Challenge #02139-E310: Cute, Fluffy, Deadly
The survey leader folded hir forelimbs and radiated annoyance. "It is small, furry, and completely unarmed. The worst it can do is a scratch." Insectoid faces don't easily show annoyance, but this one made a determined effort. "What are you afraid of, getting an owie on your boo-boo?" -- Anon Guest
First rule of Deathworlder animals - there is no such thing as harmless.
First Invader G'thaz was among the first to discover that to hir detriment. The creature known to the natives as Possum, subclass Ringtail, focussed intently on G'Thaz's primary gripclaw and clambered up it, sniffing all the way.
"See?" said First Invader G'thaz, unaware that ze was moments away from impending disaster. "It doesn't even recognise us as a threat." Before G'thaz could take another breath, the possum clearly recognized hir as food by taking a huge chunk out of hir primary limb.
The creature reacted to G'thaz's shrieks by leaping for hir face in an unexpected ball of claws, teeth and fury. The rest of the Invader squadron scattered, planning to regroup at their ship once they had confounded the enemy. Alas, they did not know that Australia was practically a class five Deathworlder environment in a class 3.5 planet.
The Australian wilderness eats unprepared tourists. It will sometimes devour those who are used to the area. A combination of confounding terrain, extreme temperatures, pitfalls camouflaged by deciduous vegetation remnants, venomous nearly everything, poisonous everything else, highly combustible flora, highly aggressive fauna, and incredibly deceptive valleys prone to flash flooding, has spelled the end for many before the Zabroxi Invader ship.
They weren't found for years. By then, there was little left of their bodies as Deathworlder lifeforms find species of a lower level to be very tasty indeed. Scattered battle armour and degraded technology, burned and melted by numerous bushfires, was almost unrecognisable as a lost scouting troop. Between the possums, dingoes, and insects, there weren't any bodily remains left.
Only the Invader Scout pod, left on idle and restoring its batteries with ambient energies, held any record of who had been there and what they were there for. That record included the last moments of the fifteen Zabroxi Invaders who had foolishly come to Australia for the challenge.
What was left of the Invaders, their pod, their records, and their armour, was respectfully returned to the Zabroxi, who had since learned their lesson about messing with Terrans. The entire bundle came with a very Terran message.
"You gotta watch out in Australia, mate."
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / KHBlack]
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