Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“When are these damn birds going to let us go back to the Shuttle?” demanded Captain Linnaeus.

“We have weapons, Captain, they don’t,” stated Lieutenant Baldwin, the ship’s exobiologist. “Therefore, I suppose that we can leave anytime we want to, provided you don’t mind killing intelligent, extraterrestrial life forms.”

“Dammit, Baldwin, you know I don’t want to do that. Can’t you reason with them?”

“Although their brains are as large as ours, sir, they don’t think the way we do. Their behavior is driven by instinctual fixed action patterns, not rational thought. Over the last million years or so of evolution they’ve become totally dependent on inherent inclination for survival. In other words, their reactions to external stimuli are hard-wired. They can’t be reasoned with. Unfortunately, they see us as a threat. And instinctively, their species has survived only by attacking and destroying threats. It’s a behavior that must run to completion.”

“But they have seen us use our weapons,” argued the captain. “They must know we’re not some indigenous predator that can be easily defeated.”

“You’re probably right, Captain. They must know, intellectually, that they will lose thousands of lives killing the six of us. But it doesn’t matter. They have no choice. I suppose the only reason that they haven’t tried to overwhelm us already is because, instinctively, they must be preparing to increase their population to insure they can make up for the predicted losses.”

“What! Do you mean they are out there laying eggs? And when they have enough in reserve, they will attack?”

“Yes, sir. That’s my assessment.”

“Well, I’m not going to stand here and wait until they are ready to kill us. Then again, I don’t want to kill these creatures either. Give me some options.”

“I have an idea, sir,” stated Ensign Lamarck, who had been listening intently along with the rest of the crew. “If the birds have to kill us because we’re a threat, then we need to become less threatening.”

“What are you suggesting, Ensign?”

“Well, sir, you’re probably not going to like it, but…ah…I think that we should discard our weapons and uniforms and walk real slowly back to the Shuttle.”

The captain’s first instinct was to summarily dismiss the recommendation as ridiculous, but he fought it off. He weighed the idea in his head, and gradually saw the beauty in its simplicity. Slowly, the edges of his lips started to curl upwards. The thought of six battle hardened solders tip toeing back to the Shuttle in their underwear made his grin morph into a hardy laugh. “Okay, Lamarck, we’ll try it your way.” Then, as he started to unbutton his shirt, he added, “I’m warning you all up front, if anyone laughs at my tattoo, you’re going to wish the birds had killed you.”

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