Fluffy or Shiny? 💎
Toula’s job was simple: Kill everything on the alien moon.
As tasks went, it was so straightforward even she could wrap her mind around it. She knew she wasn’t that bright, and that self-awareness was a rare attribute among stupid people. Toula had a one-track mind, usually involving shiny things.
So they told her there was a shiny thing on the other side of the moon, but she needed to kill everything she encountered while getting there.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Toula had no idea what that actually meant but she liked saying the words.
They dropped her off from orbit. The moon was small so the gravity was softer. That meant she’d weigh less, they told her! How lovely, she’d been wanting to lose some extra weight for months now.
She saw the ground coming in closer as she fell. The moon was lovely, lush with vegetation and sparkling waters. They actually had her learn some things about the climate and all that crap, but Toula didn’t pay much attention to it. She told them to make a video, but no! They insisted on boring graphs and squiggly lines that meant nothing to her.
Anyway, the ground was coming up pretty fast right now, so she needed to focus. She had the self-preservation instinct to let her limbs loose and cover her head. She used two hands to cover up her head, two lower arms to wrap up her knees close to her body, the other middle two to brace inside the pod, and the top two were pretty much useless in this particular situation so she just bent them over her shoulders.
Dirt all over the place. Her drop-pod popped open and she got out, squinting. Yup, she had landed. She always nailed her landings. Toula was proud of that.
Cough, cough. She waved the dust out of her mouth with two right arms. Then suddenly, a roar!
A gigantic maw came straight at her and snapped shut around her, a wet tongue slapping her in the chest like a truck.
How rude. Well, Toula was here to kill everything, after all. She brought her top two arms down, the malformed ones. She always disliked using those, but what else could she do? None of her eyes could actually see anything in the dark, even the ones that spun around to give her a 360 field of view. In retrospect, those would have come in handy two seconds ago, but there was just too much dust kicked up by her landing.
She brought her malformed hands and just punched in front of her, straight at the gigantic tongue. She injected her poison into the beast as it took to walking around with her in its mouth.
Nothing happened for a few seconds. Then a gurgle which sounded more like the fizzing sea between rocks, and then they fell on the ground. The beast’s mouth opened and she clawed herself out of there, smashing a giant tooth in the process.
Toula looked back at the dead beast. Well, one down, a million to go.
She had her shiny reward to get to.
Days went by, but they were funny days, because the moon was smaller so they literally went by quicker than what she was used to. She had killed plenty of beasts and felt really good about herself. Checking the kill counter, she had killed about…
That was a lot, wasn’t it?
Well, she poisoned one more flying beast she found on a tree next to her, then doused those little beasties in the nest that were waiting with their mouths open.
Those sure made her job quite easy.
She just sprayed them with her poison and they gobbled it up. Dead in an instant.
She checked the rest of the trees, since she hadn’t thought of it before and she really didn’t want to backtrack now. The shiny was that way, the indicator said so, and going back would take her… Well, the other way.
She killed a few smaller beasts, the ones that grazed on the underbrush. Those were easy to kill too.
Then she froze.
She saw before her a tiny little beastie with eight arms such as her. It was hairy, brownish, and had enormous eyes.
She raised her malformed arm to poison it.
The fluffy beast came up to it and started licking her fingers.
She tilted her head, curious. What was it up to? Did it have some sort of acid in its tongue, able to melt away her poison delivery system? Or did it taste her to see if she was worth going through all the trouble of killing her and then eating her?
She didn’t do anything for a long moment, against all her preservation instincts that screamed at her to either inject poison into the fluffy creature or just smash it with four arms, maybe five for overkill, just to be sure. This was an alien planet after all.
No, the fluffy creature licked her fingers and then looked up at her, opening its arms wide, all eight of them.
She kept on staring. Now that was very weird. Was it gonna try and choke her?
It waddled on its two tiny feet, bobbing left and right as it closed the minuscule distance between them, and reached her leg.
She kept aiming at it with her malformed arm, ready to inject it with a dose of poison that could kill a triceratops.
The fluffy put its arms around her leg, barely managing to reach around.
Really now, what was it doing? Was it trying to trip her? Make her break her head? Cunning little bastard.
The fluffy squeezed tight. Now that explained it, it was sizing her up. It was going to make a move any second now.
Any… second… now…
Nope, it kept on squeezing, shutting its eyes.
Then it made a sound. Something like muh-muh.
Muh-muh must be bad, right? It was threatening her, what else could it be? And where was the rest of its tribe? Where were the bigger fluffies? Ignoring the tiny fluffy for a second, Toula spun her eyes around and searched the trees, the vegetation, the canopies, even the air. She couldn’t locate anything.
Did these fluffies somehow have camouflage? Or, perhaps it was only the adult ones.
Who knew? The scientists might had covered it in their briefing but Toula didn’t pay any attention. Perhaps she shoulda had.
But the job was simple: kill everything on the planet. Why bother learning about it if you’re just gonna kill it?
And now, the fluffy was holding her leg tight with its four pairs of hands, and she wasn’t killing it. She checked, entire minutes had passed and she still hadn’t killed it.
And why was it making her feel all warm inside? All… fuzzy?
She reached down with her normal arm and lifted the fluffy. It squealed in delight and blinked at her with its big, black eyes. It made her feel… weird.
“Muh-muh,” it said again.
She shook it violently.
Then it switched it up, screeching it’s tiny lungs out.
Yup, that was more like it. Those sounds of threat or of screaming for one’s life were the ones Toula was used to, not fucking soft sounds like, ‘muh-muh.’
She held it still. The fluffy climbed up on her arm, it was an expert climber, naturally, and it reached up to her neck.
There it was, the little fluffy bastard was gonna go for the jugular. Toula didn’t mind, she was armoured there, but perhaps the little beast couldn’t know that. It was definitely gonna go for the killing blow and then she’d have no more hesitation about killing it.
The fluffy looked her from a very close distance, she had to go cross-eyed to focus on it. Then it lurched forward and put its eight arms around her neck, softly. Okay, not all of them, but it did bundle as many of the arms up as it could around her.
Toula felt something weird again. It was like poison, green, vile, scolding, only the opposite of that.
Toula couldn’t find the word for it.
The little fluffy held her neck, but didn’t do anything else. Then it wheezed and shut its eyes.
Toula realised it had fallen asleep, its arms wrapped around her neck. She knew from all the beasts she had killed that evolution would have allowed such a beastie to sleep while holding on to a branch in its sleep, after finding a safe location.
But she needed to kill it, or else she wouldn’t get her shiny reward.
This was such a dilemma.
The tiny fluffy mumbled again in its sleep, ‘muh-muh.’
Now, how the hell was she gonna decide about killing it or not?