Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Serpent's Walk: Serial Part 1

Lieutenant Hasat Aten awoke with a desperate feeling of emptiness in his lungs and opened his mouth to draw air. He had been revived once again from his long sleeping vigil. He moved to sit up, but hit his head on the lid of the suspension pod he had been in.

“Damn it”, he cried, “Computer, open hatch!”

The computer replied in its synthetic voice, “Unable to open hatch. Hatch motor inoperable”.

Hasat pushed his claws firmly against the lid and pushed with all his might. He heard one of the clamps give way, then another, and finally the lid of the suspension pod gave way to his efforts. Each one of these revivications seemed to be worse than the last.

Thankfully, the automated water dispenser was working, and he greedily lapped water into his dry mouth, as he probably hadn’t had a drink in… how many years was it?

“Computer, what is elapsed time since my last waking interval”, Hasat asked.

“62.4 Million Years”, the computer relplied.

“What?”, he said, “Impossible. Computer, recalibrate and restate”.

“Calculation is correct. 62.4 million years since last waking period”, the computer replied.

He fell to his knees and planted his face in his claws. His pod and station were to be revived at only 25,000 year intervals along with several hundred other Saurian scientists , civilians, and military officers simultaneously who were stationed at various places around the Earth. They would then jointly make the assessment if the environment had recovered sufficiently from the meteor impact to begin recolonization of the surface. Each time, they had found the planet still inhospitable, and had returned to their slumber.

His thoughts went immediately to the possibility that he was the sole survivor of the Saurian race.

“How?”, he said through grief.

“Restate Query”, said the computer.

“How was it that I was revived sixty million years late?”, he asked.

“Insufficient Power to perform revivication at prior timed interval”, replied the machine.

“Then why am I not just dead?”, he asked.

“Power was sufficient to maintain stasis”, the machine replied.

“Then how did you wake me up now?”, Hasat asked.

“Power from probe interlink provided enough energy for revivication”, the computer replied.
“Probe?”, he asked, “From where?”.

“Unknown. An autonomous ground based probe interfaced with this facility’s surface hatch 40 hours ago”, the computer stated.

He exited the status chamber and went to the main computer room.

“Surface visual”, he stated.

“Unable to comply. External sensors are non-functional”, the computer replied.

“What about the probe sensors?”, he asked.

“Accessing”, replied the computer.

As the screen came to life, he saw that the environment had changed greatly. Mountains were one-third of their prior size, and a savannah covered by alien looking tall grasses stretched all around him.

“What in the name of Mother Egg?”, he asked.

“Sheol Military Compound 4”, a voice came over the loudspeaker, “This is Iden Biomedical Facility Do you copy?”.

The voice was organic, Saurian, and not from a machine.

“Computer, begin reply”, said Hasat.

“Yes, this is Sheol 4”, he replied, “Lt. Hasat Aten here. I can hear you. Do you copy me?”.

No reply came.

“Repeat. I received your transmission. Do you copy me?”, Hasat repeated.

“Yes”, came an elated voice, “Yes, Lieutenant, I can hear you just fine. I’m sorry it took me a moment. I haven’t heard another Saurian voice in 60 million years. This is Dr. Yah Hawah. I sent my last probe to your site for a power uplink and was beginning to think it wouldn’t have any more success than the prior probes had at the other sites”.

“Doctor”, said the lieutenant, “How did all this time go by?”

“I disagreed with the government, Lieutenant, about how long the planet would take to recover. I prepared my facility for much longer dormant periods than the rest, and, unfortunately, I seem to have been right. I’ve been awake for about five years”, said the Doctor, “but you are the first success I’ve had powering up another facility”.

Hasat was still silent, overwhelmed by all this a bit.

“Lieutenant Aten”, said the Doctor over the comlink, “My probe can’t power your facility much longer, and your supplies other than your water and air will be unusable by now. We have enough supplies for you here”.

“We?”, questioned Hasat. Each facility was to have only one stasis pod with one Saurian in it.

“Yes”, said Doctor Hawah, “It’s a long story, but, the probe is losing power as we speak. I am about 300 kilometers west of you. My probe is also a vehicle and can get you within about 15 miles of Idan. After that she’ll die I’m afraid. You think you can re-enact one of those hikes from your training days to make it the rest of the way on foot, Lieutenant?”.

Hasat desperately wanted to see another of his own kind and get some answers. And he wanted to see how many other survivors were with Dr. Hawah.

“You’d have to nail my tail down to stop me sir”, Hasat replied.

“Excellent”, said the Doctor, “and you’ll want to take Enviroarmor, “I’m afraid the oxygen levels aren’t what they were in our day”.

“On my way, Doctor”, Hasat replied.

“Excellent”, said Hawah, “We’ll see you in time for dinner tomorrow”.

Lieutenant Hasat Aten grabbed some weapons and supplies, boarded the ground probe, and began his trek across the Savannah. He rode in the probe vehicle until it gave out of power, and then set out to reach the Idan facility on foot just as night fell.