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4 Chapter 4 - Furry Companion

    In hindsight, it was probably an idiotic move that he would regret, but he was far enough away to reactivate his ability and escape should the Bear turn hostile.

    Fortunately, all that the Bear did was glance his way when he appeared and sent a series of projections his way.

    Small, Cub, Lost were the thoughts he could parse from the images he received of a little bear cub separated from their den and mother. He also had projected the image of a jaguar looking cat that faded from visibility that was similar to Kip's cloaking.

    Interesting he thought to himself, some animals had the ability as well. It would rather suck to find one on accident.  He felt weird thinking to the bear so instead tried to directly talk to it wondering if the Bear's brain would interpret his thoughts like he was translating the Bears thoughts.

    "I am trying to find my family. They are the ones that are lost and possibly in danger." He said to the Bear that had scooted a bit closer to where he stood. It cocked its head to the side as if it were thinking which left Kip hoping that the message had conveyed accurately.

    The Bear meanwhile repeated some of the images before, but in a different order as if it were scolding him for being out on his own as if it were its kid or something!

    "I know I am probably dumb for coming out here and trying to find them, but they are my family, and I love them, and nobody else will help. In fact, I am pretty sure that some people at the base were actively trying to get them hurt," he said, trying to associate the more human thoughts and emotions with images that it could maybe understand more easily.

    Humans, Stupid, Fighting, Good were thoughts that came back, along with images of Humans fighting and killing each other, followed by images of bears peacefully coexisting and protecting each other.

    Those images were reasonably obvious to Kip. The Bear was calling humans stupid for infighting so much. He didn't disagree as while they weren't the only species in the world that fought with each other over resources, they were one of the few that did it on such a large scale and so often.  They were no longer the dominant species on the planet, yet they still found time to go against each other rather than pooling resources to try and rebuild as harmoniously as possible.

    The last image the Bear thought was troublesome though. It seemed to think it was good for the world that humans fought as if it were worried that humans would once again grow to be a threat on a worldwide scale. Instead, if they kept in-fighting, they would likely never be a threat in the future.  It was a disturbing thought, yet probably deserving based on his ancestor's histories that he had read about. The massive wars, pollution, nuclear waste, and the negligent use of Earth's Natural Resources without a thought or care to the future had probably not endeared themselves to nature.  Humans had also disregarded all life but their own, not caring if they wiped a species out entirely if it meant finding a more abundant source of energy or wealth. In the end, they almost had started to turn it around a bit, but it was too little too late.  Who knows, maybe their near extinction had been their fault?  No apparent explanation for the changes to the Earth's plants and animals had been explained, so perhaps it was a defense against our ancestors wickedly ways?

    Strangely The Bear seemed to Nod and Shrug as if partially agreeing with his thoughts.

    "Not all of us are bad, most have changed. My family was amongst the good ones!" He insisted to the bear.

    The Bear seemed to contemplate this for a while then once again gave a very human-like *shrug* along with a mental image that reminded him very much of "We'll See."

    Reminded of his mission, he spoke to the Bear. "It was nice to meet you. I am Kip, but I need to be going as they have been gone too long already."

    The Bear seemed to think for a while then looked off into the distance towards the North Gate and projected images of a family of bears with and an apparent thought of Help.

    Surprised, Kip replied, "you need help?"

    The Bear chuffed as if amused and the image of a bear cub running around in circles chasing its tail and then a picture of Kip appeared in Kip's mind.

    A bit offended but getting the reference and not wanting to turn down the Bear's offer if it wanted to help him, he responded. "Thank you, admittedly I could use some help, but why would you offer?"

    Images appeared that Kip's brain interpreted as Duh, Bored, and Curious.

    That the Bear thought it was apparent that Kip needed help made him feel super confident in himself!  But to help him only because he was bored and curious? He was sure there was something more to it than that. Oh well, Kip hadn't been looking forward to this anyway, but with the Bear's help maybe it would go much more smoothly? He strangely wasn't worried about the Bear all of a sudden wanting to eat him at all, as the Bear's thoughts were clear and straight forward as if it was incapable of lying or deceit. Maybe that is a condition specific to humans.

    The Bear interrupted his thoughts with Family then an image of a bear sniffing the air.

    Kip got that on his first try. He pulled out one of his sister's scarves that she had given to him right before she left and approached the bear holding it up.  Even with Kip holding it above his head, the Bear still had to dip its head down a goodly distance in order to get a good sniff.

    Acknowledgment, Recognition, and an Image of Kip climbing onto its back were sent from the Bear as it laid down in front of Kip.

    Recognition? Kip thought, had it scented his sister before? Or could it just recognize that she was related to him? These thoughts were present in his mind as he climbed warily onto the back of the huge Bear, coming to rest near its shoulders grabbing fists full of fur. As it rose onto all fours, he had to be close to fifteen feet or five meters off the ground.

    The Bear which seemed to have caught some of his thoughts sent him a picture of what looked like ten people walking along a path very similar to the one they were on - followed by an image of the Moon, which slowly changed from full into a crescent form then back to a full moon.

    Surprised, Kip thought that they had left about a month ago and would have been about the timeframe that the Bear had indicated. They were only supposed to be gone two weeks in the worst-case scenario.  Despite the distance, his parent's team was elite and could travel hundreds of kilometer per day if they went all out.  True they had to be cautious, so they usually moved much slower and more carefully. Even so, their destination had been less than 100 km away so in theory even if they had to lay low for days and had to detour well away from their given path they could have traveled back and forth multiple times by now.

    His thoughts were interrupted by a roar! As the bear let forth the mother of all roars that seemed to shake the very fabric of existence as it shot forward.

    "Well so much for subtlety," he half said to himself and the bear as he held on for dear life.

    Humor and an image of the gate up ahead were followed by a Question of how to proceed.

    "Slow down and walk up to it.  The guards should open it for you as their standard policy is not to impede any beast that is trying to get out. They should already know you are coming based on your showing off earlier," Kip explained to The Bear as he cloaked himself.

    He swore that the damn bear responded with an image of a Smug Expression as if he was enjoying himself. The gate was already most of the way open as they approached, so they only needed to pause for a moment before the Bear sauntered through.  It took the time to amusedly chuff at the little humans on top of the wall before heading out into the night.

    For the first time in Kip's life, he was outside of the valley that he along with his ancestors for the past near thousand years had called home. Despite the seriousness of his quest, he couldn't help but feel excited and thrilled at the same time.  It may have been because he was too young and naïve to realize how much danger he was really getting into. Then again, if you didn't get a thrill out of rushing through the night on the back of huge, intelligent predator, what could excite you?
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