Commander Humperdinck grimaced as he fired photon-rockets from his shoulder mounted, heavy light-bazooka. White trails arced over the carnage of the Andesian Royal Hall and exploded into multi-coloured sparks that sent vegetable men sprawling in all directions. The hall filled with the stench of vegetarian roast dinner.
Not for the first time, Commander Humperdinck cursed the bureaucrats at the Star League. Why were they sending men - good men - to explore newly discovered planets unprepared and underfunded? They should have known that planet Andesia was inhabited by armed and dangerous men. Plant men. With wooden skin, twiggy arms and leafy, green hairstyles.
|Image: Daniel Parks|
THE QUEEN OF THE ANDES
Bromeliads are a family of plants most famous for their spiky leaves, pineapples and all the species that live high up on the branches of trees in the Amazon, providing little pools of water for poison dart frog tadpoles to live in.
The Queen of the Andes usually exists as a kind of gigantic pom-pom of spiky leaves. Each leaf is like a cruel sword, edged with hooks to defend the Queen's person from attacks by herbivores. Those traitorous herbivores!
|Image: Pepe Roque|
Never tell a queen she looks like an enormous fertility monument
Now an enormous flower spike grows up to 10 metres (32.8 ft) tall. It's covered in more than 8,000 whitish green flowers that turn purple with age. It's a great time for local hummingbirds, for the Queen is most bountiful and most charitable.
|Image: Eric Hunt|
The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen, hopefully.