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The AISE1 mid-point station suddenly wobbled erratically in black space. No other way to describe it. With no fixed point of reference, you simply assumed “wobble.” Savinsky, Gorwin, and I started our EVA to try to reach external power controls. Something was royally screwed. The station experienced power fluxes. That we knew. Those fluxes, we figured, frelled the nav system resulting in random and violent direction, attitude, and velocity changes. We couldn’t even disengage propulsion.2 An uncontrolled drift would have been better than riding an errant missile to no one knows where. It was a matter of find and fix or, well, use your imagination.
Exiting the station was easy enough. Getting to the power service unit was anything but. The exit hatch was opposite the power units – about one-hundred meters away from Savinsky and me. Still. The station, like some rodeo bull, seemed intent on tossing our butts into free space. There was not much to cling to. I’d grabbed a panel strap and nearly had my wrist broken by a sudden tremendous spin.
Already Savinsky and I’d watched our tethers snap like age-rotted rubber bands, left to dangle behind us like long spaghetti strands. We clung to anything grabbable as we made our way around the hull. Gorwin had his own problems. His tether was snarled around a solar panel arm. He was busy trying to untangle without sacrificing that last tiny bit of security.
The power surges and resulting erratic station attitude grew steadily worse. Shortly after we’d started EVA, we lost contact with Station Commander Djensen. Inside the station she probably wasn’t much better off than the three of us outside. With each radical change she likely felt like a marble in a tin can.
Savinsky and I helplessly watched Gorwin’s tether seductively wrap around his neck. The next violent station pitch tightened his tether, popping his head and headgear off like a champagne cork. So much for communicating with either Djensen or Gorwin.
Savinsky and I, space cowboys for real then, managed to make our way around the rodeo bull hull. We kept up constant conversation, more for courage and to get radio signals into deep space hoping a transport might hear and speed to our aid. Fat chance.
Reaching the power control cover panel, I discovered space-junk had smashed into the unit. After telling Savinsky, sill some thirty meters away and hidden by a solar panel bulge, I freed the cover, or what was left of it. With no shielding intact, what was inside resembled burnt toast. I lost my head. Absorbed in inspecting for hope of salvage, I let go of my handhold. As if it knew, the station unceremoniously spun and the solar panel bulge swatted me into space. I became the ultimate space traveler.
Now, I’ve no hope of getting back to the station. Not any thought either that would be a good idea, all things considered. I’ll keep chattering-away. You know, to keep up my courage and provide a radio wave beacon. I’ll stay with it until I lose power or, well, use your imagination.
1 AISE – Affiliated Interagency Space Exploits. There. Happy? Details, detail, details. This is fiction, kiddies. Duh!
2 I dunno. Warp drive? Antimatter slingshot? Wormhole drafting? Maybe Melon Tusk battery power?