“There is only one way across, and with the shielding destroyed, it will expose whoever takes it to a dose of radiation that will almost certainly be lethal,” said LEA.

Mina smiled wanly. “Almost certainly, you say? Give me the chance of survival, then.”

“You would be subjected to the full force of ionizing radiation from the solar event that the station was commissioned to study. Your suit would provide negligible protection, and it is 99.99% certain that you will be exposed to a lethal dose of 1000 rads or more.”

“Death by sunshine exposure,” Mina said. “And the .01%?”

“That only exists because my programming does not permit rounding to 100%,” said LEA.

“Immediate effects of acute radiation syndrome will include nausea and vomiting, following which there will be a temporary lull in symptoms lasting 24-36 hours. Your condition will rapidly deteriorate thereafter, and you will be subject to radiation-induced traumas including, but not limited to, severe diarrhea, erythema, blistering, intestinal paralysis, gangrene, and eventually a total disintegration of bodily functions. Estimated survival time is 120-168 hours, with no useful consciousness after hour 96.”

“You always did have the best bedside manner, LEA,” said Mina. “And there’s no other way to get to the relay?”

“Not at this time.”

Mina took a deep breath, gulping down the cool, cold recycled air with a spasm that sounded like a sob. “All right,” she said weakly. Then, again: “All right.” She tried to keep her voice from quavering, to project an air of confidence, as if LEA was capable of judging her, the only living human being left in the power station.

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