The surface I crashed into absorbed a lot of the shock, so the ship remained largely intact, and the torsion dampeners saved me from oversprawl. I popped my containment and seeped out of the vessel, setting the control for concealment. Noxious emanations from the ground strangled me, the variation in shapes, textures, and tastes bewildered.
A horrific rasp came close and I limned a creature upon four appendages, it’s skin covered in grotesque strings of compositional proteins. I took its shape in hopes of calming it, but it worsened, so I grew larger and it drooped away. I let it’s shape go as I traveled.
I’d been chased many parsecs off course and barely reached this planet in my wounded craft. I knew very little of this world, so I was going to have to wing it for survival. The fumes changed radically as I moved, improving and worsening as I went, but I finally reached an edge that left most of the unpleasantness behind.
It unfortunately still left my skin starving for energy absorption, so I was going to have to find some elixiomine to sustain myself. And if I didn’t eventually find a pool of invigorator, my skin would go raw and crack away, exposing my glizzens and killing me. Unnatural light shone bright in the distance, so I averaged my movement in that direction.
I excreted my informator and told it to analyze the environment for survival imperatives and splayed the translator. A surface of intelligent structure loomed in front of me, organized shapes upon it, so I took a guess and ran it through the translator. Its primary message seemed to be the concept ‘landfill.’ A strange one to me.
The air grew thick and turbulent, blowing light objects all over the place. At the edge of the lights, some large, brownish cubes blew off of a platform and tumbled across the ground, some with flaps that opened, revealing the hollow insides.
The lighted area flooded with activity, small ships zipping along lanes, upright stick-creatures doing unfathomable things among structures and contraptions I’d be loath to understand—but I could taste the elixiomine in the air.
To blend in, I took the shape of one of the vessels with round locomotors on each side, and I included a creature inside as they all had. It stretched me thin, and I had trouble moving, so as I joined them, lots of clatter and blaring disrupted the air. I squirmed off the lane into a narrow offshoot between high sides that none traveled upon. The turbulence buffeted against the form I’d taken.
I shimmied further down, the elixiomine taste weakening behind, but growing strong ahead. I lost strength until every move was a colossal exertion with little result. I stopped and held still when one of the stick creatures appeared tethering another very much like the one in the noxious area. Remembering its tendency toward aggression, I dissolved the creature form on the inside of my vessel shape and waited.
A few other sticks entered the offshoot with a moving container, round locomotors like the vessels had. They slid up next to me and pulled at the side flaps, stuck me with a few probes, and tried to fit a metal bar with a shroud over the hexagonal bumps on the locomotors I imitated.
I hardened up, not allowing any reconfiguration or penetration, and they chirped about, louder and louder, until a blue vessel with pulsing reds turned into the lane. They scuttled away, pulling the container.
A couple sticks dropped out of the vessel and approached. Except for a blob of orangish pink at the tops, they hid inside malleable containers of ostentatiously solid blue. One had the grotesque protein strings on his blob. They shined a light within me, now in my hardened state. I heeded the translator closely to catch any meaning they might convey.
“This license plate is a smear of colors,” said the stringy one behind me.
“That’s weird.” The other shined his light all over my insides. “Hey, why don’t you get us some coffee and fritters from Audrey’s while I process this.”
I had great difficulty interpreting these concepts.
The stick who remained poked around at me and scratched onto a flimsy surface on a hard plate. Before long, the stringy one returned and dropped something in their vessel, then approached with two cylinders in its hand. The taste in the air of elixiomine intensified.
He came up next to the other and set one of the cylinders on top of me. “Get it while it’s hot.”
The taste surrounded me, and there was no mistaking it—the cylinders were full of elixiomine. The analyzer revealed that the cylinder material was weak and semi-brittle, so I hastily formed a needled underneath and thrust it through the bottom to the inside.
The heat was almost unbearable, but I felt the strength return to my body as I drew in all the liquid from the cylinder. I consumed enough elixiomine to last several rotations of this strange planet.
The non-stringy one grabbed the empty cylinder and squealed at the stringy one, who squealed back, then took the cylinder and quieted. The translator churned with jumbled concepts I did not understand. My strength and exuberance displaced the concern I had for the strain the sticks seemed to suffer.
The translator finally caught up.
“Let’s see if anyone has reported this thing missing,” said the stringy one. They both turned toward their vessel and moved away from me toward it.
I transformed into one of the brown cubes and tumbled down the lane in search of shelter and an invigorator pool.