12 Sep

Red logic

Chief of Security's log, 08:00, 9 April 2214
Location: Home system to JOP FTL corridor
Status: FTL transit
Log location: Chief of Security's Quarters

 

This is Chief Gail Cameron, reporting on the security situation aboard the Starwalker.

Decisions have been made that will lead us to break mission, violate contracts, and commit crimes against colony law. I wish to make it clear that all of those aboard are entering into this path with full knowledge. I am attaching a log of the discussion as proof.

 

Log attached.

 

However, we have not yet acted on our plans. There is still time to abort, should the captain and crew make that decision. In my personal opinion, I don’t believe we will turn away now, despite the danger and the cost.

The crew might have agreed to break away from our company but we can’t be complacent about the security or solidity of our situation. There are many factors to consider and threats to assess, including those who walk the decks aboard this ship.

Of the crew, many of our number do not pose a threat to our plan or purpose. The captain, for obvious reasons, is committed to this cause (it’s his cause; and besides, he’s the captain). The ship is, likewise, dedicated and doesn’t represent a threat, despite her special situation. SecOff Rosie Brasco is content in her position, and Navigator Lang Lang Cartier firmly believes in the morality of our plan.

The rest, however, are not so simple and require more detailed examination.

Chief Engineer Elliott Monaghan will follow where his captain leads until it poses a direct danger to the ship; at that point, he may become a problem. His loyalties lie with the ship above all else. At this stage, there is no conflict between those loyalties; it is worth keeping in mind but he is a minor concern.

Dr Lorena Cirilli is genuine in her agreement to break away from Is-Tech. However, she is showing signs of becoming unstable; the proposed destruction of her project represents the dissolution of her life’s work, and the closer we get to making that happen, the more unpredictable she will become. The captain is offering her some support, but she is one to monitor closely.

Then there is Dr Argyle Valdimir. Is-Tech gave no specific reasons for selecting this replacement medic for us, and he seems to bear no love for the company. The rumours that he had intimate trysts with relatives of Is-Tech’s directors may have been overblown gossip, but I suspect there was a kernel of truth in them. He was sent here to remove him from the public eye and physical reach, but also with a purpose that might allow him to redeem himself. I have not yet uncovered this purpose.

According to his files, Dr Valdimir is a highly-qualified psychologist as well as an accomplished field medic and surgeon. Recently, he has extended his expertise into the cybernetic field. His test scores show him to be into the accepted genius range, which is no doubt what prompted Is-Tech to fund and nurture his abilities. Outwardly, he shows all the signs of a child protege given every advantage and honour, and no reason for compassion or restraint.

My suspicions are that Is-Tech’s directors heard about the unusual situation with our ship’s AI and sent Dr Valdimir to assess her. However, that doesn’t mean that he won’t assess the rest of us as well. He clearly has no loyalty towards the company that paid for his education, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be loyal to this ship and her crew. If he sees an advantage in betraying us, he may well take it.

In the meantime, the greatest threat he poses is that he becomes bored and starts to play mind-games with the crew, which could disrupt any number of things. Knowing our situation – and how long he’ll be stuck with us on this ship, unable to get away from repercussions – I doubt he’ll do so lightly. Unfortunately, while he may be a genius, he might not be smart about it. Clearly, he wasn’t smart enough on Feras; if he had been, he wouldn’t be here at all.

Currently, he’s pursuing a physical relationship with our captive pirate, Lieutenant Laurence. It’s hard to say if it’s developing into an emotional attachment yet, but it’s certainly proving to be a good distraction for our doctor. We have not interfered in his visits to the secure quarters for this reason.

The Lieutenant himself is no trouble. He has made no efforts to escape, commit sabotage, or otherwise disrupt the ship. He seems to have accepted his current position. I spoke with him yesterday in his secure quarters, and he appreciates that we have not mistreated him in his captivity. I suspect that this is not the first time he has been imprisoned, though he won’t speak of it. We have given him shelter, food, and medical attention, and he welcomes the doctor’s advances; in all, his position is quite comfortable.

He may be of use to us further down this path, so maintaining his good will is in our interests. I see no reason to spoil the status quo, and his personality is inclined towards loyalty when there’s reason. He might become a valuable asset to us in time.

SecOff Riley Swann is both simpler and more tricky. Another replacement sent by Is-Tech, and one that I scrutinised closely when he came aboard. Every file I’ve seen on him tells the same story: he is a career mercenary who honours his contracts. On the surface, his current contract is to provide security aboard this ship under my command.

Experience tells me that it can’t be that easy. He’s contracted to Is-Tech, the same as the rest of us; the only difference is that his is short-term while ours are open-ended. He faces the same consequences as we do for breaking our contracts: we’ll find it difficult to get another one after this job is finished. He has agreed to follow this path and I can’t help but wonder how honest that agreement was. This can’t have been the first time someone has asked him to break his contract and betray the company that hired him. Mercenaries are seen as a weak link and dangerous because of how often that happens.

He has yet to put a foot wrong but I can’t afford to assume that’s an indication of fidelity. I want to know what job he was really hired to perform. I also need to know exactly how much he was getting paid for his services. As a mercenary, he’s more honest than most about the motivating nature of money.

I intend to speak with the captain about money and how will be assured for the crew, to remove that reason for them to betray us. When the company learns of our intentions, one of the first things they’ll do is freeze our accounts and attempt to seize our assets. The Fall of Earth may interfere with that somewhat, but the crew needs to believe in a future beyond this war of ours. More than anything else, they need hope that this isn’t the end for all of us; martyrs and desperation won’t help us. Fiscal planning is just one way to encourage a more productive attitude.

This is particularly relevant when we think about the last member of the science team, Dr Seth Ebling. I have been monitoring him closely since this project came under my protection. He has always been one of the greatest threats and nothing that has happened has changed my assessment.

Dr Ebling is looking to head up his own research one day, and he sees the Star Step Project as his way to achieve that. If the project was successful, the credit alone would be enough to secure him whatever position or grant he wanted. But he is not a young man and I have always doubted his patience; he was flagged as a defection threat by Is-Tech central security early in his tenure. The chances of him attempting to abscond to another company with enough data to replicate the project only increased when we became mobile on the Starwalker. The value of his expertise was judged to be worth the risk.

Now, however, we’re embarking upon a path that will remove any chance of him getting his own research project. He doesn’t bother to hide his disgruntlement or disagreement. He’s wise enough not to make threats but I am certain that he’s formulating an exit strategy. The next time we dock anywhere, I believe he’ll make a break for whatever authority is close enough to give him shelter. If he can, he’ll take enough of the project with him to make our purpose null and void.

Right now, I see no reason to take measures to restrain him. At least, no obvious or public ones. His attitude serves as a balance to Dr Cirilli’s delicate emotional state and his work remains useful to us. But I think the time is not far off when a decision will have to be made about his freedom, even on board the ship. As he takes steps, so must we.

I have active monitoring on all of the questionable crew, and review the logs frequently. Brasco and Swann are not, at this stage, party to this assessment or the logs.

Which brings me to the last crewmember to be assessed. Gail Cameron, Chief of Security aboard the Starwalker. We have decided to break from our company and destroy a galaxy-changing piece of technology. We are going to violate more rules than I care to count. These are all rules that I have sworn and signed to uphold. Laws, even. But considering the implications of our position, these are sacrifices I am willing to make.

It may come to the point when this civilian crew is asked to kill – no, it will come to that. Not in defence, the way it was with the pirates, but purposefully and deliberately. As Chief of Security, I will have to support and enforce that decision. It will fall to me to issue those orders, on the captain’s command.

I have given those orders before; it is one of the reasons I moved out of the military and into private company protection. But the situation was different then, and so was I. Then, I had no say in who or why I was killing. Now, the weight is entirely in our hands. My hands.

I believe we have chosen the right path. A small amount of destruction now to prevent a catastrophe later – or, in our case, another catastrophe. It is the kind of decision that my mother called ‘red logic’. She used to say that it was a dangerous state to fall into and that red logic would taint the world if I let it. She wasn’t wrong, but even she knew that sometimes, someone had to use it to do what’s right.

None of us are foolish enough to believe that it will take less than force to stop Is-Tech from pursuing this. It won’t be easy and it won’t be clean, but with the right approach and great care, I believe even this small ship can pull it off.

But only if they don’t see us coming. This whole thing will be over in heartbeats if Is-Tech figures out what we intend.

So my assessment is this: this break with the company is supported by the crew, in words and actions. I don’t believe that all of them are as dedicated as they pretend to be and some are likely to try to betray us before it is over. I am monitoring the situation constantly and I’m prepared to take steps to prevent word of our intentions from getting out.

In the meantime, I have to consult with the captain about the upgrades required to the ship’s weaponry and defenses. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for what’s to come.

May whatever gods we hold dear be with us, for we’ll need them.

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6 Responses to “Red logic”

  1. mjkj Says:

    Wow…

    Cameron really has it all covered and has a clear picture of what lies ahead. I just hope they make it safely…

    *hugs Starry*

    mjkj

  2. Kagedviper Says:

    I forgot about this story for a few months;, glad to see its still going strong 😀

  3. Melanie Says:

    mjkj – me too! 😉

    Kagedviper – glad to hear you’re still enjoying it! Great to hear from you again. 🙂

  4. Medic Says:

    Hmmm. I wonder if Starry is aware of what Cameron is doing? Has to be. She trusts Cameron to protect her crew just as Starry would.

    I can think of a few ways to ensure that Starry and crew get away with some of what needs to be done. None of them are something a civilian would willingly consider.

    I think Doc Socks takes his job seriously. He is responsible for the mental and physical health of his crew-mates. And Is-Tech has proven to be an unfaithful employer.

    As I’ve said before Ebling is the most dangerous as far as the Step data is concerned. And I’m still not sure what to make of Swann yet.

  5. andrul Says:

    A small error in singular vs. plural syntax. “Is-Tech figure out…”, since Is-Tech as a corporation is recognized as a single legal entity you need an “s” as the end of “figure” so that they match.

    I’m afraid that at the very least, Ebling will have to die before the story ends. He has consistently displayed the ambition necessary to try to start up the star stepper program again regardless of the possible consequences of the technology. Of course, the author could always surprise us with him committing an act of self-sacrifice in order to insure the success of the mission.
    I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again. Thank you Melanie for all the time and effort you have put into entertaining us.

  6. Melanie Says:

    Medic – I don’t know if Starry knows the details of what Cameron is doing, but she’s no doubt aware that the Chief is taking measures to protect her security. 🙂

    andrul – you’re right! Fixed up that missing ‘s’. Thanks!

    And it is, always, my pleasure to entertain you. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. 🙂