Sub Log: Zero Days

This is an ongoing log of a play-through of Subnautica, which distracts me from the real world and its recent dystopian turn for the worse. This is a continuation from last time.

First Order of Business

I’m still hungry.

Fortunately, fishing is easy, on account of the fish around here being dumb and edible. In this case, dumb means doesn’t regard me as a predator until I pluck it from the water. Ah, the joys of being a foreign species introduced into an alien ecosystem.

The good news is that the printer thingie in the lifepod will cook or cure fish for me, including deboning and removing guts. Cooked fish is juicier, but it gets stale fast. Curing requires extra salt, but it doesn’t spoil. The bad news is that the we come in peace speech isn’t going to work now that I’ve consumed some of the world’s inhabitants.

Most of the small fish are edible, but the yum-yum fish is the tastiest (or at least yields the most calories). I’m not going to die of starvation after all.

Instead I’m going to die due to lack of potable water.

Disclosure: In my first playthrough of Subnautica, I died of thirst. A lot. My stratagem was to go through the blueprint / recipe list and find the fastest vector for potable water. It goes like this: To make disinfected water, produce bleach. To produce bleach, get salt from salt deposits (commonplace). Also get coral scrapings. To get coral scrapings, first make a survival knife. To make a survival knife get titanium (found everywhere in salvage). Also get silicone rubber. To get silicone rubber, go into the dangerous creepvine groves and get some oily creepvine seed pods. Take care to avoid the alien barracuda . No, I can’t make a single-piece coral-scraper from just titanium. Thanks, limited Alterra replicator blueprint library.

Fortunately, I got lucky this time and discovered the bottled water fish (a lot sooner than I did last time). For some reason, the bottled-water fish bloats itself up with filtered water which it then jets behind it for propulsion. I’m not sure the evolutionary purpose of the filtration process, but the upshot is that I now have a potable water source, so long as I don’t fish these fellas to extinction. If this fish is a natural phenomenon, it does raise some existential questions, though. I suspect that is a common problem in survival games.

Potable water. Check.

The PDA is saying I may die of radiation poisoning from the Aurora wreck, not to mention it’s going to explode any minute now, when the power core destabilizes enough to go critical.

As an aside, I’ve pondered power cores for ships enough to have some awareness of why we might choose to make ones that feature dangerous materials. (Some of our big military ships in the modern era are nuclear-fission powered, so we’ve already gone this route.) In Fleet & Federation, I used stabilized strange matter. Common atomic matter reacts with strange matter on contact, releasing energy as it rapidly decays into more strange matter. Essentially a strange-matter reactor works like a Mr. Fusion, except that the strange-matter core is super dangerous, if it ever escaped containment. Strange matter dumped into the vacuum of space isn’t going to do anything particularly terrible. But dropped on a planet, it would cause an ice-nine-like runaway reaction that would be very explosive. (Ice-nine as in the stuff from Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Real ice-nine is much less exciting, simply being a different crystalline structure of ice formed under pressure.) Still, the power core of the Aurora uses dark matter, and I don’t know its properties. (By the descriptor of dark I can assume the physicists who developed the propulsion system don’t know its properties either.)

But there is at least the good news that, according to the PDA, Aurora’s engines are not going to cause a chain reaction that destroys the whole planet. It’s only going to cause a big explosion. One with a minimum-one-kilometer safety radius.

The bad news is that I’m deep within that radius.

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