Today’s prompt and DeviantArt link.

While elves and dwarves, and trolls and Templar knights, and Viking villages were all strange encounters, they were nothing compared to our most unusual encounter here on Themis, When the recon flights went over the south polar land mass, which we began calling Antarctica, one of the crews caught sight of a large cavern entrance. General Gail Ward, now designated expedition leader by the default of being the highest ranking flag officer on Themis versus the ones who remained on the Aldrin, decided to take no chances and immediately ordered the two Artemis dropships to carry the SOF teams to check out this cavern.

Since almost everything we’ve encountered planetside seems to be more dangerous than anything we’ve encountered in space, the mission commander requested Gemini aerospace fighter support. Banana and I got the call for this latest mission.

“Atlas, are you reading this,” she asked from the wiso seat as we made a pass over the large opening of the cavern.

“I’m seeing it, but not believing it,” was my reply from the pilot controls as we passed well closer to that massive entrance than we probably should have. I and the other Gemini pilot could have flown both planes side by side into that entrance without touching each other or the walls.

“How do you want to play this, Poker,” I called over the radio to the other Gemini pilot, Captain Amanda Card.

“Poker says we’ll take the high road, you take the low road, and we’ll see what happens,” came the response from her wiso Vinnie, Lieutenant Paul Vaugn.

We flew our passes by the cavern opening as Colonel Will Martin took his spec ops teams inside. His como, Sgt Brandi Stuart, joined our conversation in the sky outside as the team delved deeper into the cave system. “Bossman says keep you posted just in case,” came her introduction into the radio net.

“Roger that Stu,” both Gemini crews replied back. Our part of this mission seemed it would be and remain uneventful. Stuart’s side of the conversation mostly involved her describing cavern hallways and dark shadows as the SOF teams moved towards whatever their exploration target would be.

Her descriptions cut off with an intake of breath as she was describing a large cavern room where the SOF teams had just started to use lights for a better view. When her voice returned to the radio net, we heard, “we now know why that cavern opening is so big.” And then going silent before adding, “I hope for all our sakes, no one wakes it up.”

“It”, both wisos asked over the radio at the same time.

There was silence in answer. After several tense minutes, at least on the Gemini fighter end of the conversation, a barely audible whisper added, “big” and a few seconds later “dragon”.

“Figures” came Poker’s reply over the radio. “Meets the expectations I’ve had for this planet since we first came down here.”

“Uh, guys,” Stuart said before adding, “we now know where all the 10 mm sockets go when they disappear.”

“Repeat that last,” Banana requested.

“Big dragon on a big pile of 10 mm sockets”, came the answer from Stuart.

“Like how big a pile? How many?” Banana asked.

“I honestly think all of them. Ever. Since the first usage of the 10 mm socket on Earth. Or possibly anywhere”, was the answer.

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