Here is one I wrote a few months ago, it’s been rejected from a few places, so it’s time to post it here! Hope you enjoy! 🙂
Japh was starting to think he’d been lied to; the planet was a waste of his time. After flying circles around it for hours in the one-man, planet-bound ship he’d been dropped off in, all he could see of the small world was cool and dry; exactly the opposite of what was needed. The eggs were only ever laid in hot, damp, humid environments.
He’d chased rumors for months, spent thousands of credits on tips and so called ‘privileged information’ to get here; Thid eggs were not easy to find. They also weren’t easy to transport, or use for that matter, and now it looked like the only thing all that time and money were going to get him was stranded on an empty planet. Japh resigned himself to the several days of boredom he would have to endure on this rock while waiting for his ride to return.
He looked again at the readout on his terminal. Surface temperature sat at a cool ten degrees Celsius everywhere he could see. He cursed and dropped his altitude, hoping he could detect some caves or underground hot spots. Even a small area would do; the Thid did not need to live in the spot they left their eggs, at least not that anyone could tell. No one had actually seen a Thid in person, and the eggs had only been found after already hatching. Though, there was never much time to explore; the planet was usually torched by the Human Coalition Enforcers shortly after anyone got word of Thid being there.
After few minutes of flying low to the ground, Japh’s maneuver payed off. His monitor blinked red, indicating some patches of heat below. He lowered his speed and flew over.
“What the hell?” Several houses stood out of the flat, dusty terrain. Larger buildings that could be shops or barns cast long shadows across the barren landscape. If there was a settlement on this planet then he really doubted he was going to find any Thid eggs. Due to their incredibly potent addictive qualities, anyone known to have ever been on a Thid planet was exiled from the Human Coalition of Planets permanently. A little extreme, Japh thought, but he could understand their ‘better safe than sorry’ approach; people who had been in contact with Thid eggs simply could not be trusted. In order to even get to this planet Japh had to bribe a freighter to let him latch his one-man ship onto their hull, then disconnected as they flew past the planet. The freighter would pretend ignorance if he was caught, but if he was still here the same deal would be repeated when their route brought them past the planet again in a few days.
As he circled around and prepared to land, he saw people standing outside the buildings staring up at him.
He landed his ship behind a rock outcrop two kilometers east of the collection of buildings, and activated the chameleon cloak. The ship flickered, shifting colors rapidly, then settled on a mirror image of the rocks next to it. Japh shouldered his pack, did a quick inspection of his body suit, and began walking.
The air was cold and thin, but it had close to the right amount of oxygen. Any shortage would be absorbed and fed into him by his suit. He took soil samples as he walked, and the analysis confirmed what he had suspected: it would be difficult for anything to grow here. How the atmosphere had come to have so much oxygen, he could not say.
He saw a group of people waiting for him ahead, but as he got near, they dispersed back into the buildings.
“Friendly people,” he said under his breath. It was likely he was walking into some kind of anti-technology cult intent on living in the past. They may have even spread the rumors of Thid eggs themselves, in effort to keep people away.
There was no one outside as he walked between the buildings. They were of modern design, but made of what looked like painted wood instead of the standard carbon plating. Most of them looked to be in some state of disrepair, with chipped paint and warped wood visible. He didn’t see any solar panels or obvious source of power. The roads were simply flattened, hard dirt, and he saw no evidence of wheel ruts. It was silent but for wind blown dust. He didn’t even hear any animals or machinery.
“Hello?” Japh called as he walked. He was answered with more silence. “This is going to be a fun few days,” he sighed.
Toward the end of the row of houses and other buildings of unknown purpose, he saw one with the doors wide open. It looked like a bar or restaurant. His boots knocked on the wooden steps as he stepped up onto the porch and looked in.
It was dim and still inside, and smelled of dust. The only light was coming in through the windows. Two men sat at a bar, and one sat at a table by himself. All three held drinks in some kind of wooden mug. They each had large, protruding guts and looked half asleep.
“Hey, uh, I’m just passing through and…” No one moved or looked at him. They stared lazily at nothing, and took slow sips of their drinks. There was no one behind the counter, no one waiting tables. “So uh, what do I gotta do to get a drink around here, eh?” He flashed his best grin.
“She will provide,” said one of the men at the bar.
“She,” echoed both of the other men in unison.
“Who is she?” Japh asked with some hesitation. He wondered if he was dealing with some kind of matriarchal cult. Worship of the feminine was not uncommon, but these anti-tech groups were usually led by men.
They spoke one after the other, the last ‘she’ being said in unison by all three. Japh kept his mouth shut. Their crazy talk seemed harmless, but he didn’t doubt that it could turn hostile at a misplaced word. He backed slowly away until he was out in the street. The men did not look up at him.
The area was still empty. “Hello?” he called again, with less enthusiasm. If he could find a woman maybe he could have an actual conversation. Some movement caught his eye, what looked like a small person running across the street dodging behind a building. Everyone was going to ignore him, it seemed. “This is bullshit,” Japh breathed, and strode to the nearest building. It looked like some kind of barn. He pulled on the door, it was unlocked and swung open.
The smell of fertilizer hit him from the dark. There were no windows, so he clicked on his wrist light, and shone it in. Tall, brown, thick and fuzzy plants grew in lines, filling the large, otherwise empty room. The ground was covered in a rich dark soil. The plants grew in bulbous sections about six inches high. Japh extended his suit’s sleeve to cover his hand like a glove, and broke off the top section of one of the plants. He felt liquid sloshing inside. A stem stuck out at the top and bottom where it had connected to the section below. He pulled on the stem and a hole was ripped open. A sickly sweet smell floated up.
Seeing the pod with its top opened, he realized that this is what the men were drinking out of, what he thought were wooden mugs. He dabbed a small amount of the thick white liquid onto one of his suits detection panels and analyzed it. Very high in fat and proteins. One could easily live off it.
He went to the next building, a house, and pulled open the door. “Hello?” he said as he entered. Some dark thing moved to his left and he turned with a gasp and a shot of adrenaline, then steadied himself. A naked girl, perhaps five years old, sat on the couch, her hair a mass of dark, tangled curls, her skin pale. She looked up at him, then pounded past him out the door.
He heard the whispered voice, then noticed someone laying on the couch the girl had been sitting at. A woman wearing a long, plain, white dress laid with hands folded on her protruding stomach. So much for hoping to talk to anyone sensible, he thought. Perhaps they were worshiping the children. He went up the stairs to the second story.
He pushed open one door leading to an empty room. Another led to some kind of primitive rest room. Then he opened the third door.
“Oh God yes.” A Thid egg sat in the center of the room. He could recognize that blue, veiny texture anywhere. It was about a half meter in diameter, and slightly oblong in shape. It was already hatched, but most of the shell remained. The shell was where the good stuff was anyway.
He fell to his knees in front of it and instructed his suit to double the thickness of his gloves. He hardly noticed the pool of red liquid the egg was sitting in as he broke off a small piece. His suit detected the piece and analysed it.
“Please please please,” he whispered as the suit worked. This amount of shell was already worth tens of thousands of credits. If no one had touched it, it could be worth millions. The drug inside the shell altered its chemistry based on the first DNA it came in contact with, and each chemistry was unique and specifically addictive. If Japh were to touch a piece of this shell and sell it to someone… or slip it into their drink, the victim would become addicted to a product only Japh could provide: his own DNA. His suit beeped lightly at him.
It was unaltered. His mouth went dry and his hands shook as he broke the shell into pieces and stowed them in his pack. His mind spun with fantasies of the wealth he would have when he got back to civilization; if he could get one of those trillionaire corporate heads addicted, he would be set for life. As he picked the last piece off the floor, he finally registered the pool of blood, and chunks of meat and bone surrounding the egg. “What the…”
A roaring sound outside distracted him. He stood and looked out the window. A ship was landing, and people poured out of the buildings to stand in the street. He could see now that, other than the five naked children who kept in a group to themselves, they all rested their hands on large protruding bellies.
He watched as the ship set down in the middle of the street. A ramp lowered, and he saw something dark and twisting inside. His heart pounded with fear, then he calmed as a woman emerged. She flowed gracefully down the ramp, trailing a long blue gown behind her. She was beautiful. He felt himself release the breath he had been holding at the sight of her. The thought entered his mind that maybe he could leave with her. If he could hitch a ride, he could avoid paying the fee to that freighter. He could imagine it being nice traveling with someone like her.
She moved among the crowd, touching their faces, caressing their hair, hugging them and holding their hands. She held their large bellies and smiled, and kissed them on the lips, men and women alike. He watched as the group of naked children went up the ramp behind her and onto the ship. No one in the crowd protested. He had to get a closer look at the woman. He went back down the stairs and out into the street.
He could hear the cries of joy and soft chants of ‘she, she’ as he came up behind the crowd. She was even more amazing up close. Long, shining black hair surrounded a glowing face with perfectly pert lips and round blue eyes. He felt a strong urge to push his way through the crowd and… and what? He shook his head, confused, and when he looked up again he was locking eyes with her. Those sweet, deep blue eyes.
She moved smoothly through the crowd toward him, as if floating above the ground. He could not look away from her eyes. She reached out and held his face in her hands. Her touch was like home. She leaned in and pressed her soft lips against his. He felt love and belonging surge through him. Her tongue pushed into his mouth and he was paralyzed with ecstasy. It pushed further, down the back of his throat, he felt a pressure moving down his esophagus. He choked for breath but was not afraid. He was safe in her arms.
She pulled away and he gasped air. She stroked his face and held his hands and smiled at him. He buzzed with love and fulfillment. She was so perfect, so kind, so loving.
She was his protector and lover.
She was his provider.