I was studying and following a family of Lizard Mules, and trying to unwind from our multiple brushes with death by the spaceport. We agreed to never approach an alien structure alone, to always go together and be extremely cautious. It was Timo’s suggestion, but I know it’s the wisest course of action for us–even with the teleporter, the risks are just too high. Our plan for the day was for me to work on my studies of Akua’s flora, while he went hunting for us. It was a great plan and I had a quiet afternoon following these amazing mammals, then Timo surprised me when he contacted me.
“I found a structure that had some rare metals and a minigun!” he declared. I was taken aback–to say the least–because he went against his own advice so soon. He continued, “I’m headed to your base right now; I’ve got meat and supplies to share.”
I returned to meet him and saw that my tomatoes are ready to eat. When he arrived, I showed him the garden and began preparing some canned meat and tomato sauce for us. I was proud when I told him, “Once the rest of the crop is ready, I’ll be able to make more foods for us. I’m sure improving our diet will make us both feel a lot more normal.”
He nodded and told me, “I didn’t mean to disappoint you today. I got carried away in my head and I just forgot.” I definitely understand that because we’re still experiencing strong mental effects from consuming foods our bodies haven’t evolved to digest.
Then Timo asked me, “Will you come with me tonight? I found a mining facility that is completely deserted, and we only need to find a little more Sathium for me to build a ship capable of getting us back in space.” That thought filled me with hope and excitement and I immediately agreed to go with him. We went straight there and raided cargo containers outside the building, then casually went inside to look for more supplies.
We could hear some noises coming from below, and it sounded like there was a lot of Plant Monsters. We weren’t concerned because those guys can be killed with a pistol; no problem. We kept going and came to a door we couldn’t open. Timo planted an explosive charge on it and we took cover. When we went back to check the damage, we busted out laughing because we blew a massive hole in the floor in front of the door as well. We saw a tunnel under the hole, and we jumped down to explore without any hesitation.
We went in opposite directions until he announced he’d found stairs leading even lower. The sounds came from down there, and it wasn’t Plant Monsters at all. We entered a large room and two creatures rushed toward us, screeching and roaring. We dispatched them with a lot of bullets, and Timo called out, “Two more are coming–retreat! Retreat!”
We dashed up the stairs and he decided to go down there again and try to kill them. I had the good sense to watch the tunnel upstairs, because one of them came that way. It took two clips to kill, and it hit me with its spear-like arms. As I treated my injuries, Timo informed me the room was clear. We started looking around and discovered some of those hideous things–Nightmares–trapped in a small hole, with only their heads sticking up. We enjoyed shooting them while they were defenseless, only to discover more of them climbing up from deeper down.
More of them were coming from another tunnel and we retreated as fast as we could. We almost didn’t find that little hole we came in through, but we finally did and jetpacked our way out. They were right behind us and one was trying to come through the hole after us. I turned to fire at the Nightmare too, and Timo slipped down again. He said they were swarming! He blasted them with a rocket and made it back up.
We ran away, hopped on our bikes, and sped back toward my base. As we crossed over the mountains, he said, “Part of me really regrets that we’ve let those things out.” I agreed, and we rode the rest of the way in silence.
When we got there, I was thrilled to see a pair of orphaned Lizard Mule babies playing on the beach, and even running up onto the deck. I forgot my fear when I saw them and I blurted out, “They’re so cute! I hope they’ll stay.”
“They are cute,” he agreed, “but not like cats.”
“I love cats. That was my incentive to volunteer for this mission,” I revealed, and he told me he signed on for the same reason. I’m surprised the Corporation didn’t offer anything extra for commanding officers, but owning a heritage animal from Earth is a huge honour; something I’ve dreamed of my whole life.
We stood there talking about cats for a few minutes, then he suddenly took my hand in his and said, “Thank you for coming with me tonight.” I was stunned and didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. We just looked at each other. He kept holding my hand, and the strength of my emotions made me feel like I might start crying. He said goodnight with a gentle smile, and I can’t remember what I thought about while listening to the waves for awhile.
Now I’m ready for bed and I’m thinking about those Nightmares again, with their disgusting, bloated bodies. They look like parts of their flesh has been burned away, and they’re mindless–hell-bent to tear apart anything they smell. If the aliens are here to strip resources, even they were terrified enough by what they found that they sealed the doors and abandoned that area.
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