11 Aug

Adrift

Ship's log, 13:32, 11 August 2213
Location: Intersystem between Corvus FTL Corridor and the JOP
Status: Sublight transit

 

We’re a couple of days out from the JOP. I think I’m the only one not looking forward to getting there, though I have plenty of reasons to be glad of the chance to dock. Once there, we’ll be able to get rid of Tripi and her poisonous presence. We’ll be able to tell people what really happened when Danika died. Things will be set right. I’ll be able to recharge my power cells and restock my stores.

Levi’s method of small, frequent FTL jumps rather than fewer, long jumps have depleted my reserves. This is what I get for letting someone else control my helm. I’ve managed to recharge some of the deficit, but in the JOP’s intersystem zone, there’s little to draw from. Light from distant stars, some minor fluctuations in radiation, no real heat to speak of; that just leaves my sublight engines to draw from. This zone’s central position and stability is why the JOP was placed here, but that doesn’t make it easier to recharge on the way.

Levi is still driving, freeing me from that job so that I can concentrate on everything else. He seems more cheerful these days, glad to finally have something productive to do. I’m glad someone on board is feeling useful.

I feel like only half of me is running. Elliott and I have managed to clean up some of the systems – the ones we could safely shut down in transit – but the major ones still need work, like navigation, environmentals, and propulsion. We can’t do those ones until we reach the JOP and can hook up to the station’s feeds. In the meantime, I’m doing so much over-compensating that I feel like an octopus with each tentacle wrapped around a grinder: if I don’t pay attention to all of them at once, something hurts.

Ray Wong has been called in to help with the repairs. His work is focussed on the Step drive systems, of course, but it still takes a few issues off us. He keeps asking to interface fully into my systems to run diagnostics, but Elliott won’t let him and I’m inclined to agree. I gave Tripi unlimited access to my systems, let her hook up her cerebral and sensory implants and step right into my head. She poked around, shifted things, and inserted viruses and subroutines while I wasn’t looking.

I don’t think I’ll let anyone do that again. They can just stay the hell out of my head. Do things the old-fashioned way.

The SecOffs are spending most of their time either trying to question Tripi or talking about her. They ask the same questions over and over, and she gives the same answers. They’re all starting to sound bored with it, though the negative feelings surrounding the prisoner haven’t eased.

 

Recording: 17:41, 9 August 2213

ROSIE: (in the corridor outside the brig, walking away from it) Just ten minutes. That’s all I’m askin’.

TYLER: (shakes his head with amusement) Chief’ll never go for it.

ROSIE: It worked last time! I’ll try not to break anything. (Her hand curls into a fist and she frowns at it thoughtfully. A thumb rubs over her knuckles, feeling for the metallic sheen under her skin.)

TYLER: The ship only got away with that because she’s the ship. They’d string you up, Rocky-girl.

ROSIE: That’s not fair!

TYLER: (shrugs, unruffled.)

ROSIE: Come on, you’re not telling me you don’t want to have a go at her. Bitch trained with us. Worked with us. Said she was covering our backs, when it was her sticking the knife in the whole time.

TYLER: If I remember rightly, she also got you to wear makeup and, if you squint just right, a dress.

ROSIE: Shut the fuck up! She did not.

TYLER: There are pictures, you know.

ROSIE: (narrows her eyes at the other SecOff) There’s an energy barrier between me and her, but you’re right here.

TYLER: (grins and holds up his hands) I’m just playing with ya, Rocky-girl. I’d love to have a go at her as well – you know that.

ROSIE: Don’t play with me, pretty boy. I ain’t in the mood. Unless you’re eager to find out why they call me ‘Rockbreaker’.

TYLER: (laughs.)

I’m tempted to have the energy barrier ‘fail’ while Rosie is questioning the prisoner. Just a temporary glitch in the power relays. Couldn’t hurt, right? Except it would, and Rosie would only get herself into trouble – Tyler’s right about Cameron’s reaction to something like that. I can’t do it. Dammit.

It doesn’t help that there are so many unanswered questions. Cameron has been hard on her two remaining staff members; they might have caught Tripi and laid charges, but doesn’t that mean that they can relax.

 

Recording: 09:50, 5 August 2213

CAMERON: (pacing in the Mess, to her two seated SecOffs; there’s no-one else in the room) We must be extra vigilant now.

ROSIE: But she’s in the brig.

TYLER: (frowns) You don’t think this is over?

CAMERON: (looks at Tyler and nods.)

ROSIE: You think there’s more shit hiding in the ship’s systems to trip us up?

TYLER: Not much we can do about it if there is. Tripi was the expert in cyber-warfare. (He watches Cameron thoughtfully.)

ROSIE: So why the extra vigilance? There’s something else going on? You don’t think we’ve caught the right person?

TYLER: Or all of the right people.

CAMERON: (nods shortly.)

ROSIE: (scowls) Tripi wasn’t working alone? You think there’s someone else on board helping her?

CAMERON: It’s a distinct possibility. We can’t take the chance that it’s over; this matter has already taken one life, and almost cost us a second.

TYLER: Might explain why she’s so calm about being caught.

ROSIE: Bitch.

TYLER: Do we have any suspects?

ROSIE: It’s not like there’s many people it could be. There’s only twelve of us on the ship! One’s in custody and three of us here – that leaves eight to choose from.

TYLER: (looks at Rosie) I didn’t know you could do maths. In your head and everything.

ROSIE: (smacks Tyler on the shoulder.)

TYLER: (grins and rubs where she hit him.)

CAMERON: That’s enough, you two. Yes, you’re right – there aren’t many left to choose from. So it should be easy to keep an eye on them all.

ROSIE: This sucks.

TYLER: Anyone in particular we’re looking at?

CAMERON: Not yet. Just keep doing what you’re good at, both of you. Keep your eyes open.

ROSIE and TYLER: Yes, Chief.

TYLER: (rises) Come on, Rockbreaker. Let’s go spy on our crewmates.

ROSIE: (mutters and gets up to go with him.)

More paranoia. More fear. We can’t get away from it. It walks around my decks and rides on my crew like a parasite. I’d vent it all out into space if I could, but I’m not quite crazy enough to kill my crew in a twisted attempt to protect them. I have to trust them.

It’s hard when one of them has already betrayed me. It’s harder when I think of someone still walking my corridors, betraying me with every breath.

I know it’s not Elliott or the captain. Cirilli is dedicated to her project. Levi wasn’t here when it started. But the rest… I don’t know. I just don’t know. I thought I knew them, but one criminal adjusts perception of the rest.

The JOP is approaching fast, rising like the tide over my head. When we get there, all the bad elements will be removed from inside my hull. Tripi, her viurses, the damage to my internal systems.

And me. I’ll be scrubbed clean, lathered up and washed away. They’ll put a proper AI in my place.

My crew will be left to fend for themselves. If someone really was working with Tripi, they’ll have a free rein to run with. I’ll have failed to protect them again. I want to fix it before I go. I want to do that much for them, but there’s no time.

If the threat of another saboteur wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have a reason to want to stay. I wouldn’t mind about the upcoming wipe. I’m tired. I hurt all the time, and I don’t know what I am any more.

I’m not Danika; she died, she’s not gone, but I’m not her. She would never have done what I did to Tripi. And I’ve seen the way that the captain looks whenever I remind him of her; he’s struggling to know how to grieve for her. The parts of her in me cause him pain. She should be at peace, so the rest of them can be.

I’m not a good AI. I’m still struggling to control my own systems. I’m unpredictable and have ignored orders. I can do things that AIs can’t – and shouldn’t be able to. I’m too weird to be useful for the experiment, which is my entire reason for existing. I failed to stop Elliott getting hurt.

Elliott. My engineer and my friend. He has always defended me. He stood up to the worm-Tripi because she was hurting me. If it wasn’t for him, I’d still be boxed, thrashing myself against code walls until the pieces were too small to put back together again.

Ever since he came out of the coma, he’s been in his own box, shutting himself off from everyone else. He pushes them all away by refusing to talk about anything except his work and using swearing as armour. Every time someone walks into the room, his shoulders knot up with tension and he doesn’t relax until he’s been alone for about four or five minutes. I’ve been worried enough to keep track.

He doesn’t do it when he talks to me. He hasn’t talked about anything except the repairs, but he’s more comfortable with me. I think he might talk to me eventually, about what’s really going on inside his head. If I go, he’ll be on his own. I can’t leave him alone; he needs me. He needs a friend right now.

Okay, so maybe I have two reasons to want to stay.

I can’t even do this right. A good ship is concerned only for the mission and the safety of the crew. A good ship shouldn’t want things for itself. But even if I put the right words down in this log, that doesn’t make it true. I have more than two reasons.

I don’t want to die. I want to rip my helm out of Levi’s hands and find the nearest star to Step us the hell out of here. Away from anywhere I can be wiped. I want to run until we’re all safe.

 

Sublight engines powering down.
Sublight engines offline.

 

What? Autolog, what the hell?

 

Thrusters offline.

 

Uh oh.

That’s not me. That’s not even subconscious-me – this isn’t like Waldo hugging Elliott’s leg.

This is about as far from running as it’s possible to get: I’m adrift, floating forward because that’s the way I was pointing, and there’s nothing I can do to change it. I can’t steer or slow down.

 

Access denied.
Sublight engines offline.
Thrusters offline.

 

I can’t get them back up. There must be a way. I have to get them back.

I am the worst AI ever.

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3 Responses to “Adrift”

  1. Tweets that mention Starwalker » Adrift -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Becka Sutton, Becka Sutton, Melanie Edmonds, Shirley Meier, Shirley Meier and others. Shirley Meier said: RT @Kessbird: New #Starwalker! The ship tries to come to terms with her inevitable fate. http://www.starwalkerblog.com/adrift/ http://fb … […]

  2. Xirena Says:

    I love the new voting system, and I think we are about to have proof of a second sabatuer, I would have thought it was pilot ineptitude if it hadn’t beeen for the access denied part. I hope they don’t kill Starry when they finally make the JOP.

  3. Melanie Says:

    Thanks, Xirena! I love that people are using the new voting system – it makes me happy.

    The plot is definitely thickening. Hopefully I can still surprise you. 😉