Mission Objective 4: Heart of Darkness (Part 1)

“Euronka!” Ned sat up, finally awakening from his feverish dreams: he had a breakthrough. He ran back to the safe house and emailed the details of his dream.

Still feeling some of the effects from the berries, Ned did a quick workout and then sat down to finish Mischief for Agents: The Long Con until his handler responded. Ned didn’t have to wait long; he had just read the final words, “Deny everything,” when he heard the notification.

Ned checked his supplies. He still had several GREs and Liquid Rush cans, plus two waterfalls in a bottle and plenty of spider repellent, fire foam, and bat bait boxes. He ate a quick meal, showered, and took his fatigues off the clothes line. They didn’t look any worse for being singed, Ned sighed with relief. “Time to go,” he told himself wondering what he’d find at the crash site. He figured it would be a day and half hike, so Ned wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Ned found a place to camp, and after placing a machete, spider repellent, and fire foam spray within easy reach, climbed into his sleeping bag and fell asleep.

He rose early the next morning. The view was spectacular. “This is an enchanted land,” Ned spoke aloud, his words echoing throughout the jungle. He packed up camp and hiked further into the jungle finally approaching a makeshift camp at noonday. “Dag dag!” he called out, but the camp appeared completely abandoned.

“It looks as though the crew had been living here for quite a while,” Ned mused. “They must have had a full cargo bay, but what all were they transporting?” He sorted through a file box, discovering an aerial photograph. “This looks as though it was taken just before the plane went down.” Ned studied it carefully.

“This doesn’t look good,” Ned thought to himself. “Something has gone terribly wrong.” Ned spied a journal on a crate. “Makeshift quarters of the pilot, I’d guess. This notebook might have some clues.” Picking up the black notebook, Ned decided to get out of the bunker. The back of his neck prickled, and Ned slowly turned around. “Well, I think I know what happened to the pilot.”

He ran up the stairs, pausing to catch his breath. He had not expected to see such a gruesome end. Yet, he wasn’t here to mourn but to find the dossier and any clues, so he must continue exploring the site. “It appears the plane has broken into pieces with the nose skidding to a stop on top of a hill,” Ned jotted down.

With the sun setting, Ned decided to use the camp constructed by the crew. Not a single soul appeared to be around. He sat down on a cooler to eat and read the journal he’d found. “Interesting,” he thought. “I was led to believe that all of the species had been successfully transported to Ravu Space-Ubers. It appears not. The last cargo load never made it.”

The next day, Ned’s fears were confirmed. He found the second and finally the third crew member. “If I were to conduct an analysis on these creatures, I’m sure I would find them to be a Bizarre-Cowplant hybrid. I need to find that dossier and get out of here. The plants are propagating, and I don’t want to end up as their dinner.”

The shadows of the trees were closing in when Ned hiked up the hill to the cargo bay. There, beside what he assumed were items the crew was attempting to pull out of the wreckage, Ned discovered the dossier. He put it in his pack and headed back down the hill, pausing as a swarm of bees closed in around him. Ned stood motionless until they flew off, and then made his way down the hill.

Walking around a bend, he froze. Not bees, not bats, but a sight far more deadly.

“Oh mother of nightmares,” he gasped, realizing immediately that the two doses of vaccine he’d found at the safe house would do nothing. Ned approached cautiously, hoping not to disturb it; with its tentacles waving towards him, the creature appeared to be attempting to lure Ned toward it.

Ned gingerly took a step forward. “Is there a way to help return to your home world? Is there something I can do?”

“Feed me.” It spoke.

Ned bolted away from the site, not slowing down until he was far away from the crash site.

The “Crash Site” lot was built by SimDoughnut, creator of the “Return to the Jungle” challenge. (It’s pretty creepy, so you might want to visit during the daylight hours!)


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