Burrubu blinked. Awake. He blew out, his lips quivering quickly against each other, prrrrr. He felt tired. Weeks of limbo do that to a fellow.

But no matter. They had arrived, obviously, and he had a job to do. He unwrapped his tentacles from around his body and pulled himself out of the cushiony, green bed. He swung himself from beams to the control station and synced his biochip with the ship, rocking slightly from his tentacles as he connected.

After checking the ship's status and that of his sleeping shipmates, he swung over to the door. He ran two of his tentacles around the circular door, and then grabbed it and twisted. It moved, but only a little. Burrubu's mind filled with everything that could go wrong—he knew he hadn't gotten the calculations wrong; he had double-checked and double-checked and used the very best artificial minds to do it—but he eliminated each option.

"Ship," he said, "open the door."

The door twisted open a little more. And stopped.

One of his tentacles spun in alarm and irritation. He synced to the ship, heard its dismal report, winced, and went back to staring mournfully at the door. A second later, his lips shook as he sighed. He would have to wake everyone up. Bother.

He would really rather wait to wake everyone up, as he was least senior and would probably not be allowed to go out first. He had dreamed about it—to be the first to step onto this beautiful, virgin world. They had video montage, of course, and readings, data, and all the other things that made the scientists drool, but that wasn't the same as seeing it oneself. But they were going to have to use brute force to open the door, and he didn't have the authorization.

Unless, Burrubu thought, I could build something . . .

When he finally got the door open using an elaborate construction involving scavenged robotic parts, he twisted his tentacles into tight spirals, ecstatic. It had worked! He wasn't usually allowed to build things, as he was least senior and least intelligent, but since there was no one awake he could do whatever he liked.

"Burrubu," a voice rumbled, warningly.

He twisted around, still hanging from the beam near the door.

"Master—Master Mewramoo," he stuttered. "You're awake?"

"The ship was instructed to wake me if you did anything untoward. Which," he added, waving a long tentacle at the contraption, "you obviously have."

"Sorry, sir," Burrubu mumbled.

He waved the tentacle in a generous motion. "No matter. I see no reason why you cannot be the first, if you desire it so much."

Burrubu blinked.

"Go!" The Master ordered.

It didn't occur to Burrubu that there might be reasons that the Master was sending him first; he was too excited to care. He took his time pulling himself out, and gasped with wonder at the sight of the new world. It was absolutely beautiful. Different, of course, but in an exotic way.

He pulled himself out of the ship all the way. Oomph. He felt like he had fallen from a tall tree mid-swing. Why did he feel so heavy? His lungs heaved. The air tasted different. He swayed, lightheaded, and toppled. Oomph, again. He pushed himself back up with his tentacles.

Master Mewramoo stuck his head out of the ship. He eyed Burrubu, and said something over his shoulder. Burrubu heard his shipmates whacking the ship with their tentacles, laughing. Apparently Mewramoo had wakened them. He pulled himself laboriously back into the ship, and collapsed on the ground. He didn't even have the strength to hang from the beams, like the others.

Burrubu was still smarting from Mewramoo's trickery later that day. He was ignoring the others and playing with the spy-scopes when the curious looking creatures he was examining burned up.

He yelped and glared at the person next to him. "Why'd you do that?"

"Just checking the undergrowth ray," she replied primly.

Burrubu sighed, annoyed. "I was examining the local wildlife. For all you know, you just wiped out a vitally important species."

"Not likely. Look past them."

Burrubu looked and saw hordes of the creatures, swarming this way and that. Hmm, he thought, watching them as they scrambled madly, they might make an interesting research topic. Maybe they'd even name the species after him . . .