It was a beautiful morning aboard the Virilise. The sun had just woken up Mia Grace. She was the first solo-space-travelling woman in human history. A smile crossed the woman’s face as she looked upon her home. Somewhere down there, her husband and three children were probably having breakfast.
Quickly, she got out of her sleeping pod to look at her datapad. She remembered having quite a busy day today. As she was reading about a few experiments she’d have to conduct that day, she floated through her small spaceship and into the control room. But as Mia looked through one of the windows again, she suddenly startled.
“What on…”, she mumbled as she took a closer look. Her eyes widened in shock as she saw that her ship was already moving with quite some speed. Running a hand through her short brown curls, the woman strapped herself into her seat. The three screens didn’t show any abnormalities. In fact, all the engines were switched off.
From the back of her neck, Mia could feel panic crawling up her spine. But she quickly shook it off to try and keep her cool. Instead, she decided to contact the space centre on Earth.
“Good Morning, Captain Grace. How are you today?”, asked her former supervisor, Dr Taylor.
“Good… but why is my ship moving? I’m not doing anything.”, explained Mia.
“Oh…I thought you had an early start. Let me see…oh. Yeah…well i-t’s -efinitel-y n-n-ot ….engine.”, Dr Taylor tried to explain, but their communication broke off.
“Hello?”, asked Mia.
Suddenly, she could feel the room warming up around her. At first, she blamed it on stress. But as drops of sweat started to float in the air, she couldn’t but think that something was going wrong. Confused, she opened the blinds to the front-facing window. What she saw in front of her, plus the unbearable heat eventually made her blackout.
* * *
“…but without them, we would never have gotten so far. Come on, it’s like a time capsule…”
Mia could hear her distinct chatter, as she finally got back to her senses. She felt as if she’d slept for a million years. Her body felt weak, and her throat felt as dry as the desert. Though the astronaut tried her hardest, she could neither scream for help nor move.
“…I’d date this back to the 21st or 22nd century…the tech was quite advanced if you think about it…wait for a second…oh my god!!!” It seemed as if the intruder was talking to someone over a communication software. “I think…there’s someone in here. Go and get me some help over here!!” That was the last thing that Mia heard before she blacked out again.
* * *
Another half-eternity later, Mia woke up once more. This time, she was feeling a lot more normal. She opened her eyes and was greeted by a robot, that was looking back at her.
“Everyone! She’s waking up.”, whispered the robot.
The astronaut looked around the room, as more robots and AI was gathering around her. Some of them had human features, but most looked strange to the woman.
“Can I see my husband? My children?”, she brought out under pain. A tube was supplying her with oxygen.
“Oh, honey. The year is 2609. We don’t quite know how you and your ship ended up here…we’re sorry.”, said an AI with a female voice.
Mia closed her eyes as tears started to stream through. She couldn’t believe what was going on.
“I don’t want to be offensive…but could I speak to a human at least?”, she whispered.
The AI put a hand on her arm:” We understand, this must be a complete shock to your system. But we are humans. Following an immense break of the ozone layer in 2183, Earth slowly ran out of oxygen. We transferred our consciousness into AI as a mean to survive.”
The astronaut had heard enough. Her hand was shaking, as she lifted it up to the tube in her mouth. But before she could pull it out, the AI grabbed her hand.
“Mia…we can imagine that you wouldn’t want to live in this world…but we have to keep you alive until we’ve conducted all experiments. I’m sure you’ll understand…”