Shadow Fall: Chapter 1: Shooting Stars

In the weeks that followed the conclusion of events regarding the Mother of all Bears, the lodge located in Port Lions was becoming the center of activity.  The buildings of the town had been opened one by one, and the contents within had been removed.  It required many trips back and forth, but eventually all supplies were brought back to the lodge.  All manner of goods were sourced: food, water, fuel, weapons, clothing, books, tools, etc.  The materials were catalogued, and stored away in several of the lodge’s former guest rooms.  For obvious reasons, the more dangerous items were placed in an attached concrete block garage where several vehicles were kept.  The fuel was added carefully to existing large tanks that were sunk in the ground, and on mounts beside the lodge.  While the fireplace in the main room served as a primary heat source, the overall structure was also heated with an oil fueled boiler.    

The collapsed homes that scattered the town had been taken apart, and the remnants moved around in such a way to form a variety of lean to buildings.  The openings were pointed away from the coast line, which was the primary direction that the storms seemed to come from.  The additional structures were required due to the increased frequency of visiting bears who wanted to spend the night.  Under the direction of Cobalt, and a general consensus of bears, the town had been reconfigured to suit their needs.  What could not be used immediately were stacked neatly in supply cabins.  Since they had the bear power of many strong males, they were able to get a lot done in a short period of time.  That is not to say the female bears did not work, they did, but chasing after mischievous cubs limited their assistance.  The cubs always wanted to go to the lodge, to listen to the wonderful stories from a certain small critter who lived there.  

Pudgy was the star of the town, and would spend much of the day telling grand tales of adventure to attentive bears of all sizes and shapes.  Even the adult bears enjoyed the stories, and the descriptions of the wonderful friends the small animal had in his forest back home.  Word had spread throughout Kodiak island, and its surrounding islands that the Bear Mother was going to stop by to visit.  Though her arrival had been delayed several times, she too needed time to recover and coordinate the island’s various processes.  With the ice bridge destroyed, the island was cut off from the mainland.  This made their lands safe from threat from the wolves.  After another long series of tales, a very tired hedgehog looked out into the ocean bay.  Heavy gray clouds were barely floating in the skies, which meant that another bout of heavy rains was set to fall once more.  He watched as sea otters were swimming about, and playing in the cold ocean water.  

Scampering off the edge of a railing, Pudgy landed on the gray weather stained wooden boards of the deck.  “It looks like a storm is coming everyone, let us head inside.”  The little hedgehog said, while he started to walk back inside the lodge.  A group of black and brown bear cubs nodded, then started to follow behind him.  The group headed one by one through a glass patio door that had been pulled open.  The lodge had two sets of glass patio doors that led out onto the deck, and there was a big rusted gas grill chained to one section of the deck railing.  Once all the bears were inside the long great room with the smooth golden floors, their mother bear smiled and pulled the glass door shut to seal off the room.  It was not long, when the heavy deluge of rain came and pounded the outside of the lodge.  The rain was so loud on the metal roof that it drowned out most conversations within the lodge room.  

Pudgy watched as the black mother bear hugged her cubs, “all right everyone, time to head off.  Pudgy will be here tomorrow, so you can hear more stories.  We have to find your father, hopefully he has not got into too much trouble while we are gone.”  The female bear said with a wink to the hedgehog.  The cubs waved their paws at Pudgy and said in near unison, “bye Pudgy, thank you for the stories!”   The cubs started to head down the stairs  following their mother, towards the front door that led outside.  Pudgy waved as well to the departing group, and had grown accustomed to the bears moving around no matter the weather condition.  The little critter was glad he did not have to go outside in the rain, as it was hard and cold every time.  The temperatures were holding steady, right around the fifty degree mark, based on the moose shaped thermometer that was attached to the outside window.  

With the mother and cubs exiting the lodge’s open front doors, they saw that the exterior of the lodge had also been modified.  This was done with the assistance of the Kodiak grizzlies, who helped to move long sections of logs to form a much wider porch roof.  The enhancements resulted in the entire front of the lodge being covered.  Many of the wild bears liked to sit under the porch, and watch the rain fall.  Drew waved his paws at the departing group, and padded underneath the large porch roof shook off the rainwater from his red coat of fur.  There were several bears, including Grandpa bear and his son, who were talking quietly while the rain fell.  Their Russian friend had wandered off, supposedly to Kodiak Station, where more of his clan had headed to.  There was talk of a large brewery being in that town, and the grizzly had drank every bottle of spirits in the town.  Well, save for one bottle of jagermeister, which they found after he left.   

The former human had fully adjusted to his new life as a red panda.  Scampering up the wooden stairs, he reached the lodge’s great room.  Drew wiggled his ears as he spotted Pudgy, “hi Pudgy, boy you look tired.”  The little hedgehog had sat in the center of the floor, wiggled his nose, and then waved at his friend.  “Pudgy is tired, Pudgy told two stories to that nice family.  Pudgy needs a cookie.”  As the two looked over at the kitchen, they saw that the island peninsula had been removed.  This was done to accommodate the large animals that now frequented the lodge.  Much to everyone’s relief, the hardwood floors ran under the cabinets, so there was no jagged area to walk on.  It appeared that the cabinets and island were added after the kitchen was installed.  The various parts were repurposed outside, so nothing was wasted.  Boxes of food were stacked along the bright green walls of the room.  They had been sealed from the sea planes that once ferried cargo to the town from Kodiak Station.  However, neither panda nor hedgehog could get into the boxes.  

The two friends looked at each other, and then down towards the floor.  This meant that they would need to wake up their dragon friend.  Cobalt’s injuries were healing slowly, which limited his movements.  He had not flown since the short trip to cross from Uganik to Kodiak island.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “we need Cobalt to open the boxes …” Drew shook his head, “let him rest Pudgy.  We can wait till dinner.  How has he been feeling?”  The hedgehog rubbed his chin, “Cobalt is getting stronger every day.  Pudgy did not know how injured he was, till we rested that first night we came here.”  The red panda nodded, it had indeed been a rough night.  Everyone slept soundly, and did not realize the dragon’s wounds had all split open.  He had whimpered the entire night, until he was too exhausted to stay awake to tend the fire.  When Bill the koala bear had woken up, he found the dragon was a bloody mess once again.   Thankfully the lodge had first aid supplies, and they were able to properly patch him up.  Rest was the best medicine, and was working wonders for not just the dragon but everyone else as well.

As a couple of minutes passed, Drew’s stomach rumbled, “ok … I’m hungry too ….let us see if he is up.”  Pudgy started to scamper towards the stairs, and carefully began to climb down them.  The panda followed along, and eventually both were down on the main floor by the check in desk.  There were 5 lodge bedrooms on each side of the check in desk.  To the left, was where they had placed most of the gathered supplies.  There was also a door that led into the garage, where certain things needed to be secured.  To the right was the room where Bo and Bill would stay, then it was Grandpa Bear’s room, then Mr. Bear Junior’s room, then Pudgy and Drew’s room, then Cobalt’s room.  Pudgy had made little signs for each door, to show which was which, with happy cartoon style faces.  The blue dragon sign indicated that this was the right place, and Drew tapped on the door with his right front paw.  “Cobalt, sorry to bother you, but are you up?”

There was some movement inside the room, and soon the dark oak door opened up to reveal a smiling Cobalt.  “Hello Drew, hello Pudgy, yes I am up.  Come on in.”  The dragon backed up, and allowed his friends to scamper inside.  The rooms had been reconfigured, furniture moved out, beds placed on floors instead of up on their frames.  Again nothing had been wasted, as the furniture was repurposed to other places to serve different functions.  The rooms themselves were quite plain, with white painted walls, and a simple center ceiling light fixture.  There was an attached powder room, with a tiny shower, but there was no getting inside of that room.  The water did not work anyhow, which did not matter.  The dragon sat down, and curled his tail around his body.  “I hope I did not oversleep again.  I should get dinner going soon, huh?”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose and bounced, “Pudgy good with cookies!”  The group of friends laughed, and Drew nodded, “cookies sounds good.  Sadly, I think we ate the last cake roll yesterday.”  

Pudgy wiggled his nose while he looked at Cobalt, who nodded in acknowledgement.  “I know Pudgy … you want to go home.  I will try to fly again tomorrow.”  Drew looked at the dragon, “the last time you tried to fly, you passed out and fell into the bay in front of the lodge.  So you should rest as much as you can, and recover.  I do not think Pudgy’s friends back in the forest would fault you for taking time here.  Besides, the lodge has everything we need…”  Pudgy nodded, “Cobalt needs to rest.  But, can we have supper pwease?”  The dragon laughed and nodded again, standing up.  He reached across the room, to open the door, allowing his red panda and hedgehog friends to exit the room.  Maneuvering through the room, Cobalt exited out into the hallway, allowing the door to swing shut behind him.  Following behind Drew, the dragon headed down the hall, and out into the main entrance area by the check in desk.  The rain was still pouring outside, and cascading off the ends of the roofline.   

There was a chill in the air, blowing in through the open front doors.  There had been talk of making bear accessible doors that could be opened and closed.  Cobalt was still trying to figure out how to make them work, and was resigning himself to having to make a barn door that could roll on a track.  Climbing the stairs, the dragon watched as Pudgy and Drew headed over to the big picture windows that looked outside to the deck and the bay that lay beyond it.  Supper was sorted out, and began to be made in the background, while the red panda bear wiggled his ears.  “Pudgy, he’s not well enough to fly the whole way home yet.”  The critter looked at his friend, “Pudgy knows that Mr. Drew.  Pudgy is just home sick, misses all of Pudgy’s friends.”  The former human nodded, “I can understand that.  Eventually, we will all be leaving this island, from what the other bears are talking about.  Too bad you can not use the star process to travel, it would save so much time for your trip.”

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Mr. Drew, where will you go?”  The red panda rubbed his chin with his black furry paw, “well … I hadn’t thought about that actually.  I could go back home, and look for my girlfriend.  If she even is returned, and if so … I have no idea what animal she might have turned into.”  The hedgehog bounced happily, “you should come to live in Pudgy’s forest.  We have the room, and Pudgy sure everyone would love to have you there.”  Drew smiled and wiggled his nose, causing his whiskers to wiggle.  “I would like that.  I know it will be exciting to say the least.”  The two friends laughed, while turning to watch the dragon working away in the kitchen.  Pots were set out, and restaurant sized cans of chicken noodle soup were simmering away.  While the lodge had no power, the stove ran on propane, which was fed by the large tank outside.  The soup was cut with a pitcher of rainwater that had been collected yesterday.  Soon, a delicious smell began to waft in the air. The smell drew out the occupants of the lodge, who all began to head upstairs.  

Bill the koala bear wandered up behind the dragon, “eh mate, what’s on the hobb?”  Cobalt moved his long neck a bit, and turned his head to look at the koala.  “Chicken noodle soup,”  he answered, and then resumed opening a box of crackers.  Bo the panda walked up into the great room, and nodded at Pudgy. “It does smell good, reminds me of home.  Though, the noodles are much thinner.”  Once the soup was warmed up to a sufficient temperature, it was placed into wide bowls with a long soup ladle.  Everyone was handed a bowl of soup, including late comers like Mr. Bear Junior and Grandpa bear.  After everyone was served, the dragon took the scant remainder for himself, and just drank out of the stainless steel pot.  Though it was finished quickly, the dragon headed around the room passing out large graham crackers.  It was an odd choice, but that was what they had found recently, from a supply search of the town.  There were only a few buildings left to search within the port, so the amount of human food found was dwindling.  

Pudgy nibbled on the huge graham cracker, and bounced happily while watching the dragon head to the fireplace.  He started to build a fire in the stacked stone fireplace, moving logs from a nearby wood hopper.  Grandpa Bear looked over at Pudgy, “Pudgy, that cracker is almost as tall as you.”  The old gray bear said with a smile, which drew a laugh from his son Mr. Bear Junior.  Bo nodded as he nibbled on a cracker, “tomorrow …we have those last 2 hours to search.  I wonder what will be inside of them?  The doors were secured shut tightly, and there were iron bars over the windows.”  Bill laughed, “well … whatever is inside, they didn’t want anyone to get it.  But we have more bears than we know what to do with, a hedgehog, and a dragon to boot.”  The group laughed quietly, and watched the rain pelt the windows.  The rain was starting to pelt the metal roof so hard, it was becoming hard to hear the others.  

Cobalt was thankful that there was a chimney cap, otherwise the rain would have been pouring down and put out the fire.  With the fire going finally, the dragon turned around to face the group, and sat down.  He curled his tail around his body, and nodded while speaking loudly over the rain.  “One of the buildings was for the postal service, which means there may be all sorts of packages inside.  The other was the ferry operator’s office … while I do not believe the ferry will be returning here any time soon … it is still good to check inside.  But that is for tomorrow, tonight we will rest and listen to the next grand tale of hedgehog adventure.  Pudgy, I believe you were going to regale us with tales of your steam ship adventure?”  

The little hedgehog bounced, and started to tell his grand tale.  He acted out parts, and the bears all smiled while they listened.  The tale lasted for over an hour, with the light of the day fading slowly.  Eventually the room was dark, save for the flames dancing on the logs in the hearth.  After the story was over, and the bears clapped their paws, Pudgy scampered back to sit next to the red panda.  Bill turned to Cobalt, “so do you have any epic stories of adventure?”  Cobalt laughed, “well I helped out on many of Pudgy’s adventures.  But me, no, I was human …and boring.  Go to work, come home, go to work, come home, etc.  I can regale you with tales of spreadsheets, and crazy humans on the phones.  But all of that doesn’t matter anymore, which is for the best.  Though, I can imagine Mr. Bear Junior as a call center operator.  Oh I know why it’s not working.  It’s because you are a stupid bleeping bleep bleep.”  The brown bear started to laugh, while his Father nodded, “I can see Junior doing that.” 

The remainder of the evening was pleasant, and once the fire had burned out completely, the bears headed downstairs to their respective rooms.  With their doors shut, all fell asleep, and slept peacefully throughout the night.  The nights were growing longer each day, signalling the return of winter was approaching.  Soon it was morning once again, and the animals stirred.  Excitement for the day, and the opening of the two remaining human structures were in the front of everyone’s minds.  So much so that instead of breakfast, every animal headed outside to break into two teams.    Bo, Bill, and Grandpa bear would head to the post office since it was the closest.  It was a short walk down the road, and the old bear was slowing down.  Cobalt, Pudgy, Drew, and Mr. Bear Junior would head the opposite direction to the ferry office.  The building was  across a wooden bridge that spanned the inlet of the bay, and down another road.  Many bears had chosen to camp out over there, as the finger of the island curved around and provided a less wavy area to swim around and play in.  

With the plans decided, the groups said their goodbyes, and agreed to rendezvous back at the lodge for dinner.  Pudgy climbed up onto Cobalt’s back, and held onto one his tines that rang along his spine.  The red panda scampered beside the dragon on the left, while Mr. Bear Junior padded along on the right.  The roads in the port were not paved, but were made up of crushed stone that had been driven over enough times to be virtually flat.  After a few minutes, the group reached a gray weather beaten wood bridge that was the pedestrian walkway to connect the town to the barrier island.  For this stretch, they walked in single file, with Drew scampering up front.  This was because he really needed to run faster, but also to check for loose boards that may prove problematic.  The sounds of the ocean water splashing against the concrete supports that were sunk into the bay provided a recurring but pleasant sound.  Errant sea birds called out, as they flew around in the sky.  

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Pudgy wonder what will be at the ferry office?”  Mr. Bear nodded, “presumably, lots of paperwork.  The main thing is to check, we do not want anything dangerous left behind by the humans to hurt someone.”  The dragon nodded, “agreed.  Look at the one house we found, it was loaded with firearms and bear traps. It was that other hunting lodge up the road from ours.  That was a rough day …” Drew heard Cobalt say, while he shuttered.  They had found a butcher shop in the basement, which made the bears roar in anger and sadness.  As the taxidermy animals were located, they were being relocated and buried in a section of the town.  The animals were not familiar with the concept of graves, but when Drew and Cobalt explained what they were, the large bears agreed it would be an appropriate process.  The group walked at a brisk pace in the damp cold air, and in time had crossed the bridge.  

Once on land once more, they navigated through the trees to reach a packed dirt path.  There were ruts dug in, where vehicles had driven to reach other parts of this fingerling of land.  Huge pine trees covered this area, with many stretching high into the skies above.  Unlike the town, which was developed in a rustic fashion, this area was more wild.  The various cabin homes had either already fallen down from the Gaia related deterioration, or had been taken over by the bears.  By the time they had reached what would be considered the main road of this development, they could see the ocean bay once again, and the ferry terminal.  Unlike their bay’s inlet that shimmered with a pale blue green color, this water was dark blue.  Pudgy wiggled his nose again, “water is much darker here.”  

As Mr. Bear Junior padded up beside the dragon he nodded, “the water is much deeper here Pudgy.  That is why they put the ferry here.”  They continued their walk past cabin homes of varying sizes and colors, bears of all shapes and sizes were peeking out of the windows.  The front doors had been ripped off of some, to allow easier entry.  It was very much like a summer camp, with visitors going from door to door, laughing and gossiping.  Kaymakli, Little Bear, and Husband bear had taken over one of the cabins around here as well.  Drew pointed with his paw at a sign, “Port Lions Ferry.”  Quickening their place, the group ran along the crushed stone road.  A clan of brown grizzly bears were busy fishing in the waters just off the coastline, and were pulling up large sea fish.  The hedgehog waved at them, and several waved back.  

The ferry terminal was located at the end of a point on the fingerling coastline.  However, the ships still needed deeper water.  Over time, huge rocks were dumped off the coastline, and built up a section of artificial land.  In terms of size, it could handle 4 lanes of highway and stretched out perhaps three hundred feet into the ocean.  In the center of this land mass, was a single lane road, which was wide enough to handle an oversized truck.  The rocks that formed the landmass were sticking up at weird angles, but sloped in such a way to not move, as they ran along to the sea water which lapped up against it.  At the end of the service road, the terminal opened up to a much larger flat section of thick concrete.  This was the area where cars would patiently wait for the ferry to arrive, before being allowed to be driven onto the ship.  Cobalt stopped to rest a moment, standing in this staging area and looked around.  It could easily accommodate ten cars side by side, and perhaps 3 or four rows of progressively smaller numbers.  

Mr. Bear continued on, and headed up to a beige aluminum siding clad building with a red metal roof.  Drew followed along, and scampered up to a soda pop machine. “Too bad there’s no power, I could really go for an orange soda.”  The brown bear chuckled, and reached over with one of his large claws, and hit the machine hard along the side.  The locks broke off, since they had been badly corroded by the sea air.  Upon swinging open the machine they found the inside racks completely empty.  The red panda pouted, “aww man, not even a diet cola inside.”  Cobalt walked up behind him, and reached into the machine.  As the dragon rooted around, he pulled out one can that had fallen behind the motors that made the machine work.  It was a dusty can of cola, which was soon opened and placed in front of Drew.  “Thank you Cobalt,” the red panda exclaimed happily.

Cobalt grinned, and then headed to the main office door, and pulled on the handle.  It was locked, so the door clinked as the lock prevented its opening.  This required persuasion, which was Mr. Bear’s forte.  With a grin, and a swipe of the large clawed paw, the metal door buckled inwards.  “Open,” the brown bear said with a smirk.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and watched as Cobalt opened the door wide enough to accommodate them.  BURRRRRRRRPPPPPPPPP!  The red panda let forth a belch that rang out, which drew laughs from the others.  It was warm, but the soda tasted so good.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Pudgy wanna burpy pop too!”  As the group moved inside, the ferry office was spartan.  It was mainly an aluminum garage that had been converted in such a way to serve as the ferry operations.  Long wooden benches rang along the walls, with garbage cans lined with black plastic bags.  There was the “office” in the one corner, which was basically a computer terminal and a counter.  

Pudgy eyes went wide as he locked onto pallets lined up in the middle of the room.  There were boxes on the pallets, all labeled with different words.  Drew padded inside, and found the manifest tags on the pallets.  He sat down, drinking from his can, and after a swallow he spoke. “Kodiak Paradise lodge, hey that is the one that is beside ours that fell down.  Looks like they had a shipment coming in of supplies.”  Cobalt nodded and found another manifest packet stapled to a box.  Tugging gently with his claws, the documents came free.  “Pallet one, assorted food, pallet two, preserved food, pallet three ….”  While the dragon read aloud the contents of the pallets, Pudgy climbed up his back and then hopped off the top of his head to land on the boxes stacked and strapped to the pallet.  

Mr. Bear nodded, but watched as Pudgy was furiously working at a loose box.  In time the determined hedgehog opened the lid of the box and disappeared inside. A small voice rang out, “COOKIES!”  Both Mr. Bear and Cobalt started to laugh hard, and Drew opened his mouth to laugh but a belch escaped again.  The group of animals that could not fit inside the box looked around, trying to figure out how to transport the supplies back to the lodge.  The red panda scampered along, and found a large wagon with metal mesh sides.  It looked like it had a hitch of sorts that could be pulled by a vehicle.  However, there were also harnesses hanging along the one wall, for dog sledding teams.  Mr. Bear nodded, and pulled at the wagon and rolled it into place beside the pallets.  Cobalt reached up to pull down the harnesses, and pondered how they could be adapted?

Pudgy peeked up from the box’s interior, nibbling on a butter cookie.  The baked cookies tasted so good, and they were not stale like the last box they had found.  The boxes on the pallet were not high, since they were quite large and heavy.  It was perhaps two rows stacked of boxes that spanned the pallet two across.  The hedgehog watched as his friends moved the wheeled cart into place, and the straps positioned around Cobalt’s rear quarter.  Mr. Bear soon was slicing open the boxes with his claws, and then taking objects out and placing them into the wagon.  The group decided to leave the bottled water, as well as the liquids, since they would be safe here until a second return trip could be arranged.  However, the wagon soon was as full as it could be.  

Drew laughed when Pudgy put his death grip on the box of cookies, and was picked up by Cobalt to place on the pile of goods.  The harness for the dogs, leant itself, to more goods being able to be lashed onto the dragon.  Eventually both Cobalt and the wagon were as full as they could be loaded, so it was time to depart.  Cobalt started to slowly move, and pulled the wagon with his tail.  The wheels squeaked terribly, but there was no oil around to grease them.  Out through the doors of the ferry terminal building they went, and headed towards the road that ran along  the top of the rocks to connect back to the mainland.  Thankfully there was no sign of rain, and the bright blue sky stretched as far as the eye could see.  Mr. Bear was missing his wagon, and thought about his cabin.  “Cobalt, how was the cabin before you two left to come here?”  Nodding while he walked, Cobalt cleared his throat and then spoke, “it looked fine from the outside.  Neither Pudgy nor I went inside, since it is your cabin.”  

As the brown bear nodded, he increased his pace to walk ahead of Cobalt.  The red panda scampered along behind, in case of something falling off from their load of supplies.  In a short period of time, they had crossed the ferry road to reach the gravel road that led back towards the row of cabins that ran along the inlet.  Suddenly, there was movement in a series of green fluffy bushes, and a tiny brown bear cub shot out across the road.  Pudgy blinked, and resumed nibbling on his cookie, but then saw a larger brown mother bear run past as well.  “Gosh darn it!  Little Bear, you get back here!”  Cobalt blinked, “Kaymakli?  Is everything ok?”  The female bear slid to a stop, and turned to look at the dragon.  “Cobalt, it is good to see you.  My son is being a …”  

The female bear said a word that was not nice, but thankfully it was not heard by the hedgehog.  Pudgy couldn’t hear it, because he was head first and rummaging around inside of the quickly emptying box of cookies.  When he looked up next, the mother bear had walked up and was smiling at Pudgy.  The hedgehog waved, “Hello Kaymakli!  We went to the ferry today, and found cookies!”  The former human woman nodded, “I see.  And Cobalt said you found all manner of supplies there too.  Where are you taking them?”  Mr. Bear nodded, “back to the lodge in Port Lions.  There is a long wooden bridge that connects this area to the town.”  Little Bear padded up to the group, and waved his paw at Pudgy.  “Hi Pudgy!”  The critter waved back, “hello!”  His mother gave the errant cub a stern look, which resulted in the cub heading back towards her.  Kaymakli nodded, “we have been meaning to head over there.  Would you mind if we tagged along?”  Cobalt shook his head, “not at all.”

While the mother yelled at her cub behind Cobalt, the group started to move once more.  Down the gravel road they went, passing several cabins, making a right to head up the small hill and down the other side along the packed dirt road they went.  Up the ramp, and across the weather stained gray wooden bridge, to reach the town of Port Lions the group headed.  Along the way, their dragon friend had to stop, since he was becoming tired from hauling the heavy load.  Eventually, as the sun started to slide down the horizon, they reached the familiar brown lodge.  Little Bear ran past the slowly moving group, and up to the front doors of the lodge.  Bill the koala bear had been sitting outside, and was being peppered with all manner of questions from the excited cub.  Grandpa Bear laughed, and slowly walked up to greet his son. “Junior .. I see your trip was very fruitful.”  Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “that is all the wagon could carry.  We found enough supplies to fill that wagon at least four times.  We need to go back again, with more wagons next time.”

When the dragon reached the front doors, he let out a sigh of relief.  In a short period of time, the other bears were soon out to look at the supplies gathered.  Then boxes of items were picked up, placed on the ground, and then pushed along into the downstairs of the lodge.  Even Little Bear got in on the fun, and was quite helpful.  The soon empty wagon was moved into a spot beside the door, and then the harness was removed from Cobalt.  “Grandpa Bear, how was the post office?”  Pudgy asked while looking up at the elderly gray bear, and nibbling on the last cookie from his box.  The gray bear nodded, “Bo was able to break the door down.  Once inside, we found human items, all which require power to operate.  There were scant packages inside, and their contents were of no use.  We did not find anything dangerous however, so the building is now safe.  Bill mentioned us using it as a storage place, since it had these marvelous racks to place things on.”  

The black and white panda bear nodded, “we also saw many of the cabins falling apart.  Ones we thought were safe, have now rotted.  This is strange, why are those buildings decaying so quickly?  And what happens to this place, if the same occurs?”  Before anyone in the assembled group could answer, a familiar voice boomed from behind them.  “Actually, I have an idea as to why this is not occurring.”  One by one the group turned, to see the Mother of all Bears standing  on the garvel road.  She was flanked by 4 large Kodiak grizzly bears, who all waved at the group assembled in front of the lodge.  All started to bow out of respect, which drew a smile from the Bear Mother.  “All right, all right, enough bowing.  Besides, I have heard from my cave that this lodge has been serving as the premier gathering spot on the island.”

The Mother of all Bears was still as imposing as ever, towering over all the bears around her.  The Kodiak grizzlies that flanked her, came to her mid leg.  While no longer composed of stars, her coat of fur was shining silver and had been trimmed to a more manageable length.  As Cobalt picked his head up, “I am glad to see you have recovered, Bear Mother.  Are you feeling well?”  The matriarch nodded, “yes I am.  However, I see you continue to push yourself, my dragon friend.  You should rest, so that when the time comes to return home, you will be able to fly once more.”  The dragon nodded, while Pudgy bounced and waved from his spot next to the wagon.  “We found all sorts of goodies, can you stay for dinner?”  The grizzlies looked up at the Bear Mother with pleading eyes, and she nodded, “yes we can.  I will not fit inside, so perhaps if you are agreeable to this, we may eat outside?”

The bears all nodded in agreement, and soon were running about to gather items.  Cobalt walked up closer to the Matriarch, and motioned for her group to follow.  “Around the lodge, we have a big grassy area beside the bay.  We had a bocce tournament a couple days ago that was quite animated.  Pudgy won …”  As the Kodiak escorts chuckled amongst themselves, the Matriarch followed at her slow pace.  The dragon led them to the wide grassy area, and motioned for her to sit wherever she liked.  The Matriarch picked out her spot, and sat down beside a small cabin outbuilding, with a black stained chimney pipe sticking out of it.  The dragon grinned, and watched as she leaned back up against the cabin.  Her escorts also took places around her to sit and watch the bay.  The ocean water splashed up on the rocky shoreline, while the sea birds continued to fly around in the skies above.  

There was already an often used fire pit in this area, which made things easier.  Cobalt started to, as quickly as he could muster, move logs into position.  Once they were arranged to his liking, he moved in smaller branches, and started to break them up to form kindling.  One male Kodiak raised his paw, “Mr. Dragon.  I heard your kind breaths fire.  Why do you not do that to start the fire?”  Cobalt looked up, “well, I can’t do that.  The best I can manage is the occasional ice shard.  I am not one hundred percent sure of how I can do this, but watch …”  The dragon started to cough, building up phlegm in the back of his mouth, before suddenly roaring.  The Matriarch watched as a tiny ice pellet flew out of his mouth and landed out into the ocean water.  The group watched in amazement, and clapped their paws when the demonstration was over.  The Matriarch nodded, while her golden eyes locked onto the dragon. “I see, you are an ice dragon.  That makes sense, though by this stage of development, you should be able to produce more ice than that.”

The former human returned to his task, and used his black talons to create a spark from the rocks.  The sparcs caught the kindling, and soon tiny glowing embers of fire appeared.  Blowing gently, the embers started to grow, the smoke began to billow, and the fire caught hold of the wood pieces placed before it.  In time, there was a roaring fire going, and a wagon full of items was being pulled down by Mr. Bear Junior.  The sun continued to slide down the sky towards the horizon.  With the light fading, all could see streaks of light heading to the south east.  The Bear Mother pointed with her large paw, “my word … I have never seen so many of those before.”  Pudgy was riding in the wagon and looked up, “shooting stars!  Cobalt, why can we see them now?”

The dragon had been placing pots around the fire, and opening cans of food into them.  He stopped working, to look up and watch the myriad of streaks.  “Shooting stars are when a meteor enters the earth’s atmosphere and begins to burn up.  They are also produced when a piece of space junk falls out of orbit.  Perhaps this is a meteor shower?  We could never see those back home, it was always cloudy.”  The hedgehog nodded, and watched his friend return to filling the pots full of a variety of food items.  Canned whole chickens were emptied out, and then topped off with rain water.  The quantities of food were much larger than what was normally cooked, since the Bear Mother was so much larger than the rest of them.  This fact she was keenly aware of, but was still nonetheless happy to be here at the most talked about place in her domain.  

Pudgy eyes went wide, as he looked up into the sky.  The little hedgehog stopped bouncing, and was frozen in place.  This caught the attention of the Kodiak grizzlies, who started to look up in the direction where the hedgehog was starting.  “Bear Mother!”  The escorts called out in unison, and pointed into the sky.  As the matriarch turned her head, she looked up into the sky.  Her mouth dropped open, as her golden eyes stared in disbelief.  The shooting stars continued to only increase in number as they streaked across the sky.  The fireballs were growing much larger, as they all headed in the same direction.  But that was not what the hedgehog was staring at, and he pointed with his paw.  “Cobalt ….. why is the moon on fire?”

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

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