"Since the advent of the space age, humans had took to the skies in search of prospects, and answers. And indeed, they returned, with even greater answers to science. In particular, the advancement of material science had gone ahead leaps and bounds since the space age. Introduction of new materials harnessed from other worlds had improved our knowledge of material processing and refinement. Of course, the material goods and items we now enjoy would be so very expensive and difficult, usually downright impossible to make without this fact. Like the polymer or aircrete we use for cheap furnitures nowadays—they cost nothing to produce and yet those cutthroats could sell it for a premium! Look... my cousin's neighbour's brother's friend owns the [Redacted] factory. Those [Redacted] tables cost 2 credits and they sell it for 1000 credits! My God! Well I never..."
- R.W. Herodotus, Grand Historian of Ordo Historia, Terra
After stepping foot on solid ground, the man quickly gathered himself and counted his options.
After orienting himself with the aid of the moon’s generosity, he could at least observe the terrain, which helped him on making his decisions.
Firstly, he recovered the precious cargo that the drop pod carried. Other than the usual satchel of standard items that he could sling onto his shoulders, he found something else that made his eyes glisten.
“Yes!” He muttered in joy.
His drop pod also contained what he assumed to be a defense kit. He pulled out a polymer helmet, body armor and footwear. Aside that, he could see the outline of a rifle and a box of ammunition underneath.
Just as described, the helmet was a solid piece with appropriate padding and straps, covered by protective-grade polymer.
Similar material was used for the body armor and footwear. Essentially a vest and pair of shoes of woven synthread embedded with polymer pieces, its design closely resemble lamellar armor of the ancient ages. With an adequate amount of straps on both items, they were designed with the ‘one-size-fits-all’ concept in mind.
Yet, these items are considered crude and simple in design. They could hardly withstand any ballistic attacks or any actual modern weaponry. At least they are cheap and easily manufactured. They would perform splendidly against sharp sticks, animal tusks and antlers.
“At least it works…” He spoke with a hint of disappointment as he inspected his weapon.
A simple glance indicates that he had come to possess a ballistic bolt-action rifle. Incredibly crude and incredibly simple in design, this ancient thing would not hold a candle to any sort of modern weaponry. It could only be hand loaded, while it holds 5 rounds in the internal magazine and another 1 in the chamber. Without any attachments whatsoever, he could only work with the embedded iron sights and eyeball the targets.
Seeing the sleek polymer frame and machined steel parts, he lightly celebrated, “at least it ain’t some decrepit, millennium old thing…”
Looking around, he saw another drop pod landing. It was nearby, too.
Quickly packing the small box of 7.62 ammunition with 100 cartridges into the standard satchel, he made his way to the adjacent crash site.
Soon, what he saw was the survivor still strapped to the seat, motionless.
They found the remaining two survivors some distance away.
“One, two, three, four!” The man grunted. “Come on!”
Illumination under the flashlights revealed a tragic scene that shocked the both of them.
Right beside the remnants of the escape pod, a person sat while another was laying down.
The man was performing CPR on the other survivor. She could immediately spot a few glaring errors on his part. For instance, the chest compressions were not done on the chestbone, but on an approximate location way above on the sternum, between the breasts. Also, the body was strewn about with her head not angled upwards. This minor oversight could cause a person to suffocate to death in bad cases even if the resuscitation was successful.
Obviously, he was nothing but an amateur that performed it out of desperation.
“Fuck! It’s you people!” He screamed after seeing their approach. “Help me out!”
Both Aria and Joshua heard the man’s haggard breathing before they could see him properly in the dark. He had most definitely overextended himself and will soon succumb to exhaustion if he carried on.
Without a word, Joshua broke into a sprint and positioned himself on the opposite of the man, intending to take over to perform chest compressions.
“Stop…” Aria continued her stride slowly, while fixing her gaze onto the body.
“What?”-“What the fuck!” Both Joshua and the man responded instantly in shock.
Ignoring her hail, the man continued administering CPR. Aria had to run up to the scene and physically hold him back.
“What are you doing? There’s still a—” The man protested in anger.
“There’s no chance!” She retorted.
“You hadn’t even checked her body!” He struggled. “There’s no pulse but there’s still—”
“Don’t need to.” She replied concisely.
“!!!” Both men could not respond, obviously taken aback by her answer.
“Sigh.” Aria responded calmly, while shrugging helplessly. “Just… look here.”
She pointed her flashlight at the body’s bloody face. While the gazes of both men followed it intently.
“Something went wrong with the reverse thrusters, or shock absorbers… or something…” She explained.
Both men answered with a glare that seems to be urging her to ‘get to the point’.
They could obviously see blood slightly smudged on the face, especially by the orifices. Trails of fresh blood could be seen flowing down her face.
She bent down and slowly stretched open the body’s closed eyelids while both men watched keenly. To their shock, the eyeballs are completely red, swollen and bloody - as if both eyeballs are removed and were replaced with two balls of blood.
“Look at her face, no bruises or anything but the orifices are stained with blood. And the blood vessels of her eyes had burst… completely.” She calmly explained. “No open wounds, but the back of the neck is bruised too…”
“So… she’s gone?” Joshua asked sheepishly.
“Sometime, during the landing, somehow, she hit her head… hard.” In a calm voice, Aria announced her verdict. “She died instantly.”
“Damn.” The man loosen his posture and sank into the ground after hearing Aria’s verdict. “Never even knew her name…”
The others stayed silent.
The trio sat around the corpse for a moment, all silently mourning. Each of them carried a somber expression on their faces, suffering in silence.
Soon, Joshua stood up and slowly walked towards the drop pod nearby. Aria followed suit soon enough, intent on recovering the cargo on this drop pod.
Before leaving, the man adjusted the body and made it lay with a straight posture, with both hands clasped laying on the chest.
With a defeated expression, he looked up to the skies. Expecting to find clarity in his thoughts, what he saw with his eyes only served to worsen his state.
Outshining the glistening stars, a rain of brighter flames now slowly descends from the skies. Above the verdant landscape, with countless drops of flame growing ever larger in size and scale, an omen of disaster could be seen clearly.