Author: Lewis Richards
The Creature moved its great head forwards, releasing a long mellow call into the night. It waited for a moment, listening for a response, but when one didn’t drift back on the wind, it ambled slowly back through the tough, knee-high grasses surrounding its nest.
Moving out of the grass and into the dug out hollow, The Creature snorted and flopped to the ground resting its head on its four forelimbs, letting out a sullen whistle. A single calf rested in the hollow, watching the adult expectantly as pulses of light flashed over mottled pattern of its skin. A Query.
The adult snorted. The Juvenile animal raised itself onto its haunches, pressing the question.
Egg Mother? Sisters? Herd?
The Bull raised its head, curling its long tail around the calf.
No Call. Lost. Just Us. The answered played over his skin, sadness colouring his luminescence a deep purple.
The Calf sat motionless, its skin fading. It huddled closer to its father. sharing their pain as they stared across the empty grasslands.
Light passed over Its skin again. Less insistent, a statement.
The Male looked up, he had known this for a while, since his mate had vanished with the rest of the herd. None of the stars matched those they followed on their migratory routes.
He nuzzled the calf, comforting her.
As she curled against his side, he considered what to do once the sun came up. Conditions here were good for growing calves and he had seen no predators, it made sense to stay put until the young one had grown stronger. he lowered his head and closed his opalescent eyes, dreaming of his lost family.
From behind the adaptive sim glass of Paddock 9, The game warden watched the big animal settle down for the night. Good, he thought. They hadn’t anticipated how disruptive this one’s calls would be to the rest of the creatures on the ship.
One of the Biologists studying the animals walked over to the viewing platform.
“Calling for her mate again? ” she said.
The warden nodded, he had been part of the team to lift the animals from their origin planet, these ones had close family groups, but the Institute had only wanted an adult Female and younger male to start a breeding program with.
“It’s funny, we expected her to lay a few eggs aboard the ship for us to start incubating. We caught them in the middle of their breeding season, a female of that size should be producing multiple clutches” The biologist flipped through her notes, drinking in readings of hormone levels and Feed patterns.
“You’re certain she’s definitely a she..?”
The warden shrugged, he was just there to manage the Water And food dispensers, and oversee containment protocols. he had no interest in science, just the money of the exotic animal trade.
“Hadrodons are Difficult to sex from orbit, but this one was guarding the nest. we’re fairly sure that’s the female role. If not, I can trade you one of the specimens we captured for our own venture, for a price, same herd, adult and sub-adults”
The Biologist swore. Stomping off to prepare a sweep of tests to figure out just what it is they were taking home.