Eva’s family had lived on Gorman 3 for a long time. They had not meant to. In the beginning, of course, it was simply supposed to be a way station between the horrors of old earth and the possibilities of life on a new earth. But things don’t always work out the way that they were supposed to. It proved to be easy, relatively speaking, to be smuggled from earth to Gorman 3. According to Eva’s family, the trip had taken a few years, a boring and stressful time in which there were fears among the population of simple folk that she was a part of that the forces on earth were chasing them. Perhaps that was what the people transporting them had said to increase the price of their journey. At any rate, Eva was born on Gorman 3, for what it was worth, in a refugee camp for people like her who had been smuggled away from earth and lured away by the promise of freedom and a better life.
Of course, as a refugee, it did not matter that Eva had been born on Gorman 3 while her parents had been born on old earth. She did not have political rights for having been born there. As a refugee, she was one of those stateless people who find themselves being exploited by whoever they happen to be around. And life in the refugee camp was fairly boring. There was not much in the way of schools there, although to be honest Gorman 3 did not appear to be a planet that was overburdened with education, at least to the extent that Eva knew about it. Of course, it must be freely admitted that Eva did not know much about the world outside of the refugee camp. And it was not really her fault. The refugee camp was in a fairly remote area, and the nearest of the cities of the local population were a few hours away by the means of transportation available to her. It seemed as if the purpose of siting refugee camps, at least as Eva could think it, was to keep the refugees away from the local population, unable to know local conditions or blend in with local society, as much as it would be possible for plain folk like her and her family to blend in.
There were other things that she noticed about her life in the refugee camp, now that she came to think about it. During the days, the refugee camps were nearly empty of men, leaving only young people, women, and the elderly around. It was frequently mentioned, every time that the refugees got their monthly rations of basic foods, that refugees were not allowed under any circumstances whatsoever to work in the local economy on Gorman 3. Yet all the same it seemed as if the able bodied men worked anyway. Whether or not they were legally allowed to do so, they were harvesting teak and mahogany trees in the remote river valleys where they lived, and as there were not teak and mahogany buildings or furniture to be found within the refugee camp, she assumed that the logs were going somewhere. They had to be, after all. Even a child like herself knew the value of good wood, since the elderly people in the camp were constantly talking about the times in their youth that they would carve beautiful tables and chairs and other items out of the woods on the old earth. She supposed that in their own planet, if they ever had one of their own, then such things could happen again, where they would be free, whatever that meant.
At any rate, she didn’t want to have to think about that any longer. She had been told that it was the last day they were going to be on the planet, and so it was her job to help get some of the last minute supplies that they needed. She went to the small and informal stores that could be found on the outskirts of the refugee camp. She went to her favorite store, where she managed to purchase some food for the trip with the last credits that she had available with her. At this point, the owner of the shop wanted to talk to her.
“Would you like to help me out, there?” the owner said.
“Sure,” Eva said, enjoying being helpful to adults.
“You’re going to have to keep this a secret from your folks,” the owner added.
This did not trouble her. Perhaps it should have, but she was used to having to keep things secret that she found out about life form her parents, for fear that they would get mad and try to keep her grounded in their cabins. “Sure, that’s no problem,” she said.
“Here’s an egg,” the owner said, handing it over to her. “I would keep it here but it might be a bit of trouble. It will be safer with you, especially in your new home.”
“What kind of egg is it?” she asked, curious.
“It is an egg to a baby dinosaur, and it will likely be a friendly guard to you if you treat it right,” the owner said. “Alas, the dinosaur would likely not find a friendly place here.”
Eva knew enough about life on Gorman 3 to agree that a dinosaur would not find a friendly life. There was a whole host of questions that she wanted to ask, but something told her that she would not get the truth, and would only make the person angry, if she asked about. Where did this egg come from? What kind of dinosaur was it? How had the dinosaur made it to Gorman 3 if it was not at home there, since she had never seen dinosaurs and only vaguely knew what they were? Where were this baby’s children? These and many other questions were inside her head, but she did not feel comfortable asking them, and she lacked confidence she would get an honest answer, so she decided she would find a place for the egg as a makeweight at the bottom of her items, and then include them among her personal effects when they traveled, so that it would not be obvious until she could find somewhere for the egg to be hidden when they arrived on the ship.
When she arrived back to her cabin, her family was getting ready for the shuttle trip to their ship that would take them away from this forsaken place that was filled with corrupt Englishmen. Lacking geography studies, Eva did not know where England was or why Englishmen were so corrupt and so sharp in making deals, but she knew that to be English was definitely a bad thing. At any rate, there was no time to ponder these things, as she had to quickly pack, give her folks the supplies that she had purchased, and then file along with the rest of the people of the refugee camp into various shuttles that were going into space. This was a new experience for her, but for most of the people there was the trudging movement of defeated people who did not have full hope even that this would lead to some sort of success or freedom where the problems of old earth would be left behind forever. These problems had dogged them for so many years that they did not believe that they would ever be free, or could ever be free. They had not even heard rumors of the freedom enjoyed by their brethren in Multipia, and had not even heard of that empire and its ways. All they knew were the people of Gorman 3 and their sharp dealing and tricky practices.
The shuttle trip was not very long, but to Eva it felt very lovely to feel the sense of weightlessness and to see the look of deep space when they docked into the ship, which looked to be some sort of modified cargo ship. The ship was pretty large, and it was divided mostly between the refugees and their herds and crops that would be used to help start out their new life wherever they were going. And she did not know where they were going. Even if she had been told the name of the system, she would not have known where that was or anything else, since no one had ever taught her about the stars or the map of the galaxy and the systems. Once they got to the ships it did not take too long to organize everything, and she was able to find a quiet place near the cows to put the egg where it was in no one’s way and where she could visit it frequently while she was just wandering about the ship as was her fashion.
It as at this point where she became clear that it was good to have a reputation that allowed one to engage in the private investigation of an egg. What sort of egg was it, and how would one take care of it? She did not think any of the people on the ship would have an idea of what to do, and she did not have access to any information on how to take care of dinosaur eggs, but she had found a warm place for the egg and it was soundproofed from people and she hoped for the best. In the meantime, she looked around to find places where she could see the stars. She loved to look at the stars and planets around, and the crew of the ship got used to seeing her be inquisitive and curious, something that marked her as being different from most of her other people, who were not reputed to be a curious people or interested in learning. And Eva found out, much to her surprise, that there were always things going on that needed to be done but that were not being done, and she ended up getting the responsibility for making sure that the animal cargo area where she had placed the egg was alright, and she wanted to make sure that it was alright so that she would not draw attention.
It did not take long until the egg, which was warm and comfortable, started to develop cracks. Eva watched it carefully and thought that it was time for the baby dinosaur to be born. It was. Before too long, under Eva’s curious care, the egg, which had been about the size of a coconut, more or less, was now broken completely, with a small reptile there in its stead. The reptile looked at Eva curiously and looked around, and seeing that it was all alone in the universe, so far as it knew, cried out. Verbally, at least, the cry was not all that big, but Eva could feel in her mind the torment of the baby, and she looked with great sorrow at the suffering little creature that she had unwittingly helped to midwife, before taking up the little dinosaur and holding the dinosaur close to her. She did not know how dinosaurs liked or wanted to take care of each other, but she had helped watch over other little children in the refugee camp, and she knew that a certain degree of warmth and affection was useful, and so it was here. Before too long, the dinosaur appeared to be relatively at peace, and Eva fed it with some food that the dinosaur seemed to happily eat up. And though the dinosaur certainly looked strange to Eva, it did not look at her without a certain spark of personality and friendliness that she recognized as being some sort of kindness.
There was much that Eva did not know. She knew that she did not know much, knew that there was more to life than she had experienced, and had some hope in the future being better for her. Somehow that hope had not drained from her yet. Now she was faced with having to hide the existence of a little dinosaur, one which she had the feeling would likely end up being somewhat large given the size of its egg relative to the eggs of smaller animals. And while she did not know what this dinosaur meant, she knew that it meant she had a friend of sorts in a universe that was rather thin on the ground with friends. And for the moment, it was enough to know that she had a little friend and that she had some sort of task to keep her busy during what promised to be somewhat of a long journey to a new home on a hopefully not settled planet that she and her fellow refugees would be able to settle and enjoy their freedom. It was a lot for a girl to take in.