APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 1 December, 1998



Buji Kern

Autumn, TN -1
In what is now known as the Mekong Dominion, Terra Nova.

John Edwards followed closely behind Captain Harris as they negotiated a dense clump of ferns. Alien sounds surrounded them.

"Look at this John, it's like Earth must have been millions of years ago."

Edwards nodded. He was overwhelmed by the new world too, but at the moment he was more concerned with his sweaty socks and whatever was biting his legs. He slapped his calf.

Enormous insects buzzed by their heads. "I bet the entomologists never sleep. Hear that Edwards? Sounds like a river. Let's follow it for a while."


They hacked their way to the edge of the river. Muddy and brown, it moved lazily to the east. Strange creatures buzzed and hopped around the bank. It was strange, Edwards thought. So similar to home, but so alien. As if to underscore his thought, an insect-like creature about the size of a rat looked up and stared at him with its compound eyes.

"Captain, does this place give you the creeps?"

Harris looked at him. "Yeah. But think about it John, we're charting the future of humanity. This world, it's the next step. And we're exploring it. Come on, I want to see some more of this river before we head back to camp."

They continued down the river for several hours, mostly silent, awed by their surroundings. Occasionally they paused to eat an EnerGo- small, calorie-filled bars that tasted like chewy cardboard.

They came to a marshy spot along the bank. Harris began to remove some equipment from his pack. "Let's take a couple samples of this water."

Edwards took out a water-sampler, basically a syringe with a larger reservoir. He stuck it in the water and began to draw out a sample. Something brushed against his hand. He yanked his hand out of the water, dropping the sampler. Harris looked over.

"What the hell are you doing, Edwards?"

Edwards looked around nervously. "I, uh, something's down there sir. I thought it might be dangerous."

"Well, you didn't have to drop the damn sampler." Harris turned back to his work, and muttered "...anyway, every god-damn thing on this planet's dangerous."

Edwards stared at the river. He just couldn't shake the feeling that they shouldn't be here. Not just here, by this river, but on this planet. He didn't understand it. He was a science student, he had managed to become an assistant to Captain Harris on this expedition. I should be pleased by the incredible opportunities this planet provides for science, he thought. But he wasn't.

"Come on, let's go." Harris briskly walked down the river.

He followed him. Periodically, they stopped to collect a sample, or take notes and photographs. Edwards noticed small snakes swimming along the surface of the water, then diving below. "Look at that." he said.

Harris looked back. "What, the snakes? Yeah, the whole Southern Hemisphere is just crawling with them. They're pretty small though. We haven't heard back from the herpetologists yet on whether they're poisonous."

Nevertheless, Edwards resolved to give the creatures a wide berth. I wonder if Terran snakebite medicine will work on Terranovan snakes, he pondered as they plodded through the dense underbrush.

He pushed a large fern out of his way. He thought that this must have been what the Terran Late Cretaceous looked like. But without the dinosaurs. Hopefully.

Helios was setting.. Captain Harris stopped walking and swatted a fly away from his face. "We'd better head back."

Music to Edwards' ears. "Okay, I'm all for it."

Harris peered at the river. "Let's cross it and walk back on the other side, I want to get a few pictures of those strange trees on the way back. It doesn't look deep, almost a stream really."

"But Captain, what about all the snakes and everything?"

Harris looked impatient. "Oh come on, no explorer ever got anywhere being afraid of snakes. Fine, I'll go first. I'll even let you go back the way we came if you must."

Edwards watched as the Captain splashed into the brown river.

"Come on in, the water's fi-". Harris screamed and fell into the water.

"Captain!" Edwards shouted. He charged into the shallow water- only about a meter deep, he estimated. Grabbing Harris by the shoulders, he dragged him back onto the bank. The Captain wasn't moving.

Edwards spotted something out of the corner of his eye. A small brown snake was quickly slithering out of the water and up the bank, toward them.

Edwards drew his 10mm pistol and fired, leaving a bloody mess on the bank were the snake was. He knelt down and gave CPR to the lifeless Captain, but he was dead. Two tiny holes were visible on his waterlogged pants.

Edwards sat down quickly, numb. He looked up at the quickly darkening trees and ferns.

I hate this place.


Edwards buried Umberto Harris beside the river. The unfortunate Captain was the first human to die from the venom of a Terranovan Water Viper. To this day on Terra Nova, Badlanders refer to careless explorers and tourists as 'Harrises'.

John Edwards safely returned to camp. Less than 3 weeks later, he was on a Gateship back to Earth, where he found work at a biochemical products firm. He later wrote a best-selling book about the exploration of Terra Nova, despite his admittedly small part in it.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 1 December, 1998