Photo by Pablo Guerrero

They arrived in shining cylinders that reflected the sun’s glow, landing in the mushroom swamps with a fiery roar. Windows adorned the cylindrical carapace, hiding silhouettes within. Only upon landing did we see the visitors clearly.
Their appearance was unlike anything we’d seen: Smooth, fleshy skin with growths, two torso tentacles with smaller tentacles at their ends, and two tentacles they used for walking. Their fascinating heads had colorful orbs that judged our existences, and some peculiar white nubs in their mouths. The one in front, clearly a leader, raised a tentacle and declared, “We come in peace.”
We remained still, our eyestalks looking to each other for guidance. Some of us sank back deeper into the murk. However, a brave few stayed to observe the visitors. They appeared to be growing confused, or maybe fearful. It was hard to read their expressions. One reached for a contraption on its waist. It sent chills down our exoskeletons. We could not tell what it was, but we knew it was dangerous. It screamed of death, and ash. Whatever it was, I could not let them use it. I rose from the water and raised one of my claws into the air and spoke. “We do not want violence.”
The leader took a few steps back as it saw my full body. An exoskeleton, four stiff appendages for walking, and two for grasping. It was clearly foreign anatomy to them. I could see their fear clearly now; they said no words, but their colorful orbs told me everything. One lifted its death contraption and pointed it at me. My brood-mates left the water to stand by my side. The visitors were as scared as we were. I raised my claw again to speak, but before I could say anything they all let out a shriek and bolted back into their cylinder. They took off as fast as they landed. The heat from the cylinder’s fire felt like we touched the sun itself. We retreated into the water for cover.
Upon returning, we discovered a circle of blackened grass stained into the ground. It cracked beneath our armored appendages and smelled of sun-bleached mushrooms. We inspected the area until we found something shining in the blackened grass. It was one of their death contraptions. A brood member grabbed it. The sun glared off it just as it did their flying cylinder. We all watched them inspect this foreign obje- FLASH! A blinding light came out of it. We all brought our eyestalks into our carapaces. A moment passed, and I peeked out. No one was hurt, thankfully. We looked at the aftermath in the distance; countless mushrooms were burnt, and a hole was blown straight through the forest. We looked to each other knowingly. We began to dig, dug until we reached solid rock, and then we left it there. We buried it, and hoped the fleshy things would never visit us again with their death contraptions.

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