Ch 1- Brave New World
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“..oss? Boss!”


Shit. By the time I managed to open my eyes, my brain had already managed to signal the state of my body to me. With pain, of course. My bones felt as if someone had punched holes in it with million tiny needles. Next was my brain, which was as if it had turned to mush. Last to cry for attention was my arms, which was still locked around the bed post.

“Fuccck. The hell happened?”

“You have been out for more than a day, Boss, 37 hours to be more accurate.”

As I left the bedroom for the med center, I noticed that lights were still on. At least the Fission core had somehow managed to survive the ordeal. In hindsight, the first clue had been the fact that Josse was still up and running.

 “That hardly matters now. Josse, where the fuck are we? How did we crash to a planet in the middle of asteroid belt? How could there be a freaking planet in the middle of nowhere?”

It took Josse couple seconds to answer, as if he wasn’t sure how to say it. He was getting too human.

“Visual sensors detected some sort of anomaly on the flight path. It was somehow refracting the light. I tried to stop the ship, but as deceleration fast enough to stop the ship would have turned you into paste, I failed. It seems like the anomaly was some kind of a wormhole. When we entered it I found the ship on low orbit. Ship didn’t have enough velocity to hold the orbit, so we kinda soft landed on it.”

Fucking perfect. I didn’t know to whether be angry due to my horrible luck, or to be glad for crashing onto planet that had atmosphere and greenery.

“Wait, what do you mean ‘was’? Also, what did you manage to gather on our surroundings? Before that, give me the ship status report.”

 “It’s not good, Boss. Front of the ship has pretty much turned into slag. Flight control and bridge is no more. We are taking atmosphere from outside too. Grav plating is also damaged beyond repair. Ship won’t be able to lift off anymore. Main gun and most of the 48mm gun batteries are also scrap. Good news is that rest of the ship; interior and the upper deck are in perfect condition. Fission core and its containment chamber, greenhouse, forge and my processors are okay. Also, the 12mm point defense guns and a few missile pods on the upper deck survived the landing. About the wormhole… It closed itself 16 hours ago.”

It wasn’t good news. Assuming that I hadn’t gone insane and this all was real, we needed the wormhole to go back. Even if it hadn’t closed, without the Grav plating it would be impossible to negate the planets gravity to lift off. Perhaps if the critical components were undamaged, it might be possible to repair it. I will need to take a look, but since Josse claimed it to be beyond repair, it most likely was.

I slipped into the medical scanner as soon as I reached my target room, the med bay. After waiting for a few minutes, I finally had something to be happy about. No concussion, all implants functioning normally, no broken bones or organ damage.

But if so, why had my body reacted that way? What had made me pass out for 37 hours? It couldn’t have been decompression sickness even if the symptoms had pointed that way. It didn’t make any sense. Not many things did sense right now. Why was there a wormhole in the middle of asteroid belt? Why did it connect to planet that had an apparently breathable atmosphere and one in which where gravity was almost same?

“From the footage cameras gathered, it seems like we are on the second planet from the Sun, out of 14 planets. Other planets don’t seem to have capacity to hold life. This planet has 3 moons, all smaller than Earth’s. Also, I managed to spot 4 continents during the descent. The landmass we crashed onto is made up of 2 of them, connected by a thin strip of land between them. We are on the southernmost part of the eastern continent.”

The scientists at Ceres had done quite the magic in creating true AIs, but if I ever managed to meet them, I will have quite the feedback to give. Such as explaining what the word ‘priority’ meant.

“Quite interesting, but I was more worried about the immediate surroundings.”

I replied, as I made my way to the armory. No matter what the planet had for me, I wasn’t going to face it without my weapons.

“Right. I did some recon with the aerial drone in the cargo bay after you passed out. It looks like we crashed on to a hilly area. We are on top of one the taller ones. 10 km to our east is a huge river going north to south, and a massive forest following that. 80 km south opens up to the delta of that river, flowing to ocean. To the west are sparse woodlands. It goes for 40 or so km till it reaches mountains first and then cliffs. Starting from 8 km, to our north stands wetlands and marshes.”

I took my gauss pistol and rail rifle from the armory alongside my standard marine armor. Gauss pistol used 2mm slugs, giving it good penetration at the cost of stopping power. It could punch through most walls and kevlar armor, but the polymer armor would stop it easily. With its variable power output, it was favorite of the police and civilians alike. Then there was the rail rifle. It had horrible penetration thanks to its blunt projectiles, but it had a big impact. No armor could save you if your innards turned to a bloody paste.

“Err, Boss, drone just spotted local life forms near the east river. They are not human, yet humanoid. I think I have a match, but it’s from the cultural resources, not the biology books… I think it’s a goblin.”

Of course, no shitty alien planet was complete without goblins. What’s next? Elves? Dwarfs? Dragons?

“Better check it out then. Is the 4wh still operatable after the tussle? I would rather not walk the 10 km.”

“It is, Boss. It is in its charging station with a full battery. Not sure that you will be able to open the cargo bay doors, though.”

It took me 5 minutes to gear up and reach the cargo bay. 4wh was a 2 person, all-terrain exploration vessel with air-tight chamber and enough air and battery power to be functional for 6 hours, or couple days if you sacrificed some of the cargo space for additional batteries. Not that air time mattered anymore, as, if the air was toxic; I would have never woken up after the crash.

Thankfully, cargo bay doors opened after some light persuasion. Some debris had found a temporary new home near the hydraulics of the mechanism.

The way to the river was rather enjoyable with the drone monitoring my surroundings. Suspensions of 4wh, which had been designed for the pockmarked surface of Mars and asteroids, had no problem with the gentle hills. On the way, there were many wild flowers and curiosities, including a tall, straight tree which had grown to an enormous 120 meters. Earth also had trees that grew up to 100 meters, but they were never standing alone on top of a hill like this one.

Guided by the drone, I managed to reach the river bank in short 15 minutes. The river was 60 meters wide and rather slow. The water was surprisingly clean for such a river. I could see quite a few meters into the water, spotting a couple of small fishes trying to swim upstream. I was pulled out of my thoughts when drone, or rather Josse controlling it, pinged the goblins on my vision.

With my attention drawn, I spotted 6 goblins on the other bank of the river. 2 of them, including the biggest one, were tearing and eating the bloody flesh of a small animal. 5 of the goblins had short sticks, while the last one had a bone club. They were as ugly as stories had claimed, their ugly green faces was as if someone had put a monkeys face through a roller first, and then a hydraulic press. It was seconds later when goblins spotted me, or rather my vehicle, since a big orange thing wasn’t the stealthiest thing around. After all, it was designed to be camouflaged at mars and not anywhere else, such as asteroid fields or random shitty green fantasy planets.

First thing goblins tried was throwing rocks, but they failed as their throw didn’t even reach 15 meters. Even if they hit, it would be impossible for them to do any damage. I threw rocks harder when I was 4 years old.

After some growls from the big goblin carrying the bone club, others decided to swim through the river to reach this side. I drew my pistol, but decided to wait till they reached this side of the river, since I wanted to inspect their bodies. It took a little while, as goblins were apparently horrible swimmers. And the “spears” on them didn’t help. This gave me ample time to inspect and analyze them. They had little muscle power, had most likely had low intelligence since the big goblin had threatened them with growls rather than talk with words or grunts. They didn’t wear clothes of any kind, which meant they had little or no civilization; they hadn’t even cooked their food with fire. At most, they were smart enough to use clubs and sticks as bashing tools, but even the crows and monkeys of Earth was capable of that. They were perfect match with the goblins of old medieval Europe or the early 21st century renaissance.

Just as they were about to reach me, I lifted my pistol and aimed at the one in the front. Even through enemies were rather close for comfort, I was calm. Part of it was the 6 years of training at the academy, and other was my hormone regulator implant. As a mercenary I had more than one implant that would help me survive in this business, and the space in general. Oxygen re-breathers, carbon scrubbers, and extra O2 tanks were most vital of implants for anyone planning on staying on space for more than short trip. Coupled with my genetic modification, I was much superior to the humans that had initially crawled out of Earth.

First thing to be heard was a barely audible beep from the pistol. But it was drowned out by the sharp hiss of the titanium projectile breaking the sound barrier.

The first goblin, the one with the club, fell to the ground that very second. Entry wound was small, barely visible, but the back off its skull had a cm big, gaping hole.






It took less than 3 second for the rest of the goblins to join their brethren.

“Good job, Boss. Crowns of the trees are too thick for the drone, so I can’t see anything going on at the other side of the river. Might want to retreat back to the ship, though, Sun is about to set.”

“Yeah. But first, gotta take a few of them. I want to see what the scanner can get out of them.”

With the 2 goblin corpses, the ones which were eating the prey, I reached the ship. When I saw the mess the bloody corpses had left in the rover’s trunk, I started to have second thoughts if this was a good idea.

In the end, cleaning blood from the 4wh and the corridors proved to be harder than killing them. Initial scans of their organs, skeleton and muscle structure claimed them not much different than monkeys, but the in-depth and genetic scans would take at least a day or two. By the time I finished cleaning while listening to Josse spout random trivia he had managed to gather about the planet, Sun had set long time ago.

“Alright bud, I am going to sleep, got anything for me?”

“Nothing, Boss, I think there might be some settlements up north, but I am not sure. Drone should reach that place tomorrow midday.”

I was too tired to listen already. At the end, passing out didn’t replace actual sleep. Tomorrow’s problems could be dealt tomorrow. My head was aching enough for today.

. . . . .

“Err, Boss?”

I was woken up with the help of a small jolt from the neural implant, at the behest of the AI.

“What is it Josse?”

“You might want to come to the cargo bay exit, Boss. Armed and armored if possible.”

Ugh, it seemed like I was not deserving of a proper rest.

“There is a human at the door. Cameras detected him spying from the next hill. When I noticed him, he started to sprint towards this one. When I aimed at him with a point defense gauss gun, he froze on the spot. He hasn’t moved since.”

Here goes the first contact. I thought while wearing the polymer armor as fast as I could. But why didn’t Josse managed to spot him with the drone before? Didn’t he say there was nothing around? Closest possible settlement should have been way up north. But if the drone needed more than half a day, it should have been at least 80km away.

At this point, I had given up on thinking about this damned planet anymore. A human at planet god knows how many trillion km away from Sol? Why not?

After I exited the ship, I spotted him due to my eye implants even before Josse pinged him. My neural implant started to analyze him as soon as I saw him. 178 cm tall, armed with a sword at his hand, bucker at his hip, 4 throwing knives at his bandolier. And he was wearing some kind of leather armor with steel toe shoes. He was definitely a citizen of a medieval world or more likely, a fantasy one. He shouted something at me when he saw the bay doors lowering, and me walking out of it with a pistol at hand.


Of course I could understand nothing of the nonsense he was spouting. When I was trying to puzzle a way out of this mess, he started sprinting at me like a cheetah. If I was a normal 22nd century human, he could have managed to tackle me before I managed to react. Or cut me with the sword he had. But thankfully I had my neural implant in my brain, giving me essential time to think and act. Also I had a freaking space corvette behind me, armed to teeth.

“Josse, fire a warning shot.”

Point defense guns were designed to lock on to asteroids and missiles flying at ridiculous speeds, so locking on to a sprinting human was as easy as pie. I had full trust in the accuracy of the weapon systems, but not lifting up my gun would have been foolish.


I could hear the shell impact before my brain could process what happened in that split second. The shell impacted 2 cm below the charging man’s feet, launching the man 2 meters back. When dust settled, I could see the assailant on the ground, knocked out. Somehow, he had managed to keep all his limbs, I could only hope it was also the case for his internals.

“Josse, are you sure you know what a warning shot is?”



World map:


World Map