He was traveling through the underbrush, as if he were doing an infantry crawl, but at a speed he had never have accomplished in the Army. Except, at times he had the sensation of running on four feet, and at others he seemed to merely be along for the ride.
He felt as if he were the one making decisions, but they seemed to be odd choices for him. He was making them based upon the location of certain things in his flux-sense and he seemed to be intent on teasing those things.
It was just for play. It was interesting. Fascinating in ways that only special scents and interesting movements could be. He wanted to do more of it. He would sneak up close, then– just as they grew aware of his presence– dash away again. It wasn’t as fun as doing the same to that big beast he’d been taunting recently, but it was still fun.
He’d had dreams like this before. It had a nature he could identify. The dreams with his ‘mother’ had felt like this, but in those he had a normal body, and better control of himself. He could see his hands and his body. But now…
He stopped for a moment and looked down at himself. Smooth, gray hair covered the non-human limbs and paws that he was standing on. He was standing on all fours? But it wasn’t awkward, because those were paws, not human hands.
No, it wasn’t him doing it. Again he had the sense of just being along for the ride. The thoughts about teasing the big black beast and the riders– they were humans on horses, the ones he was playing tag with now– those weren’t his thoughts.
One of the humans was approaching. He dashed away into the underbrush once more. But a feeling came to him as he ran. This is not me. I am only an observer here.
A memory came to him. A great tall being– a human– dressed in a somewhat rumpled St. Louis MPD officer’s uniform, reaching his hand down, stretching it out towards his nose. The man looked like the one he would normally see only in the mirror.
And an enormous beauty clad in animal skins also bent down. She smiled gently and whispered, “Sifash.”
Then he took his first rest in so long. He was very grateful for it. But there were things to do. And foes to hunt. Foes that he would have punished harshly once, long ago. So long ago. He should be resting in Samhralin, but he was here, and the enemy was frustratingly absent. He had been entertaining himself by playing with these various creatures in this wilderness, but he was waiting for an opportunity to hunt his enemy. He wanted to be hunting his enemy.
A shot of a firearm barked and he dashed away from it. He had no reason to actually fight these creatures. Teasing them was just an idle past-time, a way to have fun. He plunged through underbrush and leapt fallen logs to elude them. Recognizing that sound as danger, he put greater distance behind him.
Then, upon dashing into a clearing, he halted, for he had suddenly encountered a familiar sight. A figure familiar both to his current being and to him, to Jack, was sitting there on a tumbled and ancient piece of stonework.
As he walked up to her feet, marveling at how much larger she looked than normal, the woman with the jade eyes and red-and-gold hair made an expression Jack had never seen her make before, the sort of lip-pooching smile a woman might give to a playful pet or a small child. He found himself rolling over onto his back as she bent down to the fur on his belly a pleasant scratch.
She spoke to him, with lightly saddened eyes but an encouraging smile, in unfamiliar words. It was a language he didn’t understand, but the ideas in those words came to him somehow.
Cooperate with the one who is with you, and that one can obtain for you what you desire. He is your ally now.
He rolled onto his stomach and looked up at her. He understood the words, but not the meaning. Did the woman mean himself, the one who was seeing through this animal’s eyes?
The being who he was with didn’t follow her meaning entirely, either. Somehow the being understood that the woman meant the giant in the uniform, but how could that one possibly help him?
So he flipped over again, and stared at her for a few more moments as both minds pondered her words, before turning and dashing back into the underbrush.
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