tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Lost World Pt. 01

The Lost World Pt. 01


So I'll have to ask you all to bear with me on this one. You will find that the language is quite stilted in these early sections as our character gradually awakens to allowing emotions into her life. I promise the payoff in the long run will be as big and brazen as ever, but it's going to take us time to get there.


Ship's log.

I finally am able to look upon it, the coruscating blue-green orb dotted by a thousand scintillating colors as it hangs in the void, a Sapphire among coal-stones, blinking in astonishment across the facelessness of time itself. I gaze at planet Salinth and can say with unwavering certainty an Objective Truth: "Well, this is nice".

I had to meditate an extra thirty minutes after first spotting it on the view-screen to quell the feelings of awe I felt.

'Awe leads to passion... passion to chaos... Refuge in Tranquility... in Tranquility... Tranquility'.

In all my twenty-eight years I had not felt anything bordering such strong emotion since I'd been a child, while I was confident that I would be able to keep from giving in to the horrors of passion it would still be a test. Still, I used Reason to find forgiveness for myself, for shame too leads to passion.

I Reasoned that:

1. I had studied Xenobotany my whole life, yet never once set foot on a planet that hadn't already been well catalogued, let alone with the sheer volume of flora promised by this world.

2. This was an objectively exciting experience. I could and would conquer that excitement, but failing to acknowledge that it was there would only make that conquest harder.

3. I would have David to hold me in check, humans could always be anchors for one another.

I switched off the recording, allowing myself a three second savoring glance at that view from my porthole-screen before emerging to meet the day.

"Morning's greetings," said David as he went down the digital checklist before him to make sure the landing craft was prepared correctly.

"Morning's greetings," I returned. The sight of Salinth had clearly put me in a visual frame of mind, I found myself taking special notice of David's appearance. Like me, he was dressed in a very pale blue single-suit bordering on gray, his thin form barely looking different than my own, save for his near outlier-height of six feet. My odd fixation carried me to thoughts of how his blue eyes were a better fit for our clothing than my own green ones. We also had different hair, mine short wispy and blonde, his stark black.

While I specialized in flora, David's studies had led him down a path of fauna, he would be categorizing and studying any animals we found on the planet's surface. We'd been paired together after our time on the academy and had spent time serving on larger starships for a few missions before being granted our own small vessel. The Placid was the size of a small house, affording us luxuries that would bring comfort without stirring Passion.

Virtually all human choices were guided by adherence to the three Great Virtues and aversion from the three Great Vices, and all aspects of life reflected that.

Tranquility: We were each outfitted with our own small meditation vestibule. Each morning and night it was absolutely essential to reflect upon one's self, to find hints of strong feelings and purge them without prejudice. Mankind's steadiest course is always when we think unobstructed by mood.

Reason: Our home was outfitted with digital copies and Interconnect links to all that is Objectively Known. To make any decision, one must be guided only by facts and truths, one must speak only from a place of honesty, and above all one must be guided by logical precepts that flow from one sound premise to the next. Conjecture is for children and fools, and human society is not one that abides fools.

Balance: We seek to be measured in all things, and as such do our best to not be overly invested in any given outcome. One of the greatest things that held back our science centuries ago was that few scientists would ever start an experiment without a desired result. If you do research to prove that a certain food might help fight cancer for example, you're going to be guided towards the result that it does. Now we have come to realize that failed experiments have every bit as much value as those which prove new ideas.

And where there are virtues, there are vices to be fought, impulses great evils that threaten to bring us all to a horrific end if they are not kept in check.

Aggression: This is that which we seek to avoid through the pursuit of balance. When we push to see a specific result, or worse, have that result forced onto others we eliminate the chance for new ideas. The worst of these tendencies is that of Dominion.

Instinct: The scourge of Reason is Instinct. It isn't that instincts are always wrong, of course, we evolved them for a reason, but instincts heeded without confirmation from objective data will invariably bring harm eventually.

Passion: Conclusions weighted by mood take on power they should never have. This was the reason we scourged love and lust from our vocabulary long ago. Our careful control of hormonal production, our deliberate dis-use of the human womb in favor of perfectly cultivated artificial reproductive means, our emphasis on similarity of form and function in all things including the human body have all been what has allowed us to extend the length of our lives and our reach to far beyond the boundaries of light speed or fuel consumption. The elimination of passion is what has saved us from disease and war and death.

The latter has always held a certain morbid fascination for me. When I was small and not yet properly trained in the ways of our enlightenment I was intrigued by the vulgarity of sexual reproduction; I could never visualize it properly or conceive of how it must have felt. The whole act was so disgusting! Like everyone else, I'd felt the stirring tugs of attraction in my distant past, and like everyone else I'd managed to purge these feelings from my young mind. On rare occasions, one's like this, I felt them again and had to work to make sure they weren't recurrent, such is life.

"Are you ready to make landing?" David's voice brought me back to the ship.

"Yes. Let our work begin." I was tamping down just a hint of excitement.

We boarded our smaller landing craft, Patience and began to make our adjustments. Our plan was to set down in one of the coastal areas and then follow one of the rivers inland, we could gather specimens and keep our water-orbs full before heading back and returning to the Placid. It would be a two month voyage overall, most of it in one direction, then we'd use the superior speed of the river to ride quickly on the way back. Salinth is a small world overall, a little over the size of Luna, but clearly plentiful with water and vegetative life.

We strapped into the cushy chairs of the cockpit and David flipped switches and spoke soft verbal commands to the onboard computer, making the little craft thrum to life. A pneumatic arm slowly lowered us to a safe departure vector from Placid and we made our initial descent. The atmosphere here was quite thin and we barely hit °500 degrees Celsius as aerodynamic heating warmed our craft.

"Hm, with so much plant life I'm somewhat surprised that the atmosphere is thin, if anything we should be burning up." I said.

"It is well that we brought oxygen gear just in case," David responded.

"All in all, this should be a very smooth landing," I surmised.

"I concur," said David.

Then there was a violent explosion and the ship flipped into a tailspin.

It is in these circumstances that human beings above all others excel.

As we spun in what must have been low centrifugal speeds we fell back on the training we had mastered on the way to adulthood. In the face of an easy, instant catastrophic death, we simply each took a slow deep breath, and calmly did what was needed.

Even our ancient ancestors, while emotional and aggressive, were still superior to all other animals on their planet due to the simple fact that even severe injuries were not necessarily life-ending for us.

I deftly calculated in my head the force and trajectory, firing the retro-rockets on just one side to exactly the counter-momentum at which we were spinning, bringing the craft steady. We were still plummeting, but now we were plummeting straight.

While other animals would give in to the immediate limitations of fear and pain, letting passion rule them into an early grave, it was only humans who could know they would heal in time, that they could keep off of an injured part deliberately, and would ultimately come to the near-mastery of death we had today.

David was not idle. While I focused on the retro's, he was making use of the manual aerodynamic shifters, essentially ruddering the ship from six different ways to tilt us up and level us off, we were slowing nicely now.

During the early days of the current human adherence to the Three Great Virtues, there were some who resisted. This was hundreds of years ago and I've known anyone even capable of such a mind-set, but from what I've read, they argued that the way forward was one of stagnation and sterility.

Time, of course, has proven them wrong as we continue to reach the furthest stars. I can faintly smile to myself at the thought of how such idiots would be floundering in a situation such as this. It is more than likely that by the time they stopped screaming, weeping and urinating they would likely have already crashed. That is what Passion gets you.

We were in perfect tune and our hands slapped together on the final button to deploy the emergency parachute; with no time to assess the full damage from the explosion it would be too risky to attempt a retro-rocket landing, the ship might be so unbalanced from missing parts it would flip at the worst possible time. We were coming in hot for a parachute of course, but with a massive jerk that whipped our bodies around a bit we cut our speed to a painful but survivable landing.

More deep breaths. We assessed the situation and then co-consulted our health status. I was fine, but David who had been on the side that impacted was in much worse shape, multiple fractures, contusions, a head wound that seeped blood until I managed to ebb its flow with a cloth.

More deep breaths.

"You should be okay, with splints and intravenous nourishment compilers you can probably survive here indefinitely in stasis-sleep." I said after I had administered medications for his pain. He nodded, wincing a bit as together we worked to position him for the hibernation-like rest.

"Would you like me to stay with you while you heal and I assess damage to the ship?" I asked.

He considered a moment. "That would be an emotional decision. Our ability to ever leave this planet is entirely tied what we can scout for out there. Ferrous metal, Elerium, things we can synthesize into what we need to return to the Placid."

I nodded my agreement. "Alright. I'll take the travel rations and some of the instruments and see what I can do. If I'm able to find any plants that might aid in your recovery I'll be sure to return with them."

To our slight dismay, the relay beacon had been damaged in the crash, I was there would be no way for us to communicate during my sojourn, but I resolved I would return to him in due time, hopefully with what we'd need to avoid being marooned here for life. I didn't think I'd need the oxygen mask, but I took one in hand anyway, ready to slap it on my face if the plants of this world produced something besides oxygen.

Personal log: The mask was not needed. The moment I took my first breath of Salinth's air I was struck by an almost ethereal feeling. In small bursts, concentrated oxygen has been known to produce a high, this planet was definitely very rich in it, and after breathing only recirculated air in starships for years it was certainly a shock to my system. I fought down instincts to laugh, cry, strip my single-suit off and go running through the grass and moss, I closed my eyes and did nano-meditation to steady myself. My whole body was tingling, though whether this was the new air or the vestigial rush of survival I'd been trying to ignore I couldn't say.

Perhaps the hardest part of all to admit to myself, is that there is something insanely appealing about the sight of this imperfect wilderness. Every planet humans have touched since we took to the stars has been upgraded, improved, balanced and made right. Here no such improvement had ever taken place, yet there was something so oddly enticing about it. It was a place devoid of right angles. Such a thought had never struck me before, but from consoles to windows to books, my life was filled with endless precise cuts, here there were branches and brooks and mosses that didn't conform to any such thing.

I was clearly going to need a lot of meditation if I was going to survive here without giving in to the three Great Vices.

The ship was by a lake rather than the river we'd planned, I'd have nothing to follow for my trek to elsewhere. Still, David would be fine with ready access to water when the ship's supply ran out and I'd probably be back long before then anyway. While our culture generally frowns upon eating non-farmed meats, if we were going to be stuck here for the long haul, I might break taboo a little and see if I couldn't catch something to cook. If not, there were probably fruits or vegetables I could harvest in a pinch.

The journey felt incredible; even though we'd been cooped up on the Placid for ages my legs had been serviced by a regular training regimen to prepare me for the long walks we were expecting to make. The ever-changing colors of this lush world were the bigger challenge, I kept having to stop and meditate to keep from getting emotionally overwhelmed. Still, I made more than ten miles that first day before stopping to make camp, easily starting a fire from my all-purpose utili-tool.

To keep myself entertained before bed I studied some of the readings my instruments had been drawing and couldn't help but make an audible gasp.

What in the universe was I even breathing?

The air of Salinth contained no oxygen. None. There were some of the base parts, helium and hydrogen and nitrogen, argon and carbon monoxide, but absolutely no H20. Was I hallucinating my last moments while I really choked to death outside the ship? No, that was unbalanced thought. I didn't know how I was alive, I didn't know if something would change and sweep away this inexplicable survival, but I decided it was only logical to keep trusting in it for the moment.

I slept uneasily for the first time I can remember and woke up with a start, had I been having nightmares? We thought we'd fully cured those fifty years ago! Stranger still, my breasts ached and seemed slightly swollen on closer examination. Had I somehow injured them in the crash and just not noticed until now? Salinth was raising questions for me far faster than I could answer them. But I was a scientist, and was determined that I would find answers no matter what.

I continued my journey, vowing to try and make it just as far today, but stopped when I found some tempting fruit. I didn't have a name for them yet, but they were a lovely purple color, an oval shape, and many of them bore evidence of consumption, suggesting that they were non-toxic. Of course a non-human might have much to fear from unfamiliar bacteria or fungal passengers, but the nanites that enhanced my immune system were made to be adaptive, perfect hunter-killers of anything my body did not need.

The fruit was sweet, but also had an interesting savory undertaste, not unlike teriyaki oddly enough. Yaki-Fruit was as good a name as any I supposed when I entered it into my log. I couldn't very well call everything I came across "Salinthberry" "Salinthfruit" or "Salinthnuts", which would get murky in a hurry. I deferred to the demons of creativity and let vice rule me a little in accepting a name that would make things easier to sort out later. This would have been the most interesting entry of day two, if not for the fact that I found myself in abrupt contact with people!

I had just begun to make camp, gathering small twigs for tinder when I heard the giggles; they drifted through the trees and were soon followed by a splashing sound. I dropped everything I was doing and curiously crept through the underbrush, climbing a small hillock that I discovered had been blocking my view of a small lake that it overlooked. A bit of a walk around the beach there were two beings unlike any I'd ever seen.

Their skin was somewhat the same shade as my own, but less pale, a sort of lustrous bronze tone. One had shocking yellow-blonde hair that was much brighter than my own subtler wisps of lighter hue, the other's head was adorned with jet black hair that shone with the moisture of the water. While I kept my own hair short for convenience, the pair of them had allowed theirs to grow long down their backs, though they seemed well-kempt. As they turned and cavorted, seeming to sort of bathe and play as one, I took in features that were more unusual.

The blonde had eyes of a blue that were somehow deeper and more pool-like than David's, and the other a shade of glimmering gold I'd never seen in a human face before. Their lips were extremely full and their cheekbones high with a sort of rounded curve; I never felt that my face was sharper in this moment and somehow the Vices crept upon me in feeling a sort of jealousy. I followed their bodies down to another baffling feature, their breasts were MONSTROUS! The blonde's set sat high and firm as a pair of fresh grapefruits on her chest. The brunette's by contrast hung low and heavy on her chest in tear-drop shapes the size of Cassava melons.

How could they bear such weight!?

Their waists slimmed inward to be a little wider than my own scant twenty-two inches, but then flared out as explosively as their busts and hips that must have measured at least forty inches around. What extraordinary anatomy! I've seen pictures of what humans looked like before the Great Enlightenment and while men used to be meatier and women curvier, they were nothing like the specimens who splashed in the water before me. They were notably fit as well, with pronounced, long lean biceps and a bit of chiseling to their taut stomachs. Something about looking at them made me feel strange.

They spoke to one another in a quick, fluttery sounding language, punctuating their conversation with laughter and shifting tones that seemed to get lower and slower as they went. I spent a few minutes digging out my universal translator and fiddled with it a bit to get it fired to life. I'd buried the thing assuming there was no way I'd need it since this world had not been settled by humans, and kicked myself for not thinking to get it out earlier. It would need to hear long snatches of their language before it could begin the hours-long process of formulating conversions for grammar and vocabulary.

Sadly, they didn't give me much more language because of the next mind-boggling thing that happened; the two women stepped into one another, wrapped their arms around each other, and began to rub their lips together.

Kissing! The long-dead courtship ritual mankind had left behind was still seemingly alive and well on Salinth. I watched, gobsmacked as their gobs smacked into one another, the pressure they seemed to be exerting getting more and more intense as time passed. At times they made odd lilting suction noises against one another, at others they seemed to be doing something complicated with their tongues, and I could swear I saw one bite the other's lower lip gently and tug it a bit.

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