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If there was one thing that aliens could never figure out about humans, it was probably the continued existence of dogs.

Sure, they argued in their off-world universities, their great bastions of learning and knowledge. Long ago, when our ape ancestors were barely able to wrap their fat fingers around tools, it made sense to keep dogs around. They barked to alert their nearly deaf masters of danger, helped fight back against those predators that sought to rip apart these useless apes. Dogs served a purpose.

Even as humans mastered the art of hammering a peg into a hole, built primitive weapons and warred back and forth for control of tiny little chunks of their homeworld, dogs continued to serve a purpose, at least for a while longer. Some continued filling the role of defense, while others hunted pests, turned spits to roast meat, even helped rescue some of the stranded humans when they got lost (usually from their own stupidity). Dogs still made sense. Continue reading

The Duel

Hansen’s radio crackled in his ear. “Hey, captain?” came the voice of Jirra. “We’ve, er, got some heat signatures moving in towards you.”

“Captain?” called Jirra’s voice again. “There’s one big one, sir. Right in front of you, almost on top of you. Do you read? Can you confirm visual on it?” Jirra paused for a minute, musing. “It’s weirdly hot,” he said, more to himself than to his ship captain, down on the planet’s surface. “Almost like it’s on fire.”

He didn’t hear anything from the other end of the radio connection. “Captain?” he tried again. “Are you there? Can you confirm that the planet is inhabited?”

“Yes,” came the response finally, a single, terse word. Continue reading

See Big Alien Pseudopods Now!

I groaned, rubbing my hands over my eyes. It didn’t really make the aching go away, but I knew that, by the end of my shift, I’d feel worse.

A couple seats over from me, Ricky, the junior technician on duty, looked up with sympathy. “Hey, Dana, I’ve got some aspirin in my bag if you need one,” he offered gallantly.

I managed to give him a weak smile. “Thanks, Ricky,” I told him, “but I’m okay for now. Just getting ready to tackle the next batch of messages.” Continue reading

This mercenary looks curiously young… [Part 2]

Continued from Part 1, here.

Cassie frowned at the P’tchar, watching him move with such prissy, fussy little movements. She’d never actually met one of the renowned traders in real life, but the purple-tinged black exoskeleton, the long and slender limbs, couldn’t belong to any other species.

A praying mantis, she thought as she watched him carefully seat himself at her table. That’s what he resembled. A purple-and-black praying mantis, with large, worried eyes, on the verge of breaking down over some internal source of stress.

But he had money, and he wanted to hire her. So she was willing to listen. Continue reading

This mercenary looks curiously young… [Part 1]

J’qiqe P’char’trph’al sidled through the tavern, doing his best to not brush up against anything – or anyone. He’d never dreamed that he’d be forced to set foot in a place like this, a place so disreputable, a place filled with such… undesirables.

Even shrinking down his tall frame, however, drawing in the slender limbs of his exoskeleton, he knew that he attracted attention. After all, he was a P’tchar, and they held a definitive place in the social strata. Even these bottom feeders, these commoners, these mercenaries, understood the high status that he carried on his ornately engraved shoulder pauldrons.

Given the choice, J’qiqe would never have come here. Continue reading

You Just Gotta Laugh

You know, looking back on the whole thing, it’s hilarious. Real gut-buster. And it’s pretty much our own fault.

I mean, we really oughtta have found the thing a lot earlier, huh? What kind of species develops sentience, builds great flying machines, but then decides to spend the next few millennia happily slaughtering each other over minor territorial disputes instead of venturing off their little ball of rock?

And to think, we found it on the damn Moon. Literally next door. It’s a little like murdering all your roommates because you can’t find your sunglasses, and then it turns out that you left them in your car the whole time.

Really, all you can do at that point is laugh. Or cry, I suppose, but I’m one of those guys that gets off on all that morbid reality. Find it hilarious. Continue reading

What if aliens didn’t land in the first world?

“To this day, there’s still arguments about how they chose their landing site. I mean, clearly, we can throw out the whole mumbo-jumbo schtick about the aliens listening in on our television broadcasts. If they’d been listening, they would’ve just come crashing down in the middle of Times Square.”

“Hell, if they did that, it’d probably take hours before anyone even noticed them. Someone would toss spare change at their spaceship. Now that would be a hell of a welcome to Earth.”

“Whole thing’s immaterial, now. They chose where they did, and now we all have to deal with the consequences.” Continue reading

On the first day of the honeymoon…

At first, when I heard the thudding of feet running by outside our cabin, I tried to squeeze my eyes shut and ignore the little bloom of irritation in my mind. It was early morning, I had Sarah beside me, and I didn’t have to get up until…

There they were again! With a grunt of frustration, I sat up, pushing the covers off of me.

“David, honey, just ignore it,” Sarah murmured beside me, not opening her eyes as a slender hand slid out from beneath the blankets to pat me on my bare chest. “It’s probably just some kids.”

“Well, they still shouldn’t be running around outside our suite – we paid good money for the full honeymoon package on this cruise,” I replied, although I smiled as I looked down at Sarah. Continue reading