“I hear there’s creatures out here,” said Vangel, his voice taking on a sinister quality through the synthesis of his helmet. The alien ground crunched underfoot like snow. But it was not snow. In the midnight darkness, snaking flows of viscous upwelling crisscrossed the rocky plain. The flows were dimly luminescent, whatever they were, and wrapped the landscape in an icy teal glow that masked the stars.
“What the fuck you talkin’bout, creatures?” asked Ilarion. His finger wormed down onto the trigger of his pulse rifle, and he double checked the charge. Looked good. Ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
“Just what I said. Like animals, but stranger,” said Vangel.
Ilarion panned his head around, looking over one shoulder and then the other. “Stranger how?”
“How? Well that I couldn’t tell you. But from what I’ve heard, the native life here is so unlike anything else that we wouldn’t even be able to categorize it.”
Besides the soft crunching of their footsteps, Ilarion could also hear his own heartbeat as a quickening rush inside his ears, like tiny waves crashing against his head. “What do you mean? Like a dog made outta rocks or somethin’?”
Vangel paused and shook his head. “A dog made out of rocks? No, you dimwit.” He knelt to the ground. “I mean it would be indescribable. Rocks are just rocks.” He set down his rifle and picked up a black rock the size of a watermelon. “You see?”
Suddenly he screamed out and toppled over. “Oh God! It’s got me! It’s got me, Ilarion! It’s an alien rock dog! Oh God, I think it’s a Doberman! Get it off!” Vangel laughed uproariously and tossed the rock aside.
“Fuck you, man. You’re a piece’a shit.”
Vangel got back to his feet, still chuckling.
As they razzed each other, something like a 100 square meter translucent bedsheet drifted above them in silence. Its thin petals pulsed as it heated itself up, preparing to digest its first good meal in a century.
Yes, these creatures were noisy and hard, but they were slow, and fragile, and full of sweet water. Strange creatures, but edible all the same.