Panic rising like a silent tide, from the nausea in her stomach through her ribcage, permeating her diaphragm, her ribs, her lungs, her oesophagus, her jaw: it came. Trapped. Trying to escape a group of space soldiers sent to this station to terminate her crew. Now, stuck in a metal coffin.
Her thoughts seemed simultaneously racing and sluggish. What could she do if she could do nothing? There was no one else left on the station. The entire ship hummed only with baseline reverberations as it had done since the dawn of DRK3044’s time.
Suddenly, she relaxed. Panic protocol. The adrenal glands had shorted out as they were programmed to do and dopamine flooded her system. She felt good. This was not a problem. Sliding her hand down the left side of her body, she pulled out the special services DRK advanced issue multi-tool and began clicking parts into place, one handed, close to her chest. She’d be out of this hole in approximately eight minutes, give or take. And assuming she calculated correctly, it wouldn’t matter that she didn’t know which way the floor was.
Twelve minutes later, reinforced rubber soles padding softly back up to the bridge, something stopped her. Visual input processed nonchalantly by her brain caught only by some kind of warning loop, she ceased to stride, and wondered why. She turned her head, slowly scrutinising the way she had just come. Everything looked normal. It wasn’t. A section of the wall looked… wrong. Like a thin veil of something intangibly and quietly effervescent coated it. It glistened and moved ever so slightly in a way she had never seen before. It had been a refraction, a tiny splinter of light, shoulder height, that had caught her eye before.
The girl’s mind was utterly blank. Had she smacked her parietal lobe on impact with the hold’s floor? Hardock at ACIU would have her decommissioned immediately if she presented with any symptoms of mechanical fatigue. She moved closer to the lightly glistening surface of the abnormal section of wall. Her face was centimetres from it, but the shimmering whatever-it-was showed no change. DRK3044 wondered if it would have registered any difference had there been heat emanating from her skin, as real human bodies had once done.
She blinked, and walked on. There was work to be done.