Challenge #01932-E108: Cute, Fluffy, DangeroussteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  last year 

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It looks adorable, acts so very cute, and even smells attractive.
Don't go near it with barge pole. There's got to be some huge catch. -- Anon Guest

Humans are bizarre. At any given moment, they will attempt to tame and then ride any beast bigger than one of their domestic canids[1]. They will coo over and attempt to pet any given venomous or aggressive creature. But it was on the planetary system WEP969HU84I, nicknamed Planet Cutiekiller, that another aspect of humanity became known.

The atmosphere was classified non-toxic, though the Ship's Human declared that he had gained four pounds just by sniffing it. The crew of the Intrepid Investigator agreed that the air was scented like one of Human Shan's annual treat pastries. No pathogens were detected, nor toxins, nor any kind of threat to the ship or its crew.

The local flora tested as both edible and theoretically delicious, though further investigation was warranted before the crew were invited to dig in. Just in case there was a hazardous enzyme somewhere in the mix that made the native flora both delicious and deadly. Human Shan grew increasingly agitated during the sampling mission. A condition that worsened when they encountered some of the native wildlife.

"Stay back," Human Shan barked, moving between his crewmates and the creature that had come out of the underbrush.

It was small, roughly spherical, large-eyed and violently pink. It sniffed the air with a cute, button nose and cleaned its face with its paws.

"It looks completely harmless," objected xenobiologist Krin.

"Sure it does. Get a drumstick out of the tester pack." And since Human Shan was making grabby motions with one hand, they wanted this as a diagnostic[2].

Krin handed one over and watched as Human Shan carefully tossed the drumstick within range of the animal, which sniffed at it.

It was adorable until it opened its mouth to devour it whole.

Following this encounter, the expedition crew realised two things: First, the clearing was surrounded by others of this creature's kind, emerging from the undergrowth and bushes. Secondly, they were rather far away from the Intrepid Investigator.

Human Shan kept a calm, soothing tone to his voice. "Krin? How many drumsticks do we have all up?"

"Including the one you just threw? Twenty."

"Let's gather all of them in a biodegradable baggie," said Human Shan, not making any sudden moves. "They'll be able to smell it, but they don't know what to do with us, yet. So let's be quick, but not spook them."

Human Shan was gently tossing his own drumsticks to the cute, fuzzy creatures by the time the baggie was mostly ready. The creatures were starting to gather in the one area where the drumsticks were landing. "When I say 'run'..." he prompted. "Run. Full speed. Straight for the ship. I'll be right behind you."

The assembled crew pointed themselves in the correct direction. They had already re-fastened their livesuits.

Human Shan shouted, "RUN!" as he threw the baggie, and kept a pace behind the slowest of his crew. Behind them, the noises of ravening beasts fighting over the contents filled the air.

It was a long, adrenaline-fuelled escape. Only when they were all back aboard and the ship itself was in the upper stratosphere did Krin think to ask, "How did you know they were dangerous?"

Human Shan shrugged. "Thin slicing? Maybe? When you find a really cute creature in a colouring-book paradise, something has to stink, and stink big." He took a sip of his calming theobromine. "All those plants wanted to be eaten, but those critters weren't chowing down. And... well... they were furry and their eyes were in the front. Predator configuration."

On one hand, Galactic Society had found a Deathworld that the Humans did not want to colonise. On the other hand, this was because, "it gave (them) the screaming heebie-jeebies."

[1] Given human interference, and that horses can be as big as dogs and vice versa, the Standard Unit of animal measurement is considered to be one healthy german shepherd.
[2] Chicken drumsticks, preferably printed in a food fabricator, have become an accepted field testing unit for all kinds of analysis. Acidity of a fluid or surface is the usual one, but as we see, it is also a good diagnostic for the relative carnivorousness of an unidentified species.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / whitecity]

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nice challenge 😘😘😘