A Fallen Gift by Smokepaw

A Fallen Gift

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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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

The meteor shower had
been one for the Ages to speak of year later...

A Fallen Gift


20 April 2014 at 09:03:26 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

Submission Information

Literary / Story