Friday, February 28, 2014

Mercurian Mystery

AP Wire story, originally published in the Sunward Observer, Bitter Sea City, Mercury.

Remains of five earth humans were found today in a newly discovered shadowland sunward of the Salt Desert. Judging by the skeletal structures, all five were males, the youngest under the age of majority - possibly the child of one of the others. Analysis of evidence at the site showed copious ammunition expended, yet no sign of anything actually being hit.

Examination of the skeletal remains indicates the bones were gnawed clean, as if by hordes of giant rodents. A nearby abandoned lander may have been the vehicle used to bring them to this remote site far from any inhabited area. The lander appeared to have been damaged in landing, and the five may have been marooned. The lander had apparently been subject to an abrasive sandstorm at some point, because all serial numbers and other identifying marks had been ground off.  The skeleton of a large snake was also found, possibly the pitiful survivors' last meal.

Dr. Kladeny Jorikov of the University of the Bitter Seas, who headed the expedition which found the remains, theorizes the five men may have been survivors of an accident in orbit who came down in the wrong lace. "They had obviously been blinded by the katabatic winds, or possibly a glimpse of the sun," explained Dr. Jorikov, "As despite being well armed, the men seemed to have been firing at random. The only creature they injured was the snake, which appears to have been strangled. Perhaps they encountered it by touch?"

Ample provisions appear to have been available in the lander, but being blinded, they may have been unable to find it once they had left. The details may forever remain a mystery. Were they fleeing some unknown space battle? Had their ship been struck by a sunward meteor? We may never know. For now, their bones hold the only testimony.

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