Alarms were blaring within the escape sarcophagus as the inhabitant was rudely woken up from his cryosleep. The pod slowly cracked open its lid after a brief scan of the surrounding area, a flashing green light indicated that it was safe to exit the pod. What the pod had failed to register was the rushing water that crashing against its side, as the inhabitant groggily pulled themselves out of the pod they slipped and fell into the small river that the pod had landed in. As they became submerged and tried to take their first real breath they inhaled a lung full of water, their system shocked them awake as they began violently coughing up water. The water itself was pelvis deep as they were kneeling, vomiting the last of the water up and wiping their face they took stock of their surroundings. They could see a sparse forest with small mountains scattered around the area and at least three more crashed pods, one that was also in the river opened up. A female blindly reaching around stumbled out of the pod, but instead of falling face first into the river they fell face up as the current was taking them down. Looking at where the river was leading into sent a small chill down the first inhabitant’s spine, the vast ocean expanded out behind them and the river they were kneeling in led right into it. Seeing the girl slowly float toward them they rushed forward as their body groaned in pain, grabbing a hold of the girls arms they dragged her to the shore.
As the girl was coming to a loud shriek exploded in the air as another pod came hurdling toward them, the pod crashed into the side of the small mountain spraying rock everywhere. The girl’s vision was blocked as she finally came to, feeling the rushing water at her feet and a body lying on top of her. Clearing her throat she asked, “excuse me can you please move.” She watched as a man leaned up apologizing, he had tan skin and an athletic build. When he was standing he offered her his hand, taking it she looked around. She saw the pods in the river and the one that hit the mountain, the other two also caught her eye. The man that had helped her was making his way to the mountain pod, shaking the sleep from her face with a few splashes of water she quickly followed. As the man was working on trying to get the pod open the girl asked,” So what’s your name?” the man clawing at a side panel answered without looking at her, “ Nova but you can call me Blue.” The girl cocked her head to the side, “well ok Blue my name’s Tessa but you can call me Tess.” Blue nodded as he popped open one of the side panels, “what’s that for?” Blue looking at the interior of the panel again answered without looking at her, “This is the emergency eject console, I opened it just in case the person inside couldn’t pop the lid.” Tess nodded as she stepped closer and lean over looking into the small window on the pods lid. She could see movement before the lid popped open with a hiss as the interior depressurized, taking a step back she could see a hand reach out blindly trying to grab anything it could. Blue offered his hand as he pulled the occupant into a sitting position, helping the man out and toward the river Tess went over to the other closest pod.
Tess did not need to open any side panel as the occupant popped open the lid and stumbled out, Tess caught them before they hit the ground. The girl she was now holding had an odd shade of green dyed hair, shaking her head Tess lead the girl to the river for her to clean herself. The man that Blue helped had dunked his whole head into the river before reemerging shaking his head like a dog would. The man from what Tess could tell was built like a truck, he made Blue seem smaller by comparison as he was a head taller than Blue. Holding onto Blue’s shoulder for support the man blinked a few time before asking, “What happened?” Both Blue and Tess shrugged and the girl finished washing her face. The man made his way back to his pod and leaned against it as Blue and Tess went to the last pod, it was still not open which worried her as Blue began working on opening the emergency console. Finding the emergency release button they both waited for a few minutes, when no movement was seen or heard Blue pressed the button and the lid hissed as it lifted open.
Tess slowly crept closer to see who was inside as Blue was dusting himself off, as Tess leaned her head further in a wild fist came flying out catching her on the chin. The occupant of the pod began screaming as they tried to force themselves out of the pod throwing a back hand catching Tess in the side of the head. Blue rushed around the pod and caught the other wild fist as he dragged and flipped the occupant face first onto the ground, putting a knee in the now apparent females back with her arm twisted into an arm bar. Blue making sure his hold was secure looked to Tess, “are you ok? Bleeding anywhere?” Tess rubbed the struck areas as she shook her head, “no I’m fine she just surprised me is all.” Blue nodded looking down at the now calm woman, “I’m sorry for being rough but I couldn’t have you throwing wild hands and potentially hurting someone.” The woman huffed before her breathing became steadier, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know who you were. Most stories about cryopods crashing on planets ends with the person being picked up by raiders. I’m calm now and I won’t attack anyone, can you please get off me now?” Blue nodded slowly releasing the woman and helping her off the ground, he pointed her to the river for her to wash up. Walking over to Tess Blue gingerly checked her face, aside from some redness in the area she was hit she was overall fine. Her face was light complected as her long brown hair clung to her back from the wetness of the river, walking back with her toward the other two Blue looked around to see if there might be any more cryopods.
As the woman came back five people stood or sat in a small makeshift circle, looking at the sky he saw no more hints of anymore cryopods hurtling toward them. The man got up dusting himself off, “I take it this was not part of the itinerary for the ride?” Tess shook her head, “nope my vacation plan did not include crash landing on what seems like a rimworld.” Blue was still looking around when the man spoke again, “um I don’t know what he’s doing but we may be stuck here for some time, so I think it best we know who we are stuck with. My name is Aldwytch but you all can call me Bus.” Tess snickered, “well Bus my name is Tessa but you’ll can call me Tess.” The green haired woman spoke as Tess looked to her, “My name’s Ellen but most people call me Handy, and no it’s not a sex thing, I grew up on a farm and the name came with how useful I was at planting and harvesting along with handling animals.” Handy seemed irate but quickly calmed down when she saw no one snickering or laughing. The last woman turned to Tess as she moved her orange hair out of her face, Tess had to admit that she was gorgeous. The woman offered an apology, “I am sorry for hitting you earlier my name is Kazuko, but you can call me Fox, earned the nickname as a kid from the color of my hair.” The four looked to Blue as he had yet to speak, Bus clear his throat breaking Blue for his scanning of the horizon. Turning to everyone he stood straight, “My name is Nova, nickname Blue.” Bus taking note of his stance asked, “Military?” Blue raised an eyebrow before noticing his stance, “for a time, when my CO decided I needed to move onto other things I turned to bounty hunting, mostly went after deserters and serial killers.”
Fox hearing this stiffened up slightly but not enough for anyone to really notice. Blue looked at his pod, “wish there was some way to get that out of the river, it has my things in there that would really help out right now.” Bus got up dusting himself off, “Well let’s not waste any time than.” Blue nodded as Handy and Tess got up to help out, Bus was as strong as his nickname, it took only a few minutes to push both Blue and Tess’s pod out of the river and onto the shore near the other pods. Pressing the release button on the inside of his pod a side compartment opened up, Blue took out and laid his things in an organized pile as everyone else did the rest did the same.
Blue had a Tactical military helmet along with an armored tactical vest, his E16 precision charge rifle, a S8 charge pistol, and accompanying ammo for both weapons. Included in his things were a few survival meals and a radio with head set, fitting the headset into his helmet Blue geared up putting his armor and helmet on and loading his weapons. Bus had a simpler item set as he had his plasteel pickaxe and trusty hammer, along with a similar radio. What confused him was the additional plasteel mace among his things. Handy had a shotgun with her initials carved into the stock, ammo for said shotgun and a baton, a longsword found toward the back of the storage compartment raised alarming questions. Tess made her confusion vocally known as her things which were a set of clothes now consisted of a Carbine rifle and matching ammo. Fox had her medical supplies and scalpel from her med school days, taking note of the extra survival meals.
Tess held the carbine is nervous hands, “how do I even use this thing? I’ve never held a gun before.” Blue walked over to her after slinging his rifle over his shoulder, fixing her hands and readjusting the gun he put her in a shooters stance. Pointing to each important thing on the gun he told her the most important thing, “the end of this is always pointed at whoever is attacking you ok? But that should only be if myself or Handy is not around, the kick on that gun is not strong so just grip it tight and squeeze the trigger. I’ll see about setting up some targets for shooting practice later.” Tess nodded taking the strap of the gun and slinging it over her shoulder. Handy knew how to use her shotgun but was still weirded out, “I swear I left this at the bar along with the baton, I have no idea how these got into my things.” Fox questioned, “Bar?” Handy nodded, “Yeah I work as a bartender, was on my way to owning the place too, but decided to take a vacation before. Look how that turned out.” Bus seeing Blue look in the direction he had been staring at since he exited his pod asked, “Can I ask why you keep looking over there?” Blue taking his rifle aimed in the direction looking through the scope for a brief moment before putting the rifle down, “I see some old buildings to the north, west, and southeast. They don’t look like they house anyone but they still might have stuff in them.”
Everyone took out their radios and found a sync button that connected them all together, putting his helmet on Blue move the mouth piece for the headset away from his mouth briefly. Hooking the radio to his pants he picked up a backpack that was in a separate compartment and placed the rest of his rifles ammo and a few survival meals in it, “If anything happens just call me on the radio.” They all nodded as Handy took out a multi-tool provided by the pods emergency survival kit, “Me and Bus are going to work on getting a shelter together, hopefully we have something reasonable to sleep in when night falls.” Blue nodded as he walked off, Handy directed Tess and Fox on which trees to cut for the best harvest. Bus was mapping out areas for different types of rooms, taking note of how much lumber he needed for each wall he envisioned.
Blue walked for what seemed like hours, taking a look around he could see the ruins of the building get closer and closer. When he finally reached it he could see how dilapidated the walls had become, running his hand over one of the walls revealed some damage that was not from time. Bullet holes, entering through the fallen wall he saw a collection of old beds totaling four by his count. Keeping his rifle ready he walked through the rest of the ruined room, his foot crunched on something causing him to take a step back. Lifting his foot he could see the skeletal remains of a human, leaning down he dusted the area a bit out of curiosity. From the way that the skeleton was positioned it looked like they were lying face first on the floor, looking at the wall they were facing showed several small holes. Taking a closer look he could see that is was spray from a buck shot, “guess thinking that this planet might be peaceful was too much.” Standing up he called over the radio, “This is Blue does anyone copy?”
The radio buzzed for a few seconds before he received an answer, “This is Handy, what’s up Blue?” “I found the remains of a building with from what I can tell is four very old and possibly still useful beds in it.” “That’s great to hear, Bus started work on the shelter. We have a few rooms already sectioned out and a work-in-progress communal bathroom, we manage to make a storeroom and put a lot of our things in there for now. With a bit of luck we might even have a workable kitchen soon.” Blue was taken aback by the progress, “That sounds great! How’d you manage to build everything so fast?” there was the sound of loud banging coming from the radio before Bus answered, “I was a deep space miner before this, so I am used to making things. And I have to say that working with wood is a nice change of pace, you said you had found some beds?” Blue relaxed as he thought the banging might have been something bad, “Yeah, I’m thinking of checking one of the other buildings out before the days over but I can bring one bed over if that helps.” “Yes please, it would be nice to have a reference to go off of when finalizing the rooms for everyone.” “Ok be back soon hopefully.” Looking at the bed he could tell it was going to be a chore to move, from what he could tell the frame was cracked in several areas.
Giving the bed a test lift he saw that it was lighter than he had anticipated, it was the size of a single bed which lessened the amount of area that it took up. Taking some vines growing on the building he tested it strength and found it satisfactory and he tied the bed to the frame, lifting the bed he could tell that he would be making frequent stops just to rest. As he looked in the direction of the possible new shelter Blue huffed as he hoisted the bed onto his back as started walking.
Bus looked at all of the lumber Handy had directed to be cut, squinting and cocking his head to the side he estimated that another two or three trees worth of lumber would be enough to have a modest sized shelter. As it was he already had the frame work for a storage room set up, granted the walls were thin but at least everyone’s things were not exposed to the elements. An earlier complaint from all of the girls moved making bathrooms to the top of the list, so far he had at least one latrine for everyone and an accompanying stall set up with a door being the only thing left to be built. Taking some thin sheets of wood he used the multi-tool that Handy had found to be in each cryopod and cut out doors for the stalls. The multi-tool seems to act as both a handsaw, a welding torch, and a variable amount of other tools depending on the setting input into the device. Switching to a sander he made wooden hinges for the door to hang onto the stall walls, securing one set of hinges onto one door he went into the shelter to see how it fit when he walked in on Handy. Handy almost immediately went for her shotgun when Bus ducked into one of the bedrooms, “HANDY IT’S ME! PUT THE GUN DOWN!” Handy was fuming, “BUS! LEARN TO KNOCK, I COULD AND WILL SHOOT YOU!” Bus waited in the room until Handy walked past giving him a death glare, when she exited the shelter he almost ran to fit the new door onto the stall. When it was complete he made the other four sets and fitted the doors making a loud mention that he would be in the communal bathroom area fitting doors on the stalls. Fox and Tess nodded in slight confusion as Handy turned back to harvesting wood.
When a wide area of trees were cleared Handy could see the soil the trees had grown in, seeing the dirt by the shelter she compared the two with a slowly growing smile on her face. Going to the storeroom she fished through her things and found several seed packets that she pocketed. Using four sets of four sticks she marked of a section of the ground from where the apparently darker shade of dirt was located. Using the pickaxe from Bus Handy she dug at the ground making rows, using the pickaxe again this time she went and spaced out some hole which she dropped a seed into. By the time she was satisfied she had planted four different crops, strawberries, potatoes, rice, and cotton. Looking at the sky she could see some dark clouds rolling in, looking at the shelter she could see the ladder that Bus had crafted with him on the roof as he was nailing down a few sloped boards over one of the bedrooms. Bus had already roofed the storage area and the bathroom, he even made a table for Fox to look over the survival manual in the emergency kit. As she turned to see what else she could do she saw a large shape in the distance, squinting she tried to get a good look but it was still too far to get an accurate visual. Picking up her shotgun she walked toward the shelter, banging on the doorway she called Fox and Tess out, “Hey I see something.” Tess poking her head out asked in a worried tone, “a good something or bad something?” Handy still trying to get a good look shrugged one shoulder.
Bus climbed down from the roof a hoisted his pickaxe, Handy readied her shotgun, and Tess unsteadily gripped the carbine she found. Fox remained inside on the chance things progressed into a gun fight, since she did not have a weapon she was not useful in the current moment. Handy called over her radio, “Blue we have something walking toward the shelter.” Handy saw the object stop before turning both left and right as Blue responded, “I don’t see anything? What’s it look like?” “Big, like bigger than Bus big.” The object this time did a full 180 before turning back as Blue responded again, “I don’t see anything, not that having this damn bed strapped to my back helps any.” Hearing that everyone looked confused before Handy asked, “Hey Blue can you spin around and wave you rifle?” Everyone saw the object do a spin as something thin rose up and waved around, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, “sorry false alarm, it’s you we’re looking at. I didn’t know you were carrying the bed on your back.” She could hear Blue’s irritation over the radio, “Seriously! Had me spinning like an idiot. Well I’m obviously almost back yet, see you in a bit.” Handy hooked her radio to her pants as she apologized to everyone.
Blue made it to the shelter 10 minutes after the conversation, Bus still placing the roof could see him cross the river. Climbing down from the roof he went over and carefully took the bed from Blue’s back, “I’ll put this in the room now.” Blue nodded as he walked over and leaned against the wall, Fox leaned next to him handing him a survival meal. Blue took it watching the ocean as a breeze floated by, “You know out of all the places that we could have crashed, this isn’t the worst spot.” Fox brushed some of her hair out of her face as she watched the ocean with him, nothing was really said for some time as Bus continued to work on the shelter as both Tess and Handy worked on hauling in wood that was cut. Fox felt something poke her in the arm, turning to it she saw Blue holding up his pistol for her to grab. Looking at it for a brief moment she went to grab it when Blue spoke, “You know I almost didn’t recognize you, it must have been six months ago when I last saw you.” Fox stiffened up visually as she stared at Blue, “You know who I am?” Blue wiggled the gun at her, “Your left shoulder still has the bullet hole from when I shot you.” Fox unconsciously touched the scar in her shoulder as she stood confused, “if you know who I am then why hand me a gun?” “Because, we are stuck on a planet with possible raiders and you are the only certified doctor that I know of in a thousand mile radius.”
Fox slowly moved her hand toward the gun as Blue spoke again, “Plus the people that put the bounty on your head are most likely dead by now.” Fox froze, “what do you mean by that? Blue motioned to the escape pods, “There’s an internal calendar in there, the change in date from when I went in to now is about sixty years. The people that put the bounty were already old enough, they didn’t have access to cryopods. So no point in taking someone back to a place where I might not get paid, besides if you really wanted to kill everyone here you’d have done it while I was gone. Isn’t that right Bloody Dentist?” Fox breathed a sigh of irritation, “I hate how they gave me that name.” Blue chuckled, “Well I’d be pissed to if I was the first class honors valedictorian of my medical class only to be hired as a dentist’s assistant.” Fox had a dark look on her face as she planted herself down next to Blue who was still holding the gun for her to take, “I am a genius, I was leagues above everyone else in my class in terms of grades and social status. I was the top student in the history of that school, I broke every academic record that school had by a large margin. But because of a new law I needed to first work with a trained doctor.” Fox threw her hands into the air as she explained, “I didn’t even get a choice in who I went with, it was first come first serve and I was picked up by that damn idiot of a dentist! He didn’t know a tooth from a finger nail! He made some many mistakes that any time I tried to correct him his patients who had been with him previously just took it as normal! I was reprimanded for fixing a child’s tooth, a simple cavity fix nearly cost me that job! I just snapped, I didn’t even know how many people were there until the screaming stopped.”
Blue turned to Fox, “and from there you staged the buildings fire claiming to have been the only survivor, when you were picked up by another dentist.” Fox laughed, “After that I would take my time, gain the trust of the current dentist and let him give me access to patients. Anyone who thought they knew better or like the other dentist more had an accident, I don’t even know how many people I killed during that time.” Blue shrugged, “neither do I, I was only give the job of tracking you down and bringing you in. I looked that other stuff up after the first time you escape me.” Both turned back to the ocean as waves casually crashed against the shore, “But we have four people that could really use a medical professional, people who I would assume appreciate any kind of doctor if it meant surviving to the next day. So how about it, want to try and not be a psycho-killer this time?” Fox laughed a genuine laugh, Handy and Tess who we walking by smiled as the passed them on the way to the storage room. Fox wiped a tear from her eye, “so I guess my options are help out and keep everyone alive or leave and potentially get killed by whatever the hell is on this planet?” Blue shrugged again wiggling the sidearm at her, Fox looked at it again reaching for it, “Why not, it’s not like I can escape to anywhere. Plus they don’t seem too bad.” Fox took the gun standing up, dusting herself off she went inside.
It was night time when everyone made their way into the shelter, it had started to rain and Handy was optimistic that the rain would help the new crops. Bus had fixed the bed frame to not shatter when someone sat down on the bed. As everyone started to huddle into the room a loud ghostly wailing mixed with an unearthly howl echoed through the area, Blue readied his rifle at the only entrance into the shelter. Looking through the scope he couldn’t see anything as the spine chilling howls turned into loud gnashing as some kind of animal screeched out in pain. Blue cocked his head to the side, “there are two.” Handy was terrified, “what do you mean two?” “There are two sets of gnashing, I don’t know what it is but it seems to be preoccupied right now. Bus help me with the table.” Bus help Blue move the table in front of the hallway entrance as Blue put a chair right behind as he set his rifle up. Everyone huddled right behind Blue as he scanned the darkness through the rain. Blue sighed as he assured them, “Everyone get some sleep, I’ll stand guard for the night. I‘ll see what kind of damage we’re looking at in the morning, ok?” Tess and everyone else went to the storeroom and grabbed their weapons and brought Blue the longsword. Still looking out Tess asked, “But what if those creatures attack?” Blue shrugged, “Than you’ll hear me shooting or dying depending on how close they get.” Fox did not like his response, “Don’t die on us, you’re the best shooter we have. If we hear you shooting we’ll be out here with you.” Everyone nodded as he sighed again, “ok, whatever you want. Now get some sleep, I’ll be fine.” Reluctantly everyone went into the room sleeping is a huddled mess as Blue stared out into the raining night with his rifle ready and new sword at his side.