“Project it on the big screen,” I told Ma-rye-a.
I had Ma-rye-a open the file on Planet Designation 014.666.2460. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to see it bigger then my small screen on the chair arm.
“Wow!” I exclaimed.
“Indeed,” Horus said with admiration.
“Are those bones?” Carrie asked innocently.
“Huge bones,” Ma-rye-a confirmed.
Whoever was recording the picture was panning slowly from their far left to far right. The area was clouded with a thick fog, but it looked like the old earth imaginary pictures of elephant graveyards. But they weren’t elephants. They were some other kind of beast whose ribcage was huge. Bones jutted up out of the fog like church spires.
The camera panned to the right and we could see the bones that comprised a very long tail. Then the camera panned back to the ribcage.
“Can you go over and stand by them for height comparison,” my father said on the recording.
My breath caught at the sound of his soft tenor.
My mother moved into the camera’s recording frame and went to stand beside one of the huge bones of the ribcage. She was elated. She had a huge grin on her face like a child who had just seen their birthday cake enter the room all lit with candles.
“Dr. Snyder is approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall. As you can see the length of this bone is easily twice her height,” Dad explained, as he started to walk toward Mom.
With the camera still running they continued to walk the length of the beast. At the top edge of the ribcage they stopped when my Mother let out a squeal and Dad almost dropped the camera.
“Honey, look!” she cried in excitement. “It had wings.”
Dad’s camera swung down to ground level and panned the long length of the extensive pattern of wing bones laid out in the red dirt of the plant’s surface. The length was such that it disappeared off into the dense fog. Mother walked into the frame and out along the wing.
“It must be close to thirty feet long,” she said.
Mother’s gaze rose from the ground to look back toward Dad and further in the direction they had been traveling.
“Oh My God!” she exclaimed. “Alex! Look!” she pointed behind him.
The camera panned up and around from the wing and for a moment was lost as it must have been dropped to Dad’s side as he ran forward. The view was of the ground and not of what had surprised Mom. But the narrative continued.
Mom said, “Can you believe it? Oh…Alex, look!”
The camera was raised again and the lens was filled with a massive jaw and huge teeth until Dad pulled away from the close up and panned out.
“Damn, it looks like a dinasour,” I said.
“Or a dragon,” Carrie added.
Mom and Dad were still talking on camera, but I was too engrossed in the pictures to pay much attention to what they were saying. I found myself approaching the screen as though a closer look would somehow make more sense of what I saw. I traced one long incisor with my fingertip on the screen.
“Ma-rye-a, plot a course to Planet Designation 014.666.2460.”
“I’ll be fine,” I assured Marstead. “I think I need space. I need my mind to work on something other than who might be waiting to grab me next time I go into the city. For that matter, who might break into my ship and wreak more havoc.”
“I can’t keep you safe out there,” Marstead waved his hand in the general direction of everything. I was glad he was on the comlink rather than here beside me or he might have managed to convince me to stay. I really didn’t know why I was going. I just had a gut feeling I needed to go to my parent’s dig. Or, maybe that gut feeling was the breakfast Moby made for me that wasn’t settling very well.
“You don’t need to keep me safe, Marstead.” I tried to give him a reassuring smile. “I am a big girl and I can take care of myself.” Yeah, right. Some of my friends could tell stories about that. “I’ll keep in contact. I’ll send messages daily if that will make you feel better. It’s not that far away. I can be there in no time.”
“Call Jake, take him and Arr with you,” Marstead advised.
Jake and Arr were mercenary friends and the closest thing I had to siblings. I thought of them as brothers even though they were just old friends.
“You can afford to pay them if you need to. You should have backup. You’re going into the solar system this space trash came from.”
Marstead was right. So I agreed, provided Jake and Arr weren’t busy with some other mission.
Marstead made one last plea. “I wish you would let Luchin look into this. When he makes the connection you did to the preps home world he’ll send someone anyway.”
“Well, then, we can meet up,” I said with another reassuring smile. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to worry you, but I feel it’s me that has to see this place. It was the mystery Mom and Dad left me to investigate.”
“I know, but I just don’t think they realized what kind of mission they were sending you on, Sweetie.”
Maybe not, but I was going anyway.