by Rajiv Moté (Science fiction fable, 3,800 words)
The voices of dinosaurs filled Casuistry Vale, singing the praises of the Great Accord as they did every Summer Festival, celebrating the Gift of a common dinosaur language and the treaty that ended the war between predator and prey. Among the broad-leafed pavilions dotting the stamped-down plain, the Sauropods trumpeted devotionals and the Pterosaurs circled and wheeled, shrieking their accompaniment. All the herds took up the tune. Participation showed commitment.
Chhronk mouthed along. A bull Triceratops who had endured many Summer Festivals, he understood the power of ritual to bind together different herds. But he had no voice for singing, and he only passably wrangled the Gift language. His mate Chha-chhuk was better; still, he’d have rather listened to her sing an old Ceratopsian chant. Strength. Resolve. Righteousness. But those songs were from before the Accord, before Chhronk was hatched. They had no place in this hard-won peace.
The herds preferred not to mix, even those whose ancestors fought on the same side, but for the Summer Festival they genuflected together. It looked unnatural, but Chhronk knew overcoming their worse natures was the point. Festival was a display of peace-bringing power, like a Ceratopsian bull who made the others in his herd lower their horns. But there was no bull here, only an invisible Accord, mightier than all by simple agreement. It demanded more obeisance than Chhronk ever had when he led his herd.Continue reading