Monday Flash Fics — Second Cohort

This is becoming a thing, but the image for Monday Flash Fics just struck me again for the same world I’ve been exploring lately. So, we’re back in the world of the story I began with First Cohort, and followed up with Fifth Cohort and Sixth Cohort. A bit of a fallback this week, to the time just before the Second Cohort arrived.

Flash Monday

Second Cohort

Adamson exhaled, and stared out over their new world. They had probe maps, of course, but he and Patel had hiked their way to the highest point within the safety radius, in order to set up the primary beacon and relay.

The climb had been challenging. The folds of rock along the river were old, covered in greenery that Patel and Adamson had dutifully scanned and sampled as they traveled.

Their first night out in the wilds, which they’d spent once they’d arrived at the bottom of the arched stone peak, their new world had offered up yet another surprise.

Firefly-like dancing lights had filled the night around them. Luminescent moth-like creatures had come out, shifting from green to blue to a pale yellow. Breathtaking.

Then the arrival of the bat-like creatures swooping to catch them, which had caused the lights to blink out almost immediately.

“This place,” Patel said, his meaning carried in the reverent tone. Adamson hadn’t been sure about Patel at first. A former soldier with the Earth Defense Force, Patel represented so much of why he’d left Earth in the first place.

But he’d also had nightmares that first night, and Adamson had slipped gently into Patel’s mind, telepathically calming down the flashbacks without delving deep enough to pry.

“I haven’t slept like that in ages,” Patel said, upon waking.

Adamson had smiled and agreed. He would tell Patel, he’d decided. Once they were back with the rest of the First Cohort and the satellite uplink was solid.

Then they’d spent the day climbing the huge stone arch that towered over the river far below.

*

“So, instead of climbing back down, what do you say we go back the fun way?” Patel said, holding up some bolt-anchors.

“Are you kidding me?” Adamson said.

Patel’s grin made it quite clear he was not.

Adamson checked over the beacon once more. It was active and stable, and the signal was already established with the satellite. As he watched, the uplink connected to the network and a cached message from Flood popped up on the screen.

“Congratulations!” filled the display. “Now come home. Second Cohort is due any day now, and there’s stuff left to do, slackers.”

Patel looked over his shoulder. He was taller, and broader than Adamson. He chuckled at the display.

“It would be much faster than walking back down,” he said.

Adamson took a long breath. “Every reason I can think of for us not to do this? You’re more than qualified to handle. Which is sort of intimidating.”

“You read my file?” Patel’s thick eyebrows rose.

“It’s my job,” Adamson said.

“So you trust me, and we’re doing this.” The grin was back.

Adamson gestured. “I’ll regret it, I’m sure.”

Patel slapped his back. “You will not.”

*

They were a quarter of the way down before Adamson admitted that he was, in fact, having a blast. The wind was catching them at random intervals and swinging them a bit, but Patel walked him through the process of controlling their descent on the ropes and he was right. They’d be down in no time.

And the view. The river far below, the green-covered hills, the clear blue sky. It was…

It was freedom.

“You’re smiling,” Patel said, a few feet above him. “You’re loving this.”

“And you’re gloating,” Adamson said.

“Damn right.”

“This is awesome.”

“Here, hold that smile,” Patel said, pulling out his portable pad and working it with one hand.

Adamson spread one hand out and smiled, hamming it up for the camera.

Patel got the shot, and then a gust of wind sent them swaying without warning. The pad slipped from Patel’s hand. “Shit!”

Adamson reacted instinctively.

When they stopped swinging, Patel stared at his pad, which floated in the air between them. It took him a few seconds to reach out and take it. He turned to look at Adamson, and his expression was inscrutable.

“So,” Adamson said, wishing he’d just let the damn pad drop. What had he been thinking? But his telekinesis was second-nature when adrenaline hit, and now that they’d left Earth, the constant habit of suppressing it had atrophied. “The thing is…”

“Gentech are treated like less than human beings and you deserve better than that?”

Adamson swallowed. “Yeah. That.”

Patel nodded once. Then that cocky grin returned to the former-soldier’s face. “Does that mean you could get a wide shot of us both?”

It was possible that Adamson made a show of telekinetically drawing his own pad from his sleeve pocket and circling it around their ropes twice before it drew back to get the shot.

It was, after all, a new world.

Time for new habits.

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