The sedative began to slowly wear off, and John opened his eyes. The lights were off in the medical bay, and the only light present came from tape strips on the floor which glowed a dull green. Slowly he became aware of something, not a sight or sound, but something internal, a repeated message from the implant.
-WARNING: ADAPTATION FAILED
John strained to focus his vision. He was no longer in the surgical bed. From across the room, the octopus-arms of the surgical machine dangled menacingly at a strange angle. Blood had crusted on some of the glinting blades. He looked down at his arms and found new cuts, hastily stapled, for some unknown purpose. On further inspection, he found the they ran across his chest as well, and the rest of his body. The implant provided answers to the questions he was about to ask.
-EMERGENCY PROTOCOL 1173
-IN CASE OF ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS ALL CREWMEMBERS MAY BE SURGICALLY ALTERED TO INCREASE ENVIRONMENTAL TOLERANCE
He stood up, uncertainly at first, and for a moment had difficulty balancing on the steeply sloping floor. He grunted and pushed himself off the wall, ignoring the pain in his stinging muscles. Around him, the ship popped and groaned, settling under its strange new weights.
In compliance, John limped to the door and pulled it open, the piercing squeal of rusted hinges echoing down the narrow corridor. The reactor core was nearly 50 meters uphill, and so John groped blindly for handholds, wondering vaguely why the light from WD-1387 did not shine through the tiny viewports that punctured the outer skin at 10-meter intervals. Reaching the Reactor Bay bulkhead, he groped for the radiation suit in its alcove to the left, but met only empty air. He frowned. Then, he heard something from behind the thick steel door. Peering through the tiny leaded-glass porthole, his eyes widened in surprise. Two figures in faded yellow protective gear were standing near the reactor tower. One held a wand attached to a battered yellow box and gestured at the other, who began to flip switches on the main control panel. John slid a heavy wrench from the tool compartment by the door, and turned to press the switch that would open the bulkhead.
Suddenly there was a flash as the lights came back on, and as the gravity shifted he stumbled, tripping the bulkhead-switch as he did so. At the noise, the two men turned in surprise as John tumbled through the doorway. He could see their eyes widen behind their protective masks, and they began to fumble with the straps in an attempt to remove them. John started across the reactor bay and raised the wrench but stopped with it halfway in the air as the first mask was removed, and then the second. Then the wrench clattered to the deck and John turned to run, because they both had the same face.
Guided by the implant, John sprinted toward the bridge with his right hand clasped tight at his left bicep, having torn the looser staples as he fled the reactor bay. He closed on the bridge bulkhead quickly but found the electronic control unresponsive, and so struggled with the manual release. Behind him, he heard hurried footsteps as the rusted release wheel turned inch by inch until finally the heavy door groaned and swung open, catching John aside the head and sending him reeling as a torrent of hot white sand streamed into the corridor while frantic footsteps closed quickly from behind.