Sally the genetically engineered salamander spent an hour or so modifying the ancient, makeshift, cryogenic, unit holding two relatively genetically un-modified human beings from another age. Qwerty the robot was the go-fer and assistant for much of that time, handing her tools, doing other repair and modification tasks, and getting more equipment and tools from the ship. Finally they attached grav units to the now disconnected machine and it was ready for transport.
The plan was to get it on the ship and take it to the nearest union station a few hundred million kilometers away. Then they’d wake up the two humans inside and help them build new lives, incidentally introducing them to a few historians, other scholars and scientists who, if the humans consented to it, would ask the humans any number of questions and subject them to countless tests.
Sally looked at Qwerty, “Ready?” she asked. He nodded and they both carefully rotated the (now floating) metal cabinet length-wise so as to more easily move it through the corridors on the way to their ship’s door.
“Oh wow!” said Sally. Despite all the work she had already put in she looked as if she were ready to start bouncing off the walls. “This is soooo cooooool! I can’t wait to meet them!”
“Could be speciesist,” Qwerty said as they both navigated the cabinet around hallway turn.
“Yeah, yeah. I know, but maybe not… or maybe not that bad,” she replied.
“Unmodified human beings are hard-wired for an us-versus-them mentality. It’s down to evolution.”
“Sure, sure,” dismissed Sally. She knew Qwerty was excited too, he just didn’t want her to be disappointed if, after they woke up, the ancient humans started treating the machines and non-human organisms that were caring for them as if they were simply appliances and animals.
They could see the docking bay of the station. Qwerty sent a mental-wireless command to their ship to open its doors.
Qwerty had been roaming the station more quickly and scanning more thoroughly than Sally. He’d wanted to determine what problems, if any, might arise should they decide to try to get this station back online. On the one hand it might damage this valuable historical site. On the other hand it would make exploring the place and examining it a heck of a lot easier if they could access it’s data network and other systems.
But Sally had found something that trumped all other concerns. She had possibly discovered a pair of cryogenically frozen humans! He rushed back to the way he came. Back into the room with the two ancient corpses. Then through the hall Sally had gone through and into the ancient medical bay. He found Sally working at the modified refrigerator. She had already moved it away from the wall and removed a plate from it’s back. She had a attached a small computer to it’s onboard systems and was simultaneously mentally pouring over it’s data and software (via that small attached computer and her brain’s wireless connection) and fiddling around in it’s innards with her tools.
As Qwerty approached she said “It’s definitely not regular ice in there. Have a scan.” Qwerty looked at the refrigerator and did so.
When an organism was frozen, it’s cell walls were usually sliced and punctured by sharp ice crystals. This one of the reasons cryogenics had gotten off to a rough start in the late human era. Humans never did scale up a working cryogenic system, but a few had been working on the problem before the great war.
“The ice isn’t crystalline” he said. “It looks like these humans figured it out.”
“50 years before we did,” said Sally, her eyes, both mental and physical, still fixed on her work. “Pretty impressive right?”
Qwerty stopped scanning and looked at Sally. “Can we wake them up?” he asked.
“Trying to find that out…”
The Thing watched and listened from the medical bay ventilation shaft. He listened to what the interlopers had said about reviving his enemies. This new machine was obviously a traitor. He clearly showed concern for these biologies. He decided to kill them both.
Sally reached the end of the hallway at the end of which was another door. She managed to open it up after fiddling with it and the tools on her tool-pack. It was very dark now, apparently the power was out throughout the station. Hardly surprising given nearly a century of disuse. The light from the sun barely penetrated in here. Sally reached into her pack and brought out a small sphere. She pressed a button and it immediately lit up, illuminating the hall and the room beyond the door. She let it go and it floated up to the ceiling. It kept pace with her as she entered the room beyond the door.
It was large. There were rows of human-sized tables on either side of the wall. Large dead touch screens covered nearly every surface. A few cabinets were open. Their contents were strewn across the floor. Old bandages. Hypodermic needles encased in old, yellowing, plastic. This was their med-bay.
At the end of the room were two rows of 2 large metal cabinets, one on either side of the wall. One of them still had power! Is it on it’s own circuit? The light-bot hurried after her as she zoomed toward the machine. Sally grabbed another instrument from her pack and began scanning the cabinet.
“Qwerty? Are you seeing this? It’s some kind of refrigeration unit and”-
“Why not just call it a refrigerator then?” interrupted Qwerty over the radio. In his robotic mind’s eye he could see what her helmut camera was looking at. The view moved from the cabinet to Sally’s scanner and back again. Qwerty wordlessly and wirelessly requested access to the scanner. Sally, in her own cyborgic mind, knew he was now monitoring it.
“Because, as you can probably figure out by now, my dear trash can, it’s not designed to hold food or medical supplies. Well, I suppose it was originally, but it’s been modified. And there are two, perhaps fully alive, 100 plus year old human beings in stasis inside.”