Crypto’s Story

The usual daily routine for the past year of my life: awaken when the artificial sun rises, prowl my glass encased prison for several lonely hours, watch food fall from the heavens, devour it, and then be pulled from my prison by the giants and allowed to roam until sunset.

The artificial sun rises upon this domain of mine.  Although I am enclosed in this place, it has all the comforts of home.  Not only that, but the giants actually study my behaviors and seek out the pleasure of seeing to my needs.  If I act as though I am missing something that I need for my happiness, even if it has no functionality, they will do their best to determine this and acquire it.  For instance, when I wished to climb up higher to overlook my enclosure, they gladly provided me with the necessary structures so that I could do so in safety.

They do also enjoy watching me hunt.  As they toss in my prey, I gladly track them down and kill them and eat them.  They watch me curiously as I do so and, most of the time; I put on a show for them.  I do need to continue to show them who is boss though. If they stare too much or get too close to my enclosure, I will cease to give them enjoyment until they back off to a distance that I wish.

As I settle in each night, I check my encounter suit readings and set it up for another self replication/self repair cycle.  I often laugh as I do this.  I think about all the times the giants “pet” me and adore my beautiful skin, but little do they understand, that this “skin” is actually just my encounter suit.  I laugh as they stare at my head, knowing full well myself that it is just a helmet.  If only they knew what I looked like.  This suit with a pattern of camouflage, sensors, claws for climbing and fighting, and spikes that adorn it to show my rank and to offer me protection from predators looks nothing like a creature!  My, how perceptions can really make a difference.  Why, if I saw a creature at such a small size that was obviously alien to my environment, the first thing I would think is how it’s “skin” was not skin at all, except in the artificial sense.

Outside observers might see my position and situation as that of a prisoner, but this is far from the truth.  My position is more that of a king.  I mean, think about it, kings never have true freedom.  They are held to the responsibilities of their office and the confines of their domain as they are ripe targets for discontents and assassins.  I also have a domain, which I am confined to, and I am responsible for maintaining it and hunting all the live meals that are thrown my way.  I am allowed out of my domain or prison to roam my lands, but only under the supervision of those who watch out for me.  So in this case, I am most happy to remain “imprisoned” so that I can maintain my “kingship.”

My day goes just about how it always does, I awaken as the sun rises, and its heat provides me with the essence I need to survive.  I roam my lands, sculpting them and patrolling them to set the land itself to my heart’s desire.  After my patrols are complete, I forage for an afternoon snack, and if the giants are watching, a bath in the swimming pool they have provided me.  Such funny giants they are, thinking that I need to bathe; I am wearing a suit the whole time!  And this suit is one that watches out for my hygienic needs.  No reason not to put on a show for them and confuse them of my true purpose.  After my bath, I rest out in the warm sun and carve the land to suit my comfort.  After several hours of enjoying this ultimate of creature comforts, I watch as the giants return to within my line of sight.  They are distant on the horizon, but with their great walking gait, they easily make up the distance between us.  I watch as one of them, a sleek and slender looking one with unblemished skin, holds up a small cage, perhaps the size of myself.  There is excitement in this giant’s eyes as the cage is held up above my domain.  As it is tipped over, I see several of my prey fall from inside and down onto my land.  I look up at them and smile, but quickly my gaze turns to about a dozen monsters that come from my home world.  On any normal day on my home world, these things would be more dangerous, but here, with my encounter suit, I am impervious to their attacks and I can kill them with a simple bite.  With my suits internal pressure cooker, I don’t even need to prepare the kills manually.  The suit does the job for me, and in a few minutes from the time I bite and kill the little monsters, a cube of delicious tasting nutrients pops up inside the suit.

Finally, one of the giants reaches into my domain with a giant hand and scoops me up.  I am only a slight bit larger than one of their hands is.  The giant lifts me up and sets me on my usual perch, a ridgeline that the giants use to lean against and relax.

I explore the soft ridgeline which must be topped with some sort of moss.  At this point in my captivity, the giants trust me.  They are more worried about me hurting myself than escaping or causing any kind of trouble.  So on this day, as in recent days passed, they leave my field of vision, trusting that I will follow my usual routines.  And I do, but it is not me that they really need to worry about.  One of their other “pets” has shown an interest in me as of late.  She is the real concern.  I call her “she” out of some hope that she is a nurture type over a predator, but I’m not really sure.  And today it seems that she is on the prowl.

Also, on this day, I happen to spot something I haven’t spotted before while outside of my domain.  It happens to be something required for my mission here.  My suit must acquire a sample to analyze soon!  I am currently casually hanging on the soft ridgeline, clutched on with my suit’s claws.  It is time to go into action though and the sample of my interest is located on the top of the ridgeline on the far end.  I rear back slightly like a spring loading itself for maximum force and launch myself into the air.  The top of the ridgeline is upon me in a split second.  As I land, my claws grasp for traction and my helmet partially opens to quickly deploy what looks like a tendril, but what is actually a sensor.  Getting the environmental readings takes only a split second, and all the environment is nominal except, ah shit, that is her that I am reading.  “She” is near.  I kick the gears into full speed, but this terrain is not ideal to me.  My progress is not as swift as I would like.  And of course, one of my eyeball sensors detects her fast approaching my target.  “She” seems to want it as well.  “She” moves nimbly even being five times my size.  I stop moving forward for a moment to load up like a spring and launch myself into the air.  My eyeball sensor blares as it detects that “she” has launched.  We collide just before landing at the feet of the target.  Her massive size sends me tumbling down to the bottom of the ridgeline.  The force of the tumbling wrenches the links in my helmet apart.   My helmet thump thump thumps a dozen paces away from me.  My exposed head is filled with what sounds like music as the thump thump thump echoes and I hear a screeching sound from the top of the ridgeline that reminds me of the music the giants enjoy.

I start to panic.  I cough.  I wheeze.  I am choking.  Then I am struck with a memory of my father as he prepared me for this mission.

“Remember, my child, although your suit has a self contained environment, most of the planet is actually breathable to us.  The real problem is that you might find that the air there really stinks.”

I remember his firm hand on my shoulder giving me a reassuring squeeze and giving him a nod of my head that I understood.  All this just before I boarded my ship for this planet.

I breathe in deep now and I am sure my face is many colors it is not supposed to be.  I can breathe!  I cough again, but wow does it taste bad.  I stick my tongue out and spit.

I open my eyes… just in time to see her diving down towards me with a look of curiosity.  No, that’s not it.  It’s the look a child gets when they’ve caught another child with their hand in the cookie jar.

“She” begins speaking in phrases totally alien to me.  I can’t let the giants see me this way.  My cover will be blown.  Her elegant stride brings her upon me in moments, before I am to my feet.  A clawed paw descends upon my chest with a stomp.  The paw doesn’t remain for long as it recoils reflexively with a screech coming from her.  Now is a good time to remember, the suit I wear is covered in spikes!  As she is reeling from the pain, I roll over and hop to my feet.  It is now that I see my objective fall from her mouth.  For a split second, I contemplate my helmet or the objective.

I hear loud clump clump clumps and a deep echoing rumble that is forming language.  The giants approach!  My cover is more important, so I dash for my helmet and arrive there with a short leap.

I grab up my helmet and latch it into place.  I reassume the posture they are used to seeing me in.  “She” runs for it as a giant comes into view and swats at her.  The giant picks me up.  My heart is racing.  Then, to my surprise, the giant leans over again and picks up my objective.  Some words are shared between two giants, and my objective is held up to my helmet.  I give my helmet a command and it quickly devours the object.  The giant returns me to my domain.  I see her staring at me from the ridgeline.  I am safe now.

Hours later, my suit finishes its analysis.  The artificial sun is long gone and the giants have headed to their chambers for sleep.  I key several controls in my suit and wait.

“Crypto 3-2, what is your status, over?” I hear in my internal speakers.

“I have a data packet drop off needing pick up.  Awaiting agent to enter transmission range.”  I reply.

“Agent will arrive in the allotted window, be prepared to send message before sun up.”

“Aye aye.”

I am waiting for several hours and I find myself settling in for sleep as I usually do.  Finally, several lights in my suit flash and I know there is an agent within range.  I stand up on two legs, which the humans would find impossible.  I key my communications device and stick out my “tongue” which is used to send such signals.  I peer out and just barely see the agent lurking in the window of this human residence.  The signals are sent in just a couple of seconds and I settle back down into my glass aquarium.  If only the humans knew that they harbored an alien agent in their very home.

“Data received Crypto 3-2, any further comments?”

“Tell my brood mates I love them.  Oh and by the way, the food sample which I tried, there is almost no actually food in it.  It’s mostly just chemicals and preservatives.  How they grow so big, I’ll just never know.”

“Copy that Crypto 3-2.  It sure doesn’t help their smarts or matters of perception though!”  The agent says smugly.”

As the agent disappears from my view, I notice the cat lurking on the top of the couch across from my aquarium.  “She” is almost pointing at me in a human fashion with the strangest look on her face.  Oh yes, she is on to me now, but she’ll never convince the humans.  And the more she tries, the more they will think she is out to kill me.  Then I win, but what the hell, I suppose I already have.

I smile my toothless bony-ridged smile as I settle in to sleep until the aquarium light turns on again.  My suit set back into a cycle to shed my scales and continue its growth.

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About dhunterphillips

Visit my Facebook Fan Page to connect: http://www.facebook.com/DavidHunterPhillips While not working as a GeoInt Analyst in the Washington DC metro area, D. Hunter Phillips enjoys a life-long love of sci-fi, fantasy, role-playing games, and a great many other nerdy things that he explores through writing and games. D. Hunter regularly writes board game reviews at BoardGaming.com. Through his writing, D. Hunter hopes to inspire and speculate on the future and the past. He seeks deeper meanings within pulp genres of fantasy and sci-fi. D. Hunter enjoys the tales of John Ringo and Charles Stross. D. Hunter's readings lead him in a never ending cycle of sci-fi, history, physics, and psychology. D. Hunter enjoys going to DC area Goth clubs and seeing some of his favorite bands, such as VNV Nation. He also loves his home life with his partner in crime and several pets.
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