This is Lieutenant Robert Harding of the CITADEL 1st Air Force, 2nd Division, C company. The date is February 16th, 6253 according to the ship's log, about three weeks since we arrived here. Arrival on this planet was … unexpectedly rough. The gear shift within the craft malfunctioned when switching from Auto-Pilot to Manual drive. Despite these troubles, we were able to land without any injuries to the crew. Thanks to Captain Yu's skills we were able to come down safely on this planet without any major damage to the space craft and without losing any of the supplies we had come with. According to Captain Yu, it will only take us a few days at most to fix the wearing and scorch marks to the ship's outer hull
When we first stepped out upon this planet we were greeted with sunlight, no, not sunlight, but 312144 – D is very much like our own sun back home. The reading of rays are identical to those of the sun's back at home, except, if its possible, we read after a few days, a greater spike in the Vitamin D content within our skin cells, proving that the light has a greater impact upon out systems. According to the monitors on our suits we were registering that this planet had a gravitational pull of .98% of earth's, indeed the pull was so similar that any changes that the crew and I had expected were quickly disposed from our minds, we all turned off the computers within our suits to adjust from the assumed gravity that was closer to our moon's to the new planets actual gravity. Another thing was that, according to the computers on the ship, the atmosphere was almost identical to that of Earth's. Save for the fact that the air was slightly more nitrogenous that than of earth's Reher was the one who offered to be the first human to take a breath up on this new planet. His bravery for that simple deed should be commended in someone way when the generals arrive here on Taos – 131. Another Oddity about this planet is its rotation. It rotates in the opposite direction than our home planet, so that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
The soil, we have observed, is filled with nutrients giving rise to an array of plants. Giant trees with needle-leaves and deep brown, almost black peeling bark grow out of the ground. The forest we landed in is also home to trees that look much like the Trembling Aspens back on earth, with veined grey bark and perpetually yellow, arrowhead shaped leaves. The bushes are large broadleaf plants with in hues of pale green tipped with different reds and purple. These plants produce some of the widest ranges of colored flowers I have ever seen. The blossoms they produce far surpass earth's limited color palette. Most of the trees appear to be like our ever greens back home and never shed their leaves on a yearly basis, but the smaller bushes seem to follow the yearly cycles for the ground is littered with their leaves and browning arrowhead shaped leaves.
Most of the Animals that we have seen must be the planets own version of birds, these creatures are small, with lizard like bodies adorned with green and red feathers. We have encountered creatures that look like miniature horses with lion manes and tails. They were docile enough and appeared to be herbivores. Another herbivorous creature was much like a capybara with a beak upon its rat-like face, Ideal fro digging up plant roots. We also, however, were greeted by the carnivorous creatures of the forest, a cow sized animal with a lizard face and triceratops frill sat atop a horses neck and panther body. Its four feet were scaled and clawed much like the talons of an eagle. Because they had probably never seen people before, one readily attached itself to Saab, much to her fear and delight because she was able to get a close up look at how is behaves while the creature was getting used to her presence.
There appears to be no intelligent life here, though the atmosphere is almost identical to that of our home, or so the computer says. I conclude that this planet appears to be ideal for human settlement, there is no shortage of flowing fresh water and the soil is full of nutrients, perfect for farming. I have enclosed the request for a colonization fleet with this transmission. Though, I cannot express what a utopia this planet is there have been strange happenings around the encampment that we have set up. Pieces of equipment have been disappearing. We would find them strewn about the forest ground in pieces. They were, however, not torn apart as though an animal had gotten them, but as though someone with a screw driver had taken them apart bit by bit. We have also all experienced catching quick glimpses of something humanoid watching us before darting into the bushes. As for right now we have no evidence, beyond speculation, of the existence of these strange wraiths. As for right now clearance is given for colonization…
Ace pushed the button on the computer and the recording stopped. He had enough of trying to record every little detail that happened throughout the week for later military records. It was part of his duty as leader of this expedition, yes, but it was a very tedious and time consuming duty. He thought about asking Reher to record one of the logs, but he knew that the universe would end before Jon willingly took care of recording a log. Ace got up out of the chair and left the cock pit, intent on returning out into the cool air of the twilight. He waved his hand over the sensor and the lock to the living quarters opened. He quickly made his way to the door of the ship and slipped out of the craft into the quickly falling evening. The planet's gold and silver colored moons were slowly rising in the sky. The array of bold yellow disintegrating into the purple and then deep navy of the night time sky from the fading sun casting long shadows upon the ground from the tall coniferous like trees. The leaf litter upon the ground crunched under his feet as he leaned from the ramp straight to the forest floor, sending up a whirl of needles and small arrowhead-shaped golden and green leaves.
"Hey Ace!" came Chandra Saab's voice. Ace turned to see the other four members of his crew sitting around a small, sputtering fire. Reher held a stick in his hand and poked at the flames center trying to make them stronger, but failing to do so every time. Saab motioned for him to come over, "Are you going to set up the beacon tomorrow?" She called to him.
Ace shook his head, "I'm going to go set it up now, unless anyone has any objections."
"None at all," MacDowell said as he turned around to face Ace, "The sooner we ge' the colonization fleet down 'ere, the better. It doesn' feel safe 'ere."
"That's because you're a stranger on a hostile planet" Reher smirked.
Ace shook his head. That was just like Jon, always had something to say. With that sharp tongue of his, it was a miracle he was ever able to achieve the ranks of Lieutenant. Walking away from the camp, Ace attempted to find a place where there was smooth ground for the homing device and clear open sky so that it could send a clear signal to the astronomers back on Earth. Within two weeks he would receive confirmation of the signal and the plans of action the UN leaders would be taking: whether they wanted to continue with the colonization of the planet or to let their ambitions die. After about twenty minutes of searching for the ideal place, the lieutenant was finally able to find one, a small patch of ground in the trench on the earth made by the space ship when they had made their landing. It was pretty much flat and the trees had been cleared by the craft overhead so the probe had an open sky above it, ideal for sending the transmission back to earth with the ok signal from the team.
Ace took the miniscule device from his pocket and set it on the ground. It was no bigger than a briefcase with nothing more than a green button on its front. He pushed this and instantly thin, spidery legs sprung out from underneath the beacon and raised it about three feet in the air, from the center of the device a long antenna grew up to the sky with a tiny blinking purple light at the end. With that, he was finished, the metallic beeping sound evident that his message was now being sent hurtling through the cosmos. He was staring at the homing device when he suddenly felt the hairs on the back of his neck start to stand up. He turned around quickly, it felt almost as if something had been watching him; something very near had been watching him. Ace let his eyes slowly scan the forest undergrowth, trying with no avail to pierce the darkness that had fallen over the land. His body stayed in suspended motion as he tried to find what exactly had been watching him. If it had been one of the strange phantom creatures, this one had been fare closer than any other one had ever been before. Because of the close proximity he had hoped he might finally be able to catch a glimpse of what exactly had been stealing things from their camp and curiously dismantling their electrical equipment, but his eyes returned no answer to his ever growing question of what was out there.
There was suddenly a rustling sound behind him and he snapped his head around to catch the glimmer of gold eyes between the leaves for only an instant before they retreated and disappeared once again into the forest.
Ace let out a frustrated grunt. What ever was out there, it had to be found. If it was intelligent, it had to make itself known or else risk having its planet colonized by the human race.
"Who the hell is the poor sap that they charge with making this crap?" Reher said as he made a face at the rather unappetizing slices of bread that were in front of him. "This doesn't even look like bread!"
"Quiet," Ace said as he attempted to cook their breakfast over the revived coals of last night's fire. The sun hung in the sky, warming the land. "You eat that, Jon, its good for you."
"I have, I don't have a choice"
"If you want you can try some of the native plants…" Saab chirped, "The seed pods of the blue broadleaf bushes with the red colored veins are edible."
Reher raised an eyebrow in her direction, "You tried them?"
Saab and MacDowell both nodded.
Reher suddenly fell silent as Yu asked, "What did they taste like?"
"Like tangerine strangely enough," MacDowell said, "With jus' a 'int of lime… but over all, it tasted like a citrus fruit."
Reher made a noise through his nose of surprise, "I might have to try one of these."
MacDowell shrugged as Saab continued, "You should, if you're now going to be a native of this planet, you should start getting used to the food here." She managed a half smile.
Yu suddenly fell silent, her entire being focused on a single clump of bushes surrounding their landing site. Her eyes tried to lift back the leaves of the planet to expose what was behind it, but all movement had cease. "Did any of you see that?" she asked, her voice was barely more than a whisper.
"See what?" Ace asked as he turned from the fire to look where she was focused.
"I think it… it was them…" she said.
Suddenly Reher jumped with a shout, "HEY!" he bounced to his feet, his hands pointing at another place around the perimeter of the camp, deep into the forest undergrowth. "I saw it!" He confirmed Yu's eyes were not playing tricks on her. "It's them!"
"There, I see it!" Yu was on her feet in an instant. She forth her side arm from the holster at her hip and charged, headlong into the forest in hot pursuit of whatever she and Reher had seen.
"Cynthia Wait!" Ace cried, but it was too late, she was already gone.
"Hurry!" Reher took hold of Ace's arm and dragged him to his feet, towing him in the direction that the Captain had gone, "We can't have her getting lost!"
Ace could do nothing but comply, "Watch the camp!" he ordered to Saab and MacDowell before he was running at full speed through the forest after Yu, Reher dodging the trees next to him.
Bushes tugged at his clothing, razor sharp, needle leaves bit into any exposed skin, Ace was forced to keep his eyes half closed to prevent the grasping fingers of the forest trees from getting at them. He was having trouble navigating the uneven floor with his limited vision, his own gun still in its holster as he used his hands to try and carve a pathway through the dense underbrush. Every so often he would snatch a glance of Yu's grey tunic, bobbing some meters ahead of him as he tried desperately to catch up with her. "Cynthia!" he shouted, "Slow down!", but his voice went unanswered for he saw her speed up, obviously catching up to whatever she had seen. "Stop!" He bellowed, frustration rising at the lack of response from her, "We don't know what's out there!" Still there was silence from Yu. Reher had been lost to his sight, it had been proven many times back on earth that he was a far better runner than Ace could ever hope to be so it was no shocking news to find that he had probably passed Ace up and had already caught up to the Captain. Ace let out an agitated breath through his nose and was about to yell once more for his captain when a sound similar to a gunshot's thunder through the tranquil air of the forest.
"What on Earth!" Ace exclaimed as he practically came to a screeching halt with surprise at what he had just heard. Another crack echoed through his ear drums followed by the sound similar to that of someone one gently waving a piece of sheet metal: wahw, wahw, wahw. Another explosion rocked him and he immediately dove for cover behind the nearest bush as the whirring sound of human guns answered whatever entity was showing aggression toward them. Kneeling behind the cover of the bushes, his shaking hands frantically searched for his side arm and desperately pulled it from his holster as his eyes searched the surrounding area trying to place the blaze of a nozzle to pinpoint from where exactly he was being shot at. However his eyes returned nothing of value to him, he was to be attacking an enemy he could not see. The firefight erupted around him as he fired blindly into the bushes around him hoping that he would not hit Reher or Yu in the process. The squabble still raged as he squeezed off another round from his gun before he felt something hit him across the shoulders. Ace lurched forward with shock, the air pushed from his lungs, stars sailing into his field of vision. Almost instantly afterwards, his head was driven into the ground. He tried putting up a fight, but the strength of an unknown being pinned him to the ground and he was rendered helpless. Roughly his fire arm was wrenched from his hands as he felt the sting of something sharp digging into his shoulders.
After he had been relieved of his fire arm, the forest went silent as the firing of the others ceased, the resonance of the cracks ringing in Ace's ears. He felt the weight magically lift from his back and he felt himself forcefully being dragged up from the ground, his head still spinning from the blow. He was thrust forward into a small clearing where his two comrades already waited for him, kneeling on the ground, their hands on top of their head in complete submission to their captors, Reher's boiling anger at his defeat was clearly written on his face. Despite Ace's rising confusion and fear at what was happening around him, his mind was cleared for an instant as he was finally able to catch a glimpse of what the group had been seeing in the forests for the last three weeks, and what he saw shocked him.
There were about ten of them. The creatures were small of stature; if Ace had been standing he doubted that any of them would rise much higher than his chest. Their build was very hominid and the walked on two legs, but their features were feline. Their legs were jointed twice so it seemed that these creatures walked on their toes rather than on their feet, their arms ended with dainty four fingered paws. Upon their backs a set of wings sprouted, obviously this structure was vestigial for they were far too small to actually be used for flying, some left over evolution from some time long ago when these creatures might have actually taken to the sky. Their muzzles were short and flatter against the face, but their eyes and slit pupils and were rimmed with the black lens, just like a cat's were, however, they lacked whiskers or any sensory appendages of that sort upon their faces. They were covered with fur ranging from white to brown to grey to black from the few that kept Ace, Yu and Reher captive. He could only assume that if these creatures were the masters of this planet that there would be more of them with a wider range of coloration. Some had spots and some had stripes, some even had rosette patterns and main like fur around their head and necks. As Ace stared at these animals in front of him all he could think about were the little green men that he was often told stories of in his childhood, tiny aliens with huge head ands anorexic bodies flashed across his memory. However, these were quickly pushed away as he and his crewmates became the first humans in the existence of mankind to come into contact with another intelligent species upon another planet. The feline-like creatures surrounding him, pointing metal tubes with what looked like giant, pulsating battery packs at the ends, became the first intelligent alien species to encounter humanity.
They were not unclothed, however. They all were dressed in matching pine green tunics with darker green collars that reminded Ace of the old 20th century uniforms back on earth. They wore black pants that ended about mid calf before they were covered by off-white putties like garment that continued into black footwear that enclosed their feet, but left their toes exposed to the outside most likely to keep the ability to climb trees if they were tree climbers. Upon the collar of their tunics were embroidered symbols suggesting some sort of ranking system. If these animals were able to achieve all this, than they must have some sort of intellect, but Ace had yet to hear any sort of noise that sounded like words come from any of these creatures. He was both terrified and fascinated by them.
Suddenly one separated itself from the group that had their weapons aimed at him, Reher and Yu. He (Ace assumed these were the males of the species) was a bit tall judging by the average height of the others with sandy brown fur which tapered off to a deep brown tuft of fur upon his ears and paws. On his back were black, bat- like wings, stretched thin with a pale pink membrane and they were folded delicately against his body. The pupils in his grey eyes grew and shrank with the changing light filtering through the forest trees. The embroidery upon his collar was far more elaborate than all the others and Ace guessed that he must be someone important. The other parted from around him to allow him to get a better look at the strange beings called humans that had just landed upon their planet. The head creature padded up to his human prisoners, wonderment and fear glistening in his eyes as he surveyed them with a steely glare, his black lips pursed as he stared down at them as though they were the animals. He than parted his lips, exposing a row of sharp, pointed white teeth and a set of elongated canines, and spoke to them,
"Farcioh vors farhntur Kaltern?" Ace was floored, so they did speak. This was… amazing, words to describe his situation fled his brain as this creature actually spoke to them. This species was so advanced they developed weapons, complex societies, even language. When the three didn't answer, but merely returned blank faces it spoke again, posing the same words to them: "Farcioh vors farhntur Kaltern?" it said again, this time with more agitation, its voice was low and every 'r' sound it made was a guttural growl. Ace, his eyes still wide, hands still across his head, was completely still. No response. The leader let out a huff through its nose and turned toward the group around them. He pointed to another and talked with a commanding tone "Ahrdero ahb ripser, tahrannus Adler arbirtart ersperctatrio." He motioned over his shoulder to the three prisoners and then turned to another in the group and ordered "Vors ehploro cahrsternsirs.". The head creature than turned on his heel and started off through the forest with his head held high, after that, the silence was broken and Ace was soon being dragged to his feet and jostled along behind the leader by several grunts from the group. He, Yu and Reher still kept their hands on their heads. They had no idea where they were going, but all they could do was comply for they were the ones with the guns and they had not come all this way to be killed by creatures who were not supposed to exist.