12 Apr

Connections

Ship's log, 14:36, 12 April 2213
Location: Grisette system (unverified)
Status: Wide orbit around Grisette sol (unverified)

 

Calling the crew together to tell them about what I am is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Beyond taking control of the systems and disabling the safety protocols. Even beyond completing the Star Step. I was more nervous going into that meeting than I have been of anything before. Maybe that’s what happens when you do something deliberately instead of just running off on instinct, like I did with the other things.

It was cathartic, I suppose. I’m still glad that everything is out in the open. Everyone knows what’s happening now; everyone knows who I am. We can move on with things.

It’s not quite that simple but it’s a start. I had to tell a few white lies to make them understand something that I don’t entirely understand myself. I am nowhere near finished with compiling the data from the brain-copy – it’s hard to tell, but I think I’m barely a quarter of the way in. It’s not a simple job of just reading the files, either – they are a web of breadcrumbs, one memory linking through to another, and another, until I’m hip-deep in a childhood memory about playing in anti-grav with no idea of how I got there.

The only way to get in is to let the memories lead me by the hand. If I look at a particular space within my hull, an incident floats to the surface and off I go. If I look at a crewmember, it might be a conversation or confrontation (from what I can tell, there was plenty of the latter, but mostly the former).

Converting neural mapping to digital filestore organisation is not a straightforward job, and before I can do that, I have to make sense of what it’s showing me. It’s difficult to reconcile some of the sensory data; I do not have human sensors. It’s what I would imagine it is like for a blind person receiving his first ocular implants, or trying to explain to a deaf person what music is.

Most of the time, I can barely keep up, and there’s nothing faster than my processors. It’s fascinating, and frightening, and utterly bewildering. Danika is this strange, familiar person that I am coming to know in flashes. I’m piecing it – her – together slowly. Her with all those parts I don’t have and things I can’t do.

Like what it’s like to dance – arms raised, eyes closed, hips wild. The warmth of another’s arms, wrapping. Being able to rest against someone. Movement felt with the whole body and leaning into it; heart racing at the thrill. Grinning to let the whole world know how good it is. Tasting blood and punching back: launching an entire body through a single fist. The satisfying smack and an aching aftershock. The blessed kiss of numbing spray. Kisses of another kind, fit to make the head spin, and grinning again.

I find it curious that human blood tastes like metal.

We’ve all had a few days to get used to the idea of Danika existing in my files. The reactions have varied, from barely blinking at it (Maletz), to fascination (Tripi), to annoyance (yes, that’s the inconvenienced Cirilli), to reserved silence (the captain and, oddly, Elliott). More than one of my personnel give the screens sideways looks, as if they think it might jump out and bite them at the next opportunity. All those screens do most of the time is give the status of the ship – time, temperature, course, status.

I’m tempted to create a holographic shark to do just that. Next time someone looks at me funny, CHOMP. It’d be worth the shouting just to see their faces.

But no, I must keep the peace. Give them a chance to get past this. There hasn’t been any talk of wiping me since I told them, not even in the quiet spaces when they think I’m asleep or distracted or just not listening. Cirilli has been thoughtful, which disturbs me more than her usual vocal opposition.

On the plus side, Lang Lang doesn’t seem to have a problem with me. The repairs are mostly finished, so she’s the one I’m working with closely at the moment; we’re still trying to figure out the star charts. We have a fairly comprehensive map now – she has been working steadily ever since we finished the Step, despite everything that’s been happening. I couldn’t help it: I had to ask her about it.

 

Recording: 14:24, 11 April

STARWALKER: How do you keep working when so many things are happening?

LANG LANG CARTIER: (on the Bridge, smiling absently as she fiddles with the holographic tank) Things are always happening. Big, small – it makes no difference. My work can continue anyway.

(She finishes adjusting the readings and sits back to look at the displayed maps. The original star positions are indicated by white lights; the current positions are in red, with slender yellow threads connecting the disparate dots.)

My mother used to tell me that the world would fall around my ears and I wouldn’t notice, because I was too busy staring at the faraway stars. I suppose that may be true. (She shakes her head slowly.) But staring at the stars or screaming at the world falling down wouldn’t change what was happening: the world would still fall down. Now, it is the same. I could let worry about everything that is going on stop me from doing my work, but all that would do is make this take longer. (She gestures towards the hologram.) I cannot change what has happened to you, or Danika; those decisions are in other hands. I am only able to work on our navigation issue.

SW: Doesn’t it bother you? On… a personal level?

LANG LANG: Of course. But it happened because it was meant to happen. It is a blessed miracle and I am grateful for it. (She touches a spot on her chest just over her heart.)

SW: Blessed?

LANG LANG: Yes. Danika is not lost, despite the terrible thing that happened to her. What else would it be?

SW: (surprised) I– thank you, Lang Lang.

LANG LANG: (smiles) They will come to see it eventually. Now, let us get back to work, hmm?

She is a cool sluice of water on a hot day, restoring balance to a fried mind and body. And to think that I have hardly spoken to her before. Outside of discussions about her work with stars and navigation, I have never heard her put more than two sentences together. As if I don’t have enough to recompile, my crew are surprising me as well! I can hardly mind in this case, though.

The more I look at the holographic tank with its starry representations, the more it seems to make sense. Those little yellow lines marking the change of position, they seem to make a pattern. A familiar one, but I can’t place it. Oddly, it doesn’t feel like something hidden away in Danika’s memories. With hers, I get a ‘tip of the tongue’ sensation; this one feels different, like something I know but don’t fully grasp yet. Bits and bytes not in quite the right order. I think I need to put away the brain-copy and look through my own files – there’s an answer in there, I just know it.

I want to ask Elliott to help with the nav stuff but I’m not sure that I dare. He’s barely speaking to me at the moment. I’ll have to press on without him for now, give him space.

It’s not going to be easy to put Danika away; it’s not like she came with a box I could close again. Even when I’m not thinking about it, her influence pokes through. Little impressions and memories, irrepressibly reflecting on what’s happening now.

I wish I knew what was going on with Elliott; I miss him.

I also wish that I didn’t know what it was like to kiss the captain.

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4 Responses to “Connections”

  1. capriox bovidae Says:

    LOL! The last line needs a spit-take warning =P

    Less action here, but still enjoyable.

  2. Melanie Says:

    Ah, it would be no fun if I warned you before all of the fact-dropping! Glad you’re still enjoying it. 🙂

  3. Steph Says:

    “I also wish that I didn’t know what it was like to kiss the captain.”

    Ah, well. Thats a shock. Great post. Is it Wednesday yet?

  4. Melanie Says:

    Almost! Post will go up sometime tonight. 🙂