The Twins' Room
sitting shock-still at the table in the twin's quarters, where Evie and
iSkandar had hidden him.
Ulan and Uma were sitting opposite him, staring intently.
Becca had never been to the twin's quarters before. There were strips of colored cloth strewn about the room and dried flowers collected from the gardens; some of the dessicated plants were spindly, red, Vencume growth. Scattered across the three comm displays were several drawings that had been done in colored pencil. One was of two girls, drawn in black, that towered over red, yellow, and blue dots. Another showed a family: mother, father, daughter. The daughter was holding a star. This had been crossed out and the paper was wrinkled. There was a grotesquely detailed drawing of a red Vencume in zero-gee; long lines of blue were coming out from the victim and a girl drawn in red was smiling with sharp, angry teeth. The table was covered with crude clay models of Humans and Vencume, some with bits of cloth pressed onto their bodies. Becca could make out a square girl with red cloth, a round one in yellow, and a long figure in blue. The yellow figure had been covered in dried flowers.
touched a bite of your meal.
at his bowl for a moment and looked quickly up at the twins. He was
gripping a spoon with white knuckles.
feed you before?
Ulan, Uma, let him eat.
Ulan reached out and picked up two of her rough figurines. They mock-battled in her hands.
That's not a
toy. He's a human being, just
Vencume figure and chittered. She then picked up the long, blue figure.
like Humans. We're going to
play Humans. (pause) We're going to play war!
to a pale purple and wiggled long fingers.
Ulan picked up the square red figure, then wiggled the yellow one under the flowers.
want to play, too! (pause) I
can't play. I am dead.
wiggled the Vencume figure.
broke our toy.
I'm sorry. Please. I said I was sorry.
No, no. No cry.
don't you two go and get Gordon something
to drink? Don't you think he's thirsty?
giggle and leave the room
needs to be connected. The Library has already
said to connect. How soon can we do this?
think that might be a bit much at the moment.
it, we may as well do it as quickly
as possible. I don't think there's any advantage to waiting.
about me, I know it.
cannot understand us.
the Vencume have this thing, a
direct interface. You remember the goggles I was wearing? How I could see with
my eyes shut?
remember your eyes.
eyes. That's not a good reference. Listen. We
need you to understand what's going on while you're on the ship. We need to be
able to communicate with you.
I don't know
a little gagging sound.
appearance a great deal. When's the last time he
saw you, Evie?
(amazed) You're Evie?
Gordon--had first met Evie, the engineer was an uneven,
slouching, overweight woman with dark greasy hair, bad teeth, brown eyes made
grotesquely large by thick glasses, and distinctive limp caused by a malformed
pelvis and uneven legs. The last time Gordon had seen Evie, she had white hair,
sat cross-legged in a mechanical walker that could raise nearly to the ceiling,
and the upper-half of her face had been obscured by an array of many, tiny,
independently moving lenses. By this point, she was slightly taller than
Becca--and starting to gain that weight back!--with two-toned hair, green-brown
and two tiny dot-like scars under her eyes.
very apologetic) I'm
sorry, I am. I'm sorry about the lifeboat and I'm sorry about that
time on the bridge. You don't know how sorry I am about all of that and I don't
know what's wrong with me...what was wrong with me...I didn't know it was you
under all that stuff. I didn't think that was Human. You were just a mechanical
thing and you broke my rib and I never saw your eyes. Not under your glasses,
not under your goggles. I never saw your eyes before... I never saw your sad,
Broken Human saying?
connect to the Library and download our
point is, the Vencume have a way of giving you
information, directly. We need you to connect to this system so you can get the
language. You'll be able to understand what's being said on the ship and you'll
also be able to talk to anyone. Becca and I have both done it and it's
painless. We...uh...we have to make our lives a little easier here. We can't
rely on translators because they're too crude.
understand what she's saying to you?
else) Evie wants to put something in my head.
who would do it. It's the Vencume. I'm probably
going to do the connection with you, just to help show you around.
Why would you do that?
Well, so he
isn't in there by himself.
both did our initial connection alone.
You're worried about him
being nuts, and iSkandar is as well, but you think it's OK for him to go in
there without a minder?
I need to
to you about something, Becca.
the door and left the
room. Becca went out into the hallway where Evie was pacing.
still have that eye thing and we don't
know what caused it.
But if it's
brain, then. You still have a brain thing
thing. (sigh) You know, I remember this old movie I
saw once about a ship that lands on an alien planet and the doctor gets killed
because he tries to use this alien device to boost his I.Q. I'd feel pretty
crummy if that happened to you.
I think it
something by Shakespeare. The point is, we're
dealing with stuff we don't understand and there's too much risk.
A risk you can take but I can't? That's very altruistic of you, to help out a
guy who nearly killed you once.
not completely selfless. (she drops to a conspiratorial tone) iMala connected after she developed
that field-collapser and did the alterations to the ships. I want that. I want
that so bad I can taste it. She had
a break-through that I've worked towards
for years and always missed. I can't ask her how she did it because she...I'm
owed something, you know? I laid the groundwork for that and I earned it. So,
it's a pretext for going in and taking what's rightfully mine, but you aren't
going to stand in my way.
A lust for
knowledge. I wonder what the doctor from your
old movie thought before he died.
family back home. I've nearly died twice
is here. Why not risk it
again? Third time's a charm.
to give me this, are you?
And if you
out with a 'brain thing'? Well, what then?
Oh, but I
remember when you found him. 'Oh, tell me
it's not real.' And now you want to hop right in there with him. Makes a person
realization) You're jealous.
Oh, no, you
don't get off easy on
this one. You two always fought. What do your old movies say about that? (pause
while she thinks) You...you don't actually hate him at all. You're
afraid of him. Not because of some
stupid mistake he might make but because of
how he makes you feel.
shut it, now.
Why did you
your pilots blondes?
decided that. Just shut up.
Fine, do it.
Connect with him. It's
obvious you care for him, otherwise the twins might have actually killed him.
They knocked him down a few pegs and now he's non-threatening. They softened
him up for you.
You make it sound so calculated. I didn't do any of
intimate with anyone. You're afraid of them.
Think about those guys on the station and the 'Gaines constant'. You kept them
at arm's length because you didn't want to get hurt. You even did that with
Rosemary. I've heard the girls sing that song. You did care about her, but you
pushed her away so no one would get hurt and when the girls felt betrayed, they
wasted no time in killing her and everyone else on that ship. And then you did
that with Gordon. You knew he'd never accept you as you were. He felt your
tension and just fed off it. You let him
(crying a little) Go to hell, Becca. I can't believe you'd say that to me. We saved your life.
And you hate
right now. Right at this moment, you can't
stand the sight of me.
flung her arms against her face, elbows crossed and tight fists
at her ears. Her shoulders had risen up to her ears.
Listen, do it. Make the connection. Dive in there
with him. I'm not going to stop you. Just be honest with yourself on why you're
doing it. I don't think less of you. You're a human being and you're allowed to
be close to someone. I only hope that those feelings are returned, OK? Remember
what you said about pain and how it's necessary for Human development? Just do
it. Take that chance, no matter what the pretext might be. I support you.
this all about him. You
think you could could do it? You're
still busted up about your family back
home. You're going to put him back into that-—like that stupid arm of his. How
long did you have to care for your husband? I'll bet you were a regular
you're going to--
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. That was low of me.
sorry. (sniffle) I'm scared and I get
mean when I'm scared.
of doing it, then don't.
No. I have
have to know what's going on in there.
I can't stand unanswered questions and I have so many. I have to know. I don't
know what I'll find or if it will be worthwhile, but I'm not going to be
satisfied unless I know one way of the other.
(coyly) And gruesome rituals brought her back.
The girls were all in the mess-hall, allowing Becca and Evie
to sneak Gordon
down the hall.
iSkandar had gone ahead to explain the situation to Penemue. The two creatures were shifting from purple to blue when the Humans entered the room. Penemue gestured to two beds. Evie lay down on one and Gordon the other.
Only because the Library requests it.
Is this going to hurt?
No, it won't hurt.
Doctor will take both Human hands.
(chittering) We're trying something new?
Doctor will monitor Human health. Doctor will observe the
process to prevent mishap.
Becca held out her right hand to Evie, holding Gordon's hand
in her left. She
let her eyes relax and saw the shimmering effect in full force, as if Evie had
been dropped in a tank of some glimmering liquid and it was spreading
across. Evie's grip was dry and strong, like
she was holding a tool; Gordon's was sweaty and desperate, like he was clinging
on for dear life.
(internal) I feel like I'm officiating at a wedding.
Penemue started to probe the tops of their heads.
Leaning forward, Becca saw that Penemue's hands were changing color to a pale green, almost white. It started the probing with just the tips of the long, tentacle-like fingers, slowly fanning out to cover more and more of the head. Gordon's right arm twitched.
My face is going numb.
Evie's eyes were dilating and her hand went limp.
Gordon was looking straight at Becca, his eyes slowly dilating. A sudden tight grip before his left hand went slack as well.
Penemue had turned a dull gray; just like the Vencume in the Library. Becca leaned forward a bit to look at the hands. There was a fine film of what looked like a gel between the Vencume's hands and the two human heads. On closer inspection, it was actually many, tiny, fine, white hairs.
(mumbling)Thank-you. That's very kind.
(internal) I wonder what they're doing in there. They look so
Watching the two humans laying there with perfectly relaxed
imagined a swap-meet. There were tables strewn with bits and parts of machines,
each table manned by a Vencume. iMala was dancing between the tables, handing
SOUND: Evie laughs a little. Gordon does as well.
The swap-meet vision came back. Evie and Gordon had baskets
with them, putting
items in each other's baskets, pointing out random objects. Smiling.
(mumbling) You did?
(mumbling) A little, yeah.
(mumbling)Tzikzik. I see.
(internal) She's explaining the girls to him. I hope they're
working it out.
(mumbling) That's terrible.
(internal) I wonder how much I talked during this.
(mumbling) We can fix it.
Color came back to Penemue. The Vencume wiggled its fingers
and released the
Evie's hand came to life. She gripped and blinked. Her eyes watered a little.
How do you feel?
(rubbing her face) Vesta,
Diana, Minerva...I need a nap.
Yeah. That's, uh...that's a lot to take in. (pause) Here,
Evie, let me help you up.
(annoyed) I got it.
We must hide Broken Human now. Tzikzik
will be returning.
Becca and Evie's Quarters
Becca was in
the room she shared with Evie, reading about surgical techniques
on one of the three displays. She was thinking about Gordon's right shoulder
and how it was most likely a ligament tear; either it would need to be patched
or replaced. Considering the nature of the ship, replacement seemed the best
Gordon was back in the twins' room, sleeping. Uma and Ulan had promised they wouldn't hurt him anymore, and hiding him there seemed the best solution. No one had found him there before; no one would find him there now. Plus, it was accepted behavior that the twins would take food from the mess-hall to their own rooms. If they suddenly stopped, it would arouse suspicion. Gordon, meanwhile, seemed oddly accepting of the situation.
SOUND: a knock at the door
door) Becca, I need your help with something.
She used my
name, not "Doctor-Doctor". Is it a form of respect? (pause as she opens the
door) iMala, what kind of help did you need?
have aNdrea helping out, but I want another pair of eyes on this. I need
someone there besides me who knows what she's doing.
In the mess-hall, they went back to the kitchen where the redheaded aNdrea was waiting. There was a device on the table and a tube of spray. Becca picked up the tube.
expecting an injury of some sort?
That's the whole point. I have to know how much she can stand.
Let me know
when you're ready.
SOUND: Andrea turns on the cooker
turned on one of Evie's cooking fields. The air around it started to waver with
extreme heat. iMala made an adjustment to the device on the table and pointed
SOUND: Imala turns the device on
I don't feel
anything. You sure it's on?
Of course it's on. I can see the field.
you trying to do here?
going to hold her hand in the burner. I have a field pointed at her that's
going to kill the pain and we're going to see how much she can take before she
actually feels it.
You can't do
SOUND: Becca turns the cooker off
can. You have the spray there to fix any damage. It's fine.
I need to
know the effect. We have a hot-plate but I don't have any mice to see if they
lick their feet.
just referenced a common procedure for testing the pain-killing effect of a
drug. A mouse is placed on a hot-plate and the temperature is increased. The
number of times the mouse licks its feet is a measure of the animal's
discomfort. The greater the temperature the mouse can withstand, and the
reduction of the number of foot-licks, is an analgesimetric test of
pharmaceutical efficiency. Yes, we really do this.
really bad, you're here.
SOUND: Imala adjusts the device
feels like my sinuses are full.
You don't have to do this.
SOUND: andrea turns the cooker back on
aware of warmth, but it's tolerable.
Do you feel
light-headed or groggy?
like that. A slight pressure. The heat is there, and I can tell that it's hot,
but it doesn't hurt. I can feel the instinct to pull my hand away...I'm aware
of an instinct, but you're able to override it?
heat here is new on this side. The skin is thinner. (pause)
Don't turn that thing off until we apply the spray, OK?
Oh, that...small...no, no. Please let them stop soon. I'm going to be sick.
damage do you think you can take on that?
sure. The instinct is strong. I think this side is cooked....Well, second
degree or something. I'm iffy on risking any more.
SOUND: andra turns the cooker off
Oh, praise be; they're stopping.
broadcasting. I'm serious. You turn that off, I'll pound you.
applied a liberal amount of the spray on her hand, back and front. The flesh
That was a
the room) Hey, are you
doing something in here? I was getting weird readings.
you'd be interested in.
turns the device off. andrea hisses a bit
(pause) I was trying to get that new screen to work and there was some
I have to go
take care of some things.
There's a smell in here. It's odd. What have you been doing?
I said it
was nothing you'd be interested in.
SOUND: idana turns the device on
up iMala's device from the table. She turned it on and pointed it at Becca.
Becca felt a pressure behind her eyes. She suddenly felt hungry.
You're going to break it!
adjusts the device
not puke) Give the...thing...back to your sister.
SOUND: Imala turns the device off
You don't know what you're doing. You always break things.
Just leave it alone.
break things. They're going to break it. I know it.
Becca and Evie's Quarters
(remember, vencume chitter
at all times. Mirabilis and renatus chitter.)
The two Vencume, Mirabilis and Renatus, approached Becca
later that day. They were both an agitated dark blue and Becca wondered what
the scientist in charge of the current Tzikzik project--and the other scientist
who had been in charge of the previous project--would want to discuss with a
another Human on board. There is
evidence in the garden.
The twins had hidden him there. I understand that you're
upset as well. It wasn't something any of us planned.
the schedule. Broken Human must be returned. All Humans will be
Vencume with pentagon-shaped scales, Buer, spin into the room.
return the Humans so early. We still have too much to learn. The
Library has been pleased with their connection and there is great danger
Buer is right; we can't go back that easily.
All of three us face stiff charges in Human hands. They already tried to
and there were orders for my execution. Now that a Shipping Authority vessel
has been destroyed, it's only going to be worse.
must not end the project yet. Doctor
You wanted to end the project?
concerned with the project's viability. Current conflict with Humans is a
Other Scientist has expressed certain...objections.
risk civil-kind conflict. This is not
the purpose of the project.
Scientist cannot allow past events to affect thinking. Trauma
forgets the change in variables.
Assistant is noted. The schedule has still changed. The ship will return all Humans. There will be no conflict.
left the room. Buer ran a hand over Becca.
distressed. Humans will not be returned.
The Tzikzik project is teaching us many new things about Humans and ourselves.
These are...you say it...'birthing pains'. The Tzikzik are too valuable to us.
What you are sensing is pride of others who think they are far beyond you. We
cannot continue our current path or we will stagnate.
If they hand us over to the Shipping Authority, do you think
things will go the same? Is this something we have to do to protect the girls?
Those rains do not fall now, Scientist does not sense far. The project will continue. Scientist does not understand Human politics. Humans will not be returned.
Buer massaged the top of Becca's head. Becca felt her eyes getting heavy.
Hey...you're...don't do that...
Buer continued to massage Becca's head. It wrapped an arm around her. Becca's face was going numb and she tried, weakly, to move the arm away.
too useful. Tzikizik project will continue. Your distress is a result of our
actions. We cannot allow you to be harmed.
I'm relaxed. It's fine.
assist with Broken Human. Doctor will fix Broken
Human, Engineer, and the Tzikzik. You have a knowledge that goes beyond the
helix. This is something we must understand as well. You express this knowledge
in how you deal with them. It is a knowledge we wish to express to all Humans.
You will be the means of our expression...not the Tzikzik.
against Buer's arm. She saw the Vencume's hands had turned a pale
The room was getting brighter. There was a buzzing sound.
(coming in suddenly) I figured it out! (chittering) I hope I'm not interrupting something. You two having a moment?
pleased. Additional Yellow
design is leaving advancement soon. Evie will assist Blue with additional
(chittering) You started that already? That's good! That's
(internal) Did Buer try a connection? What just happened?
design is useful. The other Tzikzik
are still a
threat and that situation must be repaired before we can say the project is a
Oh yeah, we'll have to take care of that as soon as possible.
Broken Human are in preparation. Becca will
perform the fix.
get to do it. You always
wanted to. You can work on that arm of Gordon's.
useful and senses far. Humans are useful
and will be maintained.
Did you hear
that, Becca? They made more. I
said they would.
wants to end the project.
You heard what I said.
They want to end the project. iSkandar said...
Tzikzik. Like iMala.
and Renatus were here. They say that the
project is ending and that they're going to return us. You, me, Gordon. They
want to hand us back over.
want that? Don't you want to go back and see your
Shipping Authority wants to kill us! You don't
remember that? We destroyed one of
their ships. How many people died on that
ship? You think they're going to welcome us back with open arms?
calmly, like it will explain or fix everything) Becca, I know how the collapser
works. I know how to halve a
journey between systems. You don't think that the Shipping Authority wants to
know how to do that?
anything in your head have anything
to do with what happens outside of
I don't get
left the station, the Shipping Authority thought
we were going to war with the Vencume. What have we done to prove them wrong? A
jail break, a ship was attacked, a ship was DESTROYED. The Vencume are trying
to avoid a conflict and they want to end the project. Do you understand what's
going on here? What does ending a project
killing my girls.
turning the ship around! They want us off the ship.
They want to start over. We're going to be sacrificed for civil-kind relations!
Five nine two six five three five eight...
hell is that anyway? I need you here, not off in
(hurt) I just needed to--
Finding Gordon wasn't a good thing.
Gordon's arm....Seriously. Go do that. I'll go say goodbye or whatever. I
wanted to talk to iMala about the field anyway. I figured out some other
things as well, so I should at least give her that.
want the project to end. I think it tried to—
I need to
talk to iSkandar. I understand how 'borrowed
time' works now. We might be able to use that. I found some...effects.
Vencume is in charge of this ship? Who's the captain?
laugh) I think the Library is in charge. Maybe Penemue? I
don't think they have a captain the way we do.
wanted the connection with Gordon.
Buer was saying that we
were too useful and the Library was pleased. If the Library is in charge--
guessed. I don't know for sure. (pause) Hey, if they want to end
the project, what's going to happen to iSkandar? It's a Tzikzik as well.
(pause) Wait, how can they be ending the project if there are going to be more
Did Buer use our names just then?
Humans looked at each other.
The Twins' Room
brought Becca the tools she would need for the surgery, along with a
twelve-centimeter strip of ligament on a tray and a tube of spray.
The twins let them in to where Gordon was, laying on a bed. He sat up and smiled.
girls were telling me about your prison break. Uma told
me you punched a Shipping Authority guard.
Oh. She said
your hand got them in the head.
have much to do with that (pause) Take off your shirt. We're going to fix your
Is this some kind of Vencume
talks too much.
Gordon. It's Vencume medical technology. We're
going to replace a ligament in your shoulder that was torn. Normally, we'd try
to repair it, but that would add to your healing time. We need you up and
running as soon as possible.
you...hey! What's it doing?
should lie down. Broken Human will want to rest
It has to
numb you for surgery. (internal) Didn't Gordon get the
language? Shouldn't he know this? What were they doing when they connected?
you did with Evie, right? But you're going to do the actual stitching, right?
back home, but yes.
I feel weird.
massaging the right shoulder with one black hand. The flesh paled.
Becca quickly washed the shoulder and held a scalpel on the end of one finger.
Are you ready?
Becca made the first incision. She pulled her shirt up over her mouth and nose.
Let's try to
minimize the risk
of infection, OK? (pause) This seems so advanced, but it's actually very
primitive. This is such an invasive way of doing this. Back home, we'd only
make a few small cuts and use endoscopes to do it all inside the shoulder. But
we are replacing the ligament, aren't we? I'm not just tacking it into
Becca replaced the scalpel on her finger with a couple of
were on long stalks, so her hands were not near the opened shoulder.
She worried slightly that the tools would fall off her fingers, but
they held tightly.
iSkandar held Gordon's arm out from his body and rotated the arm. Becca could see the torn ligament immediately. She cut it away, leaving only a centimeter at the connection points.
iSkandar handed her the arm, and Becca held it out straight while the long fingers placed the new ligament in place. She dropped the tools off her fingers and picked up the long tines that would hold it in place while it was stitched down.
Now, iSkandar slipped a couple of needles on its fingers. His hand turned yellow and the rapid stitching started.
(chittering) You did my hand, didn't you?
That was more complicated.
iSkandar finished the attachment at the glenoid cavity and Becca pulled the new ligament taught. They relaxed the arm to a resting position across Gordon's chest to check for length. After a bit more stitching, iSkandar was done with the attachment to the top of the humerus. Becca held the flaps of skin in place and iSkandar applied the spray.
It was done.
Yes, and you
break him again.
You worked hard.
will rest now.
leave him alone for a while so he can rest up.
hard and fixed him.
hallway, Becca turned to iSkandar.
to the twins if the
project is ended?
Second are not proper
Tzikzik. They may be considered Human and will be returned.
happens to the others?
This decision has yet to be made, but our ocean still laps. It may not reach
that point. The water raises high in them and must not dry out.
that final decision?
(pause) Doctor did not mention this to
First and Second.
No, I guess
that was dishonest of me.
It is Human.
You do not wish to discuss such things with
them. You treat them as offspring.
make me nervous.
alone. We had not connected with Engineer yet. They did, later, but
there was much time from advancement to connection. They are...raw? It is not a good term.
children, but they aren't Evie.
Becca had found herself exhausted after the surgery on Gordon and the discussion with iSkandar. Also, worry gnawed at her stomach. Even if she skipped a meal, she needed to rest. She didn't feel she could face the children while their fate had yet to be decided.
dream, Becca is a child herself. She is watching an argument between her
parents through the sliver-world of a cracked door.
Her great-aunt is suddenly in the room.
clever little girl, staying
great-aunt Lytle has always sacred her and she feels the childish fear
return. The old woman never married, but traveled the world and now runs a
curio-shop in the old district. And in dream-logic, they are suddenly in the
shop, surrounded by dust and antiquities.
I have been
everywhere. I have seen just about
everything there is to see. But I think that you will see much finer and
What do you mean, teyze Lytle?
I have seen
the stars, but you will dance with them.
You are Rebecca and you will bind us with them.
Becca nods at the meaning of her name.
does not want you to go to school. (chuckles) This
is foolish. If you teach a boy, you teach a boy. But, if you teach a girl, you
teach everyone she knows.
Vencume arm peaks out from under great-aunt Lytle's skirts
and stirs her coffee.
One of the twins is in the shop with her, examining a typewriter closely and watching the keys as they rise and fall. But it isn't one of the twins.
This is my friend Evie. She's really smart.
Did you meet
school, or on that boat trip you took?
Lytle's Vencume arms tousles the child Evie's head.
Child-Evie runs off to look at an old telephone. She dials a number and runs the cord through her fingers.
She's just a
child as well.
Becca now stands as an adult in her great-aunt's curio shop. Teyze Lytle has finished her transformation into a Vencume.
Why did you
Look at all
things I've collected over time. Someday I'll die and what good will it be?
Nothing but dust and faded memories. Maybe here, someone will see something and
take it home and love it anew.
recalls this explanation from her great-aunt.
We have been
everywhere and we don't have much time.
It must be passed on. This must be preserved. I wish I could express this
better to you. Forgive the seeds I have planted. We are at a turning point.
If we do not start this process now, it may be
rumble of thunder
Becca and Evie's Quarters/ hallway
Becca woke with a start in an unusually quiet room.
try to connect to me earlier? Was that what it wanted to say? Why
use my great-aunt?
pulled on her shoes, Becca remembered Lytle. Yes, there had been a
discussion when Becca was younger as to if she would go to school. But it had
been great-aunt Lytle and the old woman's clout that had sent her to
university. Becca's father had just wanted her to get married.
And she did. Becca did get married. But that was after she got her degree.
She remembered when great-aunt Lytle died. A surprising number of people had come to the service and they all shook Becca's hand. "Oh, you look just like her." And "You were always the smart one. She liked you best."
Great-aunt Lytle had left behind a trust for Becca's schooling.
Huri go on without me? If the Shipping Authority froze my account,
doesn't all this time away count for nothing? And if the Vencume take us back?
Will that make amends? They can't punish her for that.
The Vencume can't punish the children for what the Shipping Authority did.
It's only two of them. It's only Renatus and Mirabilis. Maybe Renatus is bitter. Didn't they kill him on the other ship? But the girls took care of that, so hasn't he been avenged? No, they don't think like that.
her hair back and left the room she shared with Evie.
And what is
Evie doing? She's done with her mantis; now she's working on
something new. Don't you have something to work on? Yes, Evie. That's what you
can do while you're here. She's not an adult. She's never made an adult
decision. Look at where you are now and how that was all Evie's doing. No, not
Evie. Well, parts of her. Parts of Evie made that decision. They won't kill the
twins, will they? Does Evie have any children back home? No, she's too young
for that. She really is young, considering. I wonder if she was a prodigy.
her way to the mess-hall.
make one last meal together.
Those redheads aren't that scary, really. I've gotten used to them.
No one was
in the mess-hall. No redheads were cooking or cleaning.
Do you think
you'll ever see Huri again? Maybe not. But you were a good mother
to the children here, weren't you? For what that's worth. You at least tried to
laundry room, and no one was there.
Even in the twins' room, there was no one. Not even Gordon.
And no one on the observation deck.
Or the ad-hoc bridge.
Or Evie's ancillary lab.
It was as if the ship had been deserted.
everyone? Are they in the garden? They must have put it into
advancement and are collecting another harvest.
have been it. Becca made her way down the hallway to the lift that
would take her to the connecting pod.
They must be
in the garden. Did they end
the project already? They couldn't have. Maybe the girls are having some sort
of farewell in the garden? How would they react to that? They don't seem to
care much about death.
There was a
Vencume ahead of her, shuffling slowly along, its long blue hands
tracing the wall. It looked odd.
Are you OK?
Engineer? Where is Broken
something different about the Vencume's hands. Renatus flickered and Becca was
reminded of an old professor who taught anatomy.
I don't know. I haven't seen any of them. What's wrong?
We saw a
toughness, a cleverness. We have
swum these waters before....before we met you. Before we met Engineer. You are
Do you need my help?
are on the bridge...We have been here before.
was to continue. It was
explained. Engineer had spoken with them. We cannot end the project.
Your...imagination...is in play again.
at the lumbering creature before her. It did
look like her old anatomy professor now. She could make out the bald
head and hunched shoulders.
What's going on?
are in control. They say the ship now belongs to their army.