Caught in lonely orbit of Saturn's shattered rays, tumble horse and rider into shipwrecked beds.
"Warning, warning, warning..." A dull mechanical voice echoed with unsettling frequency in the back ground.
"Wake up!" An equally muffled but different, terrified voice yelled. "Come on! Wake up!"
"Hull failure imminent. Emergency back-ups activated." The mechanical voice returned.
"What's going on?" Laura heard herself ask. Her voice sounded strange inside the stasis-coven. There was smoke in the space ship but through the mist she could see Janna's and Jake's covens. The door of Jake's was open, Janna seemed to be still in stasis.
Laura's heart skipped a beat when Jake suddenly appeared in front of the glass screen. He was bleeding from a cut in his forehead and looked like he had seen death itself: "Laura, we're in the atmosphere! Hull breakage! I have initiated emergency procedures to - argh!"
Suddenly the ship started to spin and shake violently and Jake was thrown around in the chamber outside Laura's coven like a rag-doll. She saw his flailing body being smashed around until it slammed against a wall and went limp, stopping his screaming all at once.
As they were racing towards the planet's surface Laura feared for her life. It would be only a matter of seconds before they'd impact on Saturn Seven's surface.
"Computer!" She screamed against the horrible noises the ship now made. "Reactivate stasis coven three, T minus four hours!" A beep in the coven let her know that the computer had understood.
"It maybe just an educational project but don't be mistaken!" Professor Miller had urged his students. "Your journey will be equally as dangerous as it will be important! I want to thank you all again for volunteering."
Several of the students scoffed under their breaths. It was an open secret that mostly those who were about to fail university would embark on Professor Miller's pointless missions to find extra terrestrial life on planets that where impossibly far away, as a hail-Mary means of saving their grades and graduation.
Until then, there hadn't been any major breakthroughs. They had discovered forms of algae, microbes and those sorts of things but the governmental space program had come up with those already decades ago. In fact, the governmental space program had decided that with the abundance of inhabitable planets in humanity's reach thanks to stasis covens and hyper travel continuing to search for intelligent aliens was a pointless waste of resources. In such a long time of manned hyper travel there just hadn't been a single major success ever.
Professor Miller, on the other hand, was convinced otherwise. He used their university's space flight students to still be able to send teams of two to other inhabitable planets and look if maybe they'd find something. If not intelligent life then maybe something interesting than algae, although he took great pride in discovering those as well.
Laura and Janna had been assigned to 'Saturn Seven', a planet so far away that the only information available was that size and atmosphere could probably sustain life. If it didn't, their field trip would be a short one and they'd have to return and maybe start again or do something else.
Saturn Seven was blue and green, just like the Earth and pretty much the same size. It was given it's name due to the ring of rock and dust that orbited in in a circular shape, much alike Saturn, the gas giant. In all likelihood it was just another boring algae planet. Three years in stasis just to get there. Three years in stasis to get back. And probably a few weeks of field study in between. If there was anything to collect and study, that was.
The ship would mostly steer itself there, according to the programming of the pilot who would be with them but would spend most of the time in stasis as well. The technology was convenient enough and there hadn't been any disasters in several decades. When Professor Miller said that their Journey would be dangerous no one took him seriously.
The problem with stasis however, was that the person in it was basically frozen and didn't change at all on the molecular level while around them the world lived, or rather aged, on. To the person in stasis it was like a night of dreamless sleep and all of the sudden their families were old or dead, friendships forgotten, loves lost. That was why going into stasis was so very unpopular. Even for a span of six years, it really messed up almost all of one's relationships. Also, there was a little hangover.
But for Laura and Janna it was the last resort. University had proved too tough for them but they couldn't accept the last few semesters of study to have been for nought. If they found something new, even if it was a stupid kind of algae, they'd get their degrees, and honourable ones too. Laura was to become an anthropologist and Janna studied biology. That even anthropology students could get their degrees by uncovering single-celled organisms did show that the university put some serious weight behind Miller's doings after all though.
The professor went on and on about how important their 'missions' were and how grateful he was for their sacrifice.
"Good god, shut up already and assign us a ship." Laura muttered. Janna nodded in agreement.
Looking down she saw a little bug crawling by her feet and entertained herself by stepping in it's path and nudging it around. Janna, her room mate, didn't like it when she did that but wasn't looking. Laura forced the bug closer to Janna's feet in hopes of it maybe climbing up her leg and grossing her out or something. Laura's mischievous plans were cut short when Janna unwittingly flattened the tiny creature whilst moving her feet to stand more comfortably.
She herself rarely ever had second moral thoughts but Janna would be genuinely sad had she known about the bug.
The pilot of their assigned ship was a young, tall, jockish blonde guy who went by the name of Jake. He seemed to be particularly happy about the prospect of travelling with the two girls. Laura anticipated hours of painfully awkward flirting but Jake wasn't as dumb as he looked and managed to make the girls laugh and smile a lot during introductory small talk.
He pressed his index finger to his lips and made wide eyes when he showed them where he was going to smuggle some beer. Alcohol, of course, was not allowed on the missions. Maybe the trip wasn't going to be as dull as Laura had feared.
Jake would have a blast, that much was clear. It seemed he couldn't decide whether he liked Laura, the petite Hispanic twenty one year old, or Janna, the more robust yet equally hot dark blonde, more. For him, this trip was also his final test of flight school, which really wasn't as big a deal as it sounded. Long ago were the times when space pilots were the best of the best. Today they mostly just punched in coordinates and spent a lot of time in the stasis coven. The ships even dodged asteroids by themselves.
Their ship was a standard issue research vessel with a chamber that housed the stasis covens, a small laboratory, a tiny kitchen, wash room and a cockpit. The lab could also be converted into a practically oriented sleep and dining room. For a few weeks, it wouldn't be too bad.
On the day of their departure they all hugged their families for the last time in six years. To the families anyway. To the three would be space travellers it would merely be a few weeks. It felt weird.
"Alright, have you ever been in stasis?" Jake asked as he set the timer on the coven.
"uh-uh" Laura shook her head.
"It's actually quite cool." he closed the door and his voice became muffled "You shut your eyes and open them again. And we're there. Just like 'poof'. Now close those beautiful eyes."
Laura involuntarily smiled at his banter while he programmed the coven to 'T minus 1095 days'. She'd wear this smile for the next three years.
Slowly, Janna awoke from stasis. She felt dizzy and her vision was blurry. There was barely any light in the chamber and it seemed...smokey. But that couldn't be right. She pushed against the door of the stasis coven. It wouldn't open.
"Computer, report status!" she commanded. No reply.
"Hello?" She called into the spaceship. She could see Laura on the other side of the chamber, still in her coven but in a strange, somewhat slumped position. Then it hit her. They had already landed! She tried again to push against the door. It was barred somehow. She found a handle in the top of the coven. "Manually unlock door" read a red sign next to it in white letters. She pulled the handle and the door unbarred.
The air smelled poisonous and there actually was smoke in the chamber. Something had gone wrong. Briefly, she registered Jake's coven being empty as she stumbled uphill towards the door to the lab and the front of the ship.
'Out of this gas.' she thought. She had to open this door manually as well and when it was open, she involuntarily inhaled a big gasp of the stinking air.
Looking into the lab from the coven chamber she'd expected to see the laboratory and on the other side, the door to the cockpit. Instead she looked through half of the lab, torn steel and broken cables into a wide blue sky.
Janna's head was spinning as the weight of the situation hit her. Their spaceship had torn in half and crashed. They were lost. Shipwrecked. Her vision blurred with tears and she fell to her knees. So many unknowns. How close was any ship that could rescue them. Did anybody even know about them being shipwrecked? And where was the pilot?
All circuits were dead, none of the blinking lights or screens worked. Janna stared into the sky and cried bitterly for a while until, slowly, the devastation ebbed away and more practical thoughts returned.
Somewhere in her mind she remembered protocol: 'You may exit the space craft and explore the planet's surface if all life sustainability tests have been thoroughly carried out and permit such an action.'
She gasped. Jake didn't know how to perform such a test, Laura was still in her coven. No one had tested the air she was breathing. But Saturn Seven's atmosphere didn't smell or feel poisonous at all. In fact, it was rather pleasant. Warm, fresh air that actually smelled of...forest. Eager to see the surface of the planet she stood up and stumbled further up to the torn off cockpit from where she'd be able to see down onto this world. When she was there, her head started spinning again.
They were completely encircled by green bushes and areas that seemed to be covered in some sort of moss. Despite the fact that their ship was broken and more than half their supplies lost, Janna felt relieved about the fact that they had done it. They had found life! After all, that had been the purpose of their coming to this place.
Of course, the crashing ship had caused quite the devastation to the landscape. Around the wreck bushes had been ripped out of the ground, shattered, blown away. Some had even been burned. Janna also realized there was no way of knowing for how long their ship had been sitting here other than the fact that the brush hadn't grown back yet. But that could mean anything since she didn't know how fast it could grow.
Even though her grades had not been the best, Janna was still very passionate about science and she eagerly looked for a way to climb down to the surface. Humanity had to know about this! Grudgingly she admitted to herself that there wasn't really a way to tell anybody. Still, she had to study this planet.To her, even some micro cellular organisms or algae would have been amazing enough. Now her mind was blown. And maybe plants were not the only things that lived here.
The sun, or rather x458235j14, was shining bright and the weather was pretty comfortable with a light breeze. Janna's jeans and T-shirt were perfectly alright for this climate.
Some ripped out bushes cracked and crushed under her as she let herself down onto the surface. They appeared to be made of very fragile wood and lived by photosynthesis with their tiny green leaves. They actually looked like extremely small trees in every respect, not even the tallest of them going over her knees.
Under those trees tinier plant life dwelled, all looking somewhat peculiar and fragile. She'd put those things under the microscope later and catalogue them, no matter what predicament she was in, for such was her commitment to science. Her boots left deep footprints in the soft ground and she felt sorry for the plants that perished beneath her. Everything seemed to be somewhat more fragile than on earth. She couldn't help but destroy things as she moved around in the immediate vicinity of the ship, but it was insignificant compared to what damage the ship had done.
With a few steps she reached the edge of the intact brush and bent down to give it a closer look. The bushes absolutely looked like trees on earth, as if a really committed bonzai enthusiast had been here before and planted them. Getting closer she noticed that what looked like weeds from above looked like brush from up close.
It had some strange resemblance of being in a modelled landscape at the scale of about one to fifty. Janna had to catalogue this. She was about to climb back up to the lab and try to find some utensils like pen, paper, measuring tape and so forth when she noticed something strange. Carefully she reached down to tear a single tiny leaf from a nearby bush, her comparatively gigantic fingers of course yanking dozens of leaves as well as a few branches out of the poor thing.
With a bit of fiddling she was able to get rid of everything but a single leaf which she held close to her eye to inspect it. It was hard to make out it's particular shape but...her gasp blew the leaf off of her finger. This leaf belonged to an oak tree. Indeed, the tree was an oak tree but it looked like it was hundreds of years old. And it was absolutely tiny. Janna stared around. She saw a another oak, there a beech, a miniscule fir and even a birch with it's spattered white bark and gnarled branches. This was a middle European primeval forest. Only it was very small.
Laura screamed when she awoke. She was breathing heavily, her heart still pounding madly. Suddenly, the smoke outside her coven was gone. So was Janna. She manually opened the door to her coven and stumbled outside. Immediately she noticed Jake's body in his pilot uniform slumped in a corner. She ran over and fell to her knees by his side. He was cold and didn't move, his face in a dried pool of blood, a huge cavity in his forehead.
Tears blurred her vision. She was numb. This was real. It had really happened. She was stranded on a planet and her pilot was dead. Janna. Maybe Janna knew what to do. She stumbled out of the coven chamber and started to cry even harder when she saw what had happened to the ship. They'd lost practically all water and food along with the toilet with that part of the vessel.
When she peeked over the edge of the broken fuselage she saw Janna, totally in shock staring at a bush incoherently mumbling to herself. It had hit her even worse than Laura.
Laura climbed down to the ground, a task made a lot easier by all the twisted metal rods and dead cables that peeked out of the hull, and put her hand on her friend's shoulder. Janna cringed and looked at her: "Laura! You have to see this! It's a tree, a...a tiny tree, like...a genuine tree like on earth but it's...so small..."
"It's kay." Laura tried to calm her down and closed Janna in her arms. Then they cried together.
"I know it's fucked up, the crash and all." Laura snivelled after a while, "But, hey, we're both alive! What are the odds of that."
"And we'll be famous." Janna cheered with a broken voice.
Laura pulled out of the embrace and ghastly looked her friend in the face.
"I'm serious." Janna smiled tearfully when she noticed Laura's bewildered expression. "We've found life. If we get out of here, we're made. They'll probably give us PHDs and a Nobel price and what not. Look!"
She pointed down and indeed, Laura hadn't really noticed it before, this planet was covered in plants. Still she was more concerned with their current situation than their would be fame at some point in the future.
"Janna..." She began. "We have no food. No water. How the fuck are we going to survive on this planet, let alone get back to earth?!"
"Where plants grow, there is water too, hold on.", Janna said, bent down and started to dig with her bare hands. Laura still wasn't so convinced of Janna's sanity but after getting about arms deep into the soft topsoil, Laura could hear the water splash.
"It's dirty." Laura said as Janna took a handful of water from the hole.
"We can filter it." Janna replied reassuringly. "Or maybe we find a lake or a river. There's gotta be something somewhere."
"And food?", Laura raised an eyebrow.
"Let's see." Janna pursed her lips and without further ado, she grabbed a large branch of the oak tree and tore it off without much of an effort.
"Eww, gross!" Laura said as Janna simply put the branch in her mouth and started chewing. The wood or what ever it was pulped easily in between her teeth but she spat it out after a few seconds.
"Yuck! Okay, I don't think we can eat the trees."
Laura cocked her head: "Trees?"
"Yeah!" Janna was getting excited again. "This here, is basically an oak tree. Only it's totally small."
"For real?" Laura asked and stepped closer. She didn't know much about trees at all, Janna was the biologist, but this thing actually looked like a tiny tree. Without a second thought, Laura raised her foot and trod it down with her full weight.
“Hehe, I crushed a tree under my foot!” She laughed like a dullard.
It's stem broke in two and every branch or piece of wood that happened to be under her sneaker was either crushed to bits or embedded deep into her foot print. Her other foot squashed another part of the tree in similar fashion just before her right foot obliterated the roots.
"What the fuck, Laura, what did you do that for?" Janna asked angrily.
"What?" Laura stopped trampling the totally obliterated tree. "There's like a billion of them here, and we can't even eat'em."
She saw Janna, angrily searching for a rebuttal, standing next to one of the 'trees'. It looked like she was a giant in a shrunken world. To emphasize her point she raised her foot again and stomped a smaller tree root and stem into the ground. A movement in the right corner of her eye caught Laura's attention. Out of the tree tops, swarms of strange looking bugs rose and flew away, scared by the tremor she had caused. Janna's jaw dropped and she just stared at the swarms of bugs flying into the distance.
"Whats wrong?", Laura asked concerned.
"Those bugs," Janna said, sounding completely baffled, "are not plants."
"Uhhh, duh?" Laura said with a laugh. "I'm not a biologist but I've never known plants to fly away?"
Even as she made fun of her friend, Laura found it amazing too. They had found life. First plants and now animals. And who knew what this planet still had in store for them. All they had to do was try and survive for as long until help arrived. It couldn't be too long, she told herself.
Janna shook her head seemingly in an attempt to get her mind back on track: "We can catch some of those bugs and eat them. They're probably full of protein, exactly what we need."
"What the fuck, no!" Laura cringed in disgust. "I'm not eating any bugs!"
"Well, starve then." Janna said and peered around into the distance seemingly looking for something. Laura followed her gaze. On second glance, the landscape wasn't all forest. Here and there there were glades in the foliage. Far to the right, hills and mountains could be seen and to the left of that the forest turned into grassland.
"Maybe we can find something bigger." Janna said thoughtfully still gazing into the distance. "Hopefully it's not bigger than us."
Laura swallowed hard: "What do you mean, bigger than us?"
"You know," Janna said, shrugging her shoulders, "bigger, and dangerous. Like a bear or a tiger or something. There could be anything out there."
Suddenly, eating bugs didn't seem so gross after all.
"Let's get back into the ship, see what equipment we have." Janna decided and started to climb back up.
"Wait." Laura called. "What do we do about Jake?"
"What do you mean?" Janna asked curiously.
They both were strangely collected as they put Jake's body back into his stasis coven and manually sealed the door. Stasis didn't work without electricity but Janna said it was the best they could do to store and preserve him and bring him back to his parents. Plus, like this, the ship wouldn't smell like a morgue.
The food, sanitary equipment and commodities had been stored in the front part of the ship that was gone now. They were left with their scientific equipment most of which, however, also required electricity to work. They were basically left with an intact field-microscope, a compass, pens, paper and some chemicals and glass utensils for testing stuff the old fashioned way.
Among the battery-reliant equipment they found were night-vision goggles, a few lanterns and a pair of binoculars with range finder and a few other fancy options. The supply of batteries wasn't too good though, without a way to recharge them. A bunch of other things they found were broken or useless without electricity. The storage units were completely in chaos, one had broken and spilled it's broken contents all over the floor.
"There's got to be a solar panel somewhere in here." Janna sighed as she crammed through one of the boxes. "Hurgh, it's useless!" She leaned back and slammed her hands into her lap. "Let's find something to eat while the sun is still up, what do you say?"
Laura was arms deep into another box to look for something useful.
"What the fuck is this?" She asked and pulled out a long stick with a metal ring and a net at the end.
Janna's eyes lit up: "That, my dear, is a landing net."
"Would you mind not squashing every single tree?" Janna complained a little unnerved. "Also, you're scaring away the bugs." They had been wandering through the forrest together, away from the ship, to find food and water. Janna, carrying the landing net, moved carefully through the foliage while Laura, carrying an Erlenmayer flask quickly had made a sport out of noisily flattening trees under her feet.
"What, I'm bored." Laura pouted. "And I'm telling you, I'm not eating any bugs."
They were almost microscopic anyway. Janna would have to catch a billion of them to get rid of her hunger. She could feel it already, nagging on her. She was someone who always ate when they were hungry. Even in between meals. Of course, in their day and age, that never presented a problem. But on Saturn Seven it did.
As Laura punished another tree for standing in her way a small movement ahead of her caught the girls' attention. Something tiny seemed to be running away from them. They could hear the noise of it's movement as well.
"Watch out!" Janna cried as Laura took off running after it. "It could be poisonous!"
Laura didn't think the thing she was pursuing was poisonous at all. Only very afraid. It was moving hastily through the undergrowth. She could feel her prey's panic and desperation. And she loved it. She enjoyed being the predator but she had a hard time spotting the tiny thing because of the dense foliage. The thuds of her foot steps and the crashing of the breaking trees also easily drowned out what little noise the tiny creature made.
But also, it wasn't too fast. In fact, it was rather slow. Then it was gone. Laura stopped. There it was again, swiftly showing up before vanishing again. It really was comparatively slow, Laura had accidentally overtaken it with only two quick steps. Earthly creatures of this size were much quicker in order to survive, or they reproduced really fast, or developed shells of some sort. Or poison. Laura reconsidered not to gamble with this one. She stalked the tiny thing from above, waiting to get a better view.
Janna took a few quick paces and walked beside Laura. She followed her friend's eyes and quickly spotted the tiny thing that was running from them as well. Much to her shock, Janna discovered that she had almost stepped on it when she hadn't been looking. They were only able to catch brief glimpses of it before it vanished again. It was tiny, probably 3 centimetres in length and moved very strangely. It appeared to have four limbs but sometimes it looked as if it ran and all fourths and sometimes only it's hind legs. Almost upright. As far as they could tell anyway. It was simply impossible to see the thing unobstructed by bushes and trees.
"What are we gonna do?" Laura asked excitedly.
"I don't know." Janna began trying to get a better glimpse of what the creature looked like. "Catch it, I suppose. But be careful."
"I can squash it." Laura said confidently and Janna thought to almost see Laura's footsteps land closer to the little thing.
"No!" She quickly intervened. "We need it alive!"
After some five minutes or so, the creature slowed down, apparently exhausted from endless running. This was amazing. They'd be so famous after this. No matter whether the creature was insect, mammalian, reptilian or otherwise. Perhaps even something entirely new. This is what they came here for. Well, this and intelligent life. But one couldn't have everything.
Then Janna looked a bit ahead and her world collapsed before her eyes.
Suddenly Laura heard Janna gasp beside her and felt her friend pull on her arm.
"You're not exhausted already, are you?" Laura laughed and looked away from the creature up to her friend's face.
Janna was pale and had stopped walking. She was barely breathing and stared a few feet ahead of them with wide eyes. Her lips were shaking madly.
"Fuck, did you get stung?! Is it poisonous!?" Laura cried and rushed to hold her friend up.
Janna shook her head and raised a shaking hand, pointing straight ahead. Slowly, Laura turned around, just in time to see the little thing that they'd been following escaping the forest and running into the open.
Something was up. There was a storm coming. The Gods were angry. Something of that nature. The seer probably knew about the gods. And the old men probably knew about the weather. I didn't believe in the gods though. Or at least I didn't trust them. How many times had we tried to rally them to our cause. How many times had we sacrificed and how many times had they let us down. They weren't reliable at all, but then again, I also doubted that the Twelve were any better.
They were like damned King Aele. Always there when there was something to take, game, livestock, crops, men, girls. Only when the thieves came, or the dreaded raiders he and his banner men were nowhere to be found. To this day I believe I recognized the face of one of the guards at the castle back when we brought some deer hides and venison. He looked exactly like the raider who slew my father and set our farm alight. I shall never forget his face.
The old men though, they were infallible when it came to the weather. I wondered whether they could feel a cold creeping into their old bones or if years of experience had simply taught them to read the sky. The distant commotion grew louder and feeling opportunistic I neared one of them and asked him whether we should prepare for a storm. He gave me an irritated look and shook his head.
Suddenly there was an alarming vibration in the earth. The straw on the roofs rattled as well. I saw other people stop in their tracks, fearfully looking around. It was as if the giants had risen again and were coming for us. Seers and wise women everywhere liked to tell the old tales. Human beings large as mountains, roaming the surface of the earth, doing all kinds of things.
I had dismissed them as soon as I could hunt with a bow and explore the depths of the forest myself. But now I saw them with mine own eyes. Indescribable fear gripped me as I saw two giantesses, young goddesses of impossible size, walking towards the village. A cloud of birds rushed over our heads speeding away from the titanic troublemakers, only to dramatize the spectacle more. A young hunter, completely out of breath, ran through the southern gate and looked as if he had seen the end of the world.
But the giantesses looked like they couldn't believe their eyes either. One spoke to the other in a gruesome, yet feminine voice and they just stared at us. Meanwhile the old man from earlier cursed at the young boy who, apparently, had foolishly led them directly to us. Then the elder turned to me: "To the keep, you fool!"
I don't think that I ever ran faster in my entire life. Had I had a horse, I couldn't have gotten any quicker to King Aele's soldiers. Hopefully this time, they would be able to help us.
Janna's mind was spinning furiously. She would've been absolutely satisfied with the trees and the bugs, probably that tiny little animal she had suspected their object of pursuit to be. But no. Fate had to put tiny people on this planet. Yes, they were people. Her scientific mind wouldn't believe her eyes yet and screamed at her to put the barely three centimetre tall things under magnification first. But it was as if to look on the model of an iron age village, something Laura, the anthropologist, immediately noticed as well.
All the tiny humanoids were frozen in place, fearfully staring up at them, except for one who hastily ran through a gate on the other side of the village. It took the girls a few more moments to overcome their state of shock before they started to move, instinctively, without talking at all, shutting both entrances to the tiny settlement.
When Laura moved around it, she could see everything she would expect in such a village. Cattle, tied to posts, baskets full of stuff, old people, young people - all dumbstruck and shivering. But all so incredibly tiny. A wooden palisade wall was erected around the dirt and wood houses with straw roofing, leaving only two entries, both of which were now blocked. Laura's boredom was washed away.
There were approximately one and a half dozen huts and twice that many people out in the open. More and more streamed out of the houses or decided to go back inside and hide. Janna forced her subconscious to realize that these were not people but, until further scientific study, an unidentified alien species. She would have been very comfortable to faint in that moment, just because it was so very significant and mind blowing. She had no idea what to do next.
Laura, remembering her training, made the first step, raising her right hand in a gesture of greeting. To her utter amazement, she could see several tiny people returning the gesture. A trembling tiny man repeated the gesture and walked closer to her. He was screaming something in a foreign tongue. Because his vocal chords were so short, his voice was very high pitched and not very loud.
Since she couldn't make sense of a single word he was saying, Laura just talked over him: "What the fuck?!"
"Humanoid mammal, omnivore, cultured, has developed speech, appearance comparable to very small homo sapiens, lives in little nests that look like primitive houses, closer physical examination necessary..." Janna mechanically listed a few observations relevant to her field of expertise.
"Janna!" Laura said loudly. "Breathe! It's allright. They're real. They're not running away. Well, at least we wont let them."
To emphasize her point she nudged the wooden gates shut and used her foot to create a pile of earth that sealed them so that they couldn't be opened from within. She realized immediately that if Janna would do the same with her gate the little people would be completely at their mercy.
"What do we do?" Janna asked insecurely, still absolutely overwhelmed with the situation.
"Well, we still need food and water." Laura said matter of factly. "Looks like they've got a few baskets of fruit there or something. Better than nothing I guess..."
"No." Janna interrupted. "I mean what, do we study them, or...or...?"
The tiny man had been speaking all the while helplessly watching his efforts being ignored.
"Shut up or I squish you." Laura said harshly.
"Laura, what the hell. Don't do that, be nice!" Janna scolded her friend. "This is like a historic moment. First contact! We can't afford to frighten a possible ally!"
Laura scoffed: "Two things. First, he can't even understand what I'm saying and second, well, future ally?! A bunch of bronze age mites?"
"Anyway." Janna said, getting back to the point. "Do you think it's okay, like, anthropology wise, if I pick one up and examine it?"
"I don't think there's much that they can do about it." Laura said, giving the tiny creatures a dismissive look. Janna was going to retort but decided to let it slip. This wasn't the time for conflict. She crouched down in front of the wooden gate and studied the aliens a few more moments. Some were hiding at this point, others were just standing in the open, staring at Laura and her.
Slowly and carefully she reached down to pick one of them up. One that looked like a female. She could hear it's tiny pleas and protests as her comparatively gigantic hand neared the little alien. The girl scurried around trying to get away. But she wasn't quick enough.
Janna's hand cornered her at a house wall and she tried to make herself as small as possible. But to no avail. With the utmost delicacy Janna picked her up with thumb and index finger and brought her up to her face and then just marvelled at the human appearance of her features.
The tiny man who addressed Laura just blabbered on. She bent down a little to hear him better but still couldn't make sense of his words. With Janna's attention caught somewhere else Laura had her foot land square on top of him as she stepped over the palisade. She didn't give the act much consideration, she just wanted to stop his annoying rant. A little yelp could be heard before he disappeared beneath her.
Laura's weight distributed evenly onto her right foot when her left one crossed over the palisade as well. She felt the slightest sensation of first him and then the ground giving in to her weight. When she raised her foot just out of curiosity to give him another look his crushed remains were not embedded in her footprint but rather mangled in the threads of her sneaker's soles. He hadn't stood a chance. But he was silent now and Janna hadn't even noticed. The tiny people had, though.
With nowhere to run they just stared up at her. Laura enjoyed the feeling of power and looked for the next opportunity to step on one of them. She spied a girl hiding beneath a wooden cart that was filled with green fruit. Feeling a bit hungry herself, Laura picked up the cart as if to examine it further while keeping focus on her tiny victim on the ground. It was hard to tell because it was so tiny but Laura thought to have seen a pleading expression on it's little face.
With Janna still occupied, Laura let her right foot hover above the tiny thing for a moment before she squashed it flat. The sensation of another intelligent life snuffed out beneath her shoe gave her a shiver of excitement. It was as easy as crushing bugs and easily twice as fun. In the heat of the moment she just poured the contents of the cart into her mouth and chewed. It tasted like apple.
"Aye, aye." Sir Ludwig said slowly after listening to my pleas. He was one of King Aele's banner men and owned the forest as well as most of it's people. When I arrived at the keep I was completely out of breath and talking gibberish like a mad man. A dull-looking soldier hit me in the gut to knock some sense into me. When I finished coughing and spitting blood they still wouldn't let me see him.
It took another man, a self-confessed poacher at that, running through the gate, talking of giant girls, to convince them to give my talk of giants some more consideration. They sliced the poachers throat before they let me inside the keep and I had to convince Sir Ludwig alone. When I entered his room he was drinking and occupied himself by fondling a young girl from a village a little north of there. He had his dirty hand way too deep underneath her skirt to not offend good morals but he wasn't one to fear the seers or wise women. He didn't seem pleased to see me either.
"Well then." He said, after patiently listening to me. "What do you suggest we do?"
I was baffled by that question. When I didn't respond he had one of his men step closer to him and said: "Take a few scouts and take that snivelling shit with you. If he gives you any trouble, cut his throat."
Under Saturn's rays I rest in eternal sleep. Giants violate my tomb and awaken me.
They were rough-looking men that wasted no time to let me know they'd joyfully kill me if I tried anything funny. They didn't give me my own horse either so I had to sit behind the back of the baldest and smelliest of them. We rode fast.
"I can't believe it, she's totally human." Janna said in awe. She had resolved, despite her guilty conscience, to undress the tiny girl in between her fingers. 'Undress' of course wasn't exactly the correct term to describe what her huge fingers did to the poor woman's dress. Had an arm or a leg or anything gotten in between them when Janna ripped it off, she might have ripped the woman in half too. Janna felt very bad about this, especially scaring the tiny thing like that but in the name of science she had to get the woman naked.
The woman of course was now entirely frantic but those fingers, thicker than some tree trunks to her, made short work of her struggles, all the while being gently enough. Janna, once again, had trouble believing her eyes. The woman's tiny lady parts were as far as she could see all were they should be in a human. When she finally looked up to see what Laura thought of all this she discovered that Laura was standing right in the middle of the village, tiny people fleeing and hiding away from her.
"Get out of there, you'll step on them!" She warned.
Laura gave her a look as if she didn't give that risk much consideration.
"So what?" She said.
"So what?!" Janna felt herself become angry. "Give me the Erlenmayer flask, I need to gather some examples!"
"Don't we kinda need that for water?" Laura asked still standing right inside the village.
"This is more important." Janna said, fuming. "Now step out of the village and make sure you don't destroy anything."
Janna hated being bossy with Laura but sometimes it was necessary to keep her playful and careless ways from fucking things up. Laura grudgingly complied, knowing full well what a stubborn girl Janna could be sometimes.