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Concept Art Writing Prompt: Space Dinosaurs!

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: Space Dinosaurs!

For this week's writing prompt, we're going simple: Space Dinosaurs. That's dinosaurs from space, dinosaurs in space, or dinosaurs with space-faring dreams. Get your fingers typing and come up with your best flash fiction tale of space dinosaurs.

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We've had space dinosaurs on the brain for the last few months. When researchers weren't proposing the possibility of technologically advanced dinosaurs, we were listening to rock operas about dinosaurs enslaved by killer alien robots. Now it's time to come up with your own story about space dinosaurs, and we offer up this whimsical illustration by Logan Faerber, via Design You Trust.

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Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: Space Dinosaurs!

As always, please post your story in the comments. Here's mine:

I folded my arms across my chest. "No," I told Connors. "Nuh-uh. Not happening."

Connors pried one of my hands free and stuffed the work order in my hand. I felt the paper crinkle in my fist, wishing it were stiff enough to cut into my palm. "You don't have a choice here," he said. "Brock passed zero-grav training and the brass want him up at Branson Orbital ASAP. That means he needs a suit."

"What good is a fucking longneck going to do them up on Branson?" I asked. "Are there lightbulbs up there no one else can reach?"

Connors frowned. "You better cool it with the L-word, Mar. We're going zero-tolerance."

"Let them fire me!" I pitched the order onto my desk. It bounced once on the spiderweb-reinforced rubber I was playing with for the next generation of Belt miners' uniforms, then came to a rest. I supposed that meant I had accepted the job. I sighed. "We never should have given them the uplift. If God had meant for dinosaurs to fly, he would have given them shorter fucking necks."

Connors reached out and tweaked my shoulder. "While you're at it, you better brush up on your robotic limbs. We've just enrolled a Tyrannosaur, and she's a goddamn genius. Be up in the air in fifteen months, tops."

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remyporter
Remy Porter

"Is it still out there?" The radio crackled in Bront's ear. "Bront? She's not answering. Pterry, she's not answering. Oh Deathrock, it got her!"

Bront huffed into her helmet. "It didn't get me. I'm sitting out here, very still, hoping it doesn't spot me. And this is really uncomfortable."

The first Saurian mission to Mars wasn't going well. It had started fine, but it was only after they started their little flags and footprints routine that they understood that something much older, in evolutionary timelines, had beaten them to the planet.

Bront glanced over to the east, where Rex's body still smoldered in the thin Martian air. She had no idea what those missiles were loaded with, that they could keep oxidation going without any oxygen, but that wasn't the biggest problem right now. She glanced up to the sky, careful to not move her neck and draw attention to herself. Nope, it was still there.

Only moments ago, Rex had strode down off the landing ramp, jammed the Pangean flag into the ground, and turned to Bront's camera. "This is one small step for a Tyrannosaur, and one giant leap for- GAAAAAAKHBOOMDEATH".

That last bit was when the missiles hit their target.

It had attacked out of the sun. Feeble as it was, this far from Earth, it was still more than bright enough to obscure their assailant. It was only after Bront dove for cover that she could make out what it was.

They had been ambushed by a shark wearing a jetpack. It still had to wear a helmet, just like they did, making its teeth useless, but it had supplemented that weakness by mounting a brace of missiles under each pectoral fin, and a heavy duty cannon along its ventral midline. The jetpack nestled around its dorsal fin. It was a flying machine of death.

The rest of the crew dove back into the ship, but before Bront could join them, a barrage of cannon fire drove her to the cover of rocks nearby. As the shark looped back around, Bront tried again, only to have a bullet graze her life support pack. She froze.

And that's how she still sat. Her red suit blended in well with the Martian terrain, and the shark's eyes were looking for signs of movement. "So, Stegly, how am I going to get back to the ship?"

"We're going to have to wait until the shark leaves."

"I can't, Steggly. My pack was hit and I'm leaking air. I'm going to suffocate if I don't get back in the ship fast."

"Well, it's not like we have any weapons, Bront. We didn't expect that the sharks had beat us here. What do you want us to do?"

Bront huffed again. Rex had been the leader. Rex would have had a plan ready to go. It would have been dashing, and daring, and probably gotten someone killed. Someone in a red spacesuit, with Bront's luck. So it was probably good that Rex wasn't here. She'd have to do the planning herself.

"Okay, here's what I need you guys to do…"

It didn't take long to explain the plan. The ship was armored against micrometeors, so bullets and even missiles wouldn't be a threat. With a barely audible rumble, the hydrogen peroxide rockets kicked over and sprayed dust and flame all over the Martian rock. It lifted off. The shark, like sharks are wont to do, attacked. Bullets and missiles flew. In the confusion, Bront did a diving roll towards where the ship had been sitting. As they lifted off, Pterry had thrown a spare life support pack clear of the rocket blast. As the battle raged above, Bront quickly swapped the connections between the packs. She had drilled this a thousand times back on Pangea. It went without difficulty.

Above her, the engines died. That wasn't part of the plan. She didn't have to glance up to see the shadow of the ship growing. She backpedaled away, unbalanced by having to carry two life support packs. The falling ship landed on her tail. She ignored the pain and looked for the shark. There it was, diving in for the final kill. Her forepaw lashed out for the one other thing Pterry had thrown from their ship. She fumbled for it as the bullets started to rain down on the ground next to her. Her pulse raced when she finally closed a forepaw around the grappling gun, packed to help them climb through the Tharsis Bulge.

Pinned by the damaged ship, Bront rolled over and fired from her back. It was awkward. Trying to hit a rapidly moving target from that angle was nearly impossible, but luck was on Bront's side. The grappling hook tucked itself right between the shark's body and fuel tank.

From there, it was simply a function of raw mass. Bront held onto the grappling gun like it was the only thing keeping her from falling into the abyss. Newtonian physics had its way, and when the shark hit the end of the line, it started to curve. The line tangled itself around the ship, and within the space of a single, ragged, breath, the shark slammed into the Martian turf, only a few tail-lengths away from where Rex's body lay. When the fireball cleared, a reddish smear was barely visible against the reddish terrain.

Bront sighed. Hopefully Pterry and Steggly were okay. Hopefully the ship wasn't seriously damaged. Hopefully the rapidly fading pain in her tail wasn't a sign that it would need to be amputated. Hopefully somebody'd get out here and help her get unpinned before the shark's friends showed up to finish what they started. But for the moment, she just needed to catch her breath.