Romy’s side of the battler must have torn away during landing. Only a few shredding battler walls remained. It was as though her side of the ship had been ripped off like a chunk of bread from a loaf.
The floor underneath her was gone, leaving her legs dangling. Romy herself was suspended by the harness, which dug into her torso. It was the only thing keeping her from falling three metres to the dry grass.
The bottom part of her battler segment had embedded itself into the ground on an angle. Romy’s end of the segment was immobilised in the air, forty-five degrees to the surface. She looked to have landed at the edge of a grassy clearing. Or maybe a forest, she amended, judging by the multitudes of trees before her.
Behind her, the ripped walls were flayed wide open, smoking, sparking, and hissing.
She took in the vast splash of colours before her with unseeing eyes. She was on Earth. Hanging above real ground.
Quite alone. And if her knot hadn’t . . . survived . . . she was quite possibly the only person, or being, on the planet. A numbness set in so deep that Romy could no longer feel the harness. Her head drooped as she struggled to regain her calm. She had to find her friends. That was an absolute. They were alive. She had to believe it was true.
She waited, willing her shaking hands to still until eventually they obeyed.
Inhaling sharply, Romy looked around once more.
The question was: How far did her section of the craft land from the others?
If it were a matter of hours, that would be okay, but anything more and she would require food and water. A post-global-warming Earth meant the food and water here wasn’t safe. The yellowed plant life confirmed that. The battler held supplies, but did she have any in her part? And how much oxygen was in her suit? Romy’s heart began to quicken once more, and she forced the unfamiliar fear away.
First priority was getting to the ground. Under normal conditions she would take the chance and jump the three metres, but the injury to her ankle and the extent of the damage to her head caused Romy to hesitate. If only she could take her suit helmet off . . . but the air conditions had to be terrible. She wouldn’t last five seconds.
No, she decided. She’d pull herself up onto the back of her seat and see if there was an easier way out from the back of the smoking wreckage.
She sighed in weary exhaustion, not sure she had the strength to move a single finger. But that wouldn’t help her friends.
Romy released one half of her harness. Holding tightly to the strap, she released the second half of the harness--
Something gave. Not the harness, but whatever it was attached to, or attached with. For a moment Romy thought she might be able to salvage the tatters of her plan and still climb up. Until, with a loud ripping, the harness tore free from the rest of the chair.