Published on April 12th, 2013 | by Fraser Brown4
Planet Explorers: You find a datapad in some monster faeces
Normally you’d probably ignore it. I mean, datapads are nice and all, but a mountain of faeces is not the most pleasant of places to go rummaging. As you walk away, it starts to blink. It’s functioning. You roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath and stick your hands into the giant poo pudding.
As you wipe away the grime and sweetcorn, the screen activates. It’s a journal, conveniently written in English. With nothing better to do on this dangerous alien world, you decide to read it. Who knows, it might provide some valuable insight into how one might avoid becoming a light snack for a titanic beastie.
Day One — Planetfall
Join an exciting expedition to an alien world! Adventure, fame and possibly fortune, they said. How could I resist?
As our ship plummeted towards the planet, its hull disintegrating and its corridors filled with the screams of the crew, I wished desperately that I had resisted. I had to punch a woman with a baby in the face to get into an escape pod, and I bravely ejected an elderly gentleman who was taking up space inside it.
The ride was bumpy, made all the worse by my extremely sore hand. The landing was rough, but I exited the escape pod more or less in one piece. Unfortunately, I was not able to throw every single one of the pod’s previous occupants out — one remained, and she was now injured.
If we’re the only survivors, I’ll probably need to keep her alive. It turns out that she’s also rather helpful, providing me schematics that allow me to construct all manner of tools to facilitate our dominance over this savage alien landscape. Tools like a wooden shovel and a wooden axe. Bugger.
Day One — Camping
We haven’t moved from the safety of the escape pod, mainly due to the fact that my companion is crippled. We needed food, medicine and building materials. I have schematics for quite a lot of tools, but had to gather a whole bunch of wood to manufacture then. Luckily, I brought my trust knife with me.
At first, I wasn’t really sure that cutting a tree with a knife would be a profitable venture. I was completely wrong. Within a few minutes, I’d gathered a vast amount of timber, and I’d wiped out several evil alien trees. No doubt they were the malevolent entities responsible for the ship crashing. I’ve certainly seen no other life.
After crafting some useful equipment and easing my companion’s pain, she reminded me that we hadn’t had anything to eat since we made planetfall. The tumultuous noise from my belly confirmed this. Her suggestion was that I make some sausages — a great idea were we not stranded on a distant world with few resources. She’s clearly delirious from her injury. She started to babble on about chicken rabbit monsters, so I hit her on the head.
How dare she suggest we make sausages out of chicken.
I decided to look for signs of animal life, anyway. I discovered a herd of stegosaurus type creatures, and after marvelling at these majestic beasts for a moment, I picked off the weaker ones with a wooden sword I’d just constructed. As I began to make my way back to camp, dragging my grisly trophies, I heard something running towards me. I expected to find an aggravated stegosaurus, but instead came face to face with a nightmare made flesh.
My crazy friend was right.
Day One — OH SHIT WE NEED TURRETS
There was no time for sausages, even those made from the meat of a delicious stegosaurus baby. I now knew the horrors that existed on this hellish world. Our little camp, with its inviting fire, injured woman, and plethora of fine meats was like an open invitation to the monstrous beasts that now plagued my thoughts.
We needed fortifications, badly. Thankfully, I still had a surplus of wood from my noble war against this world’s tree populations, so I set about building three automatic ballista-style turrets around the camp. Using my trusty spade, I made mounds of earth for them to sit upon, hoping to keep them out of reach from El Pollo Diablo.
Not long after constructing the camp’s defences, the beasts came. Two of them — one little and one not so little. Strangely, they appeared to be in some distress, and when a rock whizzed past my head (at least I hope it was a rock, and not something more “organic”) I realised why. The chicken devils were being hounded by a tiny army of monkey creatures.
What the hell is wrong with this world?
A battle took place that sunny afternoon, and it will be etched in my mind until the end of my days. The tiny monkeys moved almost as one, surrounding the man-eating chickens. They pelted them continually with rocks, definitely rocks, not poo, slowly wearing the stronger animals down. The chickens didn’t go down without a fight, though. They clawed and tore at the lesser beasts, savagely ripping their thin skin. And the noises, oh the awful noises.
All the while, my turrets bombarded the beasts with arrows, and I hid behind the crashed escape pod, cowering as only the bravest of men can cower — with dignity.
When the conflict was over, I harvested meat and fat from the fallen, but I didn’t feel good about it.
Day One — Venturing out into the unknown
The afternoon’s slaughter made it clear that were not safe at our camp, even though we were currently protected by turrets. In fact, the turrets had started to worry me. They are made out of wood, and yet they can track the movements of animals, tell friend from foe and aim with great precision. I fret that they are becoming sentient.
I grabbed my sword and shield — we’ve really gone medieval now — and promised my companion I would return should I find any other survivors.
I don’t expect to see her again.
Another escape pod went down in the north west, within walking distance from my landing site. I thought that would be the best place to look for help, but getting there was easier said than done. Several stegosaurus herds were grazing on these plains, and they presented a delicious buffet for my old nemesis, El Pollo Diablo.
I maintained my distance, sneaking behind trees or the giant plant arches that dotted the land. At one point I heard a thunderous stomping, and staggered as the ground shook. Instead of investigating, I broke out into a run, fleeing north.
The sun was getting low when I finally arrived at the other escape pod, and what a sight greeted me. A whole group of survivors, a proper camp, medical equipment and even a bloody doctor. Things were looking up! Well, they were until the doctor turned out to be a pain in the arse, getting upset when I couldn’t remember his name and then demanding my aid. I’d only just survived a treacherous journey, and then he wanted me to protect him as we made our way back to help my injured pod-mate. Bloody doctors.
Doctor Arsehole didn’t appear to be worried by the monsters stalking us in the dim evening light. In fact, when they decided to attack, he just ignored them and let me defend the both of us. I’m getting pretty handy with the ol’ wooden sword, however, so we managed to make it back with only a few scrapes and bruises. Well, I did. The doctor was completely uninjured.
The return journey was not as successful. Supporting his new patient, the doc walked at a snail’s pace, all the time with me running around him in circles flailing about with my sword. The sun had almost completely set, and my headlamp revealed little of the threats we would face. It was tense, to say the least, with all manner of horrors leaping out of the dark to assault us.
Day One — Night Terrors
We made it back, barely.
The sweat was pouring off me, despite the falling temperature, and all I wanted to do was close my eyes. But fate had other things in store for me, because fate is an absolute bastard.
The thunderous noise had returned. The camp shook, and my fellow survivors looked around nervously, at a loss at what to do. There was no running away this time, not with the darkness engulfing us. I still had plenty of wood, however, and set about surrounding us with as many turrets as I could build.
As the last turret was placed, a cacophony assaulted my ears. Screeches, roars, growls, the flapping of tattered wings and then the sound of arrows flying. Out of the night poured a veritable Noah’s Ark of monstrosities: A stampeding stegosaurus horde, rabid chicken demons, pterodactyls, gigantic wolves and then the worst creature of them all, the source of the thunderous stomping.
It was complete chaos. In the middle of the battle, I saw the doctor being carried off by one of the pterodactyls, and while I gave chase, he was quickly swallowed up by the night. I ran back to the camp, and found nothing but death. A mountain of animal corpses, broken machines, and dead friends.
I sat in the middle of it all, this graveyard, and wondered what the hell I was going to do.
A noise from behind an ancient alien ruin breaks your focus, and you put the datapad away. What did the sound remind you of? Was it thunder? You jump up with a start, sprinting back to your camp.
You don’t look back, terrified of what you might see. All that matters is finding safety. The rest of the journal will have to wait for another day.