Freakin bug-eaters, Sari shuddered at the thought. I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for you. She was no racist, but those prickly savages were responsible for everything wrong on this planet. Whatever in creation had decided it was a good idea to first free their roots from the sand could be damned along with them and their disgusting dietary habits.
Their greedy dealings with the aliens were deplorable. In the depths of the deserts, away from the population, their reckless methods for stripping Rey’s valuable Edonite deposits went unchecked. Their crude machines belched pillars of pollution up into the skies, upsetting the delicate eco-balance. Years now they had ignored the Centuri’s pleas for regulation. If they kept up their planetary rape on this scale, a thermal eclipse was inevitable.
Their shimmering images began to take shape as Sari drew closer. They were Saguaropods alright, sure as a mirage. The familiar upright traveling formation was a dead giveaway, as if the dreadful stench of their alien companion left in the sand wasn’t clue enough already. If there was anything worse than the Sags, it was those nasty Reptilians, leaking their putrid liquid feces everywhere they went.
Sari shrunk down as flat as she could, skating over the surface of the dunes in their tracks until she dared get no closer. She checked her belt. Unstrapping her vaporizer just in case, she unclipped the PRT and spread its sensors out on the sand. At first, there was nothing.
Her father had invented the Phonic Reconstruction technology that facilitated translation between the aural Reptilians and the cellular net vibrations familiar to Reyan natives. Many among the Regents on the Board of Cacti Nations blamed him, at least in part, for the impending thermal eclipse. Sari’s family accepted no guilt. You can’t blame a Centuri for a Saguaropod’s greed. Sari suffered the whispers in school with the confidence that they were all jealous of her wealth. After all, half of Rey owned a PRT now.
The translator began picking up a crackly conversation. Sari hated the translations. They felt like electricity, just another reason to detest the stinky aliens and their Sag allies who brought them here in droves.
“There’s nothing! Is this another of your tricks, Dak?”
“It must have been raided,” came the Sag’s reply. “I promise the next quadrant isn’t far and it’s right on the border.”
Suddenly, the distinctive click and whine of a Saguaropod disruptor sounded behind Sari’s head. She lay frozen still in the desert heat, her fluids racing under her light green skin.
Damn! she thought. They never travel apart!
She felt her vaporizer sliding from the safety of her holster, and then the tickle of the sand spoke to her in words that didn’t require translation.
“I got a little Centuri bitch spying on us out here, Dak,” her captor announced to the group. “Armed and unstrapped.” The disruptor poked sharply into her back. “Up with you, you thorny waste of water.”
Prickly bug-eating bastard! How did he get behind me? Sari had to think fast, before that stupid Reptilian got trigger-happy ideas of his own. For the moment, he was too far away for his PRT to pick up what the Sag had said. She stood and turned to face him and suddenly, her whole mood changed. The tall Sag holding her at gunpoint was smoking hot as any succulent on the planet, primitive spines and all. How could anyone as cute as you ever eat one of those disgusting sand fleas? she almost said it aloud.
The hot sun over the Reyan desert glimmered and faded and turned back into her dinner plate. An ominous pile of giant, green, nauseating, boiled bugs stared back at her. Annie grimaced.
“They’re not sand fleas, they’re Brussels sprouts. Now quit playing with your food and eat it!”
© 2012 Anne Schilde