Screwed

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I knew we were screwed the minute I saw the first flower stalk. There just wasn't any way around it. We were doomed.

So, we were, the six of us, the only thing standin' between the civilian recon party and the rest of this unexplored world. The only thing we knew for sure was that there wasn't any intelligent life on the planet. That's not to say the place wasn't without its charms - it's just that nobody had evolved there and nobody had explored it, either. And by nobody I mean any form of intelligent life. I mean, what with the several dozen intelligent races the human race had run into so far, we knew that intelligent life wasn't rare. Well, not as rare as some of the 21st century pundits had claimed. Humans aren't special in a galactic way of speakin'. And any life form that was intelligent was a somebody, if ya know what I mean.

So, where was I before I got sidetracked? Oh, yeah... Just the six of us. We were pretty well equiped but equipment doesn't always make up for lack of numbers. I mean, it does, but it doesn't. Know what I mean? So, anyway, the six of us set up the perimeter of the camp and let the scientist types do their own things inside the camp. Settin' up housin' was as simple as pressin' a button. Hell, even us grunts could've done that. And, in fact, we did do that for our own shelters. We needed the shelters 'cause we can't live 7x24 in armour, powered or not.

So, anyway... One day one of the sciency types and her partner just doesn't make it back. No response on the radio, and no response from the locator beacon in the aircar. And we knew we hadn't just overlooked someone - there were only 7 aircars to start with and bein' able to count that high is pretty much a given even for us grunts. You wouldn't know it by the way some of them treated us. But others were pretty decent to us.

So, the three of us went out in another aircar. The Looie and Sam and Steve stayed behind. No sense in all of us rushin' off for a simple recovery operation. Any 'car can lift at least its own mass again. So, we were pretty comfortable in headin' off to the last known location that had been reported by the 'car's beacon. Well, as comfortable as you can be when it's 30°C and 99% humidity. We had decided not to wear our armour - it'd just get in the way if we had to do any kind of delicate work with an injured person or two. Lookin' back, I still don't know if it wasn't the smartest thing we coulda done. heh...  I was gonna say "live and learn" but that might be a little off considerin'...

So, anyway, we went off, homin' in on the last known, enjoyin' the scenery as it went past us. The missin' pair had gone out a couple hundred klicks so we had some time to kick back and talk about what we thought we'd find. We sure didn't expect what we did find, let me tell you. So, anyway, as we went the terrain was gettin' more and more rough and we were wonderin' if we'd even be able to see the aircar. Not that bein' able to see it was required, mind. We had a scannin' unit with us that'd pick anythin' up long before we could see it. So were weren't watchin' what was comin'. We were concentratin' on the scanner. Lookin' back, yeah, we shoulda detailed one person to the scanner and the other two to just keepin' some eyes on the situation. But we didn't. And, of course, that's when it happened.

There was a big bang and the 'car tilted to the left. It steadied up pretty quick but after I picked myself up off the floor it was enough for me to get my eyes up and out. And then I saw it. What looked like a flower stalk from one of them deserty plants back on Earth. And there was a whole pile of them, neatly spaced across the hillside. But I didn't need to see all of them to know we were screwed, just like the science guys' 'car was. Ya see, it was stuck on the flower stalk like an order in a greasy spoon eatery. It was pure luck that first one didn't get us, too. Well, that and the fact it had forgotten it already had a 'car stuck on it. Ya see, that was what banged into us - the wreck of the first 'car. Now, why the scanner didn't pick it up is still bein' talked about. Some say the plants are intelligent and have their own tech that shielded them from us and us from them. Others, they say it's just a natural part of the planet, somethin' new that our instruments can't pick up.

Me? well, I dunno. I suppose it could be either way. Not for me to say. But I still don't know why it was only tech that attracted them. Even our weapons and walkies were targets. But us people - not bothered at all. Well, at least we weren't bothered once all our walkies were taken out by them things. And Zach...Well, he never stood a chance when he tried to use his implants to call for help. Nothin' we could do for him but carry his body out.

Dunno. But we found the sciency people alright, shaken up but OK. And the four of us, we walked out of that flower stalk hell. Once we got clear of them we could fire up our implants and get help comin' out for us.

So, yeah I was happy my feelin' that we were all doomed was wrong. But we got lucky, too.

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