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Life Feeds on Life

The scientist trembled as it made its report. Its skin was blanched; it stunk of horror, and withered into itself as it remembered what it had seen.

“I continued to observe the alien as it returned to its domicile. It was carrying several native juveniles in some sort of container. It had torn them from the Mother’s embrace, and they were still covered in nutrients; I could smell their cries of agony, and the stench of their fear. The alien pumped water over them, using a fibrous membrane to wash them thoroughly. Then it took up some sort of sharp-edged, metallic implement, and began to peel off their skins.”

Several of the bridge officers exclaimed their shock, rough scents mingling with that of the scientist’s clear disgust in chemical pandemonium. The Captain remained cold and odorless, restraining its emotions. “Continue,” it commanded.

The scientist spread its limbs, visibly forcing itself onward. “Once the alien was finished flaying the juveniles, it took up another sharp tool and cut them into pieces. There was a device, also formed from some inorganic substance, which produced great heat – enough to boil water within minutes. It dropped the pieces of their flesh into the water and… oh, Mother.” Spurts of pure grief and anguish interrupted its description. Some of the bridge crew were already comatose, seeking reflexively to block the images from their consciousness. The air had grown close and nauseating. The Captain itself was starting to wither, but demanded harshly, “Continue.”

The scientist could barely force the words from its orifices, but it somehow found the strength. “I fell into a coma for some time. When I regained consciousness, the alien and several others of its kind were in another part of the domicile. The scalded flesh of the juveniles was displayed on a broad surface fashioned from what I later identified as large pieces hewn from the body of an ancient, along with other unidentifiable substances and beakers of what my chemical samplers determined to be juice extracted from the pulp of crushed fetuses. The stench was revolting.” Even the Captain was clearly taken aback by this news; nearly the entire bridge crew had now become comatose. “They were using their inorganic tools to lift the pieces of flesh into the large orifices which they use to respirate and to create their complex atmospheric vibrations. The hard, sharp surfaces within were crushing the flesh of the juveniles, which was then suctioned into their bodies. I believe the only plausible conclusion is that they were consuming those juveniles, and using them as nutrients!” Unable to continue, the scientist lapsed into protective coma.

When the scientist and the bridge crew had regained consciousness, the Captain questioned it. “You say that these alien beings are products of a weird technology? Organic, but shaped only by natural selection? They have calcified skeletons, centralized neural organs, circulating blood?”

“All of this is true, sir.”

“And you have detected no kindred intelligence here? Only primitives, incapable of thought or language? We are completely alone?”

“As far as we can determine, sir.”

The Captain let out a heavy gust of stolid regret. “It may be that we could communicate with these things, make trade and treaty with them, but the final decision must rest with the collective; and I can already imagine how they will react when they smell this.”

***

When the war was over, everyone said it was Frank’s fault. He never could understand why; all he’d been doing, while they watched him, was cutting up carrots from his garden.

Fortunately, everyone agreed the aliens tasted way better than Earth vegetables. Made the whole war worthwhile.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Fiction, Humor, Sci Fi

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