Chapter 27:

Balance (Part Four)

From University Graduate to Soldier in an Interstellar Conflict: I Got Isekaied to an Alien World at War

I put down the ship. Moss, fungi and rocks came because of their descent, creating a mess all around us. Some remained stuck on the ship, but most were on the flat. Through full-body luminescence, the ship became a beacon of light – and I did the same. My suit had the same feature installed. From this, I can stitch the general layout to one where the base of the sinkhole led to a broader dead-end space about fifty metres high. To fly back up would be suicide with the aerial supremacy we would have no chance to oppose.Bookmark here

The Research Squad came out radiating to inspect the hull. Scratches were prominent and colour had deteriorated, but it held up. The boosters and weapons remained. However, they were in lesser condition. Remaining here would be the safest bet – to do otherwise wasn’t optimal.Bookmark here

A day had passed, and I was famished. All attempts to communicate outside was a failure. This also came with the realization that the opposite could not happen. That meant no Kawlt, or Bokels, or requesting for the Makupuu Ship Guard to break formation to come for us. We were alone. Doing it at short range was effective, showcasing how remote the underground can be. At least we can’t be tracked as easily in here – one less problem compared to the empty feeling of my stomach. This wasn’t a bother for the Makupuu for hunger was less required. Months could pass without a crumb touching their lips. They will be okay.Bookmark here

“Guys, I’m going to look for some food,” I say without facing them. My sights were on the path ahead.Bookmark here

“But the diet here should be incompatible with your palate,” says Fruisolp.Bookmark here

“I need to chow down on something. Anything.”Bookmark here

“You do exert a lot of energy using that suit.”Bookmark here

“And that’s why I need something to eat. Constant fuel is what keeps me going. Missing a meal out of the three I eat per day is detrimental. It doesn’t mean I can’t fight, but not being at top performance is a detriment.”Bookmark here

They were understanding in my plight. I was let off to find anything to eat even if my eyes reject it. Yes, my agony is that bad.Bookmark here

While scanning my surroundings for something edible, I notice the fungi were one of two types: spongy with holes and those like puffy loofahs. I pick and place them in the empty chest I carried. This could’ve been dangerous if I didn’t have my protective armour. The impacts of this contact could be crippling or fatal. If they were found to be safe to eat, they were going to get a good roast. The smoke from the imaginary fire that has yet to be started will give it such an exquisite flavour.Bookmark here

Stuffing my chest with them proved to be a wise decision. Following the path for what felt like an hour gave no other organisms worth eating – to which there wasn’t much. Moss and fungi. Moss and fungi. Outside of these two, it was barren.Bookmark here

There were no Gloup to hunt. I hated this thought. Not because I had genuine sympathy for them – as I said before, they are my frenemies. It was because the flesh of those I ate was horrible. Survival of the fittest didn’t apply when you tasted like rotting fish, no matter how many types they offered me. I was given their dead brothers on a silver platter and I spat them out. They were not worth consuming.Bookmark here

Even with this, I got a good bounty. With the one-track nature of the pathway, all I have to do is turn to return where I started.Bookmark here

As I was walking back, whispers appeared behind me. I turn back to see who’s there. Taking some steps forward revealed nothing. I call for it to see if it would respond.Bookmark here

Still silence.Bookmark here

I must be going crazy. That had to be the reason.Bookmark here

Then another sound: the pitter-patter of footsteps. That’s what it sounds like to me, at least.Bookmark here

I try to rationalize who it could be, but that leaves me blank. Fruislop, Waityuix, Haibul, Delume, nor Braltui could be doing this. It’s a lifeform unknown, most likely a Gloup.Bookmark here

I put down my fungi-laden chest and get out my pincers. To go any further would cause the collapse of the cave system. Putting the research squad at risk is the last thing I would do.Bookmark here

Getting into stance, I wait for it to come. Tension beats my heart and concentration numbs my head. However, I remain upright with eyes wide open.Bookmark here

A blur sweeps my legs, felling me to the ground. That moment where I stared into the air, my body was stepped on not in an authoritative way, but more hectic, as if it wanted to flee.Bookmark here

I get up and look in the direction its feet ran over me but it went as fast as it came. There were small dents all over me. My shin, hips, arms, abdomen and head were victims. Them being a threat wasn’t a worry for my HUD states that I am fine. Fear has been abated.Bookmark here

The crate of fungi had spilt over, scattering them. Some were squished, but the majority were unharmed. I work fast to put them back in, and once I was done, I went back to where the Tenkep Research Squad waited.Bookmark here

“Can you examine this?” I pop open the chest for them to test one. They take a sample of both fungi to determine if they were safe to eat.Bookmark here

I crossed my fingers. It would be sad to throw away what seemed to be good food. The chunk was placed into a capsule, sealing itself and generating a display on its exterior that had a basic two-dimensional diagram of the human body and a line that separated it from the results to its right.Bookmark here

Crunching the data produced the final list of carbohydrates and sugars for the spongy one with holes. It lacked any other nutritional value. Fats, vitamins and minerals did not appear. While there were nutrients like funa, jono, yexili and kapist and minerals that remain a mystery besides entholum and margess - all beneficial in small quantities - it was for the best they weren’t plentiful.Bookmark here

The other had an incomprehensible number of substances that would deter consumption. If you can’t pronounce them, they shouldn’t be your dinner. The many question marks did not assure its safety.Bookmark here

Dinner is finalized. We just have to cook them. Placing flammable materials inside a container and igniting them with a laser failed because of the dampness of the space. We went more direct, passing the laser over most of the fungi on the top layer.Bookmark here

I was eager to have it on my tongue to gather its taste, but my feeding tube was missing. This frustrated me, but this faded when Haibul handed me a tube.Bookmark here

They gathered beside me, taking their share. I was told that while they didn’t need it, the extra energy would be valuable in finding a way to get out together.Bookmark here

It was a peaceful and happy time. We took the chest inside the ship and had a feast. They already had tested that it was safe for them to eat, so my concerns dissipated.Bookmark here

But theirs weren’t when I informed them of the lifeform that attacked me. I show them the dents, and the vibe shifted to an anxious one. We decided they will keep watch while I sleep. They don’t need that much rest. They could’ve pressed ahead during that time but they would rather for us to all be there when we escape. With Delume, Fruisolp, Braltui, Waityuix and Haibul all watching over me, it makes me feel special.Bookmark here

This is a friendship in the truest sense of the word. Beings like them a million miles away from home are irreplaceable.Bookmark here

Deciding to sleep upright to avoid being stepped on for a second time, I can catch lots of sleep until morning. With this, I bid myself good night. Bookmark here

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