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posted on Jan, 30 2009 @ 10:40 PM
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Hope is gone; I have nearly three hours of air left but I will die here regardless. I've tried to keep an accurate record of what has transpired to this massive failure of a recovery mission, but I'm no longer sure of what I even witnessed.

It should first be noted that this planet's polarity switches every three days; the switch causes incredible electrical storms. Undoubtedly, this is what led to the science team’s first batch of equipment troubles, and likely why we found Doctors Zhirim and Orrence deceased nearly ten kilometers from base camp. If they were caught in a storm all of their navigation equipment would have been useless and their escape route chaotic; there are no landmarks on this flat featureless terrain. If they rode the storm out in their rover's portable shelter, which two intelligent men would have done in the face of any maelstrom as destructive the ones spawned in this atmosphere, then they would have been heading in the opposite direction. Regardless, their air ran out, and they left their helmets on choosing to suffocate rather than remove them and allow the poisonous atmosphere to flood their lungs with searing acidic air which would have cause them to drown in their own mucous as their bodies tried desperately to neutralize the mixture in their lungs.

Of the few experiments that succeeded, the geological surveys were the most interesting. This planet was believed to lack any seismic activity, it's molten core now cold and solid; there are no tectonic plates like those on Earth that float upon a molten sea to create the same seismic conditions like that of our home planet. Approximately one month ago, shortly before switching off the seismic sensors in order to conserve power, the team measured a magnitude eight and one half event approximately three kilometers east... wes- about seventy degrees left of the camp if zero faces the rising sun. The report states that the radio transmission from Zhirim and Orrence described and elliptical crater, there was no direct evidence to implicate a falling cosmic object, but the two doctors reported that the sides of the crater were too steep to descend to investigate further without proper climbing equipment; a provision not included in the supplies since there were no scalable geologic features within travelling distance from the camp.

The report notes that no further transmissions were received from the two-man team after they reportedly left the sight of the seismic activity. Over the next twelve hours the seismic sensors detected seven more event of equal size in the area surrounding the camp. The science team, aware of the storm outside and already fearing the fate of their companions sent no other investigative teams until the storm receded, nearly twenty four hours later. At midday, after still no reports from the previous survey team two more men, Kreyjack and Sutter set out on a rover towards the location of the first event. The vehicle was barely a hundred meters from the camp when it became clear the navigational equipment was not functioning the same way it had the day prior. After a short conversation with base camp however, it was decided that Orrence and Zhirim would find their way back with or without an operational radio, and that the new survey team should continue their path toward the site of one of the other events which was oddly enough in their immediate path, nearly three kilometers ahead. Kreyjack and Sutter reported the same elliptical crater, estimating it to be approximately a half kilometer deep and having a diameter of a half kilometer and a quarter kilometer at its widest and narrowest points.

The base camp goes on to state that they received no more radio transmissions from the second survey team and outlines the decision to set out to retrieve the second team. This marks the end of reports from any of the science team, no trace of the team after that day exists.

When my recovery team and I flew over the camp the first thing we noticed was that two of the five buildings were missing we couldn't be sure which they were, but would find out later. Our landing put the last known location of the second survey team directly between us and the base camp, allowing us an easy route to the quickest possible answers. We first spotted the survey team's rover after an hour of driving, the six of us felling rather confined in the two-story tall, eight wheeled utility vehicle. The massive transport has plenty of cargo room for salvage and recovery, but the crew space is still too small for most teams to sit comfortably. The rover was about three meters from the lip of the crater; I had the other five members of my team load the rover into our transport as I approached the crater. It was clear what had happened, the two bodies at the bottom of the crater said it all. One man had slipped, perhaps a piece of the crater's edge had crumbled beneath him, the other went to grab his companion but they both went over. Through my binoculars I could see that Sutter's leg was bent in a number of ways it should not have been, broken in the fall. I'm not sure who I pity more, Sutter bleeding to death, or Kreyjack; who had to watch his friend die, then suffocate, alone.

With two of the eight men on the expedition team accounted for, we assembled in the transport and continued our trek towards the base camp. The journey was uneventful, with the exception of a small, magnitude three event in the area just as we crossed the one hundred meter perimeter of the camp. It was there we could confirm without a doubt that two buildings were indeed missing, the garage and the environmental exploration preparation and storage area had disappeared into another crater, or sink hole which was smaller than the others, but still large enough to have engulfed both buildings at once. We parked the transport about twenty meters from the main research building at the center of the camp, the only entrance to the three story structure was now precariously close to the crater that swallowed the environmental preparations building, but we made a safer entrance in the hallway between the crater and the large structure using our plasma cutters. The six of us fanned out, two men per floor, scouring the computers for all the information we could gather.

[edit on 1/30/2009 by eNumbra]




posted on Jan, 30 2009 @ 10:41 PM
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Pickens and I scoured the first floor, reviewing the camp logs and the geological surveys, finding nothing after the reported loss of the second survey team. I concluded that the other four men must have been suiting up and preparing the last two rovers in the garage when it was consumed by the seismic collapse. After confirming that the other two teams were preparing the science equipment for removal from the other two floors, Pickens and I returned to the transport. He took a dolly back into the building while I prepared the hold for the more sensitive equipment.

The shaking was sudden and so violent that I lost my footing and fell from the back of the transport landing on the hard dust covered surface rock on my side. It was there that I watched three stories of the top of the line planetary exploration technology sink in a matter of seconds. The chaotic rumble was accompanied by the sounds of metal grinding and crumpling as though it was the most pliable of foils. I don't know how long it took before I noticed that Pickens was clinging to the lip of the hole where the camp once stood, but as soon as I did I ran to him and plucked him from the precipice. He lay there on the ground muttering in whispered tones, I chalked it up to the shock of what had just happened, I couldn't believe what I just witnessed either. An eight-man science team disappearing, six of them without a trace and now four more gone with the last three buildings in the base camp. I stood there gazing down into the enormous earthen pit; no rubble at the bottom, just the loosely packed dirt and rock of the planet’s surface. I stood silently, somewhere between respecting the dead and feeling a dizzying bewilderment as the situation began to sink itself into my psyche.

I dropped to my hands and knees, my legs unable to support my weight any longer steadying myself with deep breaths, resisting an instinctual need to feint as I felt as though my blood was no longer in my body. The feeling passed and I crawled over to the still muttering, still shaking, wild-eyed Pickens. I could not hear him but I could just make out some of the words on his lips, I believe my lip-reading abilities are not up to par, but what I saw was "Eyes, were they eyes? A mouth... teeth... doomed, we're doomed." Pickens’s face would lend truth to any story, no matter how horrific, but this is a barren dead planet. I administered a tranquilizer to Pickens and carried him to the transport after he had fallen asleep.

Pickens awoke some time after we arrived at the site of the first seismic event, I was already standing outside when he walked up to and stopped beside me. The man did not regard me at all; he stared over the crater, into the vastness of the horizon. I stared at him as he stood there unblinking, he made no attempt to say anything, through his visor I could see his lips as still as the rest of him. He stood for minutes as still as the planet around him. I wanted to ask him what he saw, hoping the time and rest had steadied his thoughts, but I could form no sounds, I was paralyzed by his presence… or absence as it seemed.

When I finally found my voice, I told Pickens I had radioed the ship in orbit and told them what had happened. I told him that I transmitted all the data from the science equipment that I could and after I quick check of the original anomaly, that we would return to the P.I.E.C.* and get the hell off this planet. That’s when he finally spoke, that’s when I heard him whisper… “We won’t.”

I laughed at the absurdity of Pickens’ insinuation that we would both die there and insisted he follow me back to the transport. I could see an electrical storm brewing on the horizon behind the transport so I turned back and insisted that Pickens hurry. I watched him take one full stride and descend over the edge. I grabbed the winch and attached it to my harness as I ran to the crater; in a mix of fury and defiance, leapt off the cliff and began to rappel down to my friend. I was only ten feet from his body when I could see that he was already dead. The visor on the expeditionary suit’s helmet is the most reinforced part of the entire outfit and it was marred by a three inch hole on the left side, about nose high; Pickens must have landed face first for that to have happened. I took a moment to pray for my friend and used my remote device to retract the winch and begin scaling the vertical wall of the crater.

As I climbed into the cockpit of the transport I could see that the storm was growing and seemed to cover half the visible horizon. I had to head for the ship quickly, as the edge of the storm seemed to parallel my intended course. I nearly vomited several times on the trip back to the ship, I couldn’t understand how everything had happened the way it did. Thirteen men were dead from sudden and unexplainable seismic collapse… make that eleven, I still don’t know for sure what happened to Zhirim and Orrence, but the timeline suggests they were caught in a storm similar to the one that was closing in on my vehicle.

I had finally made it back to the ship and climbed into the pilot’s seat of the P.I.E.C. after securing the transport in the hold when the ground began to shake violently. Only one thing went through my mind as I struggled to get up from the chair and out of the craft. I prayed as I ran; I prayed that this wasn’t happening, that this was a dream… a nightmare typical of planetary exploration and recovery operators. I began to stumble as the rock sank away beneath my feet. The breath was knocked from my lungs as I slammed into the edge of the pit, but I managed to pull myself up over the ledge and look back to watch my only way off this rock sink into oblivion.

It was then that I saw it, that which drove Pickens over the edge, a great maw lined with dozens of rows of conical teeth, each as large as a man snapped shut, swallowing tons of rocks and sand and… the only thing that can get me off this planet. I could see numerous empty, black eyes on both sides of its massive jaws; they had no direction… just an empty forward stare.

I will run out of air at least two hours before the crew still in orbit even thinks something is amiss when I haven’t reported in. This is the end of my entry into this personal recorder… I have to go now.

A storm is coming.



 
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