"Some of these are older than others," he explained when Stryker remarked on his selection. "But none are recent. It should help to know their exact age."
An hour later, they were bathed and dressed, sealed off comfortably in the ship against the humid heat and stink of the swamp. Farrell lay on a chart room acceleration couch, resting, while Stryker taped his swollen ankle. Gibson and Xavier, the one disdaining rest and the other needing none, used the time to run a test analysis on the bones brought in from the lakeside.
The results of that analysis were more astonishing than illuminating.
A majority of the fragments had been exposed to climatic action for some ten years. A smaller lot averaged twenty years; and a few odd chips, preserved by long burial under alluvial silt, thirty.
"The older natives died at ten-year intervals, then," Stryker said. "And in considerable numbers; the tribe must have been cut to half strength each time. But why?" He frowned unhapp