[Starship Scarborough, Transmission 2]
This is Shawn Heart, reporting on behalf of the crew of the Starship Scarborough. We have completed our first walk on the surface of Alpha Centauri Ace. The atmosphere is breathable, as expected. The dust is slowly settling after our landing. Visibility has improved to approximately three miles.
What we initially described as pink soil has been identified as a moss or mold-like life form. We are collecting samples for analysis.
Approximately one mile west of our landing site, a crew member spotted what appears to be [indiscernible noises] land formation on the horizon. It has been described as possibly metallic in nature. A team of six of us are going to investigate.
The thirteen remaining members of the crew are performing general reconnaissance in the areas surrounding our landing site, collecting samples for analysis and preparing to assemble the rover and solar cells.
Along with this transmission, we have included photos from our first walk on Alpha Centauri Ace. Expect our next transmission soon.
[End Transmission 2]
The light from Alpha Centauri A glows as the ball of fire creeps closer to the horizon. After stopping back at the starship so I could send a transmission, we regrouped and formed a small team to set out to meet Lou Dupont.
As we walk into the red, tears sting behind my eyes. I remember the last sunset I saw on Earth. A single tear escapes, tracing a line across my cheekbone. I swallow down the lump forming in my throat. This is the first time a human will ever witness the setting of a star other than the sun—the first starset. It's breathtaking.
The dark silhouette of a man stands out against the rough, rocky terrain of the pink planet. He raises one hand above his head, waving to the five of us.
Star puts her hand above her eyes, forming a visor to shield the light and get a better look.
America depresses the button for his radio. "We see you, Lou," he calls into the receiver. "Over." Then, he raises his hand above his head to wave back.
"Hey, oh!" Lou's voice carries to us as he shouts, foregoing the radios America seems to love so much.
America picks up his pace to a jog. I follow along with Star, the old guy who's obsessed with mold, and Devin Sanders, the fifth member of our little group that set out to investigate.
"Took y'all long enough to get here." Lou Dupont smiles when we reach him, the leathery skin of his face revealing wrinkles caused by years of too much tanning and not enough sunscreen. I peg him as a lawyer of some sort. He probably got involved with the wrong people, dipped his toe in crime, slipped and fell in up to his ears, and now here he is.
Lou points out over the horizon, where the land mass he was talking about stands out against the red sky. "See it out there? Looks almost metallic or something. Or, at least it did. The sun's gone down too much to tell now."
I turn my attention to the distance and squint. In the fading starlight, the landform looks like nothing more than a dark shadow—a hump rising above the surface of the planet like a breaching whale frozen in time.
A wind kicks up with a hiss, blowing dust and grit into my eyes. I shield my face, and my grip on my helmet tightens as I consider putting it back on.
YOU ARE READING
Down UnderScience Fiction
Shawn, a convicted criminal, never thought she'd see the sun again, let alone call another star system her home. When she's offered an out from her prison sentence, she embarks on a dangerous interstellar expedition along with 18 of Earth's most int...