Liann found out what "the news" was when the planet's sun rose the next morning. It was her. She was the news. Over the course of the day several of the not-aliens watched her from a distance, conferring with each other, but none approached except a small one that appeared to be a young female.
She introduced herself by the awkward name of Lani Duganlitter. When Liann asked, she explained that "Lani is who I am, and Duganlitter is what litter birthed me." That didn't clarify much, but Liann was distracted from pursuing it when the female child changed the subject.
"Knott Braxlitter spoke at length about the starlady-who-was-not-Moon-Lady. I thought starpeople were supposed to be special. You don't even wear any hides to show for your hunting."
"I don't hunt!" Liann exclaimed. "Pilots need to be in top physical form. I eat a strict all-organic diet of fresh nutrients I raise myself. Or at least I do at home..." She looked around. There wasn't an Organic Growers' Union market around for lightyears.
"Hmph. Knott said you were worth saving." The child shrugged. "Our dams Dugan and Brax are littermates, so I thought I would give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think he spent too much time in the desert heat." She wandered off, tossing over her shoulder with drooped eartips, "If you die, I think he will be very disappointed."
Liann had to find a source of food, and soon. The not-aliens had mentioned hunting, but she wasn't about to try that without weaponry, if at all. She was still that overzealous undergrad ecology major at heart, despite the intervening years.
She started in the immediate area around her ship, but found nothing growable that she could take back with her. Something must be around here, though, as she did manage to catch an interesting specimen of native avian.
Despite the tree matter, the crater she had crashlanded in was irritatingly absent of edible plants, but Liann had better luck down on the desert plateau. She still had not seen larger animal life, but she gathered up all the unsprouted seeds she could find.
Oddly, they looked familiar.
"Is that...this is an apple seed!" Why would a normal, SimEarth apple tree have spread seeds on CW8843? Had the colonists' food supply made it into the native ecosystem?
Liann was pondering this impossibility when she realized she was no longer alone.
"You! Skylady! You cannot be down here, not on the desert shelf!"
The male from before had appeared out of nowhere, the one the child -- his cousin? -- had called Knott. Despite his shout, he reassured her he spoke out of concern, not rage, and dismissed her apology for stepping onto sacred lands, or whatever transgression she had committed.
"The lands are not protected," he muttered, constantly looking around them as if expecting an attack. "They are dangerous. Prowled by creatures you are not equipped to deal with. Their camouflage gives them near-invisibility, and they can only be seen if you know how to look." He pulled her after him. "We must leave here. I will escort you back to your unnatural box."
Oh, the pod. That was one term for it, she guessed.
At home Knott seemed uncomfortable inside the habitation pod, but didn't comment on it. Possibly he was confused at the juryrigged and depressingly empty food cooling unit she had fashioned out of cracked stones.
Instead he greeted Orion. They did not name animals here after all, but he was amused at the idea, and then approving when she explained the constellation-based significance of the choice.
Liann could tell Knott was lingering. "Is there something else you wanted?"
"I have spoken to my dam and littermates. We agreed you are not capable of fending for yourself here." She'd take offense at that, if it weren't so true. "It was determined that you needed one of us to stay with you, a hunter who knew the land, and I volunteered."
Huh. Boys sure move fast here.
Judging by the constant small ear twitches, which she was beginning to believe indicated nervousness, Liann suspected he expected her to refuse. The joke was on him, then. She had no intention of starving to death on some undeveloped, barely charted world.
"Makes sense. Let's do it."
She was going to have to find a second sleeping bag.