Ytell's Fledgling Ceremony
A short story
Angyar reached down with her massive hooked beak, turning the large, white egg. Settling back down on it, she sighed. One egg and a nice size too. Ynan will be back with food. He’s a good provider. Then, I’ll go to the council meeting and Ynan will care for our egg.
After a moment of just relaxing with her egg, a familiar feeling came over her. Oh, no. This can’t be.
Ynan, light buff feathers below, outlined by reddish gold feathers above, soared high over the plain looking for prey. In the distance, he could see the dark red form of his neighbor out hunting. Ynan gave voice to an ear splitting screech; it was deafeningly loud at first and then that trailed off. The neighbor responded and moved away. That’s right, he thought to himself. Don’t push the boundaries or I’ll have to enforce them, which would be sad as you’re a friend of mine.
If we were still single, I’d be tempted to see if he’s interested in going off world. We had fun back in our fledgling days. One eye sighted the Desert’s Knife, a tall mountain on the far horizon. That other mountain farther on in the desert is as far as we went, but I ‘m still sure I saw something far out on the horizon. Maybe our fledglings will go out there. The call of a lost calf interrupted his thoughts. There, below was a small woc. It’s far enough from its parents.
Spilling the air from his wings, Ynan tipped over and began to plummet from the sky. The air whistled past his head. Squinting he watched for any change in the situation. A twenty foot tall, black woc bull jerked his head up.
A bellow from the mighty woc bull froze the small woc in its tracks. It started to lift its head and give voice to a reply.
The little woc turned, Ynan’s claws slammed home into the back of the woc. The claws sank deep and clenched. The woc let out a bellow of fear and pain. The thudding of hoofs told Ynan how close he was cutting it. I’ve got to bend myself out of here. Bending three of the dimensions he soared safely away from danger, fifty feet above the ground. He savaged the neck of the woc until it ceased its struggles and hung limp from his claws.
The sound came from above.
Hummers coming for their share.
Cocking his head to look aboveup Ynan spotted iridescent colors of first one and then two, male hummers diving on him. They’re going to fight.
Sure enough, the humming intensified and then small clouds formed as they battled with weather. One, its wings coated in ice gave up, falling through the air and shaking to get rid of the ice. The other, an iridescent blue and green, dove at Ynan.
“I thought you might get beat this time,” Ynan said, as the hummer leveled out to soar by Ynan.
“Me? You have to be kidding.”
“Ha ha. You were in fine form today. I thought the other hummer might haveget frost bite.”
“Yeah, but cooling the air down that much drains me. I wouldn’t win another battle using Vapuc,”
The hummer said, “How about the lower foreleg.”
“Sure you can carry it?”
“The wife wants it. A guy has to do, what he has to do.”
Reaching down with his powerful beak, Ynan broke the bone, and then cut the leg free. Swooping below the hummer caught it, and flapping hard started the long climb back into the sky, to its floating nest.
Calling back, he said, “My wife will help you with the meatheads.”
“Great, tell her thanks.”
“You already did with this leg. You could’ve made it shorter.”
This is a good place with some good and happy neighbors. We’ll need them after the egg hatches. I’m glad there aren’t two eggs. My wife would have a hard time watching the second one starve or die later. Time to run the gauntlet. Too bad I can’t bend farther.
Ahead Ynan could hear the grunts and growls of the meatheads, his not so good neighbors. Heavy built bodies were visible above, at the edge of the cliff. Ynan breathed deep preparing himself for the coming battle. Pulling his wings in, he started picking up speed as he dove for the sheer cliff wall.
Two meatheads, with their odd combination of growls and shrieks, dove from the top of the cliff. They angled in from either side of him, trying to cut him off.
“Get your own food!” he yelled and then pushed at one with the force to make more room to slip by, but it dipped and pushed back.
“We are,” the other said, laughing their weird annoying laugh, “You’re delivering it.”
“Not a chance.” I might have to let the woc drop. They’re going to be close. Where’s the female hummer?
As if in answer to his thought, two small clouds of fog appeared around the heads of the meatheads. Catching more air with his wings, Ynan briefly soared up. He watched, as below the meatheads flew into each other with a crash, feathers and tempers flying. This time I made it. Turning he dove at the solid rock cliff, at a speed that if he hit would be disastrous. Just before he hit, he bent dimensions again, appearing in a cave forty-five feet inside the cliff.
He arrived inside a cavern; piles of chartreus moss glowed illuminating the smooth white walls. On a ledge, another bird, her yellow feathers fluffed up and a crest of yellow feathers erect, like a fan, behind her head. Uh oh, she’s mad. Using his massive wings as brakes, he slowed quickly to drop onto a ledge with the woc.
Standing up, Angyar ducked her head toward the egg or actually eggs. Where one egg had ruled by itself, now it shared the nest with another egg.
“I’ll take it out and discard it,” Ynan said, stepping toward the nest.
“You will not. Eat your meal and then take over on the nest for me. This egg and the chick after it hatches will be given the opportunity to survive. Now hurry up. I need to go the council meeting.”
“Ah…,” Ynan started to say something, but thought better of it. He was well over seven feet tall, but his sweet wife was almost nine feet tall. It’s just going to make it harder. Once the little chick hatches and starts calling for food, our hearts will become bound to it. Eventually it will die. Second chicks don’t make it.
Tearing into his meal Ynan had a thought. “I hope the first chick is a male and the second a female. The second chick will have a chance then.”
“That’s my thought too.”
After eating, Ynan carefully turned the eggs and settled over them. He watched his wife savagely finish off the meal, except for a few scraps tossed aside. Two cave crawlers slithered up and started gulping down the scraps.
“This is good. You’re ahead on your rent by eleven months now,” one of the cave crawlers said after finishing the food.
“Per our agreement,” Angyar said. “You’ll remember that after the chicks hatch we’ll not be providing as much food.”
Wiping her beak clean, Angyar quickly preened her feathers, and then turned to Ynan. “The meeting might run late tonight. There’s talk about some foolishness of going off planet.”
“Some might be interested, but you’ll make a good decision and set everyone right.”
“I already made my decision. There better not be any opposed to me in our clan.”
Giving one last shake to of her feathers, Angyar disappeared from the cave.