Non-Essential Crew Cryonics Bay 42
UTS Rose Dawn
Jun. 2, 2565 A.C.E.
The cryonics pod door gradually warmed from the inside as power flowed through it. The occupant, identified by the name plate as one “Private Chambers, Dann,” shifted slightly. It was the first movement his body had experienced in close to five hundred years.
The revitalization process took about half an hour. The sleeper’s body was slowly warmed, re-hydrated and revived before consciousness took hold, which itself took another several minutes.
When consciousness did start to reassert itself, the ex-dessicated frozen lump began to think and feel very slowly. He quickly regretted the ‘feel’ part as nerves long-inactive started lodging complaints from his entire body. He lay as still as possible in the pod, partly because all passengers and crew were trained to do so and partly because the shockingly strong pins-and-needles feeling he was experiencing made moving impossible.
He waited for the alert signal his revitalization triggered to bring someone from the medical crew to assist with the rest of the unfreezing process. Lt. Shipman had told him the medical teams would be revived first, and that they should have arrived before he had any desire to even try to move on his own.
So Dann waited. And he waited some more. The cryo-bay was quiet, a fact he noticed once the buzzing of nerves in his ears subsided to a level that let him notice it. His breathing sounded shallow and strangely harsh to him.
He waited long enough that he was feeling far more impatient than uncomfortable. He decided to at least open his eyes. It was a difficult task; that every day ‘just woke up in the morning’ eye gumminess is nothing after 24 hours compared to after 5 centuries.
The bay was dark, lit not by the main lights but rather by instrument readouts and control LEDs. It gave the whole place a dark sort of Christmasy look, Dann thought, at least from the little he could see within the pod.
It was uncanny how quiet the place was, he thought. He opened his mouth to call out, and spent the next full minute in a coughing fit. That’s when he remembered the mass of tubes and needles he was attached to; they were the main reason he was supposed to wait for medical aid in getting up.
He carefully sat up in the pod; none of the other two dozen or so pods that he could see were open. He grimaced; he’d been among those performing final checks on the pods before the ship launched. Everything had come across green. “Hello?” he finally voiced, or tried to. His voice sounded hollow and scratchy and vaguely like a frog with tonsillitis. He desperately wanted water.
“Hello? Anyone there? Rose, are you active?” he tried again. His voice was still dry and wispy, but actually sounded like words this time.
“Yes, Pvt. Chambers, I am active,” a feminine voice responded. Dan sighed in relief. The AI was responding, at least. He wasn’t alone.
“Where are the doctors and nurses? Aren’t they supposed to come up and help me out of this mess?”
“The medical staff are still in their pods, Pvt. Chambers.”
“Wait, what? Why are they still in their pods? Aren’t they supposed to be the first ones awake?”
“The medical staff are dead, Pvt. Chambers.”
Dann’s mouth dropped open. “DEAD! How can they be dead? Rose, what happened?” It certainly explained why nobody else was here; the senior crew should have been awakened and would be busy investigating the deaths in the medical crew cryo-bay.
“My records are incomplete, Pvt. Chambers.”
“Tell me what you know, I’ll try to get myself out of here.” He began plucking needles from his arm, a task complicated by the incredible weakness he still felt, not to mention the shock of the news he’d just received.
“Approximately 20 years ago, the UTS Rose Dawn received a transmission from the approximate location of the planet New Eden. Shortly afterward, a malfunction in the cryo-pod system resulted in the deaths of the medical personnel on board.”
“20 years!” Dann accidentally jabbed one of the needles deeper into his arm and cursed. He pulled at the needles and tubes, but much as he wanted to, he was too slow and weak to disengage himself quickly. “Why didn’t you wake up the senior crew? They’d have gotten some of us techs up to check on the systems!”
“The senior staff are dead, Pvt. Chambers.”
Dann felt dizzy and leaned on the side of the pod. “All of them? How … what … who’s left alive on this ship?” he asked, voice even weaker than when he’d revived.
“Pvt. Dann Chambers is the only confirmed living crew member. Unconfirmed living crew members may include Pvt. Lydia Jackson, Pvt. Reginald Powel, Pvt. Sally Castle, Sgt. Irving Ford, Lt. Frederic Cobb—”
“Just … How many are left?” He’d been horribly afraid for a moment that Rose would report him as the sole surviving person.
“There are one confirmed survivor, fourty-eight unconfirmed survivors, and the mobile interfacing unit remaining.”
“Fourty-eight …” He looked around at the bays surrounding him. They were all dark, and looking closer, he confirmed that none he could see displayed any indication that the occupants were still alive. Dead for twenty years, he thought with a shiver. “Wait. Your mobile interfacing unit is around? Bring her down, Rose. I need help.”
“Right away, Pvt. Chambers.”