Mass Extinction

Oh boy, I wrote this a looooong time ago. Although my style has changed a lot, this little story, which was published in Antipodean SF in 2005, still brings a smile to my face.

You thought a meteorite was the cause of the extinction of the dinosuars? Think again!

Mass Extinction

by Patty Jansen

‘Commander Luczan, your report please!’

‘Greetings Councillor Fargi, may luck be with you.’

‘Cut the formalities, Commander. Have you made landfall?’

‘We have, Sir.’

‘Where are you now?’

‘We’re orbiting the planet, Sir.’

‘Orbiting… What! Why are you not down there building a settlement?’

‘It’s… it’s not that easy, Sir.’

‘What isn’t? What’s going on? Our probes show that the planet is perfect for colonisation. It has the right air quality, plenty of water, plenty of vegetation – What else do you want?’

‘Nothing, Sir. It’s just that it’s… inhabited.’

‘Inhabited? The report says nothing about intelligent beings!’

‘They’re not intelligent, Sir, just… very big.’

‘Out with it, Luczan!’

‘Well, Sir – I went with the scout craft this morning. As you said, things looked perfect for colonisation. The air was moist and warm, just as our reports foretold. Myself, Taqan and Ehi climbed a hill. That’s when we first saw them.’

‘Saw what, Luczan?’

‘Huge creatures, grazing four-leggers, with long necks. There was a whole herd of them. The ground was trembling under their feet, and you should have seen the way they just pushed over the vegetation.’
‘And? You got so scared of a herd of grazers that you decided to call it quits?’

‘I haven’t finished my story Councillor.’

‘Then get on with it. The Council is paying for this transmission!’

‘While the three of us were standing there, there was a rustle in the vegetation and this… this thing came out. It had a huge head, with rows of pointy teeth. It gave a bellow of a howl that echoed all over the valley and then came straight for us. It walked on the two rear legs and it was fast, faster than any of us could run. The front legs were very small and useless, but Sir, you should have seen the claws on them. I fired at it, but I didn’t seem to do it any harm. I ran out of power. Fortunately, Taqan managed to hit it in the belly and it went down, but he was also running low on power. Then a second one of these creatures appeared. I thought we’d had it, Sir, but it went straight for the carcass of the other one, and began to tear at it.’

‘Ugh!’

‘You said it, Sir. These creatures are vile. Anyway, we started to creep away as quietly as we could, but then a third creature came and a fourth one and we gave up trying to be quiet and just ran. On the way down, we met a different creature. It was a four-legger, a squat shape. It was covered in some kind of… armour-like skin. It looked peaceful at first, but when it saw us, it began to snort. We hid in the vegetation and after a while the creature turned around. We came out of hiding and were about to sneak past it, when, without warning, the creature started swinging its tail at us. A long, clubbed tail with spikes as long as your forearm. Taqan took a blow and he passed out. Between us, Ehi and I managed to carry him back to the scout craft. We returned to the main ship immediately.’

‘I see. What do you propose to do now?’

‘I don’t know, Sir, but going down there again would be suicide.’

‘You’re saying that the Council has invested all this time and effort in this expedition and now it turns out the planet is useless for our purposes?’

‘It seems so, Sir.’

‘Listen, Luczan, do you think you can get rid of these creatures?’

‘But Sir, that would be against…’

‘You’re deep in space, Luczan, who’s going to know?’

‘But…’

‘I’ll give you a choice, Luczan. It’s your conscience or your job – and mine. Get rid of them! By any means. Next time give me a favourable report!’

‘Any means?’

‘You heard what I said!’

‘Very well, Sir.’

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10 comments on “Mass Extinction

  1. Well, of course! Who would know until evolution brought us along to figure it all out…lol. Yeah, right. 🙂 I like this story better than the meteor one anyway, thanks for sharing it!

  2. Super! Mass extinctions are one of my particular favourites too. I like the concern over the cost of the call, ‘The Council is paying for this transmission!’
    too, it’s just what people would say.
    kim

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