I found myself on an icy landscape, the night sky illuminating my surroundings. The air breathed crisp and pure and was invigorating to my senses. How long has it been since I last drank in the alien atmosphere...how long since my skin bathed in the wash of an early morning dew? Has it ever been?
In the distance, some shadows flitted between smooth shining obelisks, no doubt inlaid with complex crystalline quartz reflectors. An earthen rock...oxygen...fauna. This place was like many others; so foreign yet so familiar...it is an homage to long since colonized planets, before intelligence slowly carved its trail through the stars. I sighed slowly, knowing that my time here could be as long as I wanted, yet understanding that this moment would soon turn to fleeting memory. No, my place was on that trail of humanity, among the twinkling orbs above. The aurora of the planet showed off a spectacular red glow.
Beeping . . .
I pulled my visor down to register the information, but it refused communication. Just an empty screen. I almost, just almost felt relieved at being given another chance to look without seeing the near constant overlay; but I also felt uneasiness at the black. It felt as if a hand pulling me back into the reality of my existence. I wasn't ready, but it was time.
Beeping . . .
Beeping . . .
I don't understand.
Then came a knock.
A sudden jarring rush of warmth flowed over me, sharply contrasting with the cool air as I opened my eyes to see a grinning scientist looking slightly warped through the concavity of my water tank. Reality came back too quickly.
"Well good morning sunshine! Or rather, er, good afternoon"
I looked around the room, still a little puzzled. The ceiling was lined with a thousand bulbs and dials and the room was heavily plated in metallic. Cords and wires ran along every surface and a red glow winked in and out above me. This scientist didn't look very familiar. Was he Federation?
"Here, here, uh, let me get that for you". He switched off the alert light.
I stared at him, thankful for the oxygen mask that did well in hiding most of my face from his. At least it felt like I was in my suit, even though I knew that was not the case. I took a deep breath of oxygen. Just where was I?
He frowned for a second and flustered with a few dials before looking back at me suddenly.
"Oh right! I'm Hank, but everyone here calls me Snow on account of my hair. It's nice to meet you" He gestured his hand up and down as if pretending to shake my hand. "I'm guessing you're wondering where you are".
I suspiciously eyed this grey haired...boy...it seemed. He was so young.
"You, my dear, are a guest aboard Federation Colony Station 12 on planet Vulgin, a beautiful M class, in many respects very similar to our own Earth...so similar it seems that you had decided to go for a walk among the alien atmosphere without your suit to protect you from the environment. Needless to say, heh, well, you ended up here." Why am I here?
"It was a Federation detachment that just arrived 3 days ago that found you out there. Seems they're old friends of yours... Alan, or some such, I forget, but that's not important, you'll see them soon."
I looked down, unsure of the situation.
"Just take a rest and enjoy yourself. I'm injecting some locally found nutrients and particles into the water filtration to help you more quickly adapt to this very similar, yet dangerous different environment. Sleep easy, and we'll see you and all your friends very soon"
Her breath appeared as a puff of steam as Samus stood in the cold lifeless room fitting her armor absentmindedly.
A series of checks spun their way through her biocom like a birthing checklist.
Checking Oxygen . . . Clear
Checking Structural Supports . . . Clear
Checking Tactile Network . . . Clear
Checking Audio Frequencies . . . Clear
These checks were a typical system maintenance that seldom deserved the attention they were being given, but she felt unable to focus on anything else - questions floated around in her mind with no answers despite their simplicity.
"What was I doing here? What was I doing outside? More importantly, why is Adam here?"
Checking Exhaust Systems . . . Clear
At his name, she shook her head and focused on the systems check once again.
Checking Intertial Dampener . . . Clear
Checking Thrusters . . . Clear
Checking Messaging Relay . . . beepbeepbeep
Samus almost jumped at the interruption, the noise emanating from her arm console reminded her that she wasn't really paying attention at all.
"Just breath, Samus. Deep breaths"
She looked down at flicked up the center console panel to reveal the holo-screen embedded shallowly into the plating.
The holo-screen sprung to life, with a spinning globe, overlaid by stars and was accompanied by a friendly jingle that was the hallmark of Galactic Federation internal messages. A woman's perky, cheerful voice came on.
Hi Samus, this is a special message from the council, feel free to share it with the rest of the crew, since we don't seem to be able to reach their comsat station due to interference. Patching the council through now! She giggled lightly and waved as the image switched over to an imposing scene. Shadows seated abreast at a table with a soft blue rear-lit striped wall. A man's voice-scrambled pitch began -
"ALL ACTIONS, BY YOU, OR THE CREW, ARE DUE BY 0900. ANY ACTIONS NOT AUTHORIZED WILL BE REVOKED UNTIL WE HAVE RECEIVED YOUR NEXT SITREP. THAT IS ALL."
She looked puzzled. Right there....there, another question she had no answer to.
She flicked the encoder again to replay the message, hoping there was something she had missed, but it refused to play. Her suit resumed its biocom initialization sequence.
Checking Messaging Center . . . Failed. Incompatible data for allowable transmissions. Please connect with a server frame.
The checks paused for an instant.
All systems nominal.
Engage Helmet Clamps to Complete Bio-Insulation Sequence.
Samus brushed her hair back with a free hand as she gingerly grabbed for her helm. With a twist and a hiss the plating locked in, the HUD shimmering to life. She glanced at the time - 22:45.
"Not much time, before I have to check in the the central server. That should be in the main communications deck", committing her console map to memory. "....and where Adam will be". The door opened with a whoosh, and she stepped through, steeling herself.