Each shot punctured the wings a little bit more, but the creature kept coming and with it’s mouth open wide looked like it would swallow the shuttle whole, until one last shot damaged the wings just enough that it couldn’t maintain flight and mere inches from the nose of the shuttle the creature began to fall several thousand feet to the surface below.
“Theres no way eet could have survived that!” Gomez said.
“I’d hope not..” said Jay “But just to be sure…how about I land on the other side of the planet….”

Climbing to a comfortable cruising altitude, the starbug tore through the upper atmosphere en-route to the far side of the planet, with the on-board instruments projecting their arrival to be somewhere in the region of just in time for late afternoon tea

After the chaotic excitement of their flight and the recent stresses of the last couple of days on the 'Dwarf, the mood amongst the crew slowly relaxed as each took the opportunity to unwind and take it easy away from Huzards, killer squid things and demon perverts, to name but a few of their recently encountered dangers; most of them just drifting off to the communal areas to lounge around, chat, sleep or crack open a can or two of mushy peas, secure in the knowledge that there was little that could harm them at this height, and even if there was, there was likely to be bugger all they could do about it

Remaining on the bridge with Davie and Jay, Cass lounged back in her chair at the science console, idly rotating it back and forth as she watched the planetology diagnostic schematics scroll up the screen on the station in front of her
"Well, we've got a breathable atmosphere" she announced after a moment "Thirty two percent oxygen with an average temperature of twenty eight C, and on first pass, there doesn't look to be anything in the way of harmful airborne microbial life"
"That's good news" Davie grunted, stretching to calibrate the navigation instruments "I hate having to wear those rebreathers in heat"
"Gravity's a little lighter than we're used to" Cass continued as the data scrolled past "Just point eight gee... And it looks like beach time's almost guaranteed; there's mostly archipelagos down there with only a few larger land masses in maybe an eighty five, ninety percent shallow salt-water ocean?"
Jay glanced down at the newly updated instrument readouts, and silently adjusted his flightpath, gently angling the 'bug towards one of the bigger islands where there would be a better chance of finding both a decent landing spot and more of the resources they were after
"Oh, right..." Cass sat up to peer a little more closely at the screen, her fingers moving across keyboard "Looks like we've got some sort of sentient-ish life as well; there seem to be a few weird mud-built settlements down there in the shallows; nothing massive, just the occasional village and the odd small town"
"Bugger" Jay swore "That always complicates things; tech level?"
Cass frowned
"Hard to tell from this range but from the lack of any obviously advanced infrastructure I'd say they're probably low-tech"
"Ok" Jay sighed "We'll try and land somewhere a little more remote; I don't want to spook the natives and wind up being worshipped as a god again for the next ten thousand years"
Cass raised her eyebrows as she accessed navigation system and interpolated the sparse population data, scanning for a suitably isolated site
"That happen a lot?" she murmured
"You'd be surprised at how often" Jay replied "I told you about that little misunderstanding in Bethlehem, didn't I?"
"Yeah, what happened there?" Cass asked "Did you get crucified in the end?"
"Nah, they made all that crap up ...along almost everything else, for that matter..."
"Huh" Cass sneered "Just as I suspected; Religion's all about some bitter old goit making shit up and telling you not to have fun"
"Pretty much" Jay agreed "Very succinct"
"Found a good spot" Cass reported, nominating a new destination "Largish island about fifty kay from the nearest settlement with good landing zone"
Jay grunted and adjusted the flightpath again as a cheer erupted out in the common room, followed by a loud groan of despair from Seymour
"What the smeg" Davie muttered, glancing back over his shoulder as Gomez bust excitedly into the room
"Ey, you guys!" Gomez shouted waving a couple of four packs "We just found a ton of beer in the hold!"
“And no wine!” Seymour shouted through in anguish
"Fan-smegging-tastic!" Jay grinned, engaging the autopilot and bolting out of the door along with everyone else

Covering an area of just over nine square kilometers, the island, when seen from above, was a rough crescent shape; the weathered end result of an ancient collapsed volcanic caldera providing, a gloriously shelterd bay with kilometer wide golden beaches that sloped gently away into warm, shallow seas - a jungle festooned emerald nestled amid the azure sparkling brilliance of the ocean surrounding it
Amidst the gently swaying foliage crowding the edges of the beach, fern-trees towered majestically upwards above everything else; the ones on the north side of the beach casting slowly lengthening shadows across the sands as the sun sank, red and fat, down towards the horizon; the encroaching shade seemingly acting as a trigger for dozens of small blue coloured, spindly crustaceans to begin burrowing out from the warm sand and skittering ungainly down towards the waters edge where they began dipping their carapaces into the gently lapping sea to extend their filamentary filters and begin their feeding for the night
It was likely that this scene had been repeated for thousands of years, across thousands of similar islands across the this planet although today, the late afternoon tranquillity was shattered as a battered starbug slewed down out of the sky, wobbling a slightly on it's final approach
Onboard, Cassandra, her feet up on the science desk, cracked another can and gulped quickly at its contents before Jay's by now slightly wobbly flying could spill any of the precious golden liquid
"Don't you think the auto-pilot would be safer?" she asked
"Nah" Jay grinned "I'm bloody brilliant - six hundred years experience and hardly a single crash! We don't need no stinking autopilot!"
"Well, in that case..." Cass lurched to her feet and ambled around to stand next to Jay and gaze out of the front viewport "Why don't you take us in Sparky!"

In the end Jay was largely proven right, and managed to guide the strabug down with only a massive bump, the 'bug's landing shocks absorbing the brunt of the impact, but rattling the crew sufficiently enough for Cass to loose her footing and almost stumble and fall into his lap, her reactions only just saving herself in time, but leaving her questioning why she had even bothered saving herself at all
”C'mon” Jay bounded out of his chair and made his way to the hatch “Lets go see what's outside!”

As the starbug's hatch whined open, the first thing to hit them was the heat, followed by the unfamiliar scent of fresh air and the sea
“It's beautiful” Cass murmured to nobody in particular as she ambled down the steps and onto the beach
“Yeah” Jay agreed, looking around taking his surroundings in
“Well” he continued, unslinging his rifle “We've got a beach and a ton of beer - lets go find us something to barbecue...”

It looks like an uninhabited tropical paradise, but I'm sure we can find something dangerous and / or strange – what is it?

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