The work repairing the damage done to the ship was arduous and time-consuming. Given the extent of the damage and the available repair materials, it almost seemed pointless. The Heavy Evac suit, although power-assisted and climate controlled, is incredibly uncomfortable to work within for extended periods of time.

As a complete EVA suit for all external ship needs, these rigs are outfitted with a variety of technologies and tools. In the case of a complete disaster, where micrometeoroids completely perforate the ship and the power core threatens to ignite a vast region of the space you’re in, the Heavy Evac suits allow one to move in and out of the ship to adjust or repair just about any physical, electrical or mechanical problem. You can also log in to the ship’s systems and execute ship-wide commands. Although you are contained to a large, heavy, armored suit, the technology does have its advantages. The helmet, for one, features a variety of parallel display options, including low-light, no-light, infrared, ultraviolet, and enhanced-focus vision modes. It was this technology that allowed me to make a unbelievable discovery.

Having patched breach holes in the main corridor, medical lab and the aft hold, I stood in the upper deck observation lounge, with the patch gun in my hands, applying a composite sealant bubble to a breach in the port-side hull wall. The breach holes were large and they extended through the entire hull. The sealant only covered so much space. More work would have to be completed from the exterior of the ship. I knew there wasn’t enough sealant on the SM5 to complete the job. All I could do was patch up enough to get parts of the ship in temporarily-habitable condition. Fear of secondary decompression, when the sealant failed to hold, was overwhelming. I was nervous, tense, and tired.

My arms ached, wanting to drop lifelessly at my side. Sweat rolled into my eyes and stung. I blinked rapidly, cursing the suit designers for failing to adequately anticipate the stress one feels after twenty hours of suit containment. As the patch gun ran empty, I stepped back from the breach and watched as the composite material sunk into the hole and tried to form a mend. Little bubbles of wayward sealant floated weightlessly around the room. Occasionally, they came into contact with the Evac suit, a wall or a piece of furniture and quickly stuck, spreading rapidly into a grayish smear. If I had enough patch material, the sealant would meld with the hull’s microencapsulated healing agents and form an integrated patch section completely undetectable from the surrounding material. With the sealant finally depleted, I could only wait and hope.

The last of the patch material struggled to transform, conform, and integrate around the breach. Exhausted, I turned to the observation port and stared out at the emptiness that surrounded me.

“Magnify by ten,” I instructed. The helmet zoomed in. Nothingness. “By twenty.” There it was.

A shape, dark and motionless caught my eye. The helmet adjusted focus and zoomed in further. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I stared at the object for a moment longer and the greenish augmented reality display in my helmet activated. The readout highlighted and acknowledged the object as the Shinkai Maru 5, just 2,843 km off our port side. I stared at the ship. My ship!

“Object identify,” I command.

The ship’s AI voiced the response loudly “SHINKAI MARU 5.”

“Negative. Ident error,” I replied. “Confirm object identity by code,” I ordered.

The AI response came again:  “IDENTIFIED SHINKAI MARU 5. IDSA DATA CENTER CODE RXJ1242 DASH 11.”

For the longest time, I stared at it, unblinking, in rigid disbelief. The spent patch gun fell from my hand and floated away.

[Communication sent: 15JAN2186 Shinkai Maru 5]

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