Canto 11 – Planet of the Cave Man
The planet itself was smaller than Earth, but possessed a lot more land space. Its oceans were limited to five vast and separate land-locked lakes. Vegetation was remarkably sparse, but what grew was tenacious and very much alive. What truly shocked the brothers, though, were the scan signs of over nine billion humans living on the surface and in vast caverns. This was a frontier planet with no record of being developed by the Galtorr Imperium or any of its predecessors. So how did they get there?
“Are we detected yet?” asked Ham nervously.
Ged looked over the scan and signal data on the commo screen. “I get no scans, beams, or even radar from them. There’s electricity of a sort, but nothing to indicate tracking or weapons ability. It’s low tech.”
“Are we sure they are human?”
“Definitely human, but Nebulons register as humans too.” Ged looked over at the Nebulon Princess as she sat looking admiringly at Ham.
“I think I moight know where they be from,” said Sinbadh.
“Oh,” said Ged sarcastically. “What do you know?”
“They be marooned ones from Stardog raids. It’s been a right while, it has, but this planet used to get lots of use from them Stardogs. Treasure buried here too, I’ll wager.”
“You can’t tell me the Stardog Corsairs captured that many ships!” Ged was on the verge of anger.
“Nay. But they was men, women, an’ children got left here. They’d no choice but to colonize.”
“Where do you want to set down, Ged?” Ham asked.
“Out of sight of the nearest community, I’d say,” Ged answered. He didn’t fancy being met by an angry mob, or even a worshipful mob. Mob was not a good word for planet arrival.
“Okay, I have the spot.” Ham settled the sleek safari craft down in a clearing amongst the strange gray trees that made up the brittle and somewhat spiky jungle. Ged put on a light set of harsh environment armor and dismounted through the underbelly portal in the nose of the Leaping Shadowcat.
Sinbadh picked up a set of laser pistols and headed out after Ged. Ham brought up the rear with the Princess and her small son right on his heel. He normally took the back on a hunting expedition, but he wasn’t used to this kind of attention from a pretty humanoid female.
Ged’s nose changed imperceptibly as he started tracking. The tingling he felt there meant he was transforming it into something akin to Sinbadh’s nose. The scent pictures it was taking in began to appear in Ged’s inner eye.
“We are on a strange trail,” Ged announced. “Two humans and a Dion-raptor.”
“How could there be a Dionysus dinosaur out here?” asked Ham. “I hated those things back on the jungle safaris to Dionysus. I don’t want to tangle with them here!”
“Well,” chided Ged. “It’s here plain enough. You’ll just have to be prepared to scream like a little girl again and work on your tree-climbing.”
Sinbadh laughed his growly canine laugh at Ged’s slammer. Ged smiled at the wolfman for the first time.
Over the next rise, they came upon the trio Ged had scented. It was a young human male with no clothing but a fake fur loin cover and an even younger human female with a fake fur bikini and plastic bone in her hair. They were riding on the back of a large dinosaur predator, perfectly at ease riding bareback on their meat-eating friend.
Ged knew the raptor species well. He had hunted them on the jungle planet of Dionysus. They lived there in a loose symbiotic relationship with the humans and the dinosaurian humanoids called the Dions that populated that jungle world. These creatures were smart enough to operate machinery and even communicate in a limited sort of sign language. They also turned rogue fairly easily and developed a taste for Dion flesh or even man flesh.
“Do we hail?” asked Ham in sign.
“Yes,” said Ged. He stood up from where he had been crouching behind a bush. “Hey! You there! Can we talk to you?”
The boy and the girl both looked at Ged and smiled. The raptor licked its toothy smile with a snaky tongue.
“My name is Fred3576 Flintstone,” said the boy. “This is my girlfriend Wilma456. And this is our dog, Dino6478. We’ve never seen anyone that wasn’t from Bedrock before!”