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Savage Planet

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It wasn’t supposed to end like this, the conclusion of their fantastic expedition was to be a time of glory and mirth, not fear and sadness. She was supposed to return home a hero, with all the data required to save her entire species from the planet that they lived on. She was to lead them to the sanctuary of the future so that they could survive and prosper.

And what had she to show for it now? She hadn’t located the Eden that she needed to. Sure, she and her unlikely crew had discovered the most amazing rainforests, grasslands, and oceans, but nothing they ever came across had met the criterion for a new home for humanity.

She couldn't help but feel that her father would be speechlessly disappointed if he saw her now. An entire lifetime of training led to this? It was pathetic, pitiful.

“Failure” was the word that rang through her head as she hid terrified of the creatures that had destroyed the Time Flyer, marooning her in this fiery, rusted desert that was once Alaska.

She wasn’t placing blame upon her colleagues though. She alone was in charge since the mission’s beginnings. She was the authority who had decided that they journey farther into the future than they had ever been before, to 500 million years after her own time. They took this risk out of a combination of desperation and adventurous spirit, hoping to find what they had searched many weeks for. To their displeasure, so distant from their familiar past, communication with her father was entirely impossible. The air in this arid land was arduous to inhale, full of gases that humans found intolerable. They had to wear bulky suits to supply them with the sacred oxygen they required.

The landscape at first seemed devoid of fauna. How she now wished it had been. It had all occurred so lightning fast.

The beasts, behemoth terrestrial crabs even bigger than the Time Flyer, had suddenly appeared. With their sheer size and speed, the decapods found the human visitors to be facile prey. The teenagers’ attempts to flee were quickly squashed, unable to outrun the giants. She watched in horror as Emily was plucked up by the chelae of a colossus and placed in the crustacean’s mouth, her shrieks penetrating the windless uneasy air. The invertebrates then did the same with Ethan and Luis, their desperate cries of fearful deadly pain eerily echoing through the harsh wastelands. An uncomfortable, chilling sweat doused every inch of CG’s young body, briny tears stinging her delicate blue eyes. She hid behind a large rock, in the clear distance she could make out more of the crabs crushing and tearing apart the Time Flyer using their powerful claws, with poor defenseless Squibby trapped inside.

Paralyzed in fear, all she could do was lie upon the hot dusty earth and sob. It was all her fault; they were never meant to be here. She had been the one who invited them up on the trip. Not only had her request now indirectly resulted in their violent and untimely deaths but all their families and friends they had left behind so many epochs ago would never see them again. They would assume the worst and go without answers.

Lying there, so alone, she had a depressing realization. The future wasn’t for her species, they were never meant to be a part of it. They were fated to perish and then have the land reclaimed by nature. The future was wild, untamed. It belonged to the creatures that populated these incredible new worlds that she had spent the last months of her life exploring. It belonged to the falconflies and gannetwhales and lurkfish. It belonged to these giant arthropods that had murdered her friends and killed her only escape home.

But it didn’t belong to her, she sadly concluded as the shadow of a massive claw appeared above her.