Forehead Friday...rolled 03
Forehead Friday...rolled 83
Forehead Friday...rolled 44
Forehead Friday...rolled 21
* * *The planet-side team materialized on the alien planet. Captain Reed looked up, admiring the swirling yellow-orange sky. The atmosphere was uncomfortably thick, adding to the choking sensation Spaceman Anderson felt as he looked down over the cliff alongside their transport site.
Spaceman Mallon got right to work, analyzing the nearby surroundings. "Captain," he reported, "I'm reading several life signs up ahead. A path trails around the cliff side."
"Very well," Reed said, "Mallon and Anderson, continue ahead and keep a lookout for the alien party. This is our first contact with this species, so keep your movements slow and passive. Electrostun weapons only, but leave them holstered."
Commander Silek continued to scan the vicinity as the Spacemen disappeared along a curve in the path ahead. "Captain," Silek said, his tone the closest a Tauran ever gets to excitement, "I am reading rich fossil deposits in the cliff side. This location is a paleontologist's treasure trove, and would lend great insight into why so many avian species evolved on this planet."
"A project for another time, Commander." Reed said with amusement.
The light mood was pierced by a scream ahead. Reed and Silek exchanged a brief glance before running up the path. As they rounded the mountainside, the scene before them was grim. Spaceman Mallon was looking over the precipice, a large animal at his feet. Its body resembled a predatory cat, with feathers instead of fur, and the head of an eagle. It was twitching, obviously stunned.
"What happened?" Reed asked with concern, approaching the cliff.
"We were attacked, and Anderson fell..."
Mallon's explanation was cut off by a high-pitched voice, "Captain Reed, I presume?"
About a dozen tall, thin humanoids emerged from the path ahead. They had delicate features and feathers instead of hair.
"We witnessed the attack, Captain, and regretfully were unable to react in time. These predators are common in this area." The leader of the aliens explained. "Your man..." the alien's voice trailed off as he looked over the cliff.
Reed joined him, peering over the side. Thousands of feet below, the Captain could make out Anderson's red uniform. "He was one of our more promising enlisted men." Reed reflected as he opened his communicator.
"This is Captain Reed calling the Drake."
"This is the Drake, Captain. Lieutenant Trotter responding, Sir."
"Trotter, there's been an incident. Anderson's..." Reed paused, "...dead. Lock onto his signal and teleport him to the ship immediately. Send him to deep freeze right away. I doubt they can revive him on Starbase IV, but we'll give him every chance."
"Affirmative, Captain. Trotter out."
Reed turned to address the aliens. "What a rocky start to the mission," Reed thought.