Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

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Freddino18
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Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:37 pm UTC

I was writing a short story set on a jungle planet orbiting an orange star. Specifically, I was wondering what color the plants would be, and I thought that it could possibly be blue, with high levels of absorption in the yellow-red end of the spectrum. Is this viable? If not, what might the actual color be?

Feel free to give any suggestions or ask any similar questions in this thread.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:33 pm UTC

Your plants* could be any color you want. On Earth, photosynthetic organisms are typically green, cyan, red, orange, yellow-green, or brown, but they can be other colors as well.

*or technically, plant-like organisms

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:38 pm UTC

I am coming at this from the perspective of energy efficiency in the plants: what color pigment would absorb the most light given the orange color of the star?

Specifically, red algae (like seaweeds) are red because the primary color of incoming light is in the blue to blue-green area of the spectrum, making it inefficient to absorb red light. Thus, their pigmentation is red to compensate and absorb the most light.

Wow, that sounded really ungrateful. No offense intended, O Great One.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:54 pm UTC

(Slightly edited as I refined my ideas of what you were looking for, then saw the other reply, then just now saw your latest specification... And decided I've covered enough of the bases, so not adding more to it. Already it's grown into a sprawling mass of "if"s, "but"s and "maybe"s that you will just have to have fun picking through and sifting your own wheat from the chaff... ;) )

The better chlorophyl-ish compounds for the environment would be the colour of the light they don't choose to 'process', as you've said. Green plants, unsurprisingly, don't absorb much green, taking in mostly blue-end light (strongest in sunlight) and red-end light (not sure if there's an advantage to that or that's just an add-on capability of a the undesigned system).

But a cool red star would probably demand extra attention for the red (making for more blue-green reflectivity), but then an intensley blue star might actually be more than intense enough, so a very light-shade (reflective of much of the unnecessary light) of blue may be protectively coloured in the same way. (Probably more due to adjustably-prevalent basic 'sunscreen' molecules than a 'light rejecting version of chlorophyl'.) Or they just develop more mechanical self-shading techniques, but the look of the vegetation would be much the same regardless of which absorb-and-reflect balances are made.

By human eyes, that is. If the spectra involved are shifted significantly then the parts that matter to the plant might be beyond where we'd see. We'd see just the reflected spectrum in our own range of experience, an otherwise unconsidered artefact of the the real 'aimed for' absorbtion range. Which, along with evolution's "good enough" method of developing biological pathways (alongside actual influences such as being habitually in extremely high/low-light locations in the biosphere) doubtless leads to the full range of non-green photsynthesising molecules.

An intensely red-tended star wouldn't have much of either the green or blue to be bothered about, whilst it concentrates on whatever it can do to grab the quanta of the red photons. But any absortion (other than the likely self-defeating majorly red/orange-reflecting hues) could be represented.

The big problem is aiming for the "so odd it must be alien" territory, like Mister Spock's copper-based green blood, but actually describing a possibly exotic but definitely Earth-bound combination (ok, so hemocyanin is seen as blue, not green, but with a twe@k...). So, that said, you can probably just go with whatever you consider aesthetically satisfying.

Then realise that you may be looking at your bright blue foliage under the persistent 'sunsetlike at noon' red star (ignoring atmospheric effects on top of that) and then the vibrant colour does not reflect well, because it isn't being lit by much blue in the first place. So it may look quite dark, with yellow or maroon tints from the nominally fringe optical components that are there.

(Ok, so perhaps you have some artificial "White" or "Earth daylight" or even "Earth's incandescent/flourescent" flavour of illumination brung there. It might be worth that being described as the dark, seemingly muddy-brown vegetation under the natural daytime sky suddenly shining azure or indigo as artificial illumination more suited to a visitor is casually played or purposefully shone upon the immediate environment. Perhaps striking patterns shine out, like the UV clues we cannot see in our own plants without special photography, left there originally for the local equivalent of bess for whom the UV clues would be just too poorly serviced by the star's usual emissions, so they instead are 'unusually' perceptive within our very own spectral range, with co-evolved plants suitably obliging them in the dance of mutual adaptation.)

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Thesh » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:29 am UTC

Freddino18 wrote:I am coming at this from the perspective of energy efficiency in the plants: what color pigment would absorb the most light given the orange color of the star?

Specifically, red algae (like seaweeds) are red because the primary color of incoming light is in the blue to blue-green area of the spectrum, making it inefficient to absorb red light. Thus, their pigmentation is red to compensate and absorb the most light.

Wow, that sounded really ungrateful. No offense intended, O Great One.


Black would be the most efficient, no matter what star you are orbiting. Chlorophyll being green is an example of evolution not leading to optimal outcomes; green is the most intense light the sun emits, but that is what is reflected by the plants instead of absorbed.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:08 am UTC

Yes, that would be most efficient, but that would also cause a significant decrease in carbon dioxide levels, which would tend to kill off those kinds of plants in the long run.

I really need to be more accepting to suggestions. I guess what I mean is that I want the most sustainably efficient pigmentation. Sorry for not making that clear. Also, black vegetation foreshadows a bit too much of what I plan for the story.

Based on soupspoon's reply, would dark-colored (under "normal" conditions) vegetation that appears bright blue under an artificial light source (like, say, the helmet lights of a "Space Marine" (couldn't think of a good name for that) sent to investigate a possible crash site) be a believable color scheme?
Last edited by Freddino18 on Wed May 03, 2017 8:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Thesh » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:21 am UTC

For bright blue, you could explain that the intense blue-spectrum light from the helmet triggers a photoluminescent compound.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:59 am UTC

I was going to mention bioluminescence, but it didn't seem to fit (having untapped energy sitting waiting to be activated by a hitherto far too rare occurance, only to then expend its energy into the environment).

But maybe the rarity (a molecule photo-activated by a high enough intensity of certain light to in turn luminesce in another 'rare' frequency) is the key. It's a normally stable energy-reserve compound, normally unbothered by the potential stability, and normally depleted only by slow-release re-enzymatic action or as an exceptional flash of distress that makes for a rapid signal of information between otherwise sessile plants.

The flash of a lightning bolt would surely set it off, and pass the secondary (triggered, but non-triggering) frequency of flash further through the canopy than just the "lightning observing" plants, but at least one extra distance away, to be picked up by the secondary frequency's equivalent photoreceptor biochemical pathway to communicate the possibility of forest fire (and/or rain, whichever is technically rarer in absolute effect) and thus best time the rapid maturation or dispersal of seedpods ready to exploit/wait out the event.


But I was, with the blue, really just thinking of a 'legacy' colour that was just what (within our own visible spectrum) ended up not playing a part in the adaptatively efficient-enough photosynthesising molecule used to mostly red-end energies.

Or there's structural colours, arisen for one strange reason or another, which would exhibit strong irridescence. (Whether the microstructures were 'intended' to be an anti-pest and/or fractally area-multiplied and/or any-other-reason feature that just happens to produce a visual effect under the explorer's artificially lit gaze... Though don't expect stunning viduals to have arisen without any actual selective pressures based upon the visuals... So a compatible back-story might need to be concocted. In line with details of the tale we might not yet be in a position to hear about, of course.)

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:35 am UTC

If you are going for absorption efficiency, you will need to consider that the appearance of a star to our eyes does not necessarily match the spectrum very well in power units. Ten short wavelength photos produce approximately the same intensity response in short cone cells that ten long wavelength photons produce in long cone cells, but the short wavelength photons obviously contain far more energy.

On the other hand, how well that energy is actually used in light-dependant reactions may be another thing altogether. And if energy in excess of a given threshold is "wasted" and heats the pigment instead, then evolving a pigment that reflects short wavelengths could be beneficial to avoid, say, water loss. Furthermore, the atmosphere and cellular membranes will absorb some light. And if the plants first evolved underwater (possibly not remotely pure water), that too would play a major role.

At the end of the day, there is a very large space for arguing that any particular color plant is perfectly plausible from an evolutionary standpoint. Our own biosphere demonstrates this. That was the point of my comment: we already represent a huge slice of the visible spectrum. As long as the leaves aren't white, I think you're in the clear.

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby ahammel » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:54 am UTC

Freddino18 wrote:Yes, that would be most efficient, but that would also cause a significant decrease in carbon dioxide levels, which would tend to kill of those kinds of plants in the long run.
I doubt it. It's really hard to get terrestrial plants to be CO2-limited unless you grow them in a bell jar. And even if they do run out of CO2 they don't die, they just stop growing. The plants produce CO2 as well, so you can't really scrub it out of the atmosphere entirely. The planet would just reach an equilibrium low-CO2 atmosphere.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:01 pm UTC

Ok, I would like to start this post with a Thank-you (for once) to everyone that replied to my question and subsequent clarifications. This has really helped me with the story that I was writing, and now I think I am able to continue on.

I think the lightning explanation would be perfect, especially the bioluminescent response, which would tend to give away the position of a certain group of soldiers...

ahammel wrote:
Freddino18 wrote:
Yes, that would be most efficient, but that would also cause a significant decrease in carbon dioxide levels, which would tend to kill of those kinds of plants in the long run.

I doubt it. It's really hard to get terrestrial plants to be CO2-limited unless you grow them in a bell jar. And even if they do run out of CO2 they don't die, they just stop growing. The plants produce CO2 as well, so you can't really scrub it out of the atmosphere entirely. The planet would just reach an equilibrium low-CO2 atmosphere.

True. On Earth, what is the primary source of atmospheric CO2 (discounting human activity)?

I am still only working on the rough draft of the story, so any other suggestions in this thread could still be incorporated in the story.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:20 pm UTC

Freddino18 wrote:On Earth, what is the primary source of atmospheric CO2 (discounting human activity)?

Can't vouch for its accuracy, but a quick search gives this chart...
Spoiler:
Image

Your world maybe not having quite so much ocean ("jungle planet" suggests, with perhaps some handwavium, the domination of land-based vegetation, even if it ranges from tropical jungle to some form of 'tundral' jungle, etc), the ocean-atmosphere exchange (perhaps from subaquatic respiration, but I'd have to follow a few links to find out) is probably not so much factor.

The rest is various forms of respiration. Animal-life, plant-life (their default metabolic respiration in the absence of light, e.g. at night) and the general pedospheric (soil-based) life processes. Surprised not to see forest fires mentioned anywhere on that.

On a jungle world (especially if you do want to take the preposition that lightning is well integrated into the cycle of life, somehow!) that might be a major component of the carbon-cycle (and other elemental cycles). Obviously not a continuous threat, or it would be more a scrublands-planet, but with some self-limiting factors (high moisture-masses in the jungle, as dynamic proxies to much of the non-existent oceanic reservoir of liquid water, the leaden skies and sodden soil doing their part to hold most of the remainder), a reburning cycle in an atmosphere with potentially raised oxygen levels could be transient but survivable threat to most of the surface. Hence the evolved warning (of impending fire and/or cloudbursting rain).


But I'm starting to design my own offshoot world, now (there are also vast tracts of peaty swamps, in lieu of shallow seas!), and I'd rather not distract you with such details if you're already getting your own applied-phlebotinum solution set in your mind...

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:38 pm UTC

Actually, I did say that this thread could be used for related discussions, so...
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:47 pm UTC

Feel free to continue.
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:54 pm UTC

I've been considering whether to aim for a particular end-point, or not. Or, rather, an end-line, as I'm trying to avoid an ID solution. Because otherwise, do I know where to stop extrapolating and call this "how it is, here and now"? (I'm also better at servicing other people's projects than running my own and herding my very own mental bag of cats.)

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:20 pm UTC

hmmm... Write down your problem, and then answer it in the same post. Also, once the cat is back in the bag, all you really need to do is come up with a creative way to skin it, right? No herding necessary.

I'm almost done with the rough draft, would you like me to post it?
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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby chenille » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:01 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Black would be the most efficient, no matter what star you are orbiting. Chlorophyll being green is an example of evolution not leading to optimal outcomes; green is the most intense light the sun emits, but that is what is reflected by the plants instead of absorbed.

It is possible, though, to absorb too much energy. You do get plants with darker leaves, and algae able to absorb more of the spectrum, in appropriate environments. But chlorophyll is basically a photosensitizer, and whatever energy is left after running the chemical processes you want can easily get transferred into damaging ones instead.

Producing other pigments helps quench this energy – a lot of algae that grow in places like snow and salterns are red or brown simply to protect themselves – but if you grow in a light-plentiful environment, it's probably cheaper not to absorb more than you need in the first place.

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Re: Plant Coloration On Exoplanets

Postby Freddino18 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:27 am UTC

Here is the story. It was 10 pages long in Google Docs, so I will split it into manageable chunks.

Spoiler:
Humanity was at war. After spreading beyond the nearby star systems, humans had encountered the Ashthocs, a belligerent race of squat, reptilian warriors. Hostilities immediately erupted, and both races were locked in a bitter struggle for survival. Neither species had been able to gain a foothold, and the Ashthocs seemed unwilling‒or unable‒to negotiate. Sergeant John Davis, an experienced soldier and leader, was the critical factor that decided the outcome of the conflict.
Sergeant Davis was about six feet tall, with short, brownish hair and light gray eyes. He wore a small, blue-green pendant on a chain around his neck. He was standing in front of a short, slightly pudgy man, who was seated at a desk. He was holding a sheet of paper labeled “Unit Assignments,” and there was a folder containing medical reports lying open in front of him.
“Sergeant Davis!”
“Yes, Captain Williams, sir?” John asked.
“Your unit is going to get a new soldier, to replace Private Jones while he recovers from his injuries,” said the captain.
“Thank you, sir!” he shouted. “Who is my new soldier, sir?”
“His name is Private Blake Connor,” the captain answered. “He is a highly skilled medic, but he is not very experienced in the field. He does show some promise, though.”
“Thank you, sir!” replied Sergeant Davis.
“You and your unit are being sent on a low-risk mission to let Private Connor get used to combat. Command has received a jumbled signal from an uninhabited planet. They believe that it may be from the survivors of a ship that disappeared from the area a couple of weeks ago. Their ship may have crash-landed. Your mission is to go and investigate, and rescue any survivors. I will send you the details. You are dismissed.”
Sergeant Davis left the room.

Spoiler:
As he walked toward his quarters, he fingered the pendant around his neck. It had belonged to his brother, Brian. His entire unit had been killed in an Ashthoc ambush. No trace of his body had been found, but the necklace was lying among the bodies of his fellow soldiers. After that, John vowed to destroy the Ashthocs, and so he joined the Sup4h L33t W4rri0rz. In the six months that followed, John had quickly come to enjoy battle.
Sgt. Davis arrived at his quarters, which he shared with the rest of his four-man team. For the past week, there had only been three occupied beds, but the empty bunk had a new duffel bag on it. Private Johnson and Private Tanner greeted him as he entered the door. A young recruit with dark hair and warm brown eyes was standing by his bunk, looking nervously at the soldiers around him.
“Are you Private Blake Connor?” asked John.
“Yes, sir,” Private Connor answered, awkwardly standing at attention.
“At ease.” Private Connor relaxed visibly at Sgt. Davis’ words. “You have been assigned to my unit to replace one of my men who was injured.” He addressed the entire unit. “We are being sent to investigate the site of a possible crash landing, and rescue any survivors we find. This is a relatively easy operation, to see how Private Connor performs in the field. We will be leaving tomorrow in a dropship going to one of the planets in this system, so I suggest you get some sleep.”
They climbed into bed, and quickly fell asleep. The next morning, they were loaded into a dropship, and sent to a hot jungle planet orbiting a large, orange star.
“Where are you from?” Private Tanner asked Blake.
“I’m from the Inner Colonies,” he replied.
“William here is from the Epsilon Eridani system, and rumor has it that Sarge is from one of the Outer Colonies,” said Private Johnson. “I’m from Mars. My name is Peter. I have a girl back home, but I only get her letters once or twice a month or so.” He turned away, looking a little wistful. “Do you have a girl back home?”
Private Connor replied, “No, not at home. She’s stationed out near the Orion Nebula, away from the main action. I wouldn’t let her sign up for the front lines. I hear that only one in three makes it back from there alive, and only one in ten of those do it without any major injuries.”
“It’s one in seven,” corrected Private Johnson. “The recruiters tell the potential recruits that so that more of them join. One in seven make it back, and one in thirty-one come home unharmed. It’s pretty brutal out there.”
“But the recruiters showed the numbers to prove it!” protested Connor.
“Yeah, there are sections of the front line that have that low of a casualty rate, but those are the outer reaches of the less contested systems, where humanity has a firm foothold. The Ashthoc-held systems are a virtual slaughterhouse, where only about one in twelve come back at all, and there is a hundred-to-one chance of returning without permanent injuries.”

Spoiler:
The pilot of the dropship announced that they would soon be arriving on the planet’s surface. As they prepared to deploy, the pilot came back over the radio. “Isn’t this planet supposed to be uninhabited?” he asked.
“What are you seeing?” asked Sergeant Davis.
“It looks like an artificial clearing, sir,” the pilot replied.
“That would be the crash site,” he said.
“Sir, this isn’t a crash site. I see no evidence of furrowing, but there are organized roads going between the denuded area and a smaller clearing. This looks like a settlement of some sort.”
“Why didn’t we know about this?” demanded Sgt. Davis.
“It’s too small, the satellites wouldn’t be able to pick it up” the pilot answered. “The resolution of those probes is only about five clicks per pixel.”
“Which clearing looks like there is a better shot for a landing?” asked Private Johnson.
“Actually, there is another clearing, not far away from the smaller one. I can use the active camo and get you in there. It’ll save you one helluva hike.”
“Do it,” said Sergeant Davis.
The pilot landed the craft in the clearing. He told Sgt. Davis to radio down when he needed to return to the ship.
“Okay, men. This is our stop.” Sergeant Davis exited the dropship, followed by the rest of his unit.
The pilot called out: “They probably know that you guys are in the area. I wasn’t very subtle about our reentry. However, they probably don’t know where exactly you guys are. Just a little insurance, in case the locals are… unfriendly.”

Spoiler:
The craft took off, leaving the soldiers to make their way to the smaller of the two clearings. Sergeant Davis consulted the map on his arm, then directed them to the northeast. The jungle was very warm, and they began to sweat.
“Why are the plants blue?” asked Private Johnson.
“You’ve noticed how the star is more orange than Earth’s Sun, right?” said Private Connor, glad to be able to show of some of his knowledge. “The plants on Earth are green because the Sun makes a lot of red and blue light, but not a lot of green. The plants here, however, do not get a lot of blue light, so they absorb more of the reds and yellows, making them appear blue.”
“Yes, but why are they only blue when we’re looking directly at them?”
“Watch closely,” said Private Connor. Soon, they started to notice seeds being shot energetically through the air.
“What are they doing?” asked Private Tanner.
“They think our headlamps are lightning,” said Sergeant Davis. “They are preparing for a forest fire so that they can quickly spread to the newly opened clearing. My cousin once did a study of the plant life in this system. Unfortunately, these could give us away to any unfriendly natives in the area. We are going to have to turn off our lamps.”
An Ashthoc’s energy pulse passed closely overhead, impacting a nearby tree. “It’s too late, they’ve already seen us. Firing positions!” ordered Sergeant Davis. The rest of the squad spread out and took up positions behind nearby trees.

Spoiler:
“Um, sir?” said Private Connor over the helmet radio.
“Yes, Private Connor?” asked John.
“Why do you abhor the Ashthocs so much?”
Sergeant Davis did not respond. Instead, he fired a few quick shots at the Ashthoc, forcing it to take cover behind a nearby tree. Private Tanner took the opportunity to advance to some better cover.
“Sarge doesn’t like talking about it,” he replied. “From what we could figure out, it seems like the Ashthocs killed his brother. He was a telecommunications technician, not even trained for battle. They say there wasn’t even a body to bury, just that pendant he wears around his neck.”
“That’s still no reason to go around killing them all,” said Private Connor.
Jake, who looked slightly uncomfortable about the conversation, fired again, hitting the Ashthoc in the lower torso. The wounded Ashthoc charged, unhampered, at his position, giving Private Tanner a chance to shoot it in the vulnerable spot in the middle of it’s heavily armored back. The Ashthoc, unwilling to realize that it was already dead, continued to crawl towards him.
“I hate this part,” said Private Johnson. “They sometimes follow you around for about ten minutes afterward. The rest of them have the decency to stay dead.” Private Tanner picked up the Ashthoc’s weapon.
The unit moved on, setting their visors to night vision mode. They encountered more Ashthoc scouts, quickly dispatching each one and collecting their weapons. As they approached the smaller of the two clearings, they began to hear the grunts of a large group of Ashthocs.

Spoiler:
“What do we do?” asked Private Connor.
“We need a diversion,” Sgt. Davis replied. “Private Tanner, go with Private Johnson to the other side of the clearing. Leave an incendiary remote detonator about halfway around. On my mark, trigger it, then wait for most of the Ashthocs to respond to the resulting fire. Once we are inside, we will detonate their weapons cache, and then we will move on to the second clearing.”
“Yes, sir!” they replied. After they left, John and Blake took up positions beneath a large, leafy plant. They waited until they heard a short burst of static over the radio, confirming that the other two were in position. Their leader replied with another burst of static, and they detonated the grenade. A few minutes passed before the Ashthocs noticed the smoke. By then, the fire had already spread to the nearby trees, showing no signs of going out. The air started to fill with smoke and flying seeds.
Sergeant Davis gave the signal to advance, then slowly walked into the clearing. It was filled with squat, pentagonal buildings, characteristic of Ashthoc barracks. “The armory will be in the center building,” he told Private Connor, firing his weapon at a few straggling Ashthocs. They dropped to the ground, unmoving. “We are going to go in, take what we need, and get out. They aren’t going to be happy, so we need to be fast, OK?”
Blake nodded. John fired at another Ashthoc, but missed. The projectile hit the reptilian alien’s weapon instead. He fired again, this time hitting it in the eye. It dropped to the ground, its weapon steaming. “That was close,” said the leader. “If I had hit just a bit to the left, its weapon would have detonated.”
“So that is how we are going to destroy their weapons, right?” asked Private Connor.
“Yes. No more talking until we meet up with the others.”

Spoiler:
They advanced from building to building, with John killing any Ashthocs in their path. When they were only two buildings away, one of the Ashthocs jumped at them, having been concealed by the thickening smoke. As John turned to dispatch it, another Ashthoc fired its weapon, hitting him on the shoulder. He finished them both off, then let Private Connor inspect the wound.
“Your armor protected you from the worst of it, but you have first-degree burns.” He applied a healing balm to the wound, then wrapped it and let Sergeant Davis put his armor back on. There was a new burn mark on the shoulder plate. The armor had many such marks, evidence of the warrior’s experience. “There you go. Don’t be too hard on it.”
Sergeant Davis grunted his response, then advanced again, showing no signs of the injury. When they got to the armory, they found the others there waiting for them.
“What took you so long?” asked William.
“Sergeant Davis was hit, and I had to patch him up,” answered Blake.
The team entered the building, quickly killing the guards and advancing further. They entered the main weapon storage room, which was filled with a variety of Ashthoc weapons. Private Tanner took a large, machine gun-like energy cannon from the wall.
“I think I will use this one,” he said, admiring the shining barrel.
Private Johnson took a careful look at some of the weapons, finally selecting a small pistol and some polyhedral objects which he identified as grenades. They continued to a smaller room, where Sergeant Davis selected a pair of swords with glowing blades. He put them into the loops on the sides of his belt, while Private Connor selected an arm-mounted shield device.
“Does everyone have what they need?” asked their leader. They all nodded, so he pulled out some explosive charges. They went back into the first room, and waited for him to place the explosives. He put one by the crate of grenades, and two more by the larger weapons near the door. “I set the timers for five minutes, which should give us enough time to get out, get to the edge of the clearing, and take cover.”

Spoiler:
They left the building. Outside, the smoke had thickened, making it hard to distinguish the objects in the clearing. An Ashthoc, thinking that they were a part of his unit, approached them. Seeing that its guard was down, John pulled out one of the swords and beheaded the unfortunate reptile. He grimaced, but continued on. When they reached the cover of the trees, they continued on for a while, then took cover beneath a fallen tree. They heard three small blasts in rapid succession, followed by three more increasingly large detonations. Sgt. Davis consulted their position on the map.
“We aren’t far from the road leading to the larger clearing. We’ll follow it to there, but we will stay in the trees about fifty yards from the path itself. I will take point, Private Johnson will be on the right, furthest from the trail. Private Connor, you and your shield will be between us and the road, and Private Tanner will bring up the rear.”
They took up their positions, then started to move. They now switched on their helmet lamps, as the vegetation was already glowing due to the fire. They made quicker progress this time, helped by their leader’s dual swords, which he used to clear them a path. They were passed once by a vehicle headed the other way, but they were not spotted. When they arrived at the edge of the larger clearing, they saw that the buildings were a mix of shapes. The nearest one had seven sides, but the remaining buildings ranged from having six sides to twenty, and in the center was a perfectly circular building. It was taller than the other buildings they had encountered, and there was what looked like a radio dish mounted on the roof.
Sergeant Davis, who was familiar with Ashthoc architecture, did not recognize the circular building, but he knew that the seven-sided one was a nursery. “Peter, throw one of those grenades in there,” he commanded. Private Johnson obeyed, but Private Connor seemed uncomfortable with the decision. Sergeant Davis, seeing his reaction, said “I know it is not very honorable, but it’s necessary. If we don’t kill them now, someone else is going to have to kill them later. We’re doing the right thing.” He seemed to be trying to convince himself.
They continued towards the circular building. They felt as if they were being watched, but no Ashthocs appeared. “I don’t like this,” said Peter. “Where did all of the guards go?”
Nobody replied. They entered the building, being careful not to make a sound. They heard the sound of two Ashthocs conversing, and advanced towards it. The next room was full of computer equipment, and bore a heavy resemblance to human technology. Sergeant Davis continued, and the others followed. He pulled out his gun, ready to shoot the enemy soldiers.

Spoiler:
They passed through another doorway. Beyond it was a large, circular room, located in the center of the building. There was a circle of computers, displaying a mix of human and Ashthoc characters. Surrounding the computers were a mix of Ashthocs and humans, absorbed by their work. One of the humans spotted them, and screamed. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and instantly froze when they saw the soldiers’ weapons.
John’s hands were shaking. He was pointing his weapon at the nearest Ashthoc, but found himself unable to pull the trigger. “Wha-what is going on?” he asked.
One of the technicians stood up and started to smile. “Hey, John. It’s been a while. How have you been doing?”
“Brian? Is it really you?”
“I missed you so much. I hope I didn’t make you worry about me too much,” said the sergeant’s brother.
“I thought you were dead!” replied Sgt. Davis. He ordered his men to lower their weapons, and Brian explained to them how the Ashthocs were attempting to establish peaceful communications with the humans. John told him that they were close, explaining the purpose of their mission to the planet. John then called the pilot of the dropship and told him to come get them in the main clearing. Brian said that he would be unable to join them, he was still needed to help with the communication equipment.

Spoiler:
The dropship arrived, and the two brothers said farewell. They were taken back to the starship, where Captain Williams debriefed them. After the rest of his unit left, Sergeant Davis stayed behind to make a request.
“Captain Williams, sir?”
“What’s on your mind, soldier?” the pudgy man replied.
“I was wondering if it would be possible to put me on the team that makes contact with the Ashthocs, sir. I know I have no experience, sir, but I–”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he interrupted, smiling.
Junior Communications Officer John Davis turned on the computer.
“Hey, Johnny! Good to see you again,” said Brian.
“How’s the food? Still terrible?”
“It’s improving, but I still wouldn’t feed it to a starving dog.”
They laughed. Negotiations with the Ashthocs were going very well, and several trade agreements were being discussed.


That is a coincidence. I did not plan on splitting it into ten chunks.

Edit: This is the original. In the copy I sent to my teacher, I named the Sup4h L33t W4rri0rz the Interplanetary Space Administration.

Edit: What should I title this?
Cautiously pessimistic.
Avatar buddies with Lavender
Tillian wrote:Holy necro!
morriswalters wrote:Low pressure on the balls
Jumble wrote:No, I have testicles, the traditional alternative.
i aint a robot
RAPTOR BLENDERS!


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