When Raveek left home, his Father’s last words were: “You’ll crawl back on your own when you are cold and hungry out on the street. To think that my son doesn’t want a higher education, but wants only to write! Don’t you understand that writers are like stray dogs, they are all impoverished, while you, one day, will have to feed a family, for I am not immortal!”
To which Raveek proudly replied: “Not everything in life is measured in money.”
To not die of hunger he found a job as driver of an Off-Roader between the stations of Russians and Americans. Inhabited stations closed by the caps of forcefields supported a minimum of one hundred thousand people: scientists, engineers and constructors, cooks and sanitation engineers, musicians. At the American station Raveek has lived since he was twelve – his immigrated there because his father, a computer programmer needed a good job with pay that could support a family. The move has been extremely unpleasant, to say the least, since all his friends were left behind. Behind were left all the favorite locations in the neighborhood and favorite foods. However, he learned spoken English faster than his parents, although it cost him a lot of tears, when he went to school not-comprehending what his classmates and teachers were saying. Now he was nineteen, and he didn’t miss home as acutely as he had seven year ago and it has been six month since he drove mail in the Off-Roader between the stations San Francisco and Moscow. Also on Inhabited Planet were stations of Germans, Koreans and Japanese, but Raveek served only one route.
He had spent a month learning how to drive the Off-Roader – a track laying vehicle, capable of movement on the ground, in the air, on water and underwater. The training mostly took place on a simulator, so when the Company trusted Raveek with an actual vehicle, he couldn’t be happier. Since then, for six months now, he increased the mileage on the route.
Poor flora and fauna of Inhabited consisted of the vining plants and low trees bearing bitter fruits, the deer, the rat-like rodents and little fragile birdies nesting in rocks. Well and of course, packs of green wolves, the only large predators on the planet. They consumed deer, rodents and grass, but the real surprise in them was green chlorophyll in their fur which allowed them to absorb sunlight, making them half animal, half flower
Before the rare deer were discovered, scientists once thought that green wolves only fed from human scrap-heaps, since it wasn’t clear what else they could consume. However, despite outward likeliness to human dogs, Green Wolves were native to the Inhabited Planet. It turned out they ate deer, grass, and small rodents, while their hides used photosynthesis to absorb sunlight. Wolves died in captivity very quickly. There were no funds for investigating the habits of strange animals in hostile environment of the Inhabited Planet, and it was considered inhumane to capture them just to have them die. That’s why Green Wolves remained a real enigma to the scientists.
Raveek, a skinny brunette youth in jeans and simple gray clothe coat, who couldn’t grow a beard, listened to heavy metal music when he saw through the front windowshield a Green Wolf, and barely had time to press the brake button on the joystick he used for steering, and the airbag gave him a black eye. The breaks screeched.
The Green Wolf lifted his rear leg and pissed on the sand.
Raveek saw a corpse of a deer was lying further up the road. The wolf was protecting his kill.
“Shit!” swore Raveek, climbing out of the of the cabin and shouted to immovable rocks: "Be damned this day and this route! Why does this idiocy happen only to me?!"
What does the Direction say about a case like this? he thought, exiting the Off-Roader. He picked up a bright lamp to blind the animal and he picked up The Atomic Transformer if he needed to create an additional weapon and entered the mental interface of the little electronic ball-like device to create a heavy wooden chair.. He got the device on his sixteen’s birthday from his Dad. It was worth more than his monthly paycheck. Several times.
The human stared dead in the golden eye of the animal. With light, gracious steps the animal consumed the distance between them.
Raveek pointed the light at the Green Wolf''s eyes and raised up the chair, intent to scare the animal away.
The wolf growled.
The youth thought, with an unpleasant cold feeling in his belly, that he perhaps will be the first known case of a Green Wolf attack on a human.
"Shoo! Shoo! Boo! Hoo!" yelled the human.
I should climb back into the cabin and lock the door, thought the driver.
A metal door is too tough for an animal. What do the Directions say about a case like this? I don’t remember. I should have committed it to memory or read more attentively.
What if the Green Wolves really don’t attack people like all the encyclopedias and textbooks say? I can’t rely on that though, I should scare away the animal. No need to kill, just scare it away. What are they afraid of?
Raveek faced off with the wolf, and brought the heavy chair down on the animal's muzzle as it leaped. But he was too slow when the wolf got close enough to use his fangs.
Raveek screamed when the wolf bit his leg. The wolf leaped out of reach.
“You can’t have my kill. I was hunting it for days,” flashed in Raveek's mind. A breathing, running prey. Days of following. The cathartic kill by choking the deer.
Raveek was shocked to find out that the wolf was communicating telepathically. The wolf howled from the pain, as a cut opened on his muzzle.
"You can't have my kill. I will defend myself."
A series of image flashed before Raveek's mind. Tasty meat surrounded a stream of piss, marking it as property. The desire to survive. Fear of enormous, loud human machinery.
"I am sorry that I hit you so hard, but you just bit me!"
"You can't have my kill."
Red light surrounding the kill.
"Let's be friends!"
Compassion for the black eye and wound on the leg.
"If you are a friend, feed me some more of that delicious light you have!"
Ultraviolet light. Euphoria.
"Sure! But I have to bandage my leg as I do that."
Raveek pointed the lamp, which had big scale of radiation, including ultraviolet. The young man has sent a beam directly to widely opened yellow disks. The wolf blinked.
Any dog would hate the bright light, but to a Green Wolf with chlorophyll in his fur... thought Raveek.
He looked at the wolf more closely and saw that its fur seemed to have grown in the instant that the light was directed at it. As for Raveek’s own injury, it wasn’t deep, so he used some disinfectant on it before putting on a bandage from the medical box and that was that.
The wolf stood next to the human. He put his front paws on Raveek’s chest, breathing heavily into his face. A wet tongue licked Raveeks cheek. “Such tasty light. I have never had anything like it. What else have you got?” Raveek understood when his mind received the wolf’s telepathic message. Not words, but pictures, symbols which Raveeks mind transformed into words. Tasty meat dash light. The light is tastier then sunlight. It's something new. Hunger.
“A wolf with telepathic abilities and chlorophyll for fur … wow! And eww… does his breath stink!" said Raveek.
“I’ve met humans before, but none of them had ever fed me such delicious light,” again Raveek’s mind received a message. Two legged erect walking animals. Big machines and thunder. Pain from a gunshot wound. Disbelief, because all the Green Wolf wanted with other sentient beings was play and be friends..
"Wait, " Ravik said, has got into the car, has rummaged in a glove compartment and has got a sausage roll from there. "Here, eat."
Wolf quickly consumed half of a long roll of sausage.
"Tasty light and roll of meat! Only it is dryish on my taste."
“Well, sorry,” laughed Raveek.
“Come with me, we’ll play hide and seek. We’ll find the end of the rainbow and hunt subterranean moles. I’ll teach you,” the message flashed through Rveek’s mind.
“I can’t right now,” said Raveek. “I have to stay with the Off-Roader.”
“Put my kill into your Off-Roader and come with me. You’ll be the first human to see this. Then we will come back here so I can have my kill back.”
Raveek was flattered by this so he agreed.
Nothing will happen to the Off-Roader even if I am gone for a couple hours.
Raveek, with a noticeable strain picked up the dead deer and put it into the trunk of the Off-Roader. It weighed at least a hundred pounds.
Later that same day, Raveek jumped from rock to rock and climbed cliffs. His nails hurt from the dirt that got underneath, his muscles moaned. The Green Wolf flashed within the limits of line of sight, within fifty-seventy meters, but Raveek wouldn’t have been able to even throw a rock that far. Gradually it grew dark, and Raveek felt an evening chill. The wolf was gone. The youth looked back, knowing he won’t see the Off-Roader. He looked back and didn’t see it. Was this the Green Wolf's revenge on a human who hit him with the car?
Also on the weather forecast they promised a rain storm...
The sky was filled with rivers of stars. Lovers and astronomers could stare at them with pleasure, but to the exhausted and thirsty Raveek they were irritating. His mouth tasted bitter; he wished to close eyes and to fall in a non-existence. Chasing the Green Wolf that played hide and seek led him into the middle of a rocky desert. All he had left was thirst…
It’s my own fault. I was led like a fool...
He could quench his thirst however. The youth pulled a bottle of glugyuk from his belt, unscrewed the cap and downed the glugyuk. Some people said that the good old Coke-Cola was better and healthier, but the new generation to which Raveek belonged preferred glugyuk.
Raveek glanced around, fatigued, on the black monoliths’ of rocks and dry, barren trees. Rain storms turned these rocks into a splashing sea. However even a mosquito couldn't satiate thirst here - the Star has heated rocks as a frying pan, and cool night has only begun. Another couple of hours and the temperature will fall below twenty Celsius. Due to chemical content the water wouldn’t turn to snow. It seems the long-haul track-driver will drown and die.
He even forgot where he left the Off-Roader. He had a choice, to return to the sand route and hope for a lift, just to get fired. Refuse life as a self-sufficient adult and return to his parents’ embraces.
Never and no way. No way and never.
Another couple of minutes and he’ll run from here, and forced by desperation find the sand route, clutching his chance to save himself like the proverbial straw…
But there was still a little bit of time and some small chance…
The freighter approached a rock and gripped a barely visible ledge with his fingers. Strained his hands, putting his bodyweight on them, and… the ledge broke, and a small sand avalanche came down on Raveek’s eyes. Raveek didn’t even blink. He liked climbing and didn’t waste precious energy. Quickly finding another route, he once again gripped a ledge and hurried up. Sometimes a rock would break under his grip and fall, creating a bright, lightning like spark and he would freeze, pressing his body into the rock, not knowing what held his body up – but after a moment spent finding grips or footholds he continued to climb up. The young man was tired and didn’t want to waste energy on fear of heights. He tried not to think of whether his body would be found if he fell. Finally at the top Raveek grabbed a handful of grass, which threatened to be uprooted by his pull, and quickly pulled himself up. Standing at the top, he looked around. No sign of Off-Roader or other people. Raveek only very approximately knew where he left the Off-Roader.
The rain storm gained power, the wind howled. Raveek for the first time understood why the stations were built on elevated locales. Below, under the cliff a sea raged and soon it will claim the freighter as a victim, because he won’t float on the surface for long in his condition.
What would change in the world if he were gone? Nothing. He didn’t give a damn – what did he need from this world? Raveek wanted to be a writer, but did not know how to write. He wanted to create a new monumental literary work, but he could not remember anything of value that he created in his entire life.
When he was thirteen, he fell in love with an Asian girl named Adeline. She once told him, that he was the last person in the world that she could love, but very persistent. He carried her backpack, discussed math and dropped things when she was nearby. Later she went to a different school and he never told her he was in love, because there was no point since they would never see each other again. She called him, but he could not forgive the comment about being the last man in the world for her.
Later, in highschool, when he was fifteen, he fell for a cheerleader named Kerry. She had long legs, and Raveek could never tell what was under her skirt. That’s probaby because the uniform of a cheerleader had closed-sewed underneath mini-skirt. They were friends, but she always had a boyfriend, and Raveek did not steal other’s boys’ girls. She even picked him up and dropped him off for school. Once he described he appearance for an English class – straw hair framing her face, white-toothed smile, thin hands… She laughed and said it was perverted. Later she went to college and he never saw her again.
That was his two main infatuations, on the general landscape of a dozen smaller crashes, which consisted of staring at the desired object and not much else. He had friends, especially in math class, but when you spend only an hour a day together, the way it was in American school system, there is no time for real friendship. So they were buds.
Suddenly he saw the Green Wolf nearby, his fur wet. The freighter smelt a strong odor of weeds, similar to steam from a teapot. The human squatted down, eyeing a scraggy grass growth. It didn’t seem to have bloomed under the rain. The smell was coming from underneath the massive, about fifty kilograms stone. Raveek strained his muscles and with great difficulty moved the rock aside. The wolf immediately darted inside. Raveek carefully stepped down into underground grotto.
Thousands of fireflies lighted the underground grotto that was cut in two by a powerful stream, where grew gray grass and unique animals lived. The freighter’s attention was caught by a small snake-like animal, the paws of which barely supported its carcass that touched the ground, with a rattle on its tail and a split tongue.
The snake-like animal threateningly rattled its tail, approaching the wolf, even though the latter was twice its size. The wolf backed away snarling, his ears pressed to his head, instead of tearing the opponent’s throat. Raveek ran up to a tree, picked up a stick, and hit the tree with it multiple times. The snakelike animal retreated.
“You’ll be called Brave Cowardly Pup, since you don’t like to fight, but do when you have to,” decided the youth.
“I wasn’t scared at all,” telepathically told him Brave Cowardly Pup. “Wait until I teach you to hunt underground rabbits!”
Since there was absolutely nothing to do, and Raveek was exhausted he lay down by a tree and fell asleep. When morning comes, he will go find the Off-Roader.
When he woke up, the wolf brought him a carcass of an underground rabbit. All that was left was to make a fire and cook it.
Raveek walked around the grotto, picking up firewood and made a fire using a lighter and soon he fried delicate rabbit meat on twigs. The warmth from the fire drew animals form the grotto. When he ate, licking his fingers, he thought he had never eaten anything better. In additiion, for d esert for fruiits from a tree. He knew they might be poisonous, but when he saw some long-necked animal eat them, and go on like nothing happened, he decided to try them. The fruits were sour and with a rigid peel, but Ravik has pulled out from them all pulp with his teeth.
He stretched his hand out to the enticing fur of the Green Wolf. It was because of him that he got into all this trouble. Green Wolf didn’t growl, but rubbed his muzzle on the human’s knee.
Having dried off a little and filled his stomache, Raveek began to photograph the animals with his camera.
How is there ever enough food for all these animals? Why don’t they all hunt each other? Are there other grottos and why haven’t they been found yet? How did the animals find out about the existence of this grotto? thought Raveek.
Raveek’s curiosity consumed him, demanding answers for the interesting questions right away. The mysteries had to be solved. In the end, Raveek grew bold and collected some fur right from its owners. Now he could head back to the Off-Roader.
The Green Wolf once again rubbed his muzzle against the youth’s knee, stuck out his tongue and waited, looking into Raveek’s eye.
“I don’t have anymore sausage,” said Raveek.
“Lead me back to the Off-Roader. I wil drive to a place where there is lots of food. Otherwise I will lose my job,” sadly added Raveek.
The wolf jumped on him, licked his face with his tongue. They rolled on the floor, until Raveek managed to stand up on his feet.
That’s enough play, Raveek thought.
“Off -Roader, the car I came here in” Raveek immitated the sound of tracks.
The wolf led him out the way he came in. To find the Off-Roader he had to swim at times. In the water, Raveek had trouble keeping up with the Green Wolf. They found the Off-Roader floating on the water surface.
“Water mode!” yelled Raveek.
The off-roader underwent another transformation. The container with super-light gas popped, from the sides of the Off-Roader turbines extended out. This electro-mechanical wonder could sail in water! Raveek opened the door and climbed in; Brave Cowardly Pup followed him inside. The first think the animal did was shake off the fur at Raveek.
He let the wolf out within two kilometers of the station, not forgetting to give him his kill. The wolf dragged the kill into the rocks on the side of the road. Raveek, quickly passed the customs and parked at the company parkzone. From this point on, the Off-Roader was no longer his responsibility.
Having finished the last of the documentation for his Off-Roader, he headed into the station-city, bought some food, sausages, a couple books, although he had no idea of when he would have the time to read them.
“Hey, foreigner!” An explosion of unpleasant, rude laughter. He knew these boys – this was their means of having fun. He should have headed over who had a problem with him. But there were too many of them so he didn’t/ “I have something in common with the Pup, we are both Cowards,” Raveek thought as he left.
The freight headed towards the home of a famous writer, Vasilii Talkative. He lived in a private apartment on the third floor.
The youth rang the doorbell. “Hello,” he greeted the man in the bath robe and with a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth.
“Hlo,” replied the writer.
“My name is Raveek. I want to become a writer and and came to consult you regarding my first short story. You did read it? I wrote to you,” asked Raveek.
“Plz, entr,” invited him in the author. Raveek took off his shoes and sat on a metal chair in the living room.
There were fresh carnations on the table and a note affixed to them. The writer went to finish his morning toilet at noon, leaving Raveek alone.
“Do we know each other?” asks Mr. Talkative. “I don’t seem to know you,”
“I wrote to you. I want to be your co-author or student. I grew reading your compositions. I love your characters. From my point of view, you are a real genius. I want to create something… something… I don’t even know… and you must help me with that!”
“Something like what?” narrowed his eyes the writers. He was over forty and the youth with his hopes seemed preposterous.
“I don’t know,” blushed the youth. “I like science fiction that takes breath away.”
“For your information young man, I receive tens, hundreds if not thousands of letters. I don’t even read the majority of them.”
“Did you read what I wrote to you?”Unfortunately, probably not.”
“There is no problem, I brought my first, best story with me.”
“Aright, hand it over,” surrendered the writer. He wanted to finish things up and send his guest where-ever he came from.
Now, now he will tell me that he has not read anything better than this for a long time! All his teachers agreed that he had talent. Raveek himself thought his work was pure genius, although, naturally wouldn’t admit it aloud.
Raveek handed over four sheets folded into four parts. The writer unwrapped them and began reading.
“The soft sign in look. The question it answers is what to do, what will you do. Cha sha write with an a, so not chyashya, but chasha(1). Here it says hip when it should say femur. This story has not been proofread at all. Nobody worked on this story. Take this away,” made a wry face the writer.
“What did you not like about it, was it the characters, the plot or the background scenery?” did not understand Raveek.
“I did not understand anything about the characters, plot or background scenery. I couldn’t force myself to read this poor mockery of a short story,’’
“I did not understand anything about characters, plot or background scenery.”
“Every book deserves to be read,” said Raveek. “I wrote that short story on inspiration alone. Even my parents liked it.”
“The main task of a writer is editing his own creations, while you, young man, are offering undistilled work. You have the wrong attitude. If you don’t have the patience you’ll never be a writer. But don’t worry, you have your whole life ahead of you,” condescendingly finished Mr. Talkative.
Then he noticed a note affixed to the carnations and with a joyfull exclamation held it to his heart: “Ira, my sun! I knew you would forgive me!”
“You are still here?” he frowned on the freighter.
So Raveek has left as wise as before.
He fell asleep with his clothes still on right there at the barracks for freighters.
The next morning, Raveek woke up but didn’t feel rested. Without shaving he quickly finished breakfast and headed for the Off-Roader. It was half an hour before departure.
No time for rest.
“There he is! What happened to the Off – Roader entrusted to you, you-sorry-driver?”
Shit. The worst happened – he attracted attention of Valeria. A small company boss in her youth she wanted to become an actress but it did not work out, and now she acted out her frustration with life on those ranked lower than her. Corpulent to such an extent that she resembled a beer keg, she had kindness and good nature of a snake. Nobody liked her. She had an unattractive face with small pig eyes, but she always dressed to impress only accentuating her physical flaws.
“I am asking you, why did your Off-Roader use up twice the normal amount of energy? It’s a deviation from the Directions! Do you know how much you are costing the Company?” she screeched.
“Everything is within the norm, I didn’t wreck the car, now did I?”
“But you deviated from the Directions and were four hours late!”
“How dare you sniveling fool look at your job responsibilities as trifles! Immediately put a written report of what happened on my desk! There has to be some reason?”
He could not write about the Green Wolf, lest they send a group to catch him and he will die in captivity. He did not want to lie.
“I amm not going to write no report. I don’t want to explain myself. Leave me alone, I have a voyage ahead – there is no time.”
Valeria put her hands on her hips. “Is that so? So he will not write a report?”
She pulled her arm back and slapped him.
“That’s’ it, you don’t have to worry about the next voyage! You are fired! Worthless, good for nothing boy!”
His cheek stung. For a moment Raveek wanted to hit her back, but he wouldn’t hit a woman, his boss with a fist – not manly.. besides if they called the cops it would look like it was all his fault. So, he spat on the ground and nearly tearful walked away.
Raveek walked on foot to the spot where he let the Brave Cowardly Pup off a couple of kilometers away from the station. Right now that weird dog was his world’s only friend. But where is was he? Raveek hoped the Brave Cowardy Pup didn’t wander off too far.
“Brave Cowardly Pup!” shouted Raveek. “Here is your sausage!”
First a green shadow flashed amongst the cliffs, and then the animal approached the human. The Cowardly Pup, before eating the sausage, licked Raveek’s hand.
“I have been fired...”
However he hadn't to despond. The wolf wanted to play and he jumped on the former freighter’s chest, trying to lick him in the face, while the youth smiled and fenced his face off with his palms. The Cowardly Pup stood on his hind legs and tried to hump his leg.
“Hey, what are you doing, my friend? Don’t...”
“Why not, it’s fun!” telepathically replied the wolf.
Later they went into the rocky cliffs. Alone Raveek wouldn’t have risked it, but with the Cowardly Pup patienty running near him or gettting a little ahead he was not afraid. Green Wolf led Raveek to a cave that smelt damp. Raveek ducked under the tree roots that hung like ropes from the ceiling and carefully stepped inside.
Raveek expected another grotto with wild growth and fauna, but this place was different. Tens of little robots on wheels hustled around a knot of roots, in the depth of which sparks flew.
What is that? thought Raveek. A living creature or a human creation?
“I am the guardian of this planet’s nature.
Bring forth information, if you wish to receive access.
The entire cave spoke with the voice of a creaky tree.
The crunch was such as though the stick cracks, but can't break in any way.
“I’m Raveek and this Green Wolf is called the Cowardly Pup. Are you a computer?”
“You’ve been recognized.
You are an alien in your own world. The Green Wolf whom you’ve named Cowardly Pup, has been recognized.”
“You are a strange computer… Where’s your keyboard? Where’s your input?”
“So what if I am an alien?” grew angry Raveek. “So what?!”
“You are an alien. Amongst wolves you could be one of your own. The Cowardly Pup would be your brother. Agree to become a wolf!”
“What do you know about me and how inteligent are you in general, computer?”
“I know nearly everything.
I know the course of rivers that have now dried up. I remember mountains of which only sand strips are left after the Great Cataclism. I can see stations of people through their videocameras and sattelites in orbit. You are an alien. Do you wish to know the mysteries of this planet, to know of those who are now gone? Do you want to become one of your own amongst the wolves? If you do, nod your head.”
Raveek was silent for a while, but then he nodded his head.
The feeling of balance sharply changes when you stand on all four paws. He could no longer walk only on his rear feet. But he was no longer restrained by clothing and he could consume sunlight. The Cowardly Pup had explained, that this way symbiosis with the environment was achieved and complete satisfaction from life, if you don’t wish to harm even prey like rodents. His sense of smell grew sharper. If before he thought that the Cowardly Pups breath merely stank, now he could smell the full-range of dog smells.
“Let’s go play! I will introduce you to other wolves!”
Two green shadows flashed amongst black rocks.
By smell they found a small pack of Green Wolves. Outwardly they resembled large dogs, with their head level with a grown man’s waist, while they stood on all fours. They weighed upwards of two hundred pounds for grown specimen.
“Let’s kill the aliens! There isn’t enough prey for them!” one said telepathically and jumped onto Raveek’s neck, forcing him to the ground. The Cowardly Pup bit his rear leg.
“No helping!” he was stopped by the leader of the pack, a head taller than any other.
Raveek overcame his fright and bit through the front leg of the attacker. He couldn’t make his friend fight for him. The attacker limped on his bitten foot. Raveek attacked him, hit him with his head in the chest, took him down. Then he set his soul free from his body.
“You can run with the pack in place of Mean One. His female is yours now,” telepathically conveyed the leader of the pack.
How much time had passed, a minute, a day, a year? However the Green Wolf without a name came back to the cave. He was tired and bored of running with animals that did not know human speech. He was tired of fighting for leadership of the pack. He didn’t want to copulate with neither females, nor males though felt an animal inclination to both and for wolves it was in general in the nature of things. He was tired of hunting rodents, howling at the moon and chasing the rainbow’s end, as fun as that was.
“I want to become human!” he said telepathically.
Fromt he Wolf’s throat came only a hushed growl, bbut the Ancient Guardian of the Inhabited understood anyway.
The Guardian responed with cracking of the branches, in which with difficulty, could be discerned an artificial imitation of human speech: “Why?”
“Because I never tasted real life. I didn’t publish my first short story. I did not call out on a date the young woman, who will give me two children. I did not finish the university, where I could obtain a profession of a writer or a computer programmer… or who ever else. My parents think I have gone missing. It’s been so ong since I’ve seen my Mom and Dad.”
“You are a Green Wolf. Your brothers – your pack is waiting for you. Find yourself a female. Don’t come back here. Go back from whence you came.”
The wolf fiercely growled in rage. He had no guarantees of the future, but nobody had the right to decide his fate for him.
Into the cave entered the Cowardly Pup. He gently bit the one with gray hair by the shoulder, pulled him in the direction of the exit.
Let’s go, brother, what are you doing here? Let’s go back to the pack, to run, to hunt, to play.
The wolf with gray hair wasn’t in the mood. He shook off his brother, hit him with his chest, knocking him down and then bounced back. Growled louder.
His only answer was silence. The Ancient Guardian didn’t lower himself to communicating with the animal a second time.
Then the wolf with gray hair jumped aiming with his teeth at the roots-cables of the sentient computer, the way he would jump on a rodent. In his way stood robots, servants not intended for fighting.
However the wolf knew how to fight and no longer considered himself a coward – he crushed them, breaking sensitive electronics against the floor of the cave.
In the heart of the knot of roots a white lightning was born and like a whip it struck the wolf across the back. Never in his life did he feel such pain. Fur burned and so did the meat. He was on fire. The heat oppressed his eyes.
And in that flame, he ceased being a wolf. The wolf’s flesh fell away, until on the floor all that’s left was a naked guy’s body lying facedown.
The Cowardly Pup bitterly howled for his loss.
But the guy got to his feet and began to laugh, as if he were born again.
Author's Note: Chasha means brush or thicket in Russian.