A journey of 58 miles begins with a single step
I walked out past the ship, heading eastwards. Lucas and I were nestled in a low, shallow valley. Ahead of me, I could see long grass swaying in the wind, tree leaves quiverring gently and a glistening silver river wind side to side like a snake before pouring out via waterfall into an expansive lake. Beyond that, all I could see was more hills.
My premature optimism and anxiety went hand in hand. As I walked down the banks of the river, I checked out the maps of the area. The route to the lake was 13 miles, then there was a 29 mile excursion around it before a 15 mile hike up hills to the north, finally getting me back up into the highlands and to Alpha Beacon.
Once I reached the waterfall, my excitement had turned to fear. This planet, for all I know, is barren. There was a good chance nobody else made it, or they were a thousand miles away. I quickly produced my rifle as I descended the flanks of the waterfall.
I broke the rifle over my arm and inserted a plasma clip, priming it by snapping it back.