Before I opened my eyes, I understood what my gut had been telling me as I'd struggled for consciousness. The near lack of gravity had me understand I must be on a planetoid. My aching limbs told me I'd been unconscious for a while in my deep space suit, which supported the idea that I was not on a vessel. As if to confirm this line of thought, when I opened my eyes, I couldn't see anything. My faceplate was occluded. The implications in this data were hard to ignore.
When I tried to move my right arm, it seemed fixed in place. I grunted as I tried to slowly force it but didn't put all my strength into the attempt. My suit was encased in something; none of its limbs were free to move however free my body was within it. I simply had to stop to think.
The conclusion however reassuring was that despite the suit's integrity I'd eventually die if I truly could not make a move. Mulling over the small chance of making a grave error, I gave a violent shrug with my right shoulder as I twisted to the right, pulled in with my abdomen and up on my immobilized legs. Well, such was my first good move; my right shoulder was freed. I didn't rip anything open, cool. I kicked out my right leg, then the left. I bent forward to pull away from whatever it was I was stuck to. I moved to get up, stretch and knocked my helmet against something very hard. Put off balance I slowly fell back onto whatever it was I'd been stuck to sliding into a sitting position as I laughed. I didn't like using the suits multiplied strength against itself but I worked myself free of whatever had been holding me. I stood again, this time slowly reaching out like the blind man I was. I stretched my arms to work the elbow and wrist joints. I felt out my confines. I was in a small space - not bigger than a single's cabin on a fourth class deck. I was so sleep woozy and feeble I could hardly resist the gentle inertia. So having no better plan, I sat back down as I laughed some more. I recognized the symptoms of reviving from a deep one and let them roll.
When the giggles and sobriety returned I slid aside the inner shade of my faceplate - still no light or sky. I thought I must still be wrapped up in something. There were possibilities but I'd no facts. I sat. As my mind cleared a bit, I thought the simplest cause could be my helm lights weren't functioning. However, as I went for the switch, my trustworthy gut gave up me the butterflies so I forbore touching it. I had a bit of the wily willies and intuited against making any kind of electronic signal. Because, as I reached for that switch, in my mind's eye I recalled a gambling joint I was once at and a particularly unlikely though just as lucky hand I was dealt. This memory meant something. My intuition was telling I was playing with slim odds at best.
I went basic. I let a chemolumen indicator warm up. When I still saw nothing I figured my faceplate was occluded, probably by ice with some kind of metallic dust in it. I began swiping at my faceplate with my gloved hands. There was no improvement. Determined to get a look around, I worked at it for a while until I heard the squeaky sound like that cleaned porcelain. Still there was nothing to see, even though I knew my faceplate was cleared. The obvious became obvious to me; the dark darkness I was seeing was all there was to see. Therefore, I slowly stood up to look around. That's when I saw three small lights, seemingly an arm's length away yet as I moved toward them, my vision grew accustomed to the darkness. I saw they were actually stars. I watched as they slowly moved. Conclusion, I was in a very deep crag, probably on a small moonlet. So I had hopes: it could be I was orbiting a planet with my ship is nearby; concerns: where was the ship; why was I here playing hidey-seeky? I needed data.
I was still numb, my mind groggy. I'd put myself into a flash coma state, interesting. My suit's chronometer showed 16.20 hectas since mission start. The last time check couldn't have been more than half that. I was sure of this because I've a nervous habit of making a scratch on its crystal transslip whenever it changes up to a power of ten. I do such things to annoy the bots that check in the slips when they record away mission data. It forces them to analyze the slip manually or have human help. I get a laugh out of that. I'd swear, despite their denials, they get annoyed; anyway, the slip was still clean. On the face of these facts, I could worry if I'd a mind to. Reason being I couldn't help but conclude I had been trying to hide, not just because I was playing space hockey, or bluff and bluster. My effort had been extreme. I mean going coma, even I wouldn't do that for a bet, unless it was huge I mean, well, or a bit puff brained. The trouble is I didn't know from whom I'd concealed myself or why I'd done it in such a bang up fashion: shutting down systems, setting sleeper defaults then going coma. Then too there was the mystery how I'd arranged my "wake up call". I'd been alerted by the fact it was "quiet" outside, meaning no ship activity or searches going on. I was not a happy spacer. I didn't like waiting for my head to clear so I could figure a way to check my suit without giving myself away.
Until then, I decided I'd check my suit's mobility accurately. I found all of its flexojoints were impaired. I'd gotten out of the ice however the suit's movement was shy; I figured it to be 90% - nothing serious though it was noticeable. I couldn't account for it either. In space, one doesn't let the unknown sneak up. In space anytime you don't know why something is unusual, or seems wrong it is time to stop, think and figure it out, if you're lucky to have the time. At least I'd have time. I guessed I'd have to clean the guides and slip joints however I'd do it later. As I began to brush off the crust of ice chunks floated about me in this abyssal, rough recess.
First things first, I began a suit check since I'd been unconscious for perhaps at least 6 hectas. Get this, I'd to initialize the lasercrystal, LC, systems overlay in order to "quietly" access much of the vital systems of the suit. This really brought me up. The fact I had gone so far as to shut down the LC chilled me. I could no longer consider any scenario that was friendly. This meant I really had wanted to hide, that something untidy, no worse, wholly untoward, was up.
The LC overlay was powered by my body heat, the gas recyclers and ion sieves. The system was much more efficient than the mechanical and hardwired systems with their chips, wires and programs. I'd kept or put in those older systems because they were the ones I knew how to build, rework, repair, upgrade, strip or cannibalize as the need arose. However, in this situation, the LC overlay was the only one I dared use because it was silent both audibly inside the suit as well as to even the most amped up ship's scanners or sensor arrays. I'd had them installed, gizmo geek that I am, because they could function as long as I put out the heat and gas that ran their power converters. I'd meant them for a back up, now they were primary.
The good news was that the LC's prelims reported life support was good, my air was tight; I'd a full supply of water and an extra set of e-rations. This, in turn, brought to mind the concept of hunger. My stomach began a grow while I muttered about how a body could starve to death out here before being able to figure out just why I'd put myself under as I'd, upshot: no luxuries or niceties but I was alive, with no immediate threats apparent.
The best news, of course, was my suit had brought me back to consciousness after it registered whatever preconditions I'd set for it. God I loved the autodefaults I'd put into this suit. I'd trust them over a bot encrusted jobber any day. As I expected though, the operating by-systems were secured for silent running. Therefore, I ate a bit as I mused. My memory was still blissfully blank. I could still hope I had done something hair brained, though until I was sure I'd have to improvise to find out just what in Hades I'd gotten myself into this time.
Survival comes first. Trusting my forgotten reasoning, I assumed, for the moment, I wasn't in immediate danger. I chose to maintain silent running. I removed the log cassette and rigged it to an LC sensor display then rewound it by hand. I'd be able to play it back turning manually. There was no sense giving up the ghost now by powering up anything, which could give off a signal, however faint.
As I was setting this up, I noticed a brightening in the abyssal dark surrounding me. I looked over to where the starry field and saw a planet's beltway coming into view. I figured the planet they orbited was close to its sun because these rings were so bright. I was out of their plane, "above" them but only by a few hundred clicks so their reflected light let me see I was in a deep craggy hole for sure. I'd set myself into some ice or some such. Why? Well we'd find out soon enough, one way or another.
Nevertheless, beauty is beauty. I am one to moon over stellar attractions. I couldn't help but look at the unveiling vista as I wound the spool. The rings were richly variegated in color. They arced below the jet heavens they put me to mind of the morning bright smooth blanket of fog, which shrouded the estuary near where I was born on Terrestra. Throughout the colorful ribbons in the rings were twinkling spots. Using a spotter scope I could see these were moonlets probably not unlike the one I was on. They were set like a profusion of rocky islets showing above an illusory fog bank. Most glittered prismatically reflecting as if richly endowed with crystalline outcroppings. From my guess, their reflected light showed the system's sun was also a truly rare; it had to be a 1.3, a hot blue white solar unit. I was caught up speculating, until the giant planet itself slowly came into view; it was a typical gas giant which reminded me of the tasks at hand. Were it not for my situation this stunning vista would be a beauty so rare as to bring out the meditative souls song. I almost felt like saying the kind of thing some smarmy Barnum brained Ringling could mouth if they wanted to wrap this place up into a tourist trap, b'godfrey, b'jesus and b'goorah but that's not my thinking by gar. Besides, my circumstances were as suspect as my longevity was, perhaps, in doubt
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