh, here we go."
"Here you go with your flying machines again."
"It is true. You have read the literature. They had all kinds of flying machines. They had airplanes and flying contraptions we don't even have words for anymore. They put jetpacks and flying cars in so many of their stories that they had to have something along those lines too. They at least had to be looking, and perhaps they were close!"
"Yeah -- well -- internal strife caused their downfall."
"Kidding! I was just kidding! However, you know from our class that they were very reluctant to use clean renewable energy sources. They went to war for their fuel needs. This caused a great deal of problems for them."
"Them? Problems for them? What about us?"
"True, we don't have speedy transportation, and we must take those boats you love some much and other forms of transportation to get to distance places -- like here."
"They had airplanes. They could travel half way around the world in half a day. It takes us weeks."
"True, but we are not burning fossil fuels or polluting the environment."
"Blah blah blah! I've been dreaming of flying for a long time."
"You know, an ancient dream analysis specialist said that dreams of flight were actually dreams about sex."
"I am familiar with Dr. Freud. He also said that sometimes a cigar was just a cigar."
"Perhaps when you dream about sex, you're actually dreaming about flying."
"You're hysterical -- you should go on the comedy circuit sometime."
"So tell me, why did you sign up for this class anyway? You're majoring in what -- engineering?"
"Engineers can have other interests. I came on this trip to see if there is anything to be found out about their flying machines. We have some of their technology, but what technology has been lost? Did they have jetpacks or flying cars?"
"You took this class to find evidence of flying machines?"
"Sure! This was one of the most advanced civilizations on earth at one time. Any city of theirs is probably rich in technological history. If they had some specialized flying technology, I'll find it."
"What good will it do you? They used up all of the fuels they had."
"I wish I had a time machine and tell them not to waste all of it. They could have saved some for future generations."
"Well, as you are well aware, time-travel is impossible. In any event, those fuels would have run out at some point anyway."
"I know. Perhaps I'll find some of their work on alternative energy sources. They did do that you know."
"True, but they got in that game too late to save them. They spent all of their money and resources on obtaining their particular fuels. They had wars. They borrowed money. Before they could fix those problems, other places were well ahead of them technology-wise. This caused internal strife -- and you know the rest."
"Boring -- boring -- and -- boring!"
"Like engineering classes are any better."
"Point taken. I just wish the class covered more about their technology. Just because it was an ancient civilization, doesn't mean they didn't know things."
"Like how to make airplanes?"
"Exactly! We know they had many sophisticated technologies. Just because their culture is dead does not mean it is useless."
"The entire hemisphere was practically unlivable for centuries!"
"So some of their sophisticated technology involved weaponry..."
"It was not only their weapons that doomed them. Their burning of fuels also severely damaged their ecosystem."
"Not everything died, some things survived."
"Let us hope we do not run into some of those surviving creatures. I hear they have a rodent that lives underground and can skeletonize a large animal in seconds."
"Land piranhas are a myth."
"Is that what they call them? I have always heard them called Chihuahuas or prairie dogs or some such."
"Anyway, on the good side of things, their cities are fantastically preserved."
"I wonder how long they'll stay this way now that they are habitable again."
"If we had planes..."
"Enough of the airplanes. Anyway, we do have plenty of space for our needs right now."
"The scary Chihuahuas will keep the interlopers at bay."
"I am telling you, this civilization's technology was awfully good to do what it did."
"Heavy on the awful. They nearly destroyed every living thing on earth. It is lucky that life is so flexible."
"Or, we wouldn't be here."
"They probably did not realize the folly of their actions because of the internal..."
"Very funny. In any event, we're here at last."
"Now that we are at our final destination, where are you going to start?"
"I just thought..."
"That we could stick together?"
"Well -- yeah."
"I do not need your help. I am the flying machine expert here. You can do your own research."
"Would it be that horrible to stick together?"
"Probably... Anyway, I have a destination in mind. According to some records that I have read, there was a library just over there. Where there is a library, there is information. That is where I am heading. Please find your own place."
"Do you read old English?"
"How different can it be from current English?"
"It is a lot different. Languages change over time. It seems that you need me."
"As an ancient history major, I took old English as my language requirement."
"So, you can help me look, is that it?"
"Do you know how to read the word airplane in old English..."
"So you are telling me that it is different."
"Yes I am."
"Crap. Ok, you can help me. Let us go."
"I did not expect there to be this much dust."
"We may have to dig our way into the building."
"Are you sure this is it?"
"Ok Mr. Old English, what does that say?"
"Any more questions?"
"How can you be so sure they will have what you are looking for?"
"Why did I have to ask if you had any more questions? Anyway, life is full of uncertainties. You can never tell what any place will hold; however, this is a darn good place to start is it not?"
"I am reminded of a story..."
"Shut up and help me dig out the entrance."
"While I am here digging, I am reminded of the question, Why does everything end up under dirt?"
"Some of our classmates are taking the easy way by entering on some of the upper levels of the buildings."
"Naturally, we have to enter a one-story building."
"We are not just looking at how the ancients lived; we are looking at what they knew."
"Nice words, Mr. Engineer."
"Thanks. I felt inspired."
"I think I can open the door now."
"Okay, let us try."
"Phew! It stinks in here."
"At least we are in."
"It is bigger than it looks on the outside."
"But where are the books?"
"Here is a map."
"Well, what does it say?"
"This is a Presidential Library."
"So -- no books?"
"Well it commemorates a presidency. It has personal documents and other paraphernalia."
"So -- no books?"
"Perhaps this president read comic books..."
"You are a real funny man."
"This could be a cultural treasure trove. We should tell the others."
"But -- no books?"
"There will be information on what happened while this person was president."
"Are you telling me that if something of note happened during this person's presidency regarding flight, the information might be found here?"
"Right, if they took a trip to Mars or something, it might be noted somewhere in here."
"Which president was it?"
"Every place I have looked -- the name has been vandalized.
"Can you make a guess based upon where it is located?"
"What good will that do you?"
"Uh -- I do not know -- I was just grasping at straws."
"We might as well look around."
"I suppose you are right. Hey, did presidents not read?"
"There might be another library in town."
"True. This library was supposed to be part of a college or university. There are probably others in town too."
"What are we waiting for then?"
"Can we not look around just a little bit? After all, we did dig our way in here."
"Without books, what good is this place?"
"Do you not even want to go into the NASA room?"
"What is a nasa-room?"
"I have no idea, but it is right over there."
"Boring! Can we go?"
"Can we take just a peek?"
"Does a nasa have something to do with books?"
"I do not know, I cannot figure out its weird logo. I wonder if it had something to do with their nuclear program."
"Maybe we will die of radioactivity if we enter that room. Come on, let's get out of here!"
"I just want to look in."
"Fine -- but be quick about it."
"Well, if we would find anything interesting, it would be in this room."
"What? Why are there books in here?"
"National -- Aeronautics -- and Space -- Administration."
"Aeronautics? As in flying machines?"
"Let me see!"
"I wonder if this place was looted."
"There does seem to be a lack of physical information."
"It says it right there. Test firing of ... LOX/methane engine."
"Methane! that is great!"
"That could be significant."
"You are telling me! How much thrust did you say?"
"It is confusing, but I think it says 7500 pounds of thrust."
"Pounds? What are pounds?"
"I have no idea."
"Where did this take place?"
"The Mo-jav-e Desert...?"
"This whole place is a desert."
"What good does this information do you?"
"Do you know nothing? Our Bureau of Information has a large database of information on this civilization. If you know what you are looking for, they can give you what you want to know. However, going up to them and asking about flying machines gets you nothing. There is just too much information. I need specifics."
"So knowing that they tested a methane rocket engine in the desert is helpful."
"Exactly. I probably can get specifications of this engine from the B.I. now.
"Furthermore, we can make methane. It is one of the few fuels they had that we can use."
"There is potential for starting up the space program again."
"Do not get carried away."
"The possibilities are staggering if I can build something based upon their specifications. I have to write this down. Mo-jav-e you say?"
"Perhaps we can more information on it in one of the other libraries in town..."
"One with books? Well, thank you unnamed president guy! It is a shame your library is such a shamble, but at least I found something of interest."
"While you talk to yourself, I am going to leave."
"I am right behind you."