Black fur brindled gold on hips and back glistened in the artificial light of a colonial starship. Somewhere between small and medium, the dog’s unknown mix showed signs of bully breed and shepherd. Pointed ears laid back, chest thrust low, she let out a bark that sounded deeper than her size suggested.
“Ready?” the shrill voice of a young boy asked.
A ball sailed over the dog’s head. It jumped while turning about and snapped at the object overhead. Penny seized the blue ball and trotted back to her wiry, sandy blonde owner who watched the approach with big blue eyes. Willy snatched the ball and stuffed it into his satchel.
“Come on Penny. Dad said you can see the planet we are going to land on out the starboard ports,” Willy said.
The boy and his best friend left the recreation area and walked a few blocks down street sized corridors until the came to the city sized vessel’s outer hull. Willy pressed his face to the glass. It felt ice cold and refreshed him after their walk. White clouds drifted over masses of blue, green, and brown. He knew from his grandparent’s pictures that this planet resembled Earth, the place his colony departed forty years ago.
The colonial starship landed and a couple days blurred by with massive hull deconstruction efforts, and various other tasks related to converting a metal behemoth into a landed, permanent, home.
Willy and Penny instantly loved the outdoors. Any boy and his dog would. Treks started off small and supervised, Mother would walk with them around a freshly cut and trodden trail which skirted a thick canopy. Father got Willy involved in a new soccer league and held Penny off field to prevent her interference.
Time passed and Willy’s parents began to let the boy and his dog venture out unsupervised from time to time. One such adventure led Willy and Penny down the new part of the trail on the tree line.
A noise in brush nearby elicited a growl and the ruff between Penny’s shoulders stood straight like a Mohawk. A small purple creature crept out of shadow. Willy’s brindled companion turned guardian and wedged herself between boy and beast.
“It’s okay Penny,” the boy rubbed down her fur and made his way to the animal “Let’s have a look at the little…Aagh!” Willy staggered as the creature sunk claws into his forearm.
Penny crunched down upon it, which rendered the purple assailant inert. She dropped its corpse and sniffed at the wound. The odor was not simply her boy’s blood.
Willy paled and felt sleepy. He slumped back against a tree. He hardly felt his dog nuzzle him and whimper concern. His eyes fluttered and he realized the creature and Penny were gone.
Penny raced back up the trail and to the family’s quarters in the colony. It took only seconds for Mother and Father to get the brindled playmate’s message and the three raced back to recover the poisoned boy. Their doctor synthesized anti-venom with the corpse Penny retrieved before the poison affected Willy too deeply.
The boy awoke with Penny asleep on his feet and his parents at his side. “Mom, Dad, you saved me!”
A low rumble of disagreement came from his