The meteor talked to Tig as he watched it land. Meteors came now and then. But never one that screamed like it was afraid of landing.
All he wanted to do was to make sure his pack was safe against the fire from the sky. But the meteor had called him, somehow. He was there when the meteor turned out to be an escape pod. And opened...
His surprise was that the meteor had brought a human female back. She said her name was Sue. And she could talk to wolves like him. That had never happened before. Even when the Hoomans were here.
Sue was unlike anything he had ever encountered. He knew she was the solution to their problems - and more.
Sue had her own issues, her own reason for returning to Earth. Those would have to wait. First Tig had to get her to safety. Even though she was not as fast or skilled at what she needed in order to survive on her own.
There were miles of rough terrain ahead, days of travel, and the ferals had set a trap for them....
Tig heard the screams in his mind.
Someone falling from a great height. From inside that smoking, red-orange meteor headed toward them. He saw it coming from the bleached-white rock cliffs he stood on.
Then he heard the sonic booms with the roar of a meteor burning through the atmosphere.
The crash, and the flames. But no explosion.
Tig then did what he shouldn't have. He didn't do what “normal” wolves do.
There was a fire. If it spread, his pack could be in danger.
He knew that if the fire got out of control, it could ultimately reach the valley his pack lived in. He ran toward the fire, toward the meteor strike. Not that he could put it out but he needed to know.
- - - -
When he arrived. He was relieved to find the only thing burning was an old snag. Nothing around it but rocks.
But this meteor was a strange one. They were used to meteors.
This meteor left a streak. It didn't come down and explode.
This one had screamed in his mind.
He looked back where it came from. It left a trail and he could see it coming down off the mountain. It had bounced and skipped and then skidded to where it stopped against that old tree. It wasn't burning up, as the other ones did. The descent had burnt off most of what surrounded it, leaving a smooth surface. Scratched and seared, but not pitted like a cinder.
Tig's curiosity kept him going closer. It was either going to explode or not.
Suddenly something popped and opened a hole in its side. Tig froze. He couldn't see what it was clearly through the smoke.
- - - -
Sue knew it was a rough landing. She felt sorry for the cyborg pilot Ben who was more part of the equipment than he was alive. Still, she felt for everything that lived, whether stuck in machinery or able to move around on its own. Sue remembered her cats, parakeets, fish. They'd look at her like they wanted to tell her something, and she wanted to say something to them. She didn't know the right way to tell them, the right words to use.
But she shook her head to clear her senses. As she swung the bar on the hatch, it just hissed open. The acrid air of tree burning nearby flowed into the cabin. Clouds of smoke.
She started coughing as she came out climbing up over the seats and the control panel. She knew she had to get air. One arm up. Get her shoulders up. Keep scrambling. Couldn't see very well. The smoke stung her eyes.
She knew it was more blue in that direction so she kept climbing. Had to get out. She lifted herself up until she was able to lean over at the waist across the opening, and at last breathe in some fresh air.
Then everything went black...
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