The ancient pyropod contemplated its vanished prey for some hours. Its behavior matched the capabilities found in the alien memory it had assimilated, and the great pyropod carefully remembered and studied the energies. It could not yet duplicate the curious translight propulsion system; there was not enough information about how it worked in the alien memory module.

It filed the topic for future reference. Someday, it would capture another one, and it would know not to render down the drive unit until after dismantling and analyzing the device.

'Someday' might be very soon. The great pyropod tired of the Orion Nebula systems; they were too crowded with generations of its offspring, squabbling over every scrap of food to be found. It had fed well, and had a full complement of spermatophores stowed away; the thick gas of the nebula funneled through the ramjet as the ancient kraken of space accelerated on and on, pushing the edge of light speed.

There were two systems of interest in the alien memory module. One, a rogue metallic planet, had too much gravity and too few accessible resources. The other--the other was almost perfect. A dense outer cometary shell, plentiful planetoids, gas giants and their moons... food and prey in abundance, room to breed, and no siblings or offspring to share it with.

The ancient pyropod adjusted its course once more and hurtled at relativistic speeds toward Earth's solar system.

-- FIN --


Author's Note: I nicked the name and basic concept of pyropods from a long-forgotten scifi novel. Since I couldn't remember the details, I re-invented them.