20 April 2017
Dead world. Part 1
...By ten o'clock, the order of movement is established definitively.The group is moving in the middle of the street: two scouts right at the front — the Schokn brothers — behind them and to the left is me, as head of the group and the main fire support.
The city, of course, has long been abandoned. This was clear even from orbit, but the fact that none of the modules could descend directly to the object ‘Spot’, stresses out all of us, members of a special expedition Erebus in system SY3176-GIII-A4.
Apparently, during the landing in the fog we still missed by a few kilometers. The city was to our left and separated by a rather unpleasant stone ridge. The damn planetoid barely has any convenient landing spots. Just rocks or thin ice over lakes of liquid hydrogen and methane.The only suitable spot is the city around the ‘Spot’ object. But both the city and the object are still covered by automatic air defense systems. It's a certain death. I wonder what was that enemy, from which they had to hide behind such a durable umbrella that could endure for so many years without people around.
The city does not impress much. A standard dome from the Direktorium times. Already crumbling in places. The planetoid is constantly shaking. And the ice is being ruptured by giant geysers of superheated methane.
We barely spend any time inspecting the buildings. All of them are mostly the same. Long-abandoned, partly collapsed and filled with dust. Our objective is the ‘Spot’/ An object glowing bright orange in the X-ray spectrum, almost in the heart of what we call the ‘City’ among ourselves. In reality it's a long flat trough between the geyser field and impassable steep cliffs. The whole trough is littered with stones and remains of ancient buildings. Dense clouds of methane, constantly hang above the ‘City’, coming down in deciduous rain. The rock where the ‘City’ is standing is heated by the planetoid's molten core. And every 42 minutes a gas giant ascends above the rocks — the local place of power.
Vanderhoeze, our boss, chief, commander and head of the expedition, said that the ‘Spot’ is an ancient fusion reactor's radiation background. Perhaps one of the five reactors of the legendary ‘Arks’, that carried the poor fellows from the ‘Frontier’ expelled from the solar system in ancient times. The Ark, and everyone on it, most likely founded the ‘City’ in a frantic effort to survive. But someone else was here after them too. There, next to the ancient, but still working reactors is an ancient military base from the times of the Empire's rise.The era of galactic wars.
Vanderhoeze hopes to find artifacts of the past at the base: incredibly valuable documents, blueprints or samples of preserved equipment. Schokn brothers anticipate mountains of standards or Iridium. And I expect nothing but trouble.
Trouble begins almost immediately. Completely empty on the outskirts, close to the city center the streets are blocked by military vehicles, ancient planetary rovers with huge wheels, debris and rubble. Everything is incredibly rusty and crumbling from the slightest touch. Domes are virtually destroyed. Valves are sticking out everywhere. Every now and then we come across deep pits, leading to the underground parts or the sewers. We are not going to go down there yet.
Suddenly, one of the domes to the group's right opens like a flower. A grid mechanism rises from the inside, and everything around it drowns in heat and dust. I see one of the brothers fall. The second is firing somewhere with his assault carbine. I instinctively launch missiles from my shoulder cannon, but can't see if they hit or not. A close explosion throws me up in the very thin air and sends me flying right into one of the closest pits. Finally, my back meets the bottom and darkness falls.
To be continued...
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