Dr. Lisbeth Zambrano awoke with a start in the night. Something was crying. Something small and scared and a long way away was sending a cry out into the ether, hoping that someone would hear it it and pay attention to it and respond to it.
Lisbeth intended to pay attention to it. She got up and went to her own private map room. Her dinosaur came along with her, having woken up with the same start in the night from the same cry. When they looked at the star charts and sought to locate where the cry was coming from, it seemed as if the location was moving. Whatever it is that gave this cry, and it was probably a baby dinosaur, it was on a ship somewhere a long, long way away.
Lisbeth rubbed her head and tried to send this little one, wherever it was, plenty of care and concern, and she knew that her dinosaur companion was sending plenty of the same care and concern with her. She hoped it would be enough, and she pondered what needed to be done. Was it something that needed to be done now or could it wait until the morning?
She thought to herself for a bit, and pondered the movement of the ship. Why would a baby korinthidon send a cry for help like that? So far as she could remember, she had never heard a cry in that fashion, and she had to admit that her network of korinthidons was probably larger than most thanks to her connections with others. She wondered where she would be able to get some help about this, and figured that she could do a lot worse than to try to patch in a connection with the pre-cognition team, since what happened seems like it would have been a crime of some kind, and the message that reached her would likely reach others as well who would connect there.
Her hunch proved to be correct, and before too long she and her dinosaur companion were in a remote chat with the pre-cognition team, who had a few other bleary-headed people there who likely had been woken up with the same call. One thing stood out when Dr. Zambrano saw them, and that was that all of the dinosaurs and people who were in the chat were female. There was not a single male to be found among those who had heard the call. Given her expertise, Dr. Zambrano very quickly took point.
“Good morning, ladies,” she said. “A few minutes ago I was woken up by a cry of deep suffering and abandonment from what I believe to be a small korinthidon who is a long way away from here on a ship of some kind. I think it may be inferred by the fact that all of us who are receiving this call are women, that the baby calling out is missing its mother.”
There was silence among the rest of the participants in the remote conversation as they all looked around at each other.
“I am not aware of abandonment being a phenomenon of korinthidon life,” Dr. Zambrano continued. “Therefore I think we can assume that this particular korinthidon was either smuggled away from its mother, or its mother is no longer living, and in either case we are dealing with some sort of crime. It is possible that both happened, but the matter needs to be investigated. From what I could gather when I looked at the starmap, it looked as if the ship was traveling in the Gorman system, and that is not a system that is mapped particularly well. She put a pin on the location in the system where the call came from, as well as the motion of the ship, which suggested that it was seeking to move towards a portal that was located not far from the planet’s sun, which suggested that the ship had probably taken off from the area of Gorman 3, but it was by no means obvious where the portal went after that, as this was a portal outside of Multipian space and in the hands of people other than those with whom the Multipians got along.
The head of the pre-cognition team looked rather seriously at what she was seeing. “This is not good,” she said aloud. “What we have here is a crime as well as an international incident. On the one hand, we have what appears to be an abandoned little korinthidon who has been born in foreign space among people with whom we have no particular diplomatic relations, and on the other we have a question as to where this korinthidon is going and whether our jurisdiction is going to be accepted.”
As she said this and as the situation became clear, there were movements of great mourning among the people and especially the korinthidons there.
Dr. Lisbeth paused for a beat and then asked, “Do you think we need to bring the palace in on this?”
There was slight hesitation, and then the head of the pre-cognition team breathed heavily and made a call to the palace to see if anyone was up. Much to her surprise, she saw an elegant woman towards the back end of middle age, with silver hair, answering the call. It took the people on the call a second to realize that they were looking at the Empress Consort of Multipia, and there was a bit of awkwardness among most of the participants until Dr. Zambrano decided it would be best for her to address the speaker.
“That is the same information I am seeing here, doctor,” the empress answered politely, and it could be seen that she too was in her own star chart room and had done the same thing that everyone else had been doing. “I too was awoken by the cry in the night, my dinosaur companion and myself, and I was able to get to my own chart room. I did not know who else the cry went to, but it appears that it went to every female who it was remotely connected to, and that is quite a bit of us, and perhaps many others who cannot connect remotely with us.”
“That seems to be a safe guess, your highness,” Lisbeth answered. “The question is more what we are going to be able to do about it.”
“What did you have in mind?” the empress asked.
“I think there are two things that could be done, and perhaps both of them need to be done,” Dr. Zambrano responded. “First, a combined police and diplomatic effort needs to be made at locating where it is that the ship left, which appears to be Gorman 3. The second thing that would need to be done is for a second police and diplomatic effort to be made at intercepting the ship, given that it appears to be going towards a portal whose destination we do not know, which means that we do not know where this particular ship is going, although we should be able to keep track of the korinthidon at least, since we are all connected to it at present.”
“I think that is a reasonable thing to do. I think we can send out two teams on two ships, one of them with a straightforward mission to Gorman 3, with whatever military support it needs, and the other being more of a scouting mission sent to locate the ship’s destination and, once its course can be gathered, intercept it to determine that the korinthidon is safe and sound,” the empress replied.
At this point the head of the pre-cognition team spoke up. “I think given this information that our department can come up with a plan. Perhaps we should break for now until the morning, and we can work out a plan and who can staff each option then.”
There was agreement that this was a good plan and with that everyone adjourned from their remote meeting and tried to snatch a few more hours of sleep until the morning. The little lost one, however far away it was, seemed to know that there was help on the way, and this made its cries less urgent, as it could feel the love and concern and the desire to reach out to it from far away, and it understood that it would not forever be alone. It too sought to get some sleep, at least as far as could be told from so far away.
When morning came, Dr. Zambrano received a call from the head of the pre-cognition team, asking if she and Hephizbah would be able to work things out as being the people in charge of the intercept group. It was thought that people who were known for being gentle and mothering would be the best to deal with the task of making contact with the lost dinosaur directly, while another team heavier in investigators and muscle would go to Gorman 3 and deal with the scene there, to figure out how it was that a korinthidon ended up in such a hostile place in the first place. This was easy enough to agree too, and Lisbeth made it a point talk with Hephizbah, who had stayed in touch with the precognition team even though she had returned to her home community, serving the local Amish as a korinthidon whisperer, even though it was hard to stay in touch without the technology that the others took for granted. It did not take long, though, for the two to meet face to face and share their thoughts on old times.
“Somehow we seem to have a knack for lost or missing dinosaurs,” Hephizbah and her companion laughed when they met together.
“Yes, that does appear to be the case,” Lisbeth replied.
“Do you think our background has anything to do with it, with being chosen?” Hephizbah said politely.
Lisbeth pondered about that for a minute.
“It is easy to see how my own background, and that of my companion, would relate to the loss and abandonment that the dinosaur may be feeling,” Lisbeth agreed.
“Right, so at least that part makes sense,” Hephizbath said. “What would relate to my own experience?”
“I’m not sure, Lisbeth said. She wondered where she had heard about Gorman 3, and she looked up the planet on her personal communications device, where admittedly not much information could be found about it, just rather generic information about its suitability for life, as well as the fact that the planet was a known smuggler’s den.
“It’s hard to find out much about places that are known for smuggling,” Lisbeth said after looking for a while.
“What kind of smuggling do they do?” Hephizbah asked.
“Well, it says here that the planet is known as a base for the smuggling of supplies to other bases where people came from Old Earth who were not religious refugees like we were,” Lisbeth said.
“Do you think that a korinthidon would be on a ship that was smuggling random and ordinary goods across the galaxy?” Hephizbah asked.
“Not as likely as if they were smuggling people,” Lisbeth said.
The two of them looked at each other, and their dinosaur companions looked at each other, and it was thought by all, though not said, that it was not likely by chance that these two people were going to be looking for a lost dinosaur. For whatever reason, the smuggling angle seemed to be an obvious hook for the two of them to work together again. It did not take long for them to fill out their paperwork and forms and make their way to the Imperial Spacesport to board a light scout ship that was going to help them track and follow the trail of the dinosaur. As might be expected, Lisbeth had a discussion with the scout ship’s captain, as this would be a ship with fairly minimal crew, all the better for speed.
“Have you ever been off-planet?” the captain asked when the two women and their dinosaurs boarded the shuttle that would take them to the orbital base where the scout ship was docked.
“We have not,” Lisbeth replied. “Obviously, our grandparent’s generation or so settled here, or maybe great-grandparent’s at this point, but no, we have not been off-planet.”
“I wanted to talk to you before we got on the ship so that we had an idea of how you wanted to intercept the dinosaur,” the captain said.
“Alright, I’m not sure how much help I can be, but I’ll be glad to help you out as much as I can,” Lisbeth responded.
“How accurate of a track can you get of the korinthidon on the starchart that will be on our vessel?” the captain asked.
“It’s pretty accurate, although obviously it is less so if it’s a moving target. Still, it’s a narrow enough range that once you get to where the signal seems to be coming from you would be able to communicate directly with the korinthidon and probably get visual of the ship without any trouble, unless it was hiding, and even there you should know pretty precisely where they were hiding.
“When we get to the ship, I want to see where the korinthidon is located on the start chart, and we will decide there how to tail it. As far as I can see, we will have to do one of two things. We can either try to race after the korinthidon and travel to Gorman and then through the portal that they were heading towards, or we can see where the portal ends up and then seek to find a way towards where they might be going.”
“Alright, that sounds good to me,” Lisbeth said. “By this point they should be close to arriving at the portal, so it would probably be too late to try to chase them directly. When we get to the ship we’ll look at where the korinthidon is and then try to figure out how to get to where the ship is going, and hopefully find some answers as to how the korinthidon got to be on that ship in the first place and what sort of business it had.”
“That sounds good to me,” Lisbeth said, and that was that, as they moved up through the atmosphere and towards points unknown.