This was it, the final run....the run that would set my wife and I up for life. I had already completed five runs, most pilots quit after two or three runs but I was being greedy. I didn't want the cozy little retirement other pilots sought, I wanted to retire LARGE and live life at it's fullest for the next sixty or so years. Now I know better but it's too late.
As I lay here in the wreckage, pinned in a crater by the remains of the cockpit, I find myself fading in and out of consciousness. How long since the crash? I don't know. The HUD (Heads Up Display) in my helmet would tell me...if it wasn't smashed so badly I could barely see through it. I still have oxygen so the auto-repair devices in my suit have done their job. Like it matters, I'll be dead five months and twenty nine days before the next cargo ship passes.
I awake to the sound of Aivas' voice...(Artificial Intelligence Voice-Address System) She prefers to be called Aivas..."Captain Marley? Are you conscious Captain Marley?" I've always loved her voice. "Yes Aivas, I'm awake."
"I apologize for the lengthy period of time you have had to wait without my assistance Captain but repairs took longer than expected."
"That's fine Aivas, in fact I thought you were......ummm....."
"Deactivated Captain Marley?"
"For lack of a better term...yes Aivas, I thought you had been completely deactivated."
"Damage is significant Captain. Beyond even my ability to make more than minor repairs. Which, by the looks of things, would be completely pointless. I am more concerned with your safety and well being Captain."
"I fail to see what is amusing about your situation Captain. Your suit diagnostic system has informed me that you have sustained multiple injuries, two of which are life threatening, is the information incorrect?"
"No the information is correct. I'm going to die here Aivas."
"I'm afraid you are correct Captain Marley. You only have 23.7 hours of oxygen left."
"Aivas my back is broken and I'm bleeding internally, I'll probably die before I run out of air."
"You are probably correct in that assumption Captain. I am also sorry to inform you that no other crew member survived."
"Yeah, I kind of guessed that."
"I am also sorry to inform you that our entire shipment is completely lost."
"Yeah, I can see through parts of my HUD that it's spread all over the landscape, like I really give a FUCK Aivas!"
some time later...
"What happened exactly Aivas? I can't recall."
"Shortly after leaving the orbit of planet EX133 we were hit by a meteor shower..."
"Why didn't the shower show up on radar Aivas?"
"The meteor particles were so small Captain that by the time I registered them the ship had taken 417 direct hits before shields could be raised. More than 26% of those hits were located in the engine compartment, the anti-matter housing was breached and the chain reaction destroyed 33% of the abaft compartments. The ship succumbed to the gravity of EX133's second moon, we now rest in the moon's third largest crater at 39 degrees south..."
"Captain it is protocol to inform you that I am picking up multiple life form readings."
"WHAT?!? This moon has been scanned multiple times and nothing has ever shown up."
"The life form readings are so minute Captain that they would not have shown up on long range scans. Also they would not be what was normally scanned for, they appear to be a mix of silicon and an unknown substance...............further analysis is inconclusive."
"Do I need to worry about being eaten alive Aivas?"
"No Captain they appear to be feeding on the red algae in the bottom of the crater and are unaware of your presence, I will enhance your HUD to give you a detailed picture."
"My HUD"s damaged Aivas."
"It is only the first external layer that is damaged Captain, I have shut down your faceplate cameras and will provide you with an external view from the single remaining external ship's camera..."
"They appear to be....almost....arachnid in nature, are they intelligent Aivas?"
"Doubtful Captain, they are more like Earth's insect species. They live underground and come above to feed periodically, nothing more. They are all exactly the same in nature with one exception...they come in two different colors, yellow and green. They intermix, it seems, with no concern for their different colors. Captain your suit is registering a drop in body temperature, how are you feeling?" "Captain Marley?....Captain?"
"How long since the crash Aivas?"
"4.7 hours Captain, you have 19 hours of oxygen left. Captain I must inform you of a drastic change involving our 'arachnid' lifeforms."
"And what could that POSSIBLY be Aivas?"
"They have started to feed on our shipment..."
"SO FUCKING WHAT? What's the difference between red algae and blue algae? Humans have been eating blue algae from planet EX133 for the last 25 years."
"Captain, you are well aware that blue algae is only an additive to Earth's normal diet with no long lasting effects if consumed in moderation. Our 'arachnid' friends have chosen to feed on our shipment of blue algae in favor of their normal, red algae diet."
"Again Aivas, SO FUCKING WHAT?!"
"It has had amazing effects on their intelligence Captain. Transferring video to your HUD now..."
"Ummm....what the FUCK am I looking at Aivas? This shit's not funny. You weren't programmed to have a sense of humor."
"Indeed Captain, I am incapable of humor, what you see is exactly what's happening in the bottom of the crater before you."
"So, feeding on our shipment of blue algae has effected their intelligence? They're getting smarter?"
"Yes Captain, in the last 2 hours they have advanced hundreds of Earth relative years, they are now actively harvesting, planting and farming blue algae."
"Well Aivas, at least we will have some entertainment to pass the time."
even later still...
"How are our little friends Aivas?"
"Transferring live video Captain."
" OH MY GOD! Enhance video 50% Aivas.......Jesus Christ! What's happening down there?"
" They appear to be at war Captain."
"WAR?!? What the fuck for?"
"They have built cities Captain, they have divided themselves. They have built machines and gone to war over blue algae. They appear to be divided by color, yellow vs. green."
who knows how much later...
"Captain Marley? Captain....please wake up! Captain Marley?"
"You should be aware of what's happening in the crater Captain...please consult your HUD."
"NO FUCKING WAY Aivas, how far would you say they've advanced?"
"I would say they have advanced about 2000 years Earth equivalent Captain. While you were unconscious they went to war twice more. Each time with more advanced technology, destroying more and more of each other. Their cities now take up most of the entire crater Captain. What we are witnessing is the most amazing thing mankind has ever seen."
"They are entering their 4th war Captain Marley, they appear to have launched missiles at each other's cities.....WARNING, WARNING...RADIOACTIVITY ALERT!"
"OH MY GOD AIVAS ARE THEY REALLY......?"
"Yes Captain Marley they have launched thermo-nuclear warheads at each oth....."