Mira abandons the stabilizers, ignores the shopkeeper, and motions for BT to follow her. She slips behind a pair of finely dressed Bute merchants, and their wide girths, made wider by the folds of their massive robes, hide her from the stranger’s line of sight. BT tries to scan him, but Mira says no, not wanting to take the chance of being seen. Carefully, she matches the merchants’ steps until she slips out of the marketplace. Hopefully, whoever the hooded man was, he didn’t follow.
A few weeks later, Mira is in a market on Corrin Prime looking at second-hand stabilizers for the Sparrow. BT hovers at her shoulder and beeps out the schematics and his personal opinion on each of the pieces she looks at. The shopkeeper, who has a basic understanding of Bot, is not amused. Mira goes through the stock, but her attention isn’t completely there. A mysterious figure in a dark hood has been following her since she left the bot maintenance stall an hour ago. He’s leaning against a wall on the other side of the market, seemingly looking out at the crowd, but Mira knows that he’s watching her.
When it’s time for Mira and BT to leave, the Teego takes them back to the clearing on the edge of the field where she had landed the Sparrow. There, Mira is lifted onto a branch of one of the surrounding trees. Around her, the Teego’s other cubs peer from between the leaves, watching their sibling perched on this human stranger’s knee. When BT sends a soft trill saying that it’s time to go, Mira wraps the Teego cub in a fierce hug and bids goodbye to her new friends. If she ever flies by Thesulia again, she’ll see them.
As evening approaches, they leave the old castles, climb a hill, and settle on the grass. Mira can see nearly everything from up there: the endless forests, the statues and peeking towers, even the Sparrow out near the field clearing. BT lets out a string of excited beeps as the skies turn from their clear blue to crimson, and Mira looks up. There, among the clouds, wide-winged draconian creatures dip and glide, swooping low enough to graze the treetops. Bright fishes shimmer into existence as the stars begin to come out and swim through the breeze like ghosts. Mira’s face hurts, but she can’t stop smiling. Thesulia, once home to a long-dead civilization, is still teeming with so much life.
The Teego lets Mira and BT down in the ruins of a shattered tower, and the cub is quick to clamber onto Mira’s shoulder. They walk among the broken stones and pieces of carved statues. BT runs a scan, but finds no results on his database. The civilization is truly lost to time, so much that historical records have forgotten them.
Mira steps over the remnants of a doorway and enters what looks like a wide alcove. The roof is gone and the sky is bright above them. The Teego settles against the far wall as Mira examines a relief of what looks like a scene of war: two armored swordsmen locked in a battle. One is on the ground and still fighting, while the other raises his blade to deliver a killing blow. She steps past them and touches the tattered remains of a banner. The colors have leached away and it crumbles like dust under her fingers. She can make out a design, a sigil perhaps. She glances back at the relief, at the two warriors locked for eternity in a fight to the death, and she wonders which one it belonged to.
Turns out, the adult Teego is the cub’s mother, who has been searching for her injured and wayward child for days. After a short conversation between the two – consisting of growls, barks, and high-pitched yips – the Teego calmed. On inspecting her cub’s cast, she turns to Mira and BT, grateful for their help. As thanks, she lets Mira climb up onto her neck and takes her around the ancient ruins. Mira holds to the Teego’s fur, whooping as the wind catches her in the face, but BT is less thrilled. He clings to her shoulder with his arms, his thrusters unable to keep up with the Teego’s pace. He’ll be glad when they’re done with the running around.
A shadow falls over them, then there’s another thump, this time louder. Closer. Mira turns around slowly, BT still hovering behind her shoulder, and finds herself looking up at a gigantic, fully-grown Teego. Furious yellow eyes glare down at her. Lips peel back to reveal rows of sharp, gleaming teeth. A growl rumbles from within the Teego’s massive chest and the sound seems to fill the air, turning it thick. Mira doesn’t dare to breathe or look away. Her hand reflexively moves to the blaster on her hip. The cub on her other side is bouncing on its hind legs, chirruping and thumping its tail, but Mira keeps her eyes on the adult, waiting to see if it would move first.