Across The Universe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Chapter 15 (v.1) - 15

Submitted: June 15, 2018

Reads: 73

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Submitted: June 15, 2018



Daisy's countdown had failed as well, and her in panic she had pulled her chord too soon, unaware of how much time had really gone by.


As the others fell from the sky, they drifted on the winds, their course vastly changed from the original plans.


Max had passed out but from what, she couldn't divine at the present moment, but she kept herself wrapped tightly around him, her legs locked around his own.  She wanted to know whether she had killed him with the kick, but she wouldn't know until they landed.  She would just presume he was unconscious, refusing to release the precious cargo in her grip.


On the distant horizon, she saw the second shuttle fall, and she was still at least a mile from the ground it seemed.  She had been in the air for nearly seventeen minutes.  Daisy wondered if that was some sort of record.


She ignored the light that was static now instead of flashing.  She knew what it read; system failure.  She felt the heater stop working when they were strapped to the shuttle, the little fan stuttering and then eventually stopping.  She also felt her oxygen system ceased to pump air to her.  At least she didn't needed it.


Out of range, she wouldn't be able to contact the others, but she would be visible to them with her bright blue parachute, so she hoped that they were tracking them.  When they landed, she would stay put for a day, maybe a day and a half depending how far they drifted.  If they didn't come for them by that point, they would begin walking back to the landing site.


With her arms full of Max, Daisy was unable to steer so she continued to speak to herself, seeking out landmarks while explaining her situation and Max's state, hoping that someone on the ground heard her.  Occasionally she would speak to Max, but she believed his radio had been damaged in the fall.


When she could make out the details of the ground, Daisy squeezed Max tighter, worrying about how she was going to land them safely when she didn't have her feet free.  She didn't need to worry; a gust of wind hit them, sending them flying backwards.  As they touched ground, Max's heels bounced off the sand as the wind dragged them along, depositing them both in a shallow vein of water. 


Struggling, Daisy clumsily grabbed Max's arm and floundered out of the water.  On land, she hit a button on her sleeve, releasing the parachute, which fluttered a short distance away before catching on an outcrop of rocks.


She hauled on Max's arms, dragging him further of the water, then began to take her helmet off.  Unfortunately, she had been right; there were things that the drones had been unable to sense, and one of those things was gases that didn't exist on Earth.  The atmosphere hit her hard, and Daisy gasped, feeling like she was inhaling liquid nitrogen.  Unable to breathe, she grabbed her throat even as she stopped breathing, the poison already in her body.  But her body, already so used to conquering challenges began to analyze this new intruder, ripping it apart as it learned to metabolize it.


Waking from a black out she didn't know had struck, Daisy levered herself up, removing her suit as if she didn't remember nearly suffocating a moment ago.  She had more pressing matters than to feel sorry for herself.


Ripping out her oxygenator, she quickly scanned it for the flaw, seeing that a wire filament had been forced into the main valve.  She eased it out, and sighed as the motor began to work again.  She removed a length of tube and replaced it in the output valve, before setting it beside her as she turned her attention to Max.


Working fast, she removed his helmet and covered his nose and mouth with her bare hand, closing her eyes as she felt for the barest trace of movement.  There it was, just barely warming her hand.  She turned on her oxygenator and shoved the tube into his mouth, closing his lips around it and pinching his nose shut, before opening his suit and feeling for broken bones.  Gently, Daisy eased him out of his suit, checking every square inch of him as she went along.  She saw the injuries on his arm, the flesh peeled back where he had been exposed to the freezing exosphere.  The meat beneath it looked frostbitten and ugly.


Daisy took off her shirt and tore it to strips with her teeth, using them to wrap his arm up before she examined the rest of him.  His body seemed alright, so she ran her hands over his head to feel for swelling before opening his eyes to check his pupils.  Thankfully, they were responsive.  She decided she would give him ten minutes before attempting to wake him.  He had gone through something traumatic, perhaps he just needed a bit of rest.


She turned her attentions back to her suit and removed her radio, holding it high, hoping for a signal, but there was none.  She removed Max's radio as well, cutting her fingers on the scattered housing.  She presumed that it must have happened when he wrenched the metal arm off of her.


Taking it apart, she stole components from his to make her own stronger.  Together, they didn't need more than one radio, anyway.


Clicking her radio on again, she took a deep breath, waiting to hear a sign that there was still someone listening on the other end.  There was nothing but silence.


"This is Dr. Darian Mercutio," she said in a firm, clear voice.  "There was an incident involving disembarkment, and both myself and Max Vereshchagin have had system failures.  We were forced to land together.  Engineer Vereshchagin has lost consciousness and has sustained a severe injury." She swallowed.  "If anyone can hear me, please respond."  Waiting a long time, Daisy felt a sinking feeling with each passing second that there was no crackle, nothing to show someone had heard.  They were too fair out of range.


Leaning down, Daisy opened his coveralls and lifted his shirt, looking for bruising to tell her if he had internal bleeding.  "Max, if you can hear me, just know I'm just checking to see if you're alright, yes?  I'm not trying anything funny," she told him, and pulled the coveralls lower before gently sticking her hand between his legs, slipping her hand under his rear.  Pulling it away, she was relieved to see no sign of blood.


Sitting back, she took a deep breath, looking up at the bright sky.  The way the light filtered to Terra Mage, it was impossible to see Solas. 


It was hot, and it was just the morning.  She could feel her skin crawling with the heat, the sand hot enough to burn her when she touched it.  Another few hours and they would be dying of dehydration.


Looking at the pool, Daisy went over and sank her helmet in it, gathering water in it.  She held it up to the light and then gave it a cursory sniff.  As scientific as this was, it told her nothing.  Sighing, she extended her pinkie and submerged it in the liquid, greatly relieved when it didn't melt the flesh from her bones.  Taking a greater risk, she touched her pinkie to her tongue, but it didn't hurt her that way either.  She dumped out her helmet and waited for the ten minutes to be over.  When he woke up, she'd try the water.  She figured it would be best if he was at least conscious before she risked poisoning herself completely.


Setting a rock in the sand, Daisy tried to divine the planet's north but the sun.  She had the basic idea of what time it was, she might be off by a few minutes, but not by hours.  By this method, she figured that they had gone too far north-west, and the team was far beyond them.


There was a large rock not far away.  She could use it to see if she could find the landing sight, but that too would have to wait for Max to regain consciousness.


His time was up.  Gently, she spoke to him, moving his uninjured arm to jar him into the real world.  At first it was a small reflex, then Max felt the tube in his mouth and began to freak out, choking on it.  He pulled it out, holding Daisy at arms-length, to do so.  Wincing, he felt the burn on his arm, and he looked at the bandage that protected it from the elements.  It took him a moment, but sitting back on his heels, Max knew what happened where they were.


"The air's difficult to breathe," she told him, and he nodded.  "I thought you could do with the extra oxygen."  Max ran his tongue around his teeth, trying to get rid of the taste.


"Thanks for the concern," he said hoarsely.  "Do you know where we are?  Do they know where we are?" 


Daisy updated him to the best of her abilities, pointing to the general direction she believed the others to be.  Max gestured to her snagged chute, then touched his packed one.  "Those are bright, it's going to catch their eye from miles away," he told her.


"Just as I thought," she assured.  "But we will die if we don't get some shelter, and if that doesn't kill us, the lack of food will."


Max gave her a thumb's up.  "As cheerful as always," he told her.  "So, we stay a day, like you said, then we start walking."


"If you're up to it," Daisy said, then frowned.  "You went through an awful lot, if you're not up to it, we can wait for them."


Max glanced at her.  "How long do you think before we will die of exposure?"  He asked.


Daisy scanned the sky, touching the scorching sand experimentally.  "A few days at the most," she told him.  "That's if the water isn't poisonous to us, and we can make appropriate shelter in the meantime."


Max leaned to the side, looking around her at the rocky outcrop that snagged the parachute.  "That might be a safe place," he said.  "We can use the chute as a canopy."


"Well, I don't know what else we would use," Daisy said, leaning on her fist, giving him a look.


"Fine, it was stupid to say," he said, taking a deep breath.  It was like trying to breath soldering fumes, leaving a bitter scorched taste on his tongue.  "I'll drink the water.  That way if it's poisonous it'll kill me instead."


"I really don't appreciate old fashioned notions," Daisy told him.


"I was thinking because I'm already hurt," Max corrected her.


"That's still an old fashioned notion, just a particularly insidious one," she told him.  "You said you weren't hurt that badly, so it really doesn't-"


"How easy do you think it is for something like this to get infected?"  Max asked, casting her a sidelong glance.  "And, no offense, but what you wrapped it with isn't exactly sterile."  he held up his hand.  "I know it's what we had on hand, but infection sets in quick, right?  There's nothing to treat it, and there's no way to amputate, that is presuming we have a way to stop the bleeding.  That's a lot of surface area that got damaged, that's all I'm saying."


Daisy looked at her helmet.  "Do you want to settle this?"  She asked, cocking her head.  "We both drink.  That way we know, that way it's fair and there's no more of this nonsense of who is better off dead, yes?"


"That makes sense, that way we can both suffer, if it just makes people sick, we can be ill together," he said sarcastically.


"Either way, we'll die," she stated, getting up.  "It doesn't seem to be damaging topically, so we can hope that it won't hurt us."  She sunk her helmet again, pulling out as she went back to where he sat.  She knelt in front of him, the water between them, waiting for his move.


"This is a bad idea," he told her, watching her dunk her hand in.


"What choice do we have, really?"  She asked.  "Any which way, we're going to start dying of dehydration soon, wouldn't you rather know?  Besides, if it does kill us, we can pray that it kills us faster than dry up in the sun."


"You could still-"  Daisy pointed at him to stop him from arguing that it was better for him to risk it.  He moved closer, putting his hand in the water as well, the shock of the coldness sending a shiver through him.


"Ready?"  Daisy asked, withdrawing her hand, the liquid in her palm glinting prettily in the light.


Max did the same.  "You're an idiot," he told her, and she smiled at him.


"See?  I told you, you would eventually figure that out," she said, raising her hand to her mouth.


Max did as well.  The liquid soothing on his dry tongue.  He opened his eyes and looked at her.  It tasted like clean water, only slightly salty.  "How long before we know?"  He asked, as she got to her feet.


"However long it takes," Daisy answered, offering her hand.  "If they don't come within radio range tomorrow, do you think you can walk?"


"It was my arm, not my leg," he told her, grunting as she pulled him to his feet.  "I think I can do it, just as long as I don't have to carry anything heavy."


Leaving the suits, they went over to the outcrop, stepping carefully around the jagged points sticking up around it.  Without thinking, Daisy kept an hand on his elbow to keep him steady as they worked their way out to the parachute.  About twenty feet up, they reached it, finding an a small cavern beneath it.  After a few moments, it was decided that it was too small and shallow for their needs, so the untangled the chute, wrestling  into a manageable bundle.


Insisting that Max rest, Daisy scouted around the outcrop, searching for something before finding a 'V' shaped sheltered area hidden almost behind it.  She came back for him, leading the way up and into it.  They tied the chute onto the rocks for a roof, then went back to get the suits.


"I'm sorry for kicking you," Daisy said, wondering if they should just leave the suits were they lay and bring back the radio.  Looking at the sky again, she decided it was pointless to carry them back.  They just take the parachute for warmth if the night got cold.


"Why did you, anyway?"  Max said, moving his hand to the radio instead of his suit as Daisy advised.


"You were pulling us off course and making us spin," she explained, shouldering his pack.  "I had to get you off of me.  Sorry."


Max looked at her a moment, then shrugged.  "Well, you saved me, so it worked out, didn't it?"  He said, before noticing movement behind her.  Startled, he jumped, and Daisy whipped around to see what was wrong.


There stood a creature that Max's frame reference stopped at saiga.  It looked like a saiga, only as big as a horse, and with oddly bird-like feet with the exception of the missing back toe.  It's weird tapir-like nose wiggled in their direction before taking a step towards them, its toes closing together as it lifted its foot.


"What do you know about taxonomy?"  Daisy asked quietly, staring at its feet.


"I can tell a cat from a dog, and that's about as fine-tuned as it is," he told her.


"So, you wouldn't be able to guess whether it's herbivore or carnivore?"  She asked, moving back as it came closer.


He told her what it looked like, though he couldn't help focusing on the scar on the middle of its face.  It went from the middle of its nose all the way to the middle of its forehead.  It was too clean for it to have happened naturally.  "That creature, on Earth, eats vegetation, but I don't know," he flinched as it took another step.  "But, it wouldn't know we're predators, would it?  We're just something new, right?"


The creature wiggled its nose at them, the nostrils going at different times.  It gave its head a shake, as if it was thinking about something, then its face split up the middle and to the side, the strips of flesh peeled aside to show a star-shaped mouth with rows of dagger sharp fangs that were hooked inward.


"Holy fuck!"  Max swore, stumbling back.  Daisy's action was a little more productive; she had picked up her helmet and chucked it at the thing, shouting at it, and stomping her feet as she waved her arms around.


"Piss off!"  She screamed after it.  Panting, she looked at.  "Well, I think with those teeth, we can safely say that it's carnivorous."  They stared at each other a moment before laughing.


"It had to be this planet," Max said, hugging his sore arm to his chest.


Daisy rested her hand on his back.  "Well, think of it this way; at least we know that this world can harbour life," she told him.

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