Mothership would chuck the terraforming crew out one by one, their bodies curled inside the furled exoskeletons of the octopi, and send them skipping across the atmosphere like rocks on a pond. Eventually, they sank and hit dirt. Planetside again.

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The octopi could walk across a slippery sand pile bigger than most oceans on a regular planet, but they couldn't scale a mountain. That's where the laser cannons came in. Autonomous and occasionally opinionated, they cut through foothills and towering ranges, leaving a perfect tube behind. The terraformers would walk through, enjoying the miles without blistering sun. Cold, potable water seeped down from the summits and streaked the tunnel walls.

When the purifiers and cultures and tree factories had been switched on, it was time to head back to mothership. They'd wash up, but it didn't matter. Next week they'd be hitting dirt again.

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These images are by Los Angeles concept artist Scott Robertson. See more on his blog, Drawthrough Jr. (spotted on Concept Ships)