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Broken: A No Man's Sky Short Story


Alarms ring out. A disconnected voice is speaking. It could be my voice. Air is moving. Rushing? My head throbs. There are lights. Rings of lights through squinted eyes. I try to move. Moving hurts. Everything hurts. What is that noise? Focus. I need to focus.

 

I close my eyes, I will adjust my eyesight later. First, let’s see what part of me works, then I’ll deal with everything else. I move my toes and feet, wiggling at first then raising them to check if they function,  “phew” I breathe. Oh, I can talk too, okay this is good, let’s see what else I can do. I move my right hand upwards, heavy, sore, but functional. I try to repeat the same with my left, but a sharp pain fires up to my shoulder in response. The pain doesn’t subside. This is less good. How do I turn off this damn alarm?

 

I open my eyes slowly to adjust to the brightness, a strong glaring sunlight. Colours too. I can see an array of colours, some near, some in the distance. I try to focus on the colours and shapes closest to me. Pulsating in a reddish hue I read the words ‘Life Support Critical - Suit Breach Detected’. I’m wearing a helmet, and a suit, yes, an exosuit, my exosuit, I think.

 

I roll my head to my left to try and identify the source of the pain. An unnaturally smooth object blocked my view, curved and sharp like a broken metallic eggshell. It was crushing my left arm. The mere sight kicked the rest of my senses online, adrenaline flooded my body. My arm is crushed and my suit is probably punctured. I need to act. Now.

 

Trying to lift the fragment with my right arm is useless. The object's surface is so smooth it is hard to get any purchase with a single gloved hand, not to mention it is damn heavy. I need a lever. Reluctantly I lean up as much as my body would allow to see if there is anything usable at hand. I gasp.

 

For a moment, the pain, alarms, chaos seems to dull as I soak up the panorama before me. It is a landscape of spectrum; wild and teaming with vegetation and life of which I have never seen before (I don't think so anyway…). Enormous trees with fat, bulbous trunks clustered the rims of rolling, uninterrupted hills. Thick green leaves branch off the trunks and hang so low they meet the grass. Incredible flowing red grass, for miles it seems. The rippling grass gives off a silver tint from the reflecting sunlight. Overhead in the bright blue sky a flock of… something wheels through wispy clouds, I could hear them calling out. The vista stretches on, seemingly unbroken, to the horizon.

 

The moment quickly passes as the searing pain grows in my arm. I look to my right, nothing immediately passable as a lever in sight, just that sea of red wavering grass. I look down at my feet, another fragment within grasp. I use my heel to slide the piece to my free hand. It was flatter than the problematic fragment, around 3 feet in length, and not very thick. It will have to work. 

 

Okay, the next challenge: A fulcrum. There is nothing immediately around the crushing fragment that I could wedge my lever against. I roll to see what is in the vicinity that could be usable, my arm screams at me to roll back. I close my eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t move this fragment, what if I bleed out? Or my suit decompresses? I guess if that was going to happen it would have happened by now. The moving air seems to have stabilised, which likely means I’ve equalised with this planet's atmosphere, and the atmosphere isn’t bad (for now, I could just be suffocating more slowly, or breathing in toxins). No, I need to move this fragment. Think.

 

My left arm seems to be stretched out to the side, underneath the fragment which lays across it. In my hand on my right I have the second longer, but thinner, fragment to serve as my lever. Ah. I have had a fulcrum all along. My head. Well, my helmet to be precise. I can slide the lever under the fragment to my left, rest the lever on the visor of my helmet (and hope it holds...) and pull down with my right hand. I follow the steps of my plan, and ready myself to pull the lever downwards. The fragment resting on my helmet blocks most of my view of the sky and it’s creatures above. I shift my grip on the lever a couple of times to find a comfortable but effective pulling point at the furthest end. And pull.

 

Pain rings back up my arms as the fragment shifts slightly, it’s working. But I need to pull harder. My grip tightens as I tense my whole body into the pull. *Tink* Oh no. *Tink Tink* No. Small fractures appear in the top right of my helmet. *Tink Tink Tink*  More now. On the left too. Webbing out. If I can just shift my arm free. I turn my face away from the (reinforced..?) glass of my helmet visor and pull down with the weight of my whole body. *Thunk*

 

I gasp for breath as I roll over to see my freed arm. Through my spiderwebbed broken helmet visor I inspect the damage. Broken definitely but amazingly little blood. I’ll need to reset the bone, but first I need to catch my breath.

 

After a moment I hazily climb to my feet, clutching my fragile left arm. My head swims and it takes me a moment to steady myself. I fumble at the buttons on the exosuit to quiet the alarms and warnings (they aren’t helping). Then a question: How did I get here? The question forms in my mind and whilst I knew I had the answer… I couldn’t grasp it. My head is hazy, like a heavy fog blocks the way to the answer. Let's start with what I know: My name… My stomach sinks. My name… what is my name? I must know that? I do know it. It’s in my mind but it’s blocked, blocked by the fog, the static.

 

I get queasy with trying to grasp the answers, my body shivers. It must be amnesia.. Right? As I finish that thought my eyes focus on back onto the landscape around. The rolling red grass and the barrell-like trees. It seems strangely familiar. My eyes stop on a path, a scorched path. Red grass tainted black by fire. Still smoldering in places. The scorched path stretches on for what must be a half a mile, littered with anomalous metallic debris. The destructive path and it’s debris seem to converge on a point. An object. A ship. My ship.

 

My body straightens at the sight of the crashed shuttle. Plumes of smoke and ripped bulkheads. The ship is a wreck, but it’s my ship. My ship and my journey. The questions on how I got here and who I am still echo in my mind, but I know that is my ship. My ship and my sky. The pain in my arm seems to ease, I start to walk the scorched path to my ship. The ship I will fix. I will fix my arm, I will fix this ship, I will fix… This is what I must do. I breathe easier, more certain of my task. I know the answers I seek are in the sky. My eyes look towards the creatures rolling through the clouds. My sky.

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