Chapter 19: risks of the job
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K’Aman helped me put on the space suit and mining rig, without him, it would’ve probably taken me an hour longer or so. The equipment is heavy… Too heavy, I can barely move inside the induced gravity on the ship… Thank god I didn’t choose the gravity trial… Still, I should be thankful that I won’t need to worry about all that weight in outer space.

With support from K’Aman I managed to finally stumble over towards the eject bay, where Chelou and Ares were already waiting for me.

Once we were all in position and had our own tethers hooked onto the bigger one of the ship. H’Mara started counting down, her hand dangerously positioned over a large red lever…

“One!...”

Oh fuck, I’m so not prepared for this shit.

“Two!...”

They didn’t even explain how to turn this thing on.

Without counting to three, H’Mara suddenly pulled down the lever. Immediately, the metal hatch beneath our feet collapsed, robbing us of our support.

With quite some force, the three of us were pulled into the vastness of space, following the large rope to which our tethers were attached to. Ares flying down first, Chelou next and lastly there was me.

At the end of the rope was a claw attached to a large asteroid, about the size of two school busses.

Ares landed on the large rock first, without much trouble, he also cushioned the fall of Chelou by folding in half after she landed on his back.

I on the other hand, managed to land quite elegantly, breaking the fall with my own two legs…

*CRACK*

Oh fuck… I guess that fall wasn’t the only thing I managed to break…

After feeling a short, hellish pain through my right leg, I instinctively tried to look down in order to figure out where it was coming from… Sure enough, I was directly looking at an exposed bone poking a hole through my skin…

Weird, you would think this would normally hurt a lot more… I mean, the view is disturbing sure, but I guess I more or less got used to the feeling of pain… Maybe it’s the adrenaline?

Anyways, I’m in no condition to continue mining. I try and signal H’Mara, who is watching us from the ship, to pull me back up, pointing to the bone poking out from my shin.

Instead of helping me, she simply shows me two thumbs up. After which, she holds up a handwritten sign to the window with the words: ‘If you come back empty handed, we’ll just sell you off as slaves again. So make sure to at least bring back 5 promising-looking densers for me! You can do it! 😊’

… S-She can’t be serious right…

Ares first looked kind of worried about me and my leg, but after seeing the sign H’Mara was holding up, he quickly pressed a button on his mining rig and started digging into the asteroid…

After Chelou saw the sign, she  turned towards me and also held up two thumbs, wearing an expression like: ‘Good luck, Chelou believes in you!’… Great, now even the made up version I have of Chelou in my mind talks in third person.

*SIGH* Having given up on a rescue from H’Mara, I started to assess the situation I was in.

The asteroid beneath our feet attracted us to it using a weak gravitational-field, the field helped us not float away, but it also put more pressure on my leg.

Gritting my teeth, I hopped around on one leg to the other side of the asteroid.

After spotting a promising, dark-black spot on the rock-surface, I activated my mining vacuum by imitating Ares.

The drill bit at the front of my device started glowing and began to resemble the blade of an energy weapon. I confidently dug the point of it into the rock beneath me…

*CRACK*

As if god himself was laughing at my efforts, some debris came lose and immediately ricocheted against my broken leg.

Ah fuck… This is going to hurt a lot isn’t it?

Around 3 quarters of an hour passed when H’Mara held up another sign to the window, signaling that we only had 10 minutes left to search for densers.

I… I only managed to pry loose 3 rocks that fit K’Aman’s description so far…

Meanwhile, Chelou and Ares were already working on their last rock.

Goddam! This fucking leg! Every step I take hurts, I can’t exert any strength and I have to be careful each time I dig into the asteroid so that nothing hits my leg and fucks it up even more!...

But… I can’t get sold again, these people gave me a chance to grow stronger. There’s no way I’m taking a step backwards, I can only move forwards… No, I can only steamroll forwards.

Having found my resolution, I drop to my knees and crawl to the nearest black spot. There, I start hacking away at the asteroid like a mad-man, without any regard for my broken leg.

I quickly managed to find a denser and suck it up in my mining rig. Looking up at the ship, I see H’Mara holding a digital countdown timer displaying 7 minutes.

Good, I can do this! I already found another promising spot, it’s deep red instead of totally black, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Unfortunately, disaster struck again, it seems my existence alone pisses off god or something… After only a couple of good hits with the front of my vacuum/mining rig, the glowing drill bit slowly started to sputter out… That’s right, my fucking mining equipment ran out of juice at the worst possible timing!

Panicking, I look up at the ship in search for answers. I managed to draw H’Mara’s attention by waving and pointing at my extinguished digging utensil, but instead of answers, I only received a simple shrug and a finger pointed towards the timer, which now read 3 minutes…

S-She really expects me to continue like this?...

I desperately start hitting the rock with my extinguished drill bit...

It barely does anything, instead, it just deforms the bit itself…

Looking up again, the timer looms over me, only 2 minutes left…

Why… Why me… Am I really going to get sold again?... That fucking bitch of a cat-lady!…

*SIGH* It’s like the entire universe is against me…

NO… No Ryder, pushing the blame onto others? You won’t get anywhere with that… The last thing you need is a victim complex… The universe is cold and uncaring, thinking it is out to get specifically you? Now that’s what I call arrogance… This is all my responsibility, I’m in control!

I start to dig my hands into the smaller, softer rocks mixed in with the dirt surrounding a particularly hard, deep-red rock.

I thrust and jab into the asteroid until my hands are bleeding and bones are poking out, some fingernails even peeled off during the process.

Eventually the pain and exhaustion became too much for me to bear. Any light started to slowly disappear form my vision and… I blacked out.

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