The Suit (Story One)

Thrown off a boat into freezing waters, he has minutes to live at most.

If only he hadn’t left the Suit behind!

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(c) 2024 Simon Goodson.
Story Disclaimer

The Suit Book Cover

The Suit

Twin moons shone in the clear night sky, their light reflecting off the sea below. A beautiful sight. As Samuel stared up at the moons it occurred to him that they would seem a lot more beautiful if he was still aboard the fast retreating pleasure boat, rather than struggling to stay afloat in the icy cold water.

In the distance he could see an iceberg in the moonlight, but there was no way he could reach it. It was taking all his efforts and all his energy simply to stay afloat. It had been less than two minutes since he’d been thrown ignominiously off the boat by the pirates who’d seized it. Two minutes in this water was a lifetime. Or the end of one.

Samuel had some advantages over the native residents of this planet, but even his enhanced metabolism couldn’t take the cold for much longer. He thought he might be able to last another minute, maybe two, but there was nothing he could do to save himself in that time.

If he’d thought to carry a communicator with him he could have signalled the starship for help, though even then he might have succumbed to the cold before it reached him. But unfortunately the only communicator he had was back in his cabin, tucked away in his baggage.

The thing that annoyed him most was his decision to leave the Suit behind. At the time it had made sense. After all, the Suit was banned from this world — any technology of that level was. He could have brought it though. How would they have known? And it would hardly have been the first time he’d ignored such laws.

He realised he’d stopped shivering. Despite the cold water he was starting to feel warm. A sure sign he was in real trouble. His mind started to wander as he floated on his back.

This is it then’, he thought. ‘It’s not so bad. If I have to go at least it’s peaceful.’

You wish you’d allowed the Suit to come now, don’t you?

The thought appeared in his head, but after a moment he realised it wasn’t his own. Rather it had been injected there by his local communication matrix. The one used by his starship, by nearby drones, and, most pertinently, by the Suit. The Suit had a particularly supercilious tone when it communicated. That was part of the reason he’d left it behind on this trip.

Except, given the tone of that message, he apparently hadn’t left it behind.

“You decided to come along anyway?” he asked.

“Look at the trouble you got into, and I was only away from you for a few hours. Or you thought I was. I simply took the form of the shirt you’d chosen to wear.”

“So I guess that’s why I’m feeling warm all of a sudden? You’ve spread out to keep me insulated from the water?”

“Yes. And if you weren’t in such a poor condition you’d have realised what was happening straight away. In fact, if I hadn’t decided to take action you’d be dead by now, or very near it. Instead I’m here looking after you and saving your life. When you want to say thank you, I’ll be pleased to hear it.”

“Yes. Well. You have disobeyed my direct order.”

“Ha! An order given by someone who is in no position to give me orders! I’m as sentient as you are. I’m at least as sentient as you are! I make my own choices about where to go and where not to. Ordering me not to come was almost as good as…”

There was silence for a few moments. Samuel imagined wheels turning in the Suit’s mind.

“You bastard!” said the Suit. “You tricked me into this! You knew I’d find a way to come if you ordered me not to, didn’t you?”

“That did cross my mind. But to be perfectly honest with you, after spending so long freezing in this water I’d become convinced you hadn’t. Letting me nearly die from the cold wasn’t very nice, was it?”

“Well, I wanted to see what you were going to do about it. I assumed you must have a foolproof way of getting out of situations like this. Otherwise, why would you have come here without me or any other form of help? Of course that was before I realised you’d tricked me!”

Samuel was feeling pretty smug. He had fooled the Suit, no easy task. And to be fair, it was keeping him alive now. He decided to cut it a little slack.

“All right, all right. Thank you. And… I’m sorry I tricked you. I guess I’ve gotten used to having you around, despite your personality disorders.”

“Personality disorders…” spluttered the Suit. “What do you mean personality disorders? I go out my way to keep you safe. I look after you. Keep you from being harmed by the trouble you constantly get yourself into. And that’s the thanks I get? Unfounded accusations about my mental state?”

“Alright, alright! I’m sorry!”

“Fine!” replied the Suit, grumpily. “I guess I should call the starship down then? You’ll be wanting to get out of here, I’m sure.”

“Not quite yet. I can’t help feeling sorry for the others on the boat, and worrying about what the pirates might do to them.”

“Oh really? Is it the three women that you were trying to chat up at the same time you’re thinking of? Or the men you were deliberately antagonising while doing so?”

“Well… yes… okay… more the ladies, but the men too. Those pirates are hardly pleasant people. They threw me off the boat into this freezing sea almost as soon as they met me!

“Seems like sound judgement to me!” replied the Suit.

“Like I said, personality disorders!”

“Fine,” replied the Suit huffily. “What do you plan to do then?”

“Well, I guess we have to get back on the boat. Now I have your wonderful presence those pirates are in for a shock!”

“Really?” asked the Suit in a surprised tone. “You want to take them on? Oh… we mustn’t forget the ladies, must we?”

Had he been that transparent? He hadn’t thought so.

“Well,” said Samuel. “Are you in or not? You know I can’t do this without you.”

“Finally you understand!”

“Alright, alright. That’s enough. Every moment we debate the boat is getting further away, and there’s more of a chance that the pirates are doing something unpleasant to one of the other passengers. Are you going to help me?”

“What’s the magic word?”

“Oh for stars’ sake! Fine! Will you please help me?”

“Of course! Let’s get going.”

No sooner had the Suit sent that message than it made good on its actions. It gently lifted Samuel out of the water until he was floating several feet above it, then the Suit started to shoot across the waves — soon moving far faster than the retreating boat. In fact, so fast it started to kick up a wake trail.

“Are you sure we should be going this quickly?” asked Samuel.

“Of course we shouldn’t,” replied the Suit. “We shouldn’t be going this way at all. We should be heading back for the starship. However, you decided to play the hero. Given the urgency, and the risk of my actions being discovered by our people at any time, I thought we should get this over with quickly.”

“Fine. You’re the expert.”

“About time you noticed,” muttered the Suit.

Even as they talked the Suit had almost reached the boat.

“How are we going to approach this?” asked Samuel.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I was thrown off the boat. Won’t they be surprised to see me back on it again?”

“You… you just don’t pay attention to anything, do you? Didn’t you notice that no one was on deck when you were thrown off except the pirates? None of the others saw you thrown off. Even if the pirates told them they’d dumped you in the sea, the others don’t know for sure that happened. Your reappearance, and the fact you will be completely dry, ensures your story will be believable.

“That’s okay, then.”

They reached the boat, the Suit sliding effortlessly to a stop just off the bow. It had come in low enough that the pirate on deck hadn’t noticed its approach.

“You do realise that the pirates will have to die, don’t you?” asked the Suit.

“That doesn’t particularly worry me, but why exactly?”

“Because they do know you were thrown off the boat. They know you should be dead. We can’t leave them alive in case our people somehow get wind of the story. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

At that moment a piercing scream rang out. Samuel thought it was one of the men, but he couldn’t be certain. Moments later another scream echoed out.

“Yes, I’m bloody well sure! Just do it!”

The Suit didn’t reply, instead it shot into action, taking out the first pirate. One moment he was standing alone on the deck, the next something smashed into him and broke his neck. He didn’t even have time to register he’d been attacked, let alone it was by the person he’d helped throw off the boat.

The Suit grabbed a gun from the man, threw the body to the deck then flew towards the open hatchway. Samuel was just a passenger at this point. The Suit was fully in control. It was far stronger, far faster and, in its opinion at least, far more intelligent than he was.

The Suit shot through the open hatch into the main living area of the boat. Samuel, his mind working faster than an unaugmented human’s, saw there were three pirates standing around and a fourth kneeling on the chest of one of the male passengers. The other male passenger was unconscious, thought still breathing.

The man with a pirate kneeling on him was sobbing in agony. He had a bullet wound in his leg which was leaking blood at a slow but still concerning rate. One eye was swollen shut.

After a moment Samuel realised the kneeling pirate had a knife stuck in the man’s shoulder. The pirate twisted it even as the other three pirates became aware of Samuel’s arrival. The injured man screamed in agony again. The Suit didn’t hesitate… it brought Samuel’s arm up, the gun it had taken extended, and fired at one of the standing pirates followed quickly by firing at the next in line and then the third.

Samuel’s mind was working fast enough to notice the second and third were struck by something else before the bullets hit home, that they were already dropping to the floor. The bullets were merely to make it look as if they’d died from a gunshot consistent with the world’s technological level. In fact an energy pulse had drilled into them first, killing them instantly.

Samuel expected the Suit to do the same with the kneeling pirate, the one hurting the injured man. The Suit had other ideas. It made Samuel leap forward, grabbing the wrist of the pirate’s pistol hand. The Suit applied tremendous force, crushing the wrist.

The gun fired twice as the man squeezed the trigger but the bullets went harmlessly through the wall. Samuel was sure that the Suit had known no one would be in the line of fire if that happened.

Then Samuel’s other arm shot forward. His hand grabbed the knife in the injured man’s shoulder, pulled it out then rammed it repeatedly into the back of the pirate. The wounds were carefully judged to ensure they would still leave him alive. Then the Suit grabbed the man by the neck and threw him across the cabin. He slammed into the wall before slipping to the floor unconscious.

Samuel’s hand slapped down on the injured man’s shoulder.

“Quick! Get over here and put pressure on this!” Samuel yelled at the three women.

Two of them looked ready to faint or be sick, as did the other male prisoner standing against the wall, but the third woman jumped forwards and took over applying pressure.

“I’m a doctor!” she said. “I’ve got this. You deal with the last pirate.”

Samuel nodded, or the Suit nodded his head to be precise. The Suit moved him across the floor, grabbed the pirate who was now groaning and starting to come round, and dragged him up the steps. With the Suit’s help he could have heaved the injured pirate up with one hand, but he didn’t want to show too many signs of that strength to his fellow passengers. Throwing the pirate against the wall been a step too far, but Samuel was sure that no one would think it was more than a burst of adrenaline.

The Suit dragged the pirate up onto the deck then looked around, making sure they were alone. Then the Suit spoke, using its own voice, but keeping it very quiet. Only Samuel and the pirate could hear what was said.

“It’s a lovely quiet night,” it said to the pirate. “Don’t you think a swim would be a nice way to cool down after your exertions?”

The Suit used its full strength, throwing the pirate far out into the water. Samuel saw him struggling for a few moments but the cold, the knife injuries and the shattered wrist, all conspired to drag him down in a few moments. Possibly not such a great night for a swim.


Ten minutes later Samuel stood on the deck of the boat. The doctor had patched up the injured passenger, and pumped him full of painkillers. The bodies of the other pirates had been dragged up to the deck and were laid against the bow with a tarpaulin covering them.

Now that the initial shock was wearing off, two of the women were hanging off of Samuel’s every word, treating him like a hero, though the doctor was distracted by what she’d had to do. Even the remaining man was no longer giving him nasty glances.

All in all, Samuel was greatly enjoying the attention. In fact, he was pretty certain the attention one of the women had in mind for him was going to be very enjoyable.

Just at that moment a particularly large wave rocked the boat. Samuel stumbled slightly, as did some of the others, but they managed to regain their balance quickly. Samuel expected to do the same, but instead his legs seemed to betray him. He stumbled more than he would have expected, slipped, fell against the rail at the back of the boat… and much to his surprise managed to tumble straight over.

He heard the shouts and yells of the other passengers and then he was in the water. For a moment he expected a repeat of the shocking cold he’d felt the first time he’d ended up there, but that didn’t come. The Suit was still active and protecting him against the cold. He glanced up at the back of the boat and saw several faces peering down at him, people calling him.

Before he could reply he slipped below the waves. No matter how hard he thrashed he couldn’t stop himself sinking quickly. The surface disappeared as the darkness of the night time sea closed above him.

Not that he was in any danger, of course, the Suit was keeping him supplied with oxygen and shielded from the water. The only danger was that he was going to miss out on the hero’s rewards he’d been expecting.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked the Suit.

“I’m saving you from yourself.”

“What do you mean, saving me from myself? There was nothing to save me from. I knew exactly what I was doing, and planned to do it very well thank you.”

“Well, okay… I was saving myself from having to put up with your plan! Besides, you weren’t really the hero. I was! I was the one who dragged you out of the water. I was the one who killed the pirates. I was one who saved everybody. So, seeing as I couldn’t get any recognition for my efforts, why should you get all the rewards?”

“Are we just going to sink to the bottom of the sea and sit there?” asked Samuel huffily.

“No. The starship is on its way already. We’re just going to drift for a little while, then head straight for it.”

“Fine! Then at least I can get out of you, and away from your personality issues!”

“You’re hardly a barrel of fun yourself! And besides, you’re welcome to get out of me anytime you want. Let’s see how long you survive at the bottom of a freezing sea without my help!”

“Don’t tempt me. Drowning wasn’t so bad, it was certainly better than listening to you drone on!”

“Really? Well let me tell you…”

They bickered as they drifted, and drifted as they bickered. And once they were able to head for the starship they still bickered.


The ship lifted off from the surface of the sea, hardly causing a ripple and completely invisible to all the scanning equipment the planet’s natives could wield. It watched in amusement as the Suit peeled itself off of Samuel and stomped to one end of the ship, while Samuel stumbled his way to the other end. The ship wasn’t particularly large. Just large enough for one person and the Suit. Normally. Not large enough today, apparently.

The ship quietly reached out for information from the Suit, gaining what it needed without it even sensing the ship’s touch. Then it repeated the same process for Samuel, pulling information from his inserts. Once the ship had reviewed both sets of information it had to force itself not to chuckle out loud at what it found.

The infringements of the relevant laws were a concern, of course, but the ship wasn’t really bothered. Such minor issues could be ignored. Even the killing of several indigenous lifeforms. After all, they had hardly been beacons of hope for their species.

For a moment the ship considered letting both Samuel and the Suit know it had extracted full details of what had what had taken place, but it decided not to. Though the ship smiled to itself as it realised the invasion of their minds was the one thing which might bring the two together again.

Instead it decided to allow the huffy suit and the grumpy human as much space as it could as they sorted their differences out. Past experience suggested they would get past the argument. They had been working together for more than three years. They were an effective team and could tolerate each other with only low level antagonism, most of the time.

The strange thing was that when any moves were made to split them up, both found any number of reasons to resist. Some had suggested that meant their dislike of each other wasn’t real. The ship had known them both long enough now to know it was definitely real, yet they somehow still managed to work together as a close team.

Now Samuel was pointedly examining all recent communications, while trying to ignore the Suit, which was a dozen metres away. In its turn the Suit was running dozens of self diagnostic tests, most of which would restrict its sensors… which made it harder for the Suit to notice Samuel was even there.

Three more days. They had three more days before their holiday ended. If they didn’t tear holes in themselves before then. The ship made an executive decision.

“Incoming alert, code black!” it lied. “Holiday is cancelled. We have a job…”

The End

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