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I move my stuff into Habitation Ring 1 that night, choosing a room as far away from the one where I found Leilea Arc Hess as possible. While I’m moving, I take the time to go through every currently unoccupied room in Habitation Ring 2, checking dresser drawers for false bottoms until… yes! Another handmade notebook, in the same unfamiliar alphabet as the first. This one’s much shorter; Dr Kinoshita was only up the back of the ship with crewmates to psychoanalyse for less than a year. I check the dates and they match up; these are definitely her psychology notes.
A psychologist on a ship (one who’s actually doing their job, unlike me) has a lot of plates in the air. They’re expected to act as analyst, social adviser, third-in-command, personal counsellor for the crew and, should the situation require one, psychologist. With Renn aboard I’m still the assistant psychologist, and since he’s actually doing his job I might ironically have more psychology work now, assuming he insists I do mine. Anyway, he’s probably starting a notebook like this, too, about us.
I don’t care about that. If I need to know what my living crewmates are going through, I’ll ask them directly.
But only Keiko Kinoshita can tell me about the dead.
Which leads to another conversation that we need to have. Because I can’t go around looking into this behind Captain Sands’ back. It’s far too risky. We need to talk about letting Captain Sands and the new crew know about the brain-hijacking AI.
If I want to talk to the ‘old crew’ as a group, this is the safest time to do it. All the new people are still under observation in the medbays, including Captain Sands, and he has less reason to be paranoid now that he’s got all his new crew members to stop him from feeling surrounded by criminals. I’m moving my stuff from one habitation ring to the other, so this is probably the last time I’ll have a good reason to be hanging around Habitation Ring 1 that isn’t being there specifically to talk to people. And it’s a conversation that we can’t keep putting off.
I hang around until people start showing up to go to bed. Soon, Tinera, Adin, Denish and Tal are gathered around me – the doctors are still in the medbays, but they could be there for hours. Someone will just have to fill them in later.
“We need to talk about the ten per cent survival group,” I start.
“Is this about that sixty nine per cent guy having a compromised port?” Tal asks.
“Him, and the damaged hull panel on Chronostasis Ring 5, and everything else. But mostly, it’s about how keeping all this to ourselves is going to get dangerous. We need to tell Captain Sands.”
“And if he goes all Reimann?” Tinera asks.
“I don’t think he will. I think he can handle it.”
“New crew members might,” Denish points out.
“Even if a new crew member does become irrational, everyone else on the ship can handle it. We’ll probably be getting new crew members for a while; we can’t keep putting off sharing this information because there’s still someone around who we don’t know well enough to predict. The fact is this – we all agreed not to tell Captain Sands when he woke up, because we didn’t know how he’d react and we were already hitting him with a lot of information at once. But he’s adjusted now, he’s putting the ship back together. If we don’t tell him, it’s because we don’t trust him.”
“I don’t trust him,” Tinera says. “He woke a bunch of new people up and then secluded us on purpose because he wants to create a two-tier system and he needs more little bullies on his side to do it. You do realise that, right?”
“Yes, his sentiments on that aren’t ideal,” I agree. “But that doesn’t really affect whether we should – ”
“Yeah. It does. He’s a stubborn arse who judges people for facile reasons, decides he knows how to handle them, and won’t listen to anyone else. He’s exactly the sort of person who, if you say ‘oh, these colonists here are essentially dead and also our AI is super broken and feeding off their brainpower’, would grab a fucking axe and try to solve the situation, and then the AI would retaliate, and if we all die in some stupid war with the systems managing our life support then I don’t think the next crew is going to be able to fix things up again. You’ve seen the rash kinds of decisions he makes. Look how quickly he jumped on reviving so many people.”
“Being fair,” Denish says, “we all make rash decisions. When we woke up, I say immediately, oh, I have genius plan for Chronostasis Ring 1, and that turned out very badly. Even if my plan had worked, it would mean having one hundred colonists awake! Terrible idea! I wanted to revive so many people! And our doctors are so, so protective of anybody with even a little hurt, far more than we need. And you, Tiny, always very aggressive right away, like Sands. And Aspen – only reason all of us were revived is because Aspen broke all of their bones and needed doctor.”
“Three bones,” I correct him. “I broke three bones.”
“And you say it like nothing! My point! Stressful situation, we are all rash sometimes, but we did not do like Reimann. I think Captain Sands is the same.”
“I think,” Adin says thoughtfully, “that the captain was probably just scared by the prospect of being surrounded by a bunch of people he didn’t trust, and that’s why he wanted to hurry along the revival process. It was a moment of panic.”
“And you think he won’t panic if we tell him about the broken brain stealing computer?!” Tinera asks.
“No. I think he’s more secure in his command now and he’ll react with more restraint. Order investigations into the phenomenon. With our new crew, who contains a new doctor and an astrophysicist and two engineers, including himself – y’know, the kind of minds we need on this. And, critically, Aspen’s right – if we don’t tell him now, it’s going to look like we don’t trust him, which – ”
“That doesn’t matter! Because we need him to trust us. He’s going to find out about this eventually; can you imagine his reaction if he realises we were hiding it from him? Especially since he plans on reviving more crew, and if we have to pull another person out of Chronostasis Ring 5 and they have another unstable cranial port… well, I just think it’s better to make sure he knows not to do that in advance.”
“Tal,” I say. “What do you think?”
“I think… that we don’t know much about how Amy thinks, specifically, and that could kill us. And we don’t know much about why Zale had a bad cranial port even though they weren’t a ten per center, and that could kill more colonists if we don’t know how much danger they’re in or what’s going on. And we don’t know what was tampered with under the hull of the chronostasis ring, which leads into the other two things and suggests there might be dangers left over from the crew 1 people still in chronostasis if there was some kind of weird brain hijacking conspiracy or experiment or something, and we can’t get some systems of this ship working right because we don’t know Reimann’s password and statistically it’ll take me one hundred and seventy three years to brute-force it with the lockout after limited attempts, and we don’t know why the bodies in Chronostasis Ring 1 didn’t decay like they were supposed to. I woke up and came out of that ring alive but nobody else did. Of all the things we don’t know on this ship, not knowing if Sands is gonna do something stupid is the thing least likely to kill us. We have more people to help figure this all out now, so why would we not do that? If Sands does something, stupid Denish can just overpower him. Denish can’t overpower Amy.”
“Sands has cronies now,” Tinera warns.
“Nah, he doesn’t. Sunset and Sam are cool. Sunset’s got preneek fingernails, I’m sure you saw, and she knows so much cool zeelite nail art. And Sam knows so many preneek stories – did you know they once went and saw the actual Doom blanket in person?”
“What in the stars is a ‘Doom bla – ’”
“Tal’s right,” I cut in, before we’re pulled on another irrelevant tangent. “I don’t think Sands has informed the new crew about the convict situation yet, and if he’s hoping for ‘cronies’, as Tinera puts it, I don’t think telling them about it will get his wish. They all seem pretty eager to integrate into the existing crew.” Thanks largely to Tal’s insistence on movie night and apparently irresistable charm to people obsessed with the pre-Neocambrian era. I admit, I certainly hadn’t predicted Tal of all people somehow becoming our social lynchpin, but whatever works.
Denish nods. “Renn seems very sensible also. And I do not think a Public Universal Friend would stand for anything that endangers the ship. I did not get to speak much to Celi, but if ke is as sick as the doctors say, ke wouldn’t pose any kind of physical threat anyway.”
“… Fine,” Tinera says. “I guess working behind their backs isn’t really doable, and hiding this is probably more dangerous.”
I nod. “Someone needs to consult Lina and our Friend on this. If we all agree, well, I guess someone needs to talk to Sands. Oh, and also, you guys might find this interesting.” I pull out the handmade notebooks. “Does anyone here read Japanese?”
Nobody says they do. They just stare at the books.
“What are they?” Denish asks.
I can’t help but grin. “Well, I can’t read them to be certain, but. So far as I can make out, these are the case notes taken by Senior Psychologist Keiko Kinoshita.” I separate the books. “This one is from the revival of crew 2, up to Reimann’s breakdown. And this one is from the back of the ship after the breakdown, where she was stranded with the scientists.”
More staring, this time with more awe.
“How long have you been holding onto those?” Tinera breathes.
“I found the first one a couple of days ago. The second one about an hour ago. If one of our new crewmates reads Japanese, we can read them. If not, I’m sure the AI can read the language. And then…”
“Then we’ll have the answer to so many questions,” Adin says.
“Yeah.” I tuck the books away. “Right after we talk to Captain Sands.”
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