Note: This was written as bonus content for Into the Titan, but never released. It is posted here as part of the Zark 10th Anniversary celebration.
Finally received the papers today. I’ve been assigned a planet in Sector JK-8. After all these weeks fighting with the bureaucracy, I can hardly wait to set foot on the place. Still a little nervous though…I hope it meets with the specifications I set. I do not want to set down there and find out it’s a desert planet or something obnoxious like that.
Entered the system today. I can make out the planet on my telescope viewscreen. It’s green. Looks perfect so far…but we shall have to wait and see.
The atmosphere is thick here and the ship was severely buffeted by winds and turbulence on the way down. I ache from the shaking and I’m quite exhausted at this point, but at least I’m here, on my own planet. It still seems incredible to me… an entire planet to myself.
It is thickly forested, as I requested, but its hospitality remains to be seen.
Began exploring for the first time today. Lots of small animals inhabit the woods here. They should be a useful resource, and I’ve made careful note of their individual species. I should be able to devise some traps later on.
The forest is thick with vines and overgrowth. The trees have thick, fleshy leaves, rubbery almost. Makes the going hard…difficult to get through.
In the afternoon I found a considerable river. Decided to follow it aways, since it had managed to carve a usable route through the trees. I soon came to its end, which proved to be an enormous sinkhole in the ground. At the bottom the water pooled and drained out in a whirling vortex. Where the water went from there I have yet to fathom.
Arrived at a large canyon today. It was about 80 feet deep, and I was able to climb down into it without too much trouble. The floor of the cleft was soft and mossy, and the trees were of a different species and much sparser. I will be considering this location for future habitation, but I’d like to explore a bit more first.
Found another canyon, very similar to the first one. Apparently they are a recurring feature on this planet. They seem to be the most hospitable areas here, considering that they are not overgrown and seem overall to be free of pestilential creatures. The question now will be to find the one best suited to my needs.
Decided to head back to the ship. Surveying the planet from orbit should be easier now that I understand its basic geological features.
I think I have spotted the perfect gorge… it appears to be deep, wide, and extensive, with the added bonus of another waterfall vortex, ideal for running some generators with. I’ll spend one more night in orbit and then I’ll head down and take a closer look at this.
I still find this hard to believe, but the planet appears to have been inhabited once before. As I was finally breaking through the rest of the forest and coming to the precipice, I saw four purple spires sticking up from the canyon floor. I ventured closer and found a huge adobe stronghold. This unnerved me greatly. I ventured slowly down and into the gorge, where I stood for a time, looking at the building. Finally, after looking at it from all sides, I went back to the front and walked cautiously through the front door. At the back of the room there were two rows of wooden benches, and at the far end was a large, stepped wooden construction with thronelike chairs attached to it. What disturbed me most, however, was a large metal cage which protruded from the floor. What it was meant to contain I did not wish to imagine.
I ventured back outside, where I followed a narrow path which led through the canyon for aways. The path terminated at a small door in the canyon wall which seemed to be blocked by a smooth piece of stone. I climbed back up and out of the canyon again, then made my way back down on the other end of the blockage.
Here was the larger part of the canyon, and it did appear to be an appropriate landscape, despite the mysterious building. I soon discovered a brick pathway which led through part of the canyon. It began at the mouth of a small cave and led to another door in the canyon wall, this one also blocked off by a smooth stone wall. Above the door I saw a narrow window cut in the rock wall. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble here. At this point I toyed briefly with the idea of returning to the ship and reporting the planet as defective, but decided against it.
I headed back up through the canyon and eventually found the sinkhole that I’d spotted from space. It is fed by not one but three small waterfalls, and, even more intriguing, has a large columnar island in the center.
Further up the canyon, I found another small cave, this one outfitted with metal bars, apparently some sort of cell. The nature of these things disturbs me.
Finally I found what will hopefully be the last surprise this place has in store for me: a large metal sphere, resting silently atop a small hill. Actually, it’s more like half a sphere. It is made of a peculiar hard metal, and its only feature is the outline of a door on one side.
I’ve had enough of this for one day.
I spent last night sleeping in the old building to see if anyone would show up during the night. No one did. The decrepit nature of the building is heartening to me, it appears to have been long abandoned. But who can say that the tenants won’t show up again…?
I knew there were more surprises in store. I found another doorway in the canyon wall. It was hidden behind a thick tangle of vines. Inside was a mass of plumbing, and a stairwell which wound up through the rock of the canyon. At the top, I found myself on the opposite side of the small window I’d noted earlier. There’s some sort of crank handle set into the floor, but it’s stuck fast and will not rotate.
Found some sort of circuit breaker inside the hidden stairwell. I’m not exactly sure where the power is coming from, but after I threw the switch the lights came on in here. The crankwheel turns now, too, albeit rather reluctantly.
The crankwheel rotates the the stone walls that block off the canyon doors. I finally discovered that the break in the wheel’s handle represents a door in the stone block. Upon closer inspection, the large rock appears to be a cagelike elevator inside. I traveled down in it, but found nothing but another rotation control. Still, there may be some use for this contraption. We will see.
I can’t sleep. The metal dome makes me uneasy. I have so far been unable to extract any kind of information from it. The door will not open even with the aid of a crowbar. I cannot imagine its purpose. My only (rather paranoid) suspicion is that it may be the entrance (or exit) to some sort of underground facility, a factory perhaps. If so, I dread the day something will emerge from that reluctant door. I must make the first move.
Been here for just short of a month now. Started work on the house today. I’ve decided to build it on the island in the middle of the sinkhole. That way if anything ever comes out of that dome, I’ll have a chasm between myself and It. Also I have prime access here to fresh water and my generator.
I mark this one-month anniversary not with celebration but by a temporary leave. I’m going to buy a number of things I need, not the least of which is a large quantity of explosives. I will get into that dome if it’s the last thing I do!
Three payloads of powerful dynamite and the thing is still as solid as ever. Never seen anything like it in my life. The ground has been wiped clean of living things by the explosions and there’s rubble all over, yet the dome is defiantly the same, though considerably dirtier. I will not be getting into this thing, I can tell now.
The house is complete and the generator is running nicely. Finally have a bit of civilization here.
Future improvements: the larger cave could make a nice study. It’s dry, and relatively secure.
Also, I will rig up some sort of ladder to make the forest more accessible. I’m growing weary of climbing the walls twice a day.
Have decided to make another supply run. I cannot get the confounded buildings out of my mind, despite the fact that they seem decidedly abandoned at this point. To set my mind at ease, I am purchasing a number of force field emitters. I’m going to lock off the offending areas, namely, the adobe building and the dome. The dome will also get a set of motion sensors and some anesthetic spray cannons. If anyone -or anything- comes out of that thing, it will be knocked out immediately.
Already I have begun worrying about the possibility that it contains robots.
Finally the locks are complete. I’ve set up a control panel in my study from which I can monitor the status of any part of my compound. I’ve also set up another level of security: only one of the force fields can be changed at any given time. There’s a lockout in my study which decides which of the field controls will be unlocked at any given time. My mysterious friends will have a hard time with this!
Being able to sleep without worry has done wonders for me.
Awakened by the screaming of the motion detectors. A monkey fell out of the jungle and set off my detectors. Wouldn’t have been such a problem if it hadn’t used up a large quantity of my anesthetic gas by tripping the sensor. I hope this does not happen again.
I had a hard time finding the journal it’s been so long since I wrote in it. I have finally found the secret of the dome.
My alarms woke me again last night, and I rushed to the the dome through a haze of anesthetic, only to find sprawled on the ground an unconscious Zark. I was astonished to say the least. After all this time, to find out that all this apparatus was some sort of Zark plaything? Fools. I explored the dome’s interior briefly after I shut off the gas and found nothing of interest. It’s simply some sort of long-range teleporter.
I dumped the Zark in the old jail cave and went back to bed. He’ll find me soon enough tomorrow morning. When he does, I’ll have some choice things to tell him! I’ll have no more Zarks here, that’s final. He gets one more look at his old stomping grounds, then it’s back to wherever he came from.
I guess I’ll dismantle the device after he leaves. He’d better not close the door behind him.