"So this is the place," I mutter to myself as I look out the viewport of my shuttle, drifting lazily toward the beautiful green planet. I can practically smell the humans there already-- At least, what I imagine they smell like, carbon dioxide with a nitrogen after-burn. The plentiful water on their planet reminds me of home... I think for a moment of the perfect blue planet I left behind, all my friends-- Well, not friends per se, but colleagues, anyway-- who are now untold lenics away from me. It makes me sad for a moment, but as I glance over to my book, Earthlings for the Average Quiznarp by Dr. Zaylr, I shake it off and grin. Earth is where I really belong, and I'm going to enjoy my trip there as much as I can, with no regrets.
I sigh. Breaking the atmosphere of the planet will take a nauseating ride. My stomach, like most of my body, is soft, and perhaps not meant to be jiggled this much. Yet I will not deny my curiosity, and I cannot deny physics. I hold my breath and plunge my steering lever down.
Despite my being braced, the forward movement is still far faster than I can call comfortable. It takes mere seconds before I enter the planet's atmosphere, which I hit with a shocking jolt that sends my amorphous body quivering. Perhaps I should have taken the form of something more durable before embarking on this part of the journey, but it is too late now. My capsule grows warmer and warmer as my shuttle descends, and I wonder for a moment if the heat might kill me before the shaking does. Closing my eyes as tight as I can, I curl my tail around the rest of my body and hope for the best.
Maybe I shouldn't have bought the shuttle that was on discount. I shake my head. The surface of this world is jumping up at my face at a rate of at least thirty lenics an hour, and I turn the vessel towards the water, which, to my surprise, looks larger the closer to it I go. The book says this planet is less than twenty percent water. Strange... I suppose the book may not be correct. I'm sure it is just this one thing; Books are always correct. I must remember to send a hologram to Zaylr once I get back home. My thoughts are interrupted as the vessel hits the water and bounces back up to the surface, floating. I wonder in which atmospheric layer I left my stomach.
I sit for a moment, stunned by the impact. And then it slowly dawns on me-- I'm on Earth! For the first time in my life, in all of my people's history, one of our kind is actually on Earth. I press the button to unseal the capsule, and as the hatch hisses open, I squeeze out out of the capsule-- I want to breathe the earthly air.
My senses are assaulted as I wriggle free of my shuttle. The first thing I notice is the burning sensation on my skin as I touch the water, followed by the harsh scent of the air. I am not so sure that I will be able to swim to shore in this saline substance. I may need to activate the sailing mode on my shuttle. It's pretty solidly cloaked, as the earthlings are known to shoot at foreign objects. Still, it may be seen from the shoreline. I sigh and climb back into my ship, attempting to steer unseen to the nearest shore.
As I slide back into a comfortable position, I check the silvery blue scanner mounted to my flipper for wildlife. I see large gatherings of the humans on the various beachfronts, all a few lenics away. I'm searching for something more remote, yet close enough to their cities that I won't have to wiggle to far on land. I locate a small cove about a quarter lenic away from my current position. I decide that will do and steer towards it, no one notices me as I climb ashore. Looking about, I don't see any humans on the surrounding stretch of beach. Good, I suppose, considering that I have no idea what their reaction would be to my unaltered form. I see a structure, a building that looks slightly deteriorated, yet it could be of use. I wander in that direction.
As I move toward the structure, I ponder what quiznarp of a human named the thing. They call it a 'building,' but construction was finished long ago-- Shouldn't they call it a 'built?' I decide to adopt the term, as it's far more logical. Perhaps I can improve on humanity, as well as observe it! Once I am inside,I realize this built is darker than I expected and my eyes are not adjusted. I keep walking without concern. That is, until I hit my face. Then, I'll admit, I grow slightly concerned. Whatever I hit wobbles a moment from the impact, then falls down with a crash. Still too dim to see much, I slide over to the object to get a better look. It's oddly shaped, with a central trunk that branches off to several protrusions-- Five, I think, a short round one on top, and four longer ones to either side and on the bottom.
It takes me a moment to determine what this strange thing is, and then I remember what I read in my book about humans, and the description matches what Dr. Zalyr said he thought they'd look like. A thrill quivered through my body-- I just touched a human! Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to mind, it just continues to lie there stiffly, unmoving. I am not even sure that it is breathing. Unfazed, I beam and begin my transformation, my limbs lengthening and my portly body elongating, my antennae shrinking back and my muscle mass reducing and bones forming. Even my scanner adjusted to my new form, enlongating and stretching to fit what was now my wrist. I am not any longer a mass of muscle, I am now a vertebrate. I attempt to stand, flailing around and falling over; this body is very different.
As I struggle to control this strange body enough to stand, I get a better look at the human who lays on the floor in front of me. It's even stranger than I imagined them looking, with plastery white skin and an incredibly stiff posture. I look to its face and notice its strange lack of features, only smooth indents and bevels where the olfactory and visual organs are located. Feeling over my own new face, I find it to be identical-- Just the way I want it. Now I'm one of them, and they'll never notice that I'm not really human!
I look around, wondering if there would be anything else I need in here... ah! Humanoids are constantly wrapped in textiles! I pick up an oddly fuzzy textile from the floor surface and wrap myself in it. Though the top side is pleasantly soft, the bottom is coated in some rubbery material, probably to help it stick to my skin.Though not particularly comfortable to my tastes, this should suffice. I look around some more and find other pretty things: brightly colored quadrilaterals and elongated rectangles splashed with floral patterns. I'm attracted to the dazzling hues, much brighter than anything from my homeworld. I drape them over my shoulders. I am not sure what any of them are used for, are they ritualistic wear? My people have no use for these things. Do they eat them? They do not taste edible. I hope that they do not-- If they do, I do not wish to vacation here much longer. But, before I conclude anything, I must test how well I have done. I am entirely humanoid now. I am sure I will be accepted.
I glance back at the human on the floor, momentarily concerned-- Why was it just lying there? Then I recall what Dr. Zaylr wrote about the human state called 'sleep,' and decide that must be what was happening. It was hard to track, this 'sleep' thing, from our asteroid satellite monitoring earth, so Dr. Zalyr could not write much about it. I must remember to mention it in my travel logs once I find out more. I exit the built, still moving a little clumsily, but I am starting to get the hang of this 'walking' thing. Now that I'm sure they will accept me, I feel I must go out to interact with them. But where will they be? I remember seeing some further down the beach when I first landed, so I head in that direction, eager to meet these humans I've always dreamt of meeting. Though it's only been a few hours, this is already the best vacation ever.