This basically appeared in my fanmail with a winky face.
You people know I can never resist things like this, damn you all. Damn you all.
Planet CH4R73S was a fairly recent discovery, courtesy of a brand-spanking-new spectrograph. He was found serenely orbiting a red dwarf star about twenty light years away.
Researchers had affectionately dubbed him ‘Charles’.
Charles had always been a bit of a gossip, but either way, it was hard to miss the whispers amongst the planets and stars these days. The humans are watching us, they said. They are coming.
He wasn’t particularly concerned. Charles had a certain cousin-once-removed residing in a distant solar system, and according to Mars - his cousin, that is - the humans mostly sent over a little creature to potter about on their surfaces, and that was that. It wasn’t any trouble apart from a slight tickle, and if one was lucky, the tiny ambassador could turn out to be an excellent conversationalist.
Other planets, however, weren’t half as easy-going as Charles. A certain Planet ER1KL3N5 (or ‘Erik’, as the humans were calling him), for instance, was fully convinced it was only a matter of time before the humans came and colonised them all.
“And they won’t do it nicely,” Erik had said, as Charles tutted. “They’re doing a fantastic job at ruining their own planet, to start with.”
It was a constant source of argument between them, which Charles found extremely off-putting. As surly as the planet was, Charles liked Erik, and he suspected that Erik rather liked him too.
At the moment, however, he had more pressing concerns in the form of an asteroid in the distance.
“Oh,” Charles said, “oh dear.”
“What?” Erik said sharply, “humans?”
“No, no,” Charles sighed. The asteroid was drawing nearer. “Look to your left. That doesn’t look very promising.”
Erik looked. He swore.
“No need to panic,” Charles called over Erik’s curses, “happens to the best of us.”
“You should move.”
“That would mean letting it hurtle through the children. None of them are large enough to withstand the impact; it’d utterly wreck them. What if it hits Raven?”
Erik still looked mutinous. Charles sighed.
“It’s fine, really. It just looks like a rather big one, so I might be out of commission for a bit…but I think I’ll be all right, if a little under the weather.”
“Not,” Erik said stubbornly, “if I have anything to say about it.”
It happened too quickly for Charles to protest. Erik swerved dangerously, careening into the path of the asteroid - the blinding flash that followed made Charles cry out, both in alarm and concern. It lasted only a brief, core-freezing moment, before fading into empty space.
Erik looked shaken, but otherwise intact.
“You’re hurt,” Charles murmured, after a long moment.
“I’ve had worse.”
“You didn’t have to -“
“Don’t be a fool, you’re smaller than I am. It’d have ruined you, and you know it.”
“I suppose,” Charles admitted, before smiling faintly. “Thank you, Erik.”
Erik grunted in acknowledgement. He’d have to write to Mars soon, Charles thought. Hopefully, he’d put him in touch with Saturn - the cosmos knew he needed advice on getting Erik to put a ring on it.
…I am am so sorry for the pun.