22 Sep

Never rains

Captain's log, 14:26, 22 September 2213
Location: JOP
Status: Docked


This is the captain’s log. We’re docked at the Jumping-Off Platform, awaiting a decision by the Judiciary on the matter of Security Officer Lou Tripi and the sabotage she committed aboard the Starwalker. The crew have given their statements and we have provided all the evidence we were able to.

It’s been a couple of days since we heard anything from the Judiciary. According to our assigned company lawyer, that’s quite normal. He’s keeping tabs on the process for us.

I don’t trust him. He keeps trying to get details of the Star Step project out of us – he’s way too interested for a regular lawyer. He doesn’t need to know the details to enforce confidentiality. There’s something that he hasn’t told me – I can feel it hovering behind his carefully-chosen words and weighing down the looks he casts around the ship when he’s on board.

If I could, I’d ban him from the ship entirely.


STARWALKER: Excuse me, captain. Lawyer Sten is at the airlock, requesting permission to come aboard.

CAPTAIN: (suppressing a sigh and rubbing an eye with his thumb) What does he want?

SW: He would like to speak with you, sir. He says it’s important, and is quite agitated.

CAPT: All right, let him aboard and tell him to come directly here.

SW: Relaying the message, sir. Securing all side doors from unauthorised access.


The AI has been strange since Monaghan started it up again. She’s supposed to be impersonating a ‘proper’ AI, and… I suppose it’s that she’s doing too good of a job. I had to call Monaghan in here the day after she came back up and make sure he hadn’t actually installed an AI program. He called me an idiot, of course, in his usual colourful way.

I don’t hear Danika any more. I miss her.

I wonder what Sten wants. It’s probably not good news; perhaps I’ll keep this log going in case it’s important.


CAPT: Starwalker?

SW: Yes, captain?

CAPT: Stay online while the lawyer is here, but silent, if you can.

SW: Yes, sir. I’ll do my best.


Maybe if I imagine her speaking straight-faced with her tongue in her cheek. Yes, that almost sounds like Danika. If she had a face, I think the brightness of her eyes would give her away.


DOOR: (chimes.)

CAPT: Enter.

STEN: (hurries inside as soon as the panel slides open, almost stumbling over himself.)

DR CIRILLI: (walks in behind him and goes immediately to sit in a chair near the captain’s desk.)

CAPT: (lifts an eyebrow when Cirilli appears, but reserves his attention for the lawyer) What can I do for you, Sten?

STEN: We need to arrange an immediately departure for you.

CAPT: For me? Or for the Starwalker?

STEN: (frowns with annoyance) For the ship. The one with the project worth billions on it.

CAPT: (regards the lawyer for a moment, then waves him towards a seat) Why don’t you tell me what’s happened.

STEN: What makes you think–

CAPT: You’ve been telling us to be ready to leave for days. We’re stocked, we’ve finished all our station-side business. We’re ready. What’s changed? Why the sudden urgency?

STEN: (hmphs to himself and slides into the offered seat) Boereque are getting bolder. They’re levelling injuctions against the ship and the project.

CAPT: So squash them. Isn’t that what you do?

STEN: That kind of thing takes time. The Starwalker would be forced to remain here indefinitely.

CIRILLI: (leans forward) We can’t afford that kind of delay, John.

CAPT: (looks from one of them to the other, his expression closing down; he doesn’t like what he’s hearing) I don’t know what you expect me to be able to do about it.

STEN: I think I can open a small window for you. Call in some favours. You’re going to need to be fast.

CAPT: I’m liking this less and less. Why can’t we explain to the Judiciary what Boereque are trying to do? There are laws against interfering with another company’s product development.

STEN and CIRILLI: (exchange a glance.)

STEN: We can’t tell the Judiciary about the project.

CAPT: (frowns) Surely once you explain the confidentiality required, it will be classified. Like the rest of the Tripi case. Leaks in the Judiciary are incredibly rare; Boereque can’t afford something like that.

STEN: (shakes his head) It’s not that.

CAPT: (leans back and regards the two in front of him) What, then?

CIRILLI: It’s the project. The research, it… wasn’t sanctioned.

CAPT: (sits upright) WHAT.

CIRILLI: (holds up a hand as if that might calm him) Isasimo Tech is still chasing the licences. It’s not easy to get permission to experiment on stars. There are a lot of suits who believe that it’s too dangerous to puncture the fabric of reality.

CAPT: (standing up) I’m sitting on top of unsanctioned research. You sent reports on it through the public network–

CIRILLI: The reports were encrypted to the highest level…

CAPT: –and you never thought to TELL ME.

STEN: (rises too, fidgeting) To be fair, captain, you didn’t need to know. The confidentiality clauses in your contract made the point moot–

CAPT: (rounds on him) I had a right to know that the research I was enabling is illegal.

STEN: This way, you have complete deniability.

CAPT: I’m the captain. It’s my job to know what goes on on my ship. There is no deniability for me.

STEN: Legally, that’s not quite–

CAPT: (turns his attention back to Cirilli) How could you not tell me?

CIRILLI: (looks away from him.)

CAPT: (clenches his jaw, then shifts back to Sten again) I thought you didn’t know what our project was.

STEN: I don’t. I just know that it’s not sanctioned. I know enough to do my job.

CAPT: Good for you. Will the case against Tripi hold up?

STEN: I believe so. The details of the research weren’t required to make the charges stick.

CAPT: But she can blow this wide open if she tells them about the project.

(Uncomfortable silence.)

CAPT: Who else knows the project was unsanctioned?

CIRILLI: My staff, that’s all.

CAPT: So Tripi doesn’t know.

CIRILLI: Whoever hired her might.

CAPT: And you waited this long to tell me?

STEN: Well, we’d hoped it wouldn’t be–

CAPT: I bet you did. How long until you can get us a window to get out of here?

STEN: I need to call in some favours, get everything set up…

CAPT: How long?

STEN: Two, three days maybe.

CAPT: We’ll be ready. Will we have the Judiciary on us? Try to be honest.

STEN: (stiffly) If I was going to do it illegally, it’d take a lot less than a few days. I don’t want to end up in a Judiciary cell. Don’t worry, they won’t have a reason to chase you. I just wouldn’t come back any time soon, if I were you.

CAPT: You’d better hope I don’t. You can get off my ship now.

STEN: (looks at Cirilli, but she doesn’t meet his gaze. He nods once, turns on his heel, and leaves the cabin.)

CAPT: Starwalker, get Cameron up here. Is the rest of the crew on board?

SW: Cameron is on her way. Two crewmembers are ashore.

CAPT: Keep the rest on board and call the others back. When they’re all here, get everyone to the Bridge.

SW: Yes, sir.

CIRILLI: (looking at the captain in surprise) You’re not going to tell them?

CAPT: I’m going to do what you didn’t – give them a choice.

CIRILLI: You can’t–

CAPT: You’re dismissed, Dr Cirilli.

CIRILLI: (stares at him. He levels an unflinching look at her; after a couple of seconds, she exits the cabin.)

CAPT: (sits back down again and drops his head into his hands, letting out a big breath.)

SW: Cameron is outside the door, sir.

CAPT: (straightens himself up again, flipping his hair back out of the way and squaring his shoulders) All right, let her in.


Just when I thought it was calming down. It never rains, does it?

End log.

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7 Responses to “Never rains”

  1. daymon34 Says:

    Never rains, well you don’t notice the rain when the flood is trying to wash you out to see.

    Boy they just can’t catch a break, and yes messing around with stars can probably really backfire. Good thing for them it paid off big, bigger than they expected.

  2. Melanie Says:

    Can’t have them getting too comfortable! 😉

  3. David Says:

    SW must be really good at playing her part, if she had the captain convinced…

  4. Melanie Says:

    Heee, yes. Though she still slips a little – like with warning him that Cameron is about to walk in. Mostly, he’s unnerved by how different she is, and is a little bit sensitive to something happening to change her.

  5. Benjamin B. Says:

    Can’t have them getting too comfortable indeed! Unsanctioned research? I wonder how Starry feels about finding THAT one out…

  6. Melanie Says:

    Indeed! Stay tuned…. 😀

  7. Belial666 Says:

    Well, considering what happens in other fantasy worlds when someone messes with the fabric of reality, I don’t blame the authorities for not being willing to explore those options.

    They could have punched into a parallel world where there are lots of tentacles. They could have unsealed energy beings that eat stars and, for the fun of it, change humanoinds to half undead cyborgs with built-in disintegrator cannons. They could have met an alien race that can biologically overtake human bodies and live forever – not to mention their building egyptian-themed warships.

    And that’s only the three more infamous options.