Claire, I miss you. I've been away from you for far too long now. I hope you have received my previous letters since communication is spotty at best out here in the wastes. I can spend a week running my patrol route without a transmission from command. Sometimes it's pretty nice to have all the peace and quiet, though other times it's pretty eerie especially when I come across a town. All those buildings just sitting empty. I can almost imagine people going about their daily lives, working and playing. Then reality sets back in and back to work I go.
Something happened this morning. I was making my way north into the area that used to be known as Oregon. It's beautiful country with tall green pine trees covering the rolling hills and mountains. In the morning the clouds come down so low that they hover half way up the hillsides. Mists rise up from the streams and creeks creating patches of fog.
I was maneuvering my scout transport to an automated reporting post when one of my proximity alarms went off. My heart jumped into my throat from the sound of the alarm! I came to an emergency stop, popped my cockpit, and scanned the area. At first I didn't see anything, then off to my right I saw a blur of movement. I grabbed my assault rifle, jumped down from the transport and started making my way into the cover of trees.
Most of the time I curse Coalition techs for the absolute lack of comfort they built into the personal body armor we have to wear. That is until right at that moment. Other scouts have told stories about finding wild animals when they are on patrol, but this is the first time I've come across anything larger than a raccoon and I didn't want to come nose to nose with a bear or cougar. As I broke the tree line I turned on the helmet camera and flipped on the high power light on my rifle. The ground was damp from the morning mist so I stooped to see if there might be any tracks. Sure enough, after a minute of looking I found the biggest animal tracks I have ever seen! They were almost the size of my palm. I was still crouched down and looking in amazement when I heard a crash come from the bushes just in front of me. A beast came running out of the brush and bowled into my chest. My assault rifle was knocked to the side when the full weight of the animal slammed into me. The wind was knocked out of me as I landed on my back. My eyes shut out of instinct but when I opened them a second later I found my visor completely smeared and smudged. The creature was laying on top of me. With both hands I pushed at it, but it was huge and did not budge an inch. Then I saw its gaping maw of a mouth coming down at my face. Well, at least that's what it looked like. I prepared myself for the feel of sharp teeth cracking the face mask and helmet I was wearing, hoping that it was strong enough to save me. The dreaded cracking noise of teeth splitting my helmet never came. What did happen was rather more slimy and disgusting. A massive pink and black tongue was repeatedly lapping across my face plate. I stared in amazement for a few moments longer. No harm had come to me so far and as I finally managed to dislodge the thing off my chest I realized that it was a dog. Not just a dog, but the biggest dog I have ever seen.
I popped open my face mask to better see him. He was gorgeous. His large square head came up to my chest. His short apricot and black fur showed how well muscled he was. The long whip like tail swished back and forth with the excitement of the moment. His almond eyes were sharp and intelligent and his ears were perked forward waiting for me to give him attention. I slowly raised my hand to him.
"Are you friendly boy?" I said and he proceeded to lick my hand enthusiastically.
Its a mystery to me how he could have survived out there on his own. The books I've read said that dogs like to roam in packs, but this big guy was all on his own. There is an old town that isn't too far from here. It is possible that there might be more life there. So tomorrow I'm off to investigate with my new friend.
You are in my thoughts day and night. I hope to see you soon.