Murphy’s law of Babies 2: Toddler gone? It’s with the humans.
Nita almost didn’t notice the curious little Numidid until she nearly stepped on the poor child. She was big for a human, and this little scrap of pinfeathers barely cleared her boot.
“Whoops,” she said. “Hello, little peep. Where did you come from?”
Alas, the tiny child was still talking Scribble. Multilingual Scribble, but still Scribble. It varied between Numidid, Amity English, and Galstand. She sounded irritated, and paused occasionally to peck at one of Nita’s trailing aglets.
Ah. The chase-and-find-out stage. She must be driving her mothers to moulting. “That’s not nutritious or delicious, little peep.” Nita bent to scoop the keet into her hands. Both to elevate the child out of danger and bring her into Nita’s range of focus.
No locator bracelets… but a fine shower of dust indicated that this baby had been cleaned recently. Either she hadn’t been fitted, yet, or was part of the transient population. Or, using a combination of Occam’s Razor and the soft flannel onesie, mother had taken the locator off for bathing.
Some cheaper models had trouble with bathing materials.
On one hand, mother was probably fretting herself into a quick trip to Medical. On the other hand, forcing Security to deal with an unfed baby was worse than unfair. And there was an Unsuitable Food kiosk nearby.
“We don’t cook baby cogniscents,” said the Gyiik at the counter.
“I was going to ask for some baby food,” growled Nita. “I know she’s a child.” She put the keet into a handily empty bowl and used the Gyiik’s towel as an impromptu cover.
The keet was definitely trying to Scribble an enquiring “Mama?” or “Nomnom?” in three languages. Unfortunately for Nita’s detective work, the name on the kid’s clothing was written in Numidid chicken-scratch. And it was so blurred from multiple washings, that her translator apps couldn’t fathom it.
And while she was online… Nita sent a quick text and some footage to Security. Heavens forfend that she be found irresponsible.
Security turned up with an anxiously piebald mama Numidid riding her shoulder.
Nita heard “BABY!” and then an incomprehensible gabble of Numidid chirping and squawking. She wisely backed off, because even a Havenworlder mama would take on a Level Six Deathworlder to protect her child.
“It’s okay,” said Nita. “The instant I realised she was following me, I picked her up and took her to get fed. Then I sent a message to Security.”
“And…” Officer Marken consulted her eyepiece. “Threatened a Gorgonite with his own fork?”
“Ze was planning to eat little peep, here.”
Marken gave her the understanding, Fair Enough nod.