A short story by Nikki McCormack.
The New Gobi desert is a dangerous place. The only way to cross with relative safety is in guided caravans using genetically engineered slaves, the cynta, creatures designed to sense the dangers of the desert.
When tragedy strikes partway through the crossing, the shackled cynta finds an unlikely ally among the people of the caravan, an ally who would offer more freedom. There are still dangers to face in the hostile desert, though, and most in the caravan see the cynta as a creature to be feared and controlled. A creature whose guidance they desperately need.
Without the ability to speak, the cynta must build a strong enough bond with its new ally to overcome the challenges lying ahead.