The year is 2077. Life on Earth has become unsustainable, and so humankind has set off to the farthest-flung regions of the universe to seek refuge. On one such planet in one such region, a reconnaissance crew has uncovered a journal, showing that – 60 years earlier – one man had already tried to settle here. Here is an excerpt from that journal.
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I had to leave. War, recession, reality show stars running for office…and to top it all off, I had to witness a footballer introduce Match of the Day in just a pair of shorts. It was all just too much. Fortunately, I was able to acquire some space travel technology from a surprisingly advanced totalitarian dictatorship and thusly fled that desolate rock. Unfortunately, my plans to fly directly into the sun at the centre of the universe have been foiled. Reports of missile tests launched by totalitarian dictatorships should have served as a reminder that distance is an issue for anything they fire into the sky, and so I find myself here, stranded, on the first planet outside the Solar System.
Thankfully, whilst my ship is in bits, my exosuit has survived the landing, and – after a quick calibration routine – the HUD told me that I had landed on Albertz Prime, part of the Die Hammer system. Luckily, first impressions are favourable. I can see grass and trees and hills stretch far off into the distance. Much more importantly, there’s not another human being in sight. Maybe…just maybe…this planet could become home.
Day Two – Albertz Prime, Die Hammer System
Upon further exploration of the immediate vicinity, I am more convinced than ever that I can make a life here. Albertz Prime appears to be a copious paradise, albeit a wet and cold one, with the HUD suggesting that the temperature varies between -1 during the day and -40 at night. Then again, I’m Scottish, so that’s just January to me. Plus I have a pretty cool jetpack for jumping around. I am nothing if not easily amused.
I have yet to come across any sentient life in my travels, but the materials available to me are bountiful. The plant life provides the carbon I need to power my life support system and my mining tool, as well as other useful elements – zinc, plutonium and the like. The rocks offer comparable bounty – iron, platinum, even gold – although extracting those precious elements requires a little more patience and hard work, which are almost alien (no pun intended) concepts to me. Life is going to be drastically different on Albertz Prime…
This planet is truly stunning. My travels led me to cave formations that geologists could only dream of, and plant life that botanists would stomp on their own grandmothers to study.
More importantly though, today was the day. After 48 hours of wondering if I was the only living creature on this planet, I discovered several species of alien beings roaming the plains.
Fortunately for me, that old adage of ‘them being more scared of you than you are of them’ seems to hold true on Albertz Prime, as not a single one showed the slightest sign of aggression towards me. I knew being a large Glaswegian would finally work in my favour one day, although I didn’t expect it to come good on a different planet.
Emboldened by my first brush with the wildlife of Albertz Prime, I ventured further and soon happened upon a small industrial-looking facility. Upon entering said facility, I was amazed to find another creature within, only this creature was sitting upright, wearing clothes and tapping away at a tablet-like device! I cautiously moved to interact with the creature, curious as to its purpose, when it began to speak in what I assume was its native tongue.
Perhaps as a result of my upbringing in the west of Scotland, I’m surprisingly adept at deciphering outlandish language, and I could just about make out two words from what the creature said – “give” and “high”. Was I being asked about drugs? Only one way to find out, I suppose, so I handed over a small amount – let’s say… a gram – of carbon dust, which it seemed highly delighted by. Later in the day, I found out that this race is called the Gek. You know what Gek sounds like? Gak. Yeah, I was definitely being asked about drugs.
The one note of concern for me so far is that I have yet to establish a home base of any kind, and there appears no easy way to do so. Whilst there is an abundance of materials to farm, all of them exhibit a fragility that makes them unsuitable for building. As a result, I have taken to hiding in my spaceship for warmth. As my spaceship is pretty much the size of a Mini Cooper, it’s not exactly a comfortable sleeping solution.
Come to think of it, I now realise that I haven’t slept or eaten in over 100 hours.
This can’t be right…
Having dallied for the last few days on actually fixing my ship, I have now resolved to do so, as I fear my time on Albertz Prime may be coming to a much quicker end than I had hoped. My continued travels brought me to a stark, minimal, yet eerie monolith. I approached it with apprehension, sensing something really sinister about it.
Sure enough, upon climbing to the top, I find the body of a Gek-like creature encased in ice. Curiosity got the better of me, as it tends to do, but as I got closer to examine, this…thing reached through the ice and grasped me by the throat! Despite this not being the first time I’d ever been grabbed by the throat by something not fully human (have I mentioned that I’m Glaswegian?), it represented the first time I had ever feared for my life. Its evil was palpable, its stench stifling. Do I really want to set up shop on a planet where such a things exists? Does more than one of them exist?
I complete my repairs to the ship and fuel it up. Slipping into the cockpit, I feel a sense of pride at my accomplishment and relief that I can leave, yet I also feel fear over what this means for my future. Every night, I have looked to the heavens, overwhelmed at the sheer scale of it all. I’m a creature of comfort and habit, of what I know. I am no longer a young man and the next trip could be my last. Do I have it in me to take that risk?
No. No, I don’t. I switch off the ignition and sigh. After a few moments, just one thought circulates around my mind…
…can the Gek teach me how to make Irn Bru?