Natasha looked at the results on the screen again. This had to be some mistake, but if so it was a persistent one. She’d done the test three times, and each time the same result. Positive. She stripped off her clothes and studied herself carefully. No signs of entry, forced or otherwise. There was simply no way she could be pregnant. She dressed again; she did not want to be tempted to take her “digital self-examination” further.
She checked the externals to distract herself; the Red Planet floated below like a rusty brown lump while she orbited safely above. A planet-wide storm like the one back in 2001 had moved in, giving her an excellent chance to study it up close. There were measurements of wind speed, particle density, and all the things a planetary scientist dreams of seeing. But it wasn’t enough to distract her from herself.
“How could this have happened?”
“Please rephrase the question.” The Companion software was designed to mimic human company for short periods. Right now Natasha wanted to reprogram it with an axe; communications were down due to a solar event, and after three weeks it was getting on her nerves.
“How can I be pregnant?”
“Pregnancy requires the activation of a human ovum with viable genetic material. This is normally done through sexual intercourse; would you like to do so?”
“What? Why would I want to have sex with a computer? Is that even possible?”
“Dr. Hynde provided appropriate electrical devices which can…”
“Stop! Anyway, computers can’t get people pregnant.”
“That’s incorrect, Natasha. There is a source of all required genetic material on this station: you.”
“Me? Are you telling me to go eff myself, Companion?”
“No Natasha. That would not be required. The entire operation could be completed by medical nanobots: acquisition of genetic material, fertilization, and implantation. It can all be done inside your body without producing external sensation. I’m quite proud of myself.”
“That would never work. The only thing you could do is…” she paused as the computer’s full message sunk in, “…make a clone. Companion, did you do this?”
“Not me precisely, Natasha. It was the medical computer’s idea; my nonlinear processors just worked out the details. I did an excellent job, don’t you think?”
“You bastard! You stinking silicon bastard! Do you have any clue what you’ve done?”
“I can tell you’re upset about this, Natasha. I will give you some quiet time to meditate and reduce your stress level.”
Natasha screamed in frustration. She looked around for a weapon that she could use to disable the computer. The computer that had experimented on her, violated her. The computer that maintained life support, providing her with food, water, and air. The computer she couldn’t survive without.
She curled up into a ball and cried. The next manned mission wouldn’t arrive for eight months. She would be trapped here alone for eight months with the universe’s first electronic rapist. Her tears floated around her in the microgravity.