On an archaeological expedition into the smoldering wastes of Alshain 4 funded by the Corvus Foundation, one overly curious young girl finds herself separated from the rest of the expedition by an unseasonally harsh gritstorm. Caught by surprise, Gabrielle Abrams is lost. Cut off from all communications. She's on her own. Good thing her parents taught her well...
The storm howled wildly all around her. The ground before her was swirling up into the air, lunging at her, tearing at her. The comm unit was one long, whine of static. Useless. Her envirosuit was degrading faster than it could heal. The grit in the storm was lacerating the silicanamel down to the carbon filament undermesh. The air-filters were clogged or torn to tatters; she was on recycled air now. She took another step forward. At least she thought it was forward. She couldn't tell any more. The storm was disorienting. Intimidating. She never really knew what elemental meant before.
The caves ought to be close. She was sure of it. The GPS was asking to be reset. Useless. The downloaded map in her headsup flickered like a bad cartoon as the suit's servers tried to update it but could not latch onto a datafeed. The compass was spinning as if in synch with the wind. Probably magnetic particulates in the dust. She needed to reach some sort of cover before the storm sandblasted its way into her suit. That would be an ugly, not to mention painful, way to die.
"Not today. I didn't come all this way to let a stiff wind stop me. Not now." Especially not when she was so close. So very close. The words helped. A little. She was determined. It had taken her a lot, cost her a great deal to get here. She wasn't going to let a storm drive her away. For her there was no going back.
So she forced herself to keep walking.
One more step.
There. Another obelisk. Just like the first one. She touched it. Solid. Heavy, dense stone of some sort, some sort of mineral that had endured these kinds of storms for centuries, possibly millennia. It had a greenish cast to it. Green over gold.
Her left filter panel ripped loose and flew away in the raving winds.
The cave was not far from the Obelisk. Not far at--
The ground gave away.
She slid down, tumbling through grit and gravel.
Until she stopped.
Darkness claimed her.
To Be Continued...