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Crash-Landing: Andrew Fairhurst

++14056 / 348.02536++

Damn it, work you piece of…

I’m not sure if this bloody thing is recording or not, but as far as I can tell, it is. I can only continue and hope.

This is Third Sator, Stark, of the scout ship ‘Scent Trail’. The ship’s chronometer shows that it has now been two days since the crash, of which I’m the only survivor.

We were mapping an unremarkable stellar system in a remote arm of our galaxy, and found that the third planet of the system was habitable. First Sator Rowls ordered that we investigate and ‘have a sniff around’.
Long range sensors picked up an abundance of life on the third planet but no emanations of coherent thought. We moved closer but were still unable to detect any signs of intelligence, until the accident that is.

I cannot say that what happened was entirely Second Sator Yip’s fault, even if he was in charge of the proximity detector systems. We were all equally excited by the prospect of planet fall and investigating somewhere new. I can only conjecture in hindsight that we were hit by an orbital satellite that went previously undetected.

A loud tone rang out through the ship, like a bell being struck, and then the klaxons blared out their dire warnings. I managed to get myself into an escape capsule, but they are not designed to fall to ground still inside the scout ship, a nearly fatal flaw that I hope will be remedied.

Without main engines, our descent was swift and devastating. From what I can see of the remains of First and Second, they died valiantly trying to save the ship. All credit is also due to our Anthromorph Pilot, who managed to bring the ship down relatively softly, although not gently enough to prevent the deaths of the others, himself included. Or to prevent my own injuries within the escape capsule.

I have managed to activate the autodoc and will be climbing into it momentarily now that it is running and open.

+ + +

++14056 / 350.49506++

I have just crawled out from the autodoc, its power depleted, but my injuries are not yet fully healed. I will just have to take things easy for a few more days. From the chronometer, it appears that another two days have passed while it ministered to me.

From my cursory check of the remains of the ship, there are plenty of ration packs available. Unfortunately, the autocook is damaged beyond my ability to repair and the ration packs are inedible unprocessed. I must therefore leave the ship to investigate my surroundings and forage for any food and water that I might find. I know that without the ship’s systems to search for any pathogens or poisons, eating or drinking anything could kill me. But without the food stores I will die soon enough anyway.

The prospect of searching this alien planet alone is a daunting one.

+ + +

++14056 / 353.10513++

I have just returned from my first sojourn into the wild outside. The ship’s chronometer shows that it has actually been almost three days since I left, although it doesn’t feel like it.

The air here is fresh, clean and pure. It felt exhilarating to walk under the cloudless, starry sky again, full of unfamiliar constellations. The ship came down in a wooded area surrounded by hills and the forest is green and full of life and smells that are new to me. I wandered through the trees investigating every new sound I heard, eventually hearing the sound of running water.

I followed it to a stream running through a bed of rounded stones. It was shallow and fast flowing. When I drank from it, it was cold and very refreshing. I followed the stream down its course until it deepened into a pool. Feeling grubby from the crash and autodoc, I used a fallen tree that lay half in the water as a platform and leapt out, into the deep water. I relaxed for a long time, idly paddling around.

After climbing out I continued my trek, letting myself dry as I walked. I followed fresh trails through the undergrowth and startled a small animal with long ears. I tried a mental stun on it, but was surprised when it immediately ran away unaffected. I gave chase as well as I was able, but its long hind legs and odd hopping gait got the better of me.

The night of investigation seemed all too short before I had drained my meagre reserves of strength. I found a hollow between a tree’s roots and settled down for some sleep. I had seen no predators so far and was sure that my own mental abilities would be enough to keep me safe.

When I awoke, I felt well rested and very hungry. I was startled to see the bright yellow sun was above the hills behind me and wondered if I had slept through to the afternoon. I immediately loped back to the stream to drink my fill and then headed back towards the ship.

As I trotted under the green canopy of the trees, I again spotted the trail of an animal like the one from the night before. My hunger gnawed at my insides and spurred me on to follow the animal. It darted from cover when I approached, and I dashed after it, giving no thought to my still recovering injuries.
After a short but thrilling chase I pounced on it, fortunately breaking its back and killing it instantly, otherwise I’m not sure I could have killed it. As it was I was unsure if I should even eat it or not. In the end my hunger got the better of me and I tore into it, devouring its bloody flesh tentatively at first.
It was the tastiest thing I have ever eaten and I gobbled it down with great relish, even cracking the larger bones with my teeth so I could suck out the delicious marrow.

With my hunger and thirst slaked for the moment, I trotted back towards the ship. Or at least where I thought it was. After wondering fruitlessly for a long time I eventually found a broad path of destruction… The trail left by our descent.
Shattered stumps stuck up from the undergrowth like broken fangs and splintered timber lay scattered all around them. I knew the denuded avenue would lead to the ship and followed it. The stumps grew shorter the further I walked, until nothing but gouged earth remained. I walked on, eventually coming to the mangled wreckage that used to be a triumph of engineering and technology, but was now just so much scrap metal and plastic.
It looked much more desolate in the daylight. So final…. So terminal.

I circled the wreckage many times, looking for any evidence of anything that could be salvaged. Only when exhaustion pulled at my body did I finally stop my unproductive search. I was surprised to realise that it was still daylight, and the shadows appeared to be shorter than before. I glanced up at the yellow sun, curious to see why it hadn’t set yet. Surprisingly, it was higher than before. It was rising, not setting, but doing so slowly. My guess is that this world’s rate of rotation is about half that of home, making the local day about twice as long.

Given what the chronometer says, I will be heading to my makeshift bed for some much needed rest.

+ + +

++14056 / 353.61563++

After sleeping a full half-day, I woke feeling hungry again, with no apparent ill effects from drinking the local water or eating the local wildlife. Perhaps this planet will make a good colony world, if only I could get this recorder to transmit to the local hub I could tell home all about it. No matter, I’ll think more on that later as needed.

I am about to scout around the area further and see if I can find another of those tasty long-eared animals for breakfast before venturing further afield. I will report again on my return.

+ + +

++14056 / 355.78320++

The ship’s chronometer shows that I’ve been gone for two days again. The slow rotation of this planet has really thrown off my sense of time.

The sun was still in the sky when I exited the wreck of the ship, but it was close to the tops of the hills so I guessed I didn’t have too much daylight left. After spending some time tracking down another of those tasty animals and eating my fill, I found the stream and slaked my thirst again.
The sun was still hovering above the hills when I was done, so I headed towards it to see what was over them.

The rising slope of the hill was gentle and the forest area ended about a third of the way from the top. It changed abruptly from woodland to flowing grassland with long wide-bladed grass stems that came up to my knees.
When I crested over the top of the hill I looked down on something that was astonishing. There were the unmistakable signs of civilisation, fairly advanced civilisation from the looks of it.

Straight black demarcation lines lay in a grid pattern in the valley below me, with box-like low buildings huddled within them. The low sun threw long shadows from the buildings and as I watched, lights came on within them and along the lines as well. Strange shaped vehicles trundled along the lines and some of them stopped in the spaces beside the buildings.

I lay on the grassy hillside, watching the sedate progress of the sun and the moving vehicles. There was definitely intelligence to them, even though I could sense nothing from the area. While the sun was setting, more lights came on, including on the moving vehicles forming ribbons of moving lights jewelling the encroaching darkness.

Well after the sun had set and the number of lights glowing in the buildings had dwindled, a large silver-grey moon rose behind me. Its pale light bathed the landscape around me and I heard a mournful call in the distance.
When the last of the lights in the buildings below were extinguished, I stood and headed down towards them.

It took longer than I’d anticipated to reach the buildings, which were also larger than I’d originally thought. I trotted up to the lipped edge of the first wide black strip and looked around, making sure there was no-one about before I dashed across and up to the side of one of the buildings. It was tall and straight with right-angles everywhere.
I skulked near the building’s wall and circled around the other side. The area behind the building was enclosed by a tall wooden fence and the ground within the enclosure was covered by a small bladed grass.
Unable to find anything resembling an entrance into the building, I sat and concentrated on the interior. What I found, or didn’t, was puzzling. I was unable to sense any mental activity occurring inside the walls. What could cause the lack of mentation?

I felt my stomach growl and looked up to see that the large moon had moved a significant distance across the sky, it was time to be heading back.
I trotted back around to the front of the building, across the black strip and up the grassy hill. When I trotted down the other side towards the wood I almost ran over a foraging long-tailed striped animal, startling both of us. It turned on me and hissed and I instinctively projected a mental stun which had no effect whatsoever.

The animal darted away and I immediately chased after it, mouth watering. It was quick and nimble, and I pursued it towards the wood. When it reached the trees it immediately dashed up the trunk to sit on one of the branches high up. I circled the base, looking for an easy way up. After fruitlessly circling the tree a few times, I turned away and headed back to the ship growling to myself under my breath.

+ + +

++14056 / 359.21501++

Come on, you worthless piece of garbage!

Start transmitting damn you!

The sound of nearby impacts.

No! I mustn’t panic! I’ve just got to get this flight recorder to transmit so I can warn home base to stay away from here!

I don’t know how much time I’ll have before they get here, so I’ll try to be brief.

I ventured out again after resting, looking for something to eat but I didn’t manage to find anything. The local wildlife has probably learnt that my foreign scent is dangerous.
To take my mind off of my hunger, I headed over the hill to watch the buildings. The sun was a span above the horizon when I saw beings exit the building and climb into their vehicles.
I was surprised to see that they looked like Anthromorphs.

They were much taller than any normal Anthromorph that I had ever seen, had a lot less hair and draped themselves with odd coverings. But they were definitely Anthromorphs.
After the vehicles had departed along the black strips, I jogged down the hillside and crept up to the nearest building. When I got near to the front I heard sounds coming from behind it and crept around the side, keeping my mind extended sensing for any more Anthromorphs.

I peeked round the corner of the building and was startled to see an Anthromorph before sensing it mentally. It was normal sized but its body was just as hairless as the bigger ones except for the head, which was covered with long hair. It was running around in circles with no apparent direction making a strange ululating noise.
I projected a calming influence at it but to no effect. I then concentrated on dominating its mind, but was astonished to find no mind there to control.

Abruptly, the Anthromorph shrieked and ran at me, its arms flailing. I had never seen behaviour like that before and was stunned into immobility. It wrapped its arms around my neck in a surprisingly gentle way and tried to pull me towards the building.
I was more curious about the inside of the building and the Anthromorphs themselves than afraid for my own safety. I could see the danger inherent in entering the building but allowed myself to be pulled along the wall to a tall rectangle which opened to form a doorway.
Once we were inside, and the door closed behind us, the Anthromorph let go and ran deeper into the building calling loudly.

I quickly searched the small entry room and found the door was closed and I could not open it. I also found more of the strange coverings in a container made of plastic. I knew that with plastics they must be reasonably technologically advanced.
A noise from behind forced me to pull my nose out of the pile of coverings and spin around. The Anthromorph was back, alongside another one that was over twice as tall as the first!

The big one approached me cautiously making low noises. I tried projecting a calming influence and the command to stand still but neither worked. The big one stepped beside me and began to scratch the back of my head. I would have been affronted, being petted like that, if it hadn’t felt so good. The smaller stepped close again and began to scratch at the same spot while the bigger one left the room heading further into the building. I closed my eyes, revelling in the delicious sensations coming from the small Anthromorph’s fingers.

I felt something rough wrap around my throat. Alarmed, I pulled away, trying to free myself from the big one’s grip. There was a metallic click and I was released to back up against the blank expanse of wall. I could feel a wide collar wrapped around my throat and no matter how I thrashed, I could not shift it.

Summoning all my mental power, I commanded that they release me. The small one made a soft noise and approached while the big one left the room again. I stood still; to allow the small one to remove the collar, but instead I felt it begin to scratch my head once more.
I was lost in the decadent pleasure of having my head scratched. Nothing else mattered except the sensation. It was like a drug for me, I would gladly have done anything for it to continue.

I felt the scratching stop and looked up, wondering why. The smaller Anthromorph moved to the far end of the room where a pair of circular dishes sat on the floor. I assumed that the big one had left them for the smaller and approached to watch what it might do.
The scent of fresh meat wafted from one dish, like that of the animals I’d enjoyed outside. I ignored my own gnawing hunger and sat, ready to watch the Anthromorph. It crouched beside the two dishes and tapped on them, first the one holding the red meat then the water. I wondered if it might be some kind of ritual before eating. When it picked up a chunk of meat and held it out towards me I realised that it was meant for me.
I carefully took the meat from its hand and swallowed before stepping up to the bowl and wolfing its contents down rapidly.

My full stomach and the head scratching soon lulled me. I felt the strain of the past few days catch up with me and had to lie down. The room spun around me, my vision edged with encroaching darkness. I struggled to stay awake, to watch what these Anthromorphs might do, but sleep finally claimed me.

I awoke some time later to find myself alone in the small room. When I climbed to my feet I rattled. I had been chained! A length of chain attached to the back of the collar about my neck and led to a latched hook sunk into the wall. I jerked and tugged on the chain, but was unable to pull it free.

A distant sound overlays the recording.

They must’ve followed me! I don’t know how long they kept me prisoner. I was chained at all times, only let out into their area of grass to relieve myself when they saw fit.

I had been practising with the clasp they use every chance I got. The last time they let me onto their grass, while still chained to the outside wall, I finally managed to release the clasp and run for the hill.

This message must get back to home! These Anthromorphs are dangerous, they are totally immune to our mental control! They have overrun this planet unchecked and yet there is worse!

I can feel my self-control slipping. I feel the unrelenting desire to go back to them; to go back and let them feed me, take care of me … and scratch my head!

Beware these Anthromorphs, leave me to my fate and make no landing here!

The distant sound resolves itself:-

“…where are you boy? Here boy.”

“Woofy! There you are! C’mere boy!”

“C’mon Woofy! Let’s go home and tell mummy you found somethin’ int’restin’!”

++Message ends++

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