In this scene from Chameleon: Alien Castaways 1, Chameleon and his fellow alien refugees have landed on Earth after their planet is destroyed. Kevanne spots a meteorite (it’s really their ship), and fearing it could cause a forest fire when it hits, goes to investigate.
“Somebody is headed this way,” Shadow said.
“Put the feed on the main view screen.” Tigre motioned.
The Castaway had landed in a small secluded clearing among the trees, but because the matter-energy converter had been damaged, they’d been unable to activate the cloaking device, leaving the craft visible to anyone who might happen by. Fortunately, they had been able to release a surveillance drone.
On the screen, a human steered a wheeled vehicle through the trees.
“What the herian is she riding?” Wingman gawked.
“That must be one of their fossil-fueled vehicles,” Chameleon surmised. He’d heard about them; he’d never seen one. It was astounding humans ever made it into space.
“Do you think she saw the Castaway land?” Wingman asked.
“I would say the timing is too much of a coincidence for it to be otherwise,” Tigre said. “She’s coming to investigate.”
“We can’t have that,” Chameleon said. “Until we can evaluate the natives and determine how receptive they are, it’s best if we remain out of sight.”
“You said because of the Intergalactic Dating Agency, humans would be receptive to aliens,” Wingman said.
“Yes, but we’re not with the IDA. Humans aren’t expecting us. Furthermore, my understanding is Earth is divided into different political and cultural provinces. It’s possible not everyone has been exposed to extraterrestrials, so we can’t assume they will all be welcoming. They could be dangerous.”
“Agreed.” Tigre stroked one of his facial stripes. “Caution should always be the first priority when introducing oneself to new and primitive life-forms. How far away is he?”
“I believe the human is a she.” Chameleon studied the rider. The bright-yellow garment she wore had a hood, but it had fallen back to reveal a mass of curly brown hair.
Shadow peered at his console. “About one kreptac. At her present rate of speed, she’ll reach us in three minutes.”
“Get Psy,” Tigre said. “Have him intercept the female, do a mind wipe, and relocate her—”
“Before we do anything drastic, let me try to get rid of her,” Chameleon interjected. They had no way of knowing how a human would react to a mind-cleansing. Would the last few minutes be erased? Or would she lose days or years? How far back would the amnesia go? He had dedicated his life to saving others; he hated to rob this human of her identity unless there was no other choice.
“What can you do?” Wingman asked.
“I can personify an Earth life-form and convince her to leave.”
“Okay. Try that first, but bring Psy with you as backup,” Tigre said. “If you can’t get her to leave, then Psy needs to do a mind wipe.”
“Better hurry,” Shadow said. “She’ll have us in sight in two minutes.”
Psy met him at the hatch. “We need to split up,” Chameleon said. “I’ll approach her. You should remain out of sight, unless I call for you.”
They exited the craft. The rumble of a primitive engine indicated they didn’t have long. Psy veered left, ducking into the thicker flora, and Chameleon trotted off to intercept the human. He had to see a life-form to be able to personify it. He couldn’t mimic the female herself because she would think it strange if she came face-to-face with a doppelgänger. Fortunately, as the Castaway had descended into the field, he’d caught sight of an indigenous life-form.
* * * *
Kevanne idled on the quad considering whether to proceed or go home. Recent storms had knocked down a large fir, which lay across the service road. Too much fallen timber lay in the dense woods to allow the quad to pass through easily. She sniffed the air, but smelled only fresh, rain-drenched evergreen and a tinge of exhaust from the four-wheeler. If there’d been a fire, there should have been signs of smoke by now.
Maybe the meteorite hadn’t struck out here. Distances could be deceptive. It could have hit the next county over—or burned itself out before landing.
Except a fireball that big wouldn’t burn out. So, maybe it was a UFO. Which would be really cool! She’d never met an alien.
As a kid, she’d seen every episode of every Star Trek and all the Star Wars movies. The sci-fi channel was her favorite as an adult. Dayton who’d watched auto racing and football had mocked her favorite shows. He’d pulled the plug in the middle of one episode. She’d yelled at him, and—
It’s over. It’s over. She cut the engine to the quad. In the silence, she inhaled the scent of damp earth and evergreen and released the bad memories on the exhale. They ought to bottle this smell,she thought then chuckled. They did bottle it. You could buy pine-scented everything.
What she didn’t smell was smoke. She didn’t hear any crackling. She should return to the house, make a honey-do list, go to town, and hire somebody. Maybe she’d treat herself to a burger at Millie’s and drop in at the antique store and see if they had anything “new.” She couldn’t afford to buy much—she had to save the insurance money for the business—but occasionally she’d find a bargain on a treasure. Like her patchwork quilt. The fabric squares reminded her of the kind of patterns used for men’s boxer shorts, but she imagined some grandma lovingly sewing it from bits and pieces of clothing that had belonged to the family. Sometimes she pretended her grandma—the one who died when Kevanne was a baby—had sewn it.
I’d better go back. I have a lot to do today.
But instead of firing up and reversing the four-wheeler, she swung her leg over and slid off. She loved hiking in the woods, but with the bad weather, she hadn’t been out in days. She checked the sky. Still gray—and the forecast had predicted at least two more days and two more inches of precipitation. The light spot where the meteorite-fireball-not-UFO had broken through had filled in with dark clouds.
Better make haste before the next deluge.
She jumped over the log and hurried up the forest service road, surveying left and right for any signs that something big and fiery had hit. She’d gone maybe a quarter mile when a chuffing noise caused the hair on her nape to stand up.
A huge bear lumbered around the bend.
Bear! Oh god! Bear! What do I do? What do I do? Play dead? Climb a tree—no, bears can climb. Walk away? Oh my god. The shovel. I left the shovel on the quad.
She recalled that you needed to behave differently if the animal was a black bear or a grizzly. While the latter were territorial, the former were predatory. This animal’s coat was light brown like a grizzly’s, but black bears could range from light to dark. Why did I have to run into a bear? Why did I leave the shovel on the quad?
Everything in her screamed to run like hell, but she knew better. She inched away, not taking her eyes off the animal. It lifted its head and stared at her. It had weirdly light, almost-silver intelligent-appearing eyes, and she’d almost swear the animal had sought her gaze.
“Stay there, Mr. Bear, stay there.” She spoke softly, partly because she’d recalled you were supposed to speak in a nonthreatening tone, but mostly because she was so freaking scared, she could hardly croak out the words. “I mean you no harm. It’s just little old me, and I’m going to leave now. You can have the woods all to yourself.”
Her heart pounded like she’d run twelve blocks.
I have to get to the quad. Have to get to the quad.
With excruciating slowness, she inched one small step at a time until she smacked into something solid. A scream bubbled up into her throat until she realized she’d gotten off the path and backed into a tree. Maybe she could duck into the woods?
She vetoed that idea—the bear could travel through overgrown brush better and faster than she could. “Go away! Please, go away.” She waved her arms, but the animal continued to stalk her. He’s not leaving. Oh god. It’s a black bear. He’s going to eat me. She tried to step back onto the road, but the belt of her yellow slicker caught on a branch. As she tore it free, she bumped a hard lump in her pocket.
She dug inside and pulled out a canister of bear spray. Hands shaking, she uncapped it, dropping the lid.
The bear stood right there. Saliva dripped from its muzzle, and its odd silver eyes gleamed. It reared up on its hinds legs and let out a menacing growl.
Kevanne shot it in the face.
The bear howled, a surprisingly man-like sound.
She screamed and ran.
She tore down the road as fast as her legs would go. She expected to hear the thundering footfalls of a bear in pursuit, expected a swipe by a massive clawed paw, but she didn’t stop. She ran and ran. She leaped over the fallen log and jumped onto the quad. Firing it up, she reversed and sped away.
When you wish upon a falling star, er, UFO…
Young widow Kevanne Girardi catches sight of a meteorite streaking across the sky and wishes for a good handyman to help make her rundown lavender farm a big success. Instead, she gets a shapeshifting alien who apparently has never seen a leaky faucet before. But his loving and noble spirit make him just the man to fix her wounded heart. He hasn’t promised her forever, but a girl can hope, can’t she? Maybe she’ll make another wish…
When his ship tumbles out of the sky and lands on Earth, Chameleon never expects to fall for a human woman. Unfortunately, he can’t stay. He made a mistake that led to the devastation of an entire planet, and now the survivors are depending on him to get them to safety. He must repair his ship and leave before the Xeno Consortium finds him and Earth becomes endangered, too. But oh, he wishes he could stay with Kevanne forever…
Can a twist of fate make their wishes come true?
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