A slight shiver ran down her spine as she stood on the ice, feeling the slight heat that made it through her watersuit as the pads on the underside of her boots reached 300 C. All at once the energy was released, sublimating a perfect circle of the ice she stood on. Though she had been trained for this, even she could not completely block out her fear as she watched it freeze back over, this time from below the now rock-hard surface.
"You ok down there? Your heart rate just doubled." The voice in her head whispered, almost seeming worried.
"Yeah, Tom, I'm fine. Where am I headed?"
"It's Thomas, not Tom. Just follow the numbers."
A set of green numbers fluctuated slowly under a set of blue constants. The target. The radon sponge. Lazily she kicked, and shot seventy-five meters through the water. She knew that the suit did something to do with the polarity of water, but there was a reason she was down here doing manual labor and why the guys upstairs handled the tech stuff. A faint hum began as the green numbers started to match up with the blue. Beginning a slight descent, she only then noticed the long, thin shadow mimicking her path, not a hundred meters below her. Only 30 meters long, it had to be a juvenile swiil. Still playful, and vegetarian. Her movements became a bit more urgent now, because with young, there are parents. Switching to thermal view did nothing, confirming her suspicions as to why the planet had been listed as having no active life. They were stone cold. Some new strain, unrecorded or unlisted. Changing views again, she saw the refractions of the light paths through the moving water around the mother, a full 200 meters including the chains of egg-sacks hanging from her underside.
Slipping a small cube from a pocket on her side and mashing it hard twice with her thumb, she let it drift down, until a tremor went through the water. The mother swiil and her young swiftly dove deeper, Watching their faint shadows, she slowly drifted forwards, feeling relaxed.
A sudden jolt brought her back to reality. A green, scaly paw gripped the oxygen tubes along her back, serrated claws already digging into the reinforced plastic. A quivering maw was inches from its prize when an oxygen tank ruptured, firing her away as the pressure escaped, spinning her madly through the water. With a brutal crack she blasted through the ice shell. Disoriented and in pain, and needing air badly, she pulled up her mask and gulped air, forgetting the temperature and that there was no oxygen in this atmosphere. She exhaled, feeling her lungs cracking, having frozen on contact with the frigid air. Quickly bringing the mask back to her face, she tried to stand, but felt as though her chest was filled with broken glass and toppled to the ice.
Thomas slowly drifted through the cloud layer, unblinking, unbreathing, held aloft by a parachute. Moving only to adjust his black tie trimmed electric blue, he stoically fell the remaining distance after detaching from his parachute.
Standing over Jane's limp form, he asked to no one at all:
"Why would you choose this?"