A broken past

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Photo via VisualHunt

Issana walked slowly through the field, her oxygen mask secure over her face. The radiation suit creaked and hissed as she moved, the mutated plants brushing against the reinforced fibers. She constantly checked her scanner. “Sani, anything?” The voice over the communicator in her ear was her partner Noran.

“No, Noran. There’s nothing yet. Just like five minutes ago. Will you please stop pestering me and wait for me to check in on my own?” Issana asked, her tone carrying her exasperation.

“You don’t check in regularly so I have to make you,” Noran said with his usual logic.

“I report every thirty minutes, as is required by regulations. Just because you get impatient is no reason for you to claim I don’t follow orders,” Issana said.

Noran sighed. “Sani, the radiation levels are really high today. That last storm really did a number on the atmosphere. The projection is it’ll take a month before it’s back to normal levels. We’re all worried about you so I’m going to check in with you as often as I feel is necessary.”

Issana sighed. “Fine. But if you startle me and I get hurt please realize it’ll be your fault.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Noran fell silent.

Issana continued forward, sweeping her scanner in front of her. A loud beep made her stop and orient the device on the reading. “The scanner picked something up ten meters to the east of my current position. The terrain is flat so I’m going to go check it out.”

“Copy that,” Noran said.

Issana headed cautiously forward, watching the ground for hidden dangers. The sound from her scanner got louder. When it became one solid tone she cleared the readout and stopped. She frowned. “I’m sending you a holo. I have no clue what this is supposed to be. It looks like some kind of barrier though.” She snapped a picture and sent it back to the base.

While she waited for Noran’s response, she examined the metal thing in front of her. It was a long metal pipe set on a pile of eroded stones. There were smaller metal pipes set at angles to help brace the thing. She didn’t touch it, fearing to either contaminate her suit further or tear it on the jagged, rusting surface. She took a few more holos, though she kept those on her camera rather than sending them back.

“You’re right. The Director says it’s a barrier. You’re probably standing on some kind of ancient road. That was used to prevent people from going beyond a certain point, possibly because that was some kind of animal refuge or large private property,” Noran said. She heard a faint conversation. “Sani, you need to get back here. Meteorology just reported another storm coming through. You’ve got forty five minutes, so hurry your ass up.”

“Got it. I’m on my way,” Issana said. She turned off her equipment and started back towards the base. Radiation storms were deadly, even with the suits, and she had no desire to be another casualty of this particular human stupidity. There were other, more interesting and less painful, ways to die.

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