Mingwei Gu

writings on business, meditation, technology, markets, sci-fi, organizations

01 Oct 2020

Lost and Found

The cargo container slips from his Crab Mecha’s grasp.

It goes tumbling away from the quiet grey loading bay of the orbital trading station and toward the lush green planet below. Dillon grits his teeth and extends the Mecha’s arms to recover the cargo, but he misses and manages to send it flying away even faster.

Dillon cannot lose this cargo. Or else he’ll get dragged into a planet side recovery mission and miss leave to meet his newborn daughter.

“Attention command. Loose cargo. This is Cargo Suit 05 en route to recover.”

He disengages his Mecha’s magnetic clamps with the station and drifts off away from the exterior of the loading bay.

The Mecha suit is shaped like a crab with no legs besides the small magnetic clamps on the underside. Oversized arms were installed to the original model for loading cargo.

He taps his keyboard to engage the forward thrusters on the lowest setting. They roar as he’s pushed back into his seat and he sees the spinning cargo container getting closer. Dillon always forgets it’s a decommissioned military Mecha stronger thrusters than he’s used to.

He’s thirty seconds away from the cargo now.

He cuts the forward thrusters and engages the reverse thrusters. Dillon hears them start with a roar but sputter to a whisper. His cockpit jostles him forward. He pulls up the Mecha’s power usage on his diagnostics tablet.

Sure enough, the reverse thrusters are maxing out at 5%. They share the same power core as the oversized arms. And he can’t turn the arms off. If he can’t slow down the Mecha in time, he’ll zoom past the cargo. Or worse, he’ll bump into it and knock it closer to the planet.

Time for a rotational maneuver. Dillon remembers his instructors calling this a figure skating manuever, but he has no idea what figure skating is.

He extends the oversized arms of his Mecha to as wide as they go. He cuts the left reverse thruster and leaves the right one on for half a second before cutting that one too. His Mecha’s rotating about one degree a second now. He pulls in the arms all the way into the Mecha’s chest. And the Mecha’s spinning way faster at 30 degrees a second.

Dillon extends the Mecha’s arms again, slowing his rotating. And once he’s almost facing the station, he turns the left reverse thruster on for half a second. No more rotation and he’s facing the opposite direction he had been.

Dillon powers on the forward thrusters until he’s matching speed with the cargo container. He extends his arms to grab the container and he attaches the Mecha’s magnetic clamps.

He can’t turn on the forward thrusters as they might damage the cargo. So he rotates his Mecha to face away from the station.

Dillon looks out onto the lush green planet. He sighs with relief. He’s glad he’ll make shore leave to meet his daughter.

He turns on the Mecha’s reverse thrusters. And takes a slow ride back to the station.