Ling grew up in the suburbs of Beijing. Daughter of two academics with blazing careers. At her 10th birthday, she was convinced that the CEO of CNSA (Chinese National Space Agency) would kick the door in and take her to space academy. She wanted to be an astronaut!
Her parents had little time to spend with her, and Ling fell in love with books and stars. Longing to be another place. She started studying astronomy and digital telescope technology at the CNSA, but when the aliens invaded Earth and spread that horrible virus, she joined the Air Force. Within a year she was a pilot. Flew 20 missions, and with only 965 flying hours, she was selected to join a top secret space program. She was shocked when she learned what program she joined: UESP – United Earth Survival Program.
She rose in ranks and soon was one of the top leaders of the program. She was involved in setting up the launch site years before the launch. 5000 people from all over the Earth were sent into space to save humanity. Later, additional 100 pods with the technical crew were also launched. The tech crew was educated in activating the call-back switch. Once every 10 years, a single tech pod would return to investigate if the Earth was livable. If yes, the tech crew had the knowledge to activate the call-back beacon and return the 5000 humans.
While the launch of the tech crew approached, more and more humans caved under the virus. Seeing their fate, Ling used her rank and access to make sure she was one of the chosen tech people to be launched. She wasn’t proud of it, but she couldn’t bear it anymore.
She was launched and went into cryo-sleep and slept for years before it was her turn to return to Earth. The computer told her, that the air on Earth was ready, which meant that humans could be called back.
She traveled to Earth, only to learn that she couldn’t land. The launch site was destroyed and so was all the positioning signals. Only by using her level 1 security clearance she managed to override the autopilot which otherwise would have burned her in the atmosphere. It was a close call!
Ling spotted the mother ship and docked in hope of beaming herself to Earth. She soon learned that her AI was destroyed during the failed landing procedure. The AI was crucial to operating the pod and the call-back beacon at the launch site on Earth.
She called out to all remaining pods to disable their autopilot and wake them up.
Only one responded- all the others were either buried in entry, destroyed in collisions, or their passengers lost their life during cryo-sleep. All their colleagues were dead. Only pod 77 responded and traveled towards Ling’s position.
Meanwhile, Ling entered the mothership to turn on the portal. In the process, she realized the ship was, in fact, a nest of aliens. She decided to shut the ship down and destroy the aliens. She left notes for 77 along the way – apologizing for calling. But during her sabotage, she activated an alarm, and something in the ship woke up – a creature – and chased her. She tried to escape. She hid. She ran. No use! Finally, she locked herself in the portal room and caught the creature in a disinfection airlock. But she was trapped!
That’s where your story begins, 77…