A World in Slumber. Chapter 2. If I Had a Multi-converter…

Keio (9-K-O-512) 

Time: Dawn
Location: Continental ice shelf, unspecified
Suit functionality: Limited
Health: Somatic interface offline
Environmental factors: Somatic interface offline
Energy reserves: Somatic interface offline

At dawn, I’m awakened by the bitter freeze. So much for that energy accumulation – apparently the suit, too, is in a shabbier state than I suspected. I stick my arms out of the capsule and catch the first faint rays of daylight. I wish the damned thing would rise faster! It is too cold to even think, let alone act.

After what feels like forever, the daylight builds up and my suit captures enough energy to spare some warmth for me. Relieved, I stretch my whole body out into the light.

With my thinking processes mobilised again, I start to notice all that is wrong and lacking. Flashing pains pierce my body in chaotic waves and yet, I feel uncomfortably numb; grinding hunger pangs interject the all-consuming nausea. Sometimes my vision becomes so blurred that the grey ice fields and red-streaked skies blend into a bloody blob; then my eyes capture everything with an exhausting clarity: the scattered stripes of snow between the harsh permafrost mounds, the shadows of chasms and cavities underneath the ice, clear smooth patches of translucent teal, radiant reflections off the semi-molten heaps, and the horizon – undulating on and on with no end in sight…

As my suit’s accumulating the star’s energy, I gaze at its shimmering polygonal surface with envy. If I had an operational multi-converter, I could redirect some of that into boosting the blood-bots. Sure, I could not stay here long enough for a complete recovery, but at least I’d be able to walk away…

I feel myself gulping. If I had a multi-converter, I could use some of that daylight to synthesise carbohydrates. The mere thought makes my veins itch as if a bountiful nutri-injection was just a click away.

If only I had the means to process the carbon – it is right here, under my very nose. Because the local atmosphere is so rich! The orbital readings confirmed a very life-friendly, nitrogen-carbon-oxygen mix. Down here, I can even glimpse some pale cloud shreds above the distant horizon. With such amounts of oxygen and carbon, coupled with visible water condensation, there has to be a substantial biosphere present. Knowing this gives me hope that our mothership didn’t bring us here in vain.

By the way, I’ve noticed a curious regularity. This planet’s rotation seems to match our circadian rhythms rather well – the white star re-appears at similar times in regard to my natural resting period. I examine the vastness above – its hues of pale red have turned to bright blue when I wasn’t looking. ‘Blue air’ and ‘white star’ signifies life, we all knew as much on the ship.

On a gutsy whim, I pop my visor open and carefully inhale the raw, unfiltered air.
Instead of choking I find myself rejuvenated. Even the cold no longer bites, only makes me feel more awake. I breathe in with gusto and draw strength from the fresh air – despite not having any body-mods that enable additional atmo-synthesis.

With the cool breeze and tender starshine caressing me, I could stay like this forever.
But I must not! It is time to get moving.

I click my visor shut and push myself upright – my legs feel even more wobbly than yesterday – and I assess the cracks in the capsule’s ‘puter shell.

I’d formed a clear plan by the time I awoke. Such is the somno-training side effect: since our minds are being fed all the skills and knowledge while dormant, recalling that knowledge also works the best when we’re asleep. And so, my pre-sleep vague idea has clarified into specific instructions on how to break the capsule remains and turn its pieces into a sliding-board.
I throw my body weight against the cracked shell. The capsule bounces and creaks spitefully but holds together. I pick another bigger crack and hurl myself against the shell again. On my fifth try, I hit a weak spot and the shell crumbles into pieces.

Once I recover some from all the hard work, I sort through the shell fragments. I pick a curved piece that is large enough for me to comfortably sit on. I also set aside two thinner slivers, handy for pushing my vehicle along the ice.

I do not, however have any intention to work a smidgeon harder than I must. Nope! Instead I intend to harness the icy winds and make them drag my eggshell-chariot. This plan, too, clarified into a mental blueprint as I was sleeping.

I yank the emergency releases on the life-suit’s shoulders – a tiny explosion throws the lid off the back container and spreads the smart-fabric all around me. With great relief, I note that the capsule’s self-cannibalising protocol that fed the blood-bots’ emergency crunch has not reached the parachute and the fabric is in perfect working order.

I stick the tethers onto my vessel’s edge and shape the mist-thin shroud into a flying sail.
Another attempt to awaken the wrist terminal shows nothing but the same fluttering error message; no hope to find any landscape readings or navigation aid. I wouldn’t want the sail to carry me directionless, into the unknown, so I gather it in my lap for stand-by.

I cast one final glance to the capsule wreckage and push myself into motion – to the star-setting direction, towards the call of open water.