When the Hills Quake – a story of tootplanets for Patreon

This story fits in my Toot Planet setting, although it is considerably longer than many of the “tootfics” I have written for it, a tootfic being a fiction of 500 or fewer characters. 

You can see many of those tootplanet microfics here, and the hashtag, which began with Catterfly’s planetary art, here.

That being said, here’s the story. 


Explorer’s Log, Planet 7-3-3

(Planetary Date 4 days)

We landed harder than planned but not quite a crash, after an EMP on the way in — or something similar enough that the effects appear identical — fried every piece of electronics not in deep storage.  Landed hard but not a crash-landing; the shuttle is intact, if unflyable, and so’s the team.

The ship will be back around in five years for us, but I’m assuming that we are stranded here.  The anomalies around this planet make a lot more sense when you consider the EMP-like pulse, and I fear the ship may never find us.

We’ve landed in a very nice spot, and we’ll do our best to make it livable for the long haul.  That’s our job, after all: settlement-testing and reconnaissance.

(Planetary date 2 months)

We lost Yuni to accidental poisoning and thought we’d lost Fren, after our last food-scanner fritzed out and died.  Fren lie down on the warmed part of the ground, in the sun, and in a few hours she was back on her feet again.

(Planetary Date 5 months)

Our valley is unnaturally warm, but I can’t say I mind. We landed near the end of a long summer and the winter has been rather chill already.  Tucked in our shuttle and homes along this L-shaped vale, we stay warm and comfortable, and some of our crops continue to grow.  There’s a big storm on the horizon, and I hope we can last.

(Planetary Date 8 months)

There was a localized minor earthquake today, the second since we arrived and much more intense than the first.  It knocked some things off of shelves and broke one wall of a building we had put together with more haste than skill.

The scans showed no seismic activity here, but, then again, the scans may well have been wrong.  We’re down to two hand-readers and I hesitate to use them when our new home is acting strangely.  What if the earthquakes herald yet another EMP?

Speaking of strange things, when the earthquake was at its worst, one of the large carnivorous pack animals went up to a patch of the inedible fiber-stuff that pops up in the higher areas and spent several minutes licking it.  Licking it, almost like your cat would groom someone.

The earthquake settled down.  I don’t know what the creature — we call them Yuni-wolves — was doing, but if licking the ground settles the earthquakes, I’m not going to complain.

(Planetary Date 2 years, 5 months)

We found the ruins of a building and several stone tools today, and, with some searching, several bones in a funeral-like arrangement.  They are likely quite old, but I’m not pulling out my scanner for anything I don’t have to these days.

We diagrammed the site with Fren’s new grass-paper.  This might change things — but it might not.  Populations have been known to die out before they reached civilization before.

(Planetary Date 4 years 8 months)

The earthquakes that have seemed to appear annually since landfall took a new turn today —  with great and violent heaving. The Yuri-wolves have all run away and we are doing our best to evacuate quickly.   We may have to rebuild completely, but first we have to survive.

(Planetary Date 4 years 8 months)
I have to say, with everything this planet has given us, I was not expecting this.
We managed to get everyone we could off of the hill, and hauled with us some emergency supplies.  We made it to the edge of the water before the line of hills really started heaving.

We noted — not as quickly as we should have, but we did notice — that only those hills were moving, the ones covered with the pinkish fiber-stuff. The land we were standing on, the water, everything else, all still, except this mile-long row of hills.

And then the hills stood up.

It was a slow process, beautiful and terrifying to watch.  The place our encampment was settled rose up, shifted sideways, and moved, resolving into a leg and a hip.

The whole range of hills shook itself into something like a six-legged Yuri-wolf a mile long.  It looked down at the encampment and garden perched on its central left hip.

We all held our breath.  A monster that size, it could smash us without even trying.  We would barely be a snack for it.

It noticed us when baby Carlea let out a whimpering cry, and we all took a collective step backwards.

It leaned down and sniffed us.  It had nostrils bigger than our lander.  It had a face so large one got lost in the little bits of fur and missed the details.  Its ears could house an entire colony.

And then, very carefully, as if moving a small child, it removed our settlement from its hip, dirt and all, and wandered off to nudge at another hill.

(Planetary Date 4 years 8 months)
The landscape looks different now.  Our hill wandered off, as I said, and for a while the earth moved.  Then several hills dove into the water, and came back out eating fish of an appropriate size for their bulk.

I shared a look with our oceanographer, and we were both glad we had not yet attempted deep-sea exploration.

After a meal of so much fish that it seemed the sea would be stripped of life, the hill-wolves settled down approximately where they had been before.  With tender care, our hill-wolf replaced our settlement on its middle hip.  It studied us one more long time, then curled its long tail around to provide a break-wind and laid its head down to sleep some more.

I looked at my coat, woven of the inedible fiber-stuff we had taken to using for everything. I looked around at the pinkish fiber covering almost all of is.

There are worse fates than having a gigantic Yuri-Hill-Wolf think that we’re it’s particularly tiny cubs.

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2 thoughts on “When the Hills Quake – a story of tootplanets for Patreon

  1. I like this very much: the worrisome start, the EMP-like pulse (“Hostile technology?”); a death, a narrow survival; settling in… And then! And the ending, so surprising and sweet.

    • Fren lie down
    -> lay down
    > speak, spoke, have spoken
    – lie, **lay**, have lain (down for a nap)
    – lay, laid, have laid (the table for dinner)

    «we call them Yuni-wolves»
    > In memoriam

    • it’s particularly tiny cubs.
    -> its

    • We lost Yuni to accidental poisoning
    • we call them Yuni-wolves
    • The Yuri-wolves have all run away
    • like a six-legged Yuri-wolf a mile long
    • having a gigantic Yuri-Hill-Wolf think

    > Yuni or Yuri?

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