A Great Multitude of Wings

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written by Fenian; posted January 17, 2009

April 2014

It was mid-morning on a pretty spring day, and the woods in the Wayne National Forest were quiet. Well, they were...except for the wind through the newly-leafed tree branches, occasional sounds of birds or insects...and the soft singing of a monkey-boy. The Jason was hiking through the depths of the woods, away from the regular trails.

"Our captain gives his service to his goddess everyday. But shore leave often tempts the man to try and slip away. Her sensors found him with five whores he'd picked up in a bar. She beamed him home, and beamed the whores to the Ladies' Church Bazaar...and we're banned from Argo..." He trailed off as he came across a hollow, glancing around the area thoughtfully. He pulled off a backpack, and rummaged around in it for a moment, coming out with something that looked a bit like a tricorder, with some extra attachments.

Turning it on, he started to scan the area. "Clotho, Fate? What do you think of this site?" There was a moment's pause, and then the reply came from the earbud he was wearing.

Clotho spoke first, hmming thoughtfully, "Well, the soil looks good enough to support it. Good enough site, growing-wise." Fate chimed in, "And the scan doesn't show any habitation even remotely close by, and trails are pretty distant. It's probably going to be the best we'll find unless you really want to go hiking into the boonies. We can also set up the cloaking hologram and fields easily enough here."

The Jason nodded. "All right then. Might as well get this show on the road." He went over to a tree, and held the tricorder against it. "All right. Sensor's in place." After a moment's pause, he removed his hand and the instrument remained where it was. Going back to his pack, he searched through it and removed a small box and a thermos. Heading into the middle of the hollow, he opened the box and took out a trowel. Digging a hole, he then took out a baseball-sized sphere wrapped in canvas. Opening the wrapping, he dumped the sphere - it appeared to be hardened soil or something similar - into the hole and covered it back up.

Replacing the trowel into the box and that into the backpack, he pulled the pack back on. Opening the thermos, he poured himself a cup of...well, it looked like coffee, mostly, but it wasn't hot. At least, it wasn't steaming. He gave a wry smile and dumped the contents over the place he'd buried the sphere, then turned and started hiking out of the hollow, shutting the thermos as he went.

Behind him, the soil seemed to stir as something poked up through it. As he left the hollow, the air shimmered behind him, and it was hidden from view, transformed into a huge thicket of briars with several large bolders - certainly no place anyone would want to try to enter. "All right. This one is done. We'll visit a few more places over the week, and then we'll see what happens."

Late August, 2014 - Thursday evening

"Hey, Mike!"

Michael Ramses, an ornithologist working with the local zoo's raptor rehabilitation program looked up when he heard his name. He smiled, seeing Dave Long. Dave was a master falconer who often helped out with the program, and it had been a week or two since he'd been around. "Hi, Dave. What's up?"

Dave shrugged. "Busy with work, as usual. Been out hunting with Boo some." Boo was Dave's current bird, a red-tail hawk. "Found something I was hoping you could look at. A bird I don't recognize." Mike raised an eyebrow - Dave knew most of the common local birds, so this could be interesting. "What have you got for me?"

The falconer shrugged, and removed a freezer bag with a frozen bird inside it. "Boo brought this down yesterday. Looks like some sort of dove, maybe a pigeon, but not one that I know. Mind taking a look at it?" Mike nodded. "All right. I'm a little busy right now, but leave it here, and I'll check it out as soon as I have a chance. It's probably something that got blown in by a storm."

Dave hrmmed softly. "Well, it's not alone. There was a flock of them." Mike regarded the baggie with interest. "All right. I'll get on it soon, then. You going to be bringing Boo by for the show Sunday?" Dave nodded, grinning. "Yeah, she's responding well enough. The kids should enjoy it. I'll leave this here with you. Let me know what you find, OK? I need to run." The falconer left the bag on the worktable near Mike. "See you around?" The ornithologist nodded, rather distracted, and started back in on his work. "Later."

Late August, 2014 - early Saturday morning

The phone rang. And rang. Dave mumbled, reaching for it even as he glanced at the time. 7:12 AM? Who in their right minds called this early on a SATURDAY? He grumbled into the receiver, "Yeah...?"

"Dave? This is Mike. I found out what that bird you brought in was. You said you saw a FLOCK of them?" The ornithologist sounded excited - like he was close to bouncing off the walls. "Do you remember where you saw them? Can you take me?" Dave blinked. What in the world... "Um...yeah, Mike. I can find the place. It was a new area that I was hunting...what's got you so wound up that you'd call this early?"

Mike had the grace to sound a little embarrassed...but only just. His excitement was clearly winning out. "Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I waited as long as I could, but I HAD to talk to you. I still can't believe what I found. That bird you brought in...it's..."

September 1, 2014

The Jason settled back in his easy chair, looking towards the large TV screen set on the wall. To one side, an open bottle of Bushmills Black Bush rested on a table, and he took the small half-full tumbler he'd just poured for himself. Glancing at the screen, he smiled. They were just about to repeat the science clip from earlier.

Raising his glass to the screen, he intoned softly. "To Martha. One hundred years ago today. Not forgotten...and now, no longer gone. Welcome back." He took a sip of whiskey as the announcer on the screen started in. "And in some more unusual news, birdwatchers and ornithologists the world over are still in shock over the discovery of several flocks of what appear to be passenger pigeons. Up until now, the last passenger pigeon was believed to have died off in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens..."