The lands had not always been this way…dry and barren. The trail of sand he now followed had once been a swiftly flowing river, the cliffs around it covered with brush and trees. Birds and other animals had nested there. Now nothing did. Most of the animals were gone–there was no way for them to survive. The people were gone, too, forced further and further away from the place that had once been their home. Even the lands that still grew lush and green were shrinking by the year. Something had to be done to stop this slow death, which had all begun with a terrible mistake. The answer was here, where the blight had begun. And he was determined to find it…
But where was the facility that had developed Sky Shield? And how did the technology designers allow the system, that was to save the planet, to go so wrong? Aaron pondered these questions, and consulted the hand drawn map he had been given by “the Engineer.” How odd that electronics had been so relied on, that no accurate chart had ever been made of the facility’s position. “GPS is all we will need,” so the stories about it told, but that was before the Sky Shield itself cut off the satellite signals coming to the surface. But worse still, the Shield trapped in the planet’s warmth and pollution. Yes, no meteors would bombard the surface, nor did the great asteroid which the system was meant to deflect strike. Well, not head on. But how could they not have calculated that the huge object’s energy feedback would fry the Sky Shield’s own mainframes?
Then he saw it, a reflected glint of something metallic on the far side of the wadi. Was this the entrance he had been looking for?
Aaron approached the spot cautiously, and pulled the manual override key from the pouch which hung around his neck. It fit the lock perfectly, and there was a dry grinding click when he turned it. The door opened and he stepped into the gloom of a descending corridor. He lit a small lantern which was at his side and then proceeded. Nothing moved, no lights came on, the place was dead.
He came to another doorway, and pulled out the second mechanical key. This did not fit, so he fumbled for the only remaining object in his pouch. It did fit. He turned it and as he did the door opened. Stepping into the space beyond, there was a sudden hum and the overhead lights flickered. Happily, he set his lantern aside.
He approached the console labelled “Control,” and pushed aside the skeletal remains siting before it. He then once again drew out the second key. This time it fit. Turning it, a screen dimly came to life. It bore the words “System shut down. Do you wish to proceed?” He reached to the keyboard and typed “Yes.” Immediately, a countdown sequence appeared on the screen: “59:59,” it read, and Aaron scrambled back into the man-made desert and the hope of a new beginning.
FANTASY ART FRIDAY Though I prefer to write more classic fantasy, this prompt led me down a more Sci-Fi path. But in a pinch, wold building is world building.