Reaching The Surface

After traveling to an unconquered planet, Hannibal is faced with the struggle of survival with little support from logistical supply lines.

Training is difficult. The barracks are tiny and cramped; mere tents in the jungle hidden in the shade of a skybreaking cliff. The geography is extreme here, with blistering heat in the starshine for 20 of the 48 hour days. It takes us half this day just to gather food and supplies from the trees all around and their plentiful inhabitants. Gravity is punishing here; everything feels heavy, from our supply packs to our actual bodies.

All manner of insect, lizard, and flying creature plagues us by the minute while the sun is high. At night, the insects and lizards get much worse. Every once in a while, we find a large, boar-like creature, with two long, straight, sharp horns jutting out from its crown. Unable to smuggle our rifles from the ship orbiting some 12,000km above, we resort to fashioning weapons from the exotic timber of this alien world. I’ve fashioned a club, heavy, with a weight on the end. I carry this with me every day when we forage; it has saved us from hunger many nights.

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I have a small contingent of crew members to assist and help carry out my plans. This includes smuggling additional personnel to the surface of the planet from the automated customs office in orbit. We make other weapons and tools from the dense, oily bark of a strange tree so massive its branches break the clouds above.

Scouts have reported that there are people on this planet, somewhere, but we haven’t seen any with whom we hadn’t personally traveled. What there have been plenty of are magnificent beasts of every horrifying appearance you can think of, but nothing resembling a typically sized man or woman. In an environment of survival like this, instincts are honed, the belly becomes filled with exotic meats and fruits, and the mind is free from distraction to focus completely on any task.

White hot intention has illuminated every exercise. I spend every waking moment sharpening the skills that will protect me. Chopping wood for months on an alien planet has given me power and stamina. I feel good. I have little more concern for space politics while on this new world, save the customs office checkpoints. Once on the surface, we’re the only people in the geographical vicinity, whatsoever. It’s true that it’s difficult to get people down to us, but we make exceptions aside from Minmatar crew.

There are certain prisoners of war that we have captured and incarcerated who have become more useful since sparring partners are so scarce in this side of the galaxy. They’re fed well and allowed extra freedoms in the weeks leading up to their transport to the outpost. Once they reach the surface, they are retrieved by my crew and brought to the camp. With us, they eat well, they rest well, and they work a fair amount, as do the rest of us.

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The only difference is these prisoners of the Pendulum War have to fight me to determine their fate. They’re all given the same deal; if you can beat me in just 1 round, I’ll let you go free. It sounds easy because it’s supposed to. So they all take the deal, one after the other.

Because of this, I now have quite a few permanent residents on the surface in our fledgeling community. It’s only fitting that these former colonizing slavers are forced into inescapable servitude on a far away planet, cut off from the rest of their so-called civilization. I will set free whoever can beat me in a fair fight. None of them have come close.

So now, I have plenty of sparring partners from which to choose; my height, taller, shorter, bigger, smaller, southpaw, old, young; you name it. The best part is, even if I beat one of them really bad, and he needs to heal for weeks, he’s always welcome to another try. It’s the only way off this rock, as far as they know. We don’t even tell them what star this planet orbits. Nope. Amarrians are not for trusting; they’re for fighting.

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They come in all shapes and sizes, and I can’t wait to drive my fists into as many of their sullen, downtrodden faces as I possibly can. They all want out of this colony and would likely say anything to make that a reality. I’m not taking it easy on any of them. Every time I call, they line up outside my gym, one after the other. The first few are always energized and motivated when the door to the sparring rings opens. I try to make an example out of that first guy.

If the second guy believes he can win still, he gets it even worse. By the time I get to the end of the line, some of them realize they just watched their most admired comrades defenseless as I beat their brains in with my bare hands in fair fight after fair fight. Oh, the expressions on those faces!

It’s a wonderful life.