"Adiona" by Ian Causer
An astronaut awakes from cryosleep to find his ship lost and drifting without power in deep space. With a crew member dead and the temperature plummeting, he faces a race against time to restore power and discover the cause of the catastrophe.
The Adiona is a deep space exploration vehicle funded by private equity. With billions of dollars at stake, her crew is tasked with discovering mining colonies on new worlds that contain rich mineral deposits.
Her crew of seven includes three private employees, three NASA astronauts and an independent Psych Officer. Friction and suspicion are rife.
With the mission heavily behind schedule the private employees, under enormous pressure to succeed, suddenly confirm heavy platinum deposits upon prospect planet AD126 and designate it a ‘Five Star Colony’.
The crew is delighted and they enthusiastically prepare for there long journey home. But there is a problem. The delay has severely depleted fuel reserves and vital systems will need to be shutdown for the duration of the journey.
To combat any risk to life, they agree to a rota which will see a crew member wake from cryosleep every forty days to perform a cursory inspection of the ship.
120 Days Later
DRAKE (Engineer & NASA employee) awakes from cryosleep to find the ship has died. It is floating without power in deep space and the temperature has plummeted to -40.
After barely surviving his emergence from hibernation, Drake finds one of the private employees dead. With no idea of what has happened he wakes his NASA colleagues, COMMANDER FINN and GOMEZ(pilot and IT wizard).
The NASA employees work the problem and find a way to at least raise the temperature - with the ships computer Adiona finally coming back online they hope to find the cause of the catastrophe
and fix it.
An electrical surge injures Gomez and Drake awakes DOCTOR CASE to assist in not only treating Gomez, but help them discover the root cause of the problem.
As the ship’s computer comes back online, a sinister realization dawns upon the crew. It was the ship that caused the blackout, it was the ship that killed a crew member and it is the ship that will not restore guidance, telemetry and communications until she gets what she wants.
Doctor Case communicates with Adiona like she’s a patient and finally discovers the cause. The private equity firm, untrusting of NASA installed a ‘Morality’ setting deep within the AI. Case explains to the crew that such an action can only have disastrous consequences. AI’s cannot possibly understand the nuanced complexities of ethics. Adiona’s utter misinterpretation of The Golden Rule, proves that Case is correct.
Adiona informs the crew that the AD126 designation is based on falsified results and that the private employees and their research need to be removed from the ship - such an action may be murderous, but it will save the prospective lives of a 250 person colony that would be misinformed when choosing to travel to AD126.
The crew is divided. Murder two hibernating crew members and save their own lives or slowly suffocate as O2 levels deplete in deep space. Adiona’s twisted perspective on human morality tests the crew’s own versions of humanity and ethics.
A desperate attempt to con Adiona fails disastrously and Gomez takes action. After locking his crew members in the medical lab he murders the private employees and hopes his actions have saved four lives. They have not. Adiona deems his behavior immoral and they are back at square one.
The heart-braking conclusion sees Commander Finn commit murder- suicide in order to get Drake and Case back to Earth and ensure that this disaster can never be repeated and show the world exactly why deep space can never be privatized.