The bonded pair huddled, frightened, under a small outcropping of limestone. The great predator circled lazily overhead in the Mediterranean sun, in no hurry for its next meal, but persistent. The pair was in a hurry. The female’s time was near.
Somewhere in the depths of the male’s brain, a pattern was building. The bird criss-crossed the sky in lazy figure eights, riding a thermal on the shore of the great water. As the sun made its way across the sky and the clouds drifted, the thermal shifted slowly west. The male was only dimly aware of these linked events, but the pattern led to a germ of thought, a plan.
The limestone shelter where they harbored was located at the eastern end of the bird’s orbit, the distance growing in miniscule steps with each traverse of the sky. A squeak from his mate ratcheted his terror up a notch, and his urgency. With a sudden decision, he scuttled out of the tiny cave and ran breathlessly further east, away from the nest.
The great bird looked back over its shoulder and saw the motion. With a scream of triumph, it completed its turn to the east, folded its wings, and stooped. The little male was fast, but the bird was far faster. The inevitable raced earthward on outstretched wings. As the great predator neared, the little male stopped and turned to meet his fate.
The female felt a burst of sorrow as she saw the bird pass overhead. As it approached her mate, she sped from the limestone overhang toward her burrow. As the predator whistled its triumph, she attained the mouth of her home and went in as far as possible, shivering and panting with exhaustion and grief.
Late that night Eve, the mother of all the living, gave birth to a litter of four pups, one destined for greatness.