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Dig Site Obsidian

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About this blog

The blog of Rock Raider Obsidian. I will be posting status updates on my writing projects, as well as other random ramblings that come to mind.

 

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Rock Raider Obsidian

Rock Raiders Update #2: 04.02.2017

I don't have a whole lot to say, unfortunately. I've been extremely busy just lately and it doesn't seem like it's going to let up any time soon. I did manage to get The Long Walk finished, though! So that was pretty awesome to write. I can only hope it was awesome to read. Currently, I'm trying to get two fan fictions wrapped up, (they're still quite a ways off from being finished), planning a series of original post-apocalyptic survival-horror novels that I will try to get professionally published, and dealing with all the other things that go with being a human nowadays.

 

I'll try to get some more planning done this month so I can have something more worthwhile to say in May.

Rock Raider Obsidian

FOREWORD: What you are about to read is The Long Walk, a mini-series companion to my adaptation of Lego Rock Raiders. It features an original character and will basically be a way for me to get a feel for the universe from a writing perspective, and for you to get a feel for how I'm going to handle the universe, and my writing style and abilities, from a reading perspective. I hope you enjoy it!

THE LONG WALK

 

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When the Explorer was hit by an asteroid storm and

thrown into a wormhole that hurled it to the far side

of the galaxy, miner Ian Harrison hoped it wouldn’t get

any worse.

 

Of course, he should have known better. When a teleporter

malfunction strands him in an unexplored cavern on the

mysterious planet the Rock Raiders are mining for resources,

he must do whatever it takes to brave the unknown

and get back to base...

 

PART ONE

Unexpected Complications

 

Spoiler

 

Ian ducked a pair of Raiders who were carrying a charred steel girder, or most of it anyway, on his way to Teleportation Bay Seventeen-B. He’d cut through Hangar Eight in hopes of it providing a shorter walk, but given the sheer amount of stuff that was happening, he was regretting his decision. Not that the corridors were any better. At least here he had room to maneuver. He took it all in as he made his way silently through the hectic, organized chaos that was the dozens of tech crews putting the Explorer back together.

 

High overhead, sparks bled from welding and cutting tools as men with greasy faces wearing big, black goggles and blue jumpsuits went to work on the inner hull. It had taken a hell of a beating during the asteroid storm, and the sudden stress of interstellar travel had only compounded the problem. The ground floor, on the other hand, was worse. As many as a hundred men and women moved through the madness, shifting crates, moving twisted metal debris, digging into the exposed guts of the ship through propped open wall panels and deckplates. A dozen engineers crawled across a Chrome Crusher that had, ironically, been partially crushed by falling debris.

 

They’d been in orbit around the planet for three days now and still they were putting the ship back together again.

 

Someone, he wasn’t sure who, had started calling the planet Upsilon.

 

The name had stuck.

 

He stopped short, narrowly avoiding a transport truck as it trundled by, its cargo compartment full up with more debris and broken equipment. Ian reached up and scratched behind his ear, fingernails tracing the edges of his tiny implant forest. That’s what they were calling it nowadays, the tech forest. He gently probed the two inch metal square that had been soldered to his skull. He could feel the bumps and ridges of the dozen vacant slots. He didn’t have any tech in his head just then, as the Training Accelerator Gadgets were currently in low supply. He’d never really gotten used to the TAGs. They scared him, though he loathed to admit it.

 

It was freaky, the way an entire body of knowledge could be slotted into your skull. Slip one of the little black and silver rectangles into a slot and suddenly, boom, you know how to pilot a Hover Scout. Slot another and suddenly you were a demolitions expert. Slot another and you were a repository of knowledge on the delicate inner workings of a Chrome Crusher’s engine block. He still preferred to learn things the old fashioned way.

 

Finally, Ian hit the edge of the hangar and slipped down the corridor. Finding the room he was looking for, he stepped inside and saw a tired-looking tech manning the controls. As he looked at the workstation on one side of light gray room, and the teleportation bay itself, done up in slick, reflective chrome and green glass, on the other side of the room, he thought about how Naomi mentioned that the setup looked like Star Trek.

 

He’d never watched the show, it was ancient history, but his fiancee was a throwback junkie.

 

Where to?” the tech asked, rubbing at one bloodshot eye. None of them were getting all that much sleep lately, there was just too much to do.

 

Site Twenty Four Alpha,” he replied, heading over to the pad.

 

The tech nodded and began working the controls. As he stepped onto one of the teleportation pads, Ian did a quick rundown of his supplies. He had his emergency medical kit, a canteen of distilled water, a meal ration that wasn’t so much a meal as it was an awful tasting, nutrients-packed bar of something. A combat knife they’d started issuing everyone, probably to make them feel better. And that was it. They didn’t like sending down Rock Raiders with anything more than absolutely necessary because the more stuff was on you, the more of a strain it put on the teleporters. He didn’t really understand it, didn’t pretend to, but he knew it was bad news.

 

Besides, all the stuff he needed would be waiting for him at the local HQ.

 

Ready?” the technician asked, staring at him bleakly across the room.

 

Ready,” Ian confirmed, standing rigidly still in the center of the pad. The tech scrutinized his screen for a moment, glanced once up at Ian, then back down at his screen and punched in a command. Around him, he could hear the teleporter hum to life. A faint vibration, mixed with a sensation not unlike electrostatic shock, ran across his body. He swallowed, trying to push down his apprehension, or at least not show it.

 

Teleporters didn’t have a one hundred percent success rate.

 

The pad began to glow a bright green beneath his feet and he felt a brief wave of heat pass over him. And then, suddenly, he was thrown into a blue void.

 

* * * * *

 

He was falling, tumbling, or that’s what it felt like.

 

They said that teleportation lasted no more than five seconds at most, from start to finish, but Ian was never sure. He was surrounded by a pulsing, writhing blue light. It was everywhere he looked, rushing by him.

 

And then, suddenly, he was falling for real.

 

That was the first indication he had that something had gone wrong. He grunted as he dropped a few feet, landed hard and toppled forward. Something had definitely gone wrong. He felt sick and disoriented, his head twisting madly, stomach churning, his whole body alive with some strange electrical activity.

 

He landed on his hands and knees and found himself staring down at a black, rocky surface. Ian fought bitterly to keep his breakfast in his stomach. And it was made all the more difficult as he shivered violently, his body going from extreme hot to extreme cold as quickly as if he’d been thrown into an ice bath.

 

Shuddering, groaning, he raised his head, looking around.

 

He didn’t see the familiar shapes of other Rock Raiders moving about, nor the larger shapes of vehicles trundling here and there, nor even the familiar, comforting outlines of structures. In fact, he saw nothing at all but rock and more rock. Squinting in pure confusion, trying to sort out his thoughts, he noticed that everything had a slightly green tinge to it. After a few seconds it finally hit him: he must be in pitch black and his vision implants were compensating. Well, that was good, at least. Groaning again as his head pulsed with a dull ache, he slowly picked himself up off the rocky cavern floor. It took a bit, but finally he stood on his own two feet again.

 

Where the hell was he, and what had happened?

 

These were the first two questions that slithered unhappily into his mind. Ian moved in a slow circle, trying to scope the situation out, his brain still buzzing with the teleporter malfunction. They could have all kinds of nasty side effects if they did occur, everything from vomiting to psychosis to your liver missing.

 

Everything still felt about where it should be, at least.

 

So he was in a cavern. He’d obviously made it to the planet, but where? How far away from the nearest outpost? For a moment, Ian felt panic began to slide over him, charged and dangerous. No, he couldn’t let himself panic. He closed his eyes, despite how nervous that made him, (there’d been reports of things alive down here in the caverns, and not all of them were too friendly), but he forced himself to calm down, to focus his thoughts.

 

What was the first logical thing to do?

 

His eyes popped open as he realized that the answer was very obvious. Call for help. He blinked three times in rapid succession, a technique you had to learn when they gave the comms implant, and then felt ice fill him when that familiar soft hum of an open channel didn’t come. Swallowing nervously, pushing against the raw panic, looking around him rapidly, Ian blinked again, doing it as precisely as he could.

 

Nothing.

 

He cursed, his voice echoing away in the darkness. His radio must have been damaged in the teleportation process. They were supposed to be very hard to break, given that they were implanted inside of people’s skulls, but it wasn’t impossible. It also meant he had no way of fixing it, since he wasn’t capable of performing surgery on himself.

 

Okay, okay…

 

So what now?

 

Distantly, though not quite distantly enough, a rock dropped and hit the ground. He jerked in response, spinning around, searching the green-lit gloom for something. Anything. But the cavern he was in remained void of life. Walls of dark blackish rock surrounded him. There were several tunnels snaking away from the central chamber, disappearing from sight due either to distance or natural curves in their structure.

 

There had to be something he wasn’t thinking of.

 

Okay, okay, go basic,” he whispered to himself. “What’s my goal here?” It felt stupid, talking to himself like this, but in times of great duress, it was how Ian worked through things. Just stop all thoughts, examine what you had before you, and what you were trying to do. He had to know what he was working with and what needed to be done.

 

Right now, he simply needed to get to a mining camp, or find another Raider. Or a radio. All of those would probably be in the same direction. But he had no idea where he was. He could be a hundred miles from the nearest outpost. That thought sent a ripple of fear through him. No, couldn’t think like that, it was a waste of time. He had to operate under the assumption that there was a way out of this and he could achieve it.

 

To think otherwise would be tantamount to suicide.

 

He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and ran again through his inventory, wondering if any of it could help him. Nothing on his person could, but his head…

 

Ian gasped. This was why he needed to think slowly and deliberately.

 

Although he’d kept his head largely clear of technology beyond the very basic implants, like the comms unit, the health monitor and the beacon, (they could find him by his beacon, but it made more sense to be proactive instead of sitting around waiting for that, and it might be just as damaged as his comms unit, anyway,) but he had one other thing installed. Something he found very useful. A navigational suite.

 

It had basic sensors embedded in it and he could send out a pulse. Any technology, other beacons, structures, anything man-made would bounce back to him and he’d get an idea of how screwed he was. He moved his eye in a specific way, holding his gaze to the upper right for three consecutive seconds, and a neon green pulse appeared in his vision, radiating out from himself in every direction. He waited, waited, waited.

 

His heart was hammering in his chest and he was sweating badly now.

 

This was a bad sign.

 

Suddenly, something pinged back. He felt hope blossom within him like a white-hot flame. He studied the results and felt the hope flicker, though not die. Data scrolled across his vision. His navigational suite had picked up a low-level power signature about a mile north of his current position. It matched a Rock Raider signature, but beyond that, he could pull no other discernible data from it. It was too weak. It could be anything from a full-fledged outpost to a wrecked and abandoned Hover Scout. Ian thought about it for a moment, considering the situation.

 

Ultimately, he determined that he had no choice.

 

He had to go north.

 

So he went.

 

PART TWO

Into the Void

 

Spoiler

 

Ian had been walking for about fifteen minutes now, and the good cheer he’d managed to gather from his sudden sense of purpose was beginning to fade. All around him, no matter where he looked, there was nothing but bleak black rock, tinged with green. It was kind of intimidating. He’d spent a lot of time underground, a lot, and he’d never really been intimidated by it, at least not since his early days. But now he was remembering those fears he’d had as rookie, a decade ago. The notion that he was deep underground, that the ceiling or the walls could cave in on him at any moment, that the floor could open up beneath him.

 

That there could be anything down there with them.

 

They’d encountered some strange creatures in their time mining distant worlds for their natural resources to fuel humanity’s ever-expanding empire.

 

That got him thinking on other aspects of his life, namely the fact that he was now engaged. It felt weird, he was still getting used to it, even though he was the one who had popped the question. He’d been dating Naomi now for two years. Ian had signed on with the Rock Raid ten years ago. He’d heard a lot about them, and they were pretty elite: a savvy, stubborn, rough group of privately owned miners who tended to take on pretty serious and dangerous jobs on the far rim of the galaxy. They had a ninety nine percent success rate.

 

And they weren’t beholden to any corporate investors.

 

That had always gotten to Ian. The Explorer was a massive vessel with nearly fifteen hundred personnel onboard. The sheer amount of credits it must take to pay everyone, and to keep that ship running, which they did with a startling efficiency, was insane. Being a technician aboard, he had an idea of what it took to keep that ship sailing smoothly.

 

The interesting thing about the Raiders was that you didn’t apply, you didn’t ask to join them. They asked you. They handpicked every single person on that ship. The whole thing was managed by Nolan Brix, aka ‘Chief’, as everyone liked to call him. They’d approached him a decade ago after he’d decided to walk from a lucrative tech job because they had no respect for him and he wouldn’t put up with that.

 

Respect was paramount in his life, he gave it and expected it in return. Obviously, he knew he had to earn it first, but if these corporate assholes were going to treat him like their technical pack mule and give him utter crap in return, then he was going to give them the finger. And he had. Ian wasn’t arrogant, but he knew he was smart enough and flexible enough to find a good job elsewhere. That was when the message had come through.

 

Chief had apparently tagged him a year ago as a potential employee and him walking from that job had clenched it. He’d had a vidphone interview with the man himself that had lasted half an hour. Chief didn’t even want to hear about where he’d gone to school, his credentials, his technical knowledge, because he already knew that.

 

Information was currency, and easy to come by nowadays.

 

He wanted to know the man behind the diploma, the work, the jobs.

 

And apparently he’d liked him enough to make the hire.

 

Ian stopped suddenly as he heard a rock fall somewhere off to his right. He looked over. The cavern continued for quite a ways, off into the darkness. Another rock fell. Anything could be in that darkness, anything at all. He returned his attention to the direction he’d been walking in and picked up the pace.

 

So far, his path had been unobstructed.

 

But he’d been thinking about Naomi. The only woman he’d ever loved. When he was younger, he’d thought he’d been in love twice, but upon further reflection, he’d come to realized that he had been in love with the idea of being in love. Both relationships had crumbled in his hands like sand because he couldn’t sit still.

 

He had wanderlust syndrome. He had to keep moving and that wasn’t an easy thing to live with. But that’s what was so great about his current job, and his current relationship. When he’d met Naomi, he’d been immediately infatuated with her. The first time he’d seen her, she was sitting down in a maintenance bay with bits and pieces of a jackhammer spread out all over the deckplates. She’d looked up at him, sensing his presence.

 

What are you doing?” he’d asked.

 

Trying to fix this damned thing,” she’d replied.

 

Can I help?”

 

I don’t need it, but I’d welcome it.”

 

It was their first conversation. Turned out the jackhammer had a short buried pretty deep in it. A simple repair, but he would’ve had a b**** of a time finding it, too. Naomi was a miner. She was a tall, muscular brunette who had intimidated the hell out of him. After that first session in the maintenance bay, (they’d spent an hour getting to know each other while they investigated the mystery of the broken jackhammer), he’d started asking her to dinner, because frankly, he was very enamored with her. He’d always been drawn to badass women.

 

She was two years older than him and had a really nice collection of tattoos and scars, and she never really let anything stop her, not even herself or her own fear. They’d shacked up together after two months, with him moving into her living quarters. The relationship had been fairly steady, with some occasional rocky times when they got into an argument over something stupid because one or both of them was stressed and overworked, but he’d proposed to her last month and she had said yes. And that was good.

 

The way ahead narrowed suddenly, the broad cavern he’d been walking through at a steady pace became a tunnel maybe a dozen feet across.

 

Crap,” he muttered.

 

Tunnels were dangerous.

 

He should know, given how much of his life he’d spent in them recently. Ian hurried down the tunnel, practically running. This place had him paranoid. As he came out the other side, he found himself in a smaller cavern. Free of the tunnel, Ian took a moment to send out another scan. He’d made some good progress and, checking his chronometer, he saw that he’d been walking for a little over twenty minutes by now.

 

This time, the ping came back a little stronger, giving him a clearer idea of where the main power source was, but it was still very faint. And although he had picked up a few other even lighter power sources, probably smaller vehicles, they were too faint to be normal. Either the rock or minerals of this place, (they’d found some strange new minerals here on Upsilon), were masking the signals or...something had gone wrong at base camp.

 

Not exactly the most pleasant of thoughts.

 

As he crossed about half the distance in this new cavern, Ian stopped as he heard a faint chirping sound. He waited, listened, heard it again, closer this time. With a sigh, he kept walking. Bats. Okay, not exactly bats, but this world’s equivalent of bats. They flew, they hung upside down, and they hunted via echo location, so, in his book, bats. And everyone else’s too, apparently, as that was the current slang for the things.

 

He hated bats.

 

Scans had indicated that they were harmless, like most of the smaller animal life on the planet, (not the damned larger life, though), so he did his best to ignore the things. They weren’t even close at the moment. He kept going, trying to think happy thoughts to keep himself going at a brisk pace, like how Naomi liked taking showers with him.

 

That was always nice.

 

As he came to the rough dividing line where this cavern ended and another began, something moved along the ground up ahead. Ian froze again, focusing, trying to determine what it was he was seeing. Slowly, he kept walking, his senses amped up now as paranoia slithered coldly around in the depths of his guts. He made it another dozen steps or so when he saw the movement again. Definitely on the ground, definitely something there. It had scurried behind a rock. Had to be a spider. They called them Slippers.

 

He thought it was a funny name, and that was probably the point, but they were named as such because they were coated in some strange, clear slippery substance. He’d seen a lot of people fall on their asses since the things tended to get underfoot. And it killed the spider, of course, when they slipped. Technically they were non-lethal, they didn’t have any venom, or at least any venom that could harm humans, but if you were carrying something heavy, it could be pretty damaging for either you or someone around you.

 

So far, he’d managed to avoid them.

 

Ian wanted to keep that going.

 

He kept moving, picking up the pace, his work boots sending out dull, hollow echoes as he plodded along. He began to see more of the Slippers scurrying about off to the right. Well, that was fine, so long as they stayed over there. Up ahead, he could see another tunnel. Great. As he approached it, he felt a soft tremor run through the whole area. Ian froze again. He almost passed it off as his imagination, or his hyper awareness, he even wanted to, but he couldn’t. He knew what he’d felt, and it was a bad sign.

 

Another tremor this time, and suddenly, he saw a lot of movement up ahead, in the tunnel that he had to pass through. The outpost he was heading towards was about a hundred meters away now, he realized suddenly. In fact, this tunnel should lead to the cavern it was in. So why didn’t he hear anything? Why couldn’t make out the faint sounds of running engines, of pick-axes or jackhammers or shovels?

 

Why didn’t he hear anything at all, except for the soft rumbling?

 

The movement he saw coalesced into something he did not want to see. There were a couple of dozen Slippers and, with them, snakes (no fancy name for them, not yet at least), coming straight at him in a hurry. For a second he was frozen with fear, then he made himself hurry a few paces off to the right. Ian watched the horde of creatures pass by. He realized with a cold fear that they were running from something.

 

But what?

 

Once they had passed, he returned his gaze to the dark maw of the tunnel dead ahead. Well, he was about to find out. He walked up to the tunnel and stopped at its entrance as he felt another faint tremor rumble through the area. He didn’t like the looks of the right wall, it seemed like it might be in danger of a rock slide, especially when another tremor, this one more powerful, came through and dislodged several rocks that made dusty trails as they bounced down the side of the tunnel wall. Well, this certainly wasn’t good.

 

As far as he knew, it was the only way in, and he suddenly didn’t feel like spending anymore time down here, alone, going and searching for some alternative route that might not even exist or might be just as dangerous, or more so, than the one that was right here, in front of him, right now. He walked right up to the entrance of the tunnel and waited. His vision enhancement only went about forty feet ahead, so he couldn’t even see the end of the tunnel, but he knew it had to be close. After waiting for close to five minutes with no more tremors, Ian set off.

 

He moved at a brisk pace, not actually running, but certainly not dragging his feet. So close now, close to that encampment. And then he could get some answers, report in, take a little break before getting to work, (hopefully). He was really looking forward to it. He might even get a chance to grab a bite to eat.

 

Ian had made it halfway down the tunnel when the tremors started up again, only this time, they didn’t subside, at least not right away. They lasted long enough that the wall to the right began to lose its face. A great deal of loose rocks and dirt began to fall from the tunnel’s wall. Ian let out a startled shout and began sprinting.

 

A rock slide was occurring.

 

He focused on nothing but running, pushing himself as hard as he could as he felt the whole wall begin to come down around him. He hissed in pain as several smaller rocks pelted him, nicking his skin in several places. Then a bigger rock hit him right in the back and drove the breath from his lungs. He gasped in pain, his back nothing but agony just then, and nearly tripped. But he managed to stay upright and kept on running.

 

In the end, it was a near thing. He dove out of the tunnel, tucked and rolled. Behind him, a column of dust burst out and settled over him. He laid on the ground, wondering if he’d made it, if the rock slide would continue around him, but he could tell that it was subsiding. He was now in the cavern with the power signatures.

 

Slowly, Ian began to pick himself up.

 

It was time to see what he could see.

 

PART THREE

Entering Devastation

 

Spoiler

 

The first inclination Ian had that something was wrong was when he spied a strange, flickering light up ahead. It sprang uncertainly into existence at seemingly random intervals and appeared unnatural...then again, he had no idea what kind of things naturally occurred on this planet. He knew it set him on edge though. It was familiar and its origin danced just beyond his mental grasp as he drew closer to it, slowly eroding the distance between them. It lit again, a blue-white flash in the green-tinted gloom.

 

As he came within ten feet of it, Ian suddenly had it.

 

He knew what he was seeing.

 

Sparks. Electrical sparks. From a broken thing. Jogging over, he crouched down and realized that he was looking at a jackhammer. It was badly bent out of shape, one handle torn completely off. The central control unit, buried in the main body of the device, had been exposed, and it was producing the flashes of light. Even as he loomed over it, the thing bled a spray of blue-white sparks that fizzled and died on the dark rock beneath it.

 

Crap,” he muttered, preparing to get back to his feet.

 

But something caught his eye. There was some kind of stain on the jackhammer, on the main body. He couldn’t tell its color because of the light-amp filter, but he had an unhappy idea of what it was. Slowly, he reached down and touched it. It was cold and sticky and the sensation of it on his skin was very unpleasant. Slowly, he raised his fingers to his nose and smelled. The groaned and quickly wiped his fingertips off on his uniform.

 

Blood.

 

It was blood.

 

He could tell immediately from the awful metallic-copper smell.

 

Double crap,” he growled, straightening up quickly. He was close to the power sources now. He should be able to see them…

Ian scanned the area more intently this time and saw a rise in the land ahead of him. Well, he should be able to get a good view of the area from there. Ian jogged over, hurrying now. He really didn’t like where this was going. He should have been able to hear something by now: the soft hum of a generator, the jagged metallic hammering of a jackhammer, the whine of an engine, the voices of other Raiders as they called out orders.

 

But there was nothing.

 

Only a faint dripping sound and the few noises he was producing. His heart hammered in his chest as he began to make his way up the rise in the land and his whole body felt tense and rigid. Ian finally crested the rise.

 

And everything clicked into place.

 

Holy God...” he whispered.

 

He had no idea what had happened, but it was obvious that the results had been disastrous. Perhaps fifty feet away, he saw what had once been a thriving Rock Raiders mining operation, and outpost in the darkness of the subterranean alien world. Now it was a dark shell of its former self. He could see the basic outline of a few structures. Some of them had survived mostly intact, it seemed. He knew enough about Rock Raider architecture that he could pick out a few of them: a storage structure was mostly intact, same for the dormitories building. The teleport pad and local headquarters seemed to have sustained serious damage.

 

But by what?

 

Had there been an earthquake? A cave-in?

 

He needed to get closer to figure this out, and there might be survivors, people who needed help. Ian began running. He knew some basic first aid, they all did, it was part of the training. One thing that worried him was that there was no power to anything. He could see the power paths connecting the buildings and they weren’t lit, they were missing that faint blue glow they constantly emitted. Although they were technically hooked up to the power plant and that’s where they drew some of their energy from, they were actually given kinetic energy, designed in such a way that they translated simple footsteps on them into power.

 

If they were as dead and dark as they were right now, it meant that the base had been without power and no one had been walking around for quite some time, at least an hour. Ian’s industrial strength work boots echoed as he ran down the rise of land and quickly crossed the distance. He passed metal debris, random pieces of architecture and equipment. He stopped briefly as he saw a smashed transport truck, its engine ripped open.

 

That was not the result of some kind of cave-in or natural disaster.

 

What was going on here?

 

He picked back up the pace and didn’t stop until he came to the edge of the encampment. Moving between a pair of smaller storage sheds where they typically stored equipment, tools and spare parts, he felt a fresh wave of fear roll icily over him. He’d seen bad things before, every Raider had if they’d been there for more than a year. The job was dangerous, and you had to accept that. They all looked out for each other and every Raider would and often had risked their lives for another. Natural disasters happened, accidents happened.

 

Sometimes, they ran into some weird alien life out there on the fringe of civilization.

 

But this…

 

Stepping into the central area of the outpost, he saw that headquarters had taken what appeared to be a battering ram to one of its walls. Ian moved closer, staring in sheer wonder at the gaping hole that had been apparently punched through solid metal. What could have done this? Moving deeper in, Ian studied the power station, seeing that it seemed to have taken the most damage out of any of the structures in the camp.

 

It was little more than twisted, sparking metal.

 

An arm, still wrapped in a torn, bloodied sleeve, stuck out from beneath the wreckage. Ian moved forward almost without thinking about it, crouching, grabbing the edge of a large slab of metal and grunting with effort as he lifted it. It was a near thing, and he was almost forced to give up due to the sheer weight of the debris, but with a last, explosive half-grunt, half-shout of effort, he threw to piece of metal off of the body.

 

It was a wasted effort, though, he saw as he looked down at the dead Raider. It was not someone he recognized, a pale man with short dark hair and empty, blood-clouded eyes. His skull had been partially caved in.

 

Ian stood up suddenly, stumbling away from the corpse, and looked around. He stared in bewildered horror as, suddenly, it became obvious to him just how many corpses there were around him. Somehow, he had missed them coming in, as if his brain had edited reality itself to help him cope with this awful situation.

 

What happened?” he whispered.

 

Ian felt a sort of mute numbness slipping over him then, another self-defense mechanism of the mind, shielding him from the worst of the trauma for the moment in much the same manner the body flooded with adrenaline and endorphins when you broke a bone, to keep you from the worst of it. In a way, it did help.

 

Ian could think more clearly.

 

Slowly, carefully, he moved through the camp. The seconds bled into minutes as he walked among the sparking ruins, checking the dead. He wasn’t sure how long he was there, making his way silently through debris and ruins, finding bodies, checking pulses, and coming away disappointed and melancholy each time.

 

There were eight buildings in total.

 

The power station was a wash, and the teleport pad and storage structures didn’t yield any interesting results. Only bodies and wreckage. The dormitories building had held up a lot better, but it was abandoned. He passed several small bunk rooms, a pair of bathrooms, a mess hall and kitchen, a silent, unlit rec room.

 

Finally, he moved to the last building: Headquarters.

 

The heart of any outpost, the first structure to be teleported down.

 

Ian walked in through the main entrance to the HQ. It felt unreal, moving into that initial ingress. How many times had he been in a room like this? The Rock Raiders custom-made their own prefabricated structures, and they’d gotten the design of aesthetic, efficiency and quality down well enough that all of the structures were carbon copies of each other. If you’d been in one teleport pad, you’d been in them all.

 

The same could be said for the headquarters.

 

The place was dark and derelict. Ian investigated the each room in passing. A headquarters building was practically like a mini-base all its own. Its compact design held some sleeping quarters, a tiny galley, a bathroom that doubled as a shower area, a simple infirmary, an armory, some storage space and a command room that held communications, radar, data processing, and some security features. It also served as an emergency shelter in extreme conditions and could house four people up to a week, with the ability to seal itself atmospherically.

 

Theoretically, it could survive a flood, among other disasters.

 

Although the building was mainly intact, it didn’t hold what he had hoped for: survivors. But it might hold something else: intel on what the hell had happened. He searched all the rooms one by one, finding them empty, and finally came to the control room. Whatever had happened hadn’t gotten into here. The room was dark and dead, though there was a faint glow coming from one of the workstations. Ian approached it.

 

The primary workstation that technically had the ability to control the entire building, at least the broad strokes of it, had its own emergency backup power source, independent of any other. Judging by the dimness of the glow, Ian guessed that it was running pretty low, and he didn’t have a lot of time left to use it.

 

So he sat down quickly and set to work.

 

The first thing he did was to set the radar to work, hunting for life signs and active pieces of technology. He refused to believe that everyone here was dead. The next thing he did was to attempt to establish communications with the Explorer. That would pretty much solve all of his problems. As he sat there, waiting for the uplink to establish and the scan to come back, he felt a dozen different aches and pains of varying levels, begin to come back into his awareness. He’d been putting off his own problems until just now.

 

While the computer did its job, he grabbed his emergency medical kit and opened it up. Rooting around, he located the painkillers and then grabbed his canteen. He rattled out and swallowed a pair of extra-strength pills. While the only real problem he’d run into was the landslide, the transporter malfunction had definitely left him hurting. He’d really need to get himself checked out at some point to make sure nothing was seriously damaged. He ended up draining about half his canteen, suddenly aware of how thirsty he was.

 

He wanted to finish it off, but knew he shouldn’t, so he capped it and reattached it to his belt. The console before him chimed and he frowned as he studied the information it had to give him. The communications uplink did not have enough power. That was the bad news, though if he could find some energy crystals, he should be able to restore power. The good news, however, and the news that took precedent, were the life signs.

 

He saw three of them to the west, about half a mile away.

 

Ian managed to tie the data into his own navigational suite, giving him a fixed marker, before the last of the power in the workstation ran out and the screen flickered and died. Ian sighed. He’d gotten the pertinent data, at least.

 

There were survivors, and he needed to get them.

 

Getting up, he left the control room and began to head for the exit, but then stopped as he passed the armory.

 

It’d be stupid not to,” he muttered, looking into the darkened doorway. Stepping in, he saw that the place had been ransacked. So whatever had happened had obviously required guns to defend against...and it obviously hadn’t worked. Well, better than nothing. Ian grabbed what was most often referred to as the laser pistol, although it had some more technical name. Basically, it shot lasers, bright red ones. He grabbed a few spare power cells for it, then checked over the settings. After a moment’s thought, he set it to its most powerful charge. It would take a bit longer to charge up, but it would shoot a single, powerful bolt of energy out.

 

As he stepped out of the HQ and began to head once more into the dark abyss, Ian doubted that it was going to be enough.

 

PART FOUR

Survivors

 

Spoiler

 

Ian tried to gather the courage that he was so certain he’d built up over the past decade as he came to the edge of the ruined camp. Typically speaking, camps didn’t necessarily have set perimeters or edges, though in particularly dangerous areas, they set up electric security fences. That was reserved for when local wildlife was a problem. Not that it always worked. If your enemies came from above and below, then a fence wouldn’t do much good. In this particular situation, the edge of the camp was really just the end of the field of debris.

 

As he hit it, however, he felt an intense wave of loneliness and fear settle over him like a shroud of uncomfortably cold mist. Ian lingered at the edge, staring into the dark, yawning abyss that was this unknown system of caves and tunnels and caverns. He was dithering, stalling for time, just standing there like an idiot, and people were counting on him.

 

What a goddamned coward I’m being,” he muttered to himself.

 

It wasn’t true. Well...mostly. It wasn’t that he was cowardly. He’d dealt with all kinds of crazy s*** in his life. Cave-ins, alien monsters, crazy raiders or even slavers making attacks on their mining operations, and he’d hardened, toughened up because of it. He was good in a crisis, kept his head. He was brave.

 

But this…

 

This was a bit much, even for him.

 

But what good was all that experience, all that suffering, if it failed him when he needed it the most. And right now, he really needed it. Sighing heavily, Ian readjusted his uniform, did a double-check his gear, then knelt and re-laced his boots, tight as he could. It was a delaying tactic, again, but it did make him feel better. When he stood back up, he felt ready. Well, maybe not ready, but about as ready as he was going to.

 

It wasn’t going to get any easier.

 

So he made himself take the first step, then the next, and the ones after that.

Ian studied his environment and tried to stay calm as he walked away from the camp. And as he did this, letting his thoughts settle, something occurred to him. There was something bothering him, but he hadn’t even realized it was bothering him until just now, because there were big, huge things that were making him upset, but those were obvious. No, this was something he’d noticed, but he hadn’t actually thought about.

 

There were no energy crystals.

 

He almost stopped walking as he thought about that, but made himself keep going, maintaining his brisk gait. No energy crystals. That seemed...impossible. Energy crystals were the lifeblood of any outpost, any mining operation, of anything they did, actually. They were so ubiquitous across the galaxy at large and so damned useful and adaptable that they were honestly the driving force behind a lot of humanity’s operations in the galaxy as a whole. The fact that he hadn’t seen even a single one was beyond odd.

 

Unless they were taken.

 

But taken by what?

 

He didn’t want to know, or think about it, although he had the unhappy suspicion that he was going to find out sooner rather than later. He walked on, studying his environment, his hand resting on the butt of his pistol in its holster. There was nothing to hear, save for the sounds he produced, and that was unsettling in and of itself. Caverns weren’t supposed to be quiet like this, not with Rock Raiders around.

 

They were supposed to be abuzz and alive with activity. It was honestly freaking him out. Ian tried to focus, there were people somewhere ahead of him and they were relying on him, even if they didn’t know it. He didn’t know if he could rescue them, or even help them at all, but he sure as hell intended to try.

 

Just for something to do, he opened up his radio channel again and called out to anyone who might be listening. But there was nothing. Dead silence mocked him. He debated whether or not to leave it on, and finally shut it down. No sense in wasting battery, and he thought it really was broken. His nav marker now told him that he’d covered half the distance. Well, that was good at least. The cavern he was in was huge, he could see why they chose it. There was a great deal of open space for the mining operation to grow outwards.

 

But he could see a tunnel up ahead.

 

He kept going, trying to keep up a good pace. Before long, he was in the tunnel and making his way down it. When he was about halfway through, a tremor shuddered through the area. He felt cold fear stab at his guts and broke into a run. He didn’t need another damned landslide. This time, he managed to make it through into another cave. This one wasn’t nearly so big as the other one, and he saw evidence of a simple mining operation. There were work-lights attached to several surfaces, all of them dead, some power paths, even some reinforcements up on a few of the more unstable looking cavern walls.

 

And there were tools, too.

 

And more dead bodies.

 

Ian felt his stomach turn over as he caught sight of a headless corpse. What had once been the man’s head was now a pulpy red paste smeared across the ground.

 

God,” he whispered, making his way slowly through the devastation.

 

What had happened? As he kept going, he began to notice other things: signs of battle. There were black scorch marks on some of the walls, and distinctive, huge pockmarks. Signs of laser pistols and sonic blasters. He’d seen them before. Sonic blasters fired directed pulses of sound energy. Normally they used them to scare off certain creatures, but on their highest settings they could be more than lethal.

 

Judging by the patterns...they’d been firing everywhere.

 

What had they been shooting at? He knew that there were creatures on the planet, but nothing he’d read about had suggested anything seriously dangerous. Well, obviously that had just changed. As he continued towards the signal, (he was within a hundred meters now), he realized all at once that he was going to have to pay special attention to everything, because this was very likely a first contact scenario. This was a new threat, something they had zero intel on. Literally everything, every detail, would be crucial.

 

Whatever it was, it was big.

 

And extremely dangerous.

 

He had to find those survivors. They would know what was going on here. Well, hopefully. He’d walked into this situation straight blind. Ian hesitated as he saw something dead ahead. It was big, whatever it was, and reflective. As he drew closer, he saw, with some surprise, that it was the huge, bulky shape of a Chrome Crusher. Wow, this outpost must have been important if they had such a vehicle this early on in the operation.

 

The nav marker was aiming right at the Crusher.

 

Ian kept going, slowing to a jog as he came within twenty meters of the vehicle. He could see that it had been flipped over on its side, some of the windows broken out of its cabin. There were bits and pieces of the thing everywhere. He could see its drill bit lying about five meters away, twisted and smashed.

 

Is anyone there?” he called, trying not to raise his voice too much.

 

He waited, hoping against hope that they were still there. The nav marker was just a marker of their last known location. They could have died or moved on by now. There was no guarantee that they were still there.

 

Who goes there?”

 

Immense relief flooded through him and Ian began hurrying towards the wrecked remains of the Crusher. “My name’s Ian,” he said, lowering his voice. He came to a halt as he came up to the cabin. It was obvious that’s where they were.

 

A woman with a face smeared in blood and soot was crouching down, looking at him through one of the intact windows that had several large cracks through it.

 

Are you with the rescue team?” she asked, her voice a harsh whisper.

 

He shook his head. “No, I...can I come in?” he asked.

 

Yes, get in here.”

 

He crouched and crawled carefully and awkwardly into the cabin of the flipped-over vehicle. The whole canopy of the Chrome Crusher was steel and glass. In the gloom, he saw two other figures. One was lying flat on what passed for a floor in here, his eyes closed. He looked bad. His head was bandaged and there was a lot of red on the white gauze. His breathing sounded shallow. The other man, tall and built with a shaved head and a tattoo down one side of his face of flames, was sitting next to the unconscious survivor, grimacing, seemingly trying to concentrate on not being in pain. His leg had been broken, and painfully reset.

 

Who are you?” the woman asked.

 

She looked grim and determined, and also the least damaged of the three. She had several cuts and portions of her short black hair were singed. Her uniform was now sporting several rips and bloodstains.

 

Ian Harrison. I’m a technician,” he replied.

 

Riley Painter,” the woman replied. “Miner. And pilot. How the hell did you get here? I don’t remember seeing you around the base.”

 

He shook his head. “I wasn’t. I’m here because of a transporter malfunction. Dropped in nearby, walked to the base, found...well, you know what I found.”

 

Was anyone alive there?” she asked.

 

He hesitated, then shook his head. “No. I managed to run a scan of the region...you three are the only life signs in the whole area.”

 

s***!” Riley hissed. “What a goddamned nightmare this turned out to be.”

 

What happened?” Ian asked.

 

She sighed and sat down, setting down the laser pistol she’d been holding, then massaged her temples. “They came out of nowhere, about two hours ago. We’d just broken into a new cavern, it’s over there, off to the west.”

 

What came out of nowhere?” Ian asked.

 

I don’t know...rock monsters. That’s all I can think to call them. They were huge, like...like golems. Ten, maybe twelve feet tall, and made of rock! They had glowing red eyes. They just tore through us. It was a total panic. They came out of the goddamned walls! There were a dozen of them. I was here, in this cavern when it happened, tried to cover our retreat back to base, drove this thing into one of them, two more just flipped it over. But when we got back, there were already another three of them there, just tearing through everything. I...I’m not entirely sure what happened next. I grabbed a gun, a lot of us did, I remember fighting them...we killed at least two or three of them. They can die. But they were just so big...then I got hit in the head with something, dunno what.

 

Woke up a little while later. They were leaving. I found him,” she said, pointing to the bald man with the broken leg, “among the debris. Fixed his leg. We tried to call for help, but the radio was without power, everything was. Got a radio call from him,” she said, pointing at the unconscious man this time, “said he needed help, bad. He was hiding in here, in the Crusher. We got here, I took the time to fix him up, but I think he might have lapsed into the coma. God, I think he might have a concussion or worse, swelling or maybe even a brain bleed. We need a damned infirmary.”

 

So how do we fix this?” Ian asked.

 

Riley sighed, shook her head. “That’s what I’ve been figuring out. Actually, I was just working up the guts to get going when you showed up.” She held something up. He recognized it as a portable scanner. “Energy crystals. We need energy crystals. That’s what they were after. They took every damned one of them. But there’s two on the scanners, back in the cavern where they originally came from...we have to get them, and power up the base, and call for help.”

 

Ian nodded. They had a plan, they had a way out of this. “I’ll go with you. We have to do this, and do it fast,” he said.

 

I’ve got to stay here, and watch over him,” the bald man said.

 

I know...make sure nothing happens to him, and watch your ass,” Riley replied.

 

I will...be safe out there.”

 

She nodded, and so did Ian. He’d never met either of them before, but that was one of the genuine perks of being a Raider: it was an automatic bond. No matter where you went, if there was a Rock Raider nearby, you had a brother or a sister.

 

Riley’s grim gray eyes met his. “Let’s do this.”

 

PART FIVE

Emergency Procedures

 

Spoiler

 

Ian led the way, moving back over to the broken window he'd initially crawled in through. He crouched down and peered through the cracked window above it, looking into the gloomy cavern beyond. It remained unchanged, at least as far as he could tell, from when he'd first come through. He didn't see or hear anything.

 

Looks clear,” he murmured, ducking down and carefully making his way through the broken window, avoiding the jagged teeth of glass ringing the steel frame. He straightened up, his laser pistol in hand now. Behind him, Riley ducked down and exited the cabin of the Chrome Crusher. She joined him, standing beside him with her pistol in one hand, the handheld scanner in the other. She was staring at it, frowning.

 

Suddenly, she tossed the pistol away.

 

Why’d you do that?” Ian asked.

 

It’s broken,” she replied unhappily. “Don’t even know why I bothered grabbing it. Now, the energy crystals most easily gotten to look like they're in the cavern where the rock monsters came from,” she said, her voice low and grim. “So, basic plan: we get there, grab them and get out as fast as possible, get back to HQ, fire it up and then call for an emergency transport. I don't even know why that didn't happen,” she murmured.

 

It's been really finnicky lately,” Ian replied. “There's a lot of power distribution problems and we're in kind of a bad situation, power wise. We've been sending down more crews than we can keep track of because we need crystals so bad. To make things worse, there's some weird metal in this planet, stuff we've never seen before, that interferes with the transporter. That's why we've been having so many malfunctions.”

 

What a s***ty situation,” she growled. “Come on, let's get this over with.”

 

He agreed with that sentiment. Soon, provided it all went well, this would just be a memory. A cool (if harrowing and depressing) story to tell over drinks sometime. Rock Raiders tended to have a very dark, grim sense of humor. It was a necessity given the difficulty, danger and intensity of the work they found themselves doing.

 

And how many of them died.

 

The mortality rate among Rock Raiders actually wasn't as high as a lot of people thought it was. The reason for that was because they had rigid and rigorous training standards that included a great deal of safety precautions, and they only hired professionals. On top of that, they made sure everyone knew at least basic medicine, everyone was trained on at least some of the vehicles, everyone could swim, everyone was in great shape and everyone was willing and able to perform in an emergency. Rock Raider training was...kind of a trial by fire. For the most part, you weren't in any danger when the 'proving' part came, but it was serious.

 

Probably the most important aspect of the training was the fact that it encourage and fostered adaptability.

 

Situations sometimes changed rapidly, and often in ways that weren't predictable. You had to change with it.

 

Often, it was adapt or die.

 

Or worse, adapt or someone else would die.

 

But the mortality rate on this mission was...far higher than they thought it would be. Honestly, it was the greatest loss of life in any single event that the Raiders had ever endured. But, despite that, despite everything, he thought that they had done very well, and any other mining team probably would have lost a lot more people.

 

Ian focused as they entered the cavern. Though there was a question he had to ask that was bugging him.

 

He glanced at Riley. “How'd you get that Crusher?” he whispered.

 

What?”

 

The Chrome Crusher. How'd you get it? This is a really early outpost.”

 

This place was very rich in energy crystals,” she replied softly, continually looking around. “We were sent ahead to get the outpost up and running. We did at least manage to get a few shipments ported up to the Explorer, but there's so much more here. There's some pretty big seams. I kept thinking that...I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know? And goddamn did it ever come down like a hammer.”

 

He nodded, knowing how she felt. Working out here on the fringe, smashing rocks for profit, tended to inspire superstition. And it wasn't always wrong. You got to get kind of a sixth sense out here. It was strange, but useful. They kept walking, coming into the cavern. The walls of the short tunnel leading into it were rough and awkward, showing all the signs of just having been cut through with no time for refinement to make them more stable.

 

Ian, set your pistol to maximum power, single blast. If you see one of those things, aim high, for the head. A fully charge power blast to the head will kill them. I've seen it myself. I've done it. Take off the head and they fall into a pile of rock.”

 

Got it,” he whispered, doing as she'd instructed. He was a pretty decent shot...that was another part of the training.

 

They kept going. Their boots sounded too loud in the green-tinted gloom. Distantly, Ian heard a few rocks tumble down and clatter along the ground. Both of them froze up, scanning the cavern, but there was nothing. Annoyingly, they couldn't see the whole thing. Their vision-amps only went so far, giving them maybe a thirty meter sight range. Everything after that faded to darkness. He looked over at Riley.

 

How far?” he whispered.

 

Thirty meters. Follow me,” she replied, her voice harsh. She’d been through a lot, even for an operation as a Raider.

 

They kept walking and he tried to keep a sharp gaze out, but honestly, how could such a thing sneak up on you? It was a freaking twelve foot rock monster. But it wouldn’t do to make assumptions, that’s how people got killed. Honestly, Ian was freaking the hell out. He’d faced down some weird s*** before, but this? A rock golem? No, nothing like that. And he’d seen the utter devastation the things had been able to deliver.

 

But if he kept his head and paid attention, then he had a decent chance of getting out of this alive with Riley and the others.

 

There,” she whispered.

 

He saw a dim green glow ahead and frowned at that. Something was wrong. He could make out the sharp shapes of two energy crystals, resting on the ground at the base of the far left wall of the new cavern, as though casually abandoned. But they should be glowing. They looked...depleted. Not entirely, but definitely not holding a full charge. Maybe that’s why they were left behind. Or maybe...these things had the ability to suck energy from the crystals? It was a strange concept, as humans needed all sorts of machinery to extract the energy from these green crystals, but nothing was impossible out here on planet Upsilon.

 

Cover me,” Riley said, pocketing the handheld scanner and ducking down. Ian tensed, preparing himself for some sort of attack. If there was going to be one, it felt like now would be a perfect time. “Got them.” Riley stood back up, each crystal cradled in her arms. She turned to face him. They’d done it. They still had to walk back to base but-

 

Behind her, the entire rock wall shifted. Ian felt pure, frozen black terror shoot through him as he saw a face emerge from the rock, breaking through as easily as he might break through the surface of a pool. Twin eyes of gleaming, glowering red stared at him with all the threat of a malignant tumor. He stood stock still, transfixed by his terror.

 

Ian! Shoot it!” Riley screamed. “Ian!

 

That jolted him from his fear. He raised his pistol. It was coming out of the wall now. Two burly arms burst out of the rocky surface, spraying bits of stone everywhere. Several hit him in the face and hands, stinging him with pain. The thing let out a roar as it began pulling itself out, coming towards them, its intent clear.

 

Ian aimed right at the thing’s head and pulled the trigger.

 

There was a brilliant yellow burst that briefly burned out his vision, and he was left with a flash-frozen afterimage of the beam meeting the rock creature’s head and blowing it into a plume of free-flying material.

 

Ian stumbled away, already groping for the recharge on the pistol. It would take time, but hopefully that was the only one…

 

You got it,” Riley said. “You got-” She froze as more rumbling came from somewhere nearby. “Oh God...run!” she screamed.

 

Then they were running, stumbling away, as two more of the things began emerging from the dark walls around them. Sprays of broken stone spewed out and scattered across the ground as the two Raiders ran for all they were worth back to the tunnel. A roar of pure, alien, grinding fury followed them.

 

Dammit, should’ve gone back for another pistol! Stupid!” Riley growled.

 

We’ll make it, just need to wait for this to recharge,” Ian replied. It took about thirty seconds to get a full charge. He threw a glance over his shoulder. The rock golems were free of the walls and were coming towards them at a startling speed, their pulsing red eyes stabbing out at him from the gloom. He looked down at the pistol, tearing his eyes from the hulking horrors. Eighty percent charged. Not fast enough.

 

They hit the tunnel and bolted down it.

 

Then Riley dropped one of the crystals.

 

s***!” she screamed, skidding to a halt and scrambling for it. Ian turned around and aimed his pistol, knowing this was the perfect time to take down at least one of them. The gun let out a small chime and he zeroed his sights on the one in the lead. It was maybe fifteen meters away now, coming closer, a moving target, but he’d trained for this…

 

Ian squeezed the trigger.

 

There was a brilliant yellow burst and one of the rock golems began falling, as it did, it started crumbling into rocks and dust and earth. The other one was still barreling towards them. Ian hit the recharge button.

 

Let’s go!” Riley called as she snagged the crystal and got back to her feet. Ian turned and began running with her, terror and adrenaline making him shaky. He almost dropped the gun as they burst out of the tunnel.

 

Riley wheeled right. “Get to the base! Lead it away from the Crusher!”

 

Smart move. He sprinted after her, running on, looking at the pistol again. Only fifty percent charged now. God, why did it have to take so long!? Why hadn’t he grabbed another pistol? Pointless questions for later, if there was a later. But they were outrunning it. They’d make it. They’d run until the pistol was recharged and then-

 

The walls to either side of the short tunnel that led to the cavern where the outpost was were rumbling, coming apart.

 

Two more rock creatures were emerging.

 

Oh s***!” Riley cried.

 

Ian raised his pistol, it was almost recharged, but what could they do? Could they possibly hope to keep this up for another minute while they waited for the damned thing to recharge? Maybe...but there had to be a better way…

 

An idea sprung into his head.

 

He reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the power cells he’d grabbed to reload the pistol with if it ran dry.

 

Get back!” he called. He’d have to time this just right. He waited until the two new rock monsters were close enough, then pitched the thing towards them, high, underhanded. He took aim, not needing a full charge for this one at least. Right as the cell sailed through the air, right between the two unnatural horrors, he fired.

 

The shot was good, his aim dead on.

 

There was a brilliant burst, an explosion of yellow this time, as the cell was hit by a bolt of energy and reacted violently. Ian immediately slapped the recharge button. He had one good shot let. As the dust settled, he saw that he’d blown both of the monsters to bits. He heard a heavy thud behind him and spun around.

 

The final golem was fast approaching.

 

Keep going!” Riley called.

 

They picked back up their sprint. Ian was feeling exhausted by now. He was winded and in pain. The teleporter malfunction had done a real number on him and he was paying for pushing himself and not taking a break...not that he’d had a choice. But he had to keep it together. Just a bit longer. Just a little bit longer.

 

Now they were in the cavern with the remains of the outpost, and thing was following them, leaving the Chrome Crusher alone. Good. The rock monster kept up. It was catching up with them now. Between his troubles and Riley’s head injury, and other injuries, they were slowing down. He kept running.

 

In the end, it was a near thing.

 

The rock monster was within a few meters of them when the gun finally recharged. Ian spun around, aimed and fired.

 

Its head blew up and it crumbled to so much falling dust and debris. The two of them waited, listened, hoping against hope that that was the last one. As the silence fell, it remained static: they were alone.

 

Oh thank God,” Riley whispered. “Let’s get this over with, before more of them show up.”

 

Ian nodded weakly.

 

They headed for the HQ.

 

* * * * *

 

They managed to make it out alive, all four of them.

 

Riley watched his back while Ian reinstalled one of the crystals into the main communications relay. He used to it to call the Explorer and report the situation. They said they had taken most of the transporters offline due to malfunctions in the grid, and they wouldn’t be able to receive them. However, they could link up with another outpost not too far away and seek medical attention there. So that’s what they did.

 

He uninstalled the first crystal again, then hooked both of them up to the teleportation pad, which was still intact enough to work. Both of them hurried back to the Chrome Crusher and managed to get the other two out and across the cavern. They teleported out one by one. He was the last one, and as he began the process, (secretly terrified that he would be forced to endure another malfunction), he heard that familiar rumbling.

 

But he got out before any other creatures emerged.

 

And now, here he was, lying on a cot in an infirmary at another outpost, hooked up with an IV that was feeding a cocktail of painkillers and healing agents into his bloodstream, staring up, weary but content, at a generic gray ceiling.

 

He’d done it. They’d done it.

 

Just another day in the life of a Rock Raider, he supposed.

 

 

And that's it. The Long Walk is written. What did you think?

Rock Raider Obsidian

So, I've decided to tackle the task of creating an adaptation for Lego Rock Raiders.

 

If you've already read my status update in the forums, you can pretty much skip this one. Except for the end. Go to the end, there's new information.

 

So, here's all the information I've got so far.

 

About This Project

  • Since I tend to write primarily Sci-Fi/Action/Horror series, as well as more serious, adult-themed stories, Rock Raiders will reflect this.
  • As such, Rock Raiders will contain violence, harsh language and some adult themes. (I feel like the freaking MPAA.)
  • Though the story will largely be Sci-Fi/Survival/Action, there will be themes of Horror, Mystery and Romance throughout.
  • I am planning on posting this story as I write it. Basically, when I finish a chapter, I'll post it. I'll be posting to WattPad and Fanfiction.net, and possibly here as well.
  • Seeing as I'm extremely busy with other original and fan fiction projects, it'll be a little while before I actually start the writing portion. I'm shooting for two months, so April, but I might have to push it back to May or possibly even June. The good news is that all this extra time will result in more planning and polishing of the plot, characters and universe.
  • When I do start updating, I'll attempt to commit to a two or three times a week update schedule.
  • This is not a novelization, but an adaptation, meaning that a lot will be different. I'll be using the games (PC + PS1), as well as the comics for a base, and build from there. And it will be featured in an original, 'realistic' universe, there will be no Lego characters.
  • Characters. I'll be adding in three new primary characters to the core cast, and I'll be making some changes to the already existing cast. I'm still figuring out how I'm going to tell this story. At the moment, I believe I'm going to switch between several different perspectives, namely the nine main characters, with particularly emphasis on some of them. I know that Axle will be the 'main' character, the one I write about the most. Other candidates for more highly used characters will be Jet, Sparks and Bandit, as well as one of the new characters.

 

So that's all the info I want people to have going into the project, so that they don't have all sorts of differing expectations. Now, as for where I am in terms of planning precisely at this moment, well...here's a quick list.

 

  • I have an official working title: Rock Raiders, as well as a cover for the story that I've created that I'll post below.
  • I have a name for the planet this takes place on.
  • I've got a rough idea of the layout of the LMS Explorer.
  • I've got a pretty good idea on all nine of the main characters, personalities, traits, physical appearance, etc.
  • I think I have all of the structures planned out. I changed some, removed others, added more.
  • I've got eight unique environments worked out, since the game only really came with three different environments. These include: Rocky, Ice, Lava, Crystal, Underwater, Plant, Ancient City and Surface of the planet.
  • I've got a working list of all the monsters, including native creatures, I want to put in the story. Still debating on whether or not to add any, and if so, what to add.

 

Other than that, I'm still working out environmental threats, vehicles and equipment. There's definitely going to be some cool new technology and methods of explaining some of the crazier pieces of tech the Rock Raiders have access to. I have just a few scenes in the beginning planned out.

 

I also have an official Twitter dedicated to this project that I keep up on. Check it out and Follow me!

 

Rock Raiders Novel Twitter

 

Here's the cover of the book.

 

Spoiler

Rock%20Raider%20Concept%202_zpsg17xbknd.

 

Now, as for the other piece of news: I have decided that, for a number of reasons, it would be prudent to write a shorter piece of fiction set alongside the main novel.

 

Some of these reasons are:

  • It'll give people here an idea of my writing style/capabilities.
  • It'll help get me in the right mindset.
  • It'll be fun.

 

I've decided to write a mini-series called The Long Walk. It features an original character, one of the nameless Rock Raiders you could say, after he gets transported into the wrong cavern due to a malfunction, and goes through a lot trying to get back to base.

 

Here's the cover.

 

Spoiler

The%20Long%20Walk_zpsmpyahzvw.jpg

I'll hopefully start posting that to this site, in this blog, relatively soon. Thanks for reading!

 

-Obsidian

Rock Raider Obsidian

Introduction

So, I'm not very good at blogging, although I like the idea of it. I figured the first post should act as an introduction.

 

Since it's very easy to find anyway, here's some information. My name is Sean A. Lusher and I live in Columbia, MO. I'm married. My wife and I started dating in 2006, got engaged in 2009 and married in 2010. We just bought our first (and hopefully only) house in July of 2016. We live with three cats, (two are ours, and if you visit any of my other social media, you'll see lots of pictures of them, they're very photogenic), and two of our friends. As a little aside, I know there are a lot of people that are kind of weirded out by the idea of a married couple living with other people. I'm not entirely sure why this is, beyond the fact that it's not traditional, but we've tried living alone. Did it for a year. Living with people, (people you can trust and are reasonable, obviously,) is definitely better.

 

I'm a writer. Currently a self-published writer, looking to become a somewhat more traditionally published writer this year.

 

I began writing consistently in 2004. I wrote fan fiction for about nine years solid, with the occasional foray into original fiction. In 2008 I finished my first original novel. It was crap. Later, I rewrote it. In 2009, I won a contest at a convention for writing a short story in a certain amount of time. I was up against a couple of dozen others, one of them being a professional. (I still wish I knew who it was that was the professional published author.) I also got a short story published on a free online website. In 2011 I got a sci-fi/horror novella published by Damnation Books. I then self-published a short story and a novella. I kind of just screwed around through all of 2012 and some of 2013. I got two more novellas published that year with Damnation Books, a contemporary horror and a fantasy tragedy. I regret it, they sucked at their jobs. Hardly made any money. I think that perhaps, altogether, with those three titles across however many years they were published, I might have made 100$. Though my self published titles didn't do any better.

 

In 2012, my wife and I moved to New Mexico, as she got a good job. Good enough that I no longer needed to work the awful minimum wage jobs I'd been working for several years at that point to support first myself, then us. It took a little while, but I finally produced my first full length novel that seemed worth of publishing. It garnered a great deal of attention on WattPad, getting over 250,000 Views and hitting #1 in both Sci-Fi and Horror on the site.

 

From September of 2013 to December of 2016, I worked on a series of Sci-Fi/Action/Horror stories called The Shadow Wars. The series features fifteen novels, three novellas and nine short stories. I didn't see any real success until early 2015 and while I enjoyed about six solid months of upwards success, I've since had my income cut in half. Twice. For no discernible reason. I'm still lucky enough to be piecing together enough money to cover the bills so that I don't have to work. I'm currently preparing to start up a second pen name and attempt to get published with an Australian horror publisher that I think would be great for me and my ideas. The reason I'm doing this is because I think I can reach a wider audience and I'm honestly exhausted from doing EVERYTHING. I'd like to have someone help with the workload of creating and publishing books. Although for several years I had a very good friend of mine, who was exceptionally talented, creating cover art for me and some occasional marketing, I now do everything by myself, and after three solid years of writing a fifteen novel franchise, I'm exhausted.

 

So, now that I've spent the past several paragraphs talking about what I've done, I'd like to take a moment to let it be known that I have no illusions about myself and my writing. I am as successful as I am, (not very, at this point, I could probably make more at a full time, minimum-wage job), because I am lucky and because I work pretty hard. But mainly because I am lucky. I don't believe I'm owed anything, and I'm happy for every sale, every read and every comment on anything I write. I try to find a happy medium between writing what people want to read, and writing what I want to write, and I think I do okay, for the most part. As for my writing itself and my ideas, I think that, on my good days, I'm about average. Most of the time I feel like what comes out falls pretty far short of what I had hoped would come out, but I know that basically every creative person feels this way, and honestly, it's for the best. Feeling like you produce crap motivates you to consistently try harder, which means you get better. So, for the record, I don't think I'm special, important, or even particularly interesting because I have written books or because I'm lucky enough to scrape by on what I manage to pull in each month. I don't even think I'm all that intelligent, to be honest.

 

I've worked through a lot of crap over the years, and I'm on some light psych meds nowadays, and I've evened out for the most part. At this point, I just try not to worry about whether or not I'm good enough, or smart enough, or whatever. It doesn't really work as much as I'd like, though. Honestly, how I look at my life can be summed up in a quote from House: "Yeah, if we were all satisfied with what we had, what a beautiful world it would be. We'd all slowly starve to death in our own filth, but at least we'd be happy. Listen, I need your self worth to hang on this job, for kicking ass here to be all that lets you rise above miserable. If waking up in the morning is enough, then I don't need you."

So, for the most part, kicking ass at writing is, a lot of the days, all that lets me rise above miserable.


Maybe not the picture of mental health, but I managed to get fifteen novels written in three years as a result of it. And I hope to get a lot more written.

 

So, that's basically me in a nutshell. Honestly, I'm a boring person. I spend 95% of my awake time in my office, at my laptop, doing something related to writing. What little social contact I get comes from my wife, my roommates and typically one other friend who I go to watch crappy movies with once a week at her house. (Right now, we're working our way through Friday the 13th.) And really, it works for me.

 

Despite that, I do actually really like talking to people. If you have questions, feel free to shoot me a message anytime and I'll more than likely get back fairly promptly.

 

The only other thing that I feel is worth mentioning right now is that I'm working on a feature-length written adaptation of Lego Rock Raiders. It'll be a little bit before I get to the actual writing portion, but it's going to happen, and I've got a good feeling about it.

 

-Obsidian