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A Missing Planet

by on March 2, 2016

“And I read ancient Venusian hieroglyphics! I write them too! No one else knows Venusian hieroglyphics! I learned them from the Venusian elf masters, and they never….”

“Yes, ma’am,” the otter ensign said respectfully. In his heart, he wasn’t entirely sure there were Venusian elf-matters, or elves generally, but the universe was a big place. He was only just beginning what he hoped would be a stellar career in the Otter Space Corps, and he was just realizing how big it was.

He had naively thought his first assignment would be something dashing. They might send him with Commander Morgan and the best of the Corps fleet ships to the planet whose name he couldn’t remember. It had amber oceans, though, he remembered that. However, in its wisdom, Corps Command had dispatched the bright-eyed ensign on a courier mission. Specifically, he was transporting an expert on hieroglyphics from her planet back to Corps Headquarters, so she could translate an inscription on some dusty obelisk that had turned up.

The expert, Rosemary Braxtin, wasn’t an otter.  The ensign couldn’t quite decide whether she was a human or a sentient space hedgegod and he estimated her age in the triple digits, though he didn’t dare ask to be sure.  Hardly had Braxtini boarded his shuttle when she had begun complaining about it.

She disliked the warp engines, and asked why in heaven’s name they couldn’t be quieter. She complained about the too-bright lighting in the shuttle, the quality of the replicated food, the angle of the seats. When the ensign had asked, desperately polite, whether she had enjoyed her visit to Earth, Braxtin had exploded in a rant about Earthlings, Martians, and everyone else from the Pluto colony to the observation post on Mercury. Then she had gotten on the subject of elves, and their presence on Venus, and their secret ciphers that only she knew. “Aren’t we there yet?” she abruptly said, breaking off a point about Venutian-Elvish musical recitals entirely lost on the ensign. “I have an obelisk to translate, you know!”

“Yes, ma’am,” the ensign said. “We’ll be shifting down into Corps space momentarily.”

“Hmph,” said Braxtin. “Warp engines. Why, when I was on Barnard’s Colony, we never-”

There was no warning. The shuttle dropped out of warp and into blank space. A planet should’ve sprawled out before them, but it wasn’t there. The ensign, stunned, automatically did a scan with the shuttle sensors. They didn’t even pick up bits of rock. The entire world, the headquarters of the Otter Space Corps, had been scythed neatly from existence.

The ensign fumbled for the button that launched the distress beacon. Then it occurred to him that whoever had wiped out the Corps homeworld might still be around. He paused. Braxtin noticed the hesitation. “Is that the atmospheric control?” she demanded. “You’ve got the controls all wrong; I’m about to freeze to death!”  Before the ensign could stop her, she reached over and thumped the button hard. The beacon disengaged with a clunk from the shuttle and went chirping off merrily into space.

The ensign had been right. Someone had waited around. Stamper, god of war, saw the beacon. He raised the red sword. His work wasn’t done.




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  1. Funny one! And a great example of the “never let the annoying passenger near the controls” theme.

  2. Funny – I’ve recently read books about sentient otters – and space badgers. And you used the button prompt too! Funny – and very well done!

    • Thanks! I think the only books I’ve read with sentient otters were the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, but sadly I don’t think they had space badgers.

  3. Worst back-seat driver ever!

  4. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    Oh, otter ensign, be careful what you wish for! I think this is my favorite line: “The entire world, the headquarters of the Otter Space Corps, had been scythed neatly from existence.” Direct and dramatic. 🙂

  5. Otter Space Corps? There were other Stampers? Oh, I hope it can be saved, because I need a scene in there with Stamper among his former peoples.

  6. This is so ridiculous it’s a shining beacon in my universe. That whole paragraph of complaints was stellar.
    I’m a fan.

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