Half Life by Hal Clement

By Hal Clement

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Ginger kicked at one of the boulders, almost overbalancing in the weak gravity. "These look like ice," she assured him. "They are. I checked them already," growled Goodall. "If you want a repeat—" "I know. That can wait. " She moved a few gliding steps farther and squatted down. A lab moved slowly toward the kicked boulder, guided from above, but the oldster said nothing aloud. Of course this would be ice, too. " came mingled voices. Ginger's suit had no camera. "It looks and feels through my gloves like black glass; it could still be the melted and refrozen tar someone suggested.

The embarrassing gap in the factory data due as usual to poor planning had to be closed. A suit camera had been improvised, so there would be less need for the person on the ground to divert his attention to verbal reporting. Goodall brought the image from this instrument to his main screen, magnified as far as possible. This was not, he thought ruefully, as good as eyes on the spot; Inger himself might already have observed, without considering it important enough to mention, what the colonel wanted to know but was afraid to ask.

Several of the listeners guessed what was coming but kept their mouths shut; there was nothing they could do about it, and objectively Xalco was being smart. She was economizing on her suit time. Those who failed to read the implication from her words understood a few seconds later as a fluorescent orange environment suit with a black "GX" stenciled front and back entered the field of view of Theia's eyes and started to make its way toward the wreck. Its walk was unsteady; even Titan's less than fourteen percent of Earth gravity was a lot more than most of the group had experienced for many months.

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