A Fallen Gift by Smokepaw

A Fallen Gift

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<p>The meteor
shower had been one for the Ages to speak of years later. As the
moon set that very early ice-cold morning, an explosion-like sound
tore through the forest and awoke the Tipisk Clan rudely.
Black-furred shapes emerged from their wigwams, muzzles turned
skyward while the rich otherworldly light of the Aurora Borealis
danced in its hues of green, silver and purple overhead.</p>



<p>The streamers
of white-hot light only then began to rain down in numbers that had
not been seen in many lifetimes.</p>



<p>The darkness
was set alight, not only by the Aurora and the star-storm, but soon
too by the bonfires of the Tipisk as shaman leaders rallied the
people of the many villages spontaneously into ritualistic dances of
celebration and worship. As the sun rose in a rich blood red over the
horizon hours later, the fires still burned and the wolves continued
their ceremonies until the last of them could no longer stay on their
feet; drunk on the sweet chokecherry wine laced specially with the
White Metal so sacred to the Clan, exhausted from their rituals and
falling one by one like cord wood into deep vision-rich sleep that
lasted all of the waking day.</p>



<p>But with the
star-storm came work and duty to the Gods-given purpose of the
Tipisk. So, as the moon began to rise on the night after, warriors
were banded into parties as they awoke and soon set out (en-masse)
from each village to search for the landing sites of each sacred
black rock that had fallen. With the intensity of the previous
night's events, there would undoubtedly be hundreds to collect and
then process for the precious White Metal they contain; gifts from
the Aurora Gods, a means to share their power and responsibility for
keeping the order of the world around them.</p>



<p>But, as the
night wore on, many of the craters and scorched stands of spruce and
pine yielded little more than obsidian glass and ash. The
traditional rocks were absent, the search parties coming up empty in
their hunt and left to look at each other with puzzled expressions as
well as confusion. Where had the meteorites gone? Had they already
been collected by some other tribe? Was this a test by the Aurora
Gods, to see if the Tipisk were still loyal to them in the absence of
their traditional rewards for faith? The dancing lights above
offered no answers to these questions or any other, and so the
parties began to break up and return to their wigwams as the icy fog
of the morning dew began to collect around the forest floor.</p>



<p>--</p>


<p>Phiko Misit
and the four other members of his party stopped short of the village
edge and conversed with a sentry guard for a moment, all involved
still exhausted from the dancing and then the hunting despite having
slept all day. Reports of coming up empty-pawed were exchanged
before the sentry begun to gather up a fistfull of smooth sticks of
seemingly matching length, then offering each wolf to draw one. As
Phiko drew his, a contorted snarl wrinkled across his muzzle; it was
clear in an instant his was dramatically shorter than the rest. The
male had just gained the wonderful duty of standing sentry himself
for the rest of the night, relieving the guard who now smirked and
lightly tossed him the spear he'd been holding for the task. A few
short words of jest and cursing later, Phiko was left watching his
compatriots stroll into camp and disappear behind the dark brown
leather doorflaps of their wigwams for some much-needed rest.</p>



<p>Stewing from
his misfortune, Phiko Misit glanced up through the tree canopy toward
the overhanging rock formation that dominated one side of his
ancestral village edge. Old stories of the caves and crevices that
filled the mighty spire of granite drifted through his mind as he
leaned against a tree trunk... breath drifting from his nostrils in
foggy clouds as his bare chest rose and fell. Even as the
temperatures dropped below freezing, the wolf wore nothing more than
his narrow leather breechcloth and leggings for attire; various
accoutrements such as armbands, pouches and necklaces decorated him
as well, but the thick black double-coat of fur was more than enough
to keep the warrior comfortable in such situations. Indeed, clothing
for the Tipisk was more for ceremonial modesty and practical
protection from things like brush and brambles than for warmth.</p>



<p>And then the
notion struck him. That first thunderclap from the night before had
sounded incredibly close, so maybe there was a much larger meteorite
that had fallen and landed before anyone really had awoken, the rest
all being too small to survive the fall around its bigger forebearer?
The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that
there was one place no one had looked yet... and he watched
transfixed at the summit of the rock mountain as he suddenly knew
where that location may be.</p>



<p>The wolf
glanced around to the two other sentries tasked at guarding the
village, finding one fast asleep at the foot of a tree and another
looking longingly back at his wigwam undoubtedly dreaming of the
bedroll inside. His mind made up, he quietly stole away and
disappeared into the forest; black swallowing black.</p>



<p>–</p>


<p>It was nearly
sunrise when Phiko Misit found the first signs that something had
indeed crashed into the mountain. Half-way up were pieces of
scorched rock, still smelling strongly of the fire that had embraced
them, and his pace quickened as bare footpads as hard as boiled
leather and tough as the rock they tread across propelled the wolf
further up the trail. His nose flared with the scent of smoke, more
and more destruction being found the closer he came to the crash
site, until suddenly the crater presented itself. It was massive!
Easily 100 paces across, and at its very center sat the strangest
Aurora rock the warrior had ever seen: like an arrowhead, it was
shaped, polished to a glass-like shine and colored white like
fresh-fallen snow. Even more unusual still was there was no way to
know how deep the crater was, as it only sunk about chest-deep before
being filled with a flat-calm lake of liquid silver. Not even a
breeze would cause a ripple to cast across the basin, and Phiko
approached slow and nervously with his spear at the ready.</p>



<p>Patiently he
watched, searching around and seeing no life. Nothing moved, and no
sound but the beating of his heart and the breath whistling through
his nose was heard. He worked up enough gumption to approach the
edge, look down, and see his reflection. The speartip was dipped in,
then rapidly jerked out and held for another strike... Yet nothing
happened, the liquid metal dripping from the spearhead as if it were
nothing other than oddly-colored water. Puzzled, he then kneeled,
sniffing keenly and getting a noseful of sharp metallic scents... Was
this refined Aurora metal he was looking at, somehow cold and still
liquid instead of turned solid like the rings of it he wore in
various piercings?</p>



<p>He dipped a
hand down, gently easing a fingertip in... The material was
invitingly warm, like a hotspring pool that was just right, and soon
he pushed the rest of his hand below the surface and drew it back out
again to curiously watch as every detail and shape of his paw was
cast in brilliant metal, slowly dripping down over his forearm and
making his fur reflective. After a time of enjoyment, he slid around
and sat on the edge to dip his feet in as well, still watching the
silver on his hand to see if it would dry or remain wet. And so,
with his spear sitting beside him, this is how the wolf was seen a
moment before unexpectedly disappearing in a loud splash. Not a
sound of surprise or alarm being raised, no chance for intervention
being offered and no rescuer on standby to thrust the spear into the
pool for a handhold to grab and pull oneself back out. The pool
bubbled as its prey struggled below, unseen and unheard, but it was
not long until that smooth unbroken surface returned with no
indication of what had happened.</p>



<p>–</p>


<p>The moon rose
like a silver disk in the sky to mirror the same silver pool on the
ground. At that pool's center sat a white oblong shape, blemishless
and perfectly intact. Nothing moved, and nothing was to be heard as
the cold quiet of the night set in once again. Yet as the shimmering
light of the Aurora Borealis reflected off its surface, symmetrical
lines appeared. Like a blossom of an alien flower opening, the pod
opened slowly and revealed a dark interior. In the dim light,
serpentine shapes writhed and the soft subdued whirr and whines of
mechanical locomotion were unleashed. As the petals pulled further
apart, contained within the interior was revealed to be an
anthropomorphic lupine figure, head cast down and arms held loosely
at his sides. One by one, cables begin to withdraw from ports along
his form, clicks and hisses of pneumatic valves closing marking each
detachment. Black latex eyelids rolled back and backlit red optics
flashed to life, the male figure moving as systems started up. His
head rolled upright, ears spinning and perking to attention. Higher
from the pod he rose, propelled upward as the petals at last reached
their fully extended positions.</p>



<p>And there he
stood for what seemed like forever, thoughts consolidating as he
booted, facts and graphical data scrolling across his vision while
silently inside that synthetic skull a history lesson was being
taught. Phiko Misit was alive, intact where mind and personality
were concerned. Yet he was not alone, the symbiotic intelligence
from the crashed ship bonding and calibrating herself to the new host
she had acquired. The two were now one; the female AI having
transformed and assimilated the warrior wolf Tipisk into a machine
for her needs and rewarding his sacrifice with his memories and mind
unaltered.</p>



<p>At once, he
broke from his trance and begin to stare down at himself. A hand was
brought up, fingers curling one by one into a fist as he watched,
muzzle held agape astounded. Questions were asked and answered
between the two through digital conversation. The wolf glanced up,
seeing his lost spear still resting at the crater's edge and knowing
what he must do now. A foot rose out of the pod and stepped onto the
smooth silver pool; the surface hard beneath his textured latex
rubber pads while metal claws clacked neatly against it. The other
followed, and the now robot Native walked smoothly over to retrieve
it. Kneeling down and placing a hand on his thigh, he looks down the
path he'd come up. The others of his tribe would be looking for him,
undoubtedly. It was time to return home and show them what he'd
become... What they too would become in time.</p>



<p>–</p>


<p>The meteor
shower had been one for the Ages to speak of year later...</p>




A Fallen Gift

Smokepaw

20 April 2014 at 09:02:37 MDT

A wolf finds what the rest of his tribe is searching for, but is unprepared for the consequence of the discovery and what it will mean for him and his people.

A short story written to hallmark a really awesome piece of artwork from Psebae Psebae, and to explain why in an alternative setting Smokepaw is suddenly rather... Synthetic! The full piece will be uploaded in a separate submission, but I feel it is prudent to share the story and then the artwork for your enjoyment.

Inspired by kimbo-demonica and the Notaxe piece she created for me back in 2009 to represent my motorcycle.

Story and characters are (c) Smokepaw Smokepaw
Artwork (c) Psebae Psebae

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