The engines of the Sylvania rumble, a slight change in speed indicates the ship is slowing down. “ATTENTION! DESTINATION THRESHOLD. ATTENTION! DESTINATION THRESHOLD.” The Sylvania arrived at the periphery of the Zeta Reticuli System. A distant star like Earth’s sun, surrounded by orbiting planets.
Ava, an android, worked the navigation system in the control room — She’s cunningly built, but no one would mistake her for a real human being. She types in a series of commands and within seconds the ship changes course, navigating in line toward Corinth Colony. She activates the shutters. She faces forward as the large metallic shutters vertically raises revealing a window. The entire forward bulkhead of the Bridge is a window: wall to wall, floor to ceiling. As the shutters raise she can see the shape and form of the planet Corinth. After a long moment she turns away. The ship’s nerve center and control room, remained empty and quiet, under the dimmed blue lights of the interior as she walks off.
She walks the ship’s long central corridor. The ship is silent. The lights dimmed to blue. She is alone.
The interior of the CRYOGENIC ROOM housed twelve plexiglass capsules, six on each side. Inside each sleeper freezer, are the shadowy shape of a human body rimed with frost. The smooth white crystalline frost begins to evaporate, and a form becomes clear. Ava is looking down on Armstrong whom is still asleep; Armstrong lies asleep in her underwear, her body is illuminated bright-yellow from the capsules lights. There are IV lines in her elbows and ankles. Ava looks at the monitor next to her capsule which shows a full body scan of Armstrong.
Armstrong awakes, shaking from the cold, she looks around in confusion. Ava looks at her with her bright yellow goggles as if she is curiously studying her emotions.
“Where am I?” Armstrong asked.
“On board the Sylvania.” Ava replied. She introduced herself, and said, “Try to relax. Your mind and body are in a state of shock, as a result of stasis. All that is perfectly normal.”
Ah. Ava the prototype. UniGen’s 80th series. One of a kind for now, but if she performs, she will be legion. It took a minute for Armstrong’s mind to reorients itself to the surroundings and recall her position again. She was June Armstrong, Director of Operations. And she was aboard the Sylvania, a Master-class star freighter.
Armstrong sits-up on the edge of the capsule. She was still shivering, and her head felt like it can explode any minute. Ava gently wrapps a thermal blanket over Armstrong’s shoulders. It was soothingly warm. “Thank you, Ava.” She said.
“My pleasure—” Ava leaves the shivering Armstrong and walks over to a control manual in the center of the room. She works the display monitor, moving intricate technical data across the surface with waves of her hand. Her eyes intent on what she sees. Reading at a speed no human could match. The eleven other cryogenic capsules open and the room is quickly illuminated yellow.
“What’s our status?” Armstrong asked.
“All systems are operational, ma’am. Oxygen levels at 100-per-cent. Automatic course set to Corinth Colony, estimated arrival time is six days, five hours and 31 minutes, to be precise—”
Some of the crew begin to awake; a series of moans, groans and shocked whimpering comes from the opened capsules. However, one of the capsule is empty.
Ava returns to Armstrong’s side. “There was one casualty, ma-am. Peter Norwick, the government inspector, died during hypersleep.” Ava looks toward the empty capsule. “I thought it prudent to remove the body first.”
Armstrong closed her eyes disappointed. She will deal with this later, right now she wanted the pounding headache to cease. She stood up and lost her balance, if not for Ava’s quick reflexes, she would have fallen. “I’ll be fine." She forced herself on her own two feet. "Attend the crew, and ask the Doc to see me first thing.” She said, and slowly walked away.
Ava turned on the heels of her boots. Some of the crew were already sitting up, others were puking their guts, and one of the Spec Op guys was doing pushups next to their capsule. “For the next several hours you’ll be feeling a constant sense of hunger, dehydration, weakness in your joints and limbs, and a mind grain. This means your blood has reprocessed and replaced the feline solution in your body. All that will pass. Drink plenty of water, drink plenty of fluids. Hydration aids muscle mass....”
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