Joined: 10 Mar 2009
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Location: On the border of Fantasy and Reality
|Posted: Fri, 4. Dec 09, 00:59 Post subject: The End Result... (Chapter 9 - The Ice Planet)
|The End Result
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Chapter 9 - The Ice Planet
The passengers of the Savior III braced themselves as the colossal ship descended into the ice planet of an ancient, abandoned, Argon sector. Robert’s grip tightened on the supporting handrail as the Savior shook heavily as the atmosphere was eating away at the shields. He could see the terrified expressions on everyone else’s faces as they all hoped the ship would make through safely. It was only a routine landing that happened every five months to build up on energy cells before lifting off again. Robert had been through this procedure many times in his life, but he was always terrified that one time the shields would not withstand the heat of the re-entry into the atmosphere. He could feel the hull plates shuddering under the enormous pressure and tightened his grip even further, praying the ship would make it in one piece. At last, the terrifying looks on everyone’s faces eased down as the ship finished its re-entry and began the landing procedure. Robert felt his grip loosen as the shuddering ended and carried on down the corridor to the dining area.
As he walked through the entrance to the dining area, his face lit up as he spotted Harold and Saria sitting at one of the tables and greeted them. He took up a seat at the table and let a sigh of relief as he did so.
“Well, well. A little scary back there, eh?” Harold said jokingly. “Did anyone hold your hand to help you get through it?”
“Yes, the handrail did,” Robert said and then turned to speak to Saria. “Did you manage to find out from the Captain why we landed a month earlier this time? Something wrong with the ship?”
“We don’t know exactly why yet,” Saria said without looking up from her food. “But three of the onboard Wheat Farms are offline, which could mean a food shortage. The Captain decided to land the ship and get it fixed as soon as possible.”
“Three farms are offline?” said Robert, shocked by the news. “How is this possible? If we don’t get them back online soon, we’ll run out of food, that’s for sure.”
“The Navigator said that this ice planet is rich with crystals. So if we find some, it could be enough to get the farms repaired properly and get them back online again within three days.”
“Well, that’s a relief...” Harold responded. “If we can actually find the crystals we need, that is.”
The three of them could feel the thud as the Savior safely landed on the ice and the engines were shut off.
“Well, that’s it then,” Robert told them. “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to help with the finding of those crystals.”
“So am I,” said Harold willingly.
“Me too,” Saria quickly added. “I’ll come with.”
“I’ll meet you two on the deck in five minutes.” Robert got up from his seat.
“See you then,” Saria and Harold said as they went their separate ways.
Robert entered his cabin and looked out the window to see outside. He could barely see past the glare of his own reflection, for outside the view was gulped up by a major blizzard. Robert felt cold just looking at the ice and weather that spelled only subzero temperatures. He walked to his closet and got out an extremely thick coat and boots. On top of that he put on another coat and a second pair of trousers and gloves. He looked in the mirror and grinned when he saw how ridiculous he looked with all those clothes on. He picked up a bag of tools and torches and went to the deck. Saria and Harold were waiting there already, clothed with only a fur coat and thick rubber boots. They both burst out laughing at Robert when they saw how he was dressed.
“You look absolutely ridiculous Bobby,” Saria said teasingly.
Robert grinned. “I might look ridiculous now, but let’s see what you two say when you’re in the freezing cold temperatures outside.”
A huge gust of icy wind blew into the ship as the gangway of the Savior opened up and they could see the terror of ice they would have to face. The Captain stood in front of the group of volunteers that were to go crystal hunting to brief them of their mission.
“This is a simple search and find mission to look for the necessary crystals to repair the Wheat Farms. I must warn you, the temperatures are exceptionally cold, so take care when travelling across the ice. Our weather device says that the blizzard should lift in about two days, but we cannot wait that long to start the hunt. Here is a flare you must use in case you find crystals to signal the rest of the group. Any questions?”
The group of crystal hunters were too distracted by the freezing temperature to ask any questions. They all stared into the cold and lonely night that lay ahead of them.
“Ok, then,” the Captain said. “You may begin now. If you stumble across any trouble during the expedition be sure to comm. the rest of the group and make your way back to the ship.”
Robert, Harold and Saria were the first to leave the ship and led the rest of the group out onto the snow and ice. Robert held his hand in front of his eyes to block any hail and snow blowing into them. At first the group battled to make progress through the snow because of the strong wind and slippery surface. Robert could feel the cold biting at his skin and then pictured what it must have been like for Harold and Saria who were only half as warmly dressed. Saria pressed her face against Robert’s arm to try and hide it from the cold. Robert turned to look back at the ship which was now invisible from the dense blizzard. He took out his torch to light the way in front of them and switched it on, but it barely made it past a few meters. The hours dragged by like days and some began to tell each other stories to make the time pass by quicker. Robert soon realised that they were travelling very near to a cliff and told everyone to walk closer to it for some shelter from the hail and snow. Using his torch, he searched the rock face for a cave or gap in which they could set up camp. Soon the group noticed the blizzard seemed to lift up when spotted an overhanging ledge of rock above them, sheltering them from the storm. He ordered everyone to drop their luggage and set up camp immediately.
“Use those special carbon sticks we brought along to make a fire and start setting up those tents,” Robert said assigning different individuals to the given tasks. “We want to escape this cold right away.”
They all scurried about, setting up the tents and constructing a fire big enough to keep everyone warm during the night. Saria came limping to Robert, clutching her knee in pain. He walked over and spoke to her.
“I think I hurt my knee while we were travelling along,” she said with an expression of pain on her face. “The cold seems to be making it worse. I can barely walk.”
“Go sit by the fire and warm up a bit. We’ve got a very long day tomorrow. If your leg gets worse, we will need to take you back to the ship.”
Saria nodded in silence and limped towards a seat near the fire. She did not all like the idea of having to go back to the ship when she had a chance for a bit of an adventure. Robert went looking for Harold who had just finished unpacking his things and exited his tent.
“Hey,” Robert said to him and then lowered his voice. “I think bringing Saria along was a bad idea Harry.”
“Why do you say that?” he asked curiously.
“Because she could be hurt, even killed in this weather, that’s why.”
“You worry too much Bobby, she’ll be fine.”
“No,” Robert quickly responded. “I worry too little. That’s why I let her come in the first place.”
“Look Bobby, I know you’re concerned about her, but she’ll be fine, really. You’ll see.”
Harold went to join the group which had already gathered round the fire for some relief from the subzero temperatures. They began to tell each other stories and prepare some warm meals. It was not long before the space fuel was passed round and they began merrily singing, quickly forgetting what a cold and lonely night it was. Robert did not join in, but stayed on the watch, his eyes staring into the endless stormy night, imagining what it must have been like on Earth. He began to feel that the Terrans and their ancient history on Earth were being torn further apart every day. Most had begun to accept living out in space, blissfully ignorant of their set task they had been given centuries ago, but not him. No, he would never accept his race being trapped in space, torn from their home world forever. No, he would do everything in his power to acquire a stable and bright future for the Terrans, if it cost him his life...
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