Pendulum Ch. 16: Gliese 667Cc

Deirdre opened her eyes. The sky above was in flames, the clouds blazing in a bright orange. Was it morning? Or evening? Her head hurt, a dull pain spreading out from the neck. Apart from that, she didn’t feel bad, just so tired. Everything seemed to be made of lead, even her eyelids. A pinging sound caught her attention, and her system’s primary screen opened automatically. Irritated, she thought it away. Damn ads, following you everywhere, even… yeah, where was she? Her headache made thinking difficult. Her concentration was wacky, and her thoughts kept fizzling out.
She lay there, arms and legs stretched out like a Vitruvian Man, gazing up at the sky, with a throbbing head and a leaden body, just drifting, without a sense of time, when she heard the ping again. She growled. Like an alarm clock. What time was it?
The system’s home screen opened and showed her the clock. 16:24. On the left side of the screen, a pulsing notification icon waited for her to be activated, a little 2 attached to it. Two new messages. Messages from who?
The icons wandered into the centre and two lines with text strings popped up.
“Message from 16:18 sent by: Daniel Adams.”
“Message from 16:24 sent by: Daniel Adams.”
Daniel Adams?
Her head felt light. Everything danced in a circle, then things moved back into place. Yeah, Adams, that was the name of that biologist, the man… all at once. Her memory returned. She lay in an unknown position on a planet called Gliese 667 Cc, and she was still in one piece.
That planet name wouldn’t do. They’d have to find a new one as soon as possible. But first things first.
“Are you okay? I landed, too. First analysis is done. The atmospheric composition is breathable, as expected, but I’d not remove my helmet just yet. We don’t know what’s floating around in this air. Please send me a message.”
“Deirdre, are you there? Please get in touch!”
She closed the messages and tried to sit up. Even that much was difficult. Not impossible, but not a trivial feat either. How high was the gravity on this planet?
An info window appeared.
“Gliese 667 Cc, size four times that of Earth, geologic composition unknown, gravity 145% Earth”
The disparity between size and mass was something other people had to deal with. Her job was to connect the planet to Earth’s moon, when and if Adams decided it was a viable place for colonisation. Things were coming back now, but her head still hurt.
She looked around. What had appeared like a world of brown mud was completely different when viewed from the ground. The ground itself was covered with some sort of moss or lichen. She had no idea. Fungi sprouted everywhere, some as high as a human, with stems that looked robust, and comparatively long, but carried thick caps, like morel mushrooms. She couldn’t see any animals, but that meant little. Gliese 667 C dominated the orange sky, the closest sun, which it orbited. The two suns named A and B looked like mini versions, smaller than the moon had been on Earth, but still clearly visible. They were next to each other, hanging over the horizon. They alone would probably not have supplied enough light to illuminate the area. All three suns together immersed the planet in golden light, not unpleasant to the eyes.
She looked at Adams’ last message one more time, when another alarm ping reached her ears. She closed it, looked at the clock. Four more minutes had passed. Adams sure was worried, telling from the frequency of his attempts to contact her. She almost felt guilty about it.
“Deirdre, what’s going on? Please contact me ASAP! Are you alright? Do you need help? I’m still getting vitals from your suit’s med systems.”
Instead of closing the window, she called him. He opened the channel almost instantly. His face appeared in a small window on top of her display. She dragged it down to the middle and made it bigger.
“Hello Daniel. I’m good. Sorry, I just woke up, still drowsy.”
His facial expression, full of blame, collapsed into one of shame, then changed into a relieved smile. Not one word was needed. She’d never seen such expressive features, apart from Cailean, who could tell stories with just his face. She’d need the help of her Cu Sidhe down here. So many things to worry about, but one thing after the other.
“Glad you’re alright. You’re the last member of our team to get in touch. Listen, I contacted our vehicle, it’s some twenty kilometres to the west. It will need over an hour to reach my location, and then I’ll need longer to pick you up. You’re on my map, about five kilometres north-east. The others are further away. We must get to them together.”
An hour for twenty kilometres, that didn’t sound right. Then again, if it had to drive on its own, and in unknown terrain…
“So, what do you want me to do?”
“Please stay where you are. Wandering five kilometres in this gravity is a waste of energy, and we still don’t know enough about this planet to tell if it’s even safe.”
“Gotcha. So far, it’s not too bad here.”
His laugh was hoarse and reminded her of Brilann’s, but he didn’t have quite the dark voice.
“Call me anytime. If there’s anything, don’t wait.”
“Aye. You take care, too.”
He nodded and cut the connection.
So far, so good.
Cailean. Maybe she should call him to her side now. He was probably immune to whatever this planet could throw at him, considering his nature. With his physical body residing in the Otherworld, nothing could touch his manifestation. Not only would she need him to find those ominous places of power, he might also be useful here as a guardian of sorts. Besides, she still didn’t know just how Brilann had “talked” with him. How does one talk with Cu Sidhe? She’d have a word with Cailean—if she could figure out how to do it.
She closed her eyes and calmed her thoughts. Breathed in and out, in and out, until nothing was left of the environment. Where was she in this body? Deirdre wasn’t in a hurry. Her breath was slow and regular. The gravity was a bit distracting, but that didn’t matter too much. It would solve itself in time. Where was she in this body? She could feel herself, but locating her essence wasn’t always easy. There, her attention focused on her temples. There she was. Zooming in, she sunk into herself and skipped forward in time. When she finished her meditation, she stared into two big, glowing eyes sitting in a large, white face. Her system clock said 17:02.
“Hey buddy,” she said, and the face in front of her seemed to put on a smile. Or a grin. She could never tell which. Cailean would forever be full of mysteries, and hopefully so.

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