Author: Alzo David-West

“I’m outta the surveyor, Sungod.”

“Wazzit like down there, Starman?”

“The place’s green, all ’round, like a forest a’ leaf towers. There’s this noise, too. It ain’t animals. Zero showed up on my scans. It’s jus’ plants everywhere. The noise’s comin’ from the leaves. They’re hummin’.”

“How come?”

“Not sure. When I landed, the place wuz silent. As soon as I got outta the surveyor, the hummin’ started, an’ now, it’s a crescendo. I can feel the sound waves thru my suit.”

“Ya in danger?”

“Not as far as I can tell. I guess the noise’s some kinda stress response.”

“No motion or movement?”

“Nothin’. Jus’ the swayin’ from the wind. … Wait a sec. Somethin’ moved.”

“Howzit look?”

“Can’t tell. Can’t make it out. It’s green like everythin’ else.”

“Ya sure it ain’t th’ air?”

“Nah, nah. It’s movin’ ‘gainst it.—Holy spit!”

“Wha’ happened?”

“There’s more!—they’re comin’ all over the place, fallin’ from the leaves!—like spiders an’ starfish!—but they ain’t!—they ain’t animals!—they’re animate plants!—Geezus!—this geoid wuz ‘posed ta be uninhabited!—git me outta here, man!—git me outta here now!”

“Activate yer thermion flares, Starman! Activate yer thermion flares!”

“Can’t!—can’t!—they’re all over me!—holdin’ me down!—spit!—they’re wrappin’ ’round my body!—AAAARRRGH!!—my ribs!—can’t breathe!—can’t breathe—can’t ~~~~~~~~~~


“We lost contact, Sungod. It’s jus’ static.”

“Wha’s goin’ on down there, Stingray? Gimme visuals from the surveyor cameras.”

“Too much field in’erference, jus’ like when he landed.”

“Any life signs on Starman?”

“None. He’s gone.”

“Awright then, Stingray. Git it ready.”

“Ya sure ’bout that, Sungod? Howzabout we call SKY first ’bout Starman?”

“No time. ‘Sides, the private contract said risk ta life came with th’ expeditions. The planet’s resource rich. We got competitors also. An’ we gotta clear a patch fer the main landers.”

“Okay. … It’s set.”

“On my mark, Stingray. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1—launch it!”


An object reminiscent of a smooth, silvered newborn emerged from a basal chamber of one of the two orbital vessels transiting Parudeesa-5731. Swiftly descending like a stoic, flaring comet through the atmospheric layers of the extrasolar jewel, the bomb made landfall. Then, a point of light flashed fluorescently at the green hypocenter, growing and growing, rapidly expanding for thousands and thousands of meters around, upward, and downward, in a symmetrically even radius, atomizing and quantumizing everything within its range, passing it all from being into nothingness. And after three minutes at the end of eternity, the glowing chromium light contracted, ebbing back toward the center, and finally faded away.


“Tha’s some mighty stuff, Sungod.”

“Got the job done, Stingray. Starman got a VR self on file?”


“Good. SKY’ll send a copy in memoriam ta his fam’ back home. Meantime, howza prospect lookin’?”

“It’s all shimmerin’. A hun’red-thousand meters a’ strata cleared away. The lithosphere’s solid diamond. Wha’bout th’ animate flora beyond th’ upper perimeter, Sungod? They gotta be th’ apex lifeform down there.”

“I’ll sen’ a report ’bout the diamonds an’ git more silver tickers. We’ll bomb the green spit outta ’em, an’ we’ll be as rich as fudge.”