The internal grav dial was not supposed to spin.
Definitely not good. Internal gravity did not change for a couple of seconds, than halved. Altitude was dropping at over 200 m/s. Internal grav must be working to some degree, or I'd be plastered to the ceiling already. He pulled the straps of the seat harness into place and buckled them across his chest, which took a second he didn't really have. Altitude was now dropping at 400 m/s. The klaxons clamored and shrieked at him from all directions. He spun the external grav dial, which also was not supposed to spin. The velocity of the fall stabilized for a half second, then slowed to 300 m/s, then increased to 500 m/s. This is not freefall. Freefall would be slower. He tried the steering handles. Left-right worked fine. Forward-backwards was not affecting speed. Up-down had no obvious correlation between what he was doing and the orientation of the craft. Which was now at an altitude of 5000 meters and falling. Great. Would I like to crash in the forest to my left, or the forest to my right? Or maybe ... the forest ahead of me? There was a lake he could aim for, in fact, and he did, but he didn't expect it to make a difference at his present speed.
The gravider's built-in ansible communicator was useless on this part of the world, with no relay station within five thousand kilometers of him. He slapped the mayday broadcast beacon, but there was no way anyone was going to respond to it before he hit.
All his gear was in the gravider. Camping equipment, signal flares, food, solar cells, rifle, clothes, GPS, everything. The beacon was in the gravider's black box and would probably survive the impact. If the internal grav compensators didn't fail completely, he would survive the impact.
Internal gravity suddenly spun to -3 Gs, and his chest slammed against the restraining harness.
If internal grav failed, he would be a messy red smear on the inside of the cockpit.
The beacon would summon help to the gravider. If he ejected now, he'd be kilometers from it and lost in the wilderness with no equipment.
Internal grav hit -6. He tried not to pass out. Well, do you want to die now, or wait until later for starvation and exposure to get you?
Oh ... let's go with later. He punched the eject button.
The seat burst out of the cockpit. The wind hammered against his face as the gravider plummeted forward and down, while he started to slow to terminal velocity. A computerize voice from the earpiece of his goggles spoke: "Calculating time to safe deployment of parachute .... calculating .... warning: safe deployment not possible. Calculating optimal deployment time. Deploying in five point three seconds. Five ... four ... "
The gravider was moving much too fast. So was he, though friction was slowing him down. Not slowing him down fast enough. The ground looked far away, but that wasn't going to last.
"Three ... two ... one."
The harness jerked taut across his chest and around his limbs, striking him like the attack of an angry kraken. Something, probably the laws of physics, slammed his head forward while all the blood drained to the front of his body. A thick red haze filled his vision and blocked out the HUD. On the other hand, maybe today's a good day to die, he thought, and then darkness overwhelmed him.
klaxon: a loud horn or alarm.
I never knew before that "klaxon" was the standard spelling and "claxon" the variant.