Kamala Mason got the call when she was at work.
She was wrapping up her lab notes for the day, thinking about if she wanted to grab anything from the old-fashioned bazar before she went home when her communicator beeped.
Unknown Origin: Wyoming?
Kam wondered about it for a moment. I don’t know anyone in Wyoming. Unless…
She got up from her desk and walked out, around the hall, looking over her shoulder before picking it up.
“Rain?” She hissed.
“Hello? Is this a Kamala Mason?” The speaker was a young man, his hair died a shocking pink. Kam could hear the dim sounds of barking behind him.
Kam reddened slightly. “Um. Yes this is her. Can I help you?”
He smiled. “Hi. My name is Harry Yao. I work at the Lafayette Animal Shelter in Wyoming.”
Kam’s bewilderment only grew. She nodded her head. “It’s nice to meet you? Can I help you?” She asked slightly more urgently.
He sighed. “We had eight untagged dogs dropped off by animal services a few months ago, they were caught somewhere south of here. We scanned all of them for a chip and they came back as belonging to Rainbow Miller.” He let out an embarrassed laugh.
Kamala’s heart dropped to her shoes because she knew exactly what he was going to say next.
“Well we can’t seem to get into contact with Doctor Miller. No one has heard from her since before December.” Kam must have made a face because Yao hurried on. “But we did get in touch with her estate and it had instructions in regards with what to do with the dogs, luckily.”
“Lucky,” Kam echoed back, voice hollow.
“Yes, and Doctor Miller was very clear in her desire that you take the dogs, Doctor Mason.”
Kamala sighed. “I’ll make the arrangements,” she said. God damn you, Rain! “If you wouldn’t mind sending me your transport coordinates?”
Kam had no idea how she was going to explain the eight dogs she was now struggling to control to Tammy.
She had even tried to see if the shelter would be willing to house them for her while she tried to figure out where Rain had disappeared to. That had been a firm negative.
Kam assumed that Rain’s sudden vanishing act had something to do with her experiments on resurrecting the dead. The federation or the Komali must have caught up to her, Kam fretted. She could at least assume that Rain probably wasn’t dead, because when she had stopped by Rain’s secluded ranch house, it had been undisturbed, the door was unlocked, and every surface covered in dust.
If she had been taken by force or killed, there would be some evidence, Kam tried to assure herself as she corralled the dogs up the steps to her front door.
She was really hoping that Tammy might not be home yet so she could get the dogs settled.
“Welcome home- what the fuck?” Tammy said when she stepped around the corner, holding a bowl. She looked up at Kam. “No.”
“I can explain,” Kam began, struggling anew, the dogs seemed whipped into excitement by the sight of the bowl. “They’re Rain’s.”
“Okay? So why are they here?” Tammy demanded. “Wait. Didn’t Rain pull an AWOL on you?”
“Yes. I guess she left, and the dogs got out somehow. A shelter in Wyoming called me today and told me to come get them.”
“Well you can take them right back, Kam. We do not have space for, what like, nine dogs?” Tammy stomped away and Kam sighed, kneeling to unclip the pack’s leads. When she finished the dogs all scattered.
She stepped into the kitchen. The Pomeranian was hopping around Tammy’s legs, prancing and whining eagerly to be petted. Kam saw the moment she caved, reaching down to scoop up the little dog and rub her ears. She hugged Tammy from the back.
“It won’t be for long. I just need to find Rain and then we can give them back,” she whispered in her ear, pressing a kiss to Tammy’s neck. “Look at her, she wouldn’t make it five minutes in the big, bad streets of Cairo…”
“Oh for gods sake,” Tammy laughed. “Fine! Just until you find Rain.”
Kam smiled and spun Tammy around to look into her dark brown eyes. “Thanks babe.”
Ava sniffed the air. There was something very familiar about the scents that lingered on the carpet and in the upholstery.
“My human has been here,” Pallas said. She buried her nose in the upholstery. “He was here!” She reared back and yipped.
Ava nipped her on the shoulder, ears pricked for the sounds of the females in kitchen. “Calm down, unless you want us to go back to the cold pace.”
Pallas dropped back down to all for paws on the ground. She shook herself and growled low in her throat. “The human males were here, Ava. We can track them from here.”
Ava sniffed around as well. The smells were stale, barely there at all. The trail was all but dead. She shook herself and laid down with a sigh. Her tail flopped over limply. Pallas looked at her expectedly.
“No. We can’t.”
“What in the fuck?” Kam muttered, starring hard into the monitor. She glanced over her shoulder, but her lab mates were all otherwise engaged with their own work.
She was trying to access Rain’s professional page, accessible through the Federation’s portal.
It was gone.
It wasn’t even listed as missing or broken. It was just gone.
Rain, what have you gotten yourself into now?
Kamala worried about it all day, to the point that she considered asking someone to look at the terminal that she used. But it would only lead to awkward questions and if the Federation was tracking who searched for Rain, she didn’t want to pursue the matter too deeply.
Instead, Kam pivoted slightly, going to look for information around the Komali instead. The last news about them was from nearly four months back.
Federation Daily. 21.10.3000
After eight months on Earth the Komali (species 358) have withdrawn from Federation space, only leaving a five-member party behind. When questioned on their abrupt departure, the Komali ambassador Maltass could only list cultural concerns. Why they and four other members have reminded behind is yet unclear.
Kam frowned into the monitor.
Surely Rain hadn’t left with Komali?
Kamala nearly leapt out of her skin, quickly spinning on her stool to face the lab supervision, Doctor Ivan Krishna.
“Yes?” She leaned over her monitor.
The doctor cast her an odd look and gestured to a younger man, dressed in a Federation uniform. Kam’s heart began to race.
“Doctor Mason, I would like to introduce you to Ensign Jerome Jenkins. Jerome has just been reassigned to our security detail.”
Jerome shook her hand, smiling. “Nice to meet you, Doctor. Sorry we startled you.”
Kam swallowed and hoped he couldn’t feel how sweaty her palms were. “It’s all right. I was just distracted.”
Krishna gestured to Kam. “Doctor Mason is out newest researcher. Her specialty is in biochemistry.”
Jerome nodded and waved when Krishna propelled him onto the rest of the lab. “Nice to meet you.”
Kam nodded and took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart. She glanced back at the screen and shook her head.
What happened Rain?
Rainbow Miller was comfortably installed in a small suit in the Capital building in Cairo. From her bedroom window she could see the Nile, painted through the sands.
She was glad to be off the Bastille.
The fall out from Robespierre escape had be enormous. She had thought that she’d moved Chikara to physical violence as the woman paced around the control center, cursing Rainbow and her ancestors. Within hours they had been packed up and moved back to Earth.
Rain took a sip of her hot chocolate and glanced at her monitor. She was checking up on her leak, the formula she’d used to resurrect Leonardo, Robespierre and Richard. Deeply buried into the internet as it was, wrapped in layers of garbled data run off, it was tricky to find. But not everyone had been deterred by her obfuscation, just as she planned.
Over two hundred downloads? Not bad.
Of the two hundred, she guessed that maybe a quarter would try their hand at resurrecting someone. Maybe a half of those would work.
Still twenty-five temporally displaced would cause some sort of reaction.
Rain smiled into her cup, imagining Chikara’s face when she realized the magnitude of Rain’s plans.