Floating down from the deep blackness of space he could see the planet looming below, so lush and green that it reminded him of a velvet waistcoat his mother had worn years before. He had loved to bury his face in the softness of it, drinking in the exotic fragrance of spices lingering in the fiber. Ossus thought of her now, her face brown and ridged as his boots of leatherwood, looking so fragile and ancient that he felt a sharp pang of guilt. Just this last adventure had needed the doing, had called him. Then as suddenly he was filled with exhilaration, enraptured in this drifting down, light as a wind borne seed to the beckoning luxuriance.
His boot tips landed with a crunch in the sandy gravel of a mountainous plateau where bitter winds drove a powder of snow against his back. Stark granite peaks thrust upward in violent loveliness from a valley that seemed as distant below as this changeable planet seen from space.
'Hardly what I was expecting,' he murmured huskily to himself, lashing the storm flaps tighter around his leggings and mentally fortifying the shimmering aura dancing around his body.
The great light that had flared at his comings and goings in this corner of the galaxy had begun to dim, turning the high masses of water vapor in the upper atmosphere a deep crimson. Ossus traveled west with the beckoning light, the snow piling so deep around his boots that he rose and floated a hand span above the surface. But the effort was too great after his long journey and he began to search for a shelter where he could summon the deep, rejuvenating sleep that post space required. Eventually amid the lengthening shadows he spotted a fault in the cliff face that deepened to black and he made his way down, his breath a harsh rattle in the face of the wind.
The cave was sheltered with a narrow opening and fragrant with a musky odor Ossus found strangely pleasing, a low note below the faint biting pitch of urine. He drew himself upright in the doorway and released an inquiring flare of light from his palm. It traveled quickly around the domed hollow, revealing nothing more than a stone ledge running the length of one wall. The space was littered with the scattered bones of small gnawing animals not unlike those Ossus had observed on his own world. He felt the faint twitch of his teeth forming to the familiar pattern of the lemhares’ incisors but stopped his strange mutation before it could go further. He was exhausted and would sleep now without indulging in these childish games. With a smile on his thin lips, he set the guard flares about his body and sank into sleep.
In his dream he smelled again the musky scent of his shelter, this time stronger and more insistent. He sensed a great warmth and softness encircling him, and most startling of all he felt his small, now lipless mouth hungrily sucking sweet nourishment. He plunged his blunt forefeet again and again into the thick plush fur until his extended claws met pure muscle and he awoke to find her harsh tongue on him, rasping his eyelids, his nostrils and his round taut belly.
In her mind he read the images of the tiny limp body she had carried away from this place and the strange joy that seized her when she returned to find her living cub restored. She had no way to know how the world worked, that such things were not supposed to happen. She was young and it had been her first pregnancy. Now she found herself once more with a spotted kit nestled beside her, one whose small form appeared to carry the blueprint of all her beauty and power...