Illuminae, p.14

Illuminae, page 14



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ByteMe: but we both know she’d kick my ass from here to Sunday if I didn’t do my best to keep going now.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she would :)

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she was pretty awesome, your mom

  ByteMe: i hoped for a while she was on one of the shuttles, that she might be on the Alexander. I tried everything to find the names of the people in bay 4. Byron tried too. I’m grateful now she wasn’t.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: if you didn’t find the names, how do you knwo she didn’t make it across?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: jesus, Kady, she might still be alive

  ByteMe: if she’s alive and insane, I’d rather think she was dead. she’d rather I believed it too. if she’s alive and one of those psychopaths in hangar 4, then she IS dead. i’d rather believe it happened on the Copernicus. fast. painless.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: hold up

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: give me a minute, checking something

  ByteMe: k

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: jesus, i thought so. Kady in this report you sent me, the AAR from McCall. She talks about seeing something in the windwos of the shuttles in Bay 4. But sigma squad never got close enough to check it out

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: “I thought I saw a flicker of movement in a porthole for an instant, and then it was gone.”

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: kady your mom could still be in there

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she could still be okay

  ByteMe: oh my god

  ByteMe: they could be sick inside there. or maybe the door wasn’t sealed and they were just hiding. or maybe the psychos knocked it down and got in

  ByteMe: oh my fucking god, maybe they didn’t.

  ByteMe: Ez, help me, there’s no way in there. I have to try something.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: whatever you need

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: what DO you need?

  ByteMe: i don’t know.

  ByteMe: i have to think.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: well I don’t want to pressure you or anything, K

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: but u better think quick


  32 hours: 13 minutes



  ALEXANDER: Hypatia, Hypatia, Hypatia, this is Alexander, Alexander, Alexander. Do you copy? Over.


  ALEXANDER: Hypatia, Hypatia, Hypatia, this is Alexander, Alexander, Alexander. Do you copy? It looks to us like you’re receiving. Over.


  ALEXANDER: Hypatia, Hypatia, Hypatia, this is Alexander, Alexander, Alexander. Do you copy? If you are experiencing a transmission error, please signal with static burst. Over.

  HYPATIA: Alexander, this is Hypatia. Acting Captain Syra Boll speaking. We are not prepared to communicate at this time. Over.

  ALEXANDER: Hypatia, please elaborate, over.

  HYPATIA: Alexander, hear this. We are considering our position. Any attempt to communicate, close the distance between our ships or harm any of our personnel you have on board will be considered a hostile act. We will advise our intentions within the hour. Over.

  ALEXANDER: Captain, this is General Torrence. What the hell do you mean, “your intentions”?


  Officers of the Hypatia,

  We are united in our grief for the gifted leader and outstanding human being we have lost in Captain Ann Chau. Captain Chau was a friend, leader and inspiration to many of us, and the grace and determination she brought to the task of preserving our lives will not be forgotten. As Captain of a research vessel, she took on her role seeking to further scientific understanding and provide the best possible support for Hypatia’s crew. When BeiTech attacked at Kerenza, it was her quick decision making and cool head that saved our lives, as well as those of the refugees we carry.

  As you are all aware, there has been spirited debate as to our new course of action, given the events of the last twenty-four hours. Many of you have advocated leaving the Alexander and making for safety alone. You have pointed out that without her main engines, the Alexander can only slow us down, and is not in a position to offer us protection. You have argued—and I cannot disagree—that we cannot trust the Alexander’s commanders.

  Others say that even crippled, the Alexander offers some protection. Her crew may yet repair AIDAN, and the chance that she will be able to start her engines and use her weaponry when the Lincoln arrives may present a better opportunity for survival than simply hoping the Lincoln does not catch us once she has disposed of the Alexander.

  Perhaps most compellingly, you have reminded me that many of our friends and family are aboard the Alexander. From the most recent conscripts—our top technicians, Byron Zhang and Consuela Nestor—back to the early recruits from among our crew and refugees.

  The responsibility for this decision weighs heavily upon me, and I assure you all I have wrestled with it for as long as I can safely permit myself to do so. I am ordering the Hypatia to hold position with the Alexander. I believe we have at least an equal chance of safety in doing so, and I am not yet prepared to abandon our crew members.

  We will keep our distance. If I form the view that the odds have shifted against us, should we stay with the Alexander, I will order our navigators to leave her behind, and I will expect your cooperation as we chart our new course. I know some of you will disagree with my decision, however we must remain united, and I expect you all to carry out your duties.

  A memorial service for Captain Chau will be held in a few days—I know, as do you, that right now she would want us at our posts. I thank you all for your support. I am honored to serve with you.

  Syra BollCaptain (Acting)—Science Vessel Hypatia

  Wallace Ulyanov Consortium

  Zhang, B: how u holding up, my petal?

  ByteMe: fine. hungry.

  Zhang, B: talk to lover boy?

  ByteMe: yes

  Zhang, B: you guys okay?

  ByteMe: fine. keep ur mind on the job Zhang. flying death machine incoming. tick tock tick tock

  Zhang, B: just trying to demonstrate concern. am told that’s what it looks like

  Zhang, B: u seriously as frosty as u sound?

  ByteMe: i’m shitting myself, idiot

  ByteMe: tired hungry hungry tired not getting anywhere

  Zhang, B: eat?

  ByteMe: i’m holed up. step outside, might not get back in to keep working. chaos here.

  Zhang, B: i hear u. even by my low standards, my hygiene is slipping. the service here is really unacceptable. i should complain to management

  ByteMe: u ok over there? i saw the report from the bridge, when they took u.

  Zhang, B: always okay, K. feeling mighty. we’re going to work this out. Getting delirious from tired, reckon that might be just the thing to help me see what to do.

  ByteMe: they don’t get it, do they?

  Zhang, B: course not. most of the ppl jockeying consoles over here now never dealt with AIDAN direct. One of the team leaders used to clean the food vending machines. I shit you not.

  ByteMe: working this out is like watching one of Ezra’s geeball games. i get that there are rules, but every time i think i have them pinned down, someone calls a penalty that makes no fucking sense at all.

  ByteMe: so if we can work it out and write a rulebook, we get to control AIDAN and live. If we make a mistake in there anywhere, then we don’t control it when it wakes up.

  Zhang, B: and then it’s game over

  ByteMe: their AI is insane. don’t they get that? it took hits at Kerenza, they asked too much of it, it went mad

  Zhang, B: oh my god

  ByteMe: ?

  Zhang, B: OH MY GOD.

  ByteMe: ????????????????????


  Zhang, B: we ask too much of it. of the Lincoln. we do to it what got done to AIDAN. we send it mad.

  ByteMe: keep talking

  Zhang, B: listen, we can’t win a direct confrontation with the Lincoln. not happening. what we need to do is damage them somehow, slow them down enough we can run for it.

  Zhang, B: we target their drive systems, that’s the easiest way in. their engines. we screw their operating software so bad, they have to shut down completely and reboot. that gives us the time we need to run. restart like that takes forever when u don’t have an AI

  ByteMe: with you so far. how do we get to their engines from here tho?

  Zhang, B: the engines are coming to us, getting closer every hour. we have our pilots deliver it. right into their sensor array. Right where the sun doesn’t shine

  ByteMe: deliver what exactly? tell me what you want, I’ll help.

  Zhang, B: logic bomb

  ByteMe: is that even a thing?

  Zhang, B: it is now. we’re going to be fucking famous.


  ByteMe: slow down there. before you strap on ur superhero cape, tell me what a logic bomb is

  Zhang, B: drive systems aren’t sophisticated computing, most of the software on a BT dreadnought isn’t bleeding edge. they don’t have an AIDAN. u and i code processor-intensive queries for the CPU that look legit but ultimately have no way to resolve.

  ByteMe: and if we have the tasks self-replicate, it’ll just be layer after layer after layer of queries it can’t find an answer to

  ByteMe: so, infinite loop until the drive computers crash

  Zhang, B: genius

  ByteMe: i hate to validate u this way, but genius

  Zhang, B: we’ll have to turn AIDAN on to transmit it

  ByteMe: when they get here we’ll have to turn AIDAN on anyway or we’ll have no defense grid

  Zhang, B: at least this way we’ve got something we can really throw at them

  Zhang, B: they revoked lover boy’s flight status, right?

  ByteMe: yeah why?

  Zhang, B: the pilots can buy us time if they have to, but they’ll need to get real close to the Lincoln to hit the sensor arrays and plant this thing. Gonna be a lot of warlocks between them and the goal line

  ByteMe: he’s decked. He’s safe. let’s get to work

  Zhang, B: i’m going to need more stims

  ByteMe: those things will kill u, u know

  Zhang, B: anyone ever suggest you go into comedy?

  ByteMe: surprisingly, no

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: i was just thinking


  Mason, E, LT 2nd: ok

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: how about “i wondered what that noise was”?

  ByteMe: i feel like I’ve used all the good ones over the years. I’ll give it some thought and get back to you with a good takedown

  ByteMe: u okay over there?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: yeah. just thinking

  ByteMe: do you plan to share with the class, second lieutenant Mason?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: wuz thinking about the 1st time i kissed u

  ByteMe: u should be thinking about the next time you’re going to. when we get out of this.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: 1st time i walked you home after all those games you came to

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: goddamn you looked beautiful

  ByteMe: … are you defective?

  ByteMe: u walked me home approximately one zillion times before you kissed me.

  ByteMe: and I can back that figure with Science

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: science?

  ByteMe: I was counting

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: ahhhh

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: no

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: i meant the 1st time i kissed u in my head

  ByteMe: … wut?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: yeah. i had to work up the guts to actually DO IT. So i practiced in my head. every time i walked you home.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you were pretty good, in case you were wondering

  ByteMe: you never told me that, the whole time we were together.

  ByteMe: i mean, I’m not usually the kind to sit around and wait to be asked out, and wait to be kissed, but you were just SO hard to read. And you were a giant jock. I thought if you knocked me back, the whole school would probably know about it. so I just kept watching stupid geeball games and trying to figure u out.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: lol how is walking you home approximately one zillion times hard to read, grant? why’d you THINK i was there?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: YOU ARE SO BAD AT THIS

  ByteMe: so I’m bad at it. I can’t help my natural disability. you’re the one who chose to hang out with me.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: chose? no.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: no choice whatsoever

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: <3

  ByteMe: you think you’re so smooth

  ByteMe: and you goddamn are

  ByteMe: drives me nuts

  ByteMe: <3

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: i should’ve just kissed you right away instead of being scared

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: all that time i wasted

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: all the times i could’ve showed you how much i cared

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: and i just let them slide. like we had all the time in the verse

  ByteMe: we did. and I know you do, Ez. and I was just as bad, spending all that time arguing about u coming off planet with me when we could have been talking about bigger things.

  ByteMe: we could have been together after college, if that’s what it took.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: i don’t think that would’ve happened

  ByteMe: …

  ByteMe: you really mean that?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: it’s not that I wouldn’t have wanted to

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: but there’s a reason why my dad and I were on a tiny outer rim snowball like Kerenza, kades

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: and a reason why I wouldn’t leave

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: even to be with you

  ByteMe: so. Confession time?

  ByteMe: does this reason have a name?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: leanne

  ByteMe: ?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: but my dad just called her the psychopath

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I called her mom

  ByteMe: wait

  ByteMe: You’re telling me the reason we had all those screaming fights, the reason you refused to leave kerenza, the reason you wouldn’t even entertain the IDEA of coming to college with me

  ByteMe: was your mother?

  ByteMe: your dad moved to kerenza to get away from your MOTHER?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: not to get away from

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: to hide from

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you wouldn’t understand

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she’s just

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she’s just not a nice person, kades.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she’s bad news. works for some bad people

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: and I don’t want to spend what might be our last conversation talking about her, ok?

  ByteMe: …

  ByteMe: ok

  ByteMe: but we’re not done yet. And you can be damn sure we’re talking about this more when i get us out of this

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: the lincoln is 24 hours away, kady

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: we’ve got one day left

  ByteMe: you have no idea how much i can do in just one day

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: a fully equipped BT Dreadnought carries a complement of 94 warlock class fighters

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: 24 capricorn-4 10.8 megaton nuclear warheads, plus another dozen 50mt goliath shipkillers

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: and a defense g
rid you couldn’t fly a spitball through

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: k go

  ByteMe: you have me

  ByteMe: and forget all that romance stuff

  ByteMe: THIS is what i’m good at

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: they reinstated my flight status, kady

  ByteMe: fuck

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: when the shitstorm hits, I’m going to be right in the middle of it

  ByteMe: …

  ByteMe: Byron and I are working on something.

  ByteMe: we’ll go out fighting if that’s what happens, but i swear to you Ez, we’re not done yet.

  ByteMe: so stay in one piece. that’s how I like you.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: if

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: i don’t come back

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: u know i love you, right?

  ByteMe: i know.

  ByteMe: that feels like the most inadequate thing I’ve ever said, but I know. and I love you too.

  ByteMe: i have to get back to work, Byron’s yelling at me for slowing down

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: yeah

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: ok

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: god i wish i could kiss you goodbye

  ByteMe: this must be why you spent all those walks kissing me in your head. it was practice for this moment.

  ByteMe: i’m imagining kissing you back, right now

  ByteMe: i hear I’m pretty good


  10 hours: 42 minutes

  ByteMe: Byron, maybe we should tell command i’m here

  ByteMe: i could work faster in person with u

  Zhang, B: veto

  ByteMe: what’s the worst that happens at this stage? we’re staring down the barrel already

  Zhang, B: u really want to find out the worst that happen? u stay where u are.

  ByteMe: i think it was Aristotle who said it best (and I might be paraphrasing a little here)

  ByteMe: “fuck you, chum”

  Zhang, B: you’re not coming anywhere near this ship. Alexander’s a bigger target than Hypatia, and we’ve got a hangar full of bad news. any time we gain by having you here will be spent convincing command to bring you over. and it’s too fucking dangerous. end of discussion.

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