“You’ve finished your investigation?” Thespin, the colonial administrator looked at the ad hoc group he’d thrown together and asked, “So, what brought down one of our two long range flyers?”
“Well,” Karrill the technical specialist said, “it was a clear case of fish strike.”
“At one thousand metres?” Thespin didn’t bother hiding his disbelief, “Fish? Fish don’t fly.”
The colony’s zoologist, Haakonen, piped from the back of the room, “Well, I did make it clear in my report that these are fish analogues. Yes they fill the niches that fish do on Earth but, as it turns out, they also do other things. The fine scaled ones have those large stiff lateral fins and they use them to fly with. Mainly between bodies of water as they dry up when the hot season comes on.”
“So,” Thespin blinked slowly as he absorbed the information, “our fish aren’t really fish. Do the whales and sharks fly too?”
“The ‘sharks’ don’t fly, they’re far too heavy – all of the armoured types are,” Haakonen said happily as someone in his ambushed audience sighed in resignation. “Also, those aren’t whale analogues. They’re much more like proto-elephants and hippopotami. Again, they’re too heavy to fly and completely the wrong shape. The scales don’t help either.”
“Why do they even need scales? No,” Thespin waved a hand, “forget I asked that. So the fish are migrating from the bodies of water that are drying up?”
“Yes.” The zoologist was still being enthusiastic.
“But they’re mainly small, lightly scaled and not dangerous?” The administrator wanted clarity and some of the inquiry group muttered in support.
Haakonen sobered up and answered, “We don’t have enough data to form an opinion on the dangerous part yet. The answer is obviously yes, if you get one caught in an engine intake, but we don’t know if and what they eat when they’re migrating and we don’t know what eats them.”
“What eats them?” That, for some reason, gave Thespin chills.
“Migrations do attract predators of all types,” answered the zoologist, “and I see no reason that this one should be any different. I’ve been trying to build a map but people,” he glared at the inquiry team, “keep pulling me away to do other things.”
“On the data you have so far, do these things seem to migrate over any of our settlements?” The inquiry group as a whole were paying much more attention to the ‘fish’ conversation now.
“Probably Luneka in the west, it’s between the Southern Lakes and the Trench Sea,” the zoologist spread his hands in a helpless gesture, “but I just don’t have the data.”
Thespin took a deep breath. “How would you propose we get the data?”