The last part!!!
The old man had made his own discoveries before the boy did. He had, in fact, seen the bird people on Gallun-Z not two years ago. But he, too, had sought photos on the webs, and made the same discovery the boy had. But being older and wiser, he had realized what it meant.
For awhile, he watched them anyway, determined to learn what he could. But there was only so much you could learn observing from afar, and he soon lost heart, afraid each time he looked would be the night he’d see their destruction.
Sometimes he wondered why it happened, why he’d seen it. What was the point? But God gave no answer, and science was indifferent.
Then the boy came. And he insisted on watching the winged people in their last days.
“It’ll only upset you,” protested the old man.
“But you said the past was important. I want to learn everything they can teach me, before it’s too late.”
So the man only sighed and walked away.
What an eerie feeling, watching a civilization that didn’t know it was about to die. Nothing changed in their behavior. They worked. They played. They scuffled. They danced in the light. Just like every day of their lives. They didn’t know it would be their last.
More than once, he considered that the old man was right; that he couldn’t handle watching them die. Their world grew blurry when he thought about it, and it wasn’t a problem with the scope.
But there was no way around it. The old man was right, of course. He should have realized. They all died long before he was born. Before Spacial Disruption was even invented.
Then a curious thing happened.
Men came out.
Men walked upon the surface of Gallun-Z.
The boy had not seen them land; he had missed the moment of meeting, but there they were. It looked as if they were communicating with the bird creatures.
And over the next several days, the whole planet seemed alive with activity. The winged people flew doubly fast, flitting this way and that, carrying packs with them.
Now the boy was watching as long as he could each night, until Earth and Gallun turned their faces away from each other, and he had to wait another several hours before he could look again.
Then the day came that everyone was gone. The ships. The men. The winged people.
Every city was empty. Still.
The rickety joints tottered in.
“What this time?” the old man asked him.
The old man sensed something in the boy’s expression, which he didn’t understand. “Hmph,” he grunted to conceal his interest. “Did you figure out where the ships were from?”
“They were from Earth.”
“They looked like men. And the lettering on the ships…it was like our lettering.”
“That’s not possible. They didn’t have Spacial Disruption that long ago.”
“They weren’t marked S.D.”
“Of course not.”
“…They were marked T.D.”
The man watched him a moment. “And what do you suppose that means?”
The boy hesitated. Then he looked the rickety joints in the eye.
“That one day,” he said. “I am going to save the people of Gallun.”