by Christopher W Gamsby
Life changing events have a strange way of occurring when we aren't expecting anything out of the ordinary. In fact I met my travel companion and best friend when I was 16 HPY and just wondering around my home world of Perfection. I was too young to have a profession, but old enough to feel wanderlust pulling me from my home colony of Homestead. One day I was wandering through the colony and noticed a small group of ships flying north toward the area's main trading hub.
I decided to follow their path and within a few hours I was approaching the Cactus Forest. Perfection is technically a desert planet because there is no standing water and it rarely rains. The atmosphere's density is so low that a lot of evaporated water can stay suspended in the air before it reaches saturation and rain begins to fall and so there vegetation covers most of Perfection's surface despite being a desert. The local vegetation evolved to collect that water from the air instead of relying on rain or ponds. Forests were made of multi-pronged cacti, hooked grass, broad mushrooms, bubble bushes, and clovers as tall as my knee.
I marched through rocky outcrops in an unnamed section of desert as I approached the Cactus Forest. The ground was a strange patchwork of pocked golden rock encircled by a ring of turquoise and black bedrock resting in a sea of ashen sand. Three meter tall lichen covered stone pillars dotted the expanse between the mountain peaks. The pillars made a suitable post to stand on and extend your view into the desert just a little further and so I jet-packed atop the tallest rock and peered toward the horizon.
The mountains flanking the strip of desert I crossed created a natural walking route. The mountains were a rusted red marbled with a light cork brown. Large deposits of luminescent gold occasionally crested over the mountain's ridges, but I didn't need to haul around metal and wasn't keen on the idea of spending time mining. In the distance I could barely make out the yellow-green tips of the forest's tallest cacti. I jumped from my perch and splashed into the sand below. Excitement propelled my steps faster and further and in no time I arrived at the forest's entrance.
A welcome mat of lime green serrated grass mixed with olive green hook grass spread from the forest's doorstep and extended through the entrance and into a new valley. The serrated grass brushed my shin and tickled my exosuit. Despite the sharp name, the serrated grass was light and soft. The hooked grass rose to my knee. I touched one's hooked end and it shattered and seeds scattered into the wind. Dull fire brick drum cacti rested in the grass and I approached one.
I bent over and put my hand on one the cactus quills and my exosuit's HUD lightly blinked red to indicate there was currently no damage, but I needed caution. Wild fauna cut a natural path through the grass which I followed until the skyline stopped me in my tracks. Blood red pronged cactus framed the Empty Darkness hanging in a marian blue sky. I stood staring at what remains to this day one of my fondest memories and views on Perfection.
While I stayed staring at the sky I heard a rustle near a massive cream colored clover with orange veins striped around its leaves. I moved to the clovers and examined the spherical green foliage that created a mat on the ground. I moved a clover nearly the size of my upper body and startled a young Krovax resting on the bubble bush. He stared at the Empty Darkness in the distance. At first it seemed threatened, but then it calmed after it concluded that I wasn't a threat. I plopped down in the foliage next to it and looked up at the sky. I rested my feet on a rock and we quietly watched the setting planet.