Shallow Pool

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Gower was the last of the Banteng. His mighty hooves ploughed up the fresh ground beneath trees, his proud horns shed their winter coating against the trees. He was immortal, he was invincible, he was unchallengeable.
A shot rang out. There were no more banteng.
The rangers’ systems registered the death, sent out a patrol. Gower’s headless body was already surrounded by carrion creatures, but the rangers drove them off and checked the corpse, saw that it was indeed Gower. They dug out the bullet for analysis, removed the tracker, took a back-up skin sample of Gower’s flesh and left him to be eaten.
The systems were already in operation though, deep in the savannah station. An frozen clone embryo was brought out of storage and gently warmed up, while an automatic process started the creation of another ten to provide a single replacement. A large immune-deficient cow was selected from the large isolated flock and implanted.
The foetus grew slowly. Elsewhere systems and men analysed the bullet, found the gun, found the owner, dealt with him. The head and the magnificent horns had already disappeared into the black market but for a short time the local chain of supply was removed. Demand would replace it soon enough.
After many months, the host was euthanised and opened up by a team half vets, half butchers. The over-large calf stood up on legs like spindles and wailed and butted. It was led to its Skinner doll for milk and suckled. It had found a mother.
After twelve months the calf, to all intents and purposes, was full grown. He was drugged and, in a great cradle in an all-terrain vehicle, taken out into the spring of the national park. He woke up, was observed for weeks, was terrified, was lost, but slowly adjusted to the nights. One day he woke and there were no more watchers.
Winter went, spring came. His mighty hooves ploughed up the fresh ground beneath trees, his proud horns shed their winter coating against the trees. He was immortal, he was invincible, he was unchallengeable. With only his genes remaining from the mighty Banteng, Gower was, as ever, alone.

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