This is a teaser from EXPLORER X – ALPHA.
This teaser takes place during a training simulation where Aadi and his team are undergoing their final challenge. They are competing against each other to win the coveted spot of lead flyer at the first expedition to Mars. They were broken up into teams and Aadi and Eirena are being attacked.
“Eirena! Damien’s coming at you! Turn around! Now!” Aadi warned as he turned in her direction and started running out of the water to try to help her.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Aadi heard Tacitus calmly state before he felt the tight grip of a lasso yoke him and then jerking him back into the water.
He let out a grunt as the suffocating rope tightened on his throat. Aadi fought to think clearly. I have to get this rope off my neck. He let the metal box fall, and the chain was still wrapped around his wrist. He struggled to fight to keep his balance. Then, he wormed his fingers between the rope and his neck and started to stand up as Tacitus stood behind him. Tacitus jerked the rope to force him back down onto his back.
Frustration filled him, and Aadi suddenly got angry. He quickly stood, twisted around, grabbed, and then pulled the rope. It jerked Tacitus within punching distance. He swung the metal box up into his hands against Tacitus’s arm with all his might. Tacitus lost the tight grip he had on the rope and Aadi. Without thought beyond the anger and determination he felt, he pulled the rope out of Tacitus’s hand. Aadi wanted this off his neck.
He put his hands through the loop and yanked the rope from his neck while he held the other end of the lasso in order to use it on Tacitus. Tacitus quickly recovered, and before Aadi could swing the lasso at him, he punched Aadi in the chest. Aadi went into flight and fell on his back in the water.
Aadi felt the cold water splash around his form-fitting helmet, and the sharpness of the impact caused him to see light between his eyes. He fought through the sensation and quickly jumped up to a squat. Determination hit him as the tingling sensation of adrenaline pumped through his blood. He felt a surge of anger as he jumped up to a fighting stance with the metal box in one hand and the rope in another. Aadi thought, I’ve got to bring him down. He knew that Tacitus wouldn’t let up, but neither would he.
Aadi then whipped the rope around to land a smack to Tacitus’s face and ran to slide across the water to build momentum to land a blow to Tacitus’s nose with his hand holding the metal box. He didn’t think but felt the rush of adrenaline before he delivered a failing blow to Tacitus’s nose. Tacitus’s head jerked back with a sharp turn to the side, only to snap back in place as he landed a blow to Aadi’s chest. A large gust of air burst from Aadi’s lungs with the blow as he slid back a few feet from where Tacitus stood. He was too focused on winning to let the sharp, piercing pain of the blow falter him. He wrapped the rope securely around his hand and swung the lasso with precision.
The lasso flew at Tacitus and snaked around his neck. Aadi charged at Tacitus, and with his hand wrapped around the metal box, he punched Tacitus with all the strength that the adrenaline rush gave him. It bought Tacitus to his knees, and Aadi sighed relief as Tacitus was a hard fighter – much harder than he would have ever anticipated.
Tacitus slowly turned his face toward Aadi. Aadi started to prepare to land the fatal blow. Then, Tacitus lifted his hand to catch Aadi’s hand that held the metal supply pack and said “Fun is over… this is mine.”
Tacitus jerked the rope that Aadi held with his left hand and pulled the metal supply pack off Aadi’s other hand, holding it firmly in his hand and with the metal box firmly in place. Tacitus returned Aadi’s look of frustration with a grin and used the metal box to land the fatal blow to his jaw.
Aadi thought, Duck, duck! But it was too late, as he saw darkness and felt a piercing pain on the left side of his head.
Aadi woke up to someone calling his name. “Aadi! Aadi!” Scott said as he shook Aadi’s arm. “Aadi, wake up! Wake up!”
“Ugh, man, my head hurts… bad!” Aadi said. He sat up and bent his knees, then put his hand to his head.
“Uh, Aadi? You do know you are out of the simulation?” Scott said, then put a hand on Aadi’s shoulder.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! Who is Eirena in there fighting? Damien and Tacitus both? She’ll never survive. They’re fighting dirty,” Aadi said and rushed to stand, He took a moment to balance himself on Scott’s shoulder.
“Well, it looks like she only has Damien to deal with. Tacitus is moving toward the last supply pack. However, I think she is still in for quite a battle,” Scott said.
“Aw, man! Why did I come out first? I really wanted to bring Damien down,” Aadi said. He finally got his equilibrium back and could stand on his own.
“Because Tacitus just wants to get it over with. Damien, though, just loves to drag out a fight,” Scott said and patted Aadi on the back. They both left the simulation area to view the big screen to watch the rest of the simulation play out.