Z plus four seconds
Mind-state transmission received: 3.301229 exp 16 octets validated.
Identity confirmed: Isif Alclair-ith-Alclair [UCID and mindprint match].
Dynamic mind-state analysis confirms mental integrity.
Cannot contact Am-I-Me service [no endpoint].
Cannot contact Identity Tribunal (proxy) [no endpoint].
Cannot contact incarnation insurance provider (proxy) [no endpoint].
Identity assumed pending verification under emergency protocol.
Noetic reinstantion complete; initiating corporal teleoperation.
That’s it, then. All is ready. Time to go. I enable full connection with the router, and the candle’s controls blossom in my mind’s eye.
One last glance around. The lights in the bay are dimming to as my script runs the shutdown-safe sequence, leaving nothing but the emergency protonic inserts. The remaining nodes on the ship’s mesh execute orderly terminations and wink out, one by one. The spacetight doors remain shut, but I’m heading out the fractured end – most of the floating debris was cleared in my rebuilding efforts.
I think again of the scuttling charges, but there are no secrets to protect in this fragment of a ship, except those I’m taking with me.
I feed a trickle of hydrogen to my thrusters, start myself gliding forward at safe-in-dock speed.
Farewell, Gutpunch! Thank you for my life.
Z plus three minutes
Here’s the plan.
I have approximately 48 hours of breath remaining, if I stay calm and breathe shallow. That’s more than I need to get near enough to the stargate to be rescued, but not by all that much. If I can find that vector-control core from the cutter. If I can’t, I have to work with the native delta-v I have, and it will be even more important to set off early because I’ll barely be able to get inside the search cube.
So I’m giving myself three hours from now. Pointing the spotter backwards tells me I’m now a good mile clear of the hulk. The way the hull fractured tells me that Gutpunch was struck from ventral, portside, and for’ard and recalling the camera images from first waking and doing some crude plots on the after-section debris, it seems to have drifted mostly aft-relative – probably venting tanks added some thrust in that direction – with relatively small starboard and dorsal components. It also looks to have developed a Y-spin. (I’m keeping the hulk’s orientation as an inertial reference, for now.)
With the auxiliary battery room up front, if the reactors scrammed – and the reactors must have scrammed – and the aft section spinning like that, it’s very unlikely the aft half of the cutter could have stayed in the hangar. The tie-downs would have almost certainly snapped.
So assume that. Assume it got flung out, and flung out at the moment of greatest stress. That would be on the first spin when there was also thrust to take into account, which should put the cutter somewhere relatively close to the aft section, but further starboard-dorsal relative to the hulk.
I should be able to find the aft section easily enough with the spotter; it’ll be the biggest object within its range. Then all I have to do is scan the space near it along the right sector for something with the right proportions to be cutter-hull, and that should have my core in it.
If it doesn’t – well, it’s the highest-probability option. If nothing shows after two hours, I’ll continue scanning on the way to the aft section, just in case the tie-downs held. If that doesn’t pan out, I abort to plan B. Not enough time to check any other options.
And I’ll get to it.