Bluing was it’s favorite time of waking. The sand, brilliant white for so many matings, took on the hue of Aurora for only three. Others avoided the surface during bluing, fearing the overling would walk the sands with her obliterating heat. R’ik knew better; so many matings it had spent alone in the beauty.
It tasted the soft silica, savoring the cool sweet flavor. Brighting soured the sand, drawing moisture from deep in the mountains to clump and harden the silica into cakes. The tribe would graze freely across the dunes, absorbing what life force the cakes held. Only R’ik avoided filling its wells, waiting for Aurora’s wings to soften and dry the surface for a treat it considered a blessing all for itself.
It stopped at the top of a tall mountain, surveying the deeply blown dunes below. The soft hues of the bluing stroked its sensors with pleasure more satisfying than any mating. Suddenly a white flash disturbed the surface, whipping around the crater of a dune as if driven by a great storm. Fear stabbed R’ik; perhaps the others were right and Aurora had come to punish it after all.
The tiny brighting stabilized, and others joined it, creeping from a shadow that had not been there when the tribe went below. Awkward creatures carried the tiny brightings with some evil magic; they moved on appendages too small to hold them and sank into the sand with every motion, and their bodies bulged in all the wrong places so that they appeared top-heavy.
R’ik shivered, dread filling it. What horror could take the power of Aurora and learn to wield it for itself? The power and evil of this strange being must be beyond comprehension to subdue Aurora’s wisdom. It must warn the tribe immediately.