The Planetary Broadcast
“Access planetary broadcast,” Van commanded. In an instant, his holophone’s video screen displayed dozens of geographically categorized lists, each of which contained the most current news reports coming in from every part of the world.
“Access Artunne,” he said. The lists were narrowed to Continental reports.
“Engage search,” he paused and I looked over at Tulli. He looked at me. I winked and smiled at him, a silent show of my encouragement. He didn’t smile back.
Van now commanded the broadcast search function: “Malmagni. Courton. Hodri. 4 Oso. 2311. Baby.” He hesitated and then leaned again close to me. “Anything you want to add, Lin?”
“Do you think the malmagni would have flown to the mountains to the east or toward the ocean to the west?”
Van said to Tulli, “What do you think, malmagnis favor mountains and rocky areas, don’t they?”
“Given that they’re native to Egli, I would assume so. I think we can eliminate the entire Berutae region.”
“Right,” I said, “it’s grassy there.”
“I’m going to err on the side of too many variables than too few. Sound good?”
“Yes,” Tulli said.
“Yes,” I added. I was feeling better. Significantly better. We were taking action steps. Proactive action steps. I smiled at the memory of a mota — an aphorism of wisdom — from my days at the Dina School. “Be proactive, not reactive.”
“Meron,” Van said. The rocky northwestern coast. “Northern Tarchuk.” The northern expanse of the Tarchuk mountain range. “The Lidon Ring.” A cluster of mountainous islands, off the coast due west of Courton. “Search.”
Van waited. We all waited. I felt jumpy now in my once crumpled body. Internally, I had woken from my grief-stricken daze and surfed rolling waves of anticipation, hope, wishfulness and the supplications of a child. Please, please, please, please bring her back.
“Mute,” Van commanded the phone. To us he simply said, “Nothing.”
“Nothing yet.” Van was calm. I was crumbling. “I’ll put in an alert,” he said. “Unmute. Request an alert for this search.” He paused. “Indefinitely…. Disengage.”
And that was that. Now we wait. Indefinitely. The waves of hope and optimism swallowed me the minute Van said ‘nothing’. But ‘indefinitely’ — that took me down hard like a forceful undertow that pulled me under into the murky emotional depths of a young mother’s nightmare.
Van removed the phone, pressed his cheek against mine and rocked me again, slowly and reassuringly. “Van?”
“What do you think?”
“What do I think will happen?”
“Yes. What are the chances?”
“I honestly don’t know. We’re going to have to accept a period of uncertainty.”
“Tulli? What do you think? You’ve heard about this happening before, malmagni appearances… right?”
“I know of incidents from a long time ago.”
“With children and small pets.”
“What happened? What happened to them?”