The smoke billowing from the base of the rocket looked normal enough, but the purple flames added an unsettling, unearthly glow. That’s an astronaut joke. Unearthly glow. Get it?
Well, it isn’t my fault you don’t have a sense of humor. If anyone shouldn’t be laughing it’s me. And just for the record, the flames from the rocket’s ignition were purple due the high amounts of chlorrasiride in the atmosphere, which was also the reason for our three hundred pound EMARU Z-Suits. That trademarked string of garbage, by the way, stands for extravehicular mobility and reconnaissance unit, in case you weren’t paying attention during the mission briefing. Although, you got me as to what the hell the Z stands for since I nodded off during that part of the briefing. We just called them zuits anyway, so it couldn’t have been that important.
Those zuits may have allowed us to stretch our legs without our insides instantly liquefying and pouring out of us (I’ve mentioned the chlorrasiride-rich atmosphere, haven’t I?) from our most southern bodily orifice, thank you very much to this planet’s gravity that was nearly double what Earth’s used to be. But these zuits were also the reason Terry and I didn’t even try to make a run for it when we saw that purple smoke start to kick out from the prelaunch.
It had taken us just under an hour to walk to the primary target area. From prelaunch to full ignition and liftoff, we wouldn’t have made it a quarter of the distance between, even back on Earth at a full run without all this shit weighing us down. But in a zuit with a full load of oxygen and all our diagnostic gear? Fuck all, man. We didn’t stand a chance of doing anything but wasting our breath, and that was something we were suddenly very short on.
All we could do was stare off at the horizon, hailing nothing but static on the ship to shore. There we were, the only two people on this planet that I thought knew how to fly the Lamplighter—hell, I thought we were the only two people on this planet, period—watching their ride blast off to who the hell knows where.
Terry reached up to shield his eyes from the nearer of the two suns that AMC-IV circled around. He could have just flipped his visor down, I don’t know why he always had to be so dramatic about these things.
“Steve, isn’t that our ride?” he asked.