The rocket plunged toward the red grainy gravel with alarming speed. Jordan closed her eyes. "In out, in out…" she whispered to herself under her breath with each inhale and each exhale. Months of training should have prepared her for this, but she couldn't deny the creeping fear she felt at the pit of her stomach. As the ground drew closer, adrenaline and her pilot instincts kicked in. Systems engaged. Landing Gear ready. "Warning" the red button flashed. Crash landing? She was prepared for this. As she put years of pilot experience into action, her team prepared for a rough landing. With a few turbulent bounces and a sunken in exterior bow, Team 626 landed on Planet Z.
It's been 15 years of exploration for a new habitable planet. No luck so far. The United Nations predicted the self-destruction of Earth in approximately 35 years, Year 2129. INASA, the International Aeronautics and Space Administration, has recruited scientists, astronauts, soldiers, adventurers, athletes, and first responders for the past 30 years to explore each planet in the different galaxies located in the Goldilocks zones. These planets are in the perfect spot, with a distance not too far and not too close to its sun, making it habitable for life. Twenty-five planets down and all hope is now on Planet Z. The first 25 planets weren't all fails. In fact, initiation for Planet Move In has started and many people are now in training programs preparing to move into at least 3 known habitable planets. But none are large enough to house all 9 billion humans. Planet Z is the largest one yet.
With the all clear, Team 626, consisting of two scientists, two soldiers, and one very enthusiastic explorer gathered their gear and began setting up their living quarters, with the spaceship as their mini headquarters to contact INASA back at home. As the team's pilot and head scientist, Jordan was responsible for collecting samples from Planet Z. Whether it was soil, water, plants, or even fossils, she was responsible for collecting and testing everything. Even if she came across something she couldn't identify, her superiors demanded her to store it safely so they could test it upon return to Earth. After testing the air by holding the handheld monitor arms length away from her face, she motioned to the others, it was safe to take off their oxygen masks.
"Ha, fresh air...I missed this," said Lieutenant Zach. As he inhaled and exhaled Jordan could see a peak of his shoulder muscles flexing and then relaxing. In the far distance, they could see the rigid outlines of what seemed like trees. If there were trees that meant...
"Water! There might be water here!" Ginnie exclaimed with excitement.
Already things were looking up. It had been 7 hours since landing. Fresh air, possible vegetation and water had already been unofficially confirmed.
"Okay guys, let's finish setting up and we'll start moving tomorrow. Explorations start at 7AM!" The long day was finally catching up with Jordan, and she couldn't wait to curl up in her hammock.
"Rise and shine, lazy bums! The sun ain't waiting for us!" Jordan had already woken up half an hour before and was all dressed and making breakfast for her team. Because of the promising results of yesterday's quick discoveries, Jordan was boiling with enthusiasm, which she apparently couldn't hide from her team. As her four teammates filed in for breakfast with groggy faces and tousled hair, faint smiles tainted their cheeks. They too were excited.
"OK guys, we will first head towards the trees in search of water. Lieutenant, Ginnie, be ready to encounter life. Lieutenant, just in case, bring one rifle and be on the watch for any signs of hostility." Ginnie, our youngest explorer, literally bounced in her seat at the news that she would be joining me and Zach in our first expedition. "Trevor and Star, you guys hold down the fort, and radio us if you see anything unusual or if headquarters decide to finally confirm our landing and radio us back."
"Roger that Cap Jordan." Her team responded after going through the rest of today's plan.
"Star, here are the crackles. If we somehow lose communication and either of us are in danger, fire these. And in the case where your whereabouts will put you in danger, use the back of this crackle to mark your spots, that way we can follow each other's tracks." As Zach handed the combustible markers to Star, the red residue lightly dusted the tent floor.
With gear ready for exploration, Zach, Ginnie, and Jordan set out in the direction of the rigid and uneven horizon.