(Originally written in May 2000)
Lydia was crouching in a dense clump of underbrush; saltwater pearls dripping from her short auburn curls into her emerald eyes, obscuring her vision. She wiped away the moisture with her dusty jumpsuit sleeve, leaving behind a streak of muddy camouflage. She was breathing heavily, gasping for air after a hard run. She struggled to regain control of her breathing as she listened for the native predator that was stalking her. She had been out hunting for food and water when this tiresome game of cat and mouse began.
Lydia was on a scouting mission by Colonial Defense. Her scanners had discovered particle trails from what appeared to be a large fleet of spacecraft. As she approached the alien vessels, one of its perimeter guards detected her presence and began immediate pursuit. She initiated standard evasive procedures and set course for a small system of planets away from the colony. The alien interceptor pursued her, leaving her no choice but to enter the gravitational field of a small habitable world. To guarantee that she did not report his carrier’s presence to anyone, the alien pilot began firing his weapons at her. She altered her course several times, successfully evading his missiles as he continued to pursue her into the atmosphere over this small planet. Lydia selected a landing area where she might set down and hide out from her adversary. As she entered the lower atmosphere, Lydia’s ship took a direct hit on her left wing, forcing her to eject; her escape pod landed in some dense woodland. Lydia crawled out of her escape craft and took inventory. She had rations for a few days but didn’t know when or if she would be rescued, making it necessary for her to set up a camp and scout for food and water. Lydia decided to spend her first night in the pod and set up her camp in the morning. Her first night on this arboreal world was a restless one, full of nightmares and uneasiness as she adjusted to her new environs. Lydia decided to reserve her rations and go in search of food and water near her camp. She had marked a trail heading into the planet’s sunrise as she scanned the local flora for edibles. She had traveled several hours from her camp when she heard a rustling noise in the bushes.
Felix had been out for a stroll in the cool night air when he spotted the unusual objects in the sky. He watched as one of the glowing objects broke apart and fell to the ground while the other took flight into the heavens. So many questions raced through his thoughts as he accelerated toward the mystery. Felix ambulated toward the landing area of the bright object; occasionally catching a glint of reflected sunlight from the fallen spacecraft. He quickened his pace, anticipating some wondrous gift from the heavens, but the thickening underbrush slowed his journey. He worked his way through the thick foliage surrounding the object only to be stopped by an impassable knot of brush and thorns. Felix retreated out of the dense greenery and began to search for an easier passage. Felix heard a rustling nearby and stopped moving. A snapping twig captured his attention and he worked his way through the underbrush to catch a glimpse of the creature that was responsible for the noise. As he parted the bushes, he saw a small erect ape standing in a thicket, her body covered by unusual adornments. She had a tuft of curled brown fur covering her head and the most unusual eyes that he had ever seen. The ape spun slowly in a circle, stopping occasionally to closely examine a plant. Hastily she shoved her little box into a pocket in her covering and started to run. Curious about her behavior, Felix took off after her.
Lydia could hear the large carnivore pursuing her as the brush and twigs snapped under his weight. Lydia was not about to become his next meal, nor was she interested in killing him. She climbed a large tree in trying to circle back toward her camp, but he followed her up into the foliage cover. Not wanting to lead him to her camp, she changed direction. Unable to shake him in the canopy, she descended to the ground and headed for a stream she had spotted. Lydia tried crossing the stream several times, but he always seemed to pick up her scent. She entered the stream a final time and ran quickly downstream before rejoining the bank and heading toward her camp. She stopped to rest under a dense clump of shrubbery when she could no longer hear the cat behind her.
Through with being the mouse, she peered out from her hiding place, watching for her pursuer. Having rested sufficiently, Lydia crept carefully from her protective cover, standing just over five feet tall, determined to turn the tables on her hunter. With her service weapon ready, she followed a faint trail back from where she had come, pausing occasionally to scan for large heat sources. “Here, kitty, kitty,” Lydia uttered under her breath as she made her way back through the forest. She had resolved that it was time for the mouse to end the chase. Lydia paused by a large clump of shrubbery to scan once more for her prey when the bushes suddenly parted. “Son of a…” her voice trailed off as a large white feline pounced on her from it’s hiding place, knocking her gun into the brush, out of sight and reach.
Lydia was flat on her back and breathless, pinned by the feline’s large front paws and heavy weight. Remembering her survival training, Lydia immediately closed her eyes and pretended to be unconscious as he growled quietly at her. Because Lydia showed no resistance, the feline withdrew from its dominant position over her, a mistake he would soon regret. She suddenly rolled over, quickly scrambled to her feet and dove into the brush looking for her gun. The large cat pounced again sending her sprawling on the ground. He swatted at her with his huge paw, rolling her over to her back. She quickly drew her survival knife and lunged toward him. The feline attempted to dodge her thrust, but did not move quickly enough to avoid the blade. He met her second attempt at a parry with his large front paw, knocking the knife out of her hand. She rolled over and scrambled to her feet in trying to escape alive. He blocked her way and swatted her again, knocking her to the ground unconscious. Felix sniffed at the fallen primate and batted her with his paw. Assured that she was really unconscious this time, he examined her more closely. She seemed manageable, a small thing, hardly worth killing, and there was the possibility that she might make a good pet. He lifted her off the ground by grabbing her clothes with his powerful jaws and carried her back to his village.