Venus Landscape

The dust rose in swirls as the ship touched down. The orange mist filled the air, showing its anger at being disturbed. As it began to settle again, we could see through the port holes; it was a mirage of a wasteland, never quite in focus due to the heat. The door began to open and we were forced to take a step back. The air lay thick over the landscape and gushed into the ship as it creaked open against temperatures it was not used to enduring.
My eyes adjusted slowly to the scene. Even with the eye protection it was bright and felt as though the fine layer of skin on the eye would be burnt if I stayed in the environment too long.
There was machinery out there. Long since stilled, and covering with dust. But it looked menacing. It was wise to stay clear of the machinery. I stepped off the ramp of the ship and took a moment to assess the movement I had. The thermal suit was restrictive and I felt vulnerable knowing I couldn’t run in it. The oxygen and eyewear were necessary, I knew that before arriving. I also knew it was recommended to wear the water thermal suit to keep the body cool, but it was so hard to move.
‘Do not touch anything you see on the ground. The equipment is still contaminated and will mutate you if it gets into your blood stream. Stay with the group, and monitor your vitals,’ our leader gave the rules of the expedition.
We moved out, two by two, and staying close. It was a hostile place, and we were hunting a hostile person. Our leader, a veteran from the Venus mining exploits, stopped occasionally to test the soil.
After trudging through the thick air for longer than my body would last without the thermal suit, we heard something. It was a call. Echoed soon after by another, coming from the opposite direction. Then they emerged. The Locals.
Our leader put his gun on the ground and looked to us, expecting us to follow. As the last of our guns were laid in the dust, he addressed the Locals.
‘We are here only to find a criminal.’
There was a murmur among the Locals as their anger surged. They knew their presence, even on this planet, was unwanted by the humans.
Our leader continued, ‘He came recently from Earth and thought to live in exile here. I dread to think of the harm he may do to you.’ Again there was a murmur before he went on, ‘Will you help us capture him?’
A Local moved forward. He still wore the remains of the shirt he had been wearing when the explosions started. His face was scarred and like all the others, his legs had fused together to form something like a single kangaroo leg, with bulging muscle and minimal contact with the hot dust. His eyes and nose had also changed like the other Local’s faces had. The nose no longer protruded from the face, only slits remained. And the eyes. They were the worst part. The lids had sealed shut and a film appeared to grow over the skin. He could still see, that much was certain, but how? The deformed look of the Locals was made more terrifying by the spears they carried and the wild cheers that occasionally erupted towards to sky.
‘When the panels exploded and we began to change, you left us here to die. Why should we help you?’
‘It was not I who left you here,’ our leader challenged. The Local tilted his head as though testing his vision.
‘I remember you. You were here.’
‘Not when the panels exploded. I returned to Earth a week earlier on personal business.’
The Local again assessed our group. I could feel his gaze taking in the improved thermal suits and protective gear.
‘What is your intention with the man you seek?’
‘We will take him back to Earth to be tried for his actions.’
The Locals erupted, their spears brandished in the air. The chief Local raised his arm to calm his brothers. His arm were scarred so badly it left a lumpy claw at the end of a now useless limb.
‘So you care only for justice, and not for our safety as you claimed.’
‘He has hurt a lot of people. Don’t you want to see him punished?’
‘He has not hurt me. And he will not last long here. Leave him to this place.’ The Locals turned to disappear back into their landscape.
‘There is enough material here for him to become one of you!’ our Leader cried out in a last attempt to gain their help. The vicious roar split through the hot air.
‘Then we will welcome him as a brother! He will not be left to rot as we were!’
Our leader took a step back against the force of the words. The chief Local came forward once more, this time close enough to speak only with our leader, but I could hear him.
‘I do remember you. You were a good man. And for that reason I will grant you this one pass; leave this place, now. And for your safety, leave the guns where they lie. Do not return, human.’ He spat, before he turned and moved away with the other Locals.
Our leader instructed us to move back to the ship. We left the weapons on the ground. I thought it was a tribute to the Locals but as we reached the ship, there was an explosion. The gun powder had become too hot, and, like the machinery and solar panels left here before from past mining exploits, it heated to a temperature to start a chain reaction of sparks. The climate had proved too powerful to tame.

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