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   Chapter 3 No.3

Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1 By AaronDennis Characters: 5396

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02


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"We're here, " Roberts cheered.

The surrounding crewmembers applauded the successful first landing ever, a feat no less amazing than the first moon landing. At the other end of the ship, O'Hara and company exited conference room B, entered the service elevator, went down to the loading zone, and waited for the all clear. While O'Hara was in charge of Phoenix Crew, Admiral Lay, who was stationed back on colony Alpha-6, managed O'Hara and the Phoenix itself. From the colony, the admiral maintained command and gave all orders to the spec ops team.

The captain and crew traversed the spacious loading area. Heading for the bay door rather than the personnel egress, they clomped through the expanse, snatching up what little they required for erecting base camp. Then, as soldiers and scientists waited, they stood as a family for one tantalizing moment.

"We are go for mission, Admiral, " O'Hara spoke through the comm. link he wore on his left ear.

"Acknowledged. You may begin. This is your mission, O'Hara. Route any findings back to the colony when you have solid results. Out, " Admiral Lay disconnected.

The bay door opened, releasing hydraulic pressure with a hiss. An orange glow wormed into the loading zone, paled by artificial lighting. Holding their breaths, the crew stepped down the loading platform and onto Eon. For the first time in their lives, they took deep breaths of real air. The Oxygen on Eon was a little more concentrated than that of Earth, but not pure like the Oxygen pumped through the vents on ships and colonies. It was quasi-euphoric with a peculiar, almost living, scent. Nicholson sneezed.

"Alright, everyone take in the sights, but move quickly. We plan on arriving outside the dig site in an hour. Move out, " O'Hara ordered.

The ground was level, an easy terrain to traverse, but what made it odd was that their combat boots didn't squeak on the natural ground; a peculiarity they found extravagant, and they carefully scrutinized each step for the first few minutes. Everyone there had been raised on the Alpha-6 colony. Since it was located on an asteroid in the Alpha belt, everything there was synthetic. The air, the ground, and the light were all artificial constructs. Any mission or training exercise that took place outside the bunkers or buildings required special, synthetic gravity equipment. Food was grown in dirt, but that dirt was precious and kept in pots in greenhouses. No one ever dared covering a floor with dirt and walking on it just to see how it felt. What they experienced that fateful day was different; soft ground gave way with every step.

Above their heads, the lit, purple expanse looked so far

away. It was disorienting. They were all used to ceilings above their heads. Outdoor training exercises required space gear, and travel outside only revealed an ominous, black void, or the occasional star speckled void. Optimistically, they pressed onwards.

The next thing they noticed were sounds on Eon, different than the sounds of a vessel or colony. The buzzing was intermittent and organic unlike the cold, calculating hums of machinery. There were no voices, either, something rarely experienced. The air moved of its own accord, too. Finally Martinez broke the silence.

"Go-od damn, " he shouted, unable to contain his excitement. "I can't believe how amazin' this is, Cap. Ma-an, I never thought I see somethin' like this."

Everyone nodded in agreement. No vids or pics had prepared them for the realness of the situation. Twin orbs of faint, orange light burned dimly, semi-lighting their way, providing a twilight sensation too real for words.

"I'm afraid I'll wake up back inside the ship, " Nandesrikahl said with a thick, British accent.

Though he was of Indian decent, his grandparents were from South Africa, so he had one of those accents, which belied a condescending facade. It was an illusion, however, one he often played to annoy his mates. In reality, he was always respectful of everyone.

"Let's hope this is for real. I'm anxious to get started, " Mickelson remarked.

The two mile hike took about forty five minutes. None of them felt the passage of time. There were so many sights, sounds, and smells, they nearly went into sensory overload. Plants of all colors swayed from breezes, which caressed their faces. Some of the golden trees were immense in stature, and small organisms scurried up and down trunks. The ship relay communications unit finally dinged, and Swain checked their position.

"Crap! We're already here, Captain, " Swain announced.

"Right, " O'Hara heaved. "We'll begin setting up camp. DeReaux, Fitzpatrick, grab Mickelson. You guys got five to break then move out."

The two snapped to attention following with a salute, which O'Hara returned. DeReaux was a refined man of French descent, tall, thin, and swarthy. He always seemed to be sniffing the air, maybe for fine wine, or maybe for fine women. His confidence, borderline, arrogance simply gave such an impression.

As a handsome man with thick black hair, a great sense of humor, a lady magnet for all intents and purposes, he had good reason to be confident. His skills weren't lacking, either—the military skills nor the lady killer skills. He was the finest sniper the academy had seen on Alpha-6 in over thirty years, rivaled only by Admiral Lay himself.

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