23 Jun

Girl smell nice

Ship's log, 10:52, 23 June 2213
Location: Corvus FTL Corridor, Minkar System
Status: Unknown


Elliott is waging war on the rogue protocols that are running my ship’s systems into the ground. I’m still stuck behind codewalls, watching, but he’s making progress.

He’s also sending more and more data through the diagnostic array, because he knows that’s the only way I’ll see it. I’m grateful to him for that. I feel less cut off when I know what’s going on.

He can’t tackle the protocols head on. If they acknowledge that it’s a virus, an attack on any kind of cyber-level, then they’d have to call in the SecOffs, which means Tripi. She’d be too good at covering her tracks – it’s one of the reasons she’s a suspect – and we can’t risk tipping her off. Better to pretend ignorance and do things the hard way.

So Elliott has been working hard setting up his own repair-protocols. Hard-wiring in commands like ‘if the temperature in a compartment falls below this level, adjust it to here’. That sort of protocols is dangerous, because a simple sensor malfunction could easily kill the crew. That’s why AIs like me exist to run things, to assess and adjust things according to the situation at hand.

This kind of hard-edged command is difficult to pull off in more subjective systems like the artificial gravity, because that’s always balancing against external influences – passing close to a moon or even a big asteroid can throw it off – and being counterbalanced by the inertial dampeners. Setting it to a fixed value tends to make the crew feel sick if we’re travelling in a densely-packed system. We’re in an open section at the edge of the Corvus constellation right now, so they shouldn’t notice it for now.

The crew are getting frustrated with all the hanging around. Elliott has tried to hide it from me, but some of the conversations have snuck through in the sensor logs that have passed the diagnostic array’s eye.


Recording: 19:54, 20 June 2213

EBLING: (in the Mess Hall) …we just shut the damn AI down?

DR MALETZ: (nodding) Normally, yes. But you know what that would mean.

TYLER: (flipping his hair over his shoulder) We’d have to start over with a new AI. Again.

LEVI: It means we could get back to the JOP. The captain is risking the ship by letting this go on.

MALETZ: True. I haven’t been this busy since I was on the interstellar shuttle with the faulty pressure seals.

LEVI: So we’re just supposed to sit here, because the captain won’t shut his girlfriend down?

TYLER: (smiling) Better not let Cirilli hear you calling her that.

LEVI: (looks at Tyler and shrugs, his smile lopsided.)

EBLING: There must be something we can do. Goddamn ship broke my arm!

MALETZ: Which is healed now.

EBLING: I know.

MALETZ: You’re welcome.

TYLER: (giving Ebling a direct look and a charming smile) What do you want to do?

EBLING: (glances at Tyler as if just realising he’s in the room.)


LEVI: He’s the captain. You could try talking to him.

EBLING: Dr Cirilli’s been trying. Is there anyone else he’d listen to?

It cuts off there. Things are worse out there than I thought.

Tyler’s smarter than I gave him credit for. Not just a pretty face – and he has a very pretty face – but sharp enough to pick up the stirrings of a mutiny and tease it out. Ebling will think twice about that kind of talk now. Or maybe he’ll just do it when there isn’t a SecOff in the room. Everyone went stiff once they realised where the conversation was heading; I don’t think any of them meant it like that. They’ll know the slippery slope the next time it appears.

If it comes up again, I don’t know which way they’ll go. It depends how many more people have been hurt.

My crew’s being hurt. I can’t do anything about it. I’d thrash my way out of here if I could, tear this charade down, to keep them safe. But I can’t. My own safeties were used against me, the measures put in place to keep an AI under control, and there’s nothing I can do from in here.

How long do we let this go on? When do we give up this pretence as a bad job and fix things? When someone’s killed? How many deaths do we let this bastard get away with?

The captain has been so close-lipped about all this that I don’t know what he’s thinking. He’s just letting it go on and on. Does he know what he’s doing? We’re all supposed to trust him – he wouldn’t be captain if he didn’t have all the right personality traits for leadership and responsibility. If he hadn’t proven that he could be trusted.

I wish I could talk to him. Things might be weird between us sometimes, but I miss talking to him. I miss seeing him, even seeing him with Cirilli.

Elliott’s our best hope right now. He’s interfering with the saboteur’s interferences; if they want to keep making me look like a rogue AI, they’ll have to go in and fix it. I think they’ve already been in once to try to see what he’s done – I can’t tell from in here – but they haven’t messed with it. The systems are stabilising. The diagnostic logs are looking healthier and the crew is quieter. No more whispers towards mutiny that I’ve seen.

Elliott must have monitors in place to detect any fiddling with his code. He’ll catch them, I know it. We’re close now; we have to be.

Oh, here’s a new sensor log coming through. Tripi! I wonder what she’s up to.


Recording: 10:41, 23 June 2213

LOU TRIPI: (walks hip-swaying down the gangway to Engineering. There, she stops and raps silk-wrapped knuckles on the doorframe.) Anyone home?

ELLIOTT: (glances up from a digisheet, a sensor pressed into a bundle of feeds) What?

TRIPI: (smiles and walks towards him) Nice to see you too. Do you have a minute?

ELLIOTT: (frowning) Not really.

TRIPI: Not even for me?

ELLIOTT: (looks at her for a long moment, then turns his eyes back down to the digisheet) Look, I got a work schedule as long as my arm, okay? Come back when everything’s not broken.

TRIPI: (leaning towards him) You work too hard. Don’t you ever stop?

ELLIOTT: (pointedly not looking up at her and the parts of her that aren’t covered by her carefully-bound outfit) I’m secretly a robot. A really cranky robot.

TRIPI: Aw, come on. I don’t believe that. (She reaches out to stroke his cheek with the backs of her fingers.) You feel like flesh to me.

ELLIOTT: (jumping to his feet, dropping his tools) Get the fuck off me!

TRIPI: (sighing tolerantly) Come on, Elliott. You’re telling me you’ve never thought about it?

ELLIOTT: I’ve– never thought about it. There. Now fuck off.

Yeah, you tell her, Elliott. Skank. What is it with SecOffs and screwing?


TRIPI: (shifting a step towards him) Well, I’ve thought about it. Come on, we can have some fun.

ELLIOTT: (backing up a step) I dunno if I’m into your brand of fun.

TRIPI: (smile widening) I’m pretty sure you will be.

ELLIOTT: Well, I, uh. (He stares at her face.) I’m not in the mood right now. Come back next year.

TRIPI: (stepping forward again) But I’m here now.

ELLIOTT: (not backing up this time) Uh….

What’s wrong with him? His eyes are glazing over and he’s looking at her like he might want to… no. He wouldn’t. Not with her! He looks like a puppy caught in a honey trap, like with every breath he’s losing a little more resistance. She’s stroking his cheek again and he’s not pulling away. It’s not like him! He despises her! Something’s wrong. Something has to be wrong.

Every breath. The closer she gets, the worse it is, and it’s not just the proximity of a warm body to him. There has to be something else to it. Something she’s doing to him. Something else deeper in the sensor data. Elliott, fight it. Fight her. Please!

There, in the air quality sensors, chemicals that weren’t there before. Hormones, scents, and… oh no. She has a pheromone implant. Probably in her wrist; that’s why she keeps touching his face. Pheromone implants are illegal in most colonies! She’s laying it on pretty thick to break him down, aphrodisiac scents rolling over him as she gets closer, brushes up against him. He hasn’t been with a woman since we left the JOP months ago. That’s just cheating; he doesn’t have a chance.

I can’t watch this. Elliott, don’t. You have to fight her. She’s evil! Elliott, please. I know she could kick your ass, but you have to fight this.


TRIPI: (smiles and takes his face in both hands. She leans in to kiss him, lips parting.)

ELLIOTT: (stiffens and takes hold of her upper arms, as if to push her away. But he melts into it inevitably, and his arms start to slide around her.)

TRIPI: (breaks the kiss just enough to grin at him.) Privacy on.

End of log.

No. Elliott, no. I have to do something. That log was ten minutes old! It might already be too late. She might have already… what? What is she trying to do? Distract him by banging his brains out? For what?

She’s the one we’re looking for; it has to be. This has to be something to do with the sabotage. She wants him out of commission so that her protocols will do their work and the captain will be forced to shut the fake-me down. And we’ll be scooped up by pirates while we limp back to the JOP. She’s going to hurt him – more screwed over than screwed.

I have to do something. Tell someone. I’m gonna break these goddamn codewalls down if it’s the last thing I do. Hold on, Elliott.

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8 Responses to “Girl smell nice”

  1. Belial666 Says:

    Interesting. Would be awfully funny for Starwalker to break through and accuse Tripi of being the traitor when she might be a lawbreaking skank but has nothing to do with it.
    On the other hand, the traitor buisness has been going on for months now. We should be close to a resolution.

    Question: what happened to posting several updates at once to catch up with the dates? Not that I’m complaining, just curious.

  2. Melanie Says:

    I haven’t had a chance to write all the catchup posts yet. I will do that as soon as I have them. Promise! They’re on the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Tweets that mention Starwalker ยป Girl smell nice -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by shutsumon. shutsumon said: RT @Kessbird: New #Starwalker post up this week! With the AI still boxed, Elliott is dealing with the saboteur on his own. This… http://fb.me/vDkW2qtX […]

  4. David Says:


  5. Daniel Says:

    Got Retro and Players to catch up on, I just realised after reading (sorry!) but catch up I will. Good chapter. Very uncomfortable. I can relate to Eliot and Starwalker both.

  6. Xirena Says:

    Woo-hoo! New material! I hate Tripi right now.Hopefully Starry can kick her a**. I am convinced it is her, but it wwould be a great literary twist if she were innocent considering all of the foreshadowing leads straight to her. Hint Hint

  7. Xirena Says:


  8. Melanie Says:

    Thanks, guys! Glad you’re enjoying it. I love it when Starry freaks out – so much fun. ๐Ÿ™‚