The world was on fire.
Although, that was to be expected of a world named Exuro – the Latin word for Fire – I suppose. The cracked surface of the planet oozed with molten lava, like blood from a wound. Volcanoes stood off in the distance, spewing more lakes of fire and ash. Lava ran deep in ravines and large crevices on the surface of Exuro, glowing hot orange. It bubbled in some places, reminding me of the bubbles my mom would put in the bathtub for me when I was a small child. But, unlike the soapy bubbles from my youth, these bubbles weren’t nearly as fun to pop.
I could feel the heat on my face as I ran, despite the helmet and visor I wore that were supposed to protect me from it. It felt as if my cheeks and forehead were about to burst into flames as the heat whipped me in the face. I made a mental note to adjust the cooling settings in my Helmet once I was off this near barren wasteland of a planet.
Keyword being near, because even with its lack of residential value it had quite the lot claiming it as their home.
Creatures made of red-hot stone surrounded me on nearly all sides. There was no discerning one from another, as all had that orange glow from the lava that acted like paste to keep their assortment of stones that made up their arms, legs, head, and torso together. They didn’t have faces, just rounded stones that sat atop their bodies that could be interpreted as their heads. They moved quickly, despite their heft, and shot forth plumes of lava from their hands.
On any other planet, they would run out of their fiery lifeblood and fall apart, but not on Exuro. Whenever they shot lava at me, which I’d just barely dodge every time, they’d replenish their supply by stepping into one of the many orange-red puddles. They had a never-ending supply of reloads just beneath their feet – which were just two slightly flattened stones that allowed for mobility and balance – whereas I did not.
It took exactly three well-aimed shots from my Bolt rifle to exterminate just one of these monstrosities. Two if one of the shots was to the head. A better weapon to use for this situation would be a rocket launcher, as the concussive force of the blast would at least damage a few others surrounding the target. But, unfortunately, I had used up all the rockets I had for my launcher after arriving on the planet. I had thought a strong start would help set the tone of the battle, but I had been wrong, clearly. The only other weapon I had that seemed to be of any use against these bastards was my Bolt.
True to its name, the rifle shot out bolts of condensed lightning whenever I pulled the trigger; blue streaks lancing out across the battlefield and striking whichever of the lava creatures that were unlucky enough to be in my sights. They didn’t go down, but cracks began to form in its rocky torso. I aimed for the center of the cracks, another lightning bolt blasting from the barrel of my gun and deepening its fissures exponentially. A third blast had the creature crumbling to the ground in a heap of cracked rock and oozing lava.
I continued to run, trying to keep from being surrounded. They were coordinated and quick, and there were hundreds of them. An entire army of lava creatures descended on me from nearly all sides, a few lifting their hands to shoot streams of lava at me. I ducked and rolled to avoid the blasts that would surely melt through my armor and burn me to death. Beads of sweat lined my forehead, a single streak running down my temple to my cheek. I wanted desperately to wipe it away but couldn’t do so with my Helmet on.
I heard a loud stomp, rock crashing against rock, and turned to find one of the monsters directly behind me. I sucked in a sharp breath, cursing myself for that roll I did to avoid being melted. This creature had snuck up on me while I was still crouching, and now it hovered over me raising its hand to blast me into a puddle.
I raised my rifle, firing without aiming. The bolt of lightning struck the lava monster in the chest, sending it tumbling backward as the blue light made cracks meander throughout its upper body. Unfortunately, it still had its hand pointed at me, and from its palm came a plume of lava that sizzled through my armor, burned through my skin and muscle, and melted my bones.
The last thing I saw before the world went black was scorching fire.