The planet below them was blue and green, just like the Earth. Most of the planets the exploration team visited weren’t like that. They were rocky and airless, with nothing living at all.

            Lower and lower went the Nightstar. Jez, the navigator, was looking for a safe place to land.  Madge, the ship’s commander, concentrated hard on the controls.

            ‘To the right! there’s an open space amongst the trees!’

           ‘Got it!’

            ‘Great landing!’

           ‘Not bad. O.K. Rik, over to you. What do you think? Is it safe to go out?’

           Rik was a scientist who  studied new planets. He was busy checking conditions outside.

           ‘We can breathe the air, so that’s good news!’
The crew put on their backpacks. Madge pressed the control to open the outer door.

           The forest was cool and shady. The trees stretched upward to where a tangle of branches blocked out the sunlight. Now and again they thought they saw an animal, but it was hard to be sure.

            They heard a sound and looked up. Something big was falling, falling, straight down towards them.

            ‘Move, quick!’

            But it was too late. It was huge net made from ropes, with stones round the edge to make it fall quickly. The force of its fall knocked them to the ground.

            Then they saw the grey figures , climbing down the trees and  running towards them through the forest. 

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Comment by Adrian Thompson Laisterdyke UK on October 19, 2012 at 7:28

Grey figures with large, dead eyes, surrounded them, poking at the net with their sharp sticks, and jumping up and down – it was possible, thought Rik, that this was the first time the net had ever worked – the grey people definitely looked like they didn’t eat very much. As he struggled under the net, the greys, as one, turned to the north, looked into the sky, and scattered, chittering.

Rik, whose eyes had been following them, turned and gazed into the blue sky. “Madge,” he said, backing away rapidly, “would you say that’s a dragon?”...

Comment by Nikki Heath on October 19, 2012 at 8:55

Madge peered through the smoky air, noticing an unexplained figure up ahead.

"We didn't see any creatures when we scanned the planet," she said, nervously, the creature ahead putting some doubt into her tone of voice, "In fact, we saw nothing. But the atmosphere was so thick, the soupy, cloudy air made it impossible to see anything. But we had no choice. Had we stayed aboard, we'd have been dead within 24 hours. We HAVE to make repairs."

Before Rit could reply, the ground began to shake, more and more as the creature thundered closer. Cracking could be heard as the creature brushed the trees aside as though they were twigs. Hearing the noise, the creature started toards them. Then it stopped, and smiled. "Welcome to our home," it said. "We have been expecting you".

Comment by Anne-Lise Robin on October 19, 2012 at 9:55

"We will make you very comfortable and entertained. We have hidden three components of your ship on our planet. You have three hours to find them or we will have to do something "interesting" to you. it will be a sort of game if you'd like but we won't make it easy for you. Now RUN."

Creature had multiplied in the trees and they seemed intent on pursuing us. I grabbed Madge by the hand and rushed through a cloud of them. 

"What are we going to do? Where's the rest of the crew?" she cried. "No time for that, we need to find shelter and start thinking. There will be clues." I answered. We were still running when my foot hit something metallic and wet.  Yes! item number one, maybe we needed to play by their rules.

Comment by Christopher Lunt on October 19, 2012 at 10:47

Their senses suggested that they had been granted a brief reprieve from their pursuers.  Rik took a moment to inspect the item.  It looked less of an instrument found in the engine of star ship than that of a puzzle. 

"What do you make of it Madge?"

This was the moment she had trained for.  A life long study of cryptography, countless examinations of both indigenous and alien artefacts, a passion for exploration and a penchant for all that glitters.  This was her time to shine.  And yet when Madge held the object in her hand she was so full of fear.  Not, as one would be forgiven for assuming was this a fear of her pursuers, of the exhilaration of the alien world, nor of what might happen should she fail to understand the object.  But fear that she might actually fulfil a life's work, an ambition, and fear of the empty feeling this may leave in her gut.

"It's a key... stand back"

She clasped the artefact as tightly as possible and it began to glow, and eventually beams of light shrouded her hands.  She let go and it hovered in the air, now emitting a great light.

"It's time we played by OUR rules, Rik!"


Comment by Eve Westwood on October 19, 2012 at 11:39

Rik blinked, temporarily blinded by the intense light.  He shielded his eyes with his hands.

"So now what?  It shines, okay, but I was expecting something a little more helpful."

Madge did not answer, she seemed transfixed by the object, as if she could see something in it that he could not.

"Are we supposed to follow it somewhere?" he asked.  "Madge, what does it do?"

"Look around you," she said, "it is the light of Truth."

He turned away from the glowing object.  His eyes slowly adjusted and he gave an intake of breath.  He no longer saw trees, grass, undergrowth.  It was as if he had been taken backstage at the theatre and realised that everything was unreal, that behind the brightly lit stage was a world of badly constructed sets held up with batons and props, tangled with rope and dusty curtains. 

Comment by WP Central on October 19, 2012 at 13:15

The planet floor was made up of enormous interlocking puzzle pieces, he could see that now. In places there were huge gaps filled with inky darkness and over towards the horizon he could see piles of these same claylike pieces."Oh Madge you little beauty now come on we need to put the right bits in those holes I think!" The two of them raced towards the pieces and took hold of one together. "We'll have to work together , these are enormous" But the clay wouldn't move no matter how they strained. 

"Look" Madge cried "there is something engraved on the top! Oh it's a riddle .....I think we will have to solve it before we can move the puzzle piece." "Well that's just great" Rik whinged "You know I'm really having a bad day"

Comment by Caroline Roche on October 19, 2012 at 20:06

He looked again at the writing, and at the little knob that stuck out of the puzzle piece.  Surely that picture of the little child sitting with a toy seemed familiar, as did the letters ELC.  ELC, ELC - what was that about?  Something in his past was tugging his memory.  He wandered over to the deep cut crater that his puzzle piece was going in to, and suddenly his memory gave a wild lurch!  The letters stood for a popular children's store - and surely, no, it couldn't be!  He gasped in horror.  They were standing on a giant child's wooden puzzle - but if that was the case, what was the size of the child?  Suddenly their vision was obscured by a giant shadow, picking up the puzzle piece they were standing on.  All Rit and Madge could see was a giant cave with glistening white tombstones in it, dripping obscenely, coming closer and closer ...

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