Space to Breathe. Part 1.3

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I’m really out of shape, and more than a little beaten up, bits of me are starting to ache in ways I really don’t like. For the hundredth time I resolve to exercise more, all the time knowing it’s never going to happen, so instead I have a quick dig in the hastily stuffed bag for some painkillers and the bottle of water I know I threw in there, downing a couple quickly without coming to a stop.

‘You know you’re supposed to eat with those, you’ll get an ulcer’

‘Oh come on, seriously? That’s what you’re worried about? How about instead you tell me there is no other ground traffic or air traffic around instead and give me the peace of mind so I can stop and grab something vaguely edible to take with the pills?’

‘Sorry sugar, no can do, now if we looked at some active scanning upgrades, maybe I could give you a little something extra’

‘Never going to happen and you know it, that sort of upgrade leads to a whole bunch of other necessary shielding unless you want to cook my insides, additional power drainage leading to more upgrades and before you know it I’m a walking tin can, stick to passive receive and be done with it will you’ I huffed as I route marched.

‘Your funeral sugar, I’m sure you could really do with a few physical upgrades right now as well, a little fibre bundle support maybe, endorphin sub dermal injectors, a little endocrine support maybe….’

I know she was only messing around, but I was just not in the mood.

‘Ok, so let’s say I get those upgrades, and the next time I get thrown in a slammer for something I didn’t do, they decide to implant a limiter, or worse fry my system, how would you like that?’

‘No need to be snippy, I’m just saying is all, I suppose you could get by with a little more exercise instead, but then again my momma always told me not to swear in public’

‘Your momma was a half baked mainframe and you know it, now unless you have something constructive to add, I need all my breath for the not passing out thing if you don’t mind’

Yes, I know, unfair, she had just pulled my ass out of the fire, 4462 meters however felt like a really long way still to go.

The grassland was generally flat, but uneven, soft spots and depressions made the going tough and I was soon sweating, puffing, and struggling, but I needed to get to ground, and I needed it to be soon. The false breadcrumb trail was a stroke of genius and luck, which should make all the difference, but I am not one to take un-necessary chances if I don’t need to and staying out in the open near a downed stolen vehicle certainly falls into the category of ‘Risky’.

‘Hon, you need to take a rest, your heart rate and blood pressure are not looking good, I know I mock your fitness, but the passing out thing you mentioned, well, it’s not going to be far off if you don’t take it easy’

‘I….. know….. I….. just…… need…… Oh, who am I kidding’ I huffed and panted out in between breaths.

I found a nice and comfy depression without too many apparent rocks and dropped down on my backside, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears and the world swam alarmingly before my eyes. The distance counter showed a solid 2200m plus change still to go so I was over halfway, but my legs felt like jelly. I’m not in the best shape, I spend a chunk of my time in reduced gravity off world, I’m no youngster anymore, being a little north of 40, and while I’m not exactly overweight, I’m not exactly in peak condition either. I always hated physical training, I’m not a gym fan, no, I don’t lift, and about the only exercise I ever enjoyed was sword work, but I’ve not picked up a blade for a while, so I’m old, unfit, and now I’m feeling it to.

I grabbed the water bottle and took a mouthful, I didn’t want to burn through my stores, but I know all about staying hydrated to, I took the opportunity to look at my stash. Not the most impressive list of survival equipment.

An old first aid kit in faded green canvas, a quick skim through showed it to be intact, probably never even opened, so there are the usual plasters, antisptics, clean wipes, needles, analgesic sprays, etc, not bad, but no autodoc either. I’ve already raided the painkillers, but there are plenty left.

A nice little condensing water bottle, mostly full. Assuming I’m in an atmosphere with some free water, I’m not going to go thirsty at least. Battery flags up full as well so that should keep it going for months, but I’m not going to be showering anytime soon.

Meals Ready to Eat MRE emergency pack, all the good stuff already gone out of it, down to the emergency bars, someone must have forgotten their lunch more than once while out in the lifter and never replaced it, shoddy, but not exactly a shock. Gives me a good few days at least, probably a week or more to find some better stores.

Utility torch. Nice little find, inbuilt heater, torch, emergency micro plasma cutter, with pull out blade, wire saw and small tools, all about the size of my hand. Looks like the charge is good, and it has foldout recharge cells, in theory I can make just about anything I need using the tools in this little kit, in reality I’d rather have a full tool kit or fabricator, but this will be useful in a pinch.

Emergency pop shelter, now this is nice, still sealed. About the size of a pair of shoes, a bit bulky, but if I’m really screwed it self erects into a mobile habitat shelter with good insulation, air filtration, O2 and CO2 balancing. Worst case it will keep you alive even in hard vacuum, add the little heater in the torch and I have a genuine emergency survivable kit. Luxury! Hope I don’t need it.

Everything is nice and light, weight is always the bane of any form of flight, so lightweight composites all the way, which also means the pack is manageable. The pack itself has a few tricks up its sleeve as well, with inbuilt power storage and flexible recharge panels over the outside, reflective strips and built in emergency lights, none of which adds to the bulk or weight of the pack.

So in short I got food, water, and a few supplies for emergencies, I have a destination I’m heading for and a direction to get there, been a lot worse off than this more times then I like to think about.


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