Authors: Adam Moon
Mike awoke with a start. He sat up quickly. Melanie was already awake, stretching her limbs out. He said, “Are we there? How long do you think they froze us for?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I just woke up too.”
A few people stood up on wobbly legs but most people stayed seated.
The alien voice issued forth. “There has been a bit of a problem. We are at the planet but it seems that another race of creatures has colonized it already.”
Mike said to Melanie, “What does that mean?”
She shook her head in confusion.
The voice continued, “Unfortunately we do not have a plan B. This is the only planet your type of life form is suited for. The alien creatures are known to us. They are a warlike species but so far they’ve only colonized a small portion of the planet, equal to a few hundred acres.
There aren’t many of them, maybe only as many as there are of you. We don’t know why they’re here. Maybe they’ve been exiled here? Maybe it’s a penal colony. Or maybe they’re just explorers, but they are most definitely hostile. Be prepared to defend yourselves.”
“How?” a lady said. “We have no weapons. Shit, some of us don’t even have clothes.”
“You will be equipped with some mechanized armor and weapons that we’ve created. The alien creatures probably have weapons too so be careful.”
Someone else asked, “Can’t you guys just kill them off for us or chase them away?”
“We’ve already interfered too much just saving you from your doom. And we do not kill unless we are attacked. We’re not monsters.”
An idiot said, “Can’t you just take us home then?”
“Your planet was destined to last only a decade when you went into stasis. It has now been destroyed.”
“Seventy six million years ago.”
Mike said, “Shut the fuck up. Oh my God.”
Some people panicked and jumped to their feet. Some others openly wept.
A whooshing noise came from one of the walls. Mike stood up and saw a panel slide to the side. It opened to a viewing window that showed a greenish blue planet spinning below them. There was another planet, orange in color, off to the left but it looked to be very far away.
The alien said, “That small blue planet is yours. The orange one is a partner planet but it is inhospitable. Don’t worry about it. It can get huge in the night sky but it is no threat to your planet.”
Then another whooshing sound came from twenty feet to the left of the window and a doorway appeared.
When nothing came through the doorway, several people let their curiosity get the better of them and walked through it. A guy came back out and said, “That store room has an arsenal in it.”
Mike and Melanie shoved their way forward, and sure enough, it was wall to wall weaponry. On the walls hung a dozen suits that looked to be more robot than armor. Mike picked one up and was surprised by how light it felt, but then again, he was super strong
Melanie helped him put it on. It was surprisingly user friendly. The robotic pants clipped to the robotic shirt. The head armor was hinged and resting on his back. Melanie pushed it forward and it cinched tight over his face. At first he felt like he might suffocate but then little read-outs appeared and he felt fresh air rush up to his face from somewhere below.
Then he helped her put one on too.
They both unhooked their head armor and shoved it towards their backs so they could properly speak and hear what was going on around them.
A tall woman complained, “What makes you two think you get one of those?”
Melanie said, “Shut up bitch. We get the suits because we have no clothes.”
The woman sneered but she gave it up and walked away.
Mike picked up what looked like a weird alien rifle. But even though it was alien, it was familiar. It had a barrel and a handle and a trigger. He handed one to Melanie but she shook her head and grabbed a different one.
Things had taken a turn for the worst. Their safe oasis of a planet was now hostile.
It was surprising to Mike how quickly they all adapted to the idea that they would have to fight for something that wasn’t even theirs yet. It disturbed him, but then again, what choice did they have?
To Mike, the most surprising thing of the entire experience was when they were transported to the planet. They felt a jolt and the alien voice simply said, “Remember, fight for your species if you want it to survive. Good luck to you.”
Then they felt natural gravity tug on them as they fell towards the planet.
Through the little viewing window they saw the alien ship that had just detached from them. It was enormous and truly alien. None of it looked right. It was pure black with no lights or anything reflective on its surface. It was angled and top-heavy. It looked like a monster. But it had just saved humanity, and for that Melanie blew it a kiss.
The dropped pod they were in started to shake violently as they entered the planets atmosphere. It started to tumble but then a roaring noise righted it. Each time it was about to go end over end, that roaring sound came and the pod straightened up. Then, as the ground rushed up to meet them, the roaring sound increased in volume. Mike guessed the sound came from thrusters or something but whatever it was, it had saved their lives. They couldn’t survive a freefall onto this alien planet. Mike’s heart was racing and adrenaline made him light headed, but he remained as calm as possible. They saw jagged mountains in the distance, brown and black, most likely barren of any edible vegetation. There was a large lake at the bottom of the mountain, probably fed by run-off water after storms. What they did not see was grasses of any kind, or trees, or anything green for that matter. But as they were about to touch down, a field of greens and reds and yellows came into view, and surrounding that field were structures. This must be their base camp. Mike’s heart filled with hope and he took Melanie’s hand in his own.
They’d just learned moments ago that everything they knew and loved had been destroyed millions of years ago. They’d just found out that their safe haven was anything but safe, but the sight of that spot of green right in the middle of all of that brown and black gave him a surge of optimism.
The landing was mostly uneventful. When an entire wall of the pod fell outward, someone screamed as the rest of them took a fearful step back. But when nothing else happened, they tentatively approached the opening.
The wind was gushing inside. For the first time in a week, Mike was able to gulp down a huge lungful of air. The gravity felt right too.
The sky was a dark bluish green even though the sun was directly overhead. Then again, the aliens had told them that the sun was farther away than they were used to, so that explained that.
The weather was strong here. The wind was annoyingly powerful. They yelled to be heard.
The angry guy pointed towards the shelters in the distance and said, “Let’s make our way over there.”
The bitch that had tried to give them grief about taking the suits said, “What if the warrior aliens live there?”
“Do you have a better idea
She shut the hell up and the angry guy set out first, followed by the rest of them.
The walk wasn’t that far but the wind made it tough. It howled in their ears and whipped up into their noses. For once, Mike was glad to be hairless.
The camp was large enough for them. There were around a thousand tiny homes built from rock or adobe or something equally dirt-like.
Mike and Melanie went inside one of the nearer ones. The door was the only thing unnatural about the structure in that it looked and felt like plastic.
Inside, there were no amenities besides a single
mattress, stuffed with cloth and a blanket made of the same type of cloth. There were two vessels that looked like ornate buckets. Mike guessed that one was to bring back water from the well and the other was to piss in, but he didn’t know for sure. There was a large bundle of fabric in the corner. Beside it was a knife and a handful of sewing needles. He assumed it was to make things like clothes. Even if it wasn’t, that’s what he was going to use it for.
He hated to admit to himself that he was a little disappointed. They’d just
come from a futuristic spaceship so the houses were primitive in comparison. Shit, they were primitive compared to his own long lost humble home back on Earth. But then he realized he was being an ingrate. He was lucky to even be alive.
Melanie said, “Even t
hough we’ve been through more together than most, our relationship is still too new for me to move in with you. I’m going to find a house of my own.”
He laughed and walked with her.
He was pleased she’d said they were in a relationship. He’d never been in one before. This was all new territory for him. But the fear of the unknown planet was tempered by the hope of a blossoming relationship, and for that he was grateful.
The third house down
from his was still empty so she took it.
Mike said goodbye to her and went back to his
brand new house. A woman was standing in his doorway so he had to tell her he’d already claimed it.
She started to argue with him until he pointed at her with his steel, mechanized hand and said, “Get the hell out of here. Find your own.”
She looked at the alien gun in his other hand and then gave him a dirty look, but she left without another word.
He shut the door behind him and took the mechanized armor off. He draped a large length of fabric from the bundle over his shoulders and sat on the bed.
And then, all at once, everything caught up to him. He wept for the loss of his mother, his planet, and his species. Knowing that Earth was space rubble had a profound effect on him. He no longer felt completely human. But maybe that’s because the aliens had transformed his DNA? Maybe he wasn’t human.
In his minds eye, he saw his mom
, dead and buried, her body turned to bones and then dust. Then the Earth got pulverized by the rogue planet. Maybe some of the debris would fall into the sun. Maybe that debris had some of his mom’s ashes in it. If he could just pick out the right star in the sky, he’d know its rays were a smile from his long dead mother.
He knew it was wishful thinking though. His poor mom was probably still alive when that rogue planet approached and killed every living thing. Millions of years of trial and error, genetic perfection and symbiotic relationships between animals and plants was all for naught when that planet appeared in the sky.
His mom had probably watched that planet come closer and closer for weeks before it killed her. The fear that sight brought must have been overwhelming. He wished he would’ve warned her. He wished he’d have spent more time with her. He couldn’t remember the last time he told her he loved her.
He wept again, more violently this time.
Melanie knocked on Mike’s door. When he answered, she said, “That aggressive guy wants to hold a meeting.”
“Who the fuck put him in charge?”
“I don’t know but we should go. There’s a lot we need to figure out about this place.”
Over her shoulder Mike could see the humungous orange planet coming over the horizon. It was easily three times bigger than the moon appeared on Earth.
“Where are we supposed to meet?”
“There’s a common dining hall in between the houses. They’re gathering there right now.”
When Mike saw that Melanie was still wearing her mechanized armor he decided against showing up to the meeting in his colorful poncho. He changed in front of her and she whistled at him playfully. He smiled, happy despite everything that had happened.
She said, “You’re pretty hot for an old man.”
“I’m only a few months older than you.”
“You’re seventy six million years old.”
He laughed. “So are you, you old hag.”
Once he was changed, they braved the winds as Melanie showed him to the dining hall. It was
a huge nondescript structure. Like the houses, it looked to be made of stone or packed dirt, with plastic barn doors.
The hall was already abuzz with chatter as they came through the doors. They found an empty bench and sat down, waiting for someone to lead the meeting.
Within a few minutes, the angry guy stood up and walked to the front of the crowd. He turned around and smiled.
He said, “Hello. My name is Paul. The first order of business is this: What should we name our new world?”
The hall went silent. Clearly Paul had his priorities back to front. They needed to figure out who would be in charge of cultivating the fields. They had to make sure the well had water. They had to find out if anything on the planet could be used to make fire in case it got cold at night or in case the winter was harsh, if there even was a winter. They needed to send a scout team out to assess the alien threat. They did not need to waste their time naming the planet.
When a woman yelled out, “How about Nova-Earth?” a few people murmured
their disapproval. Paul countered with, “How about just Nova?”
Nova sounded decent so they adopted that name for the new home of
Paul pointed towards the back of the hall and said, “The aliens that abducted us left sacks of seeds for us to use. I think we need to set up a system to guard them. I say we take shifts. Everyone gets one shift that’ll last all day and then they don’t have to do it again until everyone else has taken a turn.”
No one even knew how long a day lasted here so that was another stupid statement. What if a day took a thousand hours or more?
Mike desperately wanted someone bigger and tougher to make the douche bag sit down but no one volunteered. If he wasn’t such a coward he would have done so himself.
Paul continued, “That brings us to the crops. Once we figure out what is already growing out there, we need to set up a time-table to harvest it.”
Mike had enough. Without being too forceful, he took over the meeting.
He stood up and walked to the front of the hall. Paul glared at him and then changed tack and tried to act dismissive but Mike held his ground.
faced the group and said, “I know this must be hard for everyone. I know the Earth has been gone for millions of years, but to us it seems like only an hour or two ago that we were standing on it. But we have to adjust to survive.”
Several heads nodded sadly.
He continued, “Human beings became great because they learned to delegate duties. When we created the first communities, they thrived because everyone was a specialist at one or two things. The last thing we need is for the person best suited to tending to our crops, to get stuck sewing all day. We need people dedicated to overseeing the crops, we need scout teams to find out what kind of resources we have at our disposal in the outlying areas and we need another scout team to assess the alien threat. We can fetch our own water but I think we only need a couple people to watch over the seeds.” He was out of breath by the time he was done. He’d never been very good with public speaking. But the people had listened. Maybe it was because they thought he knew more than they did because he’d actually met their abductors?
A woman at the front said, “I can sew, if anyone needs anything made.”
A guy beside her said, “I was a farm hand when I was a kid. I know a little bit about crops.”
Mike added, “I have this suit of armor so I’ll take a scout team out to check out our surroundings. I need a few volunteers for that.”
Several hands shot up in the air, including Melanie’s. He saw in his peripheral vision that Paul had his hand up too. That was a good thing. Paul was an eager but worthless leader
, more suited to being led than leading.
A handful of people volunteered to guard the sacks of seeds, but only after Mike suggested they be divvied up. Each person would get to take several sacks back home with them so they didn’t need to hang out in the dining hall all damn day.
One brave soul volunteered himself to taste-test the drinking water. If they could drink it without having to boil it first, that was a huge plus. But if it was contaminated, the human guinea pig could die or at least get sick from it.
Two scout teams were formed, with a dozen or so members in each and then another dozen men and women were tasked with guarding the camp while the scout teams were gone.
With that accomplished, Mike said, “Let’s go see what this planet has to offer.”