Author : Bob Newbell

The pup frolicked along with his two bigger brothers in the synchrotron radiation of the Crab Nebula. As they played, their bodies soaked up the powerful electromagnetic radiation emitted by the pulsar at the nebula's center. The little pup wondered why their mother wasn't playing with them as she usually did. He noticed she'd moved out nearer to the edge of the nebula.

The pup's mother had folded her many tentacles over her half-mile wide, disk-like body. She was scanning for predators. There! Closing in on that section of the nebula she saw a much smaller animal. It was roughly spherical and covered with numerous beak-like mandibles. Between the beaks extended protrusions that fanned out into membranous magnetic sails. The mother scanned left and right. More of the creatures. She scanned upward and downward. More still. They were surrounded. That was how the predators operated. They would envelope their prey at a very great distance and then move in closer. By the time they were detected, it was often too late.

The mother called her pups to her with a modulated graviton beam. She then scanned the sky. She turned back to the pups and sent another graviton pulse: coordinates.

“Jump,” she signaled the pups.

They did nothing. She could tell they were afraid.

“Jump!” she repeated.

The largest of the pups seemed to shimmer and ripple. A moment later it was gone. The next largest pup vanished a few seconds later.

The mother turned her attention back to the predators. They were closing in fast. The little pup was still in the nebula. He was scared of the approaching monsters but was more afraid of being separated from his mother.

“Jump!” she signaled the pup. She didn't dare leave the nebula herself until her children were safe first. The pup signaled back that he was terrified and didn't want to leave her.

“JUMP!” she roared with a graviton pulse that made that part of the nebula shudder.

The little pup jumped. The nebula, the stars, his mother, and the approaching creatures all seemed to iris down to a single point of light which immediately unfolded itself back outward again. But the point of light sprang back out to reveal a different part of space. The pup was now somewhere else. His brothers were with him but their mother was not.

“Where's mommy?!” the frantic pup graviton-pulsed to his brothers.

The pup scanned the area. He detected the nebula in the distance. It was now several light-years away. His mother must still be there. He wanted to jump back there but he didn't know how. In some vague, instinctive way he understood that he had moved over or under or around the space that now separated him from his mother. He was too small and too young to fold spacetime without first getting jump coordinates from his mother.

“Mommy! Mommy!” the distraught pup signaled toward the nebula with a graviton pulse that would take over seven years to reach its target.

Suddenly, the pup's mother jumped into the vicinity with a flash.

The little pup sailed over to her with such speed and force that it sent her tumbling backward for a moment. The other two pups quickly flew over to join them. All four embraced in a tangle of tentacles.

The mother contemplated the Orion Nebula. A stellar nursery was a nice place to raise a family. But jumping there could wait for a while.

“We love you, mommy!” the three pups pulsed.

“I love you, sons!” she responded.

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