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BBW Planet XL - by Marlow

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Marlow

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~BBW, ~~WG, Intrigue, Sci-Fi - A daring expedition to a forbidden planet proves both delicious and dangerous


Note:
Sometimes you sit down to write your next silly Midwestern horror story and a space opera falls out instead. Oh well. Also, feel free to substitute the subtitle with your favorite sci-fi related foodie-puns.



Planet XL

Gourmands of the Galaxy: Volume One


by Marlow




Chapter 1

Starling made his way down to starship’s lower deck, humming to himself. Exploratory Vessel Triptolemus was a large ship, but the interior was crowded and navigable only by cramped, narrow corridors. Descending from the bridge to the cryo-stasis chamber, Starling had to climb down ladders, slip through several hatches, and crawl along the ventral access tube. Fortunately, he was fairly nimble for an android and moved through the ship with ease.

Emerging into the narrow corridor that served as the main deck, he passed by several sealed hatches; on normal voyages they would have led to private quarters, the galley, recreation rooms, and the like. On this voyage, though, the ship had instead been outfitted with landing pods, field labs for research in a variety of scientific domains, planetary rovers, a modular habitat, and small-scale terraforming equipment. A separate gangway lead to the immense, empty cargo pod attached to the ship’s belly.

Starling eventually reached the aft stasis chamber and peered at the vessel’s five passengers. They slept frozen in a ring of cryo-tubes, calm music playing overhead.

The android took a minute to check all their vitals and update the log. He smiled at their peaceful expressions and initiated the thawing procedure.

The first to step out of her pod was a slender, long-limbed blonde woman, the expedition’s commander and planetary cartographer. After her rose the astro-chemist, then the cosmo-geologist, the xeno-biologist, and finally the terraforming engineer.

They all stumbled from their pods, blinking in the light, naked and shivering.

“I was having the loveliest dreams,” sighed the chemist. “Angels were feeding me the most lavish meal I’d ever seen, day after day.”

“Two years in stasis and all you dreamed about was food?” the engineer chided him, powering up her bionic arm.

“Food is our mission,” he reminded her. “It seems contrary, my friends, to decry the attention to food while on a galaxy-spanning search for it.”

The geologist opened a nearby bulkhead and began passing around towels. “I won’t decry anything that tastes better than the rations back home.”

“Too right,” the commander agreed. “I like the sound of your dream, mate. Wouldn’t mind waking up to a feast every morning myself, aye?” She reached her arms overhead and arched her back, stretching her wiry form enough to touch the low ceiling.

“Your waistband might mind,” cautioned the chemist.

The biologist shook out her mane of red hair. “You say that like it would be a bad thing.”

“Just so,” he replied, raising his finger. “We must always remember the importance of moderation. I saw my dream not as a desire for overindulgence—stars forbid—but as an omen of success.”

The commander cleared her throat. “Speaking of which…Starling, I hope you’ve woken us for some good news.”

“Indeed, commander,” the android chimed. “I am pleased to report that we have arrived at our destination and are entering geosynchronous orbit above exoplanet LV-237.”

They caught their collective breath, staring at him.

“How’s it look?” asked the commander.

Starling beamed. “White clouds. Blue surface. Green landmasses. It awaits your analyses, dear friends, but thus far it matches the admiralty’s preliminary projections.”

A wave of relieved delight passed over the crew. They clapped each other on the back, shouting and whistling.

“Okay, everyone, get dressed,” said the commander, toweling off her svelte body. “We’ve got work to do.”

They dispersed and hurriedly gathered their things. After they’d tugged on their color-coded jumpsuits, Starling served them each a small portion of post-stasis sustenance and installed their portable bio-paks. The crew chattered about the planet’s prospects, unanimously thrilled about tasting actual food again and leaving behind their colonies’ tasteless, soulless ration bars.

“Moderation,” the engineer scoffed to the chemist. “The colonies have been starving for almost two decades now. I see food, I’m eating it.”

The chemist shook his head. “It was a lack of moderation that created the starvation.”

“It was a lack of fair distribution,” the commander corrected. “But hopefully that’s all in the past now…as long as this planet lives up to the hype.”

Eventually Starling led them up to the bridge. The planet loomed on the viewscreen, its atmosphere thick with cloud. It lit up their awed faces as they manned their consoles and booted up the ship’s scanning equipment.

“Beautiful,” whispered the biologist, licking her lips.

“It’s one of the most Earth-like planets I’ve ever seen,” remarked the geologist, eyes darting over the cascades of data on her screen. “I mean, assuming the historical accounts are accurate. Similar geological age, similar tectonic structure…interconnected oceans and sizable landmasses of…wow, highly, highly variable terrain.”

“Atmosphere?” asked the commander.

The chemist arched his eyebrows. “Nitrogen…oxygen…carbon dioxide. It’s basically Terran. There are trace elements, but it should definitely be breathable.”

“So, capable of supporting life?”

“Och, that would be an understatement,” the biologist whispered, gaping at her readouts. “I’m registering massive amounts of organic compounds…life almost looks ubiquitous.”

“Inhabited?”

“Well…by plants, at least. I’m not reading any real animate activity. But it’s brimming with the basics of life, just waiting.”

“A garden world,” the geologist whispered.

They stared at the planet for a while longer.

“Well, we came here looking for a fresh start,” the engineer murmured after a few minutes. “Doesn’t get any fresher.”

The commander pulled her hair back. “So you’d say it looks viable for agriculture?”

The biologist glanced at the others, then nodded solemnly. “It’s hard to see any specifics through those clouds, and we won’t know anything for sure until we go down there, but…yeah.” She looked up at the viewscreen. “I think we’re looking at a planet full of…food.”

“Hot damn,” said the geologist. “If only they could see this back home. That’d give them some hope, mm.”

“We’re going to be heroes. This wouldn’t just end scarcity…the colonies might never be hungry again.”

The commander smiled. “Maybe searching the heavens for manna wasn’t as foolhardy as they all told us.”

The chemist wiped at his eyes. “It’s perfect,” he murmured. “A paradise.”
 

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