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[Freebuild] Hard Landing

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Chapter 23: Hard Landing.

It felt like being hit by a heavy speeder; given how far he’d fallen it was actually more like being hit by a planet. His head pulsated with pain, coarse sand hurt sore fingertips as he tried to push himself up... No use. He tried to recall how he’d got here... Nothing. He couldn’t remember, but then, he had just hit a planet. He thought he lying on the floor but it felt like he was standing, forced against a sandstone wall, a bright light in his face, hot, burning. That’s the sun. He thought, I must be on the ground. He sighed and his arms relaxed. It was easier if he didn’t fight. “It’s easier if you don’t fight.” The voice echoed. A gust of wind blew grains of sand onto his lips; just enough to give him a sense of them, a fragrance, an aroma... It was familiar. I know this sand. He thought. The geological makeup of sand was different from region to region and very different from planet to planet. Spend long enough among it and you start to be able to tell the difference. This one had a feint saline tint to it. He racked his brain. Where am I? He tried to open his eyes. The bright sunshine pierced the first gap in his eyelid with blinding power. He forced them shut again. I must be on the ground. He told himself. Summoning all his remaining energy, he pushed with his arms and forced his head away from the gritty surface. He started to lift a knee up under him but the dizzyness stopped him. He had become unbalanced, pushing himself away fro the wall and lifting one leg off the ground, He felt like he was about to fall over backwards but never quite did, stuck on the edge of falling and feeling more and more sick with every moment.


He woke some time later. The air was cooler and more refreshing though the smell of stale vomit prevented him from feeling the benefit. His head was clearer and in the dimming light, he could just about tolerate opening his eyes enough to see. He was still unsteady but he raised himself up slowly and looked around the harsh grit-filled landscape that had been his resting place for who knows how long now. A moment later it came to him: The dusty landscape’s saline sand. It was from the evaporating lakes the planet was known for. New California... I’m on New California. He tried to remember how he’d got here. His memories were a haze of voices, sounds, lights... Bright hot lights, or was that the sun. How long had he been out here. He surveyed the horizon. He had no idea where on the planet he was but a column of steam and the the hazy dim outline of  towers gave him hope that civilisation wasn’t too far away. He stumbled forward but kept his feet. His legs ached. Looking around the nearby vicinity, he noticed a broken pilot’s chair. I must have been thrown from it when I landed... A hazy memory formed - Space... Fire... Alarms... Voices... Several voices, static. I must have been in a firefight. He surmised, trying to piece together the remnants of what had happened before. It was like trying to remember a dream, only moments ago yet already distant. He checked the wreckage, relieved to find the emergency ration package in tact on the underside. He removed it, clipped the water bottle to his belt, divided the nutrient packs between his suit’s various pockets and started walking.


The night was cool but never cold as the sun never quite fully dipped below the wide, flat horizon. He must have been fairly far North or South but he wasn’t sure which. The mild climate allowed him to make good progress and as the Sun began its slow and steady ascent into the proceeding morning, he reached a small settlement. The steam and towers were still in the far distance but he needed to rest. He was exhausted, most of his water was depleted, drank to recover from his waking condition. It would take the bottles condenser several hours to extract enough moisture from the air to refill it. He made it far as a sheltered porch-like area protruding from the nearest building before his legs insisted on not supporting him anymore and he dropped to his hands and knees, rolling onto his back. He closed his eyes... He shouldn’t. Anyone could live here. But he was so tired. And it was starting to get hot again. He closed his eyes. Just for a bit... Just for a bit.


He woke in cool air, fresh and clean. He ached all over but he was comfortable, lying on a soft bed. He heard a clatter, the sound of water. Someone appeared and sat over him before dowsing his brow with a wet cloth.

    “I was wondering when you’d come to.” An old Woman’s voice said. He didn’t recognise it.

    “How long?” he asked instinctively.

    “Two days.” the old Woman replied. “Didn’t think there was any of you corporates left.” She added. He didn’t understand the question. He looked down at his clothes - A flight suit, white with a red arm and leg. The old Woman noticed.

    “We’ll contact the nearest outpost once they all come back.” She said. “Hmpff.” She added. “If they come back.” The old Woman got up and walked off. “I don’t suppose you’ve got a name.” She asked from across the room. The man went to answer but caught himself. He tried to think... It was on the edge of his tongue but he just couldn’t quite get it. He thought for a moment, closed his eyes, cleared his mind. He had said his own name so many times he tried to not think about it and just let his mouth form the sounds.

    “Vex.” he sounded out. It started to come back to him. The hazy pieces became a little clearer. Not fully formed but... Then he remembered. “My name is Vex Obryn.” He tried to collect his thoughts. What had happened? The Woman’s comment suddenly clicked. “Wait... You said When they come back?” Could they really have abandoned him. He’d been gone around three days, maybe five depending on how long he’d been lying on the ground out there before he came to. They wouldn’t have abandoned the search for him. There were nutrients for a week in the ration pack and the bottle continuously condensed water from the air and filtered it into drinking water. They wouldn’t leave yet... After so little time, from an Octan controlled World. He knew MANTIS had been making a move for the planet but ... The hazy memories became a little clearer. A MANTIS ship... Fire and smoke... I was hit. He had to contact Octan immediately and report his survival. He still didn’t remember much but being alive, he presumed he somehow ejected before his ship was destroyed.

    “I have to contact Octan... now.” He stated, trying to get himself up before the aches became sharp piercing pains that halted his progress.

    “I told you, they’re not here.” The old Woman said. Vex heard what she had said but It didn’t make sense. MANTIS couldn’t have forced a withdrawal in five days. Octan were too strong. The corporate newsfeeds had been full of analysts talking about how close they were to victory.

    “When did they leave?” he asked without realising.

    “About a month ago.” She replied.


Vex froze...

    “A month?” His mind raced. It didn’t make sense. “It's Janurali.” He said aloud, though it hadn’t been meant as a question. It was received with a short sharp laugh that verged on a cackle.

    “You’ve been out in the sun too long.” The Woman replied. “But not that long... It’s Maian... Janurali was four months ago.”




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Awesome you keep developing your story during the time off. I'm wondering where Vex has been all those months. :classic:

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