My pod has sustained critical damage; navigation systems inoperable. I reflexively vomit in the surrounding fluid as I manually remove breathing and feeding tubes from my throat and nose; the slithering sensation of them from the inside out always foreign to my senses. I get one final assessment from Aura before having her release the umbilicals attached to the base of my skull and spine.
I take a deep breath.
My pod cracks, the metal bending along several seams, as it splashes down, the intense heat of the atmospheric entry dissipating as so much steam upon hitting this ocean. I sear my skin, the pungent smell filling my nostrils as I struggle to be free from this sinking coffin.
I am stuck.
Deeper and deeper the pod sinks, dragging me to my watery grave. Even light eventually cannot escape, and I am blind, my arms flailing about in slow motion, desperately reaching out for salvation … and finding it.
My hands grasps tightly around something I cannot see. I feel waves of pressure roll over me, feel the strength of the creature. My other hand secures itself, and I hold on for all I have; my pod and this creature in a mortal tug of war. I am the rope.
My body bends, threatening to break, but at last I spring free of the capsule, still bound by the strength of my arms and my will to this mysterious creature.
My lungs threaten to burst, and I need to breathe in air more than anything else I have ever wanted, but I know if I do, it will be my death.
The creature pushes forward suddenly, and I nearly lose my grip. Still I cannot see. I can only pray the creature is moving towards the surface, towards the light, towards life.
Minutes pass, my lungs afire. I can feel myself slipping. Even in the blackness, I can see spots before my eyes, and know I do not have much time left. Pressure is building, crushing me from the inside, as my lungs build up pressure from the inside.
The creature is plunging deeper. I panic and let go.
I feel myself slow, no longer accelerated by the incredible speed of the creature. I float, no indication of which way is up, which way I would swim to if my arms and legs were responding. They aren’t.
I can feel myself sinking.
I have many regrets from my lives, not of things I have done, but rather of things I have not done, things I have not said. Mynxee.
The murky depths continue to crush me, threatening to end of my life more quickly than lack of oxygen will.
I am blinded by a light so intense it burns my retinas. I am falling. At least that is what it feels like. I open my mouth to chance a breath and only succeed in sucking in water, making my situation even more perilous.
I see humanoid figures coming towards me, silhouetted against the bright light. I raise my arm to shield my eyes, trying to get a better look.
They grasp at me, holding onto my arms, and I feel a surge of motion once again.
One of them holds my face gently, kissing me, breathing oxygen into my lungs. My life is saved, if only for the moment.
The light fades to a more manageable daylight, and I can see a beautiful city far below, growing in the distance.
My saviours are more clear to my eyes now, they are human, but with fishtails; mermaids of legend, and whatever the man version is called. I hope it is one of the females that was kissing me, though I don’t really care since I am alive.
I spend the next several days with these people, learning that they communicate telepathically, understanding their technological advancements are not as advanced as New Eden. They provide me with a special breathing apparatus that converts water into oxygen, and I sustain myself on seaweed and mollusks.
We’re not sure if my breathing equipment will work in my universe, as I am the first human they have met. I have no choice but to gamble that it will. I cannot stay here.
We have conceived several plans to get me home, and discarded them all. In the end, I will go as I came, naked and alone.
They swim with me as close as they can, but I must push myself into their sun, into the hole I came from. When they saw me fall from their sun, they thought I was a god. I am.
I feel the crushing pressure anew as I push forward, the blinding light causing me to squeeze my eyes shut. Even with my arm in front of my face, the light penetrates through.
Then suddenly, darkness, and a greater pressure than anything I have known.
I open my eyes.
I see stars all around me.
Looking behind, I am at the mouth of a black hole. My confusion is only surpassed by the fact that the water converting breathing apparatus isn’t functioning in this unexpected environment, and I begin to asphyxiate.
The gravity of the black hole begins to crush me, dragging back into its black center. I am helpless.
A small light starts flashing on my NeoCom. I pick it up and see I have one message. It is from Mynxee.
I do, with a gasp, throwing the pillow from my face. My alarm clock is beeping on my bedside table. I turn it off.
I quickly assess my environment. I am in my quarters aboard the Ripsack, my Jaguar class assault frigate.
I laugh and shake my head. No more pizza cones before bed.