Taking the Desert


My first attemp at a Sci-Fi short story that will glimpse into the beginning of an epic journey, thanks to a daily word prompt, especially should it continue. I hope it does.

The frigid evening wouldn’t have been bearable had it not been for the combat suit’s environmental and atmospheric modules. They stuck out like a thick metal plate on the back of the suit like a backpack, rectangular in shape covered in status lights and sensors. There was an atmosphere present on the planet, but it was extremely thin. A human would have been able to survive for about 15 minutes in a conscious state and roughly a couple of hours in a comatose state, considering they would be using less oxygen. Those were the options without proper breathing gear.

For the native species, it was perfect. Thousands of years of adapting to the environment would have that effect, constantly evolving to become more efficient with the resources they had available to them including air. This was of course after they had gotten done building a planetary defense shield to sustain the atmosphere and environment as much as it did. Without it, it would have been a barren wasteland. Of course, they weren’t true natives, as they weren’t born nor did they evolve here. They took the planet, just as the humans had planned to do.

It was dusk, or as dark as it would ever get in this system. Being close enough to a multi-star system not only created beautiful blue light shows across the night sky particularly on the horizons, but it also had the ability to constantly destroy any human electronics not properly shielded to adapt to the nearby neutron star. Physics was hell. The natives, of course, had already adapted to this as well, and while humanity was catching up, there was still gear they deployed that would occasionally get taken out of the protected zones by some unknowing grunt for an unlikely spark show. The alien technology that ran the planetary shield could only do so much.

The blue glow was complimentary of the gray desert. The sand was soft and felt almost liquid in nature. The rocky formations dotting across the landscape was sharp and reflective, creating a somewhat stary scene that would mimic the night sky. While it could have all been seen as eerie the Recon and Enforcement Specialist or the Rez Unit enjoying the view from his current position, somehow felt completely and strangely at peace. He couldn’t tell if he was just that addicted to the combat situations, or if there really was something beautiful and peaceful about the planet he was on currently.

He had seen some interesting places during his time there. It wasn’t all deserts and emptiness. The planet was also covered in foliage that somehow managed to survive the terraforming event and adapted to the defense shields as well. Grassy plains and forested utopias spanned the planet as well. It was nothing like the human terraformed planets that he had previously been to, attempting to reconstruct the green and blues from Earth. But it had its own beauty. Red leaves and dark blue grass. Icey gray and black rocks. There was really nothing else like it. He liked it here because it was different. Because visually you could stare into the view and get lost for hours at a time.

The comm line beeped in his earpiece and a name pops up on his heads-up-display.

“Romeo One One this is Control. Frontline is approaching the designated area. Eyes up for crossfire.”. There was a pause but the comm line didn’t click which means Control wasn’t done speaking. “…threat is medium, target priority T.O.”. There was an audible click which was more like a shortened beep.

The Rez Unit breathed a heavy sigh, having come out of his small mental vacation and enjoying the view. He was sitting up against a small rock formation so as to be hidden from the meet that was supposed to be taking place 300 meters from his position on the other side, across the plains in the middle of a single desert road carved across.

The Rez Unit R1 slowly get up and turned around, so as not to stand up fully in case of being spotted. Instead, he picked up his weapon and peered through the scope ever so slightly above the rocks to get a visual on what was happening. He whispered a voice command into his mic and a small window appeared to the upper right corner of the screen of his scope. The live feed was coming from a drone that was perched 500 meters high looking directly down at the meet point.

He sat perpendicular to everything that was about to unfold. A meeting that would decide the fate of two species sharing the planet as a military outpost in a peaceful resolution, or would both sides be preparing for war after tonight? And there he was sitting right in the middle of it all, ready to breathe crossfire in case a battle broke out so as to confuse the target by giving them income fire from another direction, which would give the humans an advantage.

Romeo One One targeted the T.O.’s or “Tall Orders”. That was the nickname for all the enhanced alien species amongst the group. As if they weren’t already superior in every physical way, the engineered combatants stood much taller then the rest, hence earning them the nickname “Tall Order”, to signify their height and how hard it would be to eliminate them. Unless of course, you had a Rez Unit on standby with an energy round signed personally for each melon about to pop.

As far as alien species went, they weren’t anything so peculiar or out of the ordinary looking. There were what you’d expect, bipedal creatures that required a certain amount of oxygen and sustenance to survive. If it weren’t for their combat suits, they could pass for future humans in more advanced gear. What did stand out, however, is that none of their technology possessed any sharp edges. Everything was perfectly rounded, smooth and slightly reflective.

He wished to himself that nothing would happen. That a peaceful resolution would actually end up happening. The sparkling light show of blue and gray space was speaking to him again and he didn’t want to ignore it anymore.

At that exact moment, a blue bolt of energy arks into the night sky, racing towards an unmanned target. The drone lit up like methane being ignited and slowly turned into a ball of orange flame before it disintegrated and fell away in pieces toward the ground. What he couldn’t figure out was who fired the shot. Because it didn’t come from either side. The bolt had come from behind the hill on the far side of where he was perched.

Now all parties involved formed a diamond shape around what was becoming an increasingly tense situation. Neither species wanted a war. The Rez Unit was continuously attempting to find the target, and the target continued to elude everyone staying hidden behind the hills.

Things were only about to get more interesting as everyone stood there weapons at the ready and unwilling to fire, frozen in place.

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