19 Apr

Suspect

Ship's log, 19:09, 19 April 2213
Location: Grisette system (unverified)
Status: Wide orbit around Grisette sol (unverified)

 

Someone on board this ship killed me. In a very real way, that person made me into the half-coded creature I am now. He or she sabotaged the pilot’s chair and murdered Danika Devon, and Danika became me.

Worse, this person will probably try again. No-one on board is safe, not even me.

It’s one of those facts that has been ticking over in a subroutine at the back of my processors. Not forgotten, but not brought to the fore either. What happened to me since then has distracted me from everything, but this is too important to let go. Danika or no, I still want to be a good ship, and that means protecting my crew from everything, including one of our own. It’s going to be another day or two before Elliott’s sensor array is complete, so I have time to devote to this.

I do wonder sometimes if the sabotage might have had nothing to do with the experiment and everything to do with the victim. It would be a wonderful case of misdirection; everyone’s looking for someone with industrial motives, not personal. But I don’t remember Danika having many enemies, and certainly none violent enough to want to kill her. No-one desperate enough to risk their own hide to see her dead – and that stunt endangered the entire ship, not just the hapless pilot. That speaks of desperation.

No, I’m with the captain and Elliott on this: it was aimed at ruining the experiment, possibly crippling the ship until someone could come and claim it. Someone other than Is-Tech, our owners and employers.

In the interests of investigation, I have been watching the crew. I’ve been eavesdropping on mid-deck ever since they unlocked it when we left the JOP, but it doesn’t have privacy protocols like the crew quarters. The personal cabins are the only places on board that I can’t reach; I can only access them when someone calls my name to let me in, or if there’s an emergency.

There’s a lot to be gleaned from the public observations, though I don’t know how much of it will be useful. All I can do is catalogue it and look for patterns that might mean something. I don’t have much so far, but it’s someplace to start. So what do we have so far.

It would be silly for the captain to sabotage his own ship and mission, though it’s not unheard of. People have done worse things for money. But his cabin is not stuffed with expensive items – a few personal things, worn sentimentality, and the necessary accoutrements of his office. On top of that, he seems upset by mentions of what happened on that first Step, as if he failed in some kind of personal way. I don’t see any guilt there, though, and his surprise and dismay at Elliott’s findings were real. He didn’t know it wasn’t an accident. His relationship with Danika explains his reactions far better than any involvement with her death. Sometimes I catch him and I think he’s still grieving.

Elliott – no. I don’t think he’d do that. He’s the one who found the sabotage device and investigated it, and he’s not the sort of person who might use that as a mask. He’s not that good at lying; it makes him deeply uncomfortable, as if he can already imagine what his listeners will do to him if they find out the truth. We’d already know if it was him.

Levi – he wasn’t on board for the first Step, and was almost the victim of the second. Not feasible. Next!

Dr Maletz – he’s closed and quiet, but he’s a healer. He counsels the crew in his own, rough way, and I’ve never seen him act out of any kind of malice. He just generally doesn’t seem to care enough to get angry. I don’t think he’d ever set out to hurt anyone. He has plenty to entertain himself with, and he doesn’t seem to desire money or possessions. I struggle to know what he does desire; he’s a man coasting along in life, unruffled by much of anything.

Cameron – she’s a defender, right down to the core. She works her people hard, even in the quiet days circling a stationary star. If she knew about the saboteur, she’d shout a few decibels louder and introduce another round of drills. Probably turn over every rock and panel in the place to find who’s behind it. She might hurt people in the course of her job, but she takes her role seriously and with honour. I can’t see her ever turning on the people and thing she has been hired to protect.

Tyler – he’s obsessed with sex. Seriously obsessed. If he’s not doing it with a person, he’s doing it to a virtual person through, or he’s doing it to himself. Or, possibly, winding up members of the crew by flirting shamelessly as if he’d do it to them. His fascination with surgery and ‘improvements’ is a way to further that, and I can see him wanting money in order to pursue that desire. The enhancements he’s already had done to look so young when he’s the oldest person aboard are high-end and expensive, outside of a normal SecOff pay allowance.

Rosie – she’s a hitter. She’s up front and in your face, and she makes no apologies about it. I don’t think she’s dissembling, either; that’s how she is, from her large physical presence to the way she speaks. Sabotage requires subtlety and deceit – the opposite of our dear Rosie. It also needs the ability to look a crewmate in the eye and not flinch, even though you just killed one of them. I don’t think she’d be able to do that. She’d let something slip and wind up smacking someone. She betrays herself more than she knows.

Tripi – well, she’s technically adept enough. She’s got the skills and she enjoys messing around with systems. There’s fascination in the way she handles my code, like I’m a rock she just turned over, covered in alien crawlies. Her morality is hard to pin down, and her cosmetic tendencies aren’t cheap. She has follicle implants that change her hair colour on command and fake nails embedded into her fingertips that link to her cybernetic implants. She makes them flash sometimes; it’s a bit creepy, but she says that the boys love it when she dances. I can’t help but wonder what else she has that flashes. Like Tyler, her upgrades are out of the usual reach of a mere SecOff’s salary.

Cirilli – this is her life’s work. She’s foaming at the mouth to make it work, to make history and record books, and to win a shelf full of scientific prizes. This project will make her fortune; she’ll be able to buy her own lab and research whatever she wants, or buy an island somewhere and do nothing for the rest of her life. It wouldn’t make sense for her to jeopardise it.

Ebling – he’s got something to prove and a malicious streak that makes me want to despise him. But if the project fails then so does he; he’ll fall with Cirilli. This project is his stepping-stone to greater things – he’ll be able to write his own ticket after this, though in a smaller capacity compared to Cirilli. He’s well-placed enough to be paid highly for his work, so money doesn’t seem to be a problem. I don’t know what he’d gain out of sabotage. Perhaps it depends on the buyer.

Lang Lang – her head is so far up in the stars that, if someone asked her to sabotage something, I don’t think she would realise what they were suggesting. She has a comfortable position waiting for her back on Earth’s Moonbase – Cirilli’s project merely borrowed her – and she doesn’t want much more. Maybe more opportunities like this, to go out and explore the starfields, but she’s just as happy behind a telescope, receiving datalogs. I can’t think of anything that might entice her to do it.

Wong – he has the technical skill for it, and the access. He’s arrogant and can be callous, particularly with Elliott. They rub each other up the wrong way. Like Ebling, Wong’s future would be set quite comfortably if this project comes off successfully, but he’s not as deeply tied in as the astro-physicist is. I’m struggling to find reasons for him not to do it.

That’s it. A few possible suspects but nothing that screams ‘I killed a crewmember and got away with it’. What does that mean? Is it a professional saboteur? Or an amateur who is smart enough to know how to pull it off? They’re all smart people, in their own way; the company chose the staff for this mission well. Well enough not to be fooled by an infiltrator? I have no way of knowing.

It’s all about balls, I guess. The ability to carry on afterwards without a blink. They have it now, but maybe they didn’t have it, not at first. Maybe whoever it was did slip up just after Danika was killed. Gave themselves away in some small, vital way. I wonder if Elliott has the logs from that time somewhere.

I wonder if they cared about who they killed. Danika wasn’t the darling of the crew – people liked her well enough, but it was hardly universal. She never understood the doctor, and didn’t quite connect with Tripi or Elliott. But like I said – she wasn’t the sort of person to make enemies.

So did they feel bad? Even after they justified it to themselves? As they limped back to the JOP with the corpse in my belly? As Danika was offloaded and sent… where? Back to her family? Does she have family? Oh god, how are we ever going to explain me to them? Maybe that would be cruel. Or a blessing. I– there are flashes of them, so many little moments filling up years and years.

It’s distracting. If I let it, it’s all I can see. Have to keep on-subject. Sabotage. That thing that made me who I am. Have to find out who it was.

I wonder if I should thank them. If it wasn’t for that person, if it wasn’t for poor dead Danika, I would be just another AI, chugging numbers and running through routines. I wonder if I should hate them, for the life they ended and the bright, blinding pain in my memory banks that won’t be deleted, no matter how many times I try.

So where to go next? More data-processing, I guess. Scouring recordings for slips and clues. Seeing which of my beloved crew might be a murderer. Sometimes, being the ship sucks.

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