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Devil's Flight

by Gaetano Abbondanza

As humanity gradually spread across the cosmos, the patterns that had first been established on the original Earth continued on a grander and faster scale. Settlements developed on new worlds, which led to further settlements in more distant parts of the galaxy, in much the same way that people had originally moved across the terrestrial continents. The first step, however, remained unchanged - any new world had to first be explored, mapped and judged on the suitability of settlement and/or resource extraction. In this adventure, you are an Astro-Geologist; as such the determination of whether a newly discovered planetary body could hold permanent human settlements is dependent upon your professional opinion. You enjoy the work; it is interesting and stimulating if somewhat lonely. Today, however, will be unlike any other day you've ever experienced...

The Djevelen
Artwork © Geoffrey Senior
Leaning back and shutting your eyes, you take a deep breath and exhale slowly as your small craft rockets into the atmosphere, the g-force momentarily pinning you against the seat. It will definitely feel good to get back home after so much time away, and you allow yourself to briefly daydream about the first thing you might do once you return. A nice glass of wine? A refreshing hike in the cool mountains? Or, (like last time), a dip in the ocean? The idea seems almost dreamlike, given how much time you've just spent on the dry and dusty speck of a world known only as Lamba AX575 on most star charts. But this has been your life for the past six months - gather, test, and record various data: soil (rich); atmosphere (stable); meteorology (moderately variable); flora (little); fauna (just about none) and various other details. Some of this you've transmitted back to headquarters, but much has been collected by physical samples which are now stored in your craft's climate controlled hold. The place is habitable, although bleak; but this is of secondary importance- what's going to make your superiors back at the Robards-Xuang Corporation very happy is that your initial hunch was correct; the place is chalk-full of precious metals and Stromantium, the oil-like substance which makes high speed space travel possible. A mining colony can be set up within less than a year's time if the final tests verify your conclusions.

But that's neither here nor there to you. You've got a two month journey back to the mother ship to make (most of which will be spent in suspended animation). From there, once you're revived and physically recovered, you'll be aiding the on-board scientists in organizing the data you've collected and preparing the final reports for corporate headquarters, located in a nearby quadrant of the galaxy. Then, and only then, will you be released for some well deserved time off. This kind of an assignment usually warrants at least a full year of compensatory vacation (not to mention a rather sizable bonus for having found such a promising location). You can almost feel the ocean water lapping at your toes...

Your daydreams are cut short by the insistent beeping of the console. A communication is coming in from (you scan the monitor) ... Resnick. You blink and read the name again: Commander Resnick, the top officer from your destination ship. You frown. It was just this morning that you briefed the ship on your status and return. And you're but one of a handful of scientists scattered around the galaxy that will shortly be reporting back. It must be something extraordinary for him to be contacting you in this manner. Surely there hasn't been a last minute change in plans? An extension of service? You chide yourself. More than likely, it's simply a procedural update. Nothing that should take too long...

Additional Information
As well as the standard FF attributes SKILL, STAMINA and FEAR, there are four others :

TARGETING is your ability to use all manner of firearms. You begin the adventure with a military-grade laser pistol. You'll be told when to use this.

PERCEPTION is your overall level of awareness and your ability to draw conclusions from direct observation.

DEXTERITY is your physical agility and coordination.

CYBERNETICS is your level of competence with various types of computer systems.

It is standard for someone in your line of work to carry first aid kits, known as Medi-Packs. At the start of your adventure, you carry 5 Medi-Packs; each one will restore 4 STAMINA points. Whenever you want to use one, select it and click on USE.

Neuroxin is a chemical agent used to treat anxiety. It is injected with an air-syringe and quickly metabolizes in the bloodstream. It is widely distributed to those who work for long periods of time in solitary environments. At the start of your adventure, you have 3 doses remaining. You may administer them to yourself whenever you like (select and click on USE); each dose will reduce your FEAR score by 1 point.
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