31 Aug

Own devices

Ship's log, 15:48, 20 February 2214
Location: Junkpile, Lambda 1 system
Status: Stationary


It has been over a day since the Telltale Heart left me alone here, and I’m still angry.

After their extreme unhelpfulness, I didn’t say anything more to them except to ask Captain Morgan to leave and to direct the new crewmembers to some spare quarters. The peacock captain left without much fuss; I guess he’s used to people taking their frustrations out on him. I’d feel sorry for him if I wasn’t so pissed off.

The guest quarters haven’t been cleaned out since the pirates were using them; Waldo and Casper have been too busy in the Med Bay and with essential maintenance to worry about minor issues like that. My two new people weren’t overjoyed by their accommodations, but cleaning up kept them busy for a while, which suited me just fine.

I haven’t returned Swann’s weapons yet. I don’t know enough about him.

Now, I’m still not sure what to do with myself. I want to punish Is-Tech for abandoning me, for fobbing me off with a couple of warm bodies and a package of money. For asking me to leave this system quickly and quietly, please don’t cause a fuss we would have to explain, please let us pretend you don’t exist.

I want to do something explosive and decisive. I want to draw my name across the system in a spill of violent radiation.

I know, I know. It’ll cause trouble for everyone, me included. It would be stupid. That doesn’t mean that it’s not running around in my processors, itching at my attention. I want them to hurt as much as I do.

I want to say “it’s not fair”, even though I know how childish that is. The universe isn’t fair. So why do I keep hoping for it to be? Whose programming is that?

Is-Tech want us to leave the system but I haven’t moved from inside this cargo hold. We don’t know where to go next. I refuse to flee, blundering to my next stop, just because they don’t want us here. No-one will find me here while we figure this out.

We still have the problem of our unwilling pirate passengers to deal with. Once again, I’m staring down the barrel of murder as a solution. Can I really let Is-Tech drive me to do that to defenseless people? Just how much should I compromise of myself? How far should I let them break me down?

I need–


ELLIOTT: (in Engineering) Starry!

STARRY: (voice only) Yes?

ELLIOTT: (eyeing the counter before him with distrust. He has a thruster in several pieces laid out before him and a scanner in his hand, but he’s sitting back, holding himself away from the ledge. He’s clearly halfway through fixing a line fault, if the scorch-marks on the thruster casing are anything to judge by. In the middle of the scattered components, Bit is jiggling up and down, waving his four hands. Elliott lowers the scanner towards the counter warily.) Your drone is acting weird again. Tell him I just fixed this scanner! He can’t have it!

BIT: (skitters sideways and reaches for the incoming hand eagerly.)

STARRY: (hesitates, checking) I don’t think he wants the scanner. What did he do?

ELLIOTT: (lifting his hand out of range again) Damned well jabbed my hand again. He drew blood!

STARRY: He’s upset about something. Try giving him your other hand.

ELLIOTT: What would he want with that?

STARRY: I have a hunch. Please?

ELLIOTT: If I lose it, I’m blaming you. (He lowers his other hand towards the tiny drone, very slowly.) Aren’t you supposed to be able to talk to them and figure all this shit out?

BIT: (ticks across the desk and reaches up for Elliott’s empty hand, the fingers straining.)

STARRY: We have an… understanding. He doesn’t want to hurt you, Elliott, I promise.

ELLIOTT: I’m gonna keep you to that, y’kno–

BIT: (grabs one of Elliott’s fingers with all four hands, but not hard enough to do more than press on the skin. He tugs on it.)

ELLIOTT: (staring) Um.

STARRY: He wants you to go with him.

ELLIOTT: Well, uh. (He gets up, pushing his stool back with his foot, and lets his hand move with the drone across the counter.) He knows I won’t fit in a vent, right?

STARRY: (amused) I’m pretty sure that he’s aware of how big you are.

ELLIOTT: What if he’s been building a shrink-ray in there?

STARRY: Then you’re screwed.

ELLIOTT: (following the drone around the end of the counter and down into the corner beside it) Gee, thanks.

STARRY: Don’t worry; I haven’t had the mad scientist drone upgrade yet.

ELLIOTT: (crouching down to allow Bit to pull his hand over towards a vent) You sure about that?

BIT: (stops at the vent’s mouth and manipulates Elliott’s hand so that its palm is facing up. He pats it to make it stay, then disappears into the vent. There’s a soft scraping noise, and then a drone leg appears, unmoving, pushed out from behind.)

ELLIOTT: (gapes as a little drone body tumbles out of the vent onto his hand, pushed out by Bit. It lies quite still. He lifts it up to get a closer look at it, standing. It’s a patchwork of welds and repairs, is missing one optical sensor, and one of the legs seems shorter than the rest.)

STARRY: (whispering) Byte?

BIT: (skitters across the floor, up Elliott’s leg and down his arm, so he can crouch on the engineer’s wrist.)

ELLIOTT: Fuck me. You rebuilt him?

BIT: (looks up at Elliott and nods. Then he reaches out a hand and pokes his dormant brother, tilting his head.)

ELLIOTT: But you can’t get him going again?

BIT: (nods again.)

ELLIOTT: (sighs and squints at Byte’s body curiously) Now you want my help. You could have just said, y’know.

BIT: (puts all four hands on his hips.)

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah, save it. Let’s see what we can do, then.


Byte. My brave little drone who threw himself onto a bomb to save us, even though he couldn’t have shielded anyone with his tiny body.

So that’s what Bit has been doing in the ducts all this time. Stealing parts, scavenging components. He must have scoured the remains of the Bridge for the miniscule bits of his brother.

He didn’t wait for me to ask him. He didn’t ask permission. He didn’t sit and whine about it; he just got on with it. Fixed up what he could, stole what he had to, and got done what his tiny hands could manage. And asked for help when he needed it.

My smallest drone can do all this, so why is it so difficult for me?

I guess it’s as difficult as we make it. I know what I need to make happen; the only question is how. I have a few ideas. I don’t think they’ll all be popular, but I don’t care.

It’s time I looked after myself first. It’s time we started to mend all the things that are broken and made them work for us.


STARRY: (in the new medic’s quarters) Excuse me, Dr Valdimir.

DR SOCKS: (reclining on his bed surrounded by holographic displays of medical reports) Yes, ship?

STARRY: It’s ‘Starry’. I need you to wake up the captain.

DR SOCKS: (frowning and waving away the projections) That’s not a good idea in his condition.

STARRY: You’re the medic: make it a good idea. I need him awake. Today.

DR SOCKS: Can I ask why?

STARRY: Because… because I need to be a ship, and he needs to be a captain. And we’ve got work to do.

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8 Responses to “Own devices”

  1. targetdrone Says:

    Aww me likes how starry is pulling herself together and starts calling the shots again… I don’t think that will be as unpopular with the crew as she may think (well maybe aside from the newbies, but then those will have to gwt used to it ;p) guess most prefer an acting captain (double meaning;p) to a sulking and depressed one *gives starry 2 emotional thumbs up for encouragement*

  2. mjkj Says:

    Yayy, Byte is back πŸ™‚ I hope Elliot can start him up again – maybe fix him some more, too…

    And Starry seems to have a plan πŸ˜€

    It was depressing enough – it is nice she is in control of herself again…

    *hugs Starry*

    I hope she thinks of “stealing” some stuff here at the Junkpile…


    PS: Typo suspected: One again, I’m staring down the barrel of murder as a solution. => I think that should be “Once again”…

  3. Blik Says:

    I think you’re onto something, mjkj. She’s been hiding in a junkpile, why not raid it? Stuff’s there because no one wants it. And there’s gotta be some pretty brilliant finds.

    I’m happy to see Bit and Byte again! Good for Starry, taking her cue from her own “subconscious.” It takes a mature person to see something like that and apply it to their own sorry situation. Now let’s hope waking the Captain has few adverse effects on his health…!

  4. Melanie Says:

    This post was great fun to write. I love writing Elliott and the drones, and it’s so nice to see Starry turn this corner. I love it when a plan comes together. πŸ˜‰

    Targetdrone – yes, the crew reaction will be interesting. Cameron might be ‘acting captain’, but she’s too much a Chief of Security at heart. I suspect they’ll all be relieved to have Warwick back at the helm, even if it’s from the Med Bay to start with.

    mjkj – yes, she has a plan! Or, several, in fact. πŸ˜€ Some of them do involve the junkpile, too. πŸ˜‰

    Well spotted that typo! I will fix it shortly. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    Blik – yup, if scavengers can pilfer the junkpile, why not Starry?

    And yeah, sometimes you have to recognise what you really want and ignore the louder part of your brain. That’s part of what Bit is helping her to do. Having him mend a part of her will help her mend the other parts.

    I like that you call her mature, cos that’s part of what she’s doing through all this: maturing into the ship she needs to be. Good to know you think she’s getting there! πŸ™‚

  5. mjkj Says:


    …another thing: concerning the voice only: is that in contrast to the hologram – so, did she just answer Elliot voice only but has all her sensors active or does that “voice only” also mean she has only her audio systems activated so she can “hear” but not “see”?

    That had me puzzled for a moment that she knew Bit pushed Byte out of the vent but had “voice only” communications “activated” beforehand…

  6. Melanie Says:

    The first one. πŸ™‚ ‘Voice only’ means that Starry isn’t using her hologram, just replying audibly. All of her sensors are still active. She’s always watching!

  7. mjkj Says:

    Ok, good to know πŸ™‚

    I just hope she is not becoming Big Brother… πŸ˜‰

  8. kagedviper Says:

    Damn, I was expecting her to somehow steal parts from other junk ships.