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Pen Your Pride

Prelude to Mortality Revisited from the HEALF Series

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In the beginning there was a planet called Healf that was colonized by men and women from Earth. This planet had twin moons and a single sun. And although it was a far distance from Earth, supplies arrived in a convoy of freighter ships every six months. Their arrival coincided with the planet’s six month rotation around its sun. Because the planet was so near to this sun, only half of the planet was ever habitable at any one time. The near side of the planet reached temperatures well in excess of twenty-five hundred degrees, scorching everything in its path, while the dark side of the planet was a steaming jungle of dim-daylight from the reflection of the sun off its twin moons. This relatively dark side of the planet, though hot and humid, was still hospitable enough to support human life, so long as they remained ahead of the rising sun.

At first, when the supply ships arrived on schedule, there was structure and order; a hierarchy that maintained a government of the people that looked out for the weak and infirm. But when Earth self-destructed in a nuclear holocaust and the supply ships stopped coming, the hierarchy became anarchy and every man was out for himself.

Tribes formed; some comprised of ruthless killers and pillagers, some of righteous men trying to maintain civilization in the only way they knew how. Yet, despite their beliefs or lack thereof, they all had one thing in common; they were nomads struggling to stay ahead of the rising sun or burn to death in its heat.

Captain ‘Rod’ Rodick and his co-pilot Lipton flew one of the last remaining helicopters. Their job was performing rescue missions along the Eastern Fringe; plucking the aged and injured from the surface and transporting them a safe distance due west where they could heal or recoup before continuing their journey west. Despite knowing they were only buying these sorry souls a little more time, they did it with all the pride and fervor of any modern hero.

Because there were so few of these machines still flying, pilots and their crew members were treated like Gods. They were constantly rewarded with feasts, trinkets, and even delights of the flesh; some tribal leaders willingly offering up their daughters to gain favor with them.

Unfortunately, with the lack of supplies, parts, and fuel to keep the airships flying, the last vestiges of the ruling hierarchy were also coming to an end. The way of the pilot was over; Rod just didn’t realize it.

Our story begins with the end of the last flying machine and the brave man that went down with it attempting to carry out his mission.

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