Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

There are over a billion species represented. Finding out information and language about a species happens quickest during coitus, they say, and the more plentiful the better.

I was selected from over eighty thousand applicants. I am a mating specialist.

The stink of this planet is incredible. Every single race’s raging pheromones waft heavily through the air. The aquatic races make the ocean reek of vanilla, the avian races pepper the air streams, and us land-lovers stumble through a thick fog of undiluted sex.

The planet, predictably, is pink.
Minutes after my shuttle leaves, a plantform from Karssis shows me his datapad and wiggles his stamen in query. I nod, and it rubs some pollen on my head that quickly burrows into my brain, grabs control of my motor control, and forces me to walk twenty feet west to another plantform from Allorway whose sweet smell of fennel coaxes it out of my brain through the pores on my face. The pollen seeds bloom dark red parachutes, steering themselves towards the Allorwayan pitcher bowl mouth.

The experience is harmless and I have insight into the cultures of the two species that cannot be described.

I am scratched by love bugs that burrow deep and lay benign eggs in my liver. They will never reproduce and will dissolve in my bloodstream in weeks. I am tongue-painted with photo-sensitive, fertilized-egg paint over one half of my body. It dries in the sun and disappears. Cheek cells are taken from me for a race that hybrids itself with others. I trade minds with two of the races that reproduce mentally. My gene type is mimicked by those that mate by copying. I am lucky enough to find a race that can gestate inside of the flesh on the back of my arms in under an hour. The babies burrow out of my triceps, blinking and mewling. I am crying and smiling as it happens, ecstatic.

I am rubbed against, massaged, pounded and washed in juices. I am touched briefly by some races, held for hours by others. Some scare me to drink in the pheromones of my fear in order to start estrus.

I am deadly to some and some are deadly to me. I smirk sadly to these ones and I walk past. I’m too big or too small for others but if it’s at all possible, I give it a try.

I have sex in the air with six of the flying races, one of whom drops me in orgasm but catches me over thirty seconds later before I hit the ground. It’s the most exhilarating experience of my time there.

That is, until I’m taken into the oxygen-breathable egg sac of an aquatic mammal and my body is dissolved completely and painfully by the breath of her needy eggs. I am dead and completely nonexistent for a full half hour before I am reassembled by her internal genetic generators and deposited laughing back on the shore. My eyes are now a different colour. Not an accident, an improvement by her standards. A flirtation.

I have hundreds of similar experiences. With my boundless enthusiasm, I cover 0.0003% of the races on the planet. Rich with experience that will take a lifetime to tell, I return to our docking bay for debriefing.

I will be smiling for years.

I have scars from my time on the love planet; beautiful memories. I have new eyes that will stare back at me for the rest of my life. I am missing a finger. It doesn’t matter when I die now, I will die happy.


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