I was exhausted...so very tired. From the moment I began to climb Mt. Olympus my oxygen tank had already read 20% My breath was heavy, and although I knew I couldn't waste any I was having a difficult time conserving it due to the level of activity I was partaking in. Leaving the academy had brought an excitement and a fear to my chest all at once. Neither of which could usurp the pressure exerted by the suit I was wearing. I tried to calm myself..."It's alright, I trained for this!", "Buck up! This is the real deal," I said in my head. Glancing to my right and left my Discovery Squadron held the rappel tether tight in their gloves, and advanced with vigor and focus.
Taking a weightless step forward up the rocky cliff I chuckled to myself at the fact that such light footwork could tire me so. There being little gravity on Mars means very little for the effort it takes to climb a mountain, especially the largest one on the planet. Tearing me from my thought there came a ground shaking rumble from above, and before I could compose myself the sky erupted in a magnificent red and orange color, almost like liquid fireworks. Mt. Olympus had erupted!
Never in my life had I seen a volcano erupt in slow motion. Who am I kidding, I'd never seen a volcano erupt before, besides on the Discovery channel, but that hadn't aired on tv for hundreds of years. The sight was so beautiful that I felt caught between fear and awe, though I knew I had to act fast.
"Deploy Ejection Propulsion!" I screamed over the loud cracking the bohemoth under our feet. Without hesitation all five of us reached down to our right leg and tore a cord that was made to shoot us skyward and away from the volcano at almost 100 mph. four of our propulsion boots activated, and we were headed back toward the ship at breakneck speeds. Looking down I saw that our fifth man's cord didn't pull and I knew at once he was a dead man. Shaking the sadness, I turned my gaze upward towards the starry night sky which was showered with globs of magma, falling in slow motion.
As I began to navigate through the deadly liquid I saw another squad member lunge head first into the magma, unable to avoid it at the speed he was travelling. Crap! I knew it was Lonnie by the patch on the right arm of his suit. I couldn't stand to see any more of my men die. "Advance cautiously!" I said through the comm. system built into our helmets. We were almost to the ship!
"Wrench! Do you think we can break atmosphere with the current forcast?" I asked. Wrench was our ship's mechanic. Of course Wrench was only a nickname, but everyone usually forgot his real name anyways. "Only if you don't mind a little action sequence!" Wrench said. The tone of his voice was far too cheerful for our current circumstances. "Stay focused! You can screw around after we're done mourning our comrad's death! Silence fell on the other end of the comm. system.
Looking behind us I saw that the magma shower was closing in on us, and our ship as well. I estimated that we had about 40 seconds to break the atmosphere after getting into the ship before we all became dust.