Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The captain was typical of his type, six-foot-four, square jaw and sparkling white teeth. His muscles bulged as he leaned forward in his chair. “Atmosphere is breathable Ensign, let’s bring her down so we can have a look around.”

The science officer stepped forward. This was his first mission with the pompous captain. His advice had already been shot down several times to date but this was something he simply couldn’t back down on. “Sir there are massive life form readings down there. We know nothing about this planet.”

“Did I ask you Lieutenant? There might be life form readings but there’s no technology. Who knows what kind of treasure we might relieve these primitives of? Maintain course Ensign.”

“But sir, we are dealing with alien life, I don’t see how you can’t worry.”

The captain turned toward his science officer. “You know, you’re really getting on my nerves Lieutenant.” Then he patted his sidearm, a gleaming photon hand cannon with enough punch to turn a man to dust. “I think we’ll be just fine.” Then he called out the names of the men he wanted to accompany him. His second in command was among them. The Lieutenant was not.

Although mostly relieved the science officer still had to ask, “You don’t want my biological expertise as you step onto an alien landscape sir?”

The captain sneered, “No you can stay here and change your diaper. The real men will be out there conquering.” A few others on the bridge snickered.

They cruised in low over a dense jungle. Most of the trees looked like bulbous fungi and were colored from bluish hues to rich purples. Here and there jutted up massive stalks of some fantastic skyscraper plant, each bearing a huge bobbing burgundy flower near its top.

The captain ordered the ensign to land in a purple clearing near the base of one of these giant stalks. They touched down without incident and the team made ready to depart.

The science officer tried once more. “Please gentlemen, consider your own lives. We know nothing of this place or its inhabitants. Much study needs to be done before we can venture out there in the flesh.”

Again he was met with snickering. The captain got in one final parting shot. “Make sure to change that diaper Lieutenant. I don’t want to smell baby crap when I come back here.” And with that the elevator doors closed and the away team was whisked down to the surface.

The science officer stood beside the ensign. Together they watched through the forward screens with the remaining crew as the team of seven marched out across the rough purple grass, their hand cannons at the ready, looking this way and that for potential trouble. “I can’t believe this carelessness,” said the lieutenant, but then he was cut short.

There was a rumble and the giant stalk beside the ship began to flex and ripple. The startled away team suddenly looked skyward as the huge flower hundreds of meters above began to waver back and forth. Then before anyone could do a thing there was a thunderous crack and the stalk collapsed in half.

As the toothy mouth opened in the face of the huge descending flower the seven men froze. A moment later it crashed down upon them, making even the ship jump. Then seconds later the stalk straightened and the flower whisked away toward the sky once more. There was no sign of the team.

The science officer, now in command by order of rank, said, “Get us out of here Ensign.”


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