"Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. The concept of defining the unknown. The drive to push the limits of the human mind, which in turn drives the course of the physical. These are concepts we want you as Terra Cadets to consider. We have yet to fully understand the depths of Earth's oceans. Yet, we have selected you. You have been handpicked to explore one of Galactic Corps most recently discovered orbital bodies."
The jolt of the bus woke Andre from his nap. Yawning and slightly stretching, he prepared for his ears to be pierced by the scraggly public address system. "Good afternoon, Terra Cadets! You are now preparing to enter the Galactic Corps Expressway. We advise you to stay seated and buckled in as we are introducing you to a glimpse of galactic travel. Thank you." The bus pulled up to an elliptical tunnel that was bored into the side of a hill. Andre looked around at the lush green pine forests surrounding the bus. "They definitely hid this lab. I still wonder why I was selected." BOOM!
The bus began to be whisked away onto a colossal conveyor belt. All around the bus, the concrete walls seemed to morph into streaks of multicolored light beams. The screams of the other cadets drowned out Andre's thoughts. "Why did I even sign up for this? Instant cash prizes? Since when did the government... oh wait, they're private owned! Still, it's too late to... Oh my -!" The bus collided with a wall of electric blue light beams. The collision was silent. The flash of light sucked out all the noise in the bus. The cadets’ silent screams soon stopped as they realized they were muted. The seats suddenly released arm and legs straps, pinning everyone down. Suddenly, the piercing beep of the public address system blared through the bus as everyone became unmuted.
"Cadets. Welcome to a taste of Galactic Corps technology. We have developed a noise canceling sound wave that only impacts humans. We call it Fluctus Silentium 3000, better known as FS3000. You will become familiar with this technology by tomorrow. Please, resume with the instructions given in the Orientation Class on how to exit to your dorm. Thank you on behalf of Galactic Corps and our proud sponsors. We wish you a safe journey."
As the startled cadets regained their composures, Andre looked around. He realized most of the cadets were like him. In their early 20's to mid-30's. Maybe five senior looking cadets. He wondered if they ever experienced anything as shocking as this before. "Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space..." He shook his head "Maybe they were testing that concept out. I don't know." As he talked to himself, he didn't realize a lady cadet stepping into the aisle. They gently collided into each other.
"Oh my gosh. I'm sorry, I was just collecting my thoughts. I didn't mean to bump into you." She pushed up her glasses. They both smiled at each other. He blushed for a quick second and then quickly cleared his throat. "I don't blame you, that was the biggest mind trip ever. I could hear my screams and thought, but no sound physically came out." They both chuckled as they stepped off the bus and onto the platform. She reached out her hand. "My name is Eun-Ji. What's your name?" Andre followed suit. "My name is Andre. It's a pleasure to meet you. Hopefully, we both make friends with Martians." She giggled. "I like your sense of humor!" As they walked down the concrete runway, Andre looked up at the honey-comb shaped pods that towered above them in the cavern.
"So much for space exploration when it seems like we're living underground". Eun-Ji nodded. "So, Andre, how did you get selected for the program?" She looked up at him. He smiled back at her. "Well, I came home from college for summer vacation and the first day I come home, my mom gives me a letter stating that I have been selected to fulfill my duties under the new Galactic Corps International Scholarship Program. You know, my dad was an engineer for NASA, before he passed away. He passed away when I was five. They said it was a job-related incident." Eun-Ji winced. "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." Andre shook his head. "It's no worries. Sometimes, I have a sneaky suspicion that he wasn't dead. That he was sent on a top-secret mission to explore another planet. It's why I have a deep fascination with space, planets, etc."
They both slowly approached the towering carved in pods. Andre looked at his slip of paper and up at the hexagonal windows. "Eun-Ji, I just realized that the sticker colors may have a correlation with the windows." They both walked to a toll booth with tinted black windows. The operator asked for their papers, scanned them and directed them to their respective pods. As they walked down a corridor Eun-Ji nudged Andre. "My sticker was orange. How about you?" Andre looked at his paper. "Mine is orange too. Coincidence? Maybe!" They both laughed. They looked at their respective door numbers. "Oh my gosh Andre! We're literally next-door neighbors!" As Andre punched in numbers on his keypad, he turned to her direction. "After we unpack, I want to come over and hear about your story of how you got into the program." She twirled her hair a little and blushed. "Oh me... Lol! Sure! I'd love to..." She smiled, waved goodbye and walked into her room. As the door closed, they caught each other’s gaze. Captivation and exploration could best describe the feelings of their minds for each other. Andre smiled to himself and walked into his pod. Unknown to them, a small security camera kept a careful gaze on their rooms.
CENTRAL GALACTIC CORPS CONTROL ROOM
"President, ready to give the announcement upon your signal." The technician stared intently at the screen as the GC carefully paced the floor. Her unbroken gaze sent chills throughout the pod as the other technicians sat in their chairs. She then cleared her throat. "Proceed". The silent room suddenly buzzed with activity as keyboards tapped hastily yet skillfully, punching in codes and making connections to the various cadet pods. With a hand signal, the lead technician began to speak.
"Good evening, Cadets. It's an honor to have you involved in our Galactic Corps International Scholarship Program. Before we have a word from our President, please pay close attention to this announcement. As a way of making sure all cadets are well rested for space travel, all pods have been automatically locked. Any cadets not in their respective pods will be immediately expelled from the program. No questions asked. Now, a word from our President."
"Good evening, Cadets. Welcome to the Galactic Corps International Scholarship Program. We want you well rested and to keep one word in mind. Exploration. We want you to use your skills that you have reviewed in your packet’s months ahead of this day. However, we will have Field Marshalls to ensure your safety. You may be wondering why we have Field Marshalls. Welcome, the simple fact is we have found life forms on the planet in question, Terra Locus. If you look in your dresser drawers, you will see a packet with further information titled Terra Locus wildlife." The President motioned to one of the technicians to pull up a screen. She began to read.
"These life forms have been given the name Terra Locus Lion Lizards or the nickname, Terra Locus Terriers. These quadrupedal life forms have the body stats of a healthy wolf. They have shown a nature to be very territorial but will not harm unless provoked. This is the most important aspect of the mission. They have poor eyesight and therefore use echolocation to forage for food. Therefore, we have introduced the FS3000 earbuds built into your suits. As you have read, the atmosphere of Terra Locus is the same as Earth's. So, no need for helmets to be worn all the time. We only advise you wear them during the torrential storms. Our main reason for your exploration is to find the rare mineral known as Galactic Graphite. A single one-pound cube of this mineral has enough e. You will each be given monetary compensation as well as knowing that you have a part in providing renewable energy to the world. With this, please get your rest, and we will see you in the morning. " She signaled the lead technician to cut the mic. Another technician raised their hand. "Excuse me ma'am, we have detected three cadets out of their pods. They have been rounded up and are waiting for your arrival at your office." She looked at the technician and silently walked out the room. As she turned the corner down the corridor, she murmured to herself "I needed an energy break anyway. I won't tolerate any interference in the program."
Andre stared at his ceiling. The soft ambient music began to take over his mind. His thoughts slowly drifted into stars, galaxies, childhood memories. Suddenly a piercing scream invaded his mind. He sat straight up in his bed. He could hear the thud of boots running outside his room. He cautiously stepped out of bed and peeped out the door glazing. The boots were gone. The hallway was clear. He winced his eyes to get a clearer vision of the chaos that woke him up. A guard suddenly cam bolting down the corridor with a mop in hand. He realized what they were wiping up. A trail of blood suddenly vanished as the guard and mopped by his room. He quickly ran and dove into his bed. His heart raced as he tried to go back to sleep. "What did I get myself into? I can't even sleep now! Wait... is that fog coming through the vent?"
The thick waft of orange vapor began to permeate his room. Andre's body became limp, and he blacked out. He could hear himself snore for a few seconds and then, silence. Deafening silence followed suit. All other thoughts escaped his mind. All except for one. "What were they covering up? Why the sleeping vapor? Something else about this program is being concealed."
Andre woke up to orange light seeping into his room. An announcement came on over his room. "Cadet's, please put on your uniform and Welcome to Terra Locus base camp. Please step out of your pods carefully and take in the scenery." Andre rolled out of bed, got showered up and dressed. He stepped out of his pod and gasped. "What? No way!! This... this is a... this is Utopia." He could hear Eun-Ji calling for him. "Andre, isn't this beautiful!" She has a dandelion like flower in her hand that intermittently changed colors. "Eun-Ji, be careful, that could be poisonous!" One of the pedals blew in the wind and onto his skin. It immediately melted into his skin. He looked shocked. She smiled.
"It's not poisonous. It's a rare find. If you look in the survival guide, it says that intermittent light repels many predators. I actually stumbled across this. I actually had a handful of them, but the Field Marshall quickly snatched it from me." She crushed the flower and began the rub it in her hands. She pulled another one from her pocket. She handed it to Andre. He followed suit and rubbed the flower oils into his hands. A quick tingling sensation swept over his body. Eun-Ji then pulled him aside.
"Last night, I heard a noise. It was a scream. I quickly jumped up and saw two bleeding cadets running down the corridor. They looked terrified. I quickly jumped in bed when I heard the guards running near the corridor." Andre's eyes bulged. "I heard it too. I'm guessing they were caught outside of their pods after curfew. But what I thought was strange was the vapor and the fact that I didn't see anything about predator repellants." Eun-Ji pulled out a small pamphlet. "This was an old edition of the Survival Guide. My uncle used to work for this company before he too passed away due to a mission." Andre listened intently to her as the other cadets walked by them and towards a brick square in the middle of the field. "Hey, love birds! Let's go. Your first mission awaits you. Time to go over the vital instructions." They walked beside each other and stood in the brick square along with the other cadets.
"Cadets!! My name is Field Marshal One. I am your means of life or death in this wilderness. This looks like Earth, but this is far from being anything close to Earth. Here is a perfect example. Look of to your left." The cadets all turned to the left. In the distance, a green cloud began to sweep over the grassy plain beyond the fence. The grass blades began to emit neon green light as green rain drops began to soak the ground. The puddles quickly formed green pools of light. Suddenly, the storm dissipated, and the sun resumed to shining across the plain. The puddles soon formed into piles of green crystals. "Cadets, that is what we call Galactic Graphite. Go ahead everyone wearing green badges. Sift through the piles." As the green uniform cadets explored the piles, Field Marshal One began to talk again.
"The crystals have a very sensitive nature. While you were on Earth it had no impact. However, as your pod was whisked through the Galactic Beltway, which is only visible at night, your pod color basically became a part of you. The various weather conditions won't impact you. However, their residue will. For example, if you came into the atmosphere in a red pod, you could only touch red crystals. If you touch any other ones, the crystal will literally disintegrate you. The process is slow and painful, and we've seen it happen plenty of times. We've seen whole teams not pay attention to weather warnings and get trapped in fields of crystals that eat them alive." One cadet raised his hand. "How long do they stay illuminated?" the Field Marshal pointed to the piles that now were charcoal black. "This was a flash flood, so the max is five minutes. However, after a heavy hurricane, which we call a Solar Gust, they can be active for up to five hours." Field Marshal One then looked over at Eun-Ji and Andre.
"Also, I had a cadet pick up a handful of color changing daisies. They are known as Kaleidoscope Ivy. It's highly toxic and if you see it, you must burn it. Fortunately, she picked them up in their sapling stage. Still, we advise them to not be touched. Any further questions?" Another cadet raised their hand. He nodded for them to speak. "How long are we on this expedition?" Field Marshall One replied "Until we deem it satisfactory harvesting. We have much energy to supply. Now, get to collecting the crystals. They will go into your duffle bags." He blew his whistle and the cadets walked towards the piles. Eun-Ji nudged Andre.
"Don't believe him. That's complete bullshit. My uncle did research on the Kaleidoscope Ivy. It has so much health benefits. He could do some cool stunts when he was alive. At the Seoul Base Camp, they use to call him "holang-i" which means tiger. He was perfectly healthy. However, they said he developed an illness and died on a space mission. My aunt was so devastated. She - " A sudden blare came across the field. Field Marshall One spoke into a megaphone. "CODE FS3000. REPEAT, CODE FS3000!" Andre gasped. All the cadets quickly reached for their earbuds and pressed them on. They froze in their tracks as they felt a presence approaching them.
A pack of five grey colored beasts with shimmering black stripes leapt over the fences and came sauntering into then camp. Andre and Eun-Ji turned to get a better look. They resembled puma sized coyotes with lizard tails that wagged vigorously as their crocodile like snouts sniffed the air and ground in search for potential prey. Their eyes suddenly flashed green. Eun-Ji and Andre looked in horror as a few cadets in green uniform struggled with their ear buds. Their earbuds kept emitting a high pitch noise. The beasts pelted closer as the other cadets watched in horror.
Andre and Eun-Ji suddenly felt a wave of energy. Field Marshal One noticed them. He signaled for them both to be still. In the distance, the terrified green uniformed cadets screamed as they threw down their defected ear buds and ran. Andre clinched his fists and saw his veins give off a glow. Eun-Ji looked down her palms. They too glowed. They followed their urge and ran after the pack. Field Marshall One stamped his feet Andre and Eun-Ji ran towards the pack screaming. The five terriers turned from the green cadets and charged at Andre and Eun-Ji. Everyone watched.
A deafening hush fell across the camp as the beasts advanced and leapt in the air. Their snouts revealed two rows of razor-sharp canines. Andre led the charge and punched the first beast. His glowing hands disintegrated the bottom jaw of the first beast. Eun-Ji spun in the air and kicked another beast in the air. It fell to the ground with half its face disintegrated. The other three beasts ran away from the camp. Everyone looked in shock as Andre and Eun-Ji stood in the middle on the graphite field.
Field Marshal One shook with rage. He grabbed his megaphone and shouted into it. All cadets, back into their pods, except for our two unique cadets. Our love birds... Andre Jordan and Eun-Ji Kim!" As the other cadets ran to their pods, a jeep pulled up and four field marshals. Field Marshal One began to talk. "They have been infected by the Kaleidoscope Ivy and must be cut from the program. They also encountered a possible exposure to the rabies of the TL Lizards. I have burned the flowers that were discovered, but they must go. On site. Now!" After the order was given, the marshals raised their guns. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
As Field Marshal One walked away and the first bullets begin spinning out the barrel, Andre put his hands into the air and watched as the bullets bounced of him and Eun-Ji. All the marshals kept firing until their guns were empty. Andre and Eun-Ji still stood up. Alive and fully glowing orange. Field Marshal One turned around. "Kill them!!" Andre and Eun-Ji leapt into the air and off into the nearby forest. They were out running the jeeps that soon ran out of fuel. Field Marshal One ran to his pod and slammed the door. As he looked into the mirror he screamed with rage.
His face morphed into one of the beasts. He dialed into his video monitor. The Galactic Corp President answered the video call. "President, they have Kaleidoscope powers! Candidate A and Candidate 1." The President hissed and her face too morphed into that of one of the beasts. "Close the camp down. We'll send in more candidates to eradicate the ivies. In fact, I'm sending out more candidate letters now. But your priority is to find those two. Did they reach into solar glow?" Field Marshal One gave a slight whimper. "Yes, your Majesty." A howl and growl came across the screen. " Field Marshall one, feed your troops pronto. I will make my way across the Beltway tonight! At this point, only I can stop them."
TERRA LOCUS PALM MARSHES
Andre and Eun-Ji stepped into the clearing of a palm tree marsh. The sun was setting as a faint streak of multicolored vapor begin to form across the sky. "That must be the Galactic Beltway Andre." They looked on as the faint stream soon became a bold light that pierced through the night. Its rays gave off soft intermittent glows of color that faintly illuminate into the forest floor. The forest began the teem with nocturnal insect noises. More kaleidoscope ivies begin to open. They flashed other colors before giving off a final orange glow. Andre and Eun-Ji picked a flower, crushed it and sipped its nectar. The taste of maple and thirst-quenching quality of coconut satisfied their hunger and thirst.
"Eun-Ji, I'm telling you; I could absolutely live on this Planet forever." SNAP! A twig snapped underneath the pressure of a footstep. "What was that noise?" Andre clinched his fist as they began to glow. Silence. The palm tree leaves suddenly begin to emit neon blue beams. A calming voice came from a puddle of blue liquid. Other humanoid life forms appeared from the puddles until they were surrounded by twenty dwarf sized Martians. Eun-Ji nudged Andre and whispered. "I guess we're finally meeting your Martians." Suddenly a few yards from behind them, the elder of the aliens appeared.
"Greeting Earth Sapiens. We are not Martians. They occupy the planet Mars. We are Terra Locians. We have watched your endeavors today and would like to make an alliance with you. Most Earth Sapiens, or Earthlings, would perish from the Terra Lotus. But we have seen you two actually be immune to its toxins. Your serum type is immune to it and is rejuvenated by it. We even watched you take out our most feared predators, the Terra Raptors. They can walk on four legs and two legs and even morph into Earthlings. Our Terra Locian Scouts saw all of this. However, we also have terrible news."
The elder motioned for a young Terra Locian to bring him a stone tablet. The youngster grabbed a lightweight stone tablet and sat it in front of Andre and Eun-Ji. It smiled and then sat back in the crowd. The elder poured a drop of liquid and it formed into a square screen. Andre and Eun-Ji looked at the screen begin to display a live aerial view of the camp site. They both winced.
They saw Field Marshal One and all the other Marshals morph into Terra Raptors. Tears begin to form as they watched the camping pods being ransacked and the cadets being rounded up and eaten alive. The elder wiped the screen away and wept as well. The whole multitude of Terra Locians wept until a puddle surrounded them. Then the elder looked up at Andre and Eun-Ji.
"We want to align with you both. To defeat this common foe." As he said that a loud noise shook the night sky. Everyone looked up to see the Galactic Beltway become rose red. A sinister shriek pierced the night sky. The elder quickly formed into a puddle and pulled Andre and Eun-Ji into an underwater room. They illuminated immensely as they swung at the water wildly. They didn't know if this was a trap. They were whisked onto a dry underwater cavern they lit up with blue and orange stone tablets as they emerged out the water. Andre blurted in astonishment.
"What was that, and who are you?" The elder emerged out the water along with thirty scouts. "I am King Aquadius of the Terra Locus Palm Marshes. What we just escaped was the Galactic Beltway Raptor Entry. That rose red streak symbolizes that the Queen Raptor has entered the Terra Locus stratosphere. While you both are strong, we must guard you both to get to the Kaleidoscope Summit. It's hidden in the heart of our highest volcanic peak." King Aquadius paced the floor.
"This means we'll have to make alliances with..." He paced again. "No, I don't want to, but we have no choice." Eun-Ji stretched her arm. "With whom?" King Aquadius looked at Andre and Eun-Ji. "We'll need to be expeditious. We have collected hidden vats of the Kaleidoscope Lotus and we've harnessed it into a paste. That will keep all of us strong enough to reach Mount Kaleido. But that means we'll be crossing the Plutonian Rift." Andre stared off into the distance and flashed back to a dream he had. Everyone looked at him. Eun-Ji spoke up. "Uh, Earth to Andre, your eyes flashed neon orange for a split second." One of the toddler Terra Locians blurted out.
"This isn't Earth, its Terra Locus!" Andre blinked. "I just had a vision. We need to moved quick before the Solar Blizzard occurs." King Aquadius clapped his hands. Load the Scout Hovers. We're off to save Terra Locus and Earth." He then turned to Andre and Eun-Ji. "We must get you both in new clothes and out of those drenched uniforms." He signaled for some scouts to come over. "Please, take them to the Uniform Warehouse. They will need new clothes for the journey ahead."
A large red lightning streak pierced out of the Beltway and into the brick of the base camp square. All the guards, now in their lizard form stood at attention. A large pod was now visible after the dust from the collision wafted away. It began to disintegrate into the crater it created as the Queen Lizard emerged. She sauntered in bipedal form, each step shaking the ground. She hovered over Field Marshal One. "I need more than human energy." With a swift motion, she snatched Field Marshal One and begin to eat him. His roars soon became muffled whimpers as he was consumed before the rest of the squadron. She spit his tail out, belched and walked to the top of a hill. She morphed back into human form and the other lizards followed suit. She began to speak.
"We have a feeding program to continue. We have an energy harvesting program to continue. We must not let two Earthlings reach Mount Kaleido. It is an all kill on site expedition. If they are not one of us, kill it. Even if it’s a Terra Locian." She paced a little. "However, we must reach the summit before the Solar Blizzard. It could jeopardize our mission. We have a universe to conquer. Are you in?" She signaled for a loud roar and the squadron replied with a roar. She roared and morphed back into her Queen Lizard form. With a boisterous roar, she exclaimed, "To the summit!" She leapt into the air and landed a few yards ahead of the pack. In quadrupedal form, she led the charge across the plains and into the nearby forest. The vicious pack of predators were fueled with hunger. Their hunger for power and flesh pushed every fiber of their being.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
About the author
Welcome to creative writing side. My name is Amman Jordan. My artist name is CAPNIFICENT. I love writing my own lyrics and I love to read intriguing books. I like read non-fiction mostly but I will definitely delve into fiction a few times.