Alien Encounter

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(Author's Note - written for Aim To Engage Day #15 challenge - word count 499 not counting this note)


"I don't know why we have to have a post here," complained Bari. "Nothing ever happens and there's nothing to see." He stared disconsolately out the plasglas window of the Research Station at a vast expanse of grey water stretching in every direction. Oceans covered more than 99 per cent of the planet, with only a few small rocky islands to break the surface. The Research Centre had been built on one of the largest, several hundred square metres of barren rock.

"Except 'sea'," joked Tomnal, who had only been there a week and hadn't yet had time to tire of the novelty of being on a planet instead of inside a space ship. Not that they were able to walk around outside, even here, without a space suit to protect them from the toxic atmosphere.

"I'm going for a walk," announced Bari decisively. "Want to suit up and come too?" In theory, one of them was supposed to be in the station at all times, but as Bari had explained to Tomnal on the first day, "What's the point of that? The only thing that's likely to happen is someone tripping over a damned rock! Whoever was inside would have to come out to help in any case. The Station's not equipped with rescue bots."

Afterwards, Tomnal could never explain exactly how it happened, but one minute Bari had been peering down into the grey water and the next minute he fell in with a splash.

"Help me!" Bari's scream of terror rang in Tomnal's earphones as, despite the air in the suit, Bari's heavy boots took him straight down to the bottom. Tomnal rushed forward, peering through the murky water. There! Was that the top of Bari's helmet?

"Put your arms up!" he yelled. Yes! He could see Bari's gloved hands stretching up toward him, only a few centimetres below the surface. He crouched down and grabbed hold of Bari's hands through the water. Heaving and pulling with all his strength he hauled Bari up onto the rocky surface. He could see a couple of places where the suit had torn and there was no time to waste. He half lifted, half dragged Bari into the station and got him into the decontamination chamber as fast as he could.

"Are you sure you're all right?" he asked Bari again, as he came out of his room later, showered and dressed in clean clothes.

"I'm fine," said Bari, still pale and rather shaky. "Just this graze on my hip. Must have happened when you got me out. It's nothing."

He sat down and rubbed his leg absentmindedly. "I'll be glad to see the back of this place, I can tell you!"

~~~

Deep in the toxic waters of planet Wolf 1061, the purple algae had long decided it was time to venture forth. Beautiful as their world was, there was a whole universe to explore. And now, after years of patient planning, they'd found the perfect transport vehicle. Humans.


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