I didn’t want to move. I felt strangely safe, spread out across the surface of the ship, tethered to a couple of vents. I was breathing heavy, gasping. My heart rate was elevated. Stinging sweat rolled into my eyes and blood was still pouring from my mouth. I lifted my helmet and glanced around, checking my location. The helmet display was blood spattered, nearly unusable, but from the impact site to this location, I knew that I was still starboard. I could make it to the crew airlock from this position. I estimated a distance of forty-five meters.

Get up.

How much air was in the reserve tank? Thirty minutes max? I tried to guess how much time had elapsed since I switched tanks. Fifteen? Twenty? I had to slow my breathing down. I had to get inside the ship and out of this wrecked Evac suit.

Move!

I gripped the line from the safety tether assembly tight and moved my left knee forward. I couldn’t get to my feet. My right knee and leg were locked, seized in an expanded pressure containment blister.

For the most part, these suits can sustain crippling damage and remain puncture resistant. The greatest fear, in regard to suit damage, is always breach and decompression. Where my right knee joint struck the side of the ship, it didn’t hit hard enough to compromise the integrity of the suit, but the impact sensor units detonated the inflatable decompression prevention bags nonetheless. This is a common Occupant Protection System meant to cushion violent impacts and seal potential suit punctures. The suit engineering jockeys back at JAXA refer to these components as “smack packs.” They work well at keeping Evac occupants alive, even if it means hampering mobility.

Focus!

The helmet display went dark again. No more systems updates would be available. No way to tell if suit systems bordered on complete failure. The lone headlamp flickered more erratically. I felt that the worst was about to happen. I had to get inside.

Crawl!

Using the hooks from the safety tether to secure my every movement, I crawled slowly toward the outer hatchway to the crew airlock. As I made my way, meter by meter across the surface of the ship, I wondered what I would find on the inside. If Spegg or… someone else was in the interior the ship, I had certainly spoiled my chances for a surprise entrance.

My chest ached. I was sweating profusely. My arms felt like lead weights. But, soon enough, I found the hatchway. From the exterior, it’s a nearly-seamless oval shape with a small port. Since there was damage to suit communications and the AI link was unresponsive, I couldn’t call for assistance with the hatchway. I had to manually open the ship from the exterior through the hatchway controls access panel. Working quickly, I began dialing in a manual override sequence. After the override was accepted, I could vent the interior and push the hatchway back. Breathing became suddenly difficult. The reserve tank was nearly depleted. I worked quickly. Almost there.

As the vents evacuated any atmosphere inside the airlock, I found myself staring through the port, past the airlock and through the monitoring port on the opposite side. I could see into the aft end of the ship. Something was wrong. Horribly wrong. The interior color… it was… green?

[Communication sent: 23JAN2186 Shinkai Maru 5]

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