The rain clouds broke up as the powerful light of the three suns broke through, shining down upon the fertile land, the shadows of tall, leafy trees cast across it. The tall, grassy ground, in which Atlas was sitting, was now soaked by the rain from the previous night. She lay up against a boulder protruding from the ground near the borderline of trees and grass.
She lay dazed, not quite in her body but somewhere in between consciousness and space. As her fingers, that no longer wore gloves, brushed through the strange grass, her wide, unblinking, gray eyes stared at the scene before her. Atop the slope she sat, below she could see the beautiful paradise. A waterfall spilled over a tall, rocky hill to the right side. It rushed so fully and quickly as if it had too much water to deposit to the ground below. When it touched down to the water below in an eruption of mist, it continued in a river that slid between two sandy shores until it rounded a corner to the left of Atlas's vision and disappeared with the bays of trees. The trees were a different story. They came in many different shapes and sizes, but no matter what, Atlas couldn't recognize one of them.
As the sun began to spread among the land, it shone on Atlas with intense heat. She realized now that she was still wearing her suit. Though she was beginning to burn up in it, she hesitated to move since she was feeling so lazy. Finally, she gave a groan and began struggling to twist the torso of the suit off. This was a difficult job without an aid, but the suits they were equipped with were more for good mobility than protection. It was a planet within the habitable zone of its stars, after all. It's environment wasn't anticipated to be as extreme as the environment of outer space. The only reason that they were cautious about this was because this planet orbited within a triple star system, and not much was known about the planets in these types of systems. This particular planet was just convenient on their travels. She laughed at this thought as she listened to the rushing water and the strange bird calls within the forest behind her. This place was just how she knew and remembered Earth, just different species.
After a while she pulled the top of her suit over her head, her top half now stripped down to the tank-top she wore beneath the suit. Now with her core free to more mobility, she lent over and began working to take off her boots. Beneath them, she wore a pair of thick socks, but were already dirty and drenched in sweat. And after a moment of them sitting in the rained on grass as she began trying to take her pants off, they were completely soaked through and useless, so she kicked them off.
Once her pants were off and she was covered by a pair of black shorts, she felt much relieved as the air touched her skin. She felt much more light weight now and attempted to stand up. Of course, the extra gravity of the large planet took its toll on her space legs (Even though she had exercised hours a day), but she felt much less heavy and bulky.
She stood up as straight as possible and turned towards the pile of dismembered space suit parts. She noticed the pouch that stuck out on the back of the body and immediately remembered what it was. She nearly dove for it and undid the bindings to pull out a large package full of survival supplies that was placed there for a situation that they pictured to be something like this.
Atlas staggered back over to the rock she had lent against and sat atop it. Eagerly, she gripped her teeth around the thick plastic of the large, bulky bag and ripped at it. She tore a seam through it, large enough for her to plunge her hand into. Firstly, she pulled out a fist-full of other smaller plastic pouches that she knew to be food. Next in the bag was several containers of clean drinking water. She threw them in a pile with the others. Now she pulled out a large tarp and after it, a soft wool blanket. She was happy at this for she knew it would come to good use. There were a few items of clothing as well in the bag. She pulled out a jacket, shirt, pants and a pair of boots, which she immediately put on over her bare feet. By the weight of it, there only seemed to be a few other items in the bag. So she reached in and pulled a bundled rope, a small pocket knife and a lighter. She beamed at the sight of the pile of supplies she now had.
She unfolded the tarp and flung it out flat over the grass, somewhere in the close shade of the treeline to provide a dry place to sit. Firstly, she hauled her space suit up to the tarp since she thought it would be a good storage place for the things she wanted to save for later. As she trudged through the tall, soggy grass, she was impressed at how her boots didn't become damp. Within the torso of her suit, she stored her lighter, knife, rope and all her food and water except one pouch of each; she was starving.
Within the bag she opened was some sort of dried, dehydrated seasoned meat. She always wasn't a fan of the food they had to eat in space, but now, when she took a bite it tasted like the best thing in the world. She nibbled at it for a while, taking the occasional gulp of water.
Glancing around, she realized that she was the only one in this paradise at the moment, which seemed strange to her considering how barren the surrounding area had seemed to her, life should be flocking here- Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud thrashing noise in the bushes far to her left. Oh great, I think I liked it better when I was alone, she thought as she became concerned at how big and violent this thing sounded as it thrashed through the forest. Soon, a huge burst of leaves and branches exploded from the treeline down to her left. It was the beast, leaping from the bushes in a mad hurry, seeming to be chasing a bird that carelessly flew out of his reach. The beast landed on the moist ground with a skid and barely took a moment to recover before it propelled itself into the air after the bird, but it was no use. The large black bird stroked its vast wings until it only seemed to be a little dot in the sky.
Atlas felt a sort of flush of relief at the site of the beast and made herself comfortable on her tarp and continued to eat her food. She giggled as she watched it fall back to the ground not very gracefully. It had landed slightly in the shallows of the river. It raised itself up quite miserably and trudged up onto the shore. Immediately, it spotted her sitting up the grassy slope and seemed to lose all unhappy feelings as it began to prance up to her. Atlas had felt a little frightened at the sight of it coming towards her so quickly and openly, but reminded herself that she now trusted this creature, for what she knew, had saved her life at least once.
It came up right next to her little tarp picnic and curled up in the shade. It eyed her as she ate her meal and Atlas noticed the longing in its eyes every time she made a side glance at it. Finally, she turned completely towards the beast, and it turned its head away from her to urgently look at the river below, trying to cover up that it had been staring at her. Atlas giggled to herself and extended her hand towards its face with a chunk of meat clutched in her fingers. Its nostrils flared and it turned to sniff the meat directly. It looked as if it were about to snatch the food from her hand when suddenly, its head shot straight up, alert and now sniffing the air. Atlas pulled her arm away in alarm at his new behavior and watched him carefully. It slowly swiveled its head from right to left as it sniffed the air, but finally its eyes settled into an intense stare at the river bend to their left. Atlas watched too, and to her greatest surprise, she spotted what the beast had smelt.
Around the trees on the bank closest to them, was a giant creature that Atlas could not begin to compare to any other animal she had ever known. It walked on two, muscular legs and stood with great posture, its slender head equipped with two, thick curled horns. Really, she thought it stood kind of like a T-rex, an ancient species that was said to once roam the old earth. Despite its great height that matched the trees around it; its long, thick tail that looked as if it could kill anything with a good wack; and its horns; It didn't look very threatening. Its short arms had no sharp claws and its mouth didn't appear to have any jagged fangs, but still, one wouldn't want to get tangled up this this yellow furred monster.
The one that appeared from the trees was obviously a dominant male. Because behind it followed a small replica of itself with smaller horns atop its head; Atlas guessed that this was a female, perhaps his mate. She stood correct when just behind the female quickly followed three little yellow puff balls that appeared to be their children.
These creatures did not notice them at all as they strode towards the water fall. The adult pair seemed determined to get there. They began to merge into the waters where they were submerged to about their waists in the deepest waters. They reached the water fall and began to bathe the rest of their bodies within it. The babies, however, were much too small to stand the current. So instead they played in the grass, occasionally dipping their feet in the shallowest waters off the shore. Atlas heard the bear-wolf creature from next to her give a growl deep in its throat as it watched the young. She knew exactly what it had in mind.
It slowly stood to its feet and crept along the treeline to Atlas's right. She remained perfectly quiet and still as she watched what was about to play out. Using the tall grass to its advantage, it crept its large body through it, Atlas was quite surprised to see how concealed it was. It was stealthily creeping through the grounds next to the water fall, the two yellow giants didn't seem to notice it as they continued to bathe. Atlas's heart rate quickened as she watched the beast creep closer and closer to the group of playing young, each inch it moved it was closer an closer to getting itself seen.
But finally it stopped. It sat like a lump in the swaying grass, Atlas seeming to be the only one that knew the beast was there. She was a little relieved to see this. The last thing she wanted to see was that huge male monster stomp out of the water and demolish her only friend, her only protection in this strange world. But her relief was short lived. Suddenly she saw its huge, splayed tail raise up from the grass, in plain sight for anything to see. The splayed ends hung limply in the air and Atlas was beginning to wonder what the beast was trying to do.
But quite suddenly, to her surprise, she noticed the three little children of the mammoths that still bathed unknowingly of what was happening, begin to inch towards the tail that hung in the air. They abandoned their play and walked towards it, standing as tall as they could on their two, little legs and stared up at the tips of the tale in a sort of trance. As they got about five feet within the end of the tail, as Atlas was wondering how they hadn't noticed the beast sitting in the grass, they stopped. She was certain they had saw it in the grass and were going to turn and bolt. But they didn't. Instead they stood in a neat line and stared up at the tail, still in some sort of trance.
The splayed ends of the beasts tail came to life and began to dance in a swirling pattern in the air as they lowered a little more closer to the ground. And as they did, the largest of the trio of young stepped forward. Its siblings remained stationary as they watched it walked right beneath the splayed tail and reached its head up as high as it could as if about to give it a little kiss.
As quickly as a snare trap, the tail whipped down upon the child and slung around its neck. It squealed in fright as did its siblings who had also awoken from their trance and fled. The bear-wolf rose from the grass and glimpsed at its struggling pray as it left it dangling before his eyes.
There was a magnificent snap that rung around the trees. The young hung dead within the grasp of the tail as its neck snapped. The beast pulled the body up over his head and held the body above in its tail triumphantly. The parents to the now dead child stood petrified in the water at the sight. The moment hung in the air for as long as it could muster before the male gave an angry snort and began to stride out of the water towards the bear-wolf. Oh no! Atlas thought, but the giant male was left glued to the shore in what she could only tell was fear at what came next. A roar.
The bear-wolf had lifted its head fiercely and let out the most ear piercing, rumbling, powerful roar that could have ever existed. The tall, yellow monster stood still, watching the beast that stood triumphantly below him. He could easily kill it! He could walk right up and kill the bear-wolf right now! Atlas realized with horror as she noticed the tremendous size difference between the two creatures. But for some reason, it didn't. Instead, it took a few weary steps back and turned away in a rush. It gave a call to his mate and remaining two children and almost galloped of to the river bend where they had came, his family now following close behind.
Atlas watched this, awestruck. The bear-wolf remained his hard stare on their backs until a long moment after they had disappeared behind the trees. Atlas watched as his facial expression suddenly lightened and he looked up at her happily, now prancing towards her like a happy dog, still clutching the dead body within its tail.
The night was falling once again, and both of them had their bellies full. Though how the bear-wolf ate its kill wasn't quite the dinner manners that Atlas was used to, she didn't really expect much different from a wild animal. Never the less, the killing of the young creature (which Atlas had nicknamed the fluffy dinosaurs) had come in many benefits to them. Besides it satisfying the beasts hunger, who was now down at the rivers edge, rinsing his body of blood; it also provided a fur that Atlas knew would come in handy. She had lain the fur out on a rock to dry. Though the fluffy dinosaur was only a baby, it had been as tall as Atlas, so the fur would soon make a good blanket or cloak of some sort.There was also a great amount of bones left over too, so the ones that the beast didn't gnaw in half she saved.
She was now watching as the beast was finishing its cleaning down by the river. It was then when she realized that she had not given it a name- or even a gender. She realized how rude it was that she kept referring to him as it or beast in her head... Yes he does seem like a he... Atlas thought as she watched him. It was kind of hard for her to tell an alien species gender, especially when she hadn't encountered another one of them of the opposite gender like she had with the fluffy dinosaurs. Now a name...
He now padded up the slope towards her, his eyes sleepy. Atlas knew that he had not gotten any sleep the night that he had rescued her when she was lost in the forest of dead bushes. When he reached the top of the slope, he immediately curled up next to her and let out a big sigh as he rested his head on his fore-paws.
The sun was now well behind the horizon of jagged mountains and the stars were now showing. It was a beautiful sight, Atlas had always had a fondness for the night sky and had learned all about the one that had existed back on the old Earth. But her joys slightly plummeted when none of the stars looked familiar. But she had to be grateful that she was stationary and looking at an actual horizon, instead of in a constantly moving space station with very little windows.
Along the sky she gazed, making pinpoints at the brightest stars as she mapped everything out. Soon, she noticed something. There was a series of bright stars bundled near each other high above the horizon. It immediately reminded her of the great bear constellation. Though the stars were out of place slightly, she named the names of the stars that had once belonged to Ursa Major and they seemed to fit. Dubhe, Alioth, Mizar...
Atlas looked over at the animal curled up next to her that she was still yet to name. She looked back up at the constellation that she was creating and found stars to make long legs. And at the rump of the constellation, where a bear would have only a little tuft as a tail, she began finding stars that would create the shape of a long tale that splayed.
The creature that lay beside her was now running along the sky as it was drawn in the stars. Atlas was proud when she gazed up at the beautiful constellation she had made, but... you still need a name... She thought as she looked over at him.
Once more, she gazed back up at the constellation and found the brightest star, the head of the animal. She thought of the bear constellation once more at this sight. This star on that constellation would have been called.. She strained her memory for the name of the star in Ursa Major that marked the head of the bear...Benetnash!
"Benetnash," She spoke to him. She saw his eyes flutter open a little as he was drifting off and she could have sworn she saw his lips peel into a little smile. "You like that?" She whispered to him. "Benetnash... "
That night she abandoned the plan to build a fire to protect her from the chill in the air when she curled up next to the warm body of Benetnash. She closed her eyes and was drifting off against him when she suddenly felt his tail wrap gently around her. Body of a wolf, She thought. Soul of a bear... and a magic that had never belonged to Earth... And she knew that this magic had to do with his tail. His strange, life giving but at the same time dangerous.