2. The Fire-wolves
Io, the Sisters’ Domain, is an ever-changing world due to the sub-surface lava flows, caused by many underground volcanic eruptions. The lava and crust of the moon keep any toxic gases encased inside the globe, which in turn get recycled back into the flowing mass, churning it around for further eruptions.
The Sisters are the Firewolves. The reddish-furred wolves that ride the largest landmass as it moves its way around the moon, appearing to almost surf the waves of lava.
Due to the atmospheric pressures, lightning strikes upon the land are frequent, and these are one amongst many perils that the Firewolves need to be wary of.
When storms break, they take shelter within the lava caves; some naturally formed, others clawed out by the wolves themselves in times of desperation.
These Firewolves are reclusive. They still run around in packs, as do most other wolves, but their numbers are considerably smaller, and they always remain within their family groups.
Unusually for wolves, when they are attacked, they use a type of venom excreted through glands in their mouths, which they fire at anything they deem to be their threat. This venom can be as hot as the lava from the land beneath them, and can cause some pretty nasty burns if it touches bare skin.
Their thick red fur provides some protection from this venom, as it does with the lava, but they have to be careful as too much can singe the fur down to the roots – many Firewolves have burns on their bodies because of this.
They heal quickly from these burns, but much prefer not to be burned in the first place, so tend to keep themselves to themselves.
Just because they are known as the Sisters of Io, not all Firewolves are female, although the females are the pack leaders, hunter gatherers, and watchmen over their own patches.
Any threat they see approaching causes them to sing; a melodic, beautiful tone, totally unexpected and not at all wolf-like. Similar to the siren song from the mermaid legends on Earth, the Firewolves’ song is hypnotic, enchanting… and at times deadly. They feed on small crustaceans and snakelike creatures that skim across the lava flows, and use a different type of call to lure their pray. As soon as their target hears the song, the wolves’ pray cannot move, entranced… almost as if they are flies caught in a spider’s web.
The Firewolves feed for themselves and hunt for the others, especially looking after the older and younger members of their small groups. It’s during their hunting time that the wolves will fight with other wolves from other packs, but only if their paths cross. As they are wary of each other, they tend to know where the other wolves are, so rarely are they aggressive with each other.
Io is bathed in a red light all day and all night, once again due to the lava, which means the wolves can hunt at any time. Io is also very warm, so the Firewolves need to rest and sleep quite a lot, as although their fur provides protection from the lava, it can trap in the heat, a fact some have said may be the cause of their ‘hot tempers’, which reveal themselves from time to time.
The Firewolves’ melodic calls have been picked up by remote monitoring stations on Jupiter and Europa, although it is uncertain whether their calls have travelled through the vacuum of space, or somehow some of the Sisters have managed to leave Io and set up home on their neighbouring worlds. They have never been seen anywhere else other than on Io, but their call is unique, and, it is thought, if they can survive the climate of that world, there is every possibility they could survive anywhere.
Perhaps one day, a new legend will be passed on from generation to generation, of the red wolves who really do sing for their supper.
Next time… the Blackwolves of Mars.
Also posted for Six Word Saturday