No Vacation

They were less than a klick from the structure and Yebin was already holding them back. Desh made it ten paces before he realized her footfalls over the soft leaves had ceased behind him, and he turned to find her staring into the sky with her arms in the air like a child who wanted to be picked up. Her pulse rifle dangled uselessly at her side.

“Yebin, focus! You’re going to be the death of me, but ideally I’d like it to be another day.”

She turned her jet black visor to face him and sliced her arms through the air stiffly before cocking her head to one side and freezing like a mannequin. Desh just sighed.

“You’re on mute,” he said.

Yebin swiped a gloved finger across her forearm and suddenly her voice was in his head.

“I said, you’re more robotic than the guidance system. I-am-not-programmed-for-adventure.

Desh grabbed her pulse rifle and shoved it back into her hands. “Watch my back. C’mon.” He marched through a curtain of moss that hung from an analog of a tree—like a hundred-meter mushroom—and into the thick greenery beyond.

Yebin scrambled to catch up. They marched in silence for half an hour. Desh never turned around, but he knew she was gawking at pretty flowers instead of scanning for threats.

“Ohhh,” she said finally, “did you see that?”

“What?” Desh stopped dead in his tracks and brought his rifle to his shoulder as he swept the horizon.

“Relax, Desh. There was a waterfall back there, that’s all.”

His chin fell heavy to his chest. “Focus. Please.”

She shoved his shoulder. “What’s your deal? It’s a green planet! With a blue sky! Why can’t you just enjoy it?”

“Because every green planet I’ve ever set foot on has tried to kill me! Grow up, Yebin. This isn’t a vacation.” He stomped off into the brush, adding, “Let’s move.”

She swiped at her wrist and muted her microphone again. “Jackass.”

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page.

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