I woke up this morning – late, as usual. I gave the murky sunrise a disappointed glare and clambered out of bed, my body insisting that it couldn’t possibly be morning yet. The first few days of adjusting to down-time were always the worst and we hadn’t been here long enough for the planetary rhythms to take hold. A half-hearted wave at the light sensor instantly flipped the walls to max.
“Ow! Ow-ow-ow,” I hopped backwards clutching the toe I’d stubbed on the dresser as my body reacted to the unexpected flash. What was with this stupid colony? Dimmers couldn’t cost that much. No damage done, thankfully, and at least the adrenaline rush had chased away the last mists of sleep from my brain. With any luck we’d be done with this planet in a ten-day, which meant only four more days of pale watery sunlight and frontier technology. I had a feeling it was going to be a long four days.
”Actually John,” the metallic chime of the implant was a welcome reminder of the ship I’d left in orbit, ”Veratasian days are shorter so it’s technically only three and a quarter days.” Ship was still a young AI, and still delighted in showing off her abilities. Once she grew older, the joy of being able to outthink me would be replaced with an almost paternal condescension. Ah, youth.
“Eavesdropper,” I teased as I sorted through the coveralls I’d brought down. Aggressive genetic modification was messy work and for a moment I thought I’d already used the last clean set. Mucking about in the countryside smelling of day-old tetradon wasn’t going to help my camouflage any.
“Are too.” Uniform, check. Boots, check. I searched under the bed for the clip for the goggles. Only ComSec would make parts this easily lost this important to the gear. Locator beacons, I needed mouse-sized locator beacons.
“Am not! I was—“ Ship cut off abruptly and her echo in my head was replaced with an overwhelming stream of information. The implant shunted the flow into storage a nanosecond after it began, but I had already heard the frantic message that now pulsed out over a broadband alert.
” Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate. Incoming: Four Thunder class ships. ETA 05:15:67. Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate. This is not a drill… Evacuate. Evacuate–”
There was a silver echo of an apology as Ship was forced to jump from the system, her programming driving her towards the nearest Navy outpost. She’d bring help if she could, but that meant I was stuck planet-side until she got back. If she got back.
” Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate.”
Oh well, at least I wouldn’t be worrying about finding clean overalls any time soon. I grabbed the rest of my gear and headed out of the outpost. It was going to be a long week.