Lifeline by unknow

Lifeline by unknow

Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-05-06T16:00:00+00:00

Chapter 31

L-5—Day 39

Ramis felt regret the moment he Jumped from Orbitech 1. He knew the measured burst from the MMU added to his velocity, but he could not tell the difference. He was always bouncing from situation to situation, afraid to stay in one place too long. He always felt he had to show off, to take risks, to push himself to the edge.

The glaring metal hull of the industrial colony rushed away from him, rotating slowly around its axis. The weavewire trailed behind him, drawn out of its chamber on Orbitech l’s nonrotating section, dangling him like a lure on a long fishing line. This time he felt vulnerable and alone without the protective womb of Sarat around him.

Relax, he told himself. This journey would not be as long as his previous one. Depending on how much force he had used to push himself away from Orbitech 1 and the extra thrust from the MMU, it might take him six hours to cross the gap, or it might take a full day.

The Kibalchich looked so far away. It would be a long time before he would notice it growing any closer. He drifted with absolutely no sense of motion. The Soviet colony, Earth, the stars, even the gibbous section of the Moon, seemed to hang like props in a silent movie. The stars did not help; cold and bright, they peppered the vast darkness with an immovable reference frame.

Twisting his head around, but careful not to pull the weavewire across his MMU pack, Ramis assured himself that he was indeed receding from the American colony. The video camera on his chest would record everything he saw.

He tried to estimate how fast he was drifting. His depth perception grew worse the farther he moved away, making it harder to judge.

A voice from the Orbitech 1 control bay came over the link, answering the question before he could ask it. “We’ve got him at a velocity of four point eight meters per second—”

Ramis finished the calculation in his head: that was about seventeen kilometers per hour. Divide that into a hundred kilometers to the Kibalchich. The trip would take him six hours. Not as good as he’d hoped, but he couldn’t change now without jetting from his MMUs, and he needed to reserve the fuel there for corrections. For good or bad, his course had been set.

Ramis could hear Curtis Brahms and Karen speaking to each other. Karen wanted to remain outside for as long as possible, ostensibly to monitor the weavewire dispensing cavity. Ramis knew she felt as much urgency to get off the claustrophobic colony as Ramis did, but she didn’t seem willing to admit it to herself.

Ramis tuned out the radio chatter in his helmet, the babble of reassuring comments, good wishes, redundant instructions. He was by himself now, in control of everything in his own small environment. Despite the constant sensation of falling, he felt somehow at peace.

He let his arms and legs dangle loose. The closed environment of his suit felt huge and bulky, but not uncomfortable.


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