Rain didn’t really know what to expect when he’d first come out to the Far Belt three years ago, but… success didn’t lie.
The coyote-pattern bioframe was just one of many scavs and scrappers that plied the far reaches of the Mylae system – it being a gateway system for the various skimmers and jumpships passing towards the Old Core meant plenty of debris and ship detritus to pick over, system authorities handing out hefty paydays to those who kept their orbital space clean and easily traversable.
So, today’s run had brought Rain out to the gravity shadow of the system’s farthest planetoid, Scipio – slowly picking over the ancient ruins of some long-forgotten skimmer buoy caught in the steady if weak pull of the planetoid as it wandered along its lonely path.
“Let’s see what we have today…” Rain grinned to himself, shuffling a few rations floating about in the low gravity of the salvage rig’s cockpit aside to press the shutter retraction key on the dingy old orange screen.
It complied with a loud rattle, shooting upwards – and revealing a veritable field of salvage, glittering ice from flash-frozen atmosphere twirling about in the metallic blizzard beyond. Larger pieces flittered here and there, all being marked by the rig’s “dumb” AI as it catalogued and sorted them by metallic purity and content.
Finally, a complete list was ready – along with the bad news, fed to him by the rig itself. Moving closer, with so much debris moving so erratically, was a bad idea through and through. Even if he made it there safely, there was no telling if the rig would survive an impact – or, more likely, if it wouldn’t simply be crushed by the larger pieces as they moved about the moon’s weak lagrange point.
He’d have to go in the old fashioned way – suit and tether, thruster pack included.
Normally bad news, this excited the coyote for one simple reason – they’d recently made a purchase on the back of their latest haul with this exact situation in mind, and now they had a real reason to use it!
“Alright, let’s see…” He hummed to himself as he unclipped the crash seat’s belts, drifting into the recycled air of the bridge. The new system had been installed just sternwards of the bridge in the old maintenance quarters, and with a gently kick-off the coyote drifted out of the bridge and inside.
There, a chair sat – various bioframe interface ports and automated devices lining the arms and legrest standing it far apart from the pilot’s crashseat he’d occupied a moment earlier.
The first step, naturally, was to extend the rig’s command and control network far enough to cover the wreck – something easily accomplished as he slipped into the chair, granting the basic AI control over the ship’s systems while he was “away”, so to speak.
Next, he hit the locking mechanism on the chair – clasps locking the coyote’s arms and legs into place as the chair’s interface ports aligned with his frame, connecting the frame to the shipwide meshnet and starting to feed info to the framelink required for the next step.
FRAMELINK ACTIVE. ENGAGE?
The coyote keyed the proper response – and his world went white, sensory inputs slowing to a trickle – before they were absent, entirely.
The coyote stood in a stark, white place – absent of even a horizon. A link behind him led back to the frame he’d just left, the “Rain” he most identified with and had become analogous to himself – and ahead, another link existed, this to the thing he’d picked up on Mylae during his last brief time ashore.
Gently reaching out, the coyote’s fingers gently brushed against the link – and his mind exploded into color, overwhelmed as if a wave had rolled him against the seabed.
It took him a few moments to even realize anything had changed. He was no longer in a chair, that much was certain. While he couldn’t see, native LIDAR the frame possessed for moving in darkness gave him a rudimentary vision, enough to glance around. Rain was tightly gripped in a metal… tube, of some sort, darkened screens surrounding him on all sides. Something was pressed against his back, and after a moment’s struggle he finally managed to activate the frame’s ocular sensors and auditory receptors.
Slowly, gradually, the world faded back in – darkened, various screens displaying readouts and interface information flickering to life as the rig’s AI complied with the orders sent earlier. His first instinct was to take a deep breath – something impossible, as the frame he currently inhabited lacked any sort of biological components whatsoever. He glanced down as his mind finally synced with the synthframe, bending his large, pressurized suit-fingers. Diagnostics told him the suit was fully pressurized and ready for extravehicular activity, and with a quick thought the CORE unit attached a pair of tethers and re-equipped the salvage grips to the frame’s hands.
So this is the frame, he thought to himself, glancing backwards at the large, largely cosmetic tail it sported. He’d always liked skunks.
The tube slid open, and the frame stepped out onto the bare, vacuum exposed hull of the rig – magnetic soles holding him firmly to the metal. His ocular HUD overlaid the scans from earlier across the glittering starscape, firmly planting the most likely location of the old buoy’s fusion cells nearly straight “up” from where he was standing.
Well, he mused, activating the frame’s RCS maneuvering thrusters to lift off into the ever-shifting debris field.
Here goes nothing.