"Graham, there's some very large lizards down here. We should leave."
"After I've gotten these mineral samples. Anyway, it's only a lizard, what's the problem?"
"Its jaws are around my ankle." -- Anon Guest
Graham looked. This was just one among the many reasons why Planetary Survey Teams had combat-ready livesuits as part of their essential equipment. The lizard in question looked like a boa constrictor had somehow had children with a sarcosuchus and, owing to the subterranean environment, didn't have much in the way of eyeballs any more. They did, however, have whiskers, which was how one had found Sal.
Titanium-enriched, carbon fibre cerametal couldn't dent a combat-ready livesuit, so there was no way a giant albino snake-crocodile could get through one without also being cogniscent enough to disassemble it. Nevertheless, the creature insisted on persisting. The scraping sound its teeth made against Sal's boot was nails-on-the-chalkboard annoying, but otherwise all was relatively well.
"You know," said Graham, "this could be funny in the right circumstances."
"Flakk the right circumstances, we're under orders not to harm the native creatures. This little darling is gonna crack some teeth."
Graham sighed. "They're level twos. They should be able to withstand a brief mist of ascetic acid. Run a scan anyway, okay?"
Sal mumbled something uncomplimentary under hir breath. There was an eventual hiss of the liquid jets and the big lizard flailed away into the water from whence it came. "Flakkin'... Now we have to write this down as an unintentional encounter with justifiable defensive interaction."
Graham made a revolted noise in the back of her throat. Everyone hated paperwork. "So stay further from the water, genius."
"So... stand in your elbows or stand in the local flora that we're also not allowed to damage. Fan-flakkin'-tastic. I hate confined spaces for sample gathering."
"There's also literally hanging around on the ladder we used to get down here," suggested Graham.
"Did I mention recently how much I hate any kind of heights, Graham? Because I think I might have done that a few dozen times already."
Graham chuckled. "Yeah, you did that; and you're not allowed to leave me here on my own because of the subterranean crocopythons. Face it. This situation sucks."
"Join the UFTP PlanSurv," Sal muttered, quizzaciously sotto-voice. "The pay's fantastic and you get to see things nobody else has seen yet. It'll be such a blast. You'll have so much fun..."
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / racnus]
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