I started working on a NMS narrative based around my experience in the game, and I thought you guys might enjoy it. Here’s what I have so far :)
I opened my eyes and saw stars.
At first, I wasn’t even aware that they had opened. I just vaguely registered green, blue, red, and yellow specks amid the void. Soon, however, I began to notice smaller details. I was laying on something soft, I was wearing some kind of backpack, and I had no memory of falling asleep. Then a voice shattered the calm.
“INITIALIZING EXOSUIT SYSTEMS”
I sat bolt upright, suddenly very awake. A glance around revealed no one there. Then the voice spoke again.
“NEURAL LINK ESTABLISHED”
The voice sounded as though I had another person speaking directly into my ear, but there was no one there. I reached my hand up to rub my eyes and ease my headache but stopped as soon as it came into view.
My hand was encased in a black-and-yellow glove. It was a nice glove, with traction pads on the palms and finger pads, and some armor plates on the wrist. But it wasn’t my hand. I looked down to see that my entire body was clad in a form-fitting armored spacesuit of the same colors as the glove, and of a similar design. It was only then that I registered the fact that my head weighed more than it should have. Tentatively, I tried to touch my head, but something stopped my glove before it could contact. I realized that it was covered in some sort of helmet. Without thinking, I spoke.
My voice echoed inside my own helmet, like the voice had, allowing me to deduce that it was coming from my helmet. On a whim, I decided to see if I could stand. I planted my boots and extended my legs, staggering to my feet. I stumbled slightly but kept my balance and stood up straighter. It felt good to be upright. Suddenly, the voice spoke again.
“EXOSUIT DEFLECTOR SHIELD CHARGED”
I noticed a blue shimmer move upward through my vision, which felt weird. Where was I, and why did I need a deflector shield?
I put that somewhat terrifying thought out of my mind and thought about the voice. It was somewhere between male and female, with a definite mechanical tone to it. I was pondering how I had ended up here when I had another, slightly scarier thought:
Where was here, anyhow?
I began to look around but was stopped by the darkness and the voice again.
“HAZARD PROTECTION AND LIFE SUPPORT ONLINE”
Two bars, some words, and some numbers appeared in the bottom left corner of my vision. The top bar was orange, with a little fire symbol on the left. The bottom bar was white, with a zigzag line next to it. I wondered what the fire bar was before noticing the numbers. The smaller two read “Rad” and “Tox” and were rather small numbers. However, the emphasized number was apparently the temperature, and read 180℉.
“Why am I not dead?” I thought.
180 degrees should have melted me instantly, but there I was, not melting. I suddenly noticed the little fire bar going down. I realized that must be my Hazard Protection. I was contemplating what the other two numbers meant when the voice returned.
“MOVEMENT SYSTEMS ACTIVATED”
A little icon appeared in the bottom right corner of my vision. It resembled a box with two nozzles protruding out of the bottom.
“SCANNER DAMAGED. REPAIRS REQUIRED”
Another icon, this one several concentric circles, appeared next to the previous one. However, instead of glowing a gentle white, it flashed angry red before vanishing.
“Multitool?” I wondered out loud. “What the heck is a multitool?”
At that moment, something on my hip vibrated, and I looked down to see a strange device attached to my belt. I unhooked it to get a better view.
It looked like a flattened orange ellipsoid with a handle that came down from the front, had a flat bottom, and connected with the back of the ellipsoid, like a square with a hollow interior. A red trigger connected to the back part of the handle, which was black, along with the rest of the frame. The bottom of the handle was orange. The top had a black band that curved around the back before stopping close to the front end, with the two ends of the band connected by a thin black stripe that went over the top. A small green light blinked at the back of the band, and a raised circular protrusion slightly extended from either side, close to the front. The protrusions were black-rimmed, with a strip of orange sandwiched in the middle. A blue light glowed inside of a hole in the middle, so it looked sort of like an O. At the front, an oval-shaped protrusion with a smaller, circular protrusion on top and a smaller divot below was affixed. Below the black band, between it and the start of the handle, were some words. I had to squint to see them.
“Waveform Focuser N56-P. Huh. Wonder what that means.”
I wondered what this thing could do. It looked like a pistol, so I pointed it at the nearest rock and pulled the trigger.
It didn’t fire like a gun, exactly. Instead, a bright green laser shot out of the upper front protrusion and bored through the stone.
“Okay, I have a laser pistol. Not weird at all.”
I walked over to the rock and knelt in front of it. The beam had punched a perfectly circular hole right through it. I noticed a fine gray dust in the hole, so I looked closer. Yet again, my helmet surprised me. A small box popped up next to the dust with the text “Ferrite Dust.”
“Huh. Guess I have a built-in encyclopedia now.”
I reached my hand out to pick up some of the dust, but I never got the chance. Instead, a small vacuum popped out of the back of my glove and sucked the dust up. Confused, I examined where the vacuum had come out from, but found nothing. On my other hand, however, there was a button. When I pressed it, a holographic display popped up that showed a good two dozen rectangular slots. All were empty, save for one that said I had eight ferrite dust. This was interesting.
I examined my multitool and saw something almost immediately. On top of the body was a vaguely rectangular cutout bordered by a duller orange color. In the middle of the cutout was a small, textured divot about the size of a thumbprint. I pressed my thumb against this, and the entire cutout sank about a millimeter down. When I released my grip, a tray slid out of the top. Inside the tray were several slots, but only two had something in them. One had something called a Mining Laser and the other had the Scanner, which had a red outline. When I looked at the Scanner, it said it required 75 ferrite dust to repair it.
“I wonder why it’s broken. At least fixing it will be simple enough.”
I lasered a few more rocks and gathered up the ferrite I would need. I examined the broken module again and tapped my finger against it. The module’s text expanded and the prompt to repair it appeared. I pressed the ferrite icon and felt the multitool shudder. The tray retracted and my exosuit spoke.
I wondered how I was going to use this thing. It didn’t have any obvious activator that I could see, but there was a button on the back of the multitool’s handle, concealed amid the black. I pressed it with my thumb.
A blue pulse shot out in all directions. It washed over the landscape, lighting up the night. Glowing icons popped up all over the landscape, reading things like H, Na, and O. I started to wonder what these meant but was stopped by a worrying message from my exosuit.
“THERMAL PROTECTION: FALLING”
The little fire bar was dropping slowly. The white bar was also dropping, but significantly slower. Panicked, I opened my wrist display and saw a little gear icon. Switching to that revealed three icons, the Hazard Protection, the Life Support, and the Movement Systems. I selected the Hazard Protection and learned I needed sodium to recharge it. But where was I going to get sodium?
A vague memory tugged at me. I recalled from somewhere that sodium was abbreviated as “Na”. It just so happened that several of the icons the scanner had revealed said just that. I found the closest one and started walking.
As I walked, the sun began to rise, and I began to think. Where was this place? How did I get here? How was I going to get back…home? I stopped suddenly, struck by the most menacing thought yet.
“Where am I from? More importantly, who am I?”
I was terrified. I realized I had no idea even what I was. A monster? A rock? A blob of goo? Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, my thoughts were interrupted by a new sound. This wasn’t my exosuit. Instead, a low, menacing growl came from behind me.
I slowly turned around. Sneaking up on me was a creature that resembled a leopard, only grey with olive stripes and stag horns. Upon seeing my helmeted face, it let out a yowl and pounced. Long, sharp claws slashed across my exosuit, and I saw a new bar appear in the top left of my vison, at about seven-eighths capacity.
Panic set in. I realized later that this must be my deflector shield meter, but I was too scared to think straight. I pulled out my multitool, took hasty aim, and pulled the trigger. The Mining Laser hit the creature directly in the face and stunned it. The beast retreated with a screech of pain. Cockiness replaced fear, and I gave it my best one-liner.
“Ha ha HA! Who’s the hunter now, you overgrown ocelot?”
Another screech from my right brought the terror right back. I spun to find another cat bearing down on me. My instincts caused me to leap to my right, away from both cats. However, I didn’t just jump. Instead, something clicked on my backpack, and I heard small rockets firing. I was propelled away from the cats at a speed and trajectory that seemed impossible. When I was about thirty feet away, I felt what I realized must be the Movement Systems deactivate, and I fell about five feet and landed on my feet.
“Oh, okay then. I have a jetpack. That’s handy.”
I turned back to face the charging felines. Using my multitool, I lasered one in the face until it collapsed on the ground, dead. The second one was approaching rapidly, and so I directed the laser at it until the beam stopped suddenly. A message on my HUD told me that it had overheated. Realizing I had no time to wait around for it to cool off, I simply bashed the creature in the face with the bottom of the handle. It yowled again and ran off.
Panting, I looked around and saw a glowing yellow plant. I remembered that the sodium icon had been yellow, and so I walked over and examined it. It had a coiled stem and a large flower on top, with nodules of a yellow substance coming out of the center of the flower. I grasped the plant just below the flower and pulled. The flower disintegrated into yellow powder, and my little vacuum sucked up the dust. I checked my inventory and found that I had some sodium, which I promptly used to recharge my Hazard Protection. I saw another yellow flower over a small hill, so I went to grab that and found that it was only one of about twenty. Happily, I gathered sodium until I had several hundred. I plopped down amid the flowers and decided to continue thinking.
The sun had mostly risen now, so I looked at my surroundings. The land was mostly rock. Where there was grass on the ground, it was sparse and orange. In fact, it seemed like the entire planet was tinted ochre. Strange rocks and trees dotted the landscape. The trees had no leaves, but the branches glowed orange at the tips. Volcanoes rose from the ground. Dust blew in the wind. As I looked at the alien planet, I recalled my comparison of the creatures from before. They had looked like cats, like leopards, and I had called them “overgrown ocelots.” I had compared their horns to stags, which I knew to be male deer. These had been relatively common creatures back on…on…
Frustrated, I pounded my fist against the nearest flat surface, which happened to be the ground, and then immediately regretted it as the dull pain flooded through my hand. I had been close to remembering some crucial detail, I was sure of it. Slowly, I began to come to the realization that wherever I had come from, I was never getting back. I felt tears beginning to well up in my eyes and tried to blink them back. Suddenly, I froze. I just stopped. Something had just clicked in my brain, something that would change the way I went about this planet.
Up at the top of my vision was a thin arc. As I turned, the arc spun. Icons showed up on the line. The icon for sodium, another sodium icon, and a hexagonal icon with a symbol that looked like an upside-down Y with two protrusions on the bottom.
“Could that be a spaceship?”
I had nothing else to do, so I started walking, gathering as many resources as possible along the way. I found out that my Life Support was recharged with oxygen, my Mining Laser was charged with ferrite, and my jetpack recharged automatically. Oh, and there was a handy knife sheathed at my left thigh. I gathered carbon from plants, ferrite from rocks, di-hydrogen from some blue crystals I had found, and oxygen from glowing red plants. It took me about half an hour of walking and three more spacecat casualties, but as I crested a rise, I spotted a starship in the crater below me. Excited, I broke into a run. I got halfway down the slope before I realized something was wrong. Flames and smoke billowed from a missing panel in the side. Nevertheless, I reached the ship and took a good look at it.
The ship was red and white. The nose was short and rounded, with the cockpit windshield stopping just before the end of the nose. Behind the cockpit, a blocky white module connected to a red block that extended above the cockpit with an intake facing front and a thruster facing back. Below that, two more thrusters sat, making a triangle. Wings jutted out of the red block, with another pair of jet thrusters sitting against a pair of intakes which in turn connected to the fuselage. The ends of the wings looked like lowercase Y’s. The fin on top was bigger and longer than the fin on the bottom. Yet another pair of thin, wide boosters were positioned at the end of the wings, stopping just before the fins. A cannon sat below the wide rockets on either wing. The ship sat on three landing skids but was very clearly damaged. Below the windshield were more words. I read them, those three glorious words, and spoke them for dramatic effect.
“Radiant Pillar BC1. More interesting names.”
I opened the cockpit and climbed in. The HUD revealed that the Pulse Engine and the Launch Thrusters were critically damaged. I needed metal plating, di-hydrogen jelly, pure ferrite, and a hermetic seal to fix them. I could make the metal plating with my ferrite, and I did exactly that. However, I needed something called a hermetic seal, which I had no idea how to get. I disembarked my ship and began to pace. I thought for a while before something caught my eye.
On the ground, near a pile of broken cargo crates, was a white sphere. The sphere was making a beeping sound. I examined the device and found that two wires had become disconnected, so I fixed that. A hatch hissed open, and a red, glowing sphere deployed. The sphere hummed, and a different voice played through my exosuit.
“16/16/16/16… [DATA CORRUPTED] …TRAVELLER…YOU…ARE…NOT…ALONE…”
Spooked, I leapt back. The sphere floated for a few more seconds before simply winking out of existence. I gathered my wits and peered into the sphere housing. A device sat in there. I pulled it out, and it promptly expanded into a chart, the destination of which marked itself on my compass. I started to walk again.
Fifteen minutes later, I arrived at the location. A cylindrical building greeted me. There were stairs leading up to the front, so I walked in. The lights were off, but a terminal on the far wall glowed dimly. An examination of said terminal revealed a canister attached to the underside. In the canister was a hermetic seal. Seeing no reason to remain any longer, I walked out and back the way I came. However, about halfway there, a message popped up on my HUD and my exosuit gave me a warning.
“WEATHER WARNING: WALL OF FLAME APPROACHING”
Dark clouds began to gather. I had no idea what “wall of flame” meant, but it didn’t sound pleasant. I frantically looked around for shelter and, to my surprise, there was a cave not too far away. I sprinted in and made it just as the storm broke. The temperature cooled to a relatively pleasant 70 degrees. Safe, I sat against a wall and relaxed. As the wind howled outside, I examined my multitool and noticed that I could install something called an Analysis Visor and a Boltcaster on it. I needed carbon nanotubes for the Visor, which I could make. So, that’s exactly what I did. I needed Chromatic Metal for the Boltcaster, which I didn’t have, so that was a no-go. When I installed the Visor, a button constructed itself on the side of my helmet and when I pressed it, my brain nearly exploded from the amount of data it gave me, but I could now scan stuff to learn more about it. In the cave, I also found a few new resources, namely cobalt, silver, and gold. The latter two were very rare, and I didn’t end up with much of either. Soon however, the storm cleared, and I was back on my hike to the ship. On the way, I found a large deposit of copper embedded in the ground. I attempted to mine it, but my beam wouldn’t touch it. When I arrived, I fixed the Pulse Engine and used the other piece of tech I had discovered in the cave, the Portable Refiner, to make pure ferrite. Then, coupled with my di-hydrogen jelly, I fixed the Launch Thrusters. Re-entering my ship, I examined the controls. A pair of joysticks was about it. The rest was just data screens. I found the launch button and went from there. After about five minutes, I had the flight controls down.
“Haha! I can fly!”
I pulled back on the direction stick and lifted off into the clouds. Once I broke atmosphere, I marveled at the vast expanse of space, at least until my ship detected a signal coming from another planet. I pressed the button for the Pulse Drive, confirmed my trajectory, and discovered a new definition of the word “speed.” Upon arrival, I landed to find a damaged piece of machinery and the opposite version of my previous planet. planet. Instead of being hot, this planet was about -154 degrees. The damaged machinery that was the source of the signal gave me the blueprints for something called a Terrain Manipulator and a Base Computer. The Terrain Manipulator was easy to install on my multitool, though I couldn’t help but notice that I was running out of space. When I was finished installing it, I attempted to determine how to use it. I looked the tool over, pushing and pulling random parts until I found something. The donut-shaped protrusion on the left side rotated like a ratchet wrench. I clicked it once, aimed it at the floor, and pulled the trigger.
A red cone emanated from the lower front protrusion and vaporized a five-foot sphere of ground. Unfortunately, I happened to be standing on the aforementioned ground when it disappeared. I fell into the hole and landed on my face.
“Ow. Well, at least I know what it does.”
Suddenly, I had a thought.
“Is this how I mine those big mineral deposits?”
I climbed out of my hole and located a copper deposit with my Analysis Visor. Once I reached it, I attempted to mine it with my new tool and, to absolutely no one’s surprise, it worked perfectly. Happily, I walked back to my ship with 73 copper. Curious as to what this would do, I put it into the Portable Refiner and was rewarded with something called Chromatic Metal. A quick check of my log revealed that I could now make the Boltcaster and another new piece of tech, the Base Computer. Upon placing it down, I pressed the power button and got a message.
“Scanning cartographic archives… Universal Archive Search reveals no prior claims on this site. Sonar test confirms site is suitable for construction. Claim site?”
I confirmed this and was rewarded with blueprints for some wooden base parts. The only thing these simple structures needed was some carbon, which I had plenty of. I built a small house and moved my Base Computer, Portable Refiner, and myself into the shack. Good thing I did that too, as a few seconds after I finished, a blizzard rolled in. Safe in my new home, I made ammunition for my Boltcaster before examining my Base Computer and finding something hidden in the data archives. I managed to extract it and obtained the blueprint for a Construction Research Unit. This new device seemingly let me use salvaged data to research new base parts, but the only two things it had that I wanted were the Biofuel Reactor and the Base Teleport Module. However, I needed the aforementioned salvaged data to get these things. My Analysis Visor directed me to something called a Buried Technology Module, and I made a beeline for it as soon as the storm cleared. My goal was to get salvaged data, but something distracted me along the way. Something that would forever change my view of this world.
As I strolled across the frozen hills, it occurred to me that I should test my Boltcaster. I aimed it at yet another rock and pulled the trigger. This time, it fired a small blue projectile that burst against the rock and vanished. Pleased, I continued my walk.
“I’d like to see those cats try and eat me now!”
Suddenly, something caught my eye. A small orange object was hovering near a tree. Curious, I went to investigate.
The object was a device shaped like a three-dimensional trapezoid. It was about a foot wide at the base and about one and a half feet long. A small antenna array was placed on top, and a large yellow lens glowed at the front. It hovered around, scanning random objects, and completely ignoring me. The Analysis Visor informed me that it was called a Sentinel. It didn’t say much else. Hoping for some sort of indicator as to what it did, I examined and scanned the things it had been scanning. The tree it had been focused on previously yielded something called frost crystals. I lasered the tree until it vaporized, then examined the crystals. It was only then that I noticed the drone scanning me. The yellow eye had turned blue. I stopped and looked the drone in the eye. It scanned me for a few more seconds and then went back to examining rocks.
I continued mining the trees and ignored the drone. I got through two trees before a message flashed in the center of my HUD.
“WARNING: SENTINEL FORCES ALERTED”
I was allowed about two seconds to ponder this line before a barrage of lasers hit me in the back. I whirled around and was greeted by the drone pointing cannons at me and the eye glowing red. I saw more orange shapes approaching behind it.
“Well, that can’t be good,” I thought.
The drone fired again, but I was ready this time. I rolled to the left and whacked the drone in the armor plating before returning fire with my Boltcaster. The drone exploded, leaving behind a glowing green canister. Close examination of the canister revealed the contents to be a strange piece of purple glass. I took the glass and stood to face the oncoming horde.
Most of the enemy forces seemed to be made up of Sentinels that looked like larger, more heavily armored versions of the drone I had just shot. The rest were either tiny drones with little armor or drones that had a more triangular top. Some of the heavy drones deployed glowing red energy shields directly in front of them before extending guns out of their sides. Angry, I fired my Boltcaster at the lead drone. The bullets sank into the front plate and did pathetically little. What damage I did inflict was immediately healed by the small drones, which appeared to be repair units. Faced with this, I did what any sane person would do and sprinted back toward my house.
The drones took shots at me, but I wasn’t having it. Activating dd jetpack, I launched myself toward the base and literally dodged a bullet. I landed and took off again. The second jump landed me next to the door of the base. I dashed into the shack and closed the door.
I hid against the wall next to the entrance and tried to make as little noise as possible. I could hear the Sentinels moving outside, searching for me. At one point I could see the red spotlight of a heavy drone shining through the door. I was terrified, faced with the knowledge that the wooden walls would hardly impede the robots if they tried to blast through them. Heart pounding, knees shaking, I waited.
The glowing red lights switched back to blue and a message appeared.
“SENTINEL FORCES DEACTIVATED”
I breathed a sigh of relief, opened the door, and nearly had a heart attack. Floating right in front of the door was a heavy drone. However, it didn’t attack. It merely scanned me and hovered away. I decided to go back toward the buried technology module from before. Upon reaching it, I dug a hole with my Terrain Manipulator and opened the box.
Inside was a flickering display. I downloaded the data into my exosuit and moved to the next. This one yielded two instead of one. Happily, I continued onward.
Four and a half hours later I was back at my base with enough salvaged data to build a supercomputer. I plugged as much of it into the CRU as I could and was rewarded with all the available base parts. I made the Biofuel Reactor and a Teleporter and connected them up before fueling them with carbon. I was almost ready to test my new tech when a beeping sound from my Base Computer distracted me.
The computer gave me an extremely cryptic message with the number 16 featured prominently. The only bit of information I could understand was something about a space station. So, I jumped in my ship and took off. I broke atmosphere and spotted a yellow hexagon on my compass. A quick pulse jump revealed it to be a massive icosahedral structure floating in space. I flew toward the blue field at the front and was surprised when my ship flew itself down a short tunnel and landed on a hexagonal pad inside the station.
I exited my ship and noticed two catwalks, one on either side of the landing zone. Staircases led up to the walkways. I climbed one and was surprised yet again by the entity at the top.
It wore an exosuit very similar to my own, but with a white and purple color scheme. It was about the same height as me, but that was where the similarities ended. Its face was replaced by a rectangular display that featured three glowing blue circles on a background of black hexagons. The screen connected to a trapezoidal head made of metal. It spoke in a strange language.
“Hello?” I said, “Can you understand me?”
The entity stepped back and put its hands up like I was an enemy. The other beings I attempted to talk to responded the same way. However, one entity was different. It wore a different exosuit that looked sleeker somehow. Its head was a glowing white orb that floated above the torso, surrounded by two C-shaped revolving metal objects. Its entire body glowed slightly, emitting a faint white light. When I questioned it, whatever it was or was going to say was interrupted by the same 16-heavy cryptic message, but with some encoded coordinates on the end.
I knew I could use my Base Computer to decode them, but I wanted to get some new tech first. I went over to something that my exosuit identified as a trade terminal, sold my Frost Crystals, bought some microprocessors and tritium, walked to the station’s Teleporter, and warped back to base. Upon decryption, the coordinates led me far away. In my ship, however, I got there in no time flat.
The coordinates were in the center of the wreck of a truly gargantuan ship. I explored the crash for a while, but there was nothing of value. However, in the center was another one of those white spheres. This time, I received Hyperdrive blueprints and another message. This one was just as cryptic as the previous ones, but I got yet another set of coordinates, these already decrypted. I started to get the feeling that everything that had happened to me so far was orchestrated by some other being.
Putting that thought aside, I attempted to install the Hyperdrive onto my ship. I had all the microprocessors that I needed, but the Chromatic Metal was a different story. I needed more copper, which didn’t take long to find. After processing it into the required materials, I installed it into my starship. The issue was that I had no fuel for it. However, the coordinates I obtained from the crashed ship seemed promising. Although they were on a different planet, I had high hopes for this one as it seemed temperate upon breaking atmosphere. The numbers led me to a building out in the middle of nowhere, so I landed my ship and advanced toward the structure. Little did I know what awaited me there.
The building was an E-shaped metal structure with a dish array on top of the central module. However, this place was clearly not in use. The entire structure was covered in dark orange and dark purple sludge that pulsed as if it was alive. The fact that it had grown into curved, tentacle-like protrusions didn’t make it any less unnerving. Scattered in random puddles of goo were small, spheroid objects. Curious and simultaneously creeped-out, I knelt to examine one.
It looked like a slightly flattened egg, about the size of my boot. The deep purple surface of the thing had an odd sheen, and upon closer examination the shell wasn’t smooth, but made up of dozens of smaller polygons that created the illusion of smoothness. The object excluded a feeling of wrongness, as if it was in no way supposed to be here. Remembering my Analysis Visor, I activated it and was greeted with only two words of information on the thing.
Curious to see if I could collect the egg, I reached out a hand. Upon touching it, however, the shell cracked apart into four sections and fell open. Inside was a glowing green sphere with small black nubs spaced all over it. It was apparently something called a Larval Core, which I picked up and stashed. I turned to the other egg next to it but was stopped by a sound from behind me. I turned and saw the single most terrifying thing to ever exist. The ground behind me had begun to crack apart. Through the hole, a creature was emerging.
It was about eight feet long and six feet tall. The thing’s body was covered in armored, thorny scales and colored a bright, radioactive green at the front and faded to a dark gray at the back. It resembled a scorpion in shape, with a conical abdomen and a long tail tipped with a collection of bone spikes. It had four legs, with the front two ending in flat stumps of bone and the back two sporting large, spearlike claws. Right in front of the stumped legs were two thick arms that ended in three-clawed hands. Tiny vestigial legs were folded against the sickly white underbelly. A short neck supported a large, conical head with two thick, gray-tipped horns that jutted straight out of both sides of its skull and bent straight down at the ends, making its head look like a sideways 3. This would have been terrifying enough, but the face was what truly scared me. It had five neon-green glowing eyes in a ring around the middle of its skull and a wide mouth filled with long, white teeth in a permanent grin. This face terrified me for some reason. I jumped back in a panic, tripped over an egg, and landed on my butt in a nest, cracking several more eggs open.
Nine more burrowed their way out of the soil and began creeping toward me.
I got to my feet, drew my multitool, and raised my hands to show I meant no harm. The lead creature made a sound halfway between a screech and a growl and waved its tail.
“Nice monsters… Niiiice giant creepy space scorpions… Please let me live…”
The thing lunged at me with a scream. I kicked off the ground, but the sticky sludge stopped me dead. I had just enough time to think “Well, I’m screwed,” before the monstrosity slammed into my chest, knocking me backward and causing me to trip over yet another egg and land flat on my back. My multitool went skittering away, but that was the least of my problems. The creature leapt on top of me and screeched again. It moved to bite me, but I grabbed it by the neck and stopped it. The two clawed hands swiped at my hands, my chest, my face, anything they could reach. I had a very close view of the thing’s face. It looked so unnerving, so wrong. The eyes were blank orbs, but the mouth, or more specifically the expression on the mouth, was too familiar, too human. It snapped at the air but couldn’t quite reach my face. Its claws raked across my armor. The tail whipped around, moving to stab me. I rolled, barely dodging the frenzied strike before noticing my multitool on the ground next to me. I started to reach for it with my free hand, but my momentary distraction was exactly what the monster had been waiting for. The tail came back around, and this time I didn’t see it fast enough. It tore through my deflector shield, through my gauntlet, and through the flesh on my left hand, pinning me to the ground. My vision went blurry with pain and the monster screamed in triumph, and it wasn’t the only thing screaming anymore. Through the haze of agony, I realized that what it had just done wasn’t the act of a feral beast, but of an intelligent killing machine. Now, I couldn’t reach my knife and the only way I could grab my pistol was with my right hand, the one currently clamped around the thing’s neck. Letting go would free its head to bite me, but I had no choice. In one fluid motion, I shoved the monstrosity’s head away from me and clamped my hand around the multitool’s handle. I saw the mouth open again and finally bite down on my helmet, cracking the visor and tearing the metal on the front open. It reared up for a killing strike, but my rage finally took over. I had survived hungry leopards, subzero temperatures, firestorms, and hostile robots. I was not going to die to an overgrown space scorpion!
The thing lunged again, but this time I fought back. I got the body of the multitool between the thing’s head and me. It bit down on the muzzle before recoiling, confused. I pulled the trigger and sent three glowing blue bursts of energy right down the monster’s throat. It howled in pain, pulled its tail out of my arm, sending a fresh wave of agony through the wound, and took a step backward, shaking its head like a wet animal. Taking advantage of the situation, I fired my jetpack and launched myself out from under the thing. Deactivating the Movement Systems, I staggered to my feet and could feel the blood pooling in the fingers of my left glove. I drew my knife with my bad hand, my multitool with my right hand, and faced the beasts. They growled and shook their tails. I yelled in fury and charged.
The first creature I got to went down easily. I hit it in the eyes with the Boltcaster and smashed my multitool through the soft underbelly when it reared up, breaking through the flesh before pulling the trigger and killing it. The next two lunged, but I chopped through their tails with the Mining Laser, plunged my knife through one’s skull, and put my boot through the other one’s face. The next two came at me from either side, but I rolled forward and they collided before turning on each other in their bloodlust. I grabbed a large rock off the ground and brought it down on the sixth one’s head. The seventh one lunged at me, but I grabbed it by the horn and sliced through its neck with the Mining Laser. The eighth one charged, but a few shots from the Boltcaster stopped it in its tracks. I spun to face the ninth, but it was prepared. It spat out a glob of green goo that went straight through my deflector shield and melted through my exosuit and my right thigh, leaving a smoldering, gaping crater in the flesh. My vison went blurry again, but I managed to shoot straight through its underbelly and kill it somehow. At that moment, my leg gave out and I collapsed. Suddenly, another burst of agony came from my stomach. I looked down and saw several bloody white spines poking through my exosuit. I pointed my weapon behind me and shot the last monster, the original one, in the face again. It collapsed, dead, and its tail slid out from the hole it had made in my abdomen. All the monsters were dead. Unfortunately, that was also about to be the case for me as well.
I rolled onto my stomach and tried to stand, but my leg and arm gave out whenever I put pressure on them. I could feel the combined damage of my wounds sapping my strength, my energy. However, I knew that I had to find first aid supplies quickly, or I would perish. I forced myself to crawl toward the building’s door, leaving a trail of bloodstained grass and dirt. Upon nearing it, I saw that it was damaged, the access panel ripped out. I blasted the door open with my multitool and crawled inside.
The interior was in a similar state to the exterior. Pools of sludge were everywhere. A large console sat in the center of the circular room. There were no people, but I spotted a collection of supply crates tucked against the far wall, and a red-and-white device mounted above them. Racked with pain, vison filling with dark spots, I crawled to the supplies and was rewarded with something called life support gel, a repair kit, a medical pack, and the light switch. I didn’t have much hope that the lights would work, but they did. Now with the ability to see, I tugged off my helmet and the outer layer of my exosuit and went to work.
Step One was to examine my wounds. The arm injury was bad, but not too bad. The thing’s tail had missed the big arteries and veins but had in fact gone all the way through my limb. The stomach wound was similar, with no major damage to any organs or bones but was still a very large problem. My thigh was another story. The acid had caused burns and seared its way to the bone. The one upside was that the wound had cauterized itself. That was all the major injuries I had.
Step Two was to examine my supplies. The medkit contained bandages, gauze, a healing spray, and some other common implements. The life support gel was a rectangular packet of a translucent blue jelly about an inch thick and three inches long, with a grey plastic cap on either end. One cap appeared to have a latch. I opened the gel and put some of it on my finger. It felt cool to the touch. When I applied it to my arm, it eased the pain and started to slow the bleeding. I applied that to the rest of my injuries and felt the pain lessen. I sprayed them with the healing salve and wrapped them in bandages.
Now actually able to stand, I turned my focus to my exosuit. The garment had several holes and damaged armor plates, and the helmet was destroyed. I examined the repair kit and located a box of patches, spare armor plates, something called nanite paste, and a few spare visors for several different types of helmets. Oh, and an instruction manual too. That was kind of important. I patched the exosuit and fixed the armor on my gauntlet. The helmet was like the thigh injury of the damage, though. It was going to be much more difficult to repair. I followed the instructions and opened the pack of nanite paste. It was a gray goo that felt like squeezing a plastic bag full of iron filings and glue. It also stuck to nothing. The instructions said to dump the visor pieces into the paste and then pour it onto my damaged helmet. I found the visors that matched the damaged ones, then obeyed and watched as the paste and the visors landed on the tear in the front. Suddenly, the goo began to move. It flattened out and spread across the hole, dragging the visors with it. The visors turned gold and the paste turned black. I put my exosuit back on before donning my now fully mended helmet. I watched as my HUD flickered back to life, then turned to the terminal in the center of the room.