The forest was just like any old forest, until an archer in a spacesuit appeared.
The individual transitioned from invisible to transparent to solid in half a second. No one was around to witness this marvel—which was a shame; she was the only archer in a spacesuit this world had ever seen.
She immediately detected the abundance of oxygen and popped her helmet open, revealing to absolutely no one a woman of effortless beauty. The redhead’s ponytail hung down her back, and her pretty smile exuded infectious whimsy. Might infect the trees, anyway. Whimsical trees. A fun possibility.
Amena Wharry simply had to view this strange new world through her own eyes. But much to her disappointment, it appeared not the slightest bit strange. It was a forest, no different than any she could find back home.
This wouldn’t do.
She hopped several times, hopeful, but no, the ground was just a ground. Utterly ordinary. Ho-hum.
The air tasted like air, no matter how far out she stuck her tongue. The plants, regrettably, emitted only the usual plant-like odors, no matter how closely she held her nose.
However unremarkable this world appeared, it could not steal from her two glorious facts: this was an alien world, and she was the first person from Earth to step foot on it.
It was so exciting! It merited a lifetime supply of exclamation marks!
This moment—this very moment—would go down in history. Granted, hardly anyone knew she was there right now, but historians had plenty of time to catch up.
She needed to say the right thing—precisely the right inspiring statement that future generations would remember, would want to remember and quote over and over again. This needed to be perfect. She needed to think…
“I hope everyone realizes it’s really difficult to come up with inspirational profundity when you all keep chattering away in my ear,” she said softly into her tiny, camouflaged throat mic. “And there you have it, kids. The first words spoken by mankind on an alien planet.”
Amena slipped off the superfluous spacesuit.
“Yes, Gilmore,” she said. “I know I should’ve planned out a little speech ahead of time. Forgive me for not being as perfect as you.” She sighed, but couldn’t resist a smirk. “And I appreciate your forgiveness. Okay, take the suit back, please. Sela, nice work—your sensors were accurate. We can breathe here.”
She set the suit and helmet on the ground, and it swiftly faded from solid, to transparent, to invisible. Good riddance. Her jeans and T-shirt were so much more comfortable. Amena reclaimed her bow and quiver, and she checked to make sure her shiny new weapon remained in its holster. It did, so she stepped forth, deeper into the woods.
Amena stared up through the towering treetops. Clear blue sky. Couldn’t it at least have been green, or red, or turquoise, or anything other than that familiar shade of blue?
The voices in her ear never stopped. “Profundity is too a word. A delightful word. Tell them, Mariana,” she whispered, scoping the area for signs of non-plant life. There were none. “Thank you. And even if it wasn’t, it would be now—part of a future famous quote and all. Or at the very least, a future trivia game answer.”
She studied a thick tree trunk, searching for any abnormalities. “It’s just plant life so far,” Amena told them. “Plant life that seems boringly familiar. I was hoping they might talk or walk or at the very least look psychedelic. But they’re just the usual trees and grass and same old, same old, same old.”
She knelt down to scoop up a handful of soft dirt. Also normal. Bah!
“Ballard, the discussion is over. It ended. I’m already here, so it’s moot, so why are you still trying to discuss? This first time, we’ve got no idea what to expect, so I’m only risking me. We’ll be sure to risk you later. I promise,” she said. “It will be my pleasure.”
Amena crept forward, pulling an arrow into her bow—not one of the special ones, just a regular arrow to match the utterly regular setting. Despite this precaution, she was optimistic. This was a whole other planet, after all, entirely new to her. It couldn’t let her down, right?
“Place your bets, boys and girls,” she said, with an intrigued grin plastered across her face. “What do you think the aliens are going to look like?”
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