Preview of the science fiction novella Abandoned With the Enemy.
Rafe, an Earth soldier on a stealth mission at a disputed planet, gets stranded alone on an island after a quick and devastating battle with the feline Silth.
After rescuing and adopting a young predator he names Wendy, he explores the island, encounters two surviving female Silth soldiers and ends up in a fight with an unexpected result when he saves Tashee, the mother of Naylee, from certain death. She makes peace with him and the three are soon forced to work and live together when they learn about something more dangerous living in the jungle.
The still hostile Naylee clashes with him later and he learns the painful reason why from Tashee before he needs to rescue Naylee from the monster lurking around. The incident brings them closer together like a family and a love develops between the Silth women and Rafe, just before a rescue probe forces them to make a decision about their future together and the need to face the monster.
Warning: explicit content in ebook.
I groaned as I clawed into the white sand and dragged myself away from the sloshing sea and further onto the beach, while spitting out what seawater I could. If I still didn’t want to end up drowned I’d have to crawl far enough away from the water. The tide coming in while I’m unconscious would kill me.
When I thought I saw grass through my blurry vision I decided I’d moved far enough to be safe from the water, and allowed myself to drift into darkness despite my lingering fear of dying.
‘Goddammit!’ I groaned and swatted at insects buzzing around my ears.
I grumbled while I blinked against the bright light. My hands were covered in sand so it wasn’t a good idea to rub my eyes. After a while I sat up and every muscle in my body protested. My eyes hurt at the bright daylight to complement my headache, and on top of that my mouth tasted as if a truckload of salt and mud had been dumped in it. My wet clothes and the layer of sand stuck to them added to my irritation and I pulled at them, choosing the bother of taking them off over keeping them on.
After a few struggles I tossed the last piece aside and spread out naked on the warm sand. I cared less about being covered with sand than sand and wet clothes clinging to me.
I recalled the main events in my life that led me up to here; born into a poor family which sold me into the military because they couldn’t feed and raise me otherwise, the subsequent harsh training which showed I had a tenacity for keeping alive, and the assignment to one of the most abused secret sections of the military after nearly killing a senior officer who came close to raping a girl at a bar.
‘GODDAMMIT! FUCK YOU!’ I screamed. ‘WHY DON’T YOU ALL GO TO HELL!?’
My unit was supposed to set up a hidden base at this planet, the latest M class type that had been discovered and was actually habitable. Its inclusion in one of the territories had been a fight between the feline Silth and humans for years, each claiming they discovered it first and that the simple civilizations living on it would become part of either federation. The universal council had been trying to establish a peaceful settlement between our species but with the constant tensions and skirmishes between us it was almost impossible. So far, there was only the official promise from both sides to not colonise the planet and make contact with the species on it while the dispute continued.
‘As if.’ I said to myself and tossed a nearby rock away from me.
The encounter with the Silth carrier was devastating. With both ships running stealth and close to the sea surface, we were at stone throwing distance when we detected each other. The panic reaction was to unleash our full arsenal upon each other. The few fighter pods from both sides which managed to launch, including mine, had just about obliterated each other when the demolished carriers burned down and sank into the ocean.
With no home to return to, no enemy in sight, and most of my equipment damaged I headed off to the nearest island displayed on the local map. The pod broke down before I was able to reach it though and I used up all my stamina on swimming the last part.
I stood up, my legs shaking. I would have to hold out long enough for help to arrive. If that ever came. That was the risk of a classified unit. Nobody would acknowledge you, nobody would save you, nobody would praise you. Only the pay and the thrill were worth it.
I reviewed my surroundings, white beach, tropical climate, mostly blue sky. Vacation paradise for most people. I hated it. I saw unknown predators and diseases, difficulty in finding a decent shelter, food.
‘DAMMIT!’ I shouted again.
I took another look at my clothing. The only useful thing that came with it was the knife. No matter how advanced technology became, the one thing that was always a part of basic equipment was the knife. I didn’t care about my clothing, but I was aware enough to not take chances and buried all of it in the sand.
After that I faced the jungle in front of me. Just me and my knife. I wasn’t ready, but I had to survive.
01 – Survival
The first thing I noticed was how lucky I was in the way luck favoured people living in tropical zones on Earth, there was plenty of food available. Although it looked different, but I did recognise a variety of fruit. There were banana sized, long, red fruits with a sweet scent, green orange-like fruits with a mild bitter scent, yellow berries just like blueberries would be if they were yellow, and plenty more. I only wet my lips with the red straight banana to see if it had any effect while I searched out trees with sturdy, slim branches to cut them. I dragged them to a small open space just inside the treeline at the beach, built a frame with them, and covered these with branches of big leaves to create a shelter.
Since I didn’t seem to suffer any effect of the red fruit, I licked some of it and waited again for an effect, even if the sweet taste seduced me to eat a whole bunch. In the meantime I searched around in a wider area and stumbled across a small stream of water flowing through a rocky gully.
It lightened my mood and was clear and tasteless from the few drops I tasted, and following it upstream it looked like nothing weird contaminated it. I took my chance and drank the minimum I needed, gladly satisfying my dry mouth and throat. That night I went to sleep on my raised bed of branches with hunger, but at least without thirst.
I woke up with a headache from a very deep sleep, groaned while I kept my eyes shut and reached out to the shelf next to my bed for my alarm clock to see how few hours I had slept after the drinking binge last night. I groped into empty space and groaned in irritation. ‘Where the fuck are you?’ I said and reached out to my other side in case I went to sleep the other way around. Nothing but empty space there either. I groaned again, rubbed my eyes, and gradually opened them to see an unfamiliar sight around me. ‘Shit.’
The scent of jungle, the noise of birds and insects, sand between my toes, and hunger brought me back to the new reality I had found myself in. I sat up, still a little sore from the last couple of days, and massaged my temples and neck to lessen my headache.
When my head was clear enough to avoid walking into my surroundings, I stepped out of my shelter and headed for the red banana tree. Picking one piece from a low hanging bunch, I peeled the skin and took a small bite from the red and soft interior. It was sweet and just a little softer than a banana. If I had no adverse reaction, I could finally eat my first meal a couple of hours later. I went over to the stream, drank a bit more, and washed my face. The cool water helped to clear my head further and I returned to my shelter, inspected it for any damage and creepy insects, then walked down to the beach.
The tracks I had left crawling along the sand were still there, but the tide had washed away any sign near the water. I looked up at the nearly clear sky. Nothing more than a few birds and a lost fluffy piece of cloud to accompany the warm sun. It would get pretty warm here during the day. The horizon was nothing more than a flat line. I wasn’t sure how far away the battle had been, but I had no hope of seeing any remnants wash up on shore. As far as I could tell, I was alone in the universe here.
With nothing more urgent to do, I returned near the stream and took my time waiting behind some cover to observe what kind of wildlife went around. I could have, but didn’t particularly had a desire to survive only on plants and any fish I might catch later.
My patience paid off. After a while I noticed a species of rodent, reminding me of rats and mice, scurrying around in enough numbers that I suspected they were abundant and probably a decent source of protein. Not long after, larger species looking like small deer and small furry pigs appeared as well to have a drink. I’d need to make a bow or throwing spear to hunt those.
The deer and pigs didn’t stay long at the water, and for good reason. A medium sized predator with brown, grey, and black streaked fur came and sniffed out the place. It had a canine head, the body of a feline, and a short, bushy tail. Despite keeping out of the breeze as much as I could, it had discovered me and watched me warily. It bared its fangs, growled in the back of its throat, and puffed up its coat. I pulled out my knife while I stared at it and stood up slowly, then growled and stomped my foot, and sent it away. I exhaled. It wouldn’t be too much of a threat probably, unless I was wounded and that predator would come for me in a group.
I felt fine apart from the hunger and decided the red bananas were safe enough to eat. I ate the the rest of the one I picked earlier, and would gradually eat more of them during this and the next day, then try the next fruit. At least I had one source of nourishment now. I drank some water again and returned to my shelter when a thought hit me.
I hurried over to the spot where I had buried my clothes and dug them up to search the pockets of my fatigues. ‘Yes!’ I said when I found the length of thin but strong string that I had meant to attach in my bunk and hang various loose items on to get them out of the way. Now it would serve as part of a fishing rod.
I chose a suitable long and slender branch, cut it to size, created a hook from a needle stored in the grip of my knife, and a lure from a tiny button. Sitting on an outcrop of rock in the sea with my simple rod, I felt like a character in a cartoon. I just hoped it would do the trick and at least some of the fish swimming around were dumb enough to get caught.
They were, and I busied myself roasting several smaller fish in the afternoon over a fire I had made on the beach. Fish were universal so far in looks and taste, and I didn’t expect any trouble eating them. Afterwards I lay back on the warm sand, closed my eyes to think of what to do in the next days and fell asleep.
I woke up with a start. Staring at a crab’s butt on my chest. I knew what I’d have for breakfast. I didn’t think I was that exhausted, but the warm climate and lack of human activity most likely played a part.
I spent the day testing the green oranges, dug through my memories of survival training, made a spear, killed my first mini boar, and sought out the right materials to create a bow and arrows. I also decided to salvage my fatigues and wear my pants at least while out in the jungle, after another scratch on a sensitive part. It would also make running less awkward.
A semblance of daily routine had established itself after a week, consisting of gathering and testing food, fishing or hunting, and exploring the area. I needed to get into contact with military command but that was of secondary concern. First, I needed to survive as if I were the last of the human race.
I gained knowledge of the routine of wildlife around here and adjusted my hunting tactics to it. I even thought about looking into salvaging steel from my pod, see if I could melt it and create more effective arrow tips and maybe a blade or two, but that would be for much later. I’d have to build a boat or raft first.
I couldn’t get a clear view from the edge of the beach but it looked like the island was the tip of a short underwater mountain ridge, maybe even volcanic in origin although I saw no direct evidence from the hilltops I was able to see. I expected it would take me several days to walk across the island, not counting the extra time it would take to get through the jungle. At least that would mean there’d be enough wildlife to survive without having an impact on the place. Can’t live long if I ate everything here.
Seeing it would be a long time before military control knew the ship went missing, and even more time before they’d have any idea where to look, I decided I’d go explore the island soon and accept it as my new home because the chance of getting rescued would be slim.
A jungle, or any kind of area involving lots of trees, was never quiet and it took some time before I was able to get used to the noises from the nocturnal animals and get some decent sleep after my fatigue faded away. This time though I woke up in the night when something screamed and yowled nearby.
I grabbed my knife and stoked up the dying fire to make a torch. If this was a new kind of predator prowling at night I’d like to get to know it first before it could attack me thinking I’d be an easy meal for it.
I heard several more yelps and growls and suspected it was one of those mixed predators which I named cags. Yeah, I’m no biologist. I carefully followed the sound of scuffling behind some bushes to find one in a death grip with a large, poisonous lizard. The cag twisted its muzzle around the lizard’s neck and the lizard went limp, letting go of the cag’s leg. The cag limped with its bleeding leg toward a tiny shaking heap of fur. It let out a peep and I understood the mother cag had protected her young. I saw her lick it and it crawled closer to her. She didn’t call for others so it looked like this was her only young.
The bushes rustled as I moved out of them and she growled at me. Her head swayed a little from the poison’s effect.
‘Shh..’ I said softly, putting down my bow and torch beside me. ‘I’m not here to harm you.’
I sat on my knees until her growls faded as she lay down her head against her child, then crawled slowly closer. The little one whined softly, giving its mother licks and nudging her with its nose, but she would no longer be able to respond to her child. I crawled closer and it watched me with panic in its yellow eyes while it pawed at its mother.
‘I’m sorry, little one.’ I whispered as I sat in front of them. ‘She can no longer care for you.’
It whined for a while, licked its mother’s face again, then lay down on the ground against her, glancing at me. I didn’t know if it was going to be a stupid idea, but thinking I’d have to let nature take its course and abandon the pup, or kitten, or whatever the correct term was, didn’t sit well with me.
I held out my hand. ‘I can’t teach you anything of your kind, but I can make you my pet.’ I said. ‘How about that?’
It cocked its head and blinked at me.
‘Staying here doesn’t look like a good idea to me.’
It sniffed in my direction, then crawled a bit forward on its belly.
‘I don’t think you’d taste good, so don’t worry about me eating you.’
It crawled up to the tip of my fingers and sniffed them.
‘I’m a new smell, but at least I’m not a deadly predator.’ I said smiling gently, then thought about that. ‘Well, not in the sense that you’d find here otherwise.’
It moved a step closer and I could stroke its muzzle with one finger until it seemed convinced I wasn’t something bad to it, then it moved close enough for me to scratch its head and behind its ears.
‘See? Nothing to worry about.’ I whispered.
After a while of scratching I leaned forward and dug a hole with my hands. Luckily the ground was soft here and it didn’t take too long to make it deep enough to bury the little one’s mother. I lowered the body gently down, then picked up the little one and held it so it could lick its mother’s muzzle one last time in farewell. It whined while I covered the grave and picked it up to carry it to my shelter.
‘Your new home.’ I said, putting it down inside before closing the entrance.
It sniffed and looked around, then back at me.
‘I guess I’ll also have to name you.’ I said, then looked closer to see it was a she. ‘Rover or Boris won’t do, I see.’ After trying a few names I chose Wendy.
‘One of my fallen comrades had a little sister named Wendy and used to tell me about her all the time. He was the one who took care of her since they lost their parents in her early teens. He sounded more like her father to me than a brother.’
I chuckled at the memory and picked up Wendy to stroke her fluffy fur and distract me from the sudden sadness welling up in me. She yipped at me and made me laugh.
A couple of leaves made up her bed in a hollow in the ground next to my head. ‘Sleep now, and we’ll start a new chapter in our lives tomorrow.’
She yawned and closed her eyes just before I drifted off to sleep.
02 – Exploration
Waking up with a cute face staring at me became the new norm. After a few days of finding Wendy either on my chest or nestled in my arms, I had to accept I’d be sharing my bed with a furry cutie for as long as she lived. It did start with a smile though, something I couldn’t even remember ever happened before.
I had to postpone my plan to explore the island because I had to take care of Wendy until she was big enough, but I wasn’t in a hurry anyway. I carried her when I went to gather a new supply of fruits and nuts that had a light chocolate taste, and put her down at the tree. ‘Stay.’ I said and held her where she sat for a second. She gazed at me and I wondered how much I had to train her. I never owned a dog, or any other pet, and had only a vague idea how to raise them from the few times I watched a canine unit train.
I climbed a low branch to reach a bunch of red bananas, and had collected several in a bag I had made from the skin of a boar when I heard Wendy whine. Looking down I saw a lizard crawling from underneath a bush, its eyes upon her. She trembled, but stayed put at her spot. Without a second thought I pulled my knife and threw it at the lizard, hitting it at the back of its neck. I hurried down and picked up the trembling girl. She licked my face as I held her. ‘Silly thing.’ I said and smiled softly at her. ‘It’s okay to move when you’re in danger.’ She yipped at me and wagged her tail, and I suspected she was a smart enough species.
She was certainly curious and followed me anywhere she could and watched me. Even to the point where I felt rather embarrassed when nature called. That’s the only time I had her keep a little distance. Close enough for her to feel safe but far enough for me to relax.
I took Wendy to the beach when I was in the mood for fish and set her down in the sand. ‘And there is the sea.’ I said as she gazed at the water. ‘Maybe you’ll like swimming.’
We walked towards the water and I halted at the edge, waiting for her reaction. She sniffed at the water and observed it creeping back and forth for a while, then looked up at me. ‘It’s safe here, girl.’ I said and stepped forward into the shallow water. She hesitated but followed me. I chuckled when the water reached her paws and she shook them one after the other. She moved closer and leaned against my legs. I stroked her head and she relaxed as she got used to the water. She sniffed it again and gave it a lick. I had to laugh at her scrunched up face.
I picked her up and carried her over to the rocks where I always sat down to fish, and she kept close to my side while her attention was focused on the silvery shapes moving through the water or on the white creatures drifting up in the air and floating on the water. It seemed to encourage her because she went to a shallow part a little back in the rocks and entered the water up to her chest. I smiled a little and was confident she’d try swimming soon enough.
Just how smart Wendy was became clear when she watched me hunt for meat. She had grown up fast and when one day I couldn’t get close enough to shoot any prey, she looked up at me and I gestured in a half circle at the undergrowth in the distance. ‘Go?’ I said. ‘Drive them towards me?’ She watched me gesture at the spot where we stood, stared at me for another moment, then hurried quietly off into the trees at the side. I smiled as I hoped I’d be pleasantly surprised at her understanding what I meant.
And I was. A minute later I heard rustling and a few of the deer things hurried in my direction. I didn’t hesitate and shot what seemed to be one of the males. It went down with my arrow in its chest and the other deer scattered just before Wendy appeared with her head held high in a triumphant manner.
She sat down next to the deer and I gave her a good petting. ‘Well done, Wendy. Good girl.’ She wagged her tail. ‘Looks like we won’t have to worry about hunting prey anymore.’ I felt like a Neanderthal hunter with the first domesticated canine, standing over our first team kill. And to think I flew a fighter pod and handled submachine guns not too long ago. I kind of missed the compact power tool for easy killing.
Eventually the time came to carry out my exploration plan and I packed the few things I’d need in a backpack I had made from the hides of our kills.
‘Ready, girl?’ I asked Wendy.
She looked up at me and barked once. Cags don’t bark as low as dogs, but at a higher pitch which fit more with the feline side of her species.
‘All right then.’ I said and we headed along the stream for the nearest hilltop, and a hopefully good overview of the whole island.
As I had expected, the jungle slowed down our progress and it seemed we had barely left the shelter as I looked back at the beach through the trees when the sun was close to the horizon. I looked up at the hilltop and estimated we wouldn’t reach it sooner than the next evening.
I set up a quick shelter with some large leafed branches when Wendy startled me by suddenly growling and jumping up at the tree next to me. As she came back down she held a lizard in her jaws and a quick shake of her head snapped its neck. I smiled at her and stroked her head. ‘I see you’ll never fear any lizard again. You saved me from a nasty bite, girl.’ She grinned at me and wagged her tail.
We slept fairly easy that night after eating the lizard as part of dinner, and continued our trek with plenty of energy. The ground became a little rockier at places and there were occasional open patches between the trees. The weather was still clear and warm and I wondered if it would be like this the whole year, or if there’d be heavy monsoons.
I discovered a different kind of nut tree on the way and took some of the white nuts to test these later, and prints in the sand near the water proved there were plenty of the same prey species as we’d seen so far.
We made better progress than expected and the sun was more than halfway down to the horizon when we reached the hilltop and it became time to find a place to camp for the night. I spotted a clear patch in the tree cover and headed that way.
What I saw surprised me. There was a square stone floor here, maybe about ten metres wide, overgrown partially, but in good shape without grass or anything growing through cracks. I bent down and felt the surface. Smooth, but not so much like it had been made with a precision machine. The material looked like it had been made by processing the ground found around here, and from a distance it wouldn’t look like there was a separate flat surface here.
‘I think we’ll stay here for the night, girl.’ I said to Wendy and unpacked the backpack to make a fire. ‘It looks as if this is left by an ancient civilisation, so I don’t think we need to worry about sudden visitors here.’
Wendy assumed her role of guardian though and inspected the floor area by going around and sniffing everywhere, sometimes digging a little in the ground next to it. After setting a fire I roasted the three rodents we bagged during the day, and gathered big leaves to serve as bed and as plates for our meal. During the meal I wondered if I’d find more proof of an ancient civilisation on this island. Maybe I’d get lucky and find weapons or other items I could use.
It was almost dark when we finished eating, and I propped up my backpack to serve as a pillow and Wendy crawled up to me. I wrapped my arm around her and she gave me a soft lick on my mouth, making me chuckle, and gave her a goodnight kiss back. Between the warm climate and her warm and soft body I needed no blanket to sleep comfortable at night.
‘Good night, sweet Wendy.’ I whispered and listened to the sounds around us for a while before sleep took over.
The next morning I searched the area around the floor but found no more evidence of whoever built it. I did get a better view of the island and saw it had a slight bend to it and there were three main tops to the ridge formed by the hills, the one in the middle the highest. With any luck I’d find more structures at one or both of the other tops.
The trek to the middle hill top took two more pretty uneventful days, apart from encountering Wendy’s kind twice. The first time I wondered what she would do when four cags threatened to attack us, and was pleasantly surprised to see her take my side and chase them away with more ferocity than I could have imagined from her size. The second time I noticed she did make sure I was behind her before she snarled and lashed out at a group of three cags. She could be brave, but I did have to be close.
‘Good girl.’ I said each time, scratching her behind her ears and down her back, which made her body and tail shiver.
I was pondering about setting up camp for the night or try to go that last distance to reach the middle top when I heard Wendy bark a warning. I walked up to her and saw she had found a crevice hidden between the trees and bushes, deep and wide enough to forget about coming back up once you fall down there, if you’d still be able to think or move.
I peering into it, then stepped back before the urge to jump down crept over me. ‘Careful, girl. It will be safer to set up camp now before we encounter more traps like this.’ I told her and she agreed with a bark.
I spotted a small clearing in the tree cover and we headed that way. And just as I stepped into the clearing, two Silth soldiers appeared with camouflage cloth wrapped around their heads.