Anahi’s blood began to flow through the pipes like thick red sauce. Delicate instruments probed her body, testing her muscles and bones for signs of degeneration. The process of testing and reheating took eighteen hours from start to finish and Anahi dreamed throughout.
At its climax, the tubes detached from her neck, stomach and thighs, and the plugs auto-sealed, artificial umbilical’s that marked her second birth. This time round however, she didn’t cry.
Deftly, a needle extended from the slab and into her forearm, a cocktail of nutrients and adrenaline accelerating her return to consciousness.
Anahi’s eyelids fluttered twice then opened. Two inches from her nose was the curving roof of her capsule which diffused the light outside.
Bolts slid back, the lid hissing softly as it popped open. Anahi pressed the button to release her from the harness and floated upwards, reaching for the railing that ran the shuttle’s short length.
She froze mid motion, the sight of her hand stopping her in her tracks. The skin had paled significantly, and hung loosely across her knuckles. She regarded it without expression, feeling detached. The bony fingers belonged to an old woman, not to her.
They’d warned her that this would happen. Her superiors had only slowed her body for the journey, not stopped it completely. Removed but not immune to the ravages of time. Complete freezing was unreliable, the risk of brain damage too high and they needed her functional, not beautiful.
She dismissed the welling emotions with a practical little sigh and opened the locker containing the pieces of her suit. She attached them one by one, finishing with the helmet which lit up as it clicked into position. Data began to steam along the inside of her visor, telling her that the shuttle had arrived on schedule and was in operational condition. She requested an external view but quickly turned it off. The nebula’s dust so thick here that there was nothing to see, as if they were submerged in dirty water rather than the reaches of space.
Dull as the dust was to look at, its composition was vital and Anahi chewed at her lip as she read the analysis, only relaxing when she checked and double checked that the hydrogen levels were within acceptable parameters.
The next thing was to check the Seed itself. Her mouth curled into a sneer at the thought. Why not call it a bomb? That’s what it was in reality, the biggest and best explosive that humanity could devise. They would say that its purpose was to create rather than destroy. She would say it would do both, the former requiring the latter. A man made deity of destruction and creation. She examined it carefully, knowing there was no rush. Like her the Seed had aged a little on the outside but was still perfectly capable of serving its purpose.
Everything was ready. All she had to do now was give the order and the process would begin. The Seed would flare into life, sending a shockwave through the nebula that would begin its collapse. In fifty million years or so, a star would be born where her shuttle now drifted and she would be part of it, her carbon woven into its heart.
Anahi shook her head. She didn’t buy the romantic spin. This was about resources. This was about her punishment. She called up their faces, one by one, on her visor, surprised by how many of them she’d forgotten. They were irrelevant to her now, as irrelevant as she was to the star she was about to create or to the people who would live and thrive in its warmth millions of years after she was gone.
Remorseless, she pressed the button.