General Jones watched as machinery thudded onto the surface. When the Imperium had first discovered this planet, a small lush rock circling a red giant, it was little more than a footnote in the ledgers of discovery. Probes gathered core samples, and categorized the various forms of life, including a lilliputian creature that had been labeled XNC-1662, marking it as an alien creature of no concern.
The planet had a strange imbalance of plant to animal species, with XNC-1662 the predominant animal by a wide margin. They often arranged themselves into intricate line art patterns as they travelled. To Jones it was a curiosity, nothing more.
Unfortunately for XNC-1662, the algorithms had discovered the planet contained a solid core of an element valuable to the Imperium. He had been assigned to supervise the harvesting of the planet, and being a little old school, had insisted on being planet side to oversee the initialization of the terraformers. Not much more than massive rock crushers, the robotic machines would reduce the planet to harvestable rubble in short order.
General Jones inhaled deep, and smiled as he signaled for the scout ship to activate the terraformers, and return to orbit. Instead of the expected cacophony of noise, there was only silence. The terraformers and scout ship remained quiet and still.
“What’s going on!” General Jones demanded.
“I don’t know, sir. The controls are jammed.”
Instrument panels began to glitch into darkness as armies of tiny creatures poured in from every seam of the ship. Line by line they marched, devouring all in their path, metal, glass, plastic, everything. The ship lurched hard to one side, as the landing gear collapsed. Burning lines of fire knifed up the inside of the General’s legs.
In short order XNC-1662 would reduce the aliens to harvestable compost.