08 Feb

Missing pieces

Ship's log, 09:17, 8 February 2213
Location: JOP
Status: Docked

Oh good, the autolog has decided to join in on my logs. This is probably how I’m supposed to do my ship’s log entries. At least that’s the boring part over and done with. Now let’s just hope I can get through this before the autolog interrupts me again.

Let’s see. We’re still sitting at the station, waiting. We have received all of the equipment we were waiting for – more on that in a moment – and now all that’s left is the new pilot. My crew manifest is one person light; apparently, he’s being ferried in from another ship at short notice. Levi Srivastava is his name. Hard to tell much about a man from just a name.

I don’t know why we’re getting a pilot. What is there for him to do? I can handle all the sublight flying, in and out of atmosphere. As an AI, I have better reflexes than he does anyway. No-one ‘flies’ in FTL – you punch in and punch out, and hope to hell the inertial dampeners are coordinated correctly so you don’t get smooshed in the transitions. So what does that leave?

Emergency flying, I guess, in case my controls are somehow disabled. Most of the people on board are trained enough to handle a set of manual controls for that kind of situation, though; I’m not convinced we need a full-blood, dedicated pilot for a maybe like that.

It’s not like I get a choice, or even a say in the matter. Orders are to wait, and so we’re waiting.

Anyway, back to the delivery situation. We had all this equipment on order – spare parts, backup units, that kind of thing. Enough to build a small shuttle, should I need a limpet stuck to an airlock at any point. We need this stuff for emergencies, Elliott tells me.

Recording: 10:13, 7 February 2213

ELLIOTT: We’d all be a bit fucked if we were intersystem with a broken fuel converter and no way to fix it, y’know?

STARWALKER: A hold full of nuts and not a pipe in sight?

ELLIOTT: (laughing) Yeah, exactly.

SW: Better make sure you get us plenty of pipe, then.

After our painstaking inventory-taking the other day, we discovered that we were missing almost a quarter of our order. Elliott had some colourful things to say about the merchants who had filled out the manifest and delivered the crates. Once we had all of our results together and double-checked – I had two drones on each counting duty, to check as we went – he took the report to the captain.

Captain Warwick was less than impressed. He assumed a tense frown and pressed his lips together, which is probably his version of saying colourful things.

Recording: 19:32, 6 February 2213

CAPTAIN: Go to the merchants and tell them they need to fill the rest of the order.

ELLIOTT: You think they’re gonna listen to me? It’d sound better coming from you.

CAPT: I have more important things to do than argue with swindlers.

ELLIOTT: Oh really? Like wha–

CAPT: Take one of the security personnel with you.

ELLIOTT: (wrinkles his nose.) Them? I don’t need them with me.

CAPT: You just said you didn’t think they’d listen to you.

ELLIOTT: (muttering) Thanks for the vote of confidence.

CAPT: What?

ELLIOTT: Nothing.

(Elliott walks away without being dismissed. The captain opens his mouth to say something, then changes his mind and lets it go.)

Elliott found one of my Security Officers in the galley: Rosie Brasco, a tall, broad woman who looks like she might pick up the average man and snap him in half. She probably can, too. She was irritated by the mission until my engineer confirmed that yes, there might be trouble. Then she grinned and slapped him on the shoulder as she strode off to get her gear. Elliott rocked on his heels, scowled at the floor, then went to wait for her at the airlock.

They were gone for a while: 2 hours and 7 minutes. My crew have been moving on and off me ever since I woke up; I haven’t paid that much attention to their comings and goings. But today was different. Today they knew there might be trouble. I knew there might be trouble. I watched for their return and would have tapped fingers if I had any.

When they came back, Rosie was grinning and bouncing on her toes as she walked. Elliott was closer to smiling than I’ve seen him before, keeping a subtle distance from the SecOff as she forged their way across the docking bridge and into my airlock. She waited for him there, and slapped his shoulder cheerfully once they were inside and able to part company. From the way he rubbed his arm when he watched her go, she does that a lot. Free with her hands, that one, but not in the way that invites a lot of visitors to her bed. At least, not in the last week.

I waited until Elliott was back in the engineering sector, down in the warm centre of my back end. (That sounds wrong, now that I’ve put it into words.) He’s more comfortable down there, quite happy to swing his feet up onto one of my counters and make himself at home. I keep wanting to object but can’t bring myself to.

Recording: 13:45, 7 February 2213

STARWALKER: So, how did it go?

ELLIOTT: (grinning suddenly) Great. We went in there, Rosie all ready to strongarm them into giving us everything they had. If the guy had eaten carbon, he would’ve shit diamonds.

SW: That’s… good, I guess?

ELLIOTT: (nods)

SW: So we’re going to get the rest of the parts we need?

ELLIOTT: (leaning back in his chair, heels squeaking on the counter) Yup. And then some. You should’a seen their faces – with Rosie looming over them, they didn’t know whether to run away or fall in love.

(He frowns thoughtfully, fingers tapping on the arms of his chair.)

Y’know, I think one of them knew her. Had a bound wrist, and she kept grinning at him. Bet he was in that bar bust-up she had a couple of days ago.

SW: He wasn’t the one who tried to force the kid, was he?

ELLIOTT: (grinning, but not in a pleasant way) Oh, no. Way I heard it, that fella has a lot more than a broken wrist.

SW: Good. She’s not in any trouble over that, is she?

ELLIOTT: As if he’d dare bring any charges against her. The JOP Judiciary would kick him out of an airlock.

SW: Seriously?

ELLIOTT: Nah. They don’t have the balls, not like those loons over on Feras. They’d toss Rosie out too, just for being the first to smack him.

SW: Harsh. Better keep her away from there, then.

ELLIOTT: You bet. But I guess she was useful today. (He shrugs.) Delivery will arrive tomorrow. We’ll need your drones to help us count it through.

SW: I’ll have them practice their times tables in preparation.

ELLIOTT: (sits up enough to blink at a screen, his smile dented.) You’ll… what?

SW: It was– never mind. I’ll have the drones ready, Elliott.

ELLIOTT: Okay, good. (He leans back again.) Oh, shit. I should go tell the captain.

SW: I’ll relay the message for you, and let you know if he needs you for anything else.

ELLIOTT: Okay. Thanks, Starry.

Elliott makes jokes all the time, but he seemed thrown when I did it. I thought he’d like it. The worst part is that he looked worried. What’s wrong with making a joke? Am I not supposed to do that? He laughed at my earlier quip about the pipes, but now I think he assumed I’d done it by accident.

Anyway, we got the delivery this morning. Our manifest is now complete and correct, everything packed away where it should be. Whatever Rosie did and Elliott said, they managed to put enough fear into the merchants to swell our delivery by several items. I have an extra crate of fresh scrubbers, some pipes that I’m not sure will fit anywhere, and a case of virtua entertainment for the crew. Those with the right implants should be able to have some fun on their off-hours.

The only thing I’m missing now is that pilot. The one thing I’m fairly sure I don’t need.

I wish I understood more. Hopefully when we get out of here, my sealed orders will explain everything. Until then, it’s back to twiddling my synapses.

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2 Responses to “Missing pieces”

  1. Jordan Lee Says:

    I am really liking Elliot. I feel like, even though he’s just a few speech bubbles on a page, he’s really taking form. Friendly and dedicated.

  2. Melanie Says:

    Aw, yay. I’m happy you think so! It’s tough, trying to bring each character out, and I have a big soft spot for Elliott. We should get to hear from him pretty regularly, though, and not just because he’s mouthy.