The Amity Incident

By CM_Weller All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Adventure

23.

The long-range audio sensor had been picking up strange noises. A soft, syncopated rhythm. Some or many things hitting the underbrush at semi-regular intervals. The computer was having a hard time identifying it, since nothing known to Numidid kind made any sort of noise like that.
Luckily, it was on the extreme end of the sensor's range, so she could continue her expeditions into the wild.
All the same, it worried her. The computer analysis was taking forever and that was worrying.
It was not an intelligent rhythm. Nothing was using the noise to attempt to communicate. Nor did it come in the standard pattern of something using the noise to find a mate.
It came during the daytime, so it originated from a diurnal species. And it came from about the forest floor, so it wasn't the giant frogs. Those preferred to crash from branch to branch and hunt small birds. None of the cams had managed to capture the image of anything large enough to crash through the undergrowth. Or just crash the undergrowth.
T'reka had managed to triangulate the location of the mysterious syncopated noise and found that it was slowly and surely headed for the shore.
Whatever it was, it was far enough away to only be an annoyance.
T'reka found five new forms of fungus - bagged separately from each other, and cleansing the gathering tools in-between - and gathered samples of differing barks.
Aha. Moss! Some wild mosses were seemingly identical, so T'reka lifted samples of every moss she found. No doubt, as time passed in this jungle, she would be able to distinguish them on sight.
But that would come with practice.
Lizards had fallen into her smaller traps. Some were almost familiar. She boxed them in their own sample jars and added them to the pack she wore.
Her proximity alert peeped. She was almost outside her designated search zone, already. She took images of the things she found interesting outside of her regulated perimeter and turned aside.
Everything new and different. Nothing could ever get dull in this locale.
T'reka gently plucked an enormous, virulently orange slug from the underside of a leaf and added it to another sample box. How nature could come up with a creature almost designed to be predated upon was beyond her. Perhaps it was a spore or something else interesting for further study.
The temptation to just gather everything in a giant's hoard was strong, but she had to keep to a schedule. Three days gathering, five studying, one day to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. It left her out of sync with the Hu'lu'a week, but calendars didn't really matter any more.
She was outside of society.
And yet, like the exploration perimeter, society still restrained her. She was being watched and monitored by distant eyes. Any sign of unsanctioned insanity and she could be restricted by what the city of Kal'rike sent for her to use. Or sent to keep her in line.
Superiors would be her worst nightmare, in this setting. Demanding adherence to their rules and none others. Demanding she adhere to certain orders. Getting into trouble. Panicking and making more trouble for themselves.
T'reka had to behave enough to avoid gaining a superior in her camp.
One of the many reasons why she kept within her invisible fence.
In another month, perhaps, or when she had run out of things to study, she would request an expansion her range to encompass all the interesting things and locations she was noting for further study.
T'reka began juggling time in her head as she journeyed through her set area, looking for new samples to gather. If she analysed the cam feeds for two hours a day (even on her holiday) then that left her eleven hours… minus two daytime meals, that left nine to spend in her lab and study her findings. And even when she spent four hours in her domicile, after dark, writing assorted theses and dissertations, there was still too much to do.
Maybe if she spent her exploratory time writing things up. Once she ran out of new things to analyse, of course.
There were so many discoveries waiting for her.
Why was she so impatient to map this world?
Of course. She wanted to see what that erratic crashing noise was.
Typical scientist, she scolded herself. Find and identify that which can harm you and then proceed to poke it with a big stick.
She had all the time in her life to discover whatever that thing was. And yet, tomorrow was not soon enough to go looking.
T'reka restrained herself. She had to work within her limits.
She made a mental note to re-read those rules before retiring, that night.


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