Originally posted here in response to a photoprompt
“What. Is that?” Andon stared at the long stretch of stacked stone, his jaw dropping.
“We told you,” Paz answered patiently. “Walls.”
“Are you sure they’re not natural occurrences?” Suki tried. “Some sort of land coral-like thing or…?”
“Not unless coral grows with integral mortar.” Malia and Suki were getting along, Vas noticed, worse and worse since Becky’s disappearance. Since they’d barely been able to be in a cabin together beforehand, he did his best to keep them separated. The walls, though, changed everything.
“So there’s really a sentient species here?” Andon looked so disappointed. He’d been hoping, Vas thought, for a colonial mayorship or something. Not that he couldn’t still have it, but…
“Sentience could be arguable,” Paz grumbled. He was still unhappy about the attack, and so inclined to be less than charitable about their hosts. “But the have tool-using capability and weapons. And something built the walls.”
“Walls, plural,” Suki snapped. “This isn’t the first one?”
“We were a little busy getting shot at,” Malia snapped. “You may have noticed?”
“Well, you’ll have to show me the other one, too.”
“Only if you want to get shot at,” Vas pointed out. He didn’t like Suki’s tone any more than Malia did.
“It’s still science, and it still needs to be observed and recorded,” she answered primly.
“I’ll observe and record…” Malia mumbled. Ezra, finally, chose that minute to get involved, in, of course, exactly the wrong way.
For a moment, both women were united in the venom they turned on him. “We are you fucking colleagues, Ezra,” Malia snarled…
“Not children in a classroom,” Suki added. And then, before Ezra could retort, she screamed.
Every man there turned, hand on his weapon, in time to see the branches of the tree-like vegetation, the twisted branches that had looked a bit like tentacles, a bit like arms, twist around the senior xenobotanist’s waist, pulling her off the ground and up into the air. Another tentacle wrapped around Malia’s waist.
“I have a hatchet,” she snapped. “Don’t even think about it.”
Pronunciation note: “Vas” is pronounced like a fine-art vase, vos.
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