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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Ancalagon - 9. Chapter 9

He was trotting along ahead of me, weaving through bushes I had to hack a path through, when his rigid stance caught my eye. “What is it, boy?” I spoke quietly to avoid spooking him or alerting whatever had caused his alarm.

A loud blast overhead sent me into a crouch at his side. He was belly down flat to the earth, his ears folded flat and head swinging wildly.

What was that? We’d walked most of the day. I’d observed several insects, but for all his ability to walk far quieter than I could, the prey animals must have some other way to sense his presence. They stayed safely hidden, though I did catch motion in the trees above us, I couldn’t quite glimpse the sources of the limbs swaying.

The sound that had just rocketed through the area was not made by anything living, however, and it sent a shiver down my spine. Harsh and discordant, the noise stopped almost as quickly as it started. The silence rang out in contrast, nothing moving in its aftermath, not even the wind.

It was as if the whole world held its breath.

A hard ripple shook the ground under me, and I fell onto my knees. I couldn’t see what had just landed, but I had spent enough time on ships to know the feeling of something docking—or in this case, landing.

The biggest difference? The silence, other than the blast of noise. The trees in this jungle were thick, but not that thick. I could see parts of the sky ahead of us and even more above us. Whatever just hit the ground hard enough to knock me out of a crouch was close.

I should be able to see it. Hear it.

But there was nothing.

If my bouncy friend wasn’t so scared, I’d be worried I was imagining things. He could easily turn on me in his fear, so I didn’t touch him, but his sides were shuddering in fast pants and his body trembled. His tension was palpable, and I followed his example to stay frozen in place. Scanning back and forth, just moving my head, I almost missed it.

A flash caught just in the edge of my peripheral vision was the first change, then the light of the suns bounced off metal that appeared out of thin air. Where once had been trees, bushes and glimpses of small, open spaces between more of the same, was now a ship.

And it was unlike any ship I’d seen before. It was polished black, shining bright in the reflected light, with yellow stripes. The colors were aggressive, the stripes slashed like clawed gouges ripped across the metal.

Too close. Whatever was about to come out of that ship, we were too close. Pushing my fingers into the dirt, I slunk backward. Bouncer looked at me with his farthest right eye. He whined, and I winced. “Shh.” I beckoned to him, like I had earlier with the food. Hopefully that would work.

I never stopped creeping backward. Did that thing have windows? Scanners? Hopefully, down on the ground, I’d look like another animal. It’d take longer, but I’d stay on my hands and knees until I could hope we were out of scanner range.

Bouncer looked at the ship then at me. He shuffled his feet. I curled my fingers at him, risking a whisper. “Come on.” I’d only thought the jungle was silent before; now it was like even the wind didn’t dare caress the leaves or rattle the bushes.

We might be the only things moving, but as long as we were moving away, I’d feel better than if we stayed in place. Animals would run away. Their brains wouldn’t tell them to do anything else. Danger, danger, run away!

Well my animal brain was fully in charge, and I was more than happy to run away. Ardra was supposed to be unpopulated; no sentient indigenous population, there were no claims on it, no research studies filed—I could state that with certainty, since I’d checked before filing my own slyly through a friend since my communication had been monitored—so no one but me should have landed here.

Unless this was a rescue party. I almost snorted at the thought. Sonez would have called it that officially. Unofficially it’d be a retrieval of a pain in his ass and a ship lockdown for disobeying orders.

Orders he couldn’t legally give me. I’m sure he’d have found a way around that. So were these soldiers? No, not with a ship like that, not a mission this small. Bounty hunters? I’d pissed Sonez off, but I couldn’t see him spending his own credits to chase me down. Could he have convinced my parents I needed a rescue?

Did they send someone after me?

That would be even more humiliating. I wouldn’t be taken back to the ship, oh no, I’d be taken straight to my parents to account for my actions.

I was not a child.

Okay, the irony was not lost on me. I was on my hands and knees, crawling backward away from something big and scary, hoping it wasn’t going to notice me. My lips twitched, and I might have laughed at myself for the crazy thoughts circling my brain like drunk creder twisters, but the actual fear was still too strong.

I’d only been here a day and a half. I wasn’t ready to leave. I had copious notes, but I’d seen a fraction of the planet’s natural beauty. I’d already made one animal friend—even if he latched onto me instead of the other way around—but I had hopes to find other animals as willing to let me study them.

Bouncer was nearly under me as we crawled backward, and I looked down to place my hands to avoid his claws landing on my suit and making noise. When I looked up, we were no longer alone.

Copyright © 2020 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

11 hours ago, drpaladin said:

I'd say the ship noticed him before it landed. Landing so close is too coincidental. Let's hope these newcomers are friendly and perhaps think he'll stranded and needs help.

Let's hope... but somehow it fits one of @Cia's storied that they are NOT friendly, especially with her description of the design/paint job of the ship. 😱

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GAH!  How did I miss this last week?  :facepalm:  I agree with Dr P.  I don't think the landing spot was coincidental.  Based on the reactions of Bouncer and the wildlife, I'm guessing these are not friendly visitors.  

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OMG! Who ever these people are, they were totally unexpected.  Their origin seems to be stumping Essell, so they could be from anywhere.  Rogues, lost colonists, a native civilisation of Ardra, or a civilisation from another part of the galaxy.  Their technology seems to be able to spot the exact location of Essell. I can't wait to see what's next.

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