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The surface of Sahul could barely have looked more different from the bottoms of the canyons. Scattered boulders that had never known water erosion covered the landscape, making going anywhere in a straight line difficult.

Another big rock came over the horizon, and I checked the map again. “We’re pointing a little far right.”

“On it.” Haley’s voice was clipped through the helmet speakers.

She adjusted the stick minutely, and the car shifted to follow. The liquid in the cheaply built batteries that made up the base of the vehicle sloshed around in protest. I checked the map again, comparing the rough directions of the mountains I could see, and smiled.

“We should be coming up on it in a minute or two.”

“Gonna be good to see exactly what they found.”

As the car approached the site marked on the map, the rocks and regolith began to show flecks of black and silver, like a cat had decided to beat up a roll of aluminium foil. The sun was behind us now, and some of the spots caught the light, shining back at us like pale stars.

“Huh.” This time my helmet speakers weren’t making Haley sound any flatter.

In front of the car was a small crater, iced with melted aluminium. In the middle of the crater sat what was once a cube, but had been partially flattened by the impact.

“This is one of the mirror satellites. Well, was.”

“Archaeology, then.”

Haley pulled the parking brake and made the hand signal for radio, disconnecting the cable to her helmet. I did the same and walked over to the edge of the crater. It was only a few metres deep and a dozen wide.

“Careful, I doubt that’s more than a mil of aluminium there, it’ll probably tear and slide.”

Haley made a noncommital noise and picked her way around to a shallow edge, testing the surface with one boot. I grabbed a rock and threw it gently at the slope of the crater. The film over the top ripped in several places around the impact.

Haley and I made our way towards the object in the middle, each step ripping a boot-shaped hole in the foil and sinking into the dust underneath, making a trail to the mound in the middle of the crater. The box itself was pancaked on one corner, turning the cube into something resembling a pyramid, with a gradient running from white to dark grey on the bottom. One side had been pried open roughly. On the far side of the object, another set of footprints lead away out of the crater.

“I guess we found the right place.” Haley’s overly calm voice was hiding cold anger. “Let’s take a look.”

The inside of the pyramid was full of shards of what looked like plastic. Probably what used to be a circuit board. Gently, I swept the shards into a bag while Haley circled the crater. An unmarked cylinder took up a third of the remaining space, covering a circuit board on the only unwarped face of the cube.

“I think we’ve got it. Or at least where it would be.”

“Give me a look.”

“This thing would’ve hit pretty fast but I think the mirror took the worst of the impact. Liquefied the mirror, shattered the more fragile internal components, but there’s some left.”

“Hmm.” Unhooking a spanner from her borrowed suit’s tool belt, Haley loosened the bolts holding in the remaining PCB as I watched over her shoulder.

“This thing is in the way,” she hissed, grabbing the cylinder and shifting it back and forth, bending the metal at the remaining attached end. After the third time, it gave out, releasing a spew of gas from one end.

Haley yelped, and the cylinder spun backwards out of her hand, spinning end over end and clipping her shoulder with the jagged edge of the metal it was attached to, knocking both of us over in the process.

“Ah shit!” She grabbed at her shoulder, and continued yelling expletives.

Oh, like hell.

I shoved her sideways, rolling her onto her other side, and scrambled up to my knees, kicking up a cloud of dust and shredded aluminium.

“Calm down, let me see.” The panicked noises slowed, and I got a look at the frost of escaping atmosphere forming on the glove Haley was covering her shoulder with.

“You’ve got a rip, keep pressure on it.” I ran as quickly as I could in the bulky vacsuit to the car, grabbing a seat and making it tilt slightly to stop. Haley’s breathing was becoming increasingly rapid over the radio. “Hey, it’s gonna be fine, I’m just finding the tape.”

The box where the back seats would’ve been contained, in the order I pulled them out; a spare wheel, two extra O2 bottles, a set of screwdrivers, two folding metal planks, and finally, a roll of duct tape. Everything but the last ended up strewn all over the tray.

In an attempt to get back fast, I tried to spin and launch myself off the running board in one motion, but only managed to trip over and land on one arm.

“Hey, you doing okay over there?” Haley was starting to sound quieter.

“Shut up, you’ll need that air.”

Threading the tape roll over one wrist, I skidded down the side of the crater and slid to a stop next to Haley.

I readied the tape. “Alright, hands off.” Gas visibly turned to frost as it left the tear in her suit, and I wrapped the tape around her arm once above and below before actually covering the rip, then wrapped it around several more times just in case. When I was done, I rolled her onto her back, and put my helmet to hers.

“Hey, you okay?”

“I fucking hate it up here.”

I lowered myself down next to her, laughing.


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