When they talk about the stench of death, you think of it as something putrid and sickening.
The smell of death on Illaria is something different.
It took the best part of a day to make the transit from the Nike Atlas to the surface. The commander took no chances when he set us adrift in our re-entry suits and parachuted payloads. We coasted in our armour for hours, listening to the silence of space and wondering what would greet us on the rapidly advancing surface.
You can recognise a rotten fruit by its colour. The lush and bright surface is pock marked with shades of brown and when it has gone far, marred by the slow colonisation of green and white spreading throughout its structure.
Where we expected fields and forests, there was grey. Where we expected oceans and lakes, a hazy murk. Even the clouds took on a dark and ominous hue. All this we could see from space as we hurtled into re-entry.
We landed at night in driving rain and storms, scattered by strong winds and lighting. Little wonder that the Sansica science team disappeared from our sensors, frakking civilians.
As dawn broke, a desolate scene out of a nightmare greeted us. The roads and surrounding terrain was coated with a grey sludge. There was not a tree, bird, animal, insect or blade of grass as far as the eye could see.
Mile upon mile we travelled, gathering up the members of our recon team. In that time, we saw no living thing of any kind.
The sun came out and soon baked the sludge into a hard shell that then broke up into dust. It pervaded everything clogging up engine vents and our suits with its dry, burning smell.
Our medic ran the dust through an analyser. It used to be organic matter, he said, the residue of degraded organic matter; grass, trees, bugs, worms, crops, cows, cotton, leather and humans.
It was what remained of every living thing, man, woman and child for miles around, broken down, reduced and destroyed. The remains of a whole civilisation had invaded our lungs and engines and now covered every inch of our bodies.
We’ve established a base in a spaceport freight yard and are investigating the outskirts of the nearby town. Obstructions and crashed vehicles have forced us to explore on foot. In homes and offices, we find the faint outlines of bodies and their clothes arranged around them. Our comms link is jammed by strange sounds, like the wailing and jabbering of lost souls. When we try and answer, the sound stops for a while, before resuming again.
One my team is feeling ill, don’t know if it’s the smell or something else. Night’s falling soon and that damn howling on the radio never frakking stops.
Mission log of Lieutenant Ara Mercator, Recon Group
Mission Clock: 16 hours, 23 minutes, 47 seconds
Stephanie Petite figures with Chico, Wedge and Sassy Hair from DAZ.
The XM-5 AARV is an original model created by me in Hexagon 1.21.
Fighting Armour System Mobile is an original conforming outfit model created in Hexagon 1.21, consisting of a body suit, helmet and bullpup railguns.
Scenery elements such as the ISO containers, cables and supply boxes created in Hexagon.
All meshes UV mapped using UVMapper Professional and textured with Photoshop CS2.
Figures created in Poser 6 and the scene was rendered in Vue 5 Pro Studio.
Post processed in Photoshop CS2