By Terran chronology, it was July 3, 1947. The Far Trader Horrep's Ulcer slipped from hyperspace seven light-seconds from the oh-so cute blue planet, its oversized lump of a moon hiding the kilometer-wide sphere's brief transition flash. No sense in tipping the rubes off too soon!
On the bridge, Captain Vork swore to himself as a huge clump of gray-brown fur sloughed from his arm in a fit of post-deceleration shedding, briefly wafted about his work station and was unceremoniously sucked, with a loud *thukk*, into an equipment cooling inlet. Oh well, he thought to himself, there was probably a kilogram of the stuff in there already.
Heaving himself to his feet, Vork shambled to the galley in his waddling, Ursine gait, idly scratching his furry butt as he went. Around him, his crew worked their stations, poking buttons and peering into displays amongst drifting clouds of newly shed fluff, as they sized up the potential marks below. This far from the normal trade routes, sales were few and light-years between.
"What kind of rubes we got down there?" he asked of nobody in particular, as he slurped his caffeine.
"Too soon to say, Cap," said the weapons officer. "But they're stingy bastards, that's for sure! They keep their orbital stations so well hidden you'd think they were afraid someone was gonna to steal 'em."
"Well, keep looking its gotta be out there somewhere," growled the Captain irritably.
"Hey Cap," piped up the security guy. "I can't even find any in-system traffic. You don't suppose these turds haven't even got off the ground yet?"
"Hmmm… Nothing?" queried Vork.
"Not a thing. No stations… No ship traffic… What the!" Hey LardAss… I mean Captain, I can't even find any comm satellites," returned the security guy.
"Howza guy supposed to make any money like this?" groused the Captain to himself. "Pilot, take us in close, say… 500 clicks. I wanna see if this flea-bitten backwater has anything."
"Aye, Cap," returned that worthy.
"Oh Captain dear," lisped the navigator. "I'm getting some pretty weird shit on my atmospheric scans."
"Wuddya mean?" grunted Vork.
"These critters got enough plutonium in their atmosphere to start a bomb factory next to every liquid air plant," returned the navigator, keeping his lisp factor well under control.
Vork shuffled over to the Nav. console, glaring at its occupant until he moved aside.
"Sacred Excrement!" he muttered to himself. "This place isn't fit for sentient consumption! Engineer, blow the waste tanks and lets get out of here."
"Eat shit and die!" shouted the Engineer, and with an unnecessary flourish brought his hairy Ursine fist smashing down on the holding tank vent switch. Suddenly, the entire ship was rock by a gargantuan decompression explosion. Flashing lights flashed and sirens *oogah-ed* as aft-facing cameras showed the 30 meter wide cargo hatch from bay 17, shrouded in a rapidly dissipating cloud of voided atmosphere, tumbling toward the planet below.
"Oops! Sorry Cap'n," shrugged the Engineer. "I forgot I had to cross-wire the vent switch with the emergency hatch jettison system last week when the switch shorted. I figgered we'd never need to blow the hatch. I…uh… guess I got it backwards, boss!"
Just when things seemed at their grimmest, they got grimmer as a disk-shaped cargo pod floated into view, revolving slowly. Vork quickly called up his cargo manifest and discovered that there had been one pod left in bay 17; a shipment of Tixxan, semi-sentient, auto-posing mannequins.
"Oh copulate!" swore Vork
"Now?" wistfully lisped the navigator.
"Shuddup!" shouted Vork, giving serious thought to letting the navigator join the mannequins.
With disgusting rapidity, the pod slipped into the tenuous upper atmosphere, its shape helping to stabilize it. Being self-powered, and pretty smart as cargo containers go, the pod tried its best to control its flight, or lack thereof, but it was never meant for that sort of thing. At best, it was designed for flitting about loading docks. Under the stress of trying to control its precipitous descent, its batteries were draining fast.
"Pilot, get a tractor beam on that Pod," bellowed Vork.
"No can do!" answered the pilot, perhaps a bit too smugly. "Need I remind the Captain that he lost the tractor beam emitter in a card game on Zogga IV?"
With a forlorn sigh, Vork watched the doomed pod streak through the thin upper atmosphere, its flaming trail finally disappearing beneath the clouds over the south-western corner of the large continent below.
Frantically expending its last few ergs of power while trying to control its descent, the pod managed to decelerate to only a few hundred kph before it slammed into a desert hillside, burst open and spilled its load of disoriented but valiantly posing Tixxan-shaped mannequins. Thus, they were found a short while later by a local rancher, and you know the story from there! The Air Force, to its credit, in trying to obfuscate the situation, did come pretty close with that story about dropping Test Dummies!
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