In the morning we headed out together to scout an area northeast of our bases. Neither of us have explored that direction earlier because of the challenging mountainous terrain. We both have sniper rifles constructed now, and Timo said to me, “What we’ll do is stop at the top of each peak, and use our scopes to see as much as we can. Just keep an eye on your sensors to watch for any drones approaching.”
We traversed three mountains before we detected an alien structure on the peak of the next one. Looking through my scope, I said, “The facility looks like it could be an abandoned research center.” My assessment was based on the extensive windows and modular style of architecture.
“Yeah, it appears undefended,” he agreed. “It looks safe; let’s go check it out.” We approached cautiously and were harassed by a drone, just as we arrived at the structure. Timo sniped it and examined its wreckage to salvage anything useful from it. I checked my PDA again–this is the tallest peak we’ve seen on Akua–but it still has no long-range signal.
Timo took a few steps toward me, and right then a small vessel carrying ground troops flew in from the south. We began firing on it as soon as it was in range, and it was severely damaged by the time it passed over my head. I continued to shoot, and it would’ve taken just one or two more rounds to disable that ship. It dropped down on the north side of the mountain peak, and I followed because I knew I could finish it off.
I heard Timo shout, “Get back! Get back!” but it was too late. I reached the edge and took aim at the vessel, and was teleported 20 meters away by the emergency teleporter that I just installed in my base the other day. “What happened?” he asked as I returned.
I told him about the teleporter and apologized for not telling him sooner. That was stupid of me! The teleporter is able to detect when my spacesuit is damaged, and I’m sent to a nearby location with a repaired suit. All of my gear fell in the spot I would’ve died though, and it’s too valuable to leave it behind.
I gave Timo the co-ordinates and access code for him to use the teleporter if he needed to. He thanked me and said, “I thought I just saw you vaporized by a laser turret… There’s a spaceport down below–in the valley–and the turret does terrible damage!” He provided cover for me while I followed his orders: stay low, grab my gear and retreat. The turret hit me again on several attempts, while Timo successfully killed the ground troops that were defending the spaceport.
Finally I retrieved my gear when the turret blasted a crater beside it, and I was able to take cover in it while I collected my stuff. I made it back up the slope and heard the gunshots stop. Timo was hit too, and told me to leave while I could. I followed his order again, but it felt horrible to leave him behind, without any assistance to get his own gear back.
“I have to give up,” he told me through the communicator. I stopped and waited for him to catch up with me, then we rushed back to his base. “Thanks again for building a teleporter for us,” he said. “We would’ve died there.”
I replied, “I’m sorry I didn’t wait for your orders back there. None of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t gone after the troop transport.”
He shook his head and told me, “I’m not your commanding officer anymore–we’re in this together. We’re a team now.”
It was emotionally overwhelming to hear him say that. This day was so intense, and I’ve been feeling such strong things. I also feel less and less like an ensign of Dreschner Corp., but I’ve never been away from their control and protection. This is all very confusing for me and I don’t know what it means.
I wasn’t thinking about the Corporation at all while I rode home this evening. I was–and still am–caught up in feelings for Timo. I might be falling in love, although I have no idea what that would even feel like. A total lack of personal attachments is what we all had to have to serve on this pre-settlement mission. I can’t deny I’m attached to him now, and it seems he feels the same way about me. Maybe not exactly the same! But he’s acting more at ease with me.
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