Return to Dark Earth

By: Anna Hackett
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Official Document

Galactic Institute of Historical Preservation

Ancient Starship Record #RE-991-458 - Captain’s Log

Subject: Dark Earth

Today the starship, Endeavour Horizon, entered orbit around the planet Earth. The most recent recorded visit since the planet’s destruction during the Great Terran War.

The planet is covered in dense clouds, but what could be glimpsed through the cloud cover showed the seas are as black as space. Radiation levels are off the charts—consistent with records that experimental nuclear weapons were used in the war and have decimated the planet’s surface. Radiation levels are too high for the Endeavour Horizon to risk landing.

Scans of the surface are also hampered by the radiation, but show no human life signs. There are large and confusing biosigns, and the science team can only speculate that they belong to mutated animal lifeforms.

There have long been rumors that many valuables and pieces of Terran history remain on the planet, but it is the conclusion of my best advisors that it is far too dangerous to attempt any recovery. Possibly in the future, bold explorers may risk the journey.

I report that the planet that seeded much of the life in our galaxy is nothing but a dark Earth.

Captain James P. Darra

Endeavour Horizon

Out of Australia II Colony

Chapter One

He hated the jungle.

Niklas Phoenix pushed aside a giant green leaf the size of his body and ducked under a thick branch. Here on Mazona V, the jungle was so dense, he could only see a few meters ahead. According to his Sync communicator, he was following a path, but he sure as hell couldn’t see it. He stopped and slapped at a huge insect with a long proboscis that was buzzing around him, trying to find a spot to land.

Nik lifted his laser machete and started swinging again, cutting at the dense wall of vines in front of him.

“Can you see it yet?”

His brother Dathan’s voice came through Nik’s tiny nano-earpiece. “All I can see is jungle, jungle, and more jungle.”

A laugh came through the line. “Sounds like you aren’t having fun, big bro.”

That voice was his youngest brother, Zayn. Zayn could sound cheery while handcuffed to an explosive device and traveling toward a black hole. He’d always been the easiest-going of the three of them, and since he’d married the love of his life, his cheer had become almost unbearable.

“Nik not having fun? Never,” Dathan said.

Oh, and now Dathan with the sarcasm. Nik glowered at the vines in front of him and put some extra swing into his hacking. “You guys should give up treasure hunting and go into comedy. I hear the casinos on Cardon Prime are looking for stand-ups.”

He swung again, the orange laser making a quiet hum, and the vines fell away. A tiny clearing was visible and overhead, some unknown animal screeched.

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