Bev’s Bora was famous but she just felt old. She wished Marnly were here. Her husband lay in intensive care. He had told her at great length that she should forget all about him and go have fun. But here she was breaking her promise and thinking about him while she should be thinking about the big event.
“Ok Bev, we’ll need you in place now. Only three minutes,” the young aide said guiding her gently to the podium set up in the meadow.
50 years ago she had stood in this very spot and sent a message to the Zima. At the request of the Primavera’s Commander, she asked what happened to the Zima, why it had changed course towards them, and invited their descendants to board the Primavera should they eventually catch up.
Just shy of 25 years after that, someone, hopefully, on the Zima would have received the message. Survivors existed. Even though they could on,y see the one transmission from Zima’s meadow they had seen people come and go through it as early as yesterday.
In less than a minute, any return message from the Zima could arrive. Of course they might not respond immediately. Bev had prepared remarks in that expected case. But hopefully they would respond soon. She didn’t have that many remarks.
The time arrived, the aide pointed at Bev, and the lights dimmed and a spotlight highlighted her. She watched the screens of the meadow on The Zima, showing a 25-year-old picture.
“50 years ago, I was an inertial specialist with a hobby.” They laughed respectfully. “Today I’m known as Bev Bora, the world finder. Well,” she never finished the thought as a lady in a red dress walked slowly into the meadow. She was as old as Bev, but looked much more worn. Was it really her? And only 25 years after being so vibrant?
She turned and spoke. The Zima could not send audio, but new technology had been developed to read lips and simulate a voice.
An old and withered voice addressed them. “Bev Bora this is Hypotenuse Tensate Proctoress of the Longship Zima. When you sent your message I was young and our ship had forgotten itself. The meadow camera was a plaything. You were entertainment. Your message set us straight, caused us to grow up. To remember ourselves. To be again, a longship of the great exploration.
“Our ship was hit by flying rocks some 70 years before. Most of our communication equipment was taken out as well as most of ship operations. Our animals are gone. Our plants survive. Our people get by. In a last maneuver of the dying engines, our commander changed course at the expense of his life to chase after you, the Primavera. His hope was that we would contact you and be able to transfer or possibly even make repairs.
“We forgot that, but you helped us remember. I will be long dead by the time y receive this message. Perhaps you will be too. But our descendants shall meet in friendship one day. Please send us anything you can think of to help, until we can meet more directly. Our lives our yours.”
The woman bowed and stepped back as if to await a reply. Bowed her head and left the meadow empty. A dat stream then commenced with ships logs and other status updates from the Zima.
Of course Bev had guessed their need for information and assistance, and even without knowing the main condition of the Zima, had convinced command to send schematics and other helpful information already. For 50 years. Now Bev began her actual response. The real meat of her being here. She gripped the podium tightly and her eyes shined.
“To the Zima. I am Bev Bora. This will be my last message–”
An explosion knocked Bev to her feet. Followed by another and another. Shouts and confusion erupted around her. She smelled smoke. The aide rushed over to her side then fell screaming.
A tiger had her in its jaws. It looked at Bev. She froze halfway raising herself from the ground. Another explosion shook the ship and the tiger broke eye contact and leaped away leaving the dead aide on the ground.
Bev turned to run and confronted a jaguar
“Bora! Someone shouted. The entire zoo has escaped. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Bev wasn’t sure why the person felt the need to yell this lashed worked it out for herself. And from studying the Zima she had a very good guess what was happening. Meteors had crashed through the ship taking out essential systems, like the containment field on zoo animals. She had to get out of the park, not only to avoid wild animals but to get to the Bridge and warn them not to make the same mistakes she suspected the Zima made.
Although she didn’t think Zima’s zoo had run wild over the land like Primavera’s. She turned to see if she could get to a train. She never saw the lynx.