This rather spiffing image has adorned my desktop for a while now, but I was unable to think of a good Starting Point Idea to match it. So, I asked Thaddeus Howze and Edgar Grunewald for help, and together we came up with this…
A perpetual thunderstorm resonated above, and the smell of O-zone filled the air. Dark clouds stretched to the horizon and excitedly flashed with lightning, even though the ground was barely wet. Dry lightning, they would have called it at home.
Dismounting from the expedition-sled, the two officers made sure their suits were properly insulated, though it was unlikely any of the substantial lightning strikes would hit the ground considering the array of taller and more tempting targets.
“You brought me down from the ship for this? It looks like a bloody tree.”
The science officer shook her head and remembered how she’d ended with this lunkhead of a captain. Together they had been to places never before visited, seen things never before seen, and done things that some people might consider impossible, but sometimes she wondered if he truly belonged out here, so far from Earth. He didn’t seem to appreciate any of it.
With her enthusiasm undampened she raised her scanner to check the bio-readings. “It’s not a tree, Captain. Look at it. It’s moving. They all are.”
Captain Mzimba fixed his eyes on one of the towering creatures, squinted, and observed. “Huh, so it is,” he shrugged. “And…”
“And first of all,” she jabbed, “it’s amazing. Second of all…”
Even Mzimba had to admit that he could sometimes be too flippant about such things, and that he sometimes took it all for granted, so he cut in before his science officer could launch into that particular diatribe again. “I guess it is pretty jaw-dropping, Honey, you’re right. So, you wanna bring a science team down here and study them?”
“Second of all,” she insisted, “I’ve already been studying them, and I’ve made two rather alarming discoveries.”
“One: They’re all moving in the same direction – West, directly towards the village. And two…”
“Towards the village?” A look of concern suddenly streaked Captain Mzimba’s face. “You mean directly towards the village? Do you think the natives know already? Are they dangerous?”
Suddenly he wanted all the answers, she thought, but without the patience to listen. Now that his precious negotiations were at stake, now he cared. “Captain, Cass, Sweetie, please let me finish. Two…”
How would you continue this story? What else has the science officer discovered about the alien ‘lightening trees’? What is Captain Mzimba negotiating for, and will the arrival of the trees put his efforts, and his crew, at risk?
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Thaddeus Howze, Edgar Grunewald, and Mark Ball.
Artwork by Gonzalo Golpe.