She clawed at me in ferocious anger. She ripped off my suit light and then, grabbing my shoulders, head-butted me. She was trying to break my helmet, I assumed. But she must not have realized how durable the plastic was. It was tougher than the armor on my chest.
She did it again, and her helmet fractured. I could see the look of horror on her face as rivulets of cracks spread out from the impact. Then her helmet shattered, pieces flying away from the internal air pressure escaping, as she died trying to suck down vacuum. Terror radiated from her frozen eyes.
Her suit light also blinked out.
I was in the most complete, stygian darkness I had ever experienced. I floated in the corridor. After fighting the woman and getting completely turned around, I had no idea which way was back to the central tunnel where Sheridan waited. I had no idea even where the walls were.
Then, I remembered my injury. I pulled out a patch from a pocket on my thigh and slapped it on the cut. That stopped the leakage of air but not the bleeding.
“Warning,” the suit’s computer said in a calm female voice, “internal pressure at 47.0 kilopascals with oxygen at 18.3 kilopascals.”
Damn, I thought. That was about one kilopascal of oxygen too low. I could survive at that level of oxygen, but there were effects, including mental abilities deteriorating due to hypoxia.
And to make matters worse: “Insufficient air pressure for air recycler to function,” the computer continued.
In other words, I only had the oxygen in my suit—which was already low—to survive on, and every breath I took used more and more of it.
By feel, I touched the radio control on my arm and switched back to the command frequency. I hated doing this, but my survival meant I had to. “Sergeant,” I said, “I need help.”
I repeated it. “Sergeant, I need help.”
Static hissed in my ears.
I was bleeding inside my suit and had no idea how bad it was. I was low on air and would soon feel the effects of hypoxia. I didn’t know how much oxygen I had left. It could be minutes or hours. And I was lost like I’d never been lost before.