Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Using his pincers, Brachyura meticulously trimmed the crust off the edges of his sandwich. Satisfied that it was all removed, he rapidly consumed the meal in a nibbling motion that was too fast for his human visitor to follow. Brachyura arched his two protruding eyestalks backward over his brow plate and cooed. “Wow,” he exclaimed, “that’s the best thing I ever tasted. What’s it called again?”

“Peanut butter and jelly on sourdough,” answered Mike Kramble.

“And this exquisite white liquid?”

“It’s called milk. Listen, Brachyura, let me talk to our Governor. Perhaps I can convince him that this incident was just an unfortunate misunderstanding. Maybe I can persuade him that you didn’t mean to kill the maintenance workers.”

“Oh dear, Mike, you keep using that nasty word ‘kill.’ I didn’t kill them. I simply ate them.”

“It’s the same thing, Brachyura.”

“Of course it isn’t. It’s just eating. I was hungry; they were food. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s what we do on Beta Hydri. Doesn’t your species eat meat?”

“We don’t eat sentient beings, Brachyura. Listen, you’re wasting valuable time. In a few minutes the guards are going to come in here and escort you to the beach. They plan to execute you in front of your friends and family. They want to make an example out of you, to discourage any future attacks. Please, Brachyura, I can beg for clemency if you show any sign of being remorseful.”

“Mike, I’m not remorseful. I’m just full. Besides, it’s not a problem. I love our beach. It’s next to the ocean. I can finally go home.”

“Brachyura, you don’t understand. You’re not going home. There’s a twenty-foot high electric fence around this island. We had to build it because you guys think that it is okay to eat us. We only want to live here in harmony with your species.” Mike could hear the escort detail coming down the main isle. A minute later they unlocked the large cage door and slid it to the side. The guards used their cattle prods to motion Brachyura out of his cage. Electricity was the only effective weapon against the four-foot tall by ten-foot wide crustaceans. Bullets only ricocheted off their super-hard exoskeletons. As Brachyura walked down the corridor, his eight legs skidded erratically on the hard concrete floor. When he stepped out of the makeshift warehouse prison onto the soft sand, he paused. He spread his foreclaws apart and raised them toward the noonday sun. Momentarily startled, the guards jumped backwards and extended their prods.

“What a beea-uuuuu-ti-ful day,” proclaimed Brachyura. Then he lowered his claws and turned toward Kramble. “I will miss you, my friend. I will also miss peanut butter and jelly on sourdough. Perhaps in a few years, the relationship between our two species will improve, and you can make me another sand-d-wich.” With that, he bowed his head in a respectful gesture. An instant later, the back of his shell split apart to allow four large wings to unfold. In a maelstrom of blowing sand and debris, his massive body lifted off the beach. He hovered for a second, then majestically turned and flew over the fence. He splashed into the ocean approximately 100 yards offshore.

“Well, I’ll be damned” remarked Kramble with a smile. “They can fly.” Then he suddenly realized the colony had a serious problem. “Whoa, I guess that kind of makes our electric fence worthless.”

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