As usual, stream of consciousness, unedited, etc…
Fargo sat morosely in the living room of his cabin, staring at the e-tainment console as he scrolled listlessly through the myriad of emails waiting for his attention. Nicole had gone back to Rushing River that morning, and Fargo missed her already. I never thought I’d find anybody again. And now… I really don’t want to live in town. I like my solitude. Except now…
OneSvel had told him recovery was going to be slow, but dammit, this was getting ridiculous. It had been almost a month, and he was still getting twinges in the shoulder when he did the littlest things. Like picking up the damn coffee pot.
Taking a sip of coffee, with his right hand, he selected the next email in the company
cue queue. He started boring through the monthly equipment listings, number of rounds expended in training, and suit maintenance issues. This is why we had company clerks. Thankfully Horse is getting it done, well, he and the women.
Cattus and Canis suddenly came bolting into the living room, snarling and growling. Fargo looked at them, “What the hell?”
Canis stood between him and the door, ruff fully erect, as Cattus stalked to the window and peeked out, tail lashing. “What has got into you two now?” Both of them ignored him, and he heard a thump and muted growl outside the door. Getting up he grabbed his pistol as he said, “External cameras.”
Nothing showed in the pictures, but Urso was prowling back and forth on the porch, rumbling, growling, and staring down the length of the landing strip. Grabbing up the binoculars off the side table, he moved toward the door, only to be blocked by both animals. “Alright you two. Enough!” Extending his empathic sense, he sensed worry/fear from all three of the animals. He tried sending a command to them to stand down, but he wasn’t sure they were even paying attention.
Slipping the pistol in his pocket, he hip checked Canis out of the way, and slowly opened the door. A moment later, he slipped onto the porch, closely followed by Cattus and Canis, as Urso bawled and turned toward them. Ignoring them, he focused the binoculars on the end of the landing strip and saw two squat figures, standing in plain sight. He picked out the uniforms, realizing they were GalPat camo, and remembered, There were two Scouts with the company Nan dropped here. Two Darkies. Zooming on the faces, he nodded, Heavy world build, Amerind heritage.
He felt a gentle pressure, “We come in peace. May we approach the house?”
He projected, “Please do. The animals will not harm you.” Then threw up his ‘wall’ as he thought of it, protecting his mind.
The two figures began walking toward the house, and he concentrated on the animals, projecting friendship, and no harm. Urso grumped, and sprawled in front of the chairs letting the sun hit her on the back. Cattus jumped off the porch and circled the cabin as Canis parked herself on his boots, but her hackles slowly went down.
Fargo debated going back into the cabin to get refreshments, such as they were, but thought better of it. He pulled a chair out from behind Urso and seated himself, setting the binoculars on the table, and waited.
A few secs later, the two scouts stood just off the porch, and he could see that they were a mated pair, one male, and one female. The male said, “Captain, we are MobyDineah. We are…”
“You are the scouts attached to the GalPat Company temporarily detached here. I saw you at the ceremonies.”
He felt a push for lack of a better term, and lowered his wall. He felt what was almost like a double or echo, “They did not tell us you are a level five psi!” Cattus prowled behind them, causing the female, who he thought of as Dineah to turn and watch him.
“Cattus! Dammit cat, come here!” He projected calm, and patted the deck next to his chair. Cattus swished her tail, but hopped onto the porch, and flopped bonelessly down, but her eyes never leaving the two scouts. “Sorry about that. They’re a bit protective.”
Dineah looked at Moby, then said, “Captain, did you know there are animals that communicate with each other? Once we began climbing the foothills, there were at least three species that watched us all the way here.” She looked meaningfully at the three lying on the porch deck.
Fargo sighed, “Yes, at least three that I know of. And they are matriarchal, from what I’ve seen. Please come up and let me introduce you to them.
They both smiled and slowly stepped forward. He got up and walked off the porch, meeting them at the bottom of the steps. “Canis, come.” Canis came down and sat beside him, “This is Canis, she’s a… I guess the term would be wolf. Canis, friends.” He shook hands with Moby, then Dineah, and both offered their hands for Canis to sniff.
“Cattus, come.” Cattus yawned, showing a mouthful of teeth, but came down the steps and the exercise was repeated, followed by Urso. He escorted them into the cabin, and asked, “Would you like something to drink? I can offer whatever we can get out of the autochef, or I have fresh water.”
He felt that push again, and Dineah smiled as Moby said, “Fresh water, please. I get so tired of processed water.”
Dineah asked, “Coffee?”
Fargo smiled, “Would you like real coffee? Handmade, real coffee?”
Dineah squealed, “Oh! You have… Oh yes, please! I haven’t had real coffee in so long!”
Fargo noticed they were both wearing backpacks, “You can drop them by the door. The animals will not bother them.” They both eased out of the packs, and he noted they were very solidly built, and very flexible, as they set the packs by the door. He set about making a pot of coffee, after delivering a large glass of water to Moby, and motioned them to the couch, “Have a seat, this will take a couple of minutes.”
He felt them probing the animals, “You realize the animals are bonded and linked to you?”
“Yes, I know. But I can only perceive basic emotions. I am closest to Canis, because I felt her in her mother’s womb.”
Moby and Dineah exchanged looks, and he felt Dineah’s mind for the first time, it was slightly softer if that could describe it. “In her mother’s womb? How?”
“When her mother was hurt by a Silverback, I put my hand on her to calm her with my empathic sense, and… I felt, that’s the best word I can come up with, Canis. Maybe she was closest to my hand. I don’t know.”
Moby and Dineah talked softly in a sibilant language that left Fargo wondering what they were saying, and he dropped out of the psi link, reaching down to stroke Canis.
Moby said, “My apologies. Some things we need to talk out.”
“Not an issue, but I have to ask, what were you speaking?”
Dineah laughed softly, “Apache. It’s a version of Athabaskan, which is a group of Native American languages. Similar to Navajo.”
“Are you both Apache? But your names?”
“Yes, Mescalero Apache.” Dineah glanced at Moby, then continued, “Our names are secret, known only to our tribe. When we bonded, we became MobyDineah. That is what we are known as. But we were actually talking about totems.”
Moby said, “Totems are the spirit animals we adopt after our vision quests. My totem is a dolphin, and her’s is a whale.”
The coffee pot burped its last, and Fargo took two cups down, “Anything in your coffee?”
“Just coffee, please.”
He poured two cups, took one to Dineah, and sat slowly in his chair. “Dolphin and whale? I thought Indians had things like wolves, eagles, and such.”
Moby laughed, “Oh we do. But many others too. We only have one apiece, but you seem to have three.”
Fargo shrugged, “For what good it does me.”
Dineah projected, “Have you tried working with them like this?”
“No, I didn’t think it was possible. I tried, but I never did get any responses.”
“We sensed them, but at a much lower… Frequency, if you will. And they communicate over long distances.”
“Like you did from the bottom of the landing strip?”
Dineah smiled, “It does have its advantages.” She reached for Moby’s hand and grasped it, “We can communicate about a mile.”
“Lower, you said.”
Moby projected, “Down here.” Canis and Cattus both sat up, as Urso growled softly.
Fargo had heard Moby, but it was fuzzy, so he consciously tried to send a thought to Canis much lower than before, “Canis, come.”
Canis cocked her head, and padded over to him, then lay her head on his leg. He felt a response from her, but it didn’t make any sense. It was mélange of sensations and ‘smells’, more than anything else.
Fargo said, “I got something, but it was like senses, sensations, smells, something… It’s hard to describe.”
Moby replied, “They don’t think like we do. At least our animals on Anadarko don’t. Sensations are about all we get. And only the ones we bond with. I’ve never encountered what you have here, with cross species communication.”
“That’s because this planet was planned as a hunting preserve by SierraSafari. I think they genied some of the species on purpose. I haven’t felt any others, well, other than Silverbacks, which native animal pairs.”
Cattus interrupted their conversation when she padded over to Dineah, then flopped down in front of her, paws in the air. Dineah laughed and projected, “Belly rub?”
Cattus reached up with both paws, tugging Dineah’s hand gently down, and Dineah projected, “Belly rub.” She started stroking Cattus softly, and Cattus started a rumbling purr, closing her eyes in ecstasy. Urso moaned from the door, and Fargo got up with a smile, “I know what she wants.” He went into the kitchen and pulled down a sealed canister, spooning out some of the honey from the bee tree. He tried to project “Sweet, good, like,” to Urso, and she sat up on her hind legs. He sensed desire from her, but he wasn’t sure if that was because she already smelled the honey, or his projection.
He held the dish out and Urso took it delicately, then rolled on her back, slurping nosily, as everyone laughed.
Canis whined and went out the door, jumping over Urso and Moby projected, “Did you catch that? I think something called her.”
Fargo shook his head, “No, I didn’t really…” He stepped out onto the porch, along with MobyDineah, and Cattus followed. “Well damn. She did get called. That’s her mother,” pointing a hundred yards out, to Canis and an even bigger wolf standing nose to nose.
Fargo turned to them, “That makes me wonder, how did you project a thought all the way up here to me? That’s… almost a thousand yards from the bottom of the landing strip.”
Moby projected, “We just pushed the thought a little harder. At least that’s what we call it. Depending on your strength and level of talent, some can project further than others. Just like some have to physically touch someone, like most level ones. As the level increases, the ability to communicate over distance increases in most cases.”
Fargo held up a hand, “This may be interesting.” Pointing to the wolves, who were trotting side by side toward the house, “I don’t know what is going to happen. I’ve never seen her do that before when anyone else is here.”
Dineah projected, “She’s curious about us. And I think her… cub shared our scent. I think we should sit.”
Fargo glanced at her, shrugged and pulled three chairs over. “Okay, sit it is.” They all sat down as the two wolves came up on the porch. The matriarch came to him first, licked his hand, he felt a ‘tickle’ in his mind, as if she was trying to communicate with him. She cocked her head as if to say, “Well, are you going to answer me?”
Fargo tried to go as far down in what he thought of as frequency as he could and projected welcome and peace. The matriarch wagged her tail a couple of times, then stalked over to Dineah, sniffed her hand, then put her paws on her leg and sniffed her face and neck. Dineah smiled, and didn’t move as the wolf licked the side of her face, then giggled, “That tickles.”
Fargo picked up Dineah sending something like friendship and honor. The wolf licked her again, then repeated the process with Moby, who also projected the same thing. The matriarch then stalked over to Cattus, who rolled over and showed her belly in subservience. After sniffing her, the matriarch went to Urso, and did the same thing.
She finally came back to Fargo, licked his hand again and he sensed approval from her. She bounded off the porch and trotted into the woods as the three humans looked at each other. Dineah projected, “Well, that was interesting. It was almost like she was verifying what Canis had told her, for lack of a better term. And she was definitely checking to see if we could communicate with her.”
Moby nodded, “I think so. And her checking Cattus and Urso was… different. Then she projected approval at you.”
“Based on what I’ve seen over the last couple of years, I think she was checking up on Cattus and Urso, and is going to tell their mothers they are doing okay. I know the three species communicate at some level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if your scents aren’t also passed along.”
Dineah shivered a little, “This is truly strange. In all the years we’ve been scouting, I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. I can’t help but wonder if they are actually sentient, within the GalPat rules.”
Fargo winced, “Ah deity. That would be a can of worms I don’t even want to think about. But I don’t think so, at least not under the sentience rules we had with GalScouts. I haven’t seen any tool use, or any of them building anything. Which is a requirement.”
Moby added, “You’re right. Communication, in and of itself, is not enough.”
“Speaking of communication, would you be willing to help me?”
MobyDineah nodded in concert, “If we can.”