Author : Roger Dale Trexler

Loku heard them before he saw them. The strange sound came to him as he slept beneath the Aynt tree. He and Sheka had eaten their fill of the ripe, rich fruit and fallen asleep beneath its teal-colored leaves. He was not one to fear things he did not understand, but this odd sound sent a shiver of apprehension through him. Still, he stood and stepped out from under the tree.

He looked up into the auburn sky and saw the source of the sound.

He gasped.

A hundred feet above him, floating effortlessly through the air, a dozen creatures he had never seen before swirled in a circular pattern.

At first, he wanted to scream in fear and run like the others of his tribe. But, as he watched, the creatures flew off to the north. He watched them go.

He heard movement behind him and turned to see Sheka, her eyes wide with fear, standing beside him.

“What are they?” she asked shakily.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I’ve never seen them before.”

He looked off to the north. The creatures were shrinking on the horizon.

“It’s a sign,” Sheka said. “There’ll be a bad harvest. We must tell the others!”

She started off, but Loku grabbed her and pulled her to him. She was shaking, but his embrace comforted her.

“It’s all right,” he said. “They seemed harmless.”

Below them, in the valley, he could hear the sound of the drums. The villagers had seen the strange creatures, too, and they were afraid. Morkin would, undoubtedly, be stirring up fear amongst the others. He would want to hunt down the creatures and kill them, or maybe sacrifice Lima, the dark witch of the woods, who got the blame for everything that happened in the village whether she was directly related to it or not.

More sounds came and Loku saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of the strange creatures fill the sky.

He slunked back under the tree and held Sheka closely. Maybe Lima was to blame, after all.

Several miles away, Torrence Anderson stood on the rocky bluff and watched as they released the last of the birds. It was a personal triumph for him. He had fought long and hard for the cloning of the birds. He’d cut through a million miles of red tape to make it happen and, now, he was seeing his dream come back to life.

He stood on the cliff and watched as the birds—eagles, sparrows, robins, a hundred other species—flew overhead. They were so beautiful, those birds. He wondered why mankind had polluted their natural habitats, killed off the woodlands and marshes in favor of the cities of steel and glass. The atmosphere had become toxic, and most of the wildlife on Earth had died.

But, he had seen hope in the stars. They had found this planet and Anderson had pleaded his case to the world leaders. “We can clean our atmosphere,” he told them. “Bring back the wildlife. But, it will take generations for the world to heal itself.

“In the meantime,” he said, smiling, “we found a world where the birds can flourish. It’s a perfect sanctuary for them.”

He was given the go ahead to clone two thousand birds. If the experiment went well, he would get to clone more birds, and other animals as well.

He stood on the rocky bluff and watched as a majestic eagle soared overhead.

In the distance, he heard the soft sound of drumming, but he paid the natives no nevermind as he gazed skyward.

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