Look at all the space! Look at these beautiful grey vistas. Being on a planet sure is great!
A NuSpace Misfits Adventure
by Ollie Rossman
The Cruiser looked nothing like the Makii Industries All Terrain Armoured Personnel Carrier Mk.05 Victoria had seen on the holotab. Years of Jules’ tinkering had slowly transformed the boxy, matte black cabin over huge shocks into something that looked like it had come straight from an interactive racing VR.
In a way it had. Jules loved watching the VRs. She also liked her job. It was dangerous to leave an engineer sitting idle for too long, a factor NuSpace Relocation Services hadn’t taken into account. She had removed the shocks and widened the axles so the wheels sat outside the cabin, allowing it to be low to the ground. The cabin had been reshaped, made aerodynamic. Jules had painted it bright red and embossed a giant, flaming phoenix in yellow onto the hood. Anything that could be, was chromed. She couldn’t help herself, tinkering was her hobby.
Being lower to the ground made it easy for Spike to slide hard shell weapon cases into the rear tray. The crew each carried a small pack with basic survival equipment, food and water; a fold out carbine pistol and a comms unit. Doc had a medkit and a portable biolab, Jules had an engineering kit full of miniature tools and Herb had a full pouch of different plants he had concocted that would come in handy. Mostly spores.
Inside, the seven crew members and Dad settled into the rich synth-leather. Jet had stayed behind, locking himself and what looked like a week’s supply of party food in the VR pod. The Cruiser purred, Jules’s handiwork obvious. As they left the hold they could see the damage the landing had done to the ship. The landing gear had taken most of the force, and was pushed back into the ship. There were cracks and dents along the hull, some were leaking fluid. Jules sighed. There was a lot of damage, and even if the nanobots did piece her back together, she would never be the same.
Jules pushed the Cruiser hard, excited to finally drive outside a simulation. NuEarth D23 looked bleak, a grey desert surrounded the ship with the occasional outcropping of alien plants and high high above the storm raged on. Five hundred metres away from the ship the terrain started to change. Sand gave way to scree. Soon the scree turned to larger rocks. Barely a kilometre away from the crash site the Cruiser ground to a halt.
“What happened?” asked Ed.
“Rocks are jamming up the Cruiser,” said Jules glumly.
“Yes, the modifications done to the Cruiser have prevented it from traversing this topography,” said Father.
“Can you fix it?” asked Victoria.
“Sure but it’ll take a few days and I’m going to need a bunch of parts from the ship,” said Jules.
“Ok,” Captain Edwina bit her lip. “Grab whatever gear you need and lets go. We’re walking.”
“Right on,” said Herb dreamily. “I’ve never been on a walk before.”
Spike popped a few cases, taking out a high powered laser rifle and several energy cells. From another case she also took a sling of flares and grenades and passed them around.
“Hey,” said Herb. “You forgot me.”
Spike offered him a wry smile. “No, I didn’t.”
Herb shrugged his shoulders and ate some more spores. “I guess I can see your point.”
“What about this case,” asked Daemon, pointing to the largest.
“That’s my, uh, survival case.” Spike popped it open, it was full of food. “Can you carry it for me Dad?”
“Sorry darling, I’ve got my hands full with this,” said Dad, pulling out a real survival kit from the depths of the Cruiser.
Herb ran the sandy soil through his hands and picked up a few pebbles and rocks. “Theres so much space,” he drawled. No one else seemed too interested.
They started the walk, Herb humming brightly as they went. It was a rush, taking a walk. There were views as far as you could see. Real views, not VR rendered graphics. It was cold out, but their environment suits kept them nice and warm. The crew chattered excitedly, except for Daemon who walked next to Jules and mercilessly teased her about the Cruiser until she had Dronie zap him. That shut up him up pretty quickly.
The walk was slow.They had seven kilometres to travel. Seven kilometres of desert, rock, scree and boulders. Herb rummaged through his pack and brought out a packet of small berries.
“These’ll give you lots of energy,” he said dreamily, and passed them round the group.
They came across the first one pretty early on into the walk. It was down a gully and looked like what could only be described as a giant bug, about two and half metres tall, its fat, tubular body held up by four long spindly legs. From the front of its carapace there protruded a pair of arms which ended in razor sharp pincers, which looked like a cross between scissors and lobster claws.There was a head, shaped like a small upside down triangle. The bug looked like it had been dead for a long time and it was covered in a thick film of grey dust. The crew crowded around the corpse in a loose circle.
Next week on Bugout
Who are these bugs? I hope they’re friendly vegetarian alien bugs. Those exist, right?
Tune in next Wednesday for the next episode.
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