Snakes and Pills

152 - white

Sadie heard the sound of rope unbraiding. She looked back along her support line, and about a meter behind her, she saw it. In real time, the failure only took a few seconds. For Sadie, the rope's breakdown from one cohesive unit into several weakened and ever-thinning strands took a lifetime.

Staring her inevitable demise in its face, she didn't see her life flash past her eyes. She did think about how she knew her weight would be beyond this singular support line's limits, but she had no other choice. Now, it seemed like everything would end the same way, regardless.

At least she had taken a chance.

The rope finally gave way with a snap, and Sadie was in a freefall. That was an odd feeling, altogether she felt free of gravity even though she was succumbing to it.

The sensation of weightlessness was short-lived, as she hit the water. Though it was liquid, the water might as well have been a brick wall at the speed Sadie was moving. She lost consciousness for a moment, but the pain brought her back quickly enough.

The impact was going to leave a bruise, she was certain. The only uncertainty was whether or not the bruise was to be left on a corpse floating in this pool, or if she would manage to pull her body out of it, alive.

Obviously, Sadie preferred the latter. So, through the pain, she pushed herself to the surface. She breached the top of the water with a labored gasp, sucking down as much air and as little water as possible.

Sadie couldn't afford to waste time enjoying the small victory of achieving stability at the surface. She tried to get her bearings, but looking up, she could hardly even see the rocky ledge she had just fallen from. She had no idea which direction to head in now, nor where she was.

The water was nearly boiling. She remembered something about this in the briefing she had received before heading to this place. The water in the caverns was superheated by the planet's core, or something to that effect. Sadie was no hydrothermologist. She did remember being told that it was impossible for anyone to survive more than a few minutes in the soup, though. Best to get a move on, and she pushed her aching body toward the nearest rocky shore she could see.

Nearing the water's edge, she suddenly saw a bright red beam impact the water a few meters to her side. They had found her already. She had hoped that her fall would at least throw them off her trail, but this was their planet, after all.

Sadie pulled her pistol from its holster at her waist, and scanned her surroundings in the direction the shot came from. She saw his glowing silver helmet, and took aim. This might be their planet, but even in a boiling-hot underground lake, she was still the better shot. One pull of the trigger, a scream of agony, and then for the moment, she was once again alone.

Finally, she reached the rocks, and pulled herself out of the broth. Not a moment too soon, either. Her heart was beating out of her chest and she could hardly breathe. She reholstered her pistol. Not bad, PrimaTech, she thought. They made one hell of a weapon, one that could be fully-submerged in scalding water and still function perfectly.

Sadie hoped the same could be said for the rest of her equipment. Without the sensors and communications array, she was never getting off this rock.

She had caught her breath. She needed to find cover, and got back on the move.


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