The Terra Core

Follow the adventures of a group of young men and women as they try to tame the final frontier.

This story will contain scenes of sexual and violent natures, so read at your own risk.

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21. The Accident

I didn't win the award. I should have realised I'd not win it. I came to realise I didn't really deserve to. My attitude had been poor. It did however make me wise to the need to grow up.

So I swallowed my pride and apologised to my friends. I did it one by one, as I couldn't face doing it as a group. For a time, I didn't say anything to Sandro, Miguel or Carla. They kept up their little 'anti-Adrian' stance. I did my best not to care.

I wish now that I had cared. Or at least, shown that I cared. Sandro had been stupid, yes, but he was still a nice guy. As we went from one world to another, building homes, farms, offices and outposts, I had no idea that time was ticking by.

My relationship with Helene started to deepen. I hadn't really expected to be drawn to the shy, retiring French girl, but since things between me and Carla had cooled, she wasn't on my radar anymore. Helene on the other hand, was quite fascinating, once I got to know her.

She had spent a lot of her formative years in Paris, but her father's job saw him travel a bit around earth. As a result, Helene had struggled to settle in anywhere, and had struggled to make friends.

I didn't know why she hadn't stayed put- or why her father had dragged her around. It's not like it takes very long to get anywhere on earth, but who knows? Helene hasn't told me.

Either way, it left her becoming quite introverted. I understood that, being an only child and what with the events that led me to the Core. I realised I had more in common with her than I did Carla, where the attraction (my attraction at least) was physical. With Helene, I could talk a bit more freely, and she felt she could with me. I discovered she loved books- pretty much anything and everything.

So we had some common ground. We both felt a our childhoods had been rough in one way shape or form. We were both quite happy in our own company. I was better with crowds, and could socialise more easily; she was smarter, I had no doubt about that.

Still, my chief interests were my video games and exploring the ship, whilst Helene preferred to lose her imagination to a good book. Our tastes in music were very different, and when she did watch TV, she preferred different shows. It's fair to say we quite a few differences, but somehow, we were starting to click.

Then came the hammer blow.

We were over two years into our tour. By then my relationship with Helene had developed into... well, a romance. We were an item, and everyone knew it. Miguel had gotten together with Carla and by that point, the turmoil and pain of our spat was forgiven and over with. Sandro continued to be somewhat dopey, but we were able to work around that, and Hotel Beta had earned a good reputation for hard work and the finished article.

We were, all in all, a well-oiled machine.

Little did we know a cog was about to come loose.

The planet was called Walker 278. Catchy. It had weird, pink grass and many of the flowers and plants shared that look. A lot of the flowers were huge, the main parts nearly as a big as a small dog. They were quite beautiful and smelled amazing.

They were also meant to make great natural medicines, which was one of the reasons the UWA wanted to colonise the planet. It represented a great opportunity to provide new and powerful medical drugs- and the chance to sell those drugs to other nations.

We were setting up a forward base of operations on one of the southern continents. A crane was lowering crates of heavy machinery into place for us to start work. Miguel, Gasparo and Kameyo were sorting out the smaller items whilst Helene, Miguel and I were organising some of the anti-grav units so we could get stuff from A to B quickly.

I remember the cries so clearly.

Henry Simpson, our CSO, had joined us for this one. He sometimes came by the dorm or showed up in the hanger to see us off, but this was the first time he'd actually come planet-side with us. He looked unassuming, but he had a bark on him, and was marshalling us around quite well. Miss Wilson stood beside him, looking impassive as we worked. Perhaps she was being evaluated?

We'd never know. The crane made a horrible, creaking, cracking noise, and before anyone could react, one of the pincers came away, taking a heavy crate with it.

Everyone scattered, but Sandro couldn't get out of the way in time. The crate struck him first on the left side of his temple, then crushed his legs. His body twitched and shuddered as life tried- and failed- to remain within his form, and he made a horrible gurgling sound as he breathed his last. Then poor Sandro was gone, departed from this life.

I was horrified, and shocked, yet, not as much as I thought I'd be. My experience with my father and then Vincent had brought me closer to death than most people my age.

Miguel rushed over to the body, his face white with fear. He shrieked Sandro's name as Miss Wilson tried to hold him back, as Mr Simpson gave me, Gasparo and Russell orders to move the crate. He walked slowly up to Miguel, who had started to weep, and took him by the shoulders, steering him away.

I couldn't dare to imagine how Miguel felt. His family had asked him to look after Sandro, and now, Sandro lay dead. My heart went out to him. Then, with a grim focus, Gasparo, Russell and I set about our task.

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