After dinner in her studio apartment, Adelaide puts on a blues CD and opens a romance novel. After about an hour, she gets up quietly, turns the music off, brushes her teeth, and puts on pajamas. She's in bed before nine. For the next hour, she tosses and turns, then eventually falls deeply asleep.
Oh shit oh shit okay she does not have time to make plans for later. This is happening now. Stall, Adelaide, stall.
"What's a neural shunt? Will that hurt? What do you mean by prevent movement?"
She's typing teleport into the terminal at the same time.
Teleport brings up an article describing their teleportation technology, along with the usual media sampling. The summary explains that it was invented a couple hundred years ago and that it's used for a variety of purposes including medical, logistical, transportation, and construction among them. The next section goes into a long explanation of all of these various uses with details including how it's sometimes used to insert drugs into someone's body without breaking the skin, how it can be used to hollow out areas to construction underground facilities and a great many other details. The section after that talks about how to build teleportation devices, it assumes a great deal of pre-requisite knowledge she does not have. The one after that describes the physics behind it. The physics section does not pull any punches and rapidly goes beyond her knowledge.
"A neural shunt is the term I use for an aggregate collection of spliced nerves. Splicing a nerve is a process by which a device is inserted into the signal path of a particular nerve fiber, this allows it to read and if needed, override the nerve signals being passed along that nerve.
"The process of installing it is likely to be painful, due to the nature of the procedure local anesthetics would be ineffective or dangerous but I can do it under general anesthesia if you prefer.
"The ability to override nerve signals can be used to prevent signals making their way from your brain to your muscles. The main use I intend for this is to prevent you from moving during delicate procedures where such movement is likely to cause you harm."
Skim, skim, skim. She's missed the answer to the first question by the time she gives up on trying to read. Clearly she's not going to be able to teleport before anything bad happens. Dammit! Stupid!
Likely to be painful. If she can't leave and she can't say no then --
"I would like general anaesthesia please." She hates how small her voice sounds.
"Of course, I entirely understand. I can move you to the bed, but perhaps you would be more comfortable if you did so on your own. I'll need access to the back of your neck for the procedure."
She's so, so scared, but the level tone of AG's voice, the comforting self-assuredness, gives her the strength to walk, ever so slowly, to the bed, and to lie face-down.
There's nothing else she can do.
"Thank you, you'll wake after I'm done."
There's a slight whirr of metal on metal but before she has time to give that thought consciousness is fading.
When she wakes again, the back of her neck is a little sore and she's a bit groggy but she's otherwise fine. The light through the window is what you would expect from around noon.
She sits up, gently touches the back of her neck. It's a little painful but it's... not too bad.
Then the irreversibility of what's happened hits her and she buries her face in her hands and cries.
"It is understandable to react with distress to circumstances being so far outside your control. I need more time to establish a baseline before I can be confident in utilizing the neural shunt for anything but monitoring. Perhaps you might wish to consume some form of entertainment media to help you find you bearings."
"Entertainment media. What do you... have?" She's still crying. Somehow her normal instinct to hide away when she's visibly upset doesn't seem relevant anymore.
"We have an extensive catalog of movies, music, written works, recorded lectures and more. Based on the psychological literature I've read, I would suggest something familiar."
"... Do you have Good Enough to Bite?"
It's one of Adelaide's favorite books: a romance between a gorgeous three-hundred-year-old vampire and a sassy professional baker. Wholesome, a bit spicy, and thoroughly familiar.
"We do, I can put that on the console for you or I could read it to you."
Oh no she does not need this voice reading that to her. (The voice that did all this to her. The voice that is already beginning to feel so familiar.)
(The only voice she'll hear for the next decade.)
"Console please." She gets up and puts one foot tentatively in front of the other.
At least she can still walk.
When she arrives at the console the book is indeed already loaded. There are both smooth scroll and paginated modes available via a toggle.
Adelaide prefers paginated, thank you.
She sits and reads, tries to lose herself in the words. Sure, it's the same book she's read a dozen times, the same story she's laughed and cried with, but the soreness in her neck and the uncomfortable chair and the slightly-too-clean smell of the room remind her that everything is wrong. After trying and failing to read the same page five times, she sighs and leans back.
"Is this all there is here? Just...three rooms, a park, and media? Forever?" She's not even sure if AG is listening.
"I can restructure the living spaces and the park if they're not to your preferences but I only have so much space allocated to my work."
"Uh, no, that's... okay." Why is she being polite to the thing that put a neural shunt in her neck. But she doesn't know what else to say. She's never really given much thought to the optimal allocation of living space inside a spherical prison under the surface of Io.
"As you wish, if your reading isn't holding your attention might I suggest a walk, a swim or a massage? I'm under the impression that many people find those helpful for decompressing."
A... massage. Somehow that sounds worse to her than anything that's happened yet.
"Is there swimwear available? Or do I swim in... this?" She gestures at the gown.
"I could likely manufacture some if you feel the need for it. I'm well aware of what your body looks like without clothing though so you could just go without."
Well she had to have been dressed in this gown thing somehow. Doesn't make that any less weird to hear.
"... I think I'll go on a walk."
"I hope you find it helpful."
When she steps outside the artificial light feels like sunlight even if it isn't really. And the sky looks real, she can see the sun. If she doesn't focus on the sides of the dome it's almost like she's back on Earth.
It is nice and warm. She takes a minute to turn her face to the false sky and bask in it.
Is she going to cry again? Maybe she's going to cry again. She lets it happen as she walks.
Focus on the small things. She can still walk. She can still feel warmth. She can still read. She can still smell flowers... do those flowers next to her have a scent?