The dog sat in front of the airlock, its mouth hanging open and a long, pink appendage hanging out between the teeth. It seemed perfectly content, aside from the huffing noise it was making. And its eyes were boring into Private Huffleman’s soul.
Private Huffleman (Private Second Class, age 22, currently fourteen months into his three-year-tour, assigned to the UFCS Enterpriser) hadn’t had many issues of morality to deal with yet in his career. He had been fortunate enough to test out of grunt duty, and had been assigned to a ship that was a third of the way through a government-sanctioned aid distribution mission. His day job mainly consisted of patrolling the hallways of the ship, especially the exterior access areas, making sure that none of the grateful indigenous populations attempted to hitch a ride off their little balls of rock.
This week, he was also responsible for cleaning up the Improbability artifacts.
This week’s list of artifacts, by his mental count, had so far included several very weird metal sculptures, a few balls of unidentified organic goo, a large spider that had clacked at him menacingly several times before he’d whacked it with the butt of his PlasMark II. All of these items had been carefully swept out of the corridors, into the airlock, where they were promptly jettisoned.
But now there was a dog sitting in the corridor, staring up at him.
Private Huffleman knew that this animal was a dog. He had never before seen a dog in person, of course, but he had an annoying tendency to not fall asleep right away and instead lie awake in his bunk reading random entries in WikiUniverse. The Enterpriser had also made one of its aid relief stops on Arcturus 371_B, which had been settled by a group of Canids. They had been created through genetic blending with dogs, Private Huffleman had read on WikiUniverse, and indeed, they had borne a strong resemblance to this creature in front of him now.
The dog stood up, wiggling its hindquarters. A long tail, quite hairy, wiggled back and forth as it gazed up at Private Huffleman. The private, unsure what to do, reached down to his waist, but hesitated between his PlasMark II and his personal supercomputer. Was this creature dangerous?
The dog padded a couple steps closer, that pink appendage still hanging out of its mouth. It looked a lot like a tongue to Private Huffleman, but he’d never seen one that oversized before. It was getting awfully close…