Illuminae, p.11

Illuminae, page 11



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Zhang, B: nothing slows u down

  ByteMe: unlike u. looks weird, seeing your actual name there. ur totally CitB in my head.

  ByteMe: so still don’t have this sorted? whats the hold up?

  Zhang, B: it’s not that fucking easy is the hold up. u here to help?

  ByteMe: affirmative, sensei

  ByteMe: u getting any gen out of the military techs about how things are over there?

  Zhang, B: worried about your bf?

  ByteMe: yes

  Zhang, B: oh

  Zhang, B: well that makes the teasing a little less fun

  ByteMe: answer?

  Zhang, B: nope, they not feeling talkative

  ByteMe: how u holding up? have u stopped to eat or drink or sleep lately?

  Zhang, B: not a lot of any of those.

  ByteMe: u want me to bring u something?

  Zhang, B: no, don’t want any footage of u coming near me, in case they notice u

  Zhang, B: it all takes a bit longer, doing it remotely from the Hypatia. Just a little delay on every command, starting to drive me nuts.

  Zhang, B: not exactly volunteering to head over to the Alexander and do it in person tho

  ByteMe: any of these military folks know what they’re doing?

  Zhang, B: some. Guy called Dorian is on it, a couple of the others, but others trying to fill shoes not meant for them, got promotions after Kerenza.

  Zhang, B: But no matter how good u are, trying to work out how to turn AIDAN back on under restraint is like trying to work out how to strap down an octopus, only u have no idea how many arms the fucker has and u have to work in the dark

  ByteMe: ok, show me where i can help. we have to get moving. Lincoln isn’t waiting.

  Zhang B: u holding up ok?

  ByteMe: trying. let’s go to work

  Syra, Kate:

  I need some quiet calculations. Hypothetical only, of course, but as the senior staff, it’s appropriate for us to consider every potential step necessary to preserve the safety of the Hypatia.

  Please compile a confidential report considering:

  • the navigational capacity of our current staff (Syra)

  • the current condition of our ship (Kate)

  • our ability to increase velocity/fashion defense systems of any description (Kate)

  My question, essentially, is this: if we were to leave the Alexander and strike out for safety on our own, through either choice or necessity, what are our chances?

  I want a list of likely scenarios, a report on our probability of survival and ideas on any steps we can take to increase our odds. The Hypatia was never meant to brave the black without an escort, but we need to work out how our minnow can survive without her guardian shark. We need to be prepared, just in case.

  Kate, please don’t include Peyak in this. I’m aware he’s still unhappy about Matt’s conscription and would not be willing to assist in compiling any plan for leaving the Alexander behind. In fact, I think he’d probably tell Matt as quick as he could, assuming comms ever come back up.

  You’ve got twelve hours to put together as much data as possible for me, then we’ll meet in person to discuss your findings.


  Officers of the Alexander,

  This is rumor control. At 20:17, 07/25/75, Marine Squad Sigma engaged hostile Kerenza refugees afflicted with the mutated Phobos virus in Hangar Bay 4. Sigma Squad was unable to secure the area. Several marines were killed in this altercation. Sigma is now in lockdown.

  I will state this as plainly as I can—there has been no quarantine breach. NO afflicted personnel have gained access to the general population of the Alexander. Any speculation to the contrary is, at best, detrimental, at worst, treason.

  Short-handed as we are, and unable to guarantee our marines’ safety, I have determined to leave Bay 4 sealed and allow the afflicted within to succumb to starvation. With the main drive still offline, Lincoln is now closing to within striking distance. All pilots—even disciplinary cases—are to be reinstated to flight status. Hypatia Neurogramming staff have been assisting with the work on AIDAN. TechEng will report latest results at 07:00 tomorrow to senior staff. I trust Col. Sanchez and her team will have found a solution to our AI dilemma by then.

  You all know fear is poison in battle. You, as officers, must do everything in your power to stop this situation from turning toxic.

  You will explain this in no uncertain terms to your respective staff members. Conjecture and rumor-mongering serve no purpose but to degrade unit cohesion. Morale is at a flash point already—the last thing we need are people operating rashly under misinformation. And frankly, if your people have time to be playing watercooler whispers with things being what they are, they’re not working hard enough.

  Over six thousand lives are on the line here, people.

  We should be doing, not talking.

  Centrum tenenda.

  David Torrence

  General, United Terran Authority

  Commander, Alexander 78-V

  LeFevre, S, Prv: Dorian, this install sequence still isn’t working.

  Dorian, C, Corp: Damnation. Send it to me and I’ll look at it once I’m done hand-holding these civilian techs over on Hypatia.

  LeFevre, S, Prv: did you just say “damnation”? god, you even swear posh. très sexy.

  Dorian, C, Corp: What do you want, Stephanie?

  LeFevre, S, Prv: what makes u think I want anything?

  Dorian, C, Corp: Because you’re flirting with me. And unless I missed a memo and have somehow become … now what was the term you used again?

  Dorian, C, Corp: Oh, yes …

  Dorian, C, Corp: “The last functional cock in the ’verse”

  Dorian, C, Corp: … then you want something. So, what can I do for you?

  LeFevre, S, Prv: How bout u meet me in Server Room D

  LeFevre, S, Prv: and tear me out of this coverall with your teeth

  Dorian, C, Corp: …

  Dorian, C, Corp: Are you serious?

  LeFevre, S, Prv: lol

  LeFevre, S, Prv: oh, LORD, no.

  LeFevre, S, Prv: lololololololol

  Dorian, C, Corp: I’m a bloody Corporal, you know. I outrank you. Technically, I could have you brought up on charges for that.

  LeFevre, S, Prv: which would leave you stuck doing this install alone.

  Dorian, C, Corp: Damn your logic, Private. Damn it straight to hell.

  LeFevre, S, Prv: hey u hear about that SNAFU with Sigma Squad?

  LeFevre, S, Prv: I heard they lost 12 guys. And two of the refugees broke out of the bay

  Dorian, C, Corp: If that were true, I suspect we’d be under lockdown by now, yes?

  LeFevre, S, Prv: u did hear something then

  Dorian, C, Corp: Nothing I’m at liberty to share. Back to work, please.

  LeFevre, S, Prv: I’m waiting on this upload. u can tell me, Charlie

  Dorian, C, Corp: My lips are sealed.

  LeFevre, S, Prv: well

  LeFevre, S, Prv: I can fix that

  Dorian, C, Corp: Meaning what?

  LeFevre, S, Prv: meet me in Server Room D

  Dorian, C, Corp: …

  Dorian, C, Corp: Are you serious?

  Dorian, C, Corp: … Stephanie?

  Dorian, C, Corp: < user log-out due to inactivity >


  I am pleased to report that repairs to the Alexander’s drive systems are proceeding ahead of schedule, and we should be returning to maximum velocity within the next few days. Unfortunately, we are still unable to provide exact timings, but rest assured the tech crews involved are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the fleet.

  The Lincoln has not shown itself since the attack on the Copernicus—it’s possible the damage sustaine
d during the Copernicus attack has rendered it incapable of further pursuit. However, General Torrence and his staff are continuing repair operations around the clock, and the sanctuary of Heimdall Station is closer than it has ever been. We ask for your patience for the next few days—rest assured the worst is almost over.

  Patience is not without its rewards, however! I’m informed Lt Mifune has dredged up another cinema classic from his collection for screening in Amphitheater A—tonight we have the award-winning thriller TERMINUS starring Blake Hill and Elizabeth Andretti. First session will commence at 19:00 hours. The film contains some mature content, so children under the age of twelve can attend a re-screening of SUPER TURBO AWESOME TEAM VS. MEGAPANDA in Amphitheater B, or be dropped off in the temp crèche on Deck 17.

  We would also like to congratulate Martina Hernandez and her husband Christopher for the birth of their beautiful baby girl, who was brought into the universe by our medical staff at 01:13 this morning! Both mother and daughter are doing well, and I am delighted to report our newest crew member has been named “Hypatia” by her parents. Your prayers and best wishes are appreciated—any donations of clothing or toys for our little stowaway can be made via your friendly Hypatia ensign.

  I thank you all for your courage and patience through our recent trials, and look forward to bringing you more news as it comes to hand.

  ByteMe: howzit?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: tense. t-e-n-s-e

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: lot of scuttlebutt around. Bay 4 and the rest of it

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: trying not to think about Jimmy. it’s not working

  ByteMe: :(

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: talk to me Kades

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: tell me something good

  ByteMe: um, ok

  ByteMe: …

  ByteMe: o, remember Ms. Colfer from applied sciences class? She’s over here, u know.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: No kidding? Wow, she made it.

  ByteMe: Yeah. She’s kind of the reason we got together

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Damn, I still remember first day in her class. You were checking me out HARD, Grant.

  ByteMe: U. R. DELUSIONAL. u kept asking me stupid questions about hydrogen bonding

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: confession: hydrogen was not the kind of bonding on my mind

  ByteMe: o rly? am I to understand it was highly sophisticated courting behavior? did i misinterpret it, with my backwater ways?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Mock if you will. I’ll refrain from pointing out you DID end up falling madly in love with me

  ByteMe: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I’m nice like that

  ByteMe: madly as in it was complete insanity to do it. and i was misled on the whole “wishing-to-bond” front by the way you kept sticking your tongue down jodie kingston’s throat

  ByteMe: it was like you were trying to make up for missed biology lessons with practical experience. ew.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you know Jodie’s dead, right?

  ByteMe: i … jesus

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Way to go, mood-killer

  ByteMe: okay, sorry

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Lol, you’re so bad at this, Grant

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: That’s one of the things I love about you

  ByteMe: fuck off, I was trying to make you feel better

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: You kiss your mother with that mouth?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: How is your mom anyways? I would literally swim the few thousand klicks of vacuum between Alexander and Hypatia for some of her dessert

  ByteMe: Yeah, I always knew what you were really at my place for.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Hey, you should thank her. I owe this manly physique almost entirely to her home cooking

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: *flexes*

  ByteMe: I was totally just in it for your manly physique, u know. I watched so many boring geeball games for that physique. And all before u even asked me out

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Boring? Ok NOW you’re hurting my feelings.

  ByteMe: i’m flattering you, idiot.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: You know, you’ve REALLY gotta think of a better pet name for me than “idiot.”

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: What about “sweetiepuff”

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: “sugarpants”?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: NONO WAIT. “CUDDLEPIE”

  ByteMe: I will hack the Alexander comms system and let them know you prefer to be known as Cuddlepie immediately, my love

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: noooooooooooooooo

  ByteMe: u look as good in your uniform as you did in your geeball gear? if not please lie.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Well the pants are tighter, if that counts for anything

  ByteMe: mmmmm go on

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: u sure?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: We’d need waaaay more than seven minutes for that ;)

  ByteMe: Always took about 2 mins as I recall

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: 0_o

  ByteMe: Set yourself up for that one son.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Well played, madam.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Well played indeed

  ByteMe: speaking of 7 mins, time to split

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Yeah

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: i miss you, you know

  ByteMe: you too

  ByteMe: and seriously, things r only going to get more intense. be calm. be smart.

  ByteMe: stay safe, shnookums

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: see now you’re just being silly



  58 hours: 41 minutes

  Date: 07/27/75

  Text: alone

  I’m not ready to die.

  If the Lincoln catches us, she’ll destroy us. There’s simply no other reason she’d chase us for months on end if it wasn’t to hide the last of the evidence. Wipe out the only witnesses with a chance to tell the universe BeiTech attacked another corp, hijacked their illegal processing plant and oh yes killed thousands of people.

  That, or we’re on the lam because the Lincoln’s captain is secretly Torrence’s angry ex-girlfriend and they have unfinished business. He’s totally the kind of guy who’d leave the toilet seat up.

  I think my jokes are getting worse. Weirder, anyway. The sleep dep is really getting to me. But I can’t miss a chance to peek inside AIDAN and help out Byron, and that means jumping onto a new ID every time a tech takes a break. And in the spare minutes I’m supposed to be sleeping, I’m thinking about what we might find if we make it out of this alive instead.

  I figure it this way: WUC’s operation on Kerenza was illegal, so they can’t tell the UTA we stopped reporting in. When Kerenza was attacked, our alarms would’ve been relayed through the closest waypoint, and then on to Heimdall Station. But the only ship that showed up—the Alexander—was on patrol nearby. Which means our SOS never made it out of the system. And if Heimdall didn’t send the cavalry, that has to mean the station itself was taken as part of the BT attack. Which means my dad might be dead. I am not okay with that.


  We’ll never make it as far as Heimdall, says my brain, and if we do, Heimdall’s been taken anyway. It says nobody made it off the Copernicus alive—or not alive in any way I’d recognize. I lie in my bunk, pretending I’m at home, and just return those thoughts to sender. They show up, and try to get their claws into me, and with a mental NO I push them back. Force myself somewhere safer. Counting rivets. Tugging at the loose threads along the edge of my sheet, winding them so tight around my fingers my nails turn blue.

  But deep down, I know it. The truth. Nobody’s coming for us. The place we’re running to probably isn’t safe. And there’s nobody I can trust in this equation except Ezra and Byron. But Byron’s hand
s are tied, and E’s along with him. So if we’re going to find out exactly what happened to the Copernicus, and why, it has to be me.

  If we had to, could the Hypatia outrun the Alexander?

  Is anyone who made it off the Copernicus still sane? Or even alive?

  Are they alive, at Heimdall?

  I’m not ready to die just yet. Too many things left to do.

  No way I am getting short-changed.

  Ezra loves me. I mean, maybe I’m an idiot and it’s just his fear and desperation talking, but I don’t think so. I don’t care if it is, I need him. Being angry at him because he didn’t want to leave Kerenza … seems kind of small, now.

  It was so good, when we were together. It was right. We should have fronted up to the problem, not screamed at each other and avoided it. We should have fought for it, instead of giving up and making out all the time.

  I should have been big enough to tell him what he meant to me.

  Now I get to tell him in 7 minute bursts.

  I try to reach out and connect, to remind him however I can, in my own super awkward way, that I’m here. That if he does something dumb over there, there’s one person left who cares.

  Care doesn’t cover it.

  If I lose Ezra too, it’ll be one body blow too many.

  If I lose Ezra too, I’ll give up.

  I don’t think I have anyone else left.

  But while I have him, I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep us safe.

  Whatever it takes.

  ByteMe: aroo

  Zhang, B: Jesus u can’t be here, Corporal Boklov is online, i can see his ID

  Zhang, B: u log in while his ID’s already active, someone will wtf

  ByteMe: today i am playing the part of Private LeFevre, tho i thank you for your kind concern

  Zhang, B: i don’t think the stims are working any more. so hard not to qwertyface

  ByteMe: no sleep for the wicked, my friend. ur our best hope

  Zhang, B: zzzZZzzzzzz

  ByteMe: where’d u grow up?

  Zhang, B: does that matter in the slightest?

  ByteMe: i’m keeping u awake, you dope

  Zhang, B: Triton III

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