Space: The Fungal Frontier
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away from... every other galaxy, circling a star called Ganlargo, which was in turn far, far away from every other star in this galaxy, there was a planet called Ganlarevia. Ganlarevia was covered in dense jungles and fetid swamps and it was home to a fantastic assortment of lifeforms, some beautiful, weird and wonderful. Most however were pretty ugly, if not downright repulsive. Perhaps the most repulsive of all were the Ganlarev, a race of carnivorous tentacled fungi after whom the planet was named. To say that the Ganlarev smelled bad was to push understatement to its limits. The Ganlarev would stun their prey by their overpowering stench, then feed on their still-living flesh before they could recover.
This may have explained why other stars seemed to give Ganlargo such a wide berth.
Even the Ganlarev themselves could not stand each other's malodorous company, preferring complete isolation from one another. Fortunately, Ganlarevian reproduction was by means of air-borne spores and could be accomplished over vast distances, the sort of distances which the Ganlarev liked to keep between themselves and their nearest neighbours.
Ganlarevian was an unusual language, being entirely communicated by smell. Subtle nuances of odour could be detected by the Ganlarev's hyper-senitive olfactory systems over enormous distances. Politics on Ganlarevia was therefore an inescapable facet of life. When a local politician made a speech, you couldn't ignore it. It got everywhere. In fact a trained Ganlarev orator could communicate with most of the planet's population without the aid of any technology whatsoever.
The current President of Ganlarevia, known universally as Paggro the Pungent, was making a speech at this very moment. It was a historic speech, a speech that held significance not just for Ganlarevian society, but for the entire galaxy. The Ganlarev had just perfected interstellar travel.
"Citizens of Ganlarevia" boomed out Paggro the Pungent.
Those unfortunate enough to live nearest to the presidential palace swooned from the shock, their faces melting in the noisome blast.
"Today is a historic day for our race!"
Much clapping, mostly of tentacles over olfactory sensors.
"Today our starships hover on the brink of a new era! Today we begin our quest to seek out new worlds. Ganlarevia, as you are all too aware, has grown too small for us. We are forced today to live desperately close to one another, a state of affairs I know we all regard with horror and dismay."
Howls of agreement from around the planet.
"But I have a dream, fellow-citizens! I dream of a day when the Ganlarev will all be able to live as far from one another as we wish. I personally am dreaming of a small, swamp-infested moon on the far side of the galaxy. Preferably all to myself. Such dreams, I believe, are the right of every citizen of Ganlarevia."
"We may encounter other alien races on our quest..."
Gasps of horror.
"... but probably not."
Sighs of relief.
"Our scientists have investigated this matter, and assure us that such a possibility is remote. We are almost certainly alone in our galaxy."
"Today, my friends, a virgin galaxy awaits us!"
The cheering went on for days. Sadly, however, the Ganlarevian scientists were wrong. As we all know, there are always other alien races out there waiting to be encountered. Those who were unfortunate enough to share their galaxy with the Ganlarev were in for a terrible shock.
Life would never be the same again.