ZERO

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ZERO

Postby Omniscient Frog » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:13 pm

Touchdown

A dark humanoid speck hurtled through the relentless void of space, a single orange glowing eye surveying its surroundings. The fuel verniers on its back twitched and turned, finally setting into position as the frame aligned with the reddish-blue dot that was its destination.

Kara Zhal leaned back in the cockpit of her frame. It was too cramped for much change in position, so she had resigned to stiff legs and hunched shoulders for the time being. There wasn’t much to do now except wait until she broke atmosphere, and that would take at least another few hours. She ran through the mission briefing in her head.

The Simulacrum had intel on a faction of rebellious colonists who had declared independence from the Solar Union. The UMFL had cracked down on them hard, but the colonists managed to fend them off, with frames that appeared to be old Simulacrum designs. She was to track down these colonists, confirm the origin of their mobile frames, and relay the information back to the Simulacrum’s orbital station. They would decide the course of action from there.

Kara yawned. She could barely tell if the planet ahead of her was getting any closer. The only way she knew she was moving at all was the soft roar of her frame’s thrusters. She shifted in her seat and felt her eyelids droop. It was going to be a long ride, she thought, as the thrusters’ hum lulled her to sleep.



A red light blinked incessantly, accompanied by a raspy beeping. Kara reached out to hit the snooze button, and her arm collided with cold metal.
“Ow! Stupid hutching...” She was awake now. The planet ahead filled her viewscreen. She glanced at the blinking light and the screen next to it.

[ATMOSPHERIC REENTRY IN T-MINUS TEN MINUTES. USER INPUT REQUIRED]

She righted herself in the cockpit and grabbed the control sticks, flipping a switch on the ceiling to set vernier control to manual. The alarm kept beeping.

“Quit chabbing, I hear ya.” She flipped the verniers around and put them at full thrust to slow her descent as much as she could, shutting them off once they reached 50% depletion. She double and triple checked all of her frame’s systems. Once she was sure everything was in order, she passed vernier control back to the frame’s AI as it plotted her descent course. The alarm finally stopped.

T-minus 5 minutes. Kara flipped a switch and the heat shield assembly strapped to the front of her frame began to open.

T-minus 2 minutes. The AI cut the thrusters, letting gravity do the rest of the work.

T-minus 30 seconds. The frame began to shake, and Kara’s viewport flared bright orange as she collided with the planet’s atmosphere. She shut off the video feed, lest she go blind.

The frame shook and shuttered like a leaf in a stampede, and for a moment Kara wondered if the AI had plotted the course wrong, if she was going to hit too hard and burn up in the atmosphere. But then the shaking stopped, and she heard a clunk as the last of the heat shield decoupled from her frame. She switched the main camera’s video feed back on, and was greeted by a vast red continent stretching out below her, the planet’s curvature revealing only a sliver of vibrant blue ocean to the north.

[ATMOSPHERIC REENTRY COMPLETE]

Kara let herself plummet another several meters before kicking the thrusters back into gear, vernier armatures flaring out and bringing her to a hover several kilometers above the ground. She checked her frame’s energy supply: 37% capacity and falling. Less than ideal. She scanned for an optimal landing zone and dropped the rest of the way to the planet’s surface, skimming along the top of a crimson forest until a clearing appeared. She carefully brought her frame to the forest floor, lowering it into a kneeling position, thin aerodynamic legs digging into soft soil as she pressed a button, exposing the Infinity Condensers buried in its core. Energy at 22% capacity and rising.

The hatch hissed open, and Kara gulped in a welcome breath of non-processed air. She unstrapped the harness that locked her into her seat and hopped down to solid ground, ready to get her land legs back. First, though, she sent a transmission back to the orbital station thousands of kilometers above her.

Kara Zhal
OBS-0X.s Apeirogon Sage
Landing Confirmed, Beginning Mission.


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A short fiction that I'm writing for the UW-Whitewater Creative Writing Festival. I figured I'd share it here since it's MF0 themed. More parts to come soon.
Break through the bindings of reality
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Omniscient Frog
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