Location: Amarian system - Saris Expanse
Thirty meters. ‘Suit toxin threshold exceeded. Secondary power cells online.’
Her boots aglow with repulsing energy, each step was agony. Her pace was slowing. The primary power source was exhausted.
Twenty meters. ‘Suit toxin levels are critical. Adrenaline boost deployed.’
The muscles in her legs bulged and tore, as she forced her way forwards through the crushing gravity. Blackness began to creep in from the edges of her vision.
Ten meters. ‘Suit toxin filter has been exhausted. Heart failure imminent.’
“I KNOW THAT!” she shouted.
Her skin was crawling. She was burning and freezing. Her sight had been reduced to mere pinpricks. The crushing weight of this world became a sound – deep – resonating – a slow, rolling boom.
Five meters. The HUD displayed a picture. ‘Dr. Zhang – you are very close. Zenith is waiting.’ She found a final reserve of strength. The door was open, beckoning, waiting.
The helmet visor began emitting sharp, beeping tones. The takeoff notification. Somehow, someway – she made it.
‘Ma’am, I am beginning surgery. Please remain calm – everything will be fine. I am setting a course for low-orbit. Zenith would be proud of you today.’
Her veins filled with ice. The anaesthesia always hit hard. Morpheus was calling her to his realm. The wild screeching of her various life support alarms dimmed. The muted sound was like a pack of howling wounded animals in the distance.
“I won’t die, Columbus. I’ll see you in the morning.” she heard someone whisper.
Liara Zhang slept. Columbus worked furiously. The enzyme had done significant damage to her heart. So much tissue was dead, and her legs had been nearly destroyed by her struggle through the crushing gravity. This one was going to be close.
‘I knew we weren’t ready for this system. I hereby name this godforsaken rock ‘Penance.’ She just never listens to better judgment…’ Although he lacked a proper body, Columbus was closer to Liara than anyone. He wouldn’t let her down here. Her recklessness kept them on the path – Zenith was waiting for them.