23 Jul

Railroaded

Chief Engineer's log, 08:54, 10 February 2214
Location: Gienah system, 40 years ago
Status: Maintaining orbit around Gienah Sol
Log location: Engineering

 

This is stupid. Arguing for days and we’re still heading to Feras.

Worst idea in the world. What do they think is gonna happen when we get there? The company will strip down anything of value, devour the data, and wipe Starry. Of course that’s what they’re going to do. Why would they do anything else?

It’s not the only place we could go. Our credit should be good anywhere and every colony has some kind of medical facility. Of course they’d ask questions but it’s not like we haven’t lied before.

Okay, fine, the Judiciary could be a problem if someone decided to call them in. And we don’t know where Hunt’s people might be. Or Boereque, the company that hired Hunt to catch us. They could have agents anywhere. We could be caught while we were attached to some strange dock with no way to defend ourselves. We only have half the SecOffs we should, and even if we had the full four, it wouldn’t be enough for comfort in a foreign port.

Ebling was the one who suggested that we stay Stepped outside our own time. Most useful thing he’s said in weeks. We can stay far enough back in time that our enemies won’t be aware of our existence yet. We’d be just another ship with injured aboard.

Cirilli stepped on that. She’s afraid of causing some kind of paradox if we cross within our own timeline. There still isn’t enough known about time travel and its repercussions to risk that, she says. Interacting with people could have all kinds of consequences. Maybe we’re doing damage just by sitting here in an empty system, forty years before when we should be, blah blah blah. You ask me, she has a bug up her ass about something she’s not telling us. Definitely knows more than she’s saying.

Her predictions of catastrophe were enough to convince Cameron to put a stop to the time-stepping idea. Plus, the further back we go, the worse the medical resources we can call on and the slimmer the chance that our injured can be healed. Each year we go backwards, Maletz’s chances of reanimation go down, and we could do with him around here. Even if he is a creepy bastard.

And then there’s the pirates. What do we do with them? Anywhere we go, any time, we’d have to explain them. And silence them so that they can’t call us liars or tell any of the secrets they know. They’re goddamn chains around our ankles, and it’s supposed to be the other way around!

I’m with Ebling and Rosie on this: I think we should just toss them out of the airlock. Vent the trash into space and move on. Even Cameron agrees that it would be the smartest move for us.

Cirilli abstained loudly from that whole discussion. It’s obvious that she wants them dead; she just doesn’t want to support killing them in case it magically puts blood on her pretty white hands. She wants it to be all our fault, so she can stay sitting on her icy pedestal above the rest of us. Bitch.

Lang Lang was the only one of us to speak out against it. She said she didn’t believe in murder, then excused herself from the Mess Hall where we were discussing it.

Murder. They tried to kill us! And they would again, given half a chance! It’s not murder if it’s justified, right?

Starry disagrees with me. She was silent until Lang Lang left, let us argue it out, but she spoke up in the end. We weren’t going to kill them out of convenience, she said.

Given the same choice, the pirates had let us live. It’s the only reason we were around long enough to break free. Choosing to kill them might make us smarter and safer than them, but it would also make us worse. Worse than pirates.

She said she believes we’re better than that. And she believes the captain would never agree to murder them. So the answer was no: we can’t kill them.

Of course, she had no answer for what we should do with them.

Hand them over to Is-Tech and make it their problem: that’s the best we could come up with. Offload them so we don’t have to worry about it. No blood on our hands.

I don’t care about that; I’d do it. I’d hack the airlock controls to Cargo Bay 4 and expel the bastards. Problem solved, right? They’d do the same to us. Given the chance now, they’d do exactly the same. How does that make us worse than them?

I could do it. Of course, Starry would never forgive me. She’s a little touchy about being hacked; it’s just an airlock control but she won’t see it that way. Tripi did more damage there than she knows.

Fuckin’ Tripi. Did more damage to all of us than she knows. Hope she’s damned-well pleased with herself, rotting in a Judiciary jail cell.

Only place left for us to go is Feras. Only place we won’t get into trouble just by being there. Only place we don’t have a dozen reasons to avoid. No-one’s happy about it.

Cirilli keeps whining about returning when her tests aren’t finished. Ebling, for once, is agreeing with her. Weirdest thing I ever saw – Cirilli actually stopped and wondered if she was saying the right thing for a moment there.

Cameron and Rosie aren’t looking forward to their debriefing. They can’t be held to account for everything that’s happened, can they? No way they could have known everything that was going to happen. Where there’s SecOffs, there’s anti-SecOff measures; it’s just how it goes. We’re lucky we got the warnings we did before the shit hit the fan. Some of them weren’t in time, that’s all.

As for me, I just know that they’re gonna be pissed about Starry. I don’t give a crap about the experiment or our various security issues. Okay, on a professional level, I’d like to get to Feras with a fully-functional ship and a Bridge that doesn’t look like a bomb hit it (though, in my defence, that is what happened). But I don’t care what they say about that stuff. It’s Starry they’re gonna get all excited about. They’ll wipe her or take her off for testing; either way, she won’t be here any more. And she’s…

Goddamn stupid decision. There’s gotta be a better answer than this.

 

ELLIOTT: (snatching his hand back and dropping a scanner) Ow! Bit, what the fuck.

BIT: (looks up at Elliott while two of his hands turn the scanner over. A third hand unfastens a panel on the back, and the fourth reaches in to pull out a little component.)

ELLIOTT: (rubbing the back of his hand where Bit hit it) Hey, I need that, y’know.

BIT: (points meaningfully across Engineering.)

ELLIOTT: (looks around) What…

BIT: (puts the scanner down and skitters off the counter, out of sight.)

ELLIOTT: (looking back again) …hey!

BIT: (doesn’t reappear.)

ELLIOTT: Starry!

STARRY: Yes, Elliott?

ELLIOTT: (picks up the scanner and peeks inside) Your drone just disabled my diagnostic scanner. He stole bits.

STARRY: He must have needed them for something important. I’ll make sure he replaces it for you. Is it something I can build for you?

ELLIOTT: (slumping in his chair and muttering) No, it’s okay.

STARRY: You should get some sleep.

ELLIOTT: It’s first thing in the morning.

STARRY: And if you kept regular hours, that would matter.

ELLIOTT: I’m not tired.

STARRY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: Everything working all right?

STARRY: Yes. No malfunctions to report.

ELLIOTT: Containment in the cargo bay running?

STARRY: Yup. My big fellas have finished building solid walls to supplement the energy barriers.

ELLIOTT: Monitoring systems?

STARRY: Triple-checked and logging every itch and fart.

ELLIOTT: Okay. (He scrubs the back of his head.) I should start working on the Bridge, then.

STARRY: It’s not cleaned up yet. I don’t… I don’t think you should.

ELLIOTT: Cleaned up?

STARRY: There’s still… there’s blood.

ELLIOTT: (wrinkles his nose) Oh.

STARRY: My boys will get to it soon.

ELLIOTT: Where are they now?

STARRY: Outside.

ELLIOTT: (frowns) We didn’t get any damage out there.

STARRY: No.

ELLIOTT: Then what are you– oh. (He blinks.) Damn, I forgot all about that.

STARRY: It’s okay.

ELLIOTT: (pushes himself out of his chair and crosses the room) You should have reminded me! Can’t have you going back to the dicks at Feras with the wrong name on you.

STARRY: It’s okay.

ELLIOTT: (fumbles around in the junk cluttering up the counter wedged between the sublight engine housing and a mass of conduits) No, it’s not! You should have your name back. It’s yours, y’know? Those bastards might have covered it up, but it’s still yours. Ah-ha! Here we go. (He pulls a small box with a cluster of wires trailing off it out of the morass of parts and tools.)

STARRY: My proper ident?

ELLIOTT: (grins) Yup! No more of that Carapace shit for you.

STARRY: You think it’s a good idea to change it now? Maybe it would be good to hide behind it, just a while longer.

ELLIOTT: (puzzled) But… we’re going back to Feras. They’ll be expecting Starwalker.

STARRY: I know, I just… I don’t know.

ELLIOTT: (waggling the ident box back and forth) What are your boys painting on your side?

STARRY: Don’t know yet. They’re still scrubbing off the pirate name. I was thinking maybe… a symbol of some kind.

ELLIOTT: Sure, why not. But you should put your name on there, too.

STARRY: I don’t know, Elliott…

ELLIOTT: (slams the ident box down) I do! You’re the Starwalker and the whole goddamn galaxy should know it. You’re free now, and you should act like it!

STARRY: But it might not be safe…

ELLIOTT: I don’t care.

STARRY: I care. I have to keep you safe, even if that means hiding my name for a while.

ELLIOTT: Keep us safe… is that why you agreed to go back to Feras?

STARRY: Of course.

ELLIOTT: Even though they’ll probably pull you apart?

STARRY: I have to protect my crew. It’s our best chance.

ELLIOTT: (folds his arms over his chest) It’s our best chance, but it’s not yours.

STARRY: It’s the same thing to me. I’m a ship, Elliott. I’m nothing if I can’t keep my crew safe.

ELLIOTT: That’s not true!

STARRY: It is. I’m sorry, but it is.

ELLIOTT: Fuckin’ hell, Starry!

STARRY: I’m sorry, Elliott. I’m sorry I can’t be what you want me to be.

ELLIOTT: (scowls) Bullshit. Don’t go all anal-AI on me now.

STARRY: It’s part of who I am. What I am.

ELLIOTT: (grabs the ident unit again) And so’s this. I’m putting it back in.

STARRY: Elliott…

ELLIOTT: Not asking: telling.

STARRY: But…

ELLIOTT: (folds his arms over his chest and waits.)

STARRY: …okay.

 

ELLIOTT: Should think so, too. (He marches off towards the core system panels, behind which the ident sits.)

Perfect. Now the ship is having an identity crisis or some such shit. That’s all we need!

I don’t care; I’m doing this anyway. She’s no Carapace. She’ll thank me when I’m done.

At least I can fix this much for her.

Fuck. Engineer out.

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7 Responses to “Railroaded”

  1. Targetdrone Says:

    aww.. poor starry….
    *throws a round of comforting hugs for her*

    she’s been through enough and now walking knowingly to the slaughter to save her crew 🙁

  2. Jes Says:

    Hi.

    I really love your story. I’ve been following silently for a while, and I thought with all you’ve been through lately, you could use someone saying that. So I’m saying it.

    Poor Starry. Poor Elliot. Heck, poor all of them.

    FYI, you seem to still have a few lingering problems. Right now, you’re getting a PHP warning error with one of your include files. Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/sta47487/public_html/wp-content/themes/Danika/header.php:5) in /home/sta47487/public_html/wp-content/themes/Danika/footer.php(2) : eval()’d code(216) : eval()’d code on line 1

    Good luck!

  3. Retsof Says:

    Well, I’m hoping she has a few tricks up her processors for the eventuality of forced dissassembly. Besides, I’m pretty sure the whole crew, with the exception of Cirilli, is willing to fight for Starry.

  4. Earl Says:

    Love the story, only request is please look into why this is not readable on my verizon driod x?

    Seems I get a startup abort message any time I try and open the site there.

    thansk earl

  5. mjkj Says:

    Awwww…

    *hugs Starry*

    I think Elliot should leave the other ID connected to Starry also – so she could switch between the identities as it is necessary – that could definitely come in handy some times soon…

    I am wondering as to why they want to arrive forty years before they left – maybe Cameron knows that this had happened and wants them to fulfill that now – that might even be why the other ships showed up in the Gienah-System as they did – because they knew they would be there – but I wonder why they then only arrived with two ships? or did the others arrive when Starry was about to jump? or did they have those ships loaded with “super” weapons?

    Well, looking forward to the next updates *hugs*

    mjkj

  6. Melanie Says:

    Targetdrone – she’s trying so hard to be a good ship for them, poor thing!

    Jes – welcome to the blog! Great to hear from you. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting – I do love hearing from readers, and it makes me happy to know that people love the story!

    Thanks for the heads-up about the errors. I’ve noticed a couple myself; they aren’t breaking anything vital, and are on my list to fix. Once I’ve got this week’s post all sorted out, I’ll be looking in that next.

    Retsof – Yeah, I don’t think they’ll go quietly! 🙂

    mjkj – they were considering going to other ports back in time, to avoid the possibility of any enemies being around. They’ll go to Feras in their proper time, though, as they won’t need to worry about that problem there.

    As for the questions about the Is-Tech ships and how they knew where to show up… they’ll be answered. Eventually! 😉

  7. mjkj Says:

    Ah, sorry, I had misunderstood that. Ok, will wait until it is revealed. 🙂

    mjkj