You don't know
how to play chess?
the question on Evie as they escorting the laundry down. A
mechanical mantis wobbled under the weight of so many dirty clothes and sheets
while the women idled along either side.
One of the new
redheads. The new ones are teaching the old
ones chess. That leads me to believe that you don't know how to play. That
seems a little odd. You spent so much time at school with bright kids and all
that time on ships—
Did you ever
ask me to play?
can't just wait for other people to ask you.
Sometimes you have to make the first move.
Becca, let me
tell you something. (sigh) I'm not the most competitive
of people. I don't wander around with some board under my arm waiting for a
You could have
played against a computer.
To what end?
Well, so you
would know how to play. Lots of people know
it, it's a very old game, and it's a nice way to spend some time with a person.
It doesn't involve any interpersonal skills or chance; there's no running or
jumping. It just seems like the kind of thing that would be right up your
They went into
the laundry room and the mantis set down the bundles. Evie's jaw
So why didn't
you ever learn how to play chess?
teasing you. I'm just
wondering. It seems so strange that you, of all people, would not know how to
play. I mean, do you want to learn? I used to play against my grandfather and
he could hardly walk.
So, it's some
cripple game? Is that it? You're
surprised I don't know a game that cripples play?
No, I mean...
It's just a game. I figured you'd want to
No, you felt
it necessary to mention that your grandfather couldn't walk. You could have
just said your grandfather, but you threw in
the 'unable to walk' to sweeten it. There's
no running or jumping; it's right up
your alley. That's what you
said and how you said it. You think
because I spent my childhood in hospital after hospital that I would enjoy it.
You think that because a game needs no interpersonal skills, that someone who
people used to call 'Gargoyle Gaines' would be a wizard at it.
just a game.
A game that
everyone knows how to play but me!
offer still stands. If you want to learn how to play,
I'm available. Just let me know. How the pieces move is the easy part.
what's the hard part?
piece to move.
accompanied iLyssa to an observation deck. The designer had a
hand-held radio and smiled meanly.
This is getting easier. And I wanted to see what it really
looks like. That new screen is OK, but nothing beats the real thing. It's nice
that we have a near-by star to see all this, isn't it?
I can hardly make out anything.
Oh, I keep forgetting. You're just a trichromat and can't see
ultra-violet or infra-red.
We're the designers, aren't we? We have to see what we're
Becca nodded nervously. The target was a freighter, four
rotating sections; she
couldn't make out the name, but thought it said Tong Gu.
The golden fighters made their lazy arc out of the launch bays, accompanied by a complex ten-part harmony over the radio. The pilots easily picked off the sensor array and engine, even though someone on the freighter fired a couple of recovery-lines at them. One recovery harpoon hit a fighter, but the tiny ship spin wildly until the harpoon-launcher was torn from the bay. The fighter spun the opposite direction and hit the freighter at a connection point with the detached gun.
Now there's a move
you'll never see anywhere else. Who did that harpoon move? That was pretty
(radio) That was me, oRenda.
(not as impressed) Nice adjustment to the
Next, the buzz-landers launched. These tiny cylinders
attached themselves to
the hull; there was a spray of molten metal where they gained entry.
The redheads chanted over the radio:
We're setting sail on a boat today
On the only sea we've ever seen.
We'll kill them all, 'cause that's the way
Programmed to our singular gene.
So fire a bolt; watch it go through;
We'll fix this problem, good and well.
We're yellow, red, and sometimes blue
Anyone else can go to hell.
This moment of drama, then—mission accomplished—the signal
was sent that all
was clear. The other Tzikzik had been killed; shredded to tiny pieces by
magnetically fired bolts of metal. It was no more exciting than putting a squid
in a blender and pressing the "on" button. This is the legacy of mammals: their
curiosity, their cunning, their adaptability, their willingness to turn any
obstacle into a fine, palatable paste.
Well, that's another one down. We'll copy over the data-bank
and get that thing towed to Big Bear-47.
You'll just take them out, one at a time? (internal)
This is too easy for
them. How can they do what grown Humans can't?
This is nothing. Just wait until—
There was an explosion where the ship had been. It sounded
like thunder when
the shock-wave hit the hull of the Vencume ship.
Drop out of field! Quick! Quick! No time to
leak on this! Drop the field!
(radio) We dropped out of field when we came up on the ship.
You should have known that. Makes it easier for us to hit them.
(radio with static) Explosion...pick-up...no idea....
(radio) I've got the pilots ready for a recovery. We can use
magnets we worked into the suits.
(after a pause) How long do you think those suits will last?
(radio) Need a pick-up. Today would be nice.
You might have designed suits that can last, but we
don't know what kind of injuries they've received. You have to bring them in
really done a test on the suits. We don't know the full capability of—
(radio) Stop being stupid for at least a minute. Where are
you on that deck? Who's with you?
(radio) I'm sending out the pilots. We're reeling in the
buzz-landers. I need to see what kind of damage they received and four of them
(internal) She can't leave them out there.
They have to come back in. They have to save them.
(radio. you can tell she's walking quickly) I'm not going to
let you waste resources like this. We don't have time to put more in
advancement before our next encounter and you can run tests whenever.
(radio) Seriously. This is not a good place to be. Bring us
(internal) Oh, praise be. The ships are going out to get
them. At least
iMala understands how serious this is.
(radio. You can hear her voice getting louder as she comes on
them) I'm getting tired of this complete disregard for our mission. You seem
just a little too willing to toss away the only means we
have to deal with—
Big words. You don't have any vision. We can do anything
on this ship. We can always make more.
(now on the deck) I see how it is. You're showing off. You
want to prove to
Doctor-Doctor how clever you are. You're being stupid. You think you're so
smart that you can just toss people aside and make more.
They're getting picked up,. See? Out there? They're picking
You're the cat that licks its tail. You're too shocked by
the fact that the ship was rigged to blow and you're trying to play it off.
Face it, you just got bested by a dumb bomb and now you want to take it out on
(radio) This isn't quick. We have to go too slow for this.
(internal) Enough is enough. They're going to fight and argue over something that isn't arguable. This is ridiculous.
Scene 3: Pilot's Bay
Becca ran out of the observation deck and made her way to the
Evie, Gordon, and iMala were already in the control room for
iMala had set up a large device, pointed at where the ships would come in.
It's my pain-killing ray. A big signal, as strong as I can
get it. For when they...if they...
It's OK. I know what you mean.
As the ships came back into the bay, Becca could see the red
hanging limply. One of the redheads was missing part of a leg.
Once the bay had reached pressure, each redhead pressed something on her suit, dropping to the bay floor. Becca and the others rushed out to check the survivors.
It was aTlanta who had lost the leg. Gordon helped her up.
I'll kill her. You can always make more.
iDana and iLyssa had come into the bay at this point. iDana
each red-armored girl, looking for problems in the suits, helping them get out
of the clunky encasements.
Well, I'm glad to see we didn't lose
anyone on that run! Looks like the suits did just what they were designed to
aLtsoba buried her fist deep into iLyssa's stomach.
When we say we need a pick-up, you give us a pick-up.
Understand? No debate.
You don't hesitate when lives are on the line. Got that?
Doubled over on her hands and knees, iLyssa nodded weakly.
She vomited on the
floor and nodded again.
And you're cleaning that up yourself. We're not doing
that for you.
Go grow me a new leg. The suit pinched it off
when the foot lost pressure.
The pilots had come out of their ships and clustered to one
side, unsure what
their role in the conflict would be.
aNaba had her hand on iDana's shoulder and was gripping tightly. The designer's body curled with discomfort.
Nice suits. Kept us alive. Despite
your best efforts.
At least we got you back.
I like that painkiller. That made the landing a little
You're just big bullies! You're just big dumb bullies and
we had to save you!
A redhead took a swing at the shouting pilot. The blonde
jumped back so quickly
that Becca thought the girl would fall over. Instead, the pilot landed nimbly
on her toes. aLtsoba was leaning over iLyssa.
It's because you can't breathe. That's
what happens when you get hit with something sudden-like. That's concussion on
your diaphragm. It might not hurt, but you weren't made for combat, were you?
From her crouched position, iLyssa shook her head.
And you never go out there and face it, do you?
Again, iLyssa shook her head.
And you're not going to pull a stunt like that again, are you?
iLyssa shook her head vigorously.
aTlanta...We need to go to the factory and
Four other redheads came into the bay, the ones that had been
reeled in in
their landers. One held her hands out to take her sister from Gordon.
it from here.
iMala followed them out. The redheads stumbled from the bay,
stopping momentarily as they walked out of iMala's pain-killing field to roll
their shoulders or shake their heads.
Becca was unsure if she should follow them to check the damage they had received from the explosion or to stay behind and make sure iLyssa would be able to stand again. The decision was made when iLyssa finally stood and rubbed her stomach.
I guess they rigged it to go once they lost pressure. We'll
make sure everyone's back in their lander before we reel in next time. (pause)
my tube of spray? I think she left a bruise.
the next morning with a stomach-ache.
It turned into abdominal cramping in less than two hours.
It can't be
something I ate.
We're only eating vegetables and fruits here.
An hour later,
there was vomiting and diarrhea.
It has to be
the change in diet. I'm not getting enough
magnesium or potassium or something.
later, Becca could hardly sit up straight. The cramps forced her
into a fetal position and there was a fever. She lay curled on the floor of the
lavatory and even taking a breath was painful.
Doctor is ill.
See if she's pink.
Pink-belly. Assistant should be notified. Go check Engineer.
We did not call on Assistant when Toy was ill.
Lives in you.
Burrows through stomach. Lives in belly-place.
It's a parasite. It's in the peritoneum. Where did it come from?
Doctor is not Toy. Doctor will not have pain.
suddenly there with a collection of surgical tools.
We will remove
it. Once out, you will be able to digest it and create
Uma and Ulan were on either side, moving towards Becca's arms.
You must sit still. Lay out. Don't fold yourself.
had turned black and started to massage Becca's abdomen.
The numbness spread quickly and Becca worried her bowels would release what little had been left in them. Now that the pain and cramps had stopped, she could look down. There were bright-red splotches across her belly.
looked like something used to core apples.
This may still
cause pain. You must trust us.
Doctor must not fear.
the first red cyst with the tool. It did not hurt at first, but
then there was a sharp pain.
Uma and Ulan held her arms down.
The thing that Buer pulled out Becca looked like a small, furry tongue. This was placed in a small container. One, two, three... Ulan was applying spray on each wound.
Becca tried to scream but couldn't draw enough breath.
Five, six, seven...
Becca snapped back into fetal position; it was like the spring from her head to her feet had been stretched to its limit and been let go. She knocked her forehead on her knees and wrapped her arms tight around her middle.
them back in. No matter how hard they pull, they won't be able to open me up
dreaming again. Her older brother has just punched her in the stomach.
telling Mom anything. That's personal.
brother stands on one side and watches.
(gasps) You know it's wrong.
me and god. And you aren't god.
You wanna be.
You're gonna work for god. You wanna
be god's spy.
Becca can only
kneel on the floor of the kitchen and try to draw a breath.
Her older sister comes into the room at this point and slaps her older brother.
you're so big and tough. I'll tell Dad and
then we'll see how tough you are.
you would die. That would not have served us well.
I had a
nightmare you were stabbing me.
We were. We
had to get these
out of you.
that, Buer held up a small container. Inside were seven
or eight worms crawling around in some rotten meat.
That rotten meat is me.
You had a
bad case. There were seven and they had already formed cysts.
What's going on?
our water filtration system would prevent this sort of mishap, but it
looks like the soil used in the garden allowed the parasite to complete a
cycle. Its eggs are ingested and, once it hatches, it burrows into the lining
between the intestines and the muscle wall. We had to get them out and treat
the wounds before they went into their next cycle. You're very lucky you
her hand over the skin on her abdomen. The skin puckered in several
different places under the rib cage. For the most part, it was numb.
might have damaged some nerves, but the spray should have healed
most of it. I'll put these in a safe
place for you.
Just get rid
You have to
eat them. That's the only way we'll be able to
prevent it from happening again. Digesting the first phase will release the
enzyme and your body will be defended after that. We don't have much time
before they try to more to the next phase.
had to eat one?
to eat one. It's the only real means of inoculation since we have been unable
to replicate the effects. I don't think much effort was put into it,
considering we had an easy fix.
get it too.
discovered that soon after Uma was infected. We didn't think it would effect
Humans, but we are...similar in some respects. It looks like Gordon had a case
before the girls put him in the garden. I don't know how they handled it.
Speak of the
No more pink-belly. Eat worm.
You fed Gordon a worm?
I think we can do this less traumatically.
Worms still here. Eat.
ate. You eat.
no,...They're still moving. I can't eat that.
Ulan took a
worm from the container and threw it against the wall.
No move now.
managed to get three down. Buer thought that was enough.
had completed another cycle. Cucumbers and melons were coming out
Becca was doing cold dishes this cycle. aDelaide was cubing a honeydew melon while aLameda carefully sliced cantaloupe. Becca was preparing a pickling solution for some cucumbers.
I heard you
all got sick.
ugly. But you ate your
I guess you
ate worms early on.
Cheep cheep...Like baby birds.
Do you think
we'll ever eat any other kind of meat?
to raise it and slaughter it. You might try keeping
chickens, but they don't do well in zero-gee. They can't eat or drink and their
hollow bones prevent them from making orbital launches.
just bring eggs on board.
You could do
that. But you'd have to tend them. Living animals
need someone to look after them.
We take care
of all kinds of things. We take care of
the garden. The Vencume can't do that. It's too dry for them.
How have all
of you worked out arrangements with your older sisters? Do you fill
one section and whatever is left over goes into the other one?
We have the
white arm to ourselves. The seven of us. We
thought about doubling, but...it didn't work out.
their ways. It's
not really a problem until we meet for practice. We have to work as a team, so
it's important. We don't have full camaraderie yet.
a lot during advancement...But they had the
others with them; you know, Cerberus and the Herd of Fillies.
The pilots call themselves the Golden Swans, Becca thought. I wonder...
(external) So the
designers are Cerberus and the
pilots are fillies. What do you call
And what do
the pilots call you?
is 'The Owls'.
can't forget the Crows. (laughs) Carrion Crows.
Owls and eagles and swans, oh my. (external) You all have your own names
for each other. You don't use each others' actual names?
What are we suppose to call them? Designers? Pilots? We aren't Vencume. We don't call people by function.
Because iLyssa had insisted in bringing in a live Tzikzik,
iMala developed a new gun that produced an invisible beam that could
cut through most anything. The idea was that with an energy weapon, the
creature would not bleed out and die.
aCadia and aTlanta helped test
the new device. The
effect was two cauterized stumps in three seconds.
iSkandar was livid at having to re-attach two limbs in one day. Becca helped, but it did not make him any calmer.
Becca was working on re-attaching aCadia's left leg. One of iMala's pain killing devices was aimed at the girl's head. aTlanta watched iSkandar stitch her right arm back in place.
Gentle Blue is not so gentle. This is not a good test.
There are better ways to gauge efficacy.
It didn't hurt when it happened. It was just a moment of heat
and it fell off. I was more mad at falling over.
helping out before the next recovery. I'm not happy that it happened.
It's still an unnecessary risk. We won't always be here to
put these things back on.
I didn't think it
would work that quickly. I'm sorry that we caused any trouble.
I'm still going to discuss this with you later. What if it
had been my head?
I said I was sorry.
If you need test matter, just ask us. We can make some for
you in the factory. This is too
(almost crying) I needed to test it! iLyssa was yelling at
me to make it work.
Test it on her next time. See if you can melt her mouth shut.
...And there's a leg back on. See if you can stand on that.
Pins and needles! It's like it was asleep for an
I feel it in the arm. I might have to beat something
just to get the feeling back.
(crying) I said I was sorry! It won't happen again, I
iSkandar was still an agitated purple as he and Becca left
This is not a good risk. They are becoming more a danger to
(chittering) I agree.
This is becoming unacceptable.
(chittering) What was it like on the other ship?
iSkandar shifted to a bright magenta and there was a flicker
of some pattern
across his skin.
(internal) I've asked an upsetting question. He's blushing,
or fuming, or
deciding if he can tear my head off and get away with it. He's surprised and
threatened and trying to figure out how to respond.
We did not have this infighting. I
worked with my team, knowing that we were an improvement over the old design.
Our nervous system was adjusted for quicker response and greater capacity. Blue
design was to stay analytical at all times. I know my team is dead now.
(chittering) I'm sorry.
It is through no fault of Doctor. We knew
our project was to end because there had been no improvement. My capacity is
there, but it cannot be used for what we intended. I am better suited for
Library duty. We
store information and process it more quickly.
why you're everywhere the
action is. You're trying to collect as much as you can.
We had considered Humans for a long time and knew that you would be better suited for our purpose. The zikzikkiti came quickly after it was decided to end the project.
There was that word again. The twins had used it once.
(chittering) What is a zik-zik...?
It is an action-to-advance-or-improve-a-decision. Other
Scientist took four of us, including Assistant and myself. Once we had lost
control of the ship, a distress call was sent and
we escaped. Other Scientist was...reduced... when the pod was attacked, but
they were already moving and decided we would die on our own. There has been
much argument on if the Humans are actually suitable for our purpose. The
current in-fighting in the new Tzikzik is of great concern. These recovery
missions prove that it will be difficult.
(chittering) They are..birthing pains? We like being
sorry this is so difficult.
Do not feel any guilt in this situation. Your calming
save this project yet. As much as we appreciate Engineer's contribution, you
have given much more.
(chittering) What do you mean?
You understand Humans.
The recovery of the frigate QingJiang
used a mixed weaponry assault of both the
magnetically fired metal bolts and the new laser. Two of the new fighters were
equipped with the weapon, but it would only fire on three-second bursts. When
ground troops went over, they took several smoke grenades, so they could see
the beam of the laser and not get in the way. These safety precautions did not
assist the enemy in any way, but did allow the girls to bring back their main
prize, an armless Red Vencume Tzikzik. aLima had been over-zealous in removing
arms and aVari had been over-cautious, not knowing which arm would have the
poisonous hand. Becca never saw the helpless monstrosity brought on board, but
knew the mission had been successful.
Everyone ate in silence that evening.
A lifeboat with six human survivors was spotted the next day.
It wasn't from
one of the ships on the list.
Evie insisted that she and Becca be the ones that greeted the lifeboat once it was brought on board.
(chittering) We have to show that we aren't criminals of some
This is a Vencume ship. Humans will want Vencume to greet
(chittering) This is hardly a Vencume ship anymore. This is a
Aren't the girls in charge?
If that is the case, ask
them who will do the greeting.
In the corridor, Evie grabbed Becca's sleeve and pulled her
to one side.
going to go do this, no matter what anyone says. These people have been on a
lifeboat too long to even try to wrap their heads around the girls.
We're still wanted criminals. That might not go as
smoothly as you'd like.
Just come with me. You'll see.
They hurried to the bay where the lifeboat had been brought
on. Evie banged on the hull, two, three, five,
seven....the accepted greeting of civil-kind.
(inside) We don't have suits!
The woman that opened the hatch was an obvious Wainwright.
Becca noted the
widely-spaced eyes and thick hair.
(internal) They really are everywhere, aren't they?
thought this was a Vencume ship
Captain Bernice Wainwright. The freighter Tong
Defu. We were going to Leonis-83.
(internal) She's going by the book on this. The shock
of it all is going to hit soon.
How many crew?
Myself; my brother and pilot, Phillip; my husband and chief engineer, Pritam Singh; his sister and navigator, Dristi; second officer Thomas Randi; and my steward, Marinka Wrengel.
And our cousin Jamie's body. They slashed him just as he came into the lifeboat. Some kind of poison. He gasped and that was it.
We only just got away. It's been three days.
Becca examined Jamie's body. There was a black gash across his back. His face was frozen in an agonized rictus. The toxin had been painful and quick; a radically different effect than the one Becca had seen from the redheads in the sick-bay.
Did anyone else get stung?
My doctor got it on the face. It killed him
instantly. He never made it to the boat. (pause) They chased us.
Was it only the...eight of you?
We also lost our junior engineer and three loadmen.
We'll see about recovering your ship and getting you the rest
of the way. We can feed you for now and give you a place to
sleep, I think. We're working on this Tzikzik threat.
What are they?
It's a Vencume experiment that got out of hand. We're taking
care of it.
Why are there Humans on a Vencume ship? We've heard stories
about a couple of Vencume spies. You're saying that Vencume are responsible for
this, but that you're going to fix it. Doesn't that seem a little convenient?
It's a very long story to explain how
we're here and what's going on. Please, I'm terribly sorry that you've been
involved in this. The Vencume made a mistake and they're trying very hard to
fix it. We only want to help.
You're Dr. Tabib. The Shipping Authority said you were a
spy. This is some kind of trap.
The survivors of the Tong Defu clustered together and held
(internal) How much they look like Vencume! See how they run
their hands over each other.
Trust us or don't. I'm done with proving to people who I am
what I am, but we're going to get your ship back and drop you off where you
belong. If we'd wanted you dead, you'd be dead. We gain nothing by lying to
Been out three days with a body
in tight. We're glad to have spin again. If you say a thing, and you do a
thing, I'm OK with you.
Wrengel might be, but I
can't risk the crew; there are too few of us.
What kind of trap is this?
Evie started to say something, but Gordon came in with iMala,
aLameda. He was all smiles and held his arms wide to the survivors of the Tong
We are so glad that you have made it! We were worried that we
would never find a
survivor! Gordon Gorsky. You may have
heard of me. I was the junior pilot on the Tong
Dizhou. You're a Wainwright,
right? We were flying with Wainwrights when this whole thing started. Maybe you
know them? Captain David Wainwright? Oh? You don't know them?
I do know them. He's an uncle of mine.
Mine as well. We know them well.
You have another cousin, you know. Jason had a son, did you
I hadn't heard that.
They're on the Qui Fa Zu,
So! You're going to the Lion? How
about we get you to Big Bear for now?
How long were you out?
We were three months in. We had another to go.
We only got the bursts from the Shipping Authority about--
Oh, these three girls, right? Let me introduce
you. You've heard about Tzikzik, right? Here's three versions of a Tzikzik-fix.
They're going to recover your ship. Girls, introduce yourselves.
I'm iMala. I'm a designer. We...we make things
I'm oCtavia. We're fast pilots.
aLameda. My team uses hand-to-hand
combat and we recover ships. iMala and the others make our guns.
They make our ships, too.
Say, lovely lady, you're a portman, aren't you? I can
tell by your shoes. We had a Pegger steward on our ship. This must be rough on
you. We have lower-spin areas if you get too worn out.
I flew with them. I stay with
Well, you're going to be sharing quarters with aLameda and
her crew while we
get this sorted. Say, aLameda, why don't you show them where that is so
they can get cleaned up? oCtavia, be a sweetie and get them something to eat.
These are tired people and they need to rest up and get sorted. Captain, you
want to let folks know what's going on? Come with me and
we'll get a burst sent. Leonis-83, you said? That's a long trip. Is it true
what they say about the beaches there?
I think. I...I don't spend much time on the
I've heard some wonderful stories about things there. The
cannot be beat....
Gordon wrapped an arm around Bernice and led her and the rest
of her bedazzled crew out of
What the hell was that?
That was amazing.
Becca had an opportunity to speak with Dristi later. The
delighted to see the observation deck and the two watched the rolling sections
They look like storm clouds.
Evie says it looks like the ocean.
That meal we had...Fresh lettuce?
Tomatoes? How do you manage it?
We have a garden. We eat a lot of
It must be nice to have a garden actually on the ship. What
that meat? Was it a kind of fish?
(internal) You can't tell them you just feed them
worms so they won't get sick. (external) Yes, something like that.
It was delicious, whatever it was. (she pauses before
continuing, as if the next thing she says might cause offense) Those
girls we're with...are they Human?
Genetically, yes. The Vencume have made some adjustments,
but they made them to fight the Tzikzik. They're doing all of this for us. The
I'm sorry; I'm not going to absorb everything you're
saying right now. This feels like a dream. We thought we were going to die.
(laugh) I know how you feel.
When they sent the first burst...when we first heard what
happened to your ship, there was a lot of confusion. Do we go back? Do we keep
going? Then, we heard about other attacks. Then they said that two Vencume
spies had escaped. We couldn't believe it. People were talking about a war.
I thought we were isolated. Then I found out we were the
Rakota...(sniffles) Our junior engineer. He turned the ship.
got it away from the lifeboat. I think he's the only reason we...We owe our
lives to him.
(a long sigh) I haven't seen any Vencume on this ship yet. I
wish I could meet one. I've never met a Vencume.
They're strange creatures. There's nothing Human about them,
they...(laughs) Some of them remind me of people I knew. Maybe I've just
been with them so long. It might be a side-effect of connecting to the Library.
I'm not sure.
(internal) What would happen if she connected? If we take
them back and some of them have
connected...It only seems right. They might not be here that long, but if they
can go back and speak the Vencume language, that might make things easier
later. I wonder if... (external) I need to discuss something with someone. I
don't mean to be
rude, but I think it might make things easier for everyone, if you'll...if
they'll...I'm sorry. It won't take a minute.
I don't know what's going on.
Yes, I know exactly how you feel. I'll be right back.
Buer and Gordon loved the idea.
We want to give this to Humans. We will give this to any
We can start the process. The Tzikzik are one means, but this is much better.
It gets the story out. As long as these folk aren't going to
catch any flak from the Authority when they get back, I'd say it was a perfect
But if they connect, then they'll know what the danger is. So
they'll know if they should keep quiet or let it out.
Gordon already showed them the others. That much of the
has been released.
The moment Evie decided they had to meet the boat, I knew it
would be better to be
completely honest. Half a story only lets someone else write the missing bits.
If you're going to give them part, better to hand the whole thing over.
So, you see how connection might help? If they tap into the
Library, they're going to get language, some of the history; they'll get a
background on why this is happening this way.
This will help advance the schedule. Your Authority may not
like it, but if there are enough, it cannot stop it. We must do this.
The Authority already distrusts us. But to get a
Wainwright in on it. Oh, they won't be able to hush that up.
Our Captain Wainwright already knew the Vencume were doing
things with DNA. Let's give this one the whole story.
Buer and Penemue were waiting outside the room. Becca and
Gordon tried to
explain to an unbelieving crew.
Marinka, the portman steward, sat with fingers and toes twitching. Captain Bernice had her hands folded in front of her chin. Pritam and Dristi paced with their hands behind their backs.
It was the second officer, Thomas Randi, who nodded first.
Becca opened the door and let the two Vencume in.
Dristi stood shock-still. Her brother steadied her.
How's this all play, now?
(internal) She's got a hungry look. She started
flying to get away from the stations and steward was the easiest position to
fill. She's out for adventure. She's ambitious. Even if her captain says it's a
no-go, she'll still try for it.
Totally painless. You might have something like a dream
during it, but you'll want to lie down after it's all done, just to let it sort
out. Actually, you have weird dreams after.
I'm a go.
No, I'll do
If my wife is in, I am as well.
If my brother is in, then I am as well.
If sibling rivalry is driving this, then I can't let
Bernice go alone.
We can't risk the entire crew.
It's not really a risk.
I've connected twice, and I was watching when Gordon
What's it like?
(internal) It's like a visitation. It's like a dream. It's
like a vision. It's like prayer. (external)
It's like being a child and listening to your grandparents.
It's like like buying fresh fruit in an open-air market.
SOUND: The crew laughs a bit
It's different for everyone.
Well, I guess we're all in.
There are six of them. We cannot do more than five at one
time. Even that will be difficult. They are too varied for this to be a simple
What did it say?
It said it can only do five at a time.
It's only doing five anyway. Count me out. I'm not a
At least watch the process. They'll want a control back at
station. You're their witness.