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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2041079
A cautionary tale for all would-be space explorers.
Last Contact

Within the confined cabin of the spacecraft, amid the acrid smoke that choked the pockets of precious air that remained, more explosions of sparks erupted from blackened control consoles and other smoldering circuitry.

The last of the stuporous crew surveyed the damage and the bloodied bodies of the other members who lay dead or dying, aware that verbal orders, commands, or other communications were no longer necessary. With the ship crippled beyond repair, it was only a matter of moments before it impacted the rugged terrain of the planet’s alien, inhospitable surface.

Inhospitable? the captain thought, mocking his own log entries--what would be his last notes prior to an abrupt end to a voyage which had been so full of promise and expectation. An exploration that would instead conclude under tragic, unforeseeable circumstances.

He wondered what would become of the pair who had safely ejected while they still could. The commander again smirked. Safely?

Just then, more fire and more fountains of sparks shouted from the jagged rips and tears left by chunks of shrapnel as they tore through the ship’s outer hull. Since the failure of the micro-meteor shield, the pummeling from the alien weaponry--fired from the surface below--had grown constant and inescapable.

They had known for some time that this planet was inhabited. The reconnaissance drones had revealed the presence of many industrialized civilizations. Some more than others. The ill-fated choice had been made to make first contact with the more advanced of the nations. Too late, the optimism of the reports was now known to have been wildly premature. A result, no doubt, of the arrogance of his superiors. And their assumptions that the primitive beings of this world posed little threat to advanced space travelers like themselves.

Another explosion rocked the ship. Like a final death throe that mercifully allowed the smoke to exit out newly opened ruptures, the wind whistled and screamed past the ragged openings. The captain, down on one knee and barely able to grasp a nearby railing, berated those preliminary observations which had been so inadequate. Naive assessments that neglected to take sufficient note of the aliens’ overall savagery and propensity for violence.

Sure, there had been rumors, but no one had taken them seriously. No race of beings who had discovered the power of atomic energy--and not destroyed themselves--could remain as predictable as the skeptics had warned. Nor would any sentient species act upon the foolish, paranoid superstitions that others had feared.

Now that the truth had announced itself in the form of crude but effective weapons, it was too late--at least for him and his brave crew.

Only seconds remained for the captain to enter the final bits of data into the recorder. If others were to follow, his final transmission must include the geographic coordinates of his exact location. Slowly, painfully, his fingers tapped the pads of the transmitter and executed the words, noom-exico. Apparently the name of a local province.

Wiping the blood from his hand, he entered the local designators--letters of some alien alphabet: R…O…S…W…E….
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