I crouch on the bitterly cold surface and though the suit’s climate controlled to the last degree, I want to shiver. My visor helps me see through the incessant blizzard and I can see the team trudging on to witness what has brought me to do this and risk everything. A journey to witness the birthplace of the cosmos.
How can you suppress the desire to kneel down and touch the roots that sprung everything? To know that every inch of everything was born from a single point on this planet is humbling, to say the least. It is here and not one of us will turn our backs on it until we drink its radiance. Some primitive instinct keeps us going.
I pick myself up and crank up the temperature, but I can still feel my frosted soul. Not a person will admit that unrest has settled in them, but it’s evident in the way the team moves on without word or gesture. In the absence of a map for this planet, we had to rely on intuition as the team leader calls it, though I know there’s hardly any intuition about the direction we’re moving in. The storm intensifies and it gets harder with the wind in your face. Even your gear has its limit. Every step feels like lifting lead and the fluctuating gravity fields only makes the going harder. The constant low rumble above us stops and then there is a ghastly silence. A ragged beam drops from the sky and right onto one of us. He drops cold. We move on because there’s no time for goodbyes. I look behind and see through his visor. Even through the hazy weather, I can see those frozen eyes trying to tell me something, but the team leader gives me a sharp look. I keep moving forward.
The terrain keeps getting harder to cover and we would have dropped down from exhaustion a long time ago were it not for the immunity the gear gives us. But we are still not immune to pain that wrecks our fatigued souls. The mountains tremble and then a low rumble transforms to a loud roar as several tonnes of ice come crashing down towards us. The leader gives out the command to disperse and I scramble to get out of the way. Some just stand there frozen in defiance looking foolishly at the charging avalanche. Though the suit minimizes exposure and reveals only the eyes, I can swear I saw a weak smile on their faces as they met their doom. We loose more men to the calamity than expected. Our pace increases and the leader doesn’t do much anymore except occasionally turn around assert his remaining authority.
The blizzard calms, the flakes fall gently onto us and the fields finally stop fluctuating. We move faster and our spirit is renewed. We find a spot to lie down and rest. Some never rise from this position again. We resume our march, the snow stops, the ice thaws, and the temperature steadily rises above freezing until the mercury rests at a comfortable level. Most of us shut down the protective climate control and we can finally breathe in the planet’s air without our lungs stinging from the unforgiving cold.
Rolling plains stretch ahead of us and for once, we can see for miles ahead of us. Our speed quickens and we break into a jog. Then without warning, the leader’s suit blows and he crumples to the ground. We all stop and crowd around him. He frantically tries to cover the jagged tear with his hands, but it’s useless. Without a shepherd to lead us, some seize the opportunity and run away into the wilderness. I, among few others, remain loyal to the cause and move forward.
We were only in the eye of the wretched storm. The field intensity and heat increase soon after that and we quickly restart our suits to counter them. The land grows barren and the planet’s relentless star beats down on us. The parched and cracked ground makes us beg for the cursed Blizzard. Then from the dry scrub around us, giant blue flames erupt and slowly consume the thorny forests. The forest fire gives the atmosphere an eerie red tinge and hot, toxic fumes envelope us. Some of our suits strain under the pressure and its circuitry fuses. It doesn’t take long for the heat to get to them after that. Afraid of a similar fate, the remaining few of us move slowly, afraid that any exertion could be our last. Then the very ground trembles and splits to swallow us into its deep chasms. I cannot resist the urge to run and I pay heed to my instinct. I run as fast as my suit will take me. I just barely manage an escape.
The landscape changes again and the entire scene in bathed in blood red. I can sense that it is near and I look around for any comrades. I am alone. A stream of red cuts its way through the earth and passes ahead of me. The stream then widens to become a surging river. I bend down and dip my hands into the fluid. My pain and fatigue wash away in this river of blood. Tired of this mission, I dive into the river head first. Surprisingly, my gear still holds against this alien viscosity as I sink lower into the depths of the river. I become limp as all my troubles leech through my suit and into the waters. Then my legs are at the receiving end of something hard as my knees bend and adjust to the landing on the river bed.
Then I see it in all its glory, the Alpha, where it all began, at the bottom of the river that washed away my suffering and eased my pains. I slowly kneel down on the soft river bed and bow my head in final submission, drifting away to a foreign land. This is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. And though my suit’s conditioned to the last degree, I shiver at last.