The persistent pitter-patter of rain hammered down rowed steel-framed homes, sleek and sheen. An otter walks along the smoothly paved roads with an umbrella in-hand. He looks around slowly with a hedonistic gaze, scoffing at the poor excuse for a home that he lived in. He shuffles a bit with his clothing, propping the collar of his coat up to keep his neck warm. His outfit covers just about everything, even his tail. It took some courage to keep his hood down, despite the umbrella. The soft thumping noise of his heavy lead boots trotting on the tainted, acrid earth makes him wince a little, making sure his umbrella’s safely overhead. The scenery isn’t impressive: A few stray trees, the occasional shrub, and bunkered homes, all at the mercy of the torrential downpour of acid rain. It feels like it never ends, and it’s far from beautiful. Whatever is here is reclusive, hardy, or dead. The residents of J’aera, this planet, are a very secluded culture. Live, survive, and make what you can of what you have. Like what little life can live here, they don their protective shells, bring what comforts they can find in with them, and act on certainty. You can’t afford risk, you see. Taking a chance is as good as dying in the acid wastes of J’aera. This boy, wading his way away from the comfort of the steel complexes, is tempting fate.
The heavy cloud-cover makes communication with the rest of society rather difficult. Communications can get neither in nor out, and there’s no known ship or technology that can get through the atmosphere without corroding and falling apart. Everything depends on the few occasions that this accursed rain stops—and that the clouds in the dull grey sky, by some miracle, part for a moment.
The boy had grown rather fond of the rain, over the years.
The tranquil sound of rain, and the sight of powerful streams and rivers forming, pushing what stands in their way with them in a powerful deluge. The awe in seeing the occasional rainbow when the clouds decide to part, contrasted with the sheer destruction that it wreaks on the land.
His favorite aspect, especially, is the way that it makes everyone scared.
That fear that he didn’t inherit is what lets him take these walks into the acrid jungles. Life here is too ordered, too close-knit. If everyone was content with being isolated from the rest of society, then surely he had a right to isolate himself from them, too. If he didn’t, well, they were welcome to try and chase him in the acid downpour.
These walks are always silent. Just the boy, accompanied by his lonely thoughts, and the ever-present rain. He often hikes his way up the ever-changing hills, interested to see what new things the rain had unearthed overnight. The black colored long-branched, thick-leaved trees accompany him, seemingly rolling along with the landscape as it shifts and crumbles. It was like being an Explorer and an Archaeologist, without ever needing to dig or relocate. This time, a presumably deep-running cave had emerged. As the otter peeks inside, two strange things happen. First, a ‘breath’ of warm air rushes out of the cave, washing over the boy like some behemoth of a creature had roared at him silently. The second, was the emergence of a quiet whirring noise… Whistling noise? Perhaps both. A look of uncertainty crosses his face. Was the noise coming from this cave? He muses over the idea of investigating, but only one step in, a bright flash and a silence seemingly pauses the world for him. The rain keeps falling, but no noise comes. In the corner of his eye, far off in the distance, a bright… Something… Falls from the sky. The brightness flashes hot white, and expands a little. Another flash strikes the sky, and the brightness is gone.
Whether it was intuition or instinct, the boy had made a choice. Either run from the cave, or run from the brightness. There was no time to question anything, or wonder what was happening. All he knew is that in this instant, he was responding to danger.
With a clear mind and a quick pivot, the decision is made. The boy makes for the cave, sprinting blindly into the darkness. Within a moment, sound returns to the world. As if all the noise had been contained in that moment, and released in an instant, a cacophony of howling and screeching of whipping winds could be heard from the mouth of the cave. He keeps running, bumping into walls and tripping over himself. It felt like an eternity in that cave, stumbling around, and running from what hell had likely been unleashed outside. Though ambling around sightless, it felt as though someone, or something, was guiding him through these tunnels. Confusion and fatigue were taking over, but he tries to muster the will to continue. He wasn’t sure how deep he had gone, or how long he had been in there, but inevitably, he eventually collapses.
Outside the cave, complete desolation. A thousand years of acid rain could never raze as many acres as the bombs that had fallen. The acid clouds had detonated the charges prematurely, and even still, nothing stands. Around the planet, destruction reigns supreme. No buildings yet stand, and what fauna that lived, if not already deceased, breathe their last. The only life left on the surface is the native J’aera tree, so hardy to have thrived on this planet that they scoff at this sudden attack.
Below ground, there are only three living things left. It would be mere moments before there were just two.