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"Not even crumbs today", Lee mumbles to himself. He wonders why he feels crazier now, considering he has taken numerous multi-month flights across the solar system before.

"Probably the cave", he replies, trying his best to put the stale metallic smell out of his mind. Unlike most places, where the smell becomes normal after a while, Lee simply cannot acclimate to the abandoned machine he was hiding in. "Probably the boredom"

Lee made the mistake of crossing the holding corp to all other corps, CCI. He didn't know who was CEO of Cisco Commonwealth Industries, but he assumed that they spoke his name in at least one board meeting. Perhaps it was the opposite, maybe he had been erased completely.

He felt a twinge of remorse as he considered how foolish the mission was at the time. Steal a future-tech CCI military weapon and pawn it. The payout would have been great; he could finally own his own ship outright. But the risk.

The risk was sitting in an abandoned mining rig waiting for the authorities to stop looking for him. The rations ran out a few days ago, but thankfully each bar was a full days' worth of nutrition, so he was able to last quite a bit longer. The air and water recyclers still worked, so truly the only thing keeping him from staying out here indefinitely was the lack of food. "And the boredom" Lee said, before he became conscious he was talking to himself.

He pulled his armpad up and checked the Net. Still down, ever since last week. He didn't think CCI would turn off the entire damn Net over one fugitive, but you could never be sure with CCI. They were wizards when it came to mass media and propaganda.

Lee isn't weak from hunger now, but he knows he will be if he waits any longer. This mining rig won't actually move anymore, nor would it hold air once it left the hole it was abandoned in. Lee would have to remember to return, and replenish the food - this find was one in a million. Or maybe it literally was one of a million abandoned machines. After asteroid mining and orbital factories made material cheap, more and more machines were simply abandoned or discarded, instead of the kind of recycling that someone on Earth has to do. Gravity makes everything from Earth and on Earth expensive, but here on Mars, you could probably escape orbit just using scram jets.

He got out here due to his leg springs, and that's how he'll have to get back. As with shipping, gravity makes travel on Earth complicated too. Crossing over a hundred kilometers on foot would be a grueling task there; here, with a pair of strap on leg prosthetics, he could bounce-run the distance in a few hours, hardly breaking a sweat.

Lee triple-checks his straps, seals, backups, and equipment. He burnt his emergency transponder so CCI couldn't track him, and if he fell and tore his suit, no one would even know. Lee didn't expect to grow old peacefully, but he didn't want to go out suffocating over a silly mistake either.

Once he was satisfied he could make the trek, Lee gaily bounced towards the nearest dome:


The hairs were standing on the back of Lees neck for a long portion of this trip. At first, he assumed he would have to duck and dash behind outcroppings to prevent passing ships from noticing his approach. What he found instead was far more unsettling.

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