Careful Study

It’s time for another story! Normally posted on the 15th, this month’s story is late because my first collection of short stories was released on the 15th. If you have not picked up a copy, it is available on Amazon, the Nook store, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and other ebook retailers. (See this post for links to some of the ebook stores)

Thanks so much for your loyal readership. Please feel free to comment or share the story!


Careful Study

Gre-Ath watched as the large blue and white globe grew in size through the small window. Their ship was almost empty of fuel. Systems started breaking down soon after launch. One by one sections of the ship were abandoned until only Gre-Ath was left. All the other Hrathmons were dead, their lifeless bodies floating in the gravity-less cargo bays of the ship where Gre-Ath put them.

Gre-Ath had time to wrangle all five-hundred and thirty-seven dead bodies and stuff them in the cargo holds. It’s not like their ship was close to its destination. Red-skinned bodies floated and banged against the hull of the ship inside the cargo holds. With almost all systems shut down, the sound reverberated throughout the long dark corridors reaching Gre-Ath who watched out the window, the only source of entertainment left.

Inside illumination was kept to a minimum conserving the remaining power and the globe out the window glowed bright. According to all indications, the planet offered the right atmospheric conditions to sustain Gre-Ath’s life. And the animals inhabiting it appeared edible.

Preliminary reports indicated the animals on planet were hostile towards each other and presumably to outside species. Gre-Ath had concerns but they were also noted to be about half the size of a Hrathmon. A single Hrathmon in full battle fury was something no other species in the galaxy dared fight. Gre-Ath hoped it was enough to subdue the primitive life on the planet.

Setting the nav system on auto-pilot, Gre-Ath adorned the traditional Hrathmon battle dress, armor and chains that increased the bulk of a Hrathmon to even greater terror-inducing size. After adding a short range pistol and a large Hrathmonian battle axe, the imposing figure stood at the door waiting to land.

The ship thudded to a stop. Gre-Ath flexed and took several deep breaths. A quick prayer up to Joranda, goddess of the Hrathmon, and the door slid open.

It was dark outside. Lights streamed down either side of a busy street. Small transports blared noisy introductions to Gre-Ath. Then the native animals crawled out of the moving things and yelled in a strange language.

Hunger overpowered Gre-Ath.

Shouting with an enormous voice that made the animals cover their heads, Gre-Ath stormed out of the ship swinging both left arms and both right arms as if to sweep the animals out of the way. The small creatures screamed as Gre-Ath knocked them down and flung some high in the air. Breathing in deep, Gre-Ath felt alive. The atmosphere was perfect for Hrathmon bodies. The fresh air filled Gre-Ath’s body with a vigor and vitality unknown since leaving their home.

A fat little animal ran towards Gre-Ath, shooting something that pinged off the dark purple armor on Gre-Ath’s legs. Gre-Ath could smell its blood. The scent was exquisite.

Gre-Ath grabbed the animal with all four hands, holding its legs and arms apart. It made some noise, shouting in a language Gre-Ath couldn’t understand. There were lessons on-board the ship Gre-Ath could’ve studied on the long trip here to learn the language or he could use the ship’s built in translator, but it didn’t seem worthy to waste power. The scent of a delectable meal was too powerful to ignore.

Gre-Ath opened a large mouth full of three sets of razor sharp teeth on top and bottom. The animal squirmed when it saw those teeth. It struggled in vain against the grip of the larger and more powerful Gre-Ath.

Then it went limp.

Gre-Ath held the animal, shaking it as if to revive it. Nothing. Other animals gathered around Gre-Ath, some with small metal guns aimed towards the ship and some at Gre-Ath. The noisy transports crashed into each other. The sound of the animals rose to a confusing mass of noise.

“Gre-Ath, what are you doing?” Gre-Ath’s large yellow eye opened wide. The voice came from the ship. Turning around while holding the animal, Gre-Ath gazed with his one eye on the council of elders standing in the doorway of the ship.

Immediately Gre-Ath bowed to one knee. “My lords,” Gre-Ath said, “I presumed you to be dead. Your bodies were devoid of life. Joranda called you back to the other side.”

“Foolish one! Had you studied like you were told, you’d have known we were going into deep slumber preserving our energy on the long voyage. Stop playing with the animals Gre-Ath! You’re causing problems and making them anxious,” the Chair of the Council said.

Gre-Ath considered the limp animal. “But I found food!” Gre-Ath said holding it up as if to offer the animal to the Chair.

“Enough! We will not tolerate your insubordination any longer! We did not come here to eat these creatures! We came to help them!” The Chair motioned towards Gre-Ath and three heavily armored Hrathmons grabbed him.

“No! Wait, we can defeat them! They’re weak! And they’re blood smells delicious!” Gre-Ath said. The guards knocked the animal from Gre-Ath’s hands and it fell limp to the ground.

The guards escorted Gre-Ath into the ship despite continued protestations.

____________________

The Chair looked out at the mass of animals congregating around the ship. They seemed attracted to it as more and more surrounded them.

Using the ship’s translator, the Chair held up the small device. “Greetings,” the Chair said in the language of the animals. A silence swept across the mass of animals. “Please excuse our mistake. Our young Gre-Ath meant no harm. We will go in peace. We are here to help.” The Chair let go of the translator and the Council stepped back into the ship, the door closing behind them.

“Ready yourselves,” the Chair said to the Council and the assembled Hrathmons behind them. The entire crew stood in the corridors ready for instructions from the Chair.

“Ship, to the designated landing site,” the Chair said. Soon they were in the air moving fast towards a secluded predetermined landing site. By the time they reached the location, the darkness faded from the land and the bright yellow sun shone down on the ship. It was much different than their red sun.

The ship landed and the Hrathmons stood waiting for the door to open.

“We embark on a new mission of alliance and friendship,” the Chair said, “follow my lead and we will fulfill our destiny.” The doors opened and the Hrathmons filed out.

No sooner had they stepped out on an open field far away from the animals, then their skin started smoking. It sizzled where the yellow sun shone on it. The Hrathmon screamed and shrieked as the sun burned their flesh. Smoke wafted in the air and soon five-hundred and thirty-seven dead, charred remains of Hrathmon lay on the surface of the strange planet.

____________________

The only Hrathmon not killed was Gre-Ath who was held in confinement. Gre-Ath heard the screams and thought of all the food that could be had.

He beat on the door of the cell. Without warning, the door opened. Carefully Gre-Ath stepped out into the corridor. With silent steps he made it through the maze of corridors until reaching the door leading outside. It was bright and Gre-Ath stopped short of opening the door.

Through the small window in the door, Gre-Ath saw the bodies laying on the ground, many still smoldering. Gre-Ath grinned. “You should’ve studied,” he said mocking the Chair, “the yellow sun is dangerous to us.”

Turning back from the door, Gre-Ath called out to the ship. “Ship, return to previous landing. I’m hungry.”

The ship rose and sped across the planet, returning to where they first landed.

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