I was immersed and found shelter in solitude.
I put the bowl back on the table. The noodles tasted terrible. Last night they were still delicious, ok there they were also still warm. Cold noodles for breakfast, somehow that fit to this desolate and cold place. Not only outside on the moons surface it was cold, also in the outpost the temperatures were anything but comfortable.
I wanted to disappear from the scene for a while. Until some grass had grown over the thing with Enos, the killer satellite and the confiscation of the ‘White Rabbit’. I had managed to do that. No one would find me here anytime soon. I was far out, far away from the places where so much had happened. I had left my Star Runner on ‘Everus Harbor’ and had disappeared with my old Cutlass.
The activists on ‘Everus Harbor’ had given me the tip. The mining station on the moon Lyria was independent, fully automated and therefore without a crew. It was hidden in the icy mountains, an ideal shelter. During my stay, I could mine minerals on the moons surface and deposit them in the outpost. The owner, who was independent of the large corporations, would eventually pick them up and sell the minerals to the free peoples.
As desolate as this chunk of ice was, the light atmosphere was beautiful and fascinating. The ice on the moon’s surface shone in the light like the sparkle of a thousand mirrors. Geysers sprayed icy steam like cotton candy over the vents. I was fascinated and sometimes forgot to scan as I flew over the surface.
I was mainly looking for hadanites. It had been quite a while since I had been on Lyria and mined lots of Hadanite. But this time I had no luck. I flew and scanned, flew and scanned, and found nothing. The icy claws of the moon would not reveal the Hadanite. The shiny lump of ice offered me Dolivine and Aphorite, but I wasn’t interested in those.
After the dreary and cold breakfast, I got ready for the next mining excursion. In the room outside the airlock, I put on the appropriate equipment. Faint light came through the window. The star of Stanton had not yet risen above the hilltops. Outside the window I could see my Cutlass. It stood lonely and alone beside the building. The stern ramp was open. I must have forgotten to close it in the evening.
Before takeoff, I checked the ROC that was in the cargo hold of my Cutlass. Everything seemed to be ok. A new working day could start. Should I have more luck this time than on the other days? I paused for a moment and stroked my hand over the tire of the ROC. Finally, I went to the front of the Cutlass, climbed into the pilot’s seat, and took off into the sunrise. At least the light atmosphere on Lyria was again very impressive.
But the beauty of this moon was less and less able to cheer up my mood. Another day had passed. Frustration spread. The star of Stanton was already low above the horizon when I found a very large cluster of Dolivine. I struggled with myself. I didn’t want the stuff, but with the cluster I could half fill the cargo hold of the ROC. Better than flying on and just burning hydrogen in the engines.
I landed, opened the ramp and stepped onto the moon surface. To my surprise it was only -2 degrees Celsius. I don’t know how long I stood there. But the shadows of the rocks had already become much longer when I was still thinking whether I should dismantle the Dolivin. Finally I gave myself a jerk and kicked a small chunk of ice away with my foot. It was time to make some money.
It was long after dark by the time the Dolivin was in the ROC cargo box. I was on my way back to the Cutlass. The powerful headlights of the mining vehicle lit up the air. It looked as if the air itself was glowing. Fog had rolled in. It reflected the headlights. I wasn’t sure if I could see more with no lights.
After returning to the outpost, I spent another night in the cool building. I had stopped counting the nights. How long had I been here? I didn’t know. Neither did I know how the others were doing. Brubacker, Chhris, Kjeld, Root. What had happened in the meantime? I was completely cut off from the outside world. And that was good, at least for the moment.
The next day I was again with the Cutlass in search of Hadanite. And again, the view from the cockpit was more impressive than the scanner results. No Hadanite. Finally, I surrendered to the situation and began to enjoy the low-level flight over the icy surface of Lyria.
And then the unexpected happened. I found Hadanite. I could hardly believe it. It was like waking up from a dream. Just a moment ago my consciousness was rippling along like a gentle stream. And suddenly I was awake, active like a rushing river. After landing, I jumped into the ROC and pressed the button to start the engine. Nothing, quietly the lake rested. I shut down all systems and rebooted. The engine did not come to life. There I sat. The ROC stood motionless in the cargo hold of the Cutlass and outside Hadanite was waiting for me. I had the impression that the moon was mocking me.
I had no choice. I could not repair the ROC myself. I had to leave my icy hiding place. I did not want to go to a large outpost or to the landing zones on the planets. Also not on one of the large space stations. Too big was my fear to be tracked down. I flew to one of the smaller space stations. Away from the big trade routes. Far out, far away from the places where so much had happened.
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