When the crown prince returned to his part of the palace, he was still not fully composed when he came upon his son.
“What’s wrong?” the young prince asked. “Did grampa make you cry?”
“Not exactly,” the crown prince replied. He was about to say something like, “it’s complicated,” as a way to fob off the questions, but he thought to himself that it might be worthwhile to explain what had happened, even if this is not normally how such interactions went. “At the meeting that just ended, my father did something that bonded with my mind, and so now I can feel what he feels, and feel the feelings and perceive the thoughts and attitudes of those my father is connected to, and it’s rather overwhelming.”
“So you’re like a telepath now or something?”
“I would certainly be considered an empath,” was the reply, and he could sense the bright curiosity of his firstborn, and right now only, son. “Do you want to be one too?”
“You think I could be?” was the reply.
“Yes, I’m sure you could be. You’re one of us, after all, and I have the feeling this has been a family tendency for a while. I think a lot of the problems I had with my father is that I didn’t know where he was coming from, even if he knew where I was coming from, and I think you’re smart enough to be able to handle this bond, as long as you are prepared to deal with knowing the secret sorrows and griefs of those around you.”
“Would it make me smarter?” the boy asked.
“I’m sure of it. I already feel way wiser knowing your attitudes and being able to tell the difference between curiosity and backtalking,” the crown prince replied with a wry grin. “And I think you will like the side effects that come from the bonding,” the crown prince continued.
“Let’s do it then,” replied the youth. At this the crown prince placed his forehead against that of his son for several minutes, and again their electrical currents became linked together in harmony, and the young prince was, for what may have been the first time in months if not years, stunned into momentary silence by the complexity of what was now going on inside of his head.
“Now you understand what I mean,” the father said to his precocious son.
“Grampa is dying,” the boy replied solemnly.
“He is, and he knows it. He’s trying to preserve the kingdom intact to me, and I want to preserve it intact to you as well.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Right now it appears there are some people who want to overthrow our rule, and your grandfather does not think that his advisers are doing enough to figure out what’s going on.”
“Do you think we can help?”
“I’m sure we can, but I’m not sure how, at the moment.”
“But we can figure it out.”
“Yes, I think we can,” the crown prince said with a firm nod.
At this point two dinosaurs entered the crown prince’s part of the palace and presented themselves before the crown prince and his son. One of them was the dinosaur who had bonded with the crown prince only a few minutes before, and the other dinosaur was a juvenile who appeared to be his own firstborn son. The crown prince saw them and smiled, and the young prince looked a bit puzzled at his father.
“This is the side effect I was telling you about. Once you have bonded with people, then these dinosaurs want to bond with you as well,” the crown prince stated to his son, who returned to his normal state of ebullient curiosity.
“Do they do it the same way we just did,” was the obvious and appropriate question.
“Yes, exactly,” the crown prince said, and then the young dinosaur placed his forehead against that of the young prince for a few minutes and then jumped happily to the amusement of others around.
“What does this mean?” the young prince said.
“I’m not sure,” the crown prince said. “I think it means that you’re part of some sort of family, though. “It appears that one can feel everyone who is connected to the same network, which is why the dinosaurs knew to come here as soon as we had bonded, just like the dinosaur, who must be a crown prince of his own species, knew to come to me as soon as my father did that earlier.”
“Do you think they have the same status and rank system that we do?”
“Yes, I believe so. I think that the highest status male in every generation of dinosaurs is able to bond with the highest status male, as long as they have been considered as trustworthy and allowed within the system.”
“Do you think mom would like to be bonded like this?”
“I am sure she would. In fact, she may be bonded with the highest status female of her generation of dinosaurs as we speak.”
“I suppose we can ask her later.”
“Yes, that sounds like a great idea. Of course we can ask her later.
It was at this point that the prince’s relatively new tutor showed up having entered through the palace the back way. The four looked at each other a bit curious, and the crown prince decided now would be a good time for an informal interrogation.
“Could you have a seat,” the crown prince asked without it being a question. “I have some questions to ask you.”
“Um, sure, okay,” the tutor replied.
“Why did you enter this part of the palace through the side entrance, and why are you so late today to teach my son?”
“Well, I wanted to avoid the front entrance because it’s usually full of dinosaurs.”
The two dinosaurs eyed him hungrily, with the crown prince and his son silently urging them to restrain themselves for the moment.
“That’s going to be a bit more difficult from now on,” the crown prince stated flatly.
“Why do you say that, sir?”
“Because these two dinosaurs are going to always be around us from here on out.”
“Why the sudden change?”
“That is a matter above your paygrade,” the crown prince stated. “But it was a change that happened today, while you were somewhere that was not tutoring my son,” he said, returning to the point.
“Well, I was part of a meeting of an organization and our meeting this morning took a bit longer than expected.”
“What kind of meeting are we talking about?”
The tutor pondered how to answer the question, not realizing that his efforts at dissembling were obvious to everyone else in the room, who was looking at him very intently.
“It is an organization that seeks to preserve old earth ways,” the tutor answered, thinking this a safe answer. It was not.
“Why would you want to preserve old earth ways?” the young prince asked. “Didn’t we leave old earth precisely to get rid of their ways?”
At this the tutor stammered for a bit, trying to answer something intelligible. Ignoring him, the crown prince replied, “That is obvious to you and to me, but not to everyone.”
The tutor looked a bit embarrassed. At this the crown prince realized something his memory and decided to continue probing along this line.
“What sort of old earth ways do you think are worth preserving and cultivating?” asked the crown prince, genuinely curious, but already beginning to understand the answer.
“Well, various ways of thinking and traveling and living,” the tutor said, trying to be as anodyne as possible, seeing himself on thin ice.
“Wasn’t your research on the history and culture of early twenty-first century earth?” the crown prince queried.
“Yes, it was,” the tutor replied, not knowing what was the safest way to deal with this area, it never having been part of the conversation with the crown prince before.
“Who was it that recommended you,” the crown prince mused, mostly to himself. The tutor, who knew very well who his patron was, knew that it was not safe at all to reply to this statement, and the moment seemed to pass. The crown prince continued, as if it was nothing. “You know what,” he paused for a bit, “I’d like to teach my son today, so you can have the rest of the day off.”
The tutor bowed quietly and left the room, not wishing to test his luck any longer, and wondering if there might be a safer posting teaching at a school for the Amish.
“He’s up to something shady,” the young prince said, after there was a pregnant pause.
“Yes, he is,” the crown prince stated, without a doubt. “But he’s only a small fish, and it makes no sense to strike at a little fish when he can bring you to the big fish.”
“You think he’s part of the conspiracy that grampa is worried about?”
“I’m sure of it,” the crown prince said. “I think he was most interested in us because we were not connected to the dinosaurs, and he thought this meant he had a safer position because he could hide what he was up to with the not very demanding job of teaching one bright student, while having access to plenty of palace reading materials.”
“Do you think he should be watched from here on out?” the young prince asked.
“Yes, I think that would be good,” the crown prince answered. “Do you think you guys can handle it?” The dinosaurs nodded and left the room for a bit.
“What do you want to teach me today?” the young prince asked.
“I think it would be worthwhile to study history. Particularly, the history of the early twenty-first century. During that time our family was an obscure one, and we did not gain any prominence for a few generations, really at the end of the twenty-first century when our family was already living in outer space, having left Old Earth during a time of violent hostility.”
“And my tutor studied this period?”
“Yes, he did. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure which aspect of the history of ancient earth he studied, but there’s one way to find out easily, and that is to go to the imperial library and do some research.”
“So this is both class and investigation?”
“Let’s go, dad.”
The two of them walked to the imperial library, which was not far away, still within the place grounds on the other side of a gorgeous park where imperial servants and dinosaurs walked around happily, enjoying the scene. When they walked to the library the guards nodded at them, a bit surprised to see them entering the public entrance to the library, which drew the attention of the other people there. Immediately one of the quick-thinking librarians went up to them and asked what they were doing here. The crown prince answered politely that he was looking for the archive where the research papers for the imperial university were included.
“Were there any in particular that you were looking for?” the librarian asked, puzzled.
The crown prince gave the name of the imperial tutor and stated that he wanted to look at that paper with his son.
“Right this way,” the librarian said, pointing out that as the tutor had graduated from a program that was done in collaboration with the cultural department, that all of the papers were to be found in their physical form and were not connected to the easily searchable imperial database for wide and public reading.. The crown prince looked at the librarian and at his son.
“Are you telling me that it was the minister of culture that took notice of the tutor?”
“Oh yes,” the librarian said, evidently happy to tell. “The tutor won the award from the minister of culture for best paper written and presented at that year’s imperial historical conference as it related to cultural and political matters.”
“Does anyone still read the paper?” the crown prince asked, definitely intrigued.
“A group of people with the cultural ministry still check out the paper from time to time. Enough so that we have made several copies. Would you like to check this paper out as well?”
“Absolutely,” the crown prince replied. “Actually, I would like a copy that was devoted to the imperial family for reading and study and investigation.”
At this the librarian was puzzled, but went off to ask the chief librarian about this and returned with a copy that was stamped as being an imperial copy. Their mission done for the moment, two returned to the palace and went into a reading room to look at the paper, which had the unfriendly title of: “Antifascism In The Early Twenty-First Century: A Critical Investigation.” The two of them scanned the pages thoughtfully, and very quickly saw much cause for concern.
“Antifascism seems kinda violent,” the crown prince said, his forehead furrowed in deep thought.
“You can say that again,” the crown prince said. “I think this needs to be brought to the attention of the law.”
“I agree. This is a fun mystery, very exciting.”
“Very exciting indeed, my son.” The crown prince accessed the imperial communication system and called the chief of internal security. Within a couple of minutes the chief, somewhat breathless, appeared before the crown prince and his son.
“You have some business with me, your highness?” was the question as soon as the chief of internal security had caught his breath somewhat.
“Yes,” the crown prince replied. “I believe my son’s tutor is part of the conspiracy against our emperor. He wrote this paper,” he handed the paper into the hands of the harried chief of internal security and continued on, “and it was praised and has been read since then by members of the ministry of culture. Also, he was late today to tutor my son and he said he was late because of a meeting of a group designed to preserve and cultivate the ways of old earth. If this paper is any indication, those ways include sedition and leftist revolution, and such a thing is not to be tolerated. You would do well to investigate such matters.”
“Yes, your highness,” the chief of internal security said, nodding his head. “I will get people on this immediately to read the paper, seek to understand what it means, and try to infiltrate any groups we can find out that are trying to preserve the ways of old earth.”
“That’s very good,” the crown prince said, nodding, and he and his son talked happily about their shared love of mystery novels and history back to their part of the palace.