The year is 2188. On another salvaging mission for Pyro in the system of the Sectors, Private Ramsey travels to Planet Alura with his engineering team under the Command of his Unit Leader Tyrus. Their quest for valuable resources serves as part of The Conglomerate’s movement to eliminate an invasive threat for the sanctity and peace for all of living kind.
“Planet Alura!” Hanson said with some enthusiasm. Ramsey couldn’t mistake the sudden bulge in her grey and almost pale eyes. Her sandy colored hair was pulled back in a ponytail as she inspected her rifle with her small yet rough hands.
“You excited? This is like one of the most dangerous planets we’ve ever been to. It’s kinda scary but it’s pretty far out so you don’t know what to expect. y’know? I think it’s cool.” Hanson finished smiling at him.
The young private didn’t say anything. He had just finished inserting his last clips of Pyro-fused clips into his rifle. As usual, he was less than excited for this mission to God-forsaken Alura. A rock-laden planet with little scenery of vegetation and non-intelligent life-forms. It was deemed inhabitable because of poisonous gases with fatal effects. Dangerous cyanides emitted from the atmosphere and released unstable triple bonds of nitrogen and carbon. Exposure to these compound elements immediately attacked the nervous system, dried up the skin and twisted the respiratory system up like a towel. A painful way to go even compared to being ripped apart by the Kyra. So in perspective, Ramsey was definitely not excited.
“Whoa, you’re awfully quiet today. Anyway Jason and the rest of the team are at the bay. I’ll see you there.” Hanson said as she modeled away.
He looked at his weapon and secretly lamented over the limitedness of its capability. No sniper-range feature, not enough round bursts, complex reloading to the butt instead of to the side of the breach and no Reflexor-aim sight mods. The GS-5 was the standard issue for the Conglomerate but was upgraded with more combat-ready features and distributed Sector-wide to Conglomerate vessels with proper funding except the ship Ramsey served on. He complained to Mila several times for funding and better upgrades but to no avail, nothing ever changed.
For awhile, he was considering to submitting a transfer request to other ships to serve as an ESSENTIAL-COMBATANT but doing so would make him a traitor to his friends right?
Hammer Shuttle V-908 whizzed and glided through the golden-smoke skies of Alura as its controlled flames propelled powerfully from the rear thrusters. The storm raged on as if it sensed an intruder into its abode, causing major turbulence. All seven crewmates were bolted down in two rows sitting opposite of each other while they shook and bobbled in the hull of the small vessel. Ramsey wondered what was going on with each member of the crew. Hanson the surveyor seemed anxious, Jason the tech specialist sat prepared, The medic Cassidy looking up at the bulkhead praying for the ship to land safely, Field miners Vince and Crockett much like Ramsey himself had seen it all and done it all. Except they loved doing this shit over and over again. Finally, there was Commander Tyrus who stood tall at the vent hold with the broad shoulders of a bison with muscles attached to his neck. With a body like that, Ramsey wondered why he didn’t report for ESSENTIAL COMBATANT service. By God, he could even rip off a a man’s head with the size of those arms but more impressive was his voice which was full of authority.
“Okay Gentlemen!” he bellowed. “You all know the drill. Engineering team’s getting ready to deploy to these co-ordinates after we hit 500 miles South East. Intel indicates we have pulsating deposits of Pyro so we are going to rape that bitch for all she’s worth with as much drones and equipment as possible. Make sure your suits are online and GS-5 is tapped to go. Target for today is 50,000 units of Pyro in as much time our VSes will give us. Remember, this planet’s got some hazardous shit going on here. So dying in this hellhole is not on today’s agenda! Am I clear?”
Hammer V-908 descended closer to a contoured hill that towered over rocky and sandy plains. V-908 finally hovered to a safe landing. The engines and navigational system controlled by ARA powered off.
“EN-GINES ON STAND-BY,” the software notified as Tyrus led his team out the splitting cargo doors into stormy-like desert of the yet uncharted planet. Conditions looked like they were getting worse as Ramsey surveyed his surroundings. Boulders, rocks and other forms of debris bending under the forces of the terrible storm pretty much summed up Alura, Ramsey thought. The golden flows of dust gusted swiftly in the air and almost impaired his vision. Alura was already starting to get on Ramsey’s nerve
“My feed looks grainy,” Jason’s slightly high voice complained over his audio transmitter.
“Yeah mine too!” Hanson said trying to shout over the harrowing winds.
“Suck it up team! Vision is down to 25 percent from our VUD so we have to work fast. Hanson, what have you got?”
Hanson reported promptly and brought up a visual interface through her CONTECH-link from her ViroSuit and displayed a 3D holographic map that represented the physical structure of Alura. Peppered across the map were glowing-red dots that got brighter by the second.
“ARA suggests winds will increase at a speed of 120 mph. No indication that is gonna die down soon but my findings indicate Pyr0-rich resources are located nearby. I’ll set a waypoint. As you said sir, we’ll have to move quickly. This planet feels like it’s getting really ticked with us.”
“You heard her! Jason, get the mechanical drones ready for probing once it’s up and online! Vince, will accompany you while Ramsey and Crockett follow and head to said waypoint. Hanson you can head out with them too. Cassidy and I will set up a watch perimeter around the shuttle. Remember to keep in contact at all times. Now that we’ve got our assignments, Let’s get to work!”
“YES SIR!” The unit confirmed in loud unison except for Ramsey.
“We’re getting to work, I don’t know about you,” Ramsey mumbled.
“What was that?”
“Nothing! moving out!”
Jason with the help of Crockett threw out a square-shaped and metallic plate onto the ground. It weighed about three tons but they transported it with enough ease.
Jason then activated his CONTECH. Suddenly, assembled parts began to extend from the device as if it were shapeshifting into something.
Jason turned with a smug smile on his face as if he were letting his friends on a cool secret. “Mila and I were working on this for a while. Team, I’d like to introduce you to PYRATE.”
He looked up at the device towering 20 feet above. It whirred and hissed as steam sprayed out of the heavy extending rods. Mechanical cogs rotated and suddenly a robust mech stood with hind legs, a robust torso, elongated arms and four-pronged fingers meant for tearing and digging. Much like the crew’s ViroSuits, PYRATE lit up in a neon-blue. Syncing up with its human compatriots.
“PY-RATE ON-LINE!” ARA indicated. Ramsey stared at the drone in amazement. The team never had this sort of equipment before. He turned to Jason.
“Whoa! since when?” Vince asked in amazement.
“Mila designed this. She figured a drone would help us salvage more resources effectively. I mean we still have to collect deposits but it will break down anything that gets in the way like huge boulders or other indestructible debris. In short, it’s a kick-ass giant robot that will protect us from anything”
“Okay, can we get moving now? This wind is really starting to mess with my vision plus I don’t like the idea of breathing in poisonous gases once our air supply runs out,” Hanson said with aggravation.
“Relax, you know this is an in and out procedure, We’ll be back on the Hammer before you can say Pyro.”
“AC-QUIRING TAR-GET!” PYRATE began to noisingly tread the ground while whirring and shifting its bulky weight from side to side. The rest of the team followed behind.
Ramsey couldn’t wait to get out of here but he felt a sense of security with PYRATE the team through a merciless storm of dirt and poisonous gases. He liked to watch the machine smash through boulders and stoned walls while they followed from a safe distance. It added a new dynamic to these boring missions and he was even beginning to consider the machine as part of the crew.
“Damn, this thing is tearing through those rocks like paper. It’s pretty much doing our job for us. Why don’t we just build more of these to tap up all this shit.” Crockett said.
“What, and become document-pushing jocks who sit behind desks all day? I don’t think so. It’s bad enough we’re non-essential combatants.” Ramsey retorted.
“Shit, relax will ya? I’m just saying if we utilized more of these things, our work could be a lot more safer instead of operating on pissholes like this God- forsaken planet,”
“C’mon Crockett, that’s why we’re field engineers If you’re scared shitless of the risks, why’d you take the job?” Ramsey said.
Crockett scoffed, “Then what you are doing here Ramsey? I’m not the one constantly looking to become some meathead ECOM- Dying to get some action fighting those damned aliens. They’re not even in our sector. Our work is safe from that kind of threat. Besides, If you’re so sick of salvaging why don’t you hand in a positional request?” He looked at Ramsey with a certain righteousness, hoping to crush his obsession with paranoia.
“That’s enough you two! We’re here now let’s setup and get these damn deposits so we can get outta here, ‘kay?” Jason interrupted.
Soon, the crew stood around humongous rocks about the size of Lady Liberty’s head.
“Oh my God, My data readings are flying insanely off the chart, there’s so much Pyro here, we’d have an infinite amount of firepower to back up The Conglomerate,” Hanson said with her eyes ogling with amazement.
“Plus Pyro usually ticks at a constant frequency but my survey scanner shows its ions are fluctuating at an unstable rate.” Hanson continued.
“Is that good?” Ramsey asked
“I can’t tell, I’ve never seen it read like this. It could be the combination of cyanides in the atmosphere has some weird kind effect on it,”
“But is it safe to mine Hanson?” Ramsey kept asking.
“Well according to my CONTECH, everything checks out, it’s just at a state my usual studies haven’t picked up before,” Hanson assured.
The colossal rocks contained an inner glowing of red hot ambiance. Even with their ViroSuits, they could still feel the power of Pyro emitting with attraction. The gassy substance that burned at 500 degrees Celsius was ready to burst from its hardened and outer core. “It’s beautiful ain’t it?” Jason asked rhetorically. He then focused his attention to PYRATE and at the swipe of his CONTECH-link “Okay big boy, do your thing!”
Whirrrrrrrr-hssssssssss. The 20-foot mech extended its mechanical arms. It’s pronged fingers ripped through and the middle of its “palm” opened up to extend a drill that surged powerfully into the rock. Soon a scarlet-colored gas erupted skyward. It began to form mushroom-size clouds like that of an after-explosion of an atomic bomb. Ramsey’s dark brown eyes looked up. Pyro stood tall like a volcano that could engulf them. Without the protection of their VSes, the massive radiance of the precious gas would melt them to a bloody mess.
“Alright people let’s fill up!” Vince ordered.
Crockett, Ramsey and Vince equipped their GS-5 rifles and aimed at the open crater in the huge rock. “Acquiring,” Ramsey lazily reported. With the tap of a trigger, Ramsey launched a small triangular alloy plate into the rock. The device lit up simultaneously with Ramsey’s CONTECH. The back of his left shoulder of his ViroSuit faded to the hue of Pyro. He then lifted his tech-fused hand and pulled out the plate as if he were using the force. Soon Ramsey’s lazy demeanor transformed into diligent focus and concentration. He carefully floated the the triangular alloy on the ground and waved his his tech-activated wrist over it. Soon the alloy formed into a cone with harvested and burning Pyro. It looked like an over-sized and futuristic lava-lamp. Crockett and Vince already had their Pyro capsules in front them.
They repeated the same process over again until they had an abundant supply. 3 medium tanks completely filled with Pyro per Ramsey, Vince and Crockett.
“That’s it boys. I’m tapped out. Go no Pyro launchers left. Jason get PYRATE ready to store these,” Vince said lifting up his GS-5
“Got it,” his left wrist lit up to signal the towering AI. PYRATE dutifully walked up to the deposits and collected them with his robot arms. The machine opened up its torso to store the valuable resources. Mechanical workings, cogs and wires made way to carefully compact the cones into its structure.
Ramsey’s eyes started to get heavy even under the comfort of his helmet. For him, the dullness of this process ate away at him. He started thinking about precious sleep at his quarters.
“Let’s hurry this up guys, the storm is really starting to kick up,” his VUD was displaying 55% decrease in visibility. Soon the team felt shaking beneath their feet. The planet crying out in complaint of man’s presence and all the natural restlessness that ensued.
The whole team’s CONTECHs then synced up. In an instant, Tyrus’s holo-image, the size of a mug-shot frame pixelated through. His voice was completely marred by static and break-ups: “Team, I -eed you guys to haul (schhh) ass back to the sh-shu–ttl-, this p-aaaaa-arrt of the planet’s defi-nnnitely coming un (schhhhh) stable.”
“Commander, communications are breaking up. Readings aren’t picking anything like an earthquake. Just minor tremors but that’s highly unnatural. Alura has tetonic plates that are virtually indestructible or incapable of shifting!” Hanson shouted.
“Well, I’d take that as a cue to start moving guys,” Crockett called out but before he could take another step. Something long shot out of the ground and gripped the middle of his spinal cord.
It ripped through his suit with effortless and cruel ease. He was suspended in the air, hanging as if he were pending final punishment. He could not only see sparks and blood pouring out of his abdomen, he could also see the horror in his friends’ eyes. The disappointment of knowing that he was instant prey paralyzed him. Even among his colleagues he was tragically helpless. The tentacle studded with sharp and pointed thorns impaled and tore through him. His bloodied mouth tried to gasp for a final breath of air. A feeble attempt to take his mind off the suffering but his last words came as a final sacrifice that begged his friends to run before he was snapped in two.
The tentacle disposed of the fallen Crockett like two useless twigs into the ground. His defiled remains smashed right in the ground became a sign of its utter disrespect and malice. The tentacle then ripped itself a part but spread into six similar organic contraptions of death. It was ready to dawn the same fate upon the rest of the crew. Hanson shook uncontrollably but her will wouldn’t let her wail out in fear- Not until a scaly two-legged creature with the same tentacles on its back emerged.
Ramsey’s eyes widened, not with shock or fear but with immediate recognition. He recognized the indiscriminate anger that smeared its face, the uncontrollable desire to consume in its dilated and black-spread pupils. The utter madness to destroy with its salivating and numerous fangs. The horrifying curse sprawling from its back that had already ended one’s life. Ramsey’s eyes focused on it with intensity trying to find the words, Not the words “how” or “why” but the conviction: “I knew it”
I knew the Kyra would come.