Thanks to Bataav, Daniel Alpena, Devan Corvel, and Maruvindi for their written contributions.
The original posts are here.

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere

Gray light seeped into clouds of mist rising off the surface of the pond. Wisps of vapor twisted and undulated in a slow, mesmerizing dance until they were lost from sight against the gradually brightening sky. The hush of night lingered, swallowing the echo of a shore bird’s call. The bird did not cry out again.

Dawn broke. The first rays of Intaki’s red sun speared the mist; morning exploded in the fog like a spray of blood and the vapors began to recede. The pond beneath the swirling veil was flat as glass and black as space.

Sakaane watched the spectacle from beneath the boughs of a tree growing at the water’s edge. She stood still, not wanting to disturb the quiet, almost cool morning. It was the height of summer in the southern Intaki hemisphere and the heavy, humid air hinted at the stifling heat that would soon come.

A low sound, not quite a slurp, caught her attention. She looked: some thirty feet away, the water rippled where a fish had risen to the surface. It had been a big one, she knew, mature enough to know to take its prey quietly and then slip away. Younger, inexperienced fish tended to get overly excited when food presented, jumping and splashing at the surface and thus making themselves easy targets.

The ripples reached the pond’s embankment, a sharp edge just inches from the toe of her shoe, and made the water lap gently against it. She looked down upon hearing the sound. The ground was covered in grass and ferns growing at the base of the tree; dew had soaked into the hem of her robes. The tree’s roots jutted out in a tangled mess below the waterline and disappeared into the pond’s dark depths.

A smile curved her lips. It was the young and inexperienced fish who, if lucky enough to survive a few close encounters, learned discipline and patience, and went on to catch bigger, better prey of its own.