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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1964141
by Lovina
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Mythology · #1964141
How an ordinary traveler became a Goddess
She watched him from her perch high in the tree. A young human male, bent at the waist, searched the ground for signs of her passing. He ever so slowly made his way towards the tree she hid in, shuffling through the fallen leaves, looking for the smallest sign.

Humans were not supposed to be so adept at following a trail, especially her trail. That is what she had been told anyway.

Studying him as he attempted to pick up the trail, she knew that she should be far away by now. Being faster, stronger, and better suited for forest living she could have, should be, at least a mile from her current location. But he fascinated her.

Humans were supposed to be primitive, slow, and, essentially, ill equipped to be of any threat to her while she completed her mission. Yet, this one managed to get dangerously close before she realized that he was there.

De'Ana Artem had spent countless hours studying maps and charts in order to find the perfect place to start her mission. Not only animal populations, but human settlements and preferred pathways as well. She chose these particular woods because the closest human settlement was supposed to be too far away for any accidental meetings.

After all, humans have not yet conquered any other modes of transportation besides their own two feet and riding a horse, so, finding one in such a remote location was an oddity. Stranger still, he seemed to be traveling by foot, as she has yet to see any sign of a horse.

Of course, there is always the possibility that her maps and charts were outdated. According to the data available, over countless years of traveling to this planet, the human population was growing very quickly. There may be a settlement close by that her people were not yet aware of.

To make matters worse, once she finished here there were two other locations she needed to catalog before going home. Would those areas be compromised as well? If so, her mission was now going to be more complicated and dangerous than anticipated.

The animals on her list were densest in three large areas of this planet. Her task: document all and send home as many as possible according to the rule of acquirement. The one and only rule of acquirement was very simple: take only those animals that did not jeopardize the species here. In other words, no adult females, no alpha males, and take only from groups that are plentiful, catalog the rest.

Documenting her mission was very important. The information she collected was used by many, for several different reasons. The scientists that were trying to restore a semblance of balance to her planets animal population needed the information to determine what animals were plentiful, where, and to ascertain compatibility with like species. The Hunters (like her) that retrieved animals for the scientists needed to know the terrain, habitats, and behaviors of said animals. And, let's not forget those that planned the missions, the trainers that prepared the Hunters and the many others that were required to fulfill each assignment.

The Hunters were given top-of-the-line equipment to ensure success for their missions. A recorder, complete with camera and microphone, was attached to her wrist. To document an animal all she had to do was create a file by typing into the keypad located under the lid of the device, push start, and the recorder did the rest. The eye of the camera was designed to capture images in a three hundred sixty degree radius, making it easier to record everything without much effort on her part. When finished, she pushed stop and the recorder was ready for the next file. The device had the ability to hold more data files than she could possibly collect during her stay here.

She also carried a bow and quiver of arrows on her back, a knife strapped to her waist, and a pouch of supplies that hung from a strap over her shoulder and fastened across her chest. The pouch contained her slingshot, transport darts, medical kit, spare arrow heads, food, and whatever else she chose to put in there.

Canines were at the top of her list. It did not matter which sub-species of canines either, they were all equally important. As she was finishing up her very first file, on a family of pheasants, she spotted the jackal in the distance. Congratulating herself on her good fortune she followed him back to his den, where the rest of the pack waited.

While documenting the small pack of jackals, De'Ana watched as a female emerged from the den with a litter of pups. The last pup to appear immediately caught her attention. As he struggled to keep up with the others, his weakness apparent, she knew he would be a good first specimen to send home. A runt, much smaller and scrawnier than the others, left here it would never reach adulthood. The loss of that particular whelp would have no impact on the rest of the pack.

Her favorite part came next: the hunt. She bided her time, not so much as a leaf rustled as she crept forward, several hours sliding away as she slowly inched her way closer to the pup. He was a small target and constantly surrounded by the others. She had to get close enough to make sure her aim would be true.

Not only was this her first mission on her own, but this pup would be her first prize and she didn't want to mess it up. Her trainer had a favorite saying, which he constantly reiterated, "If you are going to make a mistake, never let it be on your first or last endeavor, everything in between is more quickly forgotten". His words were foremost on her mind as she poured all of her concentration into achieving her goal.

"Which was probably how the human managed to get so close without my knowledge", she thought to herself. Her first mistake, and since she hadn't turned her recorder off for the hunt, it was all documented. She knew she would be reviewing that file at her earliest convenience, maybe even doing some editing. That was one of the advantages of being alone on this mission, files could be edited, and mistakes erased, no one the wiser.

The transporters she was using were the size and shape of small darts, the barbed points designed to embed themselves into the flesh of the target just enough to ensure a safe transport, but not enough to harm the specimen. The slingshot she held in her hand was made specifically for firing the transport darts, the hollow grips designed to hold two darts, so that it was always prepped and ready. She had spent many hours training with the slingshot, eventually achieving top marks in her class.

After what seemed an eternity, she felt she was close enough to ensure success, so the painstakingly slow process of loading the slingshot began. Any sudden movements and the jackals would know she was there. Gradually she pulled back the band of the slingshot, inhaled, held it, and aimed at the pup. The transporter would be activated upon impact, so whatever it hit would be sent home and everyone would know of her success...or failure.

De'Ana released the dart just as the scent of the human reached her and the jackals. She felt a moment of panic as the female jackal called to her young, causing the pups to jump up and run to their mother. The runt rushed to join the others, but not fast enough; the dart hit his back leg. A small yelp caught the mother's attention as a bright light engulfed her little one. The whelp vanished with the light.

The human had seen what happened to the young jackal. She didn't have to look at him to know this, she heard his sharp intake of breath and she smelled his fear.

There was no time to think about the man then, the jackals were in a panic, unable to figure out what happened to their smallest member. They quickly searched the ground where the pup had been but a moment ago and started fanning out. It would only be a matter of time before they found her. De'Ana had stood then, exposing herself to the crazed pack, and ran for the safety of the trees.

She caught a glimpse of the human as she passed by his hideout. He was squatting in the crotch of a big oak tree watching her every move. There was a strange look in his eyes as he watched her run past him, several jackals hot on her heels.

It had been easy enough to lose the jackals, but not so easy to lose the human. So, here she was, perched on one of the highest branches of a large maple tree, watching him. She had not even had time to congratulate herself on the success of obtaining her first prize. If truth be told, she didn't even care about that right now. The man was most interesting and occupying all of her thoughts.

Of course she has seen humans before, even close up, in all their many shades of brown. Her skin was closer to a deep copper color, allowing her to pass for human, as long as they didn't look too close. When passing through or close to a populated area she wore boots specially made to hide her feet and a cloak, the hood pulled up, to hide her face.

His skin was a light bronze hue, not the lightest color she has seen, but not the darkest either.

This human was not like the others though, not so...primitive. Something about him was different and she needed to know what that was. So, against her better judgment, she continued to study him.

As he knelt on the ground, to get a better look at the last of the tracks she had left, the hide he was wearing slid further up his leg, exposing a well muscled thigh.

His clothing was simple, a thin hide of indeterminate origin draped over one shoulder, tied at the waist, and hanging to mid-thigh, effectively hiding his maleness. On his feet were thin leather straps holding flat pieces of leather to the soles of his feet. He carried a bow, a quiver of arrows tied to his back, and a knife tucked into his waistband. Black hair, a strong jaw, and a broad-shouldered well muscled build, just like a lot of the men she had seen in the settlement she had passed to get to these woods.

She remembered the look in his dark eyes as she fled past him. Was that it? Was there something different in his eyes? Intelligence? Curiosity?

Suddenly he looked up into the tree, right at her. Her breath caught in her throat. Even though she was positive he could not see her, much less distinguish her from the branches around her, she was still apprehensive. A spider meandered onto her foot, tickling its way across to the other side. She did not move, as much as she wanted to hurry the spider along, her eyes mere slits as she watched the human.

Her hides were of the best quality and the color well suited for blending in with the leaves on the trees. The many shades of brown and deep greens complimented her dark skin and made her look like a part of the tree. Her coppery skin camouflaged well with the bark of the tree she was in as well. So, she remained motionless, certain he could not actually see her.

The two species, hers and his, were so similar yet so different. Their anatomy was so alike a successful blood transfusion was not only possible it has been done. It was the outward appearance that was different, she may look human at first glance but a closer inspection would easily reveal the differences.

Her body was similar to that of a curvaceous athletic human female, long dark brown hair hung in a braid down her back, and her face had the same oval shape as the women she had seen in the human village. The feet were the biggest difference and the hardest to hide. Her feet were clawed and more bendable than human feet, allowing her to climb faster and higher than they could. Similar in structure to a bird's feet, with one claw in the back and four in the front, they gave her added advantage, like the firm grasp on the branch she was perched on, giving her stability and agility in the trees.

Her fingers were only slightly longer than a humans, but the nails were thicker, longer, and razor sharp. This feature also gave her an advantage in the trees. But the one thing that gave the humans the biggest fright were her eyes. They were a bit rounder than a human's, the pupil only slightly larger, but the iris spread outward from the pupil encompassing the entirety of the eyeball, there was no white to be seen.

For some reason, the lack of white in the eye causes great terror in humans. She did not understand it. After all, she did not find the sight of the human eye a reason for concern. Such closed minded, primitive, behavior was the reason her people did not like to interact with humans.

Yet, this man did not seem to be so simple or fearful, and she found him intriguing. He continued to study the branches where she was hiding. It was almost as if he was trying to determine if his eyes were playing tricks on him or if she was really there. Then, he smiled.

"I can see you up there. You might as well come down and introduce yourself."

De'Ana wasn't sure what to do. She could just leave. It would be easy enough to jump from tree to tree to make her escape or she could even outrun him. But, she did not want to do that, which was what was causing her confusion. On the other hand, she didn't want to frighten him either.

"I promise I will not hurt you, I would just like to talk to you."

Her mind made up, she slowly made her way down. By going slow the man would have plenty of opportunity to see her hands and feet, thus giving him time to change his mind. However, he did not move or show any signs of distress as he watched her climb down. Interesting. Jumping the last few feet and landing in a crouch in front of him, she stood and looked him in the eye. She was only slightly shorter than he, her nose level with his mouth.

He stared into her eyes. There was no fear on his part, only bewilderment. He was definitely one very interesting human. "You are not afraid of me?" Her human language skills, though practiced incessantly, were far from perfect.

"No", his brow furrowed. "I do not believe that you intend to harm me". He stared into her eyes for a few more moments then turned his attention to her hands. Gently, he took her left hand in both of his and proceeded to study it. Laying her hand flat in his, he ran his fingers along the tops of hers, past the knuckles, and cautiously along her nails, feeling their sharpness. He then turned her hand over and did the same to her palms. Such a gentle caress, not alarming in any way, she could not bring herself to be offended. Minutes later he carefully placed her hand back by her side and knelt on the ground in order to study her feet.

As the man did his examination of her, she used the opportunity to get a closer look at him. His appearance was like all of the other male humans she has seen, yet he was not like them. She guessed his age to be close to her own, about twenty seasons. He was well groomed, with just the beginnings of stubble on his face, and his clothing was worn but not shabby. Definitely human, however, he showed no signs of fear as he looked her over, only curiosity.

He stood and looked into her eyes once again. "What happened to the jackal pup you shot with...whatever that was you shot him with?"

It took her only a moment to decide to tell him the truth. After all, who could he tell that would believe him? "I shot him with a transport dart. He was sent to my planet, unharmed of course".

A look of surprise briefly crossed his face then was gone. "What is your name?"

"De'Ana Artem".

She watched him as he tried to figure out what she had said. Learning the human languages she would need was bad enough, trying to translate her name into one of those languages was a linguistic nightmare. So, she didn't try. She just gave her name in her language, a far more guttural and rhythmic language than anything on this planet.

His first attempt was not even close, it sounded like Denartems. That did not stop him from trying again and again, massacring her name even more with every attempt. Smiling, she took pity on him, "how about just Artem?"

"Artems?" Then he smiled, looking very shy and unsure of himself for the first time.

She smiled back at him. It was close enough and far better than any of his other tries. "What is your name?"

Looking very relieved, he replied, "Orion". A look of puzzlement crinkled his brow as a myriad of questions crossed his mind. It was almost as if she could see each question as it floated to the surface of his consciousness, each one changing the contours of his face. He appeared to be considering which one to ask first. She knew when he chose his first question, the lines on his face disappeared, a man of decision. Squaring his shoulders, he asked the question, "why did you send the pup to your...planet?"

This time she did not hesitate with her reply. "My people are a race of hunters. We did not realize that our ways were endangering the animals on our planet until it was almost too late. Unfortunately, some of the animal species are dwindling even more because they are so few and their gene pool has become too small causing deformities and stillbirths. We visit other planets, find species similar to our own, and try to send some of them back home. The new animals will hopefully breed with ours, infusing new blood into the species, ensuring their survival".

Orion's brow furrowed once again. "I did not comprehend everything you said, but I think I get the point. What I do not understand is why the pup? It is not yet old enough to breed, how can it be of help?"

De'Ana giggled. "The pup will grow up one day. But, right now, the scientists can use its DNA to alter the bloodline of our canines. We are not allowed to take any animals that would impact the species on this planet. We do not take any healthy adult females, nor alpha males, and we take only from groups that are abundant. The pup is a runt and would never survive to adulthood here, so, by taking him, I have not harmed his pack in any way."

"DNA?"

She smiled patiently, "DNA is the structure of the blood, and it is what makes an individual who he or she is." Hopefully that would appease him. She couldn't think of any other way to explain it that he would understand. She has always had a hard time keeping things simple.

He looked puzzled for a moment, but, luckily, seemed to accept her explanation. "Where, exactly, is your...planet?"

Looking up, she raised her right hand and pointed over his shoulder and into the sky. He turned to look in the direction she indicated. When he looked back at her he seemed more confused than ever. "You live on a star?"

"No. It looks like a star from here because it is so far away, but it is actually a planet, very similar to this one in fact."

Orion shook his head in disbelief. She could see that he was having great difficulty with that particular concept. Knowing that his people still believed their world to be flat, a disc floating in the sky, and stationary, with the other orbital bodies circling them, she could understand his confusion. The word "planet" was not even in their vocabulary yet. If it ever would be, was something that belonged to the future. But, she could see no reason to lie to him.

Humans posed no threat to any of the other inhabited planets. It would actually probably take millennia before they could expand their minds beyond themselves in order to even conceive of other worlds containing humanoid type creatures. No, the multiple universes were quite safe from the pitiful humans.

"Okay", his sudden response startled her, "I am going to have to think about this for a while. There is a lot that I don't understand, but I am not even sure of what questions to ask at this point. So, is it possible to return to this conversation later? Once I have mulled things over and know what questions to ask?" He worried his lower lip as he waited for her response.

"Of course, Orion," she smiled sweetly, "as long as I am here I will answer any questions you have to the best of my ability."

"Oh, thank you." Suddenly his smile brightened. "What animals are on your list? I may be able to help."

She started reciting her list from memory, only having difficulty with a couple of the words. When she said "boar" he put a hand on her arm, "wait, I can help with that one." Then he grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him as he set out at a trot.

She had not had anyone treat her in such a manner before! Not sure what else to do, she held onto his hand the best she could, and followed him. If truth be told, she kind of liked the feel of his hand entwined with hers, strong and gentle at the same time.

Realizing that she had left her recorder on she almost made him stop so that she could turn it off, but then thought better of it. There were several scientists on her planet that studied human behavior. They will be quite pleased with such a personal interaction, even if it was in the same file as the jackals. Her first mission was going very well.

They jogged through the woods, hand in hand, for about twenty minutes before stopping at the top of a ridge. As they stood on the precipice catching their breath, Orion pointed down below them. Following his direction De'Ana looked down at many small clusters of brush, fallen timber, and large bushes of purple sage. As she continued to study the terrain below her a great rattling commenced, emanating from deep in the brush. It wasn't long before a large boar came into view, trampling its way through everything in its path.

She quickly reset her recorder and created a new file. Moments later more crushing of the local fauna preceded the arrival of another of the beasts with several little ones following close behind. De'Ana scrutinized each one, hoping for a viable specimen to send home. Finding no likely subjects, she remained content to catalog only.

The next few days passed quickly. She found herself looking forward to seeing Orion again every morning. They hunted together, documented several types of animals, and even cooked together. He enjoyed introducing her to the local culinary plants and spices. In turn, she taught him some hunting techniques. They laughed at times, spent many hours in utter silence stalking their prey, and talked philosophy – a subject they both secretly enjoyed.

On occasion he would ask a question regarding her or her planet. She liked the way he carefully weighed his questions prior to asking them, then mull them over for a while, before asking another. Eventually his inquiries became fewer as his mind contented itself with who she was and where she was from.

Then, one evening, as they sat watching the sun set, Orion leaned over and gently kissed her lips. To say she was stunned would be putting it mildly. Her mind had some difficulty with the fact that he was human, not a big problem though. Many years of relations between the two species has shown that they were sexually compatible, the many offspring, on this planet and hers, has proven that. So, that part of the matter unsettled her a bit only because she has never participated in inter-species relations, but she was not opposed to the idea.

No, the unsettling part of the situation was the softness of the kiss. Her people were hunters after all, aggressive in all things, including matters of the flesh. She raised her hand to her mouth and lightly touched her lips, lips that still felt his lingering touch. Turning to him, she gently ran her hand along the contours of his face. With her hand still on his face, he leaned in for another kiss. This one was long, passionate, soft yet firm, and, this time, she responded in kind.

The next week passed in a blur. She had difficulty separating the days, they tended to blend together. They hunted when they needed to eat and documented only if the opportunity arose while they were out hunting. The rest of the time was spent together, thoroughly enjoying each other, talking, listening, laughing, and touching. She avoided thought of going home or finishing her mission, she did not want to even think about leaving him. But, in the back of her mind, she knew that day was fast approaching.

One fine morning, just eight short days after he kissed her for the first time, they lay together in his cabin watching the sun rise through the open door. Orion's hound dog, Phonos, lay in the doorway, his body stretched across the threshold, contentedly napping. Relaxed and happy De'Ana allowed her mind to wander through the previous day's events.

They had gone fishing. Choosing a location close to Orion's cabin they spent the majority of the morning on the beach. If truth be told, they spent more time frolicking in the water, basking in the sun, and making love then they did actually fishing. However, they did catch some fish, enough for dinner and even some to hang in the smokehouse. Her mouth started to water at the thought of the fish drying in the smokehouse.

Just as she was about to suggest breakfast, a goat ran through the yard, the two neighbor boys close behind. Orion had pointed out the boys a few days back, when the two had wandered close to the boy's home while on one of their hunting forays. The family, of which the two boys were a part, lived approximately a mile from Orion. Their cabin was a bit larger than his and they had a few goats as well as a hound dog. Apparently one of the goats has decided to make a run for it.

Orion chuckled. "You want to get breakfast while I help those two with that goat?"

She quickly agreed, already thinking about how she wanted to prepare the fish. Before her arrival Orion's idea of breakfast was bread and wine. Intolerable. Now, the morning meal consisted of meat, cheese, fruit, and wine. A far more nourishing and energizing repast for the both of them.

He was dressed and chasing after the boys, Phonos trailing behind, before she even managed to get out of the bed. Smiling, she quickly dressed and headed for the smokehouse. She wasn't sure why it was called a smokehouse; it was more of a lean to, with walls, attached to the main cabin. The fireplace from the main cabin was vented into it to dry the meat that dangled from the ceiling on makeshift hooks to prevent scavengers from taking it.

She swung open the door to see a brown fur coat. Shocked, she did not immediately comprehend what it was. A mighty roar set her feet in motion; unfortunately, the direction they decided to go in seemed to differ from one to the other causing her to fall. On her way to the ground she watched a giant paw swipe across her midsection, missing her by the barest of margins. Before she even finished hitting the ground she was scooting backwards as fast as possible away from the monstrous beast.

The bear sent wood flying as it barged its way out of the smokehouse. As the animal stepped away from the building, De'Ana could see the woods on the other side, the back wall was no longer there. Suddenly Phonos appeared, barking and attacking the bear, moving swiftly, dodging in and out, and avoiding contact with the animal's claws, incensing the bear even more. Recovering quickly, De'Ana reached for her weapons and came up empty. She had left the cabin without any weapons...or her recorder.

Two mistakes in less than a minute, she let her guard down and walked away from her equipment...unacceptable. Angry now, she jumped to her feet and ran for the cabin.

"ARTEMS!" She heard Orion yell from somewhere behind the bear, but she did not stop, she had to get to her weapons.

Remembering that she had stuffed her knife into her supplies pouch, she grabbed the pouch as well as her bow and arrows, and was back outside in mere seconds. Dropping the pouch at her feet she swiftly nocked an arrow, drew back the bow string, and looked at her target, only to find that she couldn't take the shot. Once again she was momentarily stunned into inaction by the sight before her.

Orion clung to the back of the nearly seven foot tall, three hundred pounds of very angry bear. He kept trying to plunge his knife into the animal's neck, but the bear was not cooperating. It was standing on its hind legs with a human clinging to its back and a very annoying dog nipping and biting every chance he got. The bear was not standing still for any of it and Orion was doing everything he could just to hang on.

Dropping her bow and arrow, De'Ana went for her knife. As she reached inside her pouch for the knife she saw the slingshot and grabbed that as well, hoping the grips still held two transport darts.

Bears were on her list, so if she had to, she would simply send it on its way. But first, she would have to get Orion and Phonos away from it, or they could end up going with it.

Each transport dart was synchronized with its own enclosure, keeping the animals separated from each other until the scientists could attend to them. However, if two were sent with the same dart they would end up locked in the same room together, it would only be for a few minutes, but it would be just long enough for the bear to finish off its hapless roommate.

She tucked the slingshot into her waistband as she ran toward the melee. Before she got there, the bear finally managed to get a grip on Orion, angrily flinging the human to the ground then turning its full attention to the four legged nuisance. De'Ana did not falter, keeping her focus on the target; the huntress was intent on the kill. The beast did not see her coming as it was too busy trying to get a hold of Phonos. A few feet from the bear she jumped, knife ready.

The claws on her left hand and both of her feet dug into the animals back as she plunged the knife into the base of its neck. Continuing her momentum, she then rolled off its shoulder and onto the ground, landing in a crouch. The bears rage shook the trees as it crashed down onto its front paws. The relentlessly brave dog chose that very moment to charge once again and was caught by the jaws of the unhappy beast. It shook Phonos several times before tossing him aside and turning its attention to the woman that had started the problem in the first place.

The moment she hit the ground De'Ana snatched the slingshot from her waistband and opened the storage compartment in the grips. The darts were there. The bear was only a few feet from her so there was no need to aim. Seizing a dart she put it into the pocket of the slingshot, hastily pulled back the band and let it go.

Orion stepped between her and the bear.

"No!"

Bright light blinded her. When it was gone so was Orion. The bear, however, was still there, shaking its massive head in confusion and anger. Quickly, she reloaded and sent the beast to its new home.

Upset, she sat on the ground, as tears rolled down her face, staring at the slingshot in her hands. A small whimper caught her attention. Phonos was still alive...barely. Crouching over the dog she could see that his wounds were extensive, she could not save him. Knowing what she had to do, she ran for her supplies pouch.

Grabbing her gear she turned to go back and found herself staring into the frightened eyes of the two young boys that had been chasing a runaway goat just minutes ago. It seemed like hours, but she knew that it had only been a very short time. They gawped at her, mouths open, eyes round and fearful. She took a step towards them, trying to think of something to say. It turned out she didn't need to say anything. The moment she took a step in their direction, they ran, their short legs pumping so fast she couldn't tell if their feet even touched the ground.

Heaving a deep sigh, she pulled the strap of her pouch over her head and secured it in place as she walked back to Phonos. Stopping a few feet from the injured dog, she pulled a transport dart out of her pouch and shot him with it. When the light faded all that was left was a pool of blood where Phonos had been.

**********************************************************************************************

De'Ana watched from her perch high in the tree as the two human males aptly gutted the deer they had killed.

They did not know she was there. She has been very careful not to get caught off guard again. It has been five months since that horrible day. She had waited at Orion's cabin for two weeks before continuing her mission, knowing that if he wanted to go home, her people would send him back. He did not come home.

Seeing that she was going to be stuck up here for awhile, she made herself more comfortable in one of the crotches of the massive tree and pulled some berries from her pouch.

She missed Orion. Even though she was sure that she would see him when she returned home, she was still sad. Rubbing a hand over her distended belly she sighed softly. In four months time she should be deeply entrenched in the documenting of the larger and more dangerous animals, just in time to give birth to Orion's child. And she would be alone.

She went over the plan in her head once again; she had to insure the survival of the child she carried. Finding a safe place to give birth was going to be extremely difficult. The trees would not be as safe there, since lions and tigers can both climb. Then there were the elephants and rhinoceros to consider. Going over the options again and again, she could only come up with a cliff dwelling as a possible solution. A perfect sanctuary, that only a bird or, maybe, a human could get to, where she and her newborn infant would be safe for a few days. But, unfortunately, such a place would also be difficult for a very pregnant woman to get to as well.

As she watched the two humans go about their business a tear made its way down her cheek, her thoughts turning to Orion once again.

An hour later the men finished with their task and went on their way. Silently climbing down from the tree, she too resumed her journey.

***********************************************************************************************

Many years later while contentedly relaxing on her home world, De'Ana, along with Orion and their numerous children, were regaled with tales from Orion's world from returning travelers.

There were stories of the goddess Artemis, unrivaled huntress and protector of animals, her doomed love, Orion, and Orion's faithful dog, Arktophonos (bear-killer). The fables told of how Artemis, upon accidentally killing Orion, shot him into the heavens to become a constellation of stars.

As with any story passed orally from generation to generation, details changed, but the premise remained the same. So, as the years passed, the legend of Artemis changed, the tale growing taller with time. De'Ana's people were very good at bringing back the latest version and adding it to the archives for her descendants to read and enjoy.

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