I jumped with the pod and my dwarf dragons followed. I dialed up the eight anti gravs on the pod as I spread out and looked down. We were five hundred kilometers to the east of the closest home. According to the sats and the scientists the ground under the trees here was swamp or close to it.
I jerked to twist the pod and dialed up the anti gravs more as we reached the top of the trees. We went through very slowly and I began to use the grav tractor gun. I finally pulled the pod to the side and let it settle on two branches. I slowly shut the anti gravs off and jumped to stand on another branch.
I hung my pack and unclipped the short rifle before I moved to the tree. I looked down and Sampson landed and chirped as he looked down beside me. I smiled and jumped and caught a vine and climbed down. I stopped at the three hundred meter level and began to search. I found the junction of six tree I had been looking for but they were up another fifty meters.
I climbed up and checked them to make sure they would hold a transport and opened my sat comm, "this is Gavin. I found the site and will start clearing it."
I went to get my pack and carried it down and pulled out the sonic cutter. I started with smaller branches and then the secondary ones. I let Alice and Sampson watch for me as I cleared six primary branches. I moved up and started over and then cut the primary branches off in smaller sections.
It was late afternoon when I checked the site for the pod and went to bring it down. I was very careful placing it and then set out the ramps and stairs. The pod was below where the landing and parking pads would go. I put on the upper cage and made sure all the connections were in place. I was a little surprise not even one large predator had tried to hunt me.
Working by myself was lonely but I enjoyed it. As it grew dark I set net traps and vid cameras and we went in and I turned on a small light. It was very cramped since the pod was still full of gratings and beams. I opened one of the stasis coolers and fed my friends and ate dinner. The night came alive in roars and screams and other night calls of birds and animals.
I made my bed and laid back and looked out the front grate. I woke twice to one of the traps and once to a loud roar just outside. Finally lightning and thunder began and then the morning rain. I shifted to comfort my friends and looked out. Somehow the rain seemed to fall softer here with much smaller drops.
When the rain stopped we got up and I got dressed. I held my pistol and stepped out and looked around. I moved the cage screen from the stairs and clipped it to the door and repeated it for the one that went from the top of the door to the top of the stair door. We went up and onto the top and I looked towards the net traps.
I had not bothered with the main branches and set them in the smaller secondaries. The closest held a large bird and the other a type of small wolfape I had never seen. I was careful getting both out of the nets. I put the owl in a cage and the small wolfape in a stasis crate. I took my bow and quiver from the pod and went hunting.
I killed a tree rabbit and skinned it and fed Alice, Sampson and the owl. I cleaned and tanned the pelt and finally climbed up to finished cutting and clearing branches. I finished in the late afternoon and went hunting again. I set up the cooking station inside the top cage and made dinner. I checked on the owl and fed it now that it was calm.
I had set the nets and we were heading down and into the pod as it started to grow dark. The trees went silent and I stopped and looked around. Suddenly there were a hundred small wolfapes rushing the cage. They screamed and roared and fought to get through and I looked around, "well it was not a juvenile."
I turned slowly, "with a pack this large any big predator would stay away."
I continued down and into the pod and made a call. It was a few moments before I was answered, "need help Gavin?"
Things never change, "we have a new species of wolfape. They look about half the size and are a mottled greyish brown. The pack that just attacked the pod looks like it has a hundred in it."
He hissed and I grinned, "I also caught a new owl. It is a dark sapphire blue and has actual ivory horns. I called it a sapphire horned owl."
He chuckled, "I will pass it on. Still want us to wait a few days to bring the next pod?"
I looked out the door at a dozen small wolfapes staring in at me, "I finished cutting so all the hard work is about to begin. I would say two days and I will have the platform done and a transport can land."
After I disconnected I checked the restless owl and shut the light off and laid back. It was hours before the pack left and I slept. I woke to thunder and pulled my dragons close and looked out. Once more it began to rain but this time without the lightning. I heard a lot of chirping and moved to look out and up.
On the cage from the door to the stairs were a dozen small wolfapes. They shifted and crowded together as they were soaked. When the rain stopped I got up and began to dress. That was when the rest of the pack decided to return. I heard each of the six nets as they were triggered.
The pack screamed and yelled but at least a dozen had been caught and the rest fled. I climbed to the cage and looked around. The ones caught in the nets were struggling and screaming but the others were gone. I looked at all the small wolfapes, I did not have enough stasis crates or cages.
I sighed as I moved to each net and used my knife. As much as I disliked killing needlessly I did not have a choice. Next I skinned them and took them away to be cleaned by beatle ants. I fed Alice and Sampson and used a couple of the bodies to feed the beatle ants when they were done.
I set the cleaned pelts in the cage and then moved the screens on the door and closed the door to the stairs. I used the pod anti gravs and began to move the beams out and up and slowly the landing pad frame came together. Like the day before not even one predator showed up. When I quit for the day the frame was complete.
I went hunting for tanning moss and killed a Flying lemur for dinner. I moved the nets before I closed the cage for the night. I fed my friends and ate and the small wolfapes returned. They avoided where the nets had been but another dozen ended up caught as the nets were triggered. I looked out as the rest of the pack fled in many directions.
I shook my head and ended up going out and killing half of them. I never thought about the land or water below. If it was a swamp the elephant wolves would not be there. I brought all the pelts into the cage for the night. I went down and checked before opening the door and letting Alice and Sampson enter the pod.
It was the middle of the night when I felt something strike the pod. That woke me and I reached for my rifle as I heard wolfapes scream. I thought it was the pack attacking the pod until I switched on the outside LED lights and saw several large king lizards in the vids. They were leaping and chasing the small wolfapes.
It was like they were in a feeding frenzy and the small wolfapes could not escape. It was an hour before the forest calmed and the king lizards left. I shut the lights off and laid down with Alice and Sampson. I was up when it first started to rain and dressed while looking out. I was worried about the king lizards attacking while I was working.
Once the rain stopped and it was light I stepped out and looked around. I sent Alice and Sampson up the stairs and followed. The whole area around the pod was torn up. I crossed the landing pad frame and slipped into the forest to hunt. I took all the uncleaned pelts with me and killed a large rainbow peacock and several tree rabbits.
I cleaned the pelts and fed the beatle ants the tree rabbits and my friends the bird. When we returned to the pod I tossed the pelts in and pulled out the first grate. It was noon when I answered my comm, "Gavin."
"We are almost there."
I frowned and shifted, "only half the landing platform has grates."
"We have the second pod and your father said you need company."
I growled before moving to the pod to grab the beacon, "follow the beacon."
I switched it on and went to set it in the center of the platform. It was a few minutes before the transport slowly descended into the cleared area. I blinked as someone leaped out and then relaxed as they switched on anti gravs. The person dropped a little faster than the transport and I saw it was a girl.
The transport finally began to hover and I went to accept a remote as they pushed out another pod. I switched on the anti gravs before it could drop to the platform. The crew chief tossed out several large cargo bags as I moved the pod to the branches across from mine. I let it settle and then shut the anit gravs off and ran for my pod.
I grabbed the stasis crates and the cage with the owl and hurried back to the transport and handed them up, "tell the scientists I had a swarm of large king lizards in a feeding frenzy last night."
The crew chief nodded and gestured me back, "be safe!"
A moment and the transport was lifting straight up and away. I turned to look at the girl as she checked a short rifle and looked around. I blinked, "my father sent you as company?"
She grinned as she checked the single point sling and let the rifle hang, "I am Crystal, from Settlement. I decided not to start my advanced school yet and was at the academy. Your father saw me helping one of the guides and thought I would be useful here."
.... There is more of this story ...