On her first day on planet Earth, Mara had landed with a squish in a pile of dirty diapers, her skin soon covered with yellow and black goo. She held back a squeal as she scrambled to her feet, but realized too soon that she was standing on a hill. Too late, she slipped and rolled down a hill of trash-luckily not a very high one-and found herself up to her chin in peat. She’d cursed and pushed herself out of the puddle. Then she’d heard the familiar of metal squealing against metal. Looking up, she scanned a clear, blue sky with streaks of clouds. And birds. Birds flapping across the sky. Right there and then, she felt a stabbing pain behind her ribs. This was planet Earth, a world of white swirls and wholeness, a dream to her crew who hovered in the starship thousands of miles above her. She was here.
It took a while, a while to shake things off, to get used to the unusual grumbling noises, the ground shaking under her feet. When she decided they were not dangerous, she pushed herself to her unsteady feet and inhaled the stench of rot. She hurried to the nearest mound and peered around her. Looked up. She was surrounded by hills of trash. Taking another step forward, she felt something stab her underfoot. Mara howled and fell back on the ground, twisted and let out another howl. There was the sound of glass breaking, popping.
A voice yelled over the noise. “Lady…are you okay? Hey.”
She let go off her foot and looked up. There was a man, clad in some kind of loose, brown jumpsuit and a helmet. He wore a slack jawed look and for the first time since the teleport, she remembered she was naked.
The man had gone down hard and fast, letting out a harsh sound that was too low to bring on any others that were probably in the field with him. Getting the clothes off him was harder- peeling the garment off his shoulders off while her hands trembled and dust constantly swirled in her face. Then there was the stench. But first things first, she needed to get oriented, blend in, find out where she was. Then….find him.
She held her breath and jogged out of the area, the paths clear as she meandered her way around the piles of trash. But she felt herself getting stronger, the blood pumping through her veins. Soon she left the hills of garbage behind her and came upon a stretch of grass, then an incline. She hefted herself upward, clambering, slipping, getting back up. Cresting the hill, she was immediately faced with a stretch of asphalt, covered road. Ground vehicles she had never seen before thundered past, shaking the ground beneath her for the second time that day. She turned back and saw the piles of garbage piled up into hills, beyond them large vehicles lumbered across the rubbish-strewn terrain. A landfill. Vibiat had plopped her down in the middle of a landfill.
She closed her eyes and felt the familiar buzz. Then she opened her eyes. The road, the cars, the sky all melted away and soon all that remained were black and white lines stretching forward and backward. A grid spread over an expanse of black with Krill symbols arising out of each little square. These were the same images that had been uploaded into her subconscious just a week ago. And for the first time since she’d landed in this world, this blue planet, she heard herself gasp. Eagle city. The frog had not tricked them.
She reached for the slightly, elevated patch of flesh along her arm and began to run.
On her last day on planet Earth, Mara Dee was sick, disoriented, and ready to die. She felt the mound just below her elbow and resisted the urge again. Things had gone from bad to worse. This was not her dimension, and the toxins swirling in her bloodstream had built to fever-inducing levels. Her head pounded, her muscles stretched and pulled. And now she stood at the very edge of the City General parking lot, the heat seeping into her torn shoes from the asphalt.
John Hughes was in there.
Every now and then, she would close her eyes and wait for the familiar buzz, but felt nothing. It was gone and hadn’t returned ever since that night she’d walked into that nightclub, a gun in each hand, ready to take her charge away by force if need be. Instead, she had found a Krillian flirting with the man she had come to save. She’d run away that night. Run far and fast, back to the abandoned warehouse where she had taken refuge ever since she got to this miserable world. She had curled into a cardboard box and cried herself to sleep.
No one survived combat with a Krill. No one.
Now, she stared over the parked cars at the low-rise building of City General. The familiar weight of the guns strapped to her ankles kept her calm as well as the knife’s hilt strapped tight against her belly. Then she began to walk briskly across the lot.
Live or die, John Hughes must be saved.