The animals at Omega are more than they seem. Each one is connected with a human resident. The connections are deep. I think of them as pairs. One spirit in two different forms
Trickster is our resident raven. Most people never get close enough to appreciate him. Not just large, he’s massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak. He is about thirty inches long beak to tail with a wingspan of close to sixty inches. He lit on my shoulder once – to nip at an ear. I figure that he weights better than four pounds.
One thing about Trickster. His voice and vocabulary. He has a distinctive, deep, resonant prruk-prruk-prruk call which alerts us to something that needs attention. Beyond that Trickster has very wide and complex vocabulary includes a high, knocking toc-toc-toc, a dry, grating kraa, a low guttural rattle and some calls of an almost musical nature. In flight the feathers produce a creaking sound that reminds me of the rustle of silk.
His kin are among the smartest of all birds. They have a reputation for solving ever more complicated problems invented by ever more creative scientists. These big, sooty birds thrive among humans and in the back of beyond, stretching across the sky on easy, flowing wing beats and filling the empty spaces with an echoing croak.
Trickster is bound to the old man who lives up on the mountain. Their relationship runs deeper than all the others at Omega. Anna says that, for all intents and purposes, Trickster and the old man are one. She refers to them as the creators of the Omega/Alpha world. The raven also seems to be able to communicate with Anna through thought sharing. A most remarkable bird.
Ning is a female black panther. She weighs in at around a hundred and fifty pounds and is just under six feet not including her tail. She’s about two feet tall at the shoulders. She’s not the biggest cat but what she lacks in size she more than makes up for with incredible strength and speed. You don’t want to see her in action. It is a terrifying sight. I’ve seen her leap across a ten foot wide creek as if it wasn’t there.
Like most other cats, Ning has retractable claws. When she walks or runs, they retract to keep them sharp. When she is stalking, she retracts them to silence her movements. When she gets close enough to pounce, Ning extends her claws. Usually she strangles her prey by grabbing the victim at the throat with her powerful paws with sharp claws. I’ve also seen her kill by slapping a victim’s head hard with a front paw. This is often enough to break the skull. If that’s not bad enough, Ning has frightening fangs. Ning is deeply connected to Anna. They share each other thoughts and visions.
Ranger is our resident grey wolf. He is a notorious practical joker who likes to sneak up and tackle me. Which is a real experience given that he weights something over a hundred and fifty pounds. That’s a big puppy.
Canis lupus, you might know him as a timber wolf. His is the largest of about forty wild species within the dog family, Canidae, of the order Carnivora.
Although he lacks Ning’s claws, Ranger makes up for it with stealth, cunning and speed. I have seen him charge a man twenty feet away, hit him before the guy has a chance to turn completely around and put him on the ground with a bloody grip on the guy’s throat.
We first met on a rooftop in Paris. I’m here to tell you that, when his hackles stand up and lips curly back – when he drops his head and looks up at you – your life tends to flash before your eyes.
Ranger is bound to Andre. Their connection predates his presence at Omega. Anna found him and shared her secret. Andre and Ranger joined her family.
Edit is a seven foot long bushmaster. He is one of the largest and most dangerous snakes in South America. Edit is capable of multiple- bite strikes and the injection of large amounts of venom. The tip of Edit’s tail ends with a horny spine which he sometimes vibrates when disturbed in a similar manner to rattlesnakes.
Lachesis stenophrys is his Latin name. I looked it up once. It’s a member of the genus of venomous pitvipers found in remote forested areas of Central and South America. Lachesis, it turns out, refers to one of the Three Fates in Greek mythology who determined the length of the thread of life. Anna calls him Edit.
Edit is bonded to Chang, the Chinese Chef at Omega. The depth of their bond is only exceeded by the one between Trickster and the old man. But there is a difference between Edit and Trickster. The raven has his playful side. There is no playful side to Edit. He is a very ancient and sober soul. Anna says that he has been alive for a very long time – both he and Chang.
Ós is connected to Fernando. He’s a male Eurasian Brown Bear. Like most adult male bears, ós is aggressive and occasionally short tempered. When he’s in one of his moods, the rest of the animals and all the humans except Fernando and the old man stay away. He’s the only animal at Omega that’s not allowed into the garden. He mostly stays on the mountain.
He weights something over seven hundred pounds. His massive head, dish-shaped face with long snout, long claws, and prominent shoulder hump make for a formidable appearance. His hump is a thick wad of fat and muscle for digging roots and worms under the ground. It’s covered longer fur at the top of his shoulders. He has small ears and long, slightly curved claws that are five inches long.
Ós is a powerful, top-of-the-food chain predator. He’ll eat nuts, berries, fruit, leaves and roots. But also other animals, from rodents to moose. At Omega, he will occasionally take a deer.
Upright, he’s nine feet tall. As massive as he is, ós is extremely fast. Anna says that he’s capable of speeds up to thirty five miles an hour over short distances. Fast enough to easily run down a man.
In a close fight, ós is unstoppable. One swipe of his enormous front paw is enough to tear a man’s head clean off. His claws extend outward and can rip a torso open with a single swat. Then there’s his jaws. Due to ós’ enormous physical strength, even a single bite can be deadly. He can completely crush a human head with one bite.
Nothing stands up to his attack. Body armor is useless. He shreds it. No form of self-defense matters. He overpowers kills and moves on. If you shoot him, you just make him mad.
Most Brown bears dig dens for winter hibernation, often holing up in a suitable hillside. ós has special accommodations. The old man has blasted a den in the side of a ledge. It looks north over the valley.