“Alright boys, our mission is to see if humans can survive on this planet. This planet is like Earth but with important differences. First, the oceans are far deeper than any back home. Second, the atmospheric pressure is lower so keep this in mind when you descend or ascend quickly, we don’t want the bends. Third, our target location for base camp is roughly between seven thousand to eleven thousand feet above sea level. Any more than this then we run a high risk of injury or death.” The army Captain firmly stated while pacing in front of his new unit that were to be the first colonist on Atlas.
“Why is our limit up to eleven thousand feet, sir. Humans can survive up to twenty thousand feet while only needing supplemental oxygen,” A young private questioned.
The Captain nodded and responded just as firm, “Due to the lower atmosphere pressure on Atlas, the pressure lessens quicker than that of Earth’s does when climbing altitudes. On Earth eleven thousand feet will only cause a shortness of breath or dizziness but here on Atlas, eleven thousand feet will cause death unless you have 100% oxygen being given.”
“Any more questions?”
A loud, “No, sir,” responds as the unit stands and begins filing out and packing the transport ship waiting to head down to the landmasses below.
Once everyone is buckled up and settled in their seats, the ship lifts off the deck and shoots out heading down for the growing planet of mountains and oceans. The ship rocks and rattles as it skyrockets through the atmosphere. Over the ships creaking the Captain yells for everyone to hold tight as the chute opens, jerking the ship to the side and back to help slow their entrance down.
A couple seconds pass and the ship give a little thump as it lands. Gears turn as the hatch slowly opens and allows light to stream into the ship’s innards. The sound of clipping and buckles being undone sound throughout the ship as the soldiers gather their things and unload. The unit is composed of soldiers, but each soldier is specialized in something like architect, biologist, chemist, astrologist, explosives, and so on.
“Okay soldiers, we landed within our target zone,” the Captain says while flipping his small handheld, “We are at eight thousand feet above sea level, so keep this is mind when moving up or down.”
“Will do sir.”
The Captain looks around, he sees that they are on a steep stretch of land that seems to climb endlessly but there are woods further down and it a small lake further up.
Without orders or yelling the soldiers know what to do and it only takes an hour before the base camp is set up. The camp is placed a little higher up to be closer to the clean lake and has a small wooden fence built around to help keep the animals away. It doesn’t take long before a high amount of the soldiers including the Captain are tired from the lower oxygen levels and pressure. A guard schedule is made quickly and those that were not on first watch went to their tents and passed out from exhaustion.
The first week goes by without a hitch, no alarms were set off, no deaths or injuries occurred. It almost seemed too good to be true for such an easy start of colonizing a planet and it certainly was too good to be true. It was the ninth day from first landing when things went good to bad to worse.
A thundering shook the ground as an explosion echoed. Quickly the soldiers piled out of their tents with weapons drawn. Many soldiers were half dressed, while others were downright naked, but all were looking around confused until they saw the smoke. Fear crossed many of the minds that knew where that smoke was billowing from…the transport ship. The Captain ran up and saw the destroyed ship and was just as confused as his soldiers. They all watched as the fire puckered out and picked through the wreckage for what had caused the ship to explode.
“Captain, come look at this,” A young soldier yelled while kneeling over the back side of the transport ship.
The Captain jogged over and leaned over the private and waited as the soldier spoke.
“The fuel line was sliced, clean cut and precise. Someone did this and it was not an accident.”
“Okay private, keep this to yourself for now. Don’t want to start any paranoia among the unit.”
The Captain pats the soldiers as they both stand up. The Captain parted ways with the private and headed to the communications tent. He pushed through the flaps and asked to be patched to the mother ship.
“Groundhog to Soaring Sparrow. Groundhog to Soaring Sparrow do you copy, over.”
“We hear you loud and clear Groundhog, go ahead.”
“Our transport ship has been destroyed; cause is unknown.”
“Are there any injuries?”
“Okay Groundhog sit tight. We will send another down tomorrow at first light.”
“Roger that, Groundhog out.”