Her fingers shook as she fastened all the inner security seals on her snowsuit. Back on Caprelli, a snowsuit would mean a soft, one-piece outfit with a nanoscale coating to keep the melted snow from wetting the fabric, and an insulated inner layer with heating elements that could be adjusted to the perfect temperature. Roasting hot in Mel’s case. For Vintro, something more like articulated ceramite armor with a life support system as complex as that of the whole base made up an environment suit. Automated robotic arms sealed them inside the armor, and Mel tried to keep her breathing steady as a sense of claustrophobia threatened to shake her control. It took ten minutes to close the suits. It would take the same time to get back out if she had a panic attack or similar, unless they blew the emergency seals. But that would render the highly expensive and currently irreplaceable suit useless. Who knew how badly they might need these things later on?
Instead she took slow, even breaths and focused on the safety procedures as the impassive voice of the base’s AI recited them to her and she obediently completed her internal checks.
“Checks complete. You are cleared to proceed.”
Did she imagine a hint of ‘goodbye and good riddance’ in that computerized voice? Mel almost laughed to herself. The AI was uncaring: no matter what happened to Mel and her crew, the AI would carry on even if the power ran out and the base was destroyed.