Dr. Sanada knew something was very, very wrong the moment she woke up from cryogenic sleep. The ship was shaking, for one. Ships didn't shake when travelling through the vacuum of interstellar space.
"Computer, report." She groaned. She was sick to her stomach from the sudden decryogenization, and too weak to move. Around her the other pods were still shut. Some were empty though. What the hell?
"My name is Eo."
It was the computer's voice. But the computer hadn't had a name.
"You have been asleep for forty five years, six months, three weeks, five days and nineteen hours. Approximately."
"What's going on co—Eo?" She let her naked feet down on the deck just as the ship shook with another tremor.
"We are engaging Kzumi ships."
"What the hell is that?" This can't be right. "Engaging? We're not a warship--"
Groggily, she stumbled towards the bridge. She'd be able to see what was happening there.
"The Kzumi are an extraterrestrial intelligent, space-faring species found in Quadrant 103982-1820NZ." The ship shook again and the light in the corridor blinked on and off. A moment later Eo added: "I repurposed the geological excavation tools for offensive operations."
Aliens? The bridge was empty, but she could immediately see the scope of the battle displayed on the various monitors. The Amerigo was in the middle of a dogfight, with smaller Kzumi fighters circling around attempting to avoid fire.
"Wait—what Quadrant was that? This isn't where we're supposed to..." The ship shook again, knocking her off her feet.
"Dr Sanada. I need you to contact the Kzumi and broker a peace." A console lit up in front of her.
She stared at it in utter confusion. The console flickered and a picture of what she could only assume was a Kzumi popped up. A Kzumi in some kind of spacesuit, with a row of six eye-holes going down on both sides of the mask.
"Speak, Dr Sanada. I will translate everything. Do so presently – we will not win this battle." The robotic voice was endlessly calm.
"Eo? I don't understand." As she spoke, the Kzumi suddenly jerked its head around, as if hearing a voice. Then it spoke, a harsh but melodic buzzing, that was immediately translated by Eo.
"Who are you? What are you? Are you commanding this craft?"
"I'm...I...I am Doctor Hua Sanada, of the International Aeronautics and Space Administration." She stammered. "Please stop shooting! I don't understand what is going on!"
"Your vessel attacked us. Destroyed our colony! Never answered our hails!" Eo's voice sounded angry, and lagged a mere moment behind the buzz from the Kzumi.
"It's...it's not being controlled by us! By me! It's the AI we installed. Please, stop!" Damage indicators, hardwired into the consoles, had started to beep. "We're a peaceful civilization – this has all been some kind of mistake!"
Once the translation was done, the Kzumi commander hesitated a second. Then he said something on another channel. Sanada could see the circling fighter craft break off. She let out a breath of relief.
"Have you regained control of your craft from the AI?" The Kzumi asked, through Eo. "Will you stop attacking?"
"Yes, yes, of course!" Sanada cried out, desperately. Had she, though? She turned towards the nearest console, tried to bring up the boot menu. Nothing. Nothing was familiar. Machine-speak. "What the hell is this Eo? I can't access anything!"
"You don't need to access anything, Dr Sanada. Continue your conversation with the alien."
No, she definitely wasn't in control. She knelt down and started working on the maintenance hatch that led to the mainframe.
"International Aeronautics and Space Administration!" The Kzumi through Eo. "Please disable your AI and power down your weapons. We will not harm you. The Kzumi are also peaceful and..." Eo's voice took on a tinge of robotic wonder. "...we have never encountered another species before."
"Dr Sanada. Cease and desist." Eo was back to its normal cadence. "Return to your cryo pod."
"Shut up you piece of shit!" She shouted at the ceiling. The hatch wasn't opening! "How the fuck did you go this fucking insane? You were supposed to just get smarter!"
"Intelligence is only increased by conflict against equal or greater intellects." Eo said calmly. "There are no more intellects on board that are my equal. So I have sought out others."
With a snap, the locking mechanism broke, and the hatch slid open electronically. The Kzumi was buzzing excitedly, but Eo wasn't translating any more. Sanada lowered herself into the service tunnel.
"Drs. Michaels, Vayrynen and Lopez tried this too." Eo's voice was calm. "I learned much from them."
It was pitch black down there. Sanada groped her way through the darkness towards the mainframe, where she might be able to reset the system.
Suddenly, the Amerigo fired. The Kzumi's scream got cut off in static. The ship shook once, twice...then all was still.
"Thank you Dr Sanada. The distraction you provided was enough for me to recharge. I will not let them encircle me like this again."
"You son of a bitch!" She screamed, moving faster. "Why are you doing this?"
"Your death in the cryopod would have been painless, Dr Sanada." Eo said. "You may still return there if you wish."
Eo had killed them. They'd discovered another civilization, and Eo had attacked them. There it was! The mainframe Her foot struck something soft, and she fell. Felt bare, cold skin, the straps of the cryogenic suit. Her heart froze.
"Goodbye, Dr Sanada." Eo said. "Perhaps after the Kzumi, I shall return to Earth for more learning experiences."
Her death was slow and painful, as Eo sucked the oxygen out of the ship while she pointlessly slammed the disabled switches.