Illuminae, p.8

Illuminae, page 8



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  Mason, E, LT 2nd: my fucking god

  McNulty, J, Sgt: I am serious, mason.

  McNulty, J, Sgt: this is not a drill

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: if I do send

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: and then I find hardcopy of this pinned to the ceiling above your bunk

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I will cut your slightly sweatysomethings off and flush them out an airlock

  McNulty, J, Sgt: I solemnly swear I will not engage in happy pants while looking at pics of ur would-be ex-ex-girlfriend, chum

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: k, sending

  McNulty, J, Sgt: holy shit

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: ya

  McNulty, J, Sgt: this is her?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: ya

  McNulty, J, Sgt: she got pink hair

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: she used to dye it

  McNulty, J, Sgt: did the collar match the cuffs?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: >_<

  McNulty, J, Sgt: how in god’s name … chum, I have bad news

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: let me guess, you’re planning to break your solemn vow as soon as you finish speaking to me, rite?

  McNulty, J, Sgt: you wound me, chum

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: :P

  McNulty, J, Sgt: bad news is im typing ths 1 handed

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: god no

  McNulty, J, Sgt: think im getting the hng of it

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: STOP

  McNulty, J, Sgt: 1more min

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: STOP.



  Mason, E, LT 2nd: JUST STOP NOW

  McNulty, J, Sgt: u promise?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I FUCKING SWEAR

  McNulty, J, Sgt: zzzz, fine

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: why is it every time I finish talking to you

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I need a fucking shower …

  McNulty, J, Sgt: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you hear that?

  McNulty, J, Sgt: shipboard alarm

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: they calling your squad, chum. Code blue

  McNulty, J, Sgt: shit chum, I gotta jump.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: k

  McNulty, J, Sgt: taking hardcopy with me

  McNulty, J, Sgt: for later

  McNulty, J, Sgt: :)

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: zzzzzz

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you back yet, chum?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: jimmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhh


  Mason, E, LT 2nd: if u back and in the shower with that pic of K, Ima give little Jimmy the chop and flush him down the head

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: zzzzz, I got VR training, ping me back when u get in

  Dorian, C, Corp: Ping.

  Dorian, C, Corp: Ping.

  Dorian, C, Corp: And at the risk of repeating myself …

  Dorian, C, Corp: Ping.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: dorian?

  Dorian, C, Corp: Bravo. Your insight is as astounding as ever, Mason.

  Dorian, C, Corp: It’s my sincere belief that your potential is wasted in that sweaty little cockpit. You should be doing the Coreworld lecture circuit. Imagine it: Packed houses. Perfect hair. Screaming girlchildren. “Tonight Only. Ezra Mason: How to state the bleeding obvious.”

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: hug?

  Dorian, C, Corp: Silence. Let me work.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Chum, YOU pinged ME.

  Dorian, C, Corp: I’m still testing internal comms. Just hold still. This won’t hurt.

  Dorian, C, Corp: *snaps on latex gloves*

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Dorian, this is really saying something, but you seem pissier than normal

  Dorian, C, Corp: Mason, I’ve had 3.72 hours sleep in the last six days. There are more stims in my bloodstream than blood. If you want congeniality, try McNulty’s sister.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: wut’s congeniality and is there a cream for it?

  Dorian, C, Corp: Oh, my. You’re just hilarious.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you just figure that out?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: speaking of my future bride, you heard from jimmy?

  Dorian, C, Corp: And why would I have heard from James, pray tell?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: isn’t that what married couples do? Talk and what not? And why u no send him flowers anymore

  Dorian, C, Corp: SILENCE, DAMN YOU.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: seriously, you heard from him?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: His squad got called to a code blue, like, sixteen hours ago.

  Dorian, C, Corp: … Indeed?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: ya. Heard nothing since.

  Dorian, C, Corp: Give me a moment. I shall check.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: u know Dorian, people say you’re a blackhearted prick with all the social skills of a pubic louse. but I know better

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: your heart’s more gray than black

  Dorian, C, Corp: Mason.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: maybe puce

  Dorian, C, Corp: Mason, shut up.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: k

  Dorian, C, Corp: I have good news and bad news.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: in terms of drama, which one should I ask for first

  Dorian, C, Corp: The good news. Most definitely.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: k gimme

  Dorian, C, Corp: I found James’ squad. They’re debriefing in quarantine. The Code Blue is still in effect in Hangar Bay 4, but his squad made it out.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Can I guess the bad news?

  Dorian, C, Corp: You may try.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Jimmy’s not with them.

  Dorian, C, Corp: … How did you know that?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I just tried to imagine all the ways things could get worse, then picked the shittiest option

  Dorian, C, Corp: …

  Dorian, C, Corp: You know Mason, sometimes you’re not as stupid as you look.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: you just figure that out?

  ByteMe: well that is not as nice as flowers. what u need?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: A friend of mine is off-grid. Wondering if your powers can work for good as well as evilllllll

  ByteMe: do my best. Alexander or Hypatia? tell me what u know?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Alexander. I dunno if you can even find out this stuff. he’s a marine named James McNulty. Crazier than a churchful of dustheads, but he’s a good guy.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: he got called to a code blue alert 17 hours ago. Nobody’s seen him since. Can you sacrifice something small and fluffy to the bloodgod (or whatever it is you do) and find out where he’s at?

  ByteMe: seems weird he’d be gone that long and no word. I thought u guys specialized in rumor

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: his squad is locked down in quarantine. But he’s not with them

  ByteMe: I can hunt around but u guys locked down your servers when u took down ship 2 ship comms

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: So what does that mean? you can’t get in at all?

  ByteMe: lemme think

  ByteMe: how worried are u?

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: capital W.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: hearing real bad stuff on the scuttlebutt. like, u would not believe bad

  ByteMe: i might be able to get in, but only if ur up for helping. this is going to take a few hours

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: I’m on lunch break. Back to more sims soon. 8 more hrs. I will die in that VR machine. Sweaty and unloved

  ByteMe: u don’t know that for sure, there are lots of ways to die here. Go work, i’ll have this ready when you’re done. Don’t do anything dumb(er than usual)

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Roger that

>   Mason, E, LT 2nd: cold btw :(

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: Kades?

  ByteMe: i’m ready. sending u file. broken into 5 pieces so the size doesn’t raise an alert. put all 5 on a mem-chit and you will need to physically plant mem-chit for me. then i can access security

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: *raises hand* Um, what do you mean “physically plant”? In my console, you mean?

  ByteMe: i mean onsite. direct access. wouldn’t be much of a security system if u could hack it from ur bedroom.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: u shitting me? They just shot 4 people here a few days ago for disobeying orders from a fucking insane AI, what u think they’ll do to me if they catch me fiddling in its brainmeats?

  ByteMe: ur call. would suggest either not getting caught or upping the prayers for ur buddy.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: goddammit

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: stupid bastard’s in the shit, I know it

  ByteMe: don’t really want to find you again just to lose you, Ez, but if this matters to u then i’ll help. i can help from here.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: so what does this mem-chit do? install something? Virus or what?

  ByteMe: u wouldn’t understand. it’ll take down some fences so i can get through and extract security feeds for u

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: and that’s all ur gonna do, right? Ur not gonna poke around in black bags and get yourself shot too?

  ByteMe: would hate to think of u sobbing into ur pillow every nite. just there to help you out.

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: …

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: shit

  Mason, E, LT 2nd: alrite, what i gotta do?

  This kid ain’t cut out for this line of work.

  I’m not shitting you. He might be masterclass-pilot material, but I’ve seen better candidates for covert ops floating in the head after I’m done with the morning news. If he ain’t religious, he oughta be. Someone up there sure as hell is looking out for him. Just saying.

  Damage from the Kerenza assault rendered many of the Alexander’s exterior intellicams inoperative, so the first we see of the subject is at 01:10, 07/21/75, when he enters deck 231 through a rent in the outer hull. Subject is fully suited for space walk, moving like he’s not spent more than 10 minutes inside one. Squinting his baby-browns through the blastspex visor, we can ID one Ezra Mason, conscript UTA Cyclone Pilot (UTN-966-330ad). He looks like he’s about to blow breakfast all over the inside of his helmet. Green as a fucking blade of grass, I swear.

  He cracks his head on the same stanchion twice getting inside, punches it once he’s finally through the hole (yeah, that’ll teach it kid) and spends another four minutes getting his rig untangled. There’s not much to see him by, once he’s past the starlight spilling through the breach. At least he’s sensible enough to have brought glowsticks. The red does a little bit to offset the green in his face.

  Deck 231 is situated in the Alexander AI cluster—just banks of damaged towers and cables, some of them still spitting live current. That this kid made it all the way across deck 231’s sprawl with a BRIGHT RED GLOWSTICK IN HIS HAND without getting picked up by the Alexander’s sec teams shows how stretched they were monitoring their camera feeds. That’s the problem with running in one of these AI boats—gets to the point where the computer does everything for you and you forget how to wipe your own exhaust pipe.

  He takes almost thirty minutes to thread through the debris, even bouncing with those big zero-grav strides. The server towers are twenty feet cubed, some have broken loose from their brackets, and there’s always the death-by-electrocution problem to worry about. He reaches the airlock leading up to deck 230 and pulls out a datapad, typing with one finger and chewing his lip. Not a pro console-jockey who daily threatens the security of our glorious alliance, I’m thinking. Whoever’s on the other side of that screen knows how to romance the security console, and working in 7-minute bursts, it only takes the kid another 49 minutes to get the door open. Record time, no doubt. Shame he didn’t pack any confetti.

  The airlock doors open and he fumbles his way inside.

  Next we see of Lieutenant Twinkletoes, he’s in corridor 230 G-13 and out of his envirosuit (dumped it in the airlock, I’m thinking). He’s wearing a rucksack, urban gray camo cargoes and a muscle tee. His face is flushed scarlet and his sinuses look clogged—his body is used to pumping blood up to his head against the pull of gravity and without gravity to drag it back while he was treading black, his dome is red as the underwear Elizabeth Andretti wears in the finale of TERMINUS (don’t pretend you don’t know the part I’m talking about, chum—ain’t a man alive who hasn’t simmed that scene thirty times). The guardian angel behind that pad is at work again; he’s stopping to ask for directions every second junction.

  Four Alexander Security gorillas step out into the corridor ahead, and our astro-ninja just about shits himself … I mean, uh, shows signs of extreme anxiety. He ducks into a nearby storage room sweating like a pitdigger after a twelve-hour stint. His tee is damp with it. Big trembling breaths. He’s no doubt wondering what’d happen if his hidey hole is the same place those Sec boys were headed.

  They march past, he pokes his head out to check the coast is clear, then does some kind of half-baked kung-fu kick at the gorillas’ backs as if promising them an ass-whooping next time he sees them. He blunders along, narrowly missing a TechEng group, then rounds a corner literally three feet from that same sec team he almost hit five minutes ago, all of whom happen to be looking the other way. I swear to god he crept away on fucking tip-toes.

  He makes his way to a tertiary node (redundancy system for the ship-wide security feeds). He’s whispering to himself but we get no tone. I’m guessing he’s saying “ohmigodohmigodohmigod” a lot. Inside the node room, he boots up the backup processor, inserts a mem-chit and starts some kind of Trojan routine running. It’s obvious he’s got no fucking idea what he’s about … I mean “is inexperienced in matters of computer espionage,” (shut up, I’m being professional), taking instruction through his datapad and bashing away on the keyboard. It takes thirty minutes, but finally, he plants the infection and packs up his shit.

  Here’s where the magic happens.

  Whatever Ultra-Agent Zerooooo seeded in the redundancy network kicks off a fire alarm on deck 231. The fire alarm not only diverts the Sec Squad standing three corridors away, but also sees Deck 230 evac’ed as per standard safety protocols. In five minutes, the entire floor is cleared of personnel.

  At a signal from his guardian angel, dipshit is out the door like his ass is on fire. He runs to the service elevators—which should be locked down when a fire alarm kicks off, but lo and behold, his Angel has them open wide. He dashes inside and stabs at the habitat level buttons but there’s no real need—Sec Squads are mustering two levels up waiting for fire crews to arrive and deal with the non-existent blaze.

  Four minutes later he’s stepping out onto the habitat level. Out of breath. Drenched. Looking for all intents and purposes like he’s just spent an hour in the gym.

  He makes his way back to his domicile and shuts the door.

  I’d bet my leftie the little bastard spent the next ten minutes thanking every god in the book; Allah all the way through to Yahweh.

  Either that or puking his guts up.

  CitB: u still up? u on stims?

  ByteMe: never sleeping again. heart ready to burst

  CitB: touching. is it love?

  ByteMe: harhar. stress and adrenaline.

  CitB: you been talking dirty with your bf?

  ByteMe: u are so lucky i cannot be bothered coming all the way up the other end of the ship to thump u

  CitB: taking out the frustration of separation, r we?

  ByteMe: keep misbehaving i won’t share what i got

  CitB: . . . this is me behaving. spill.

  ByteMe: i told u already there were executions out of the court martials
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  CitB: yuss

  ByteMe: found out why. for disobeying orders from AIDAN

  ByteMe: orders to shoot the civis from the Copernicus

  ByteMe: orders from the crazy AI

  CitB: if those weren’t orders from general torrence then why enforce?

  ByteMe: can’t admit AIDAN took control. imagine the panic.

  CitB: shit

  ByteMe: ayup

  CitB: are they any closer to getting AIDAN back up? do not want visitors

  ByteMe: don’t think so. but we might have a prob sooner than that. got inside, sending u docs

  CitB: lover boy helped! our young heroes won the day!

  ByteMe: u want them or not?

  CitB: shutting up

  ByteMe: sending


  Having completed examinations of all 1,896 surviving members of the Kerenza attack now residing aboard Copernicus, I can confirm several suspicions:

  Firstly, that the BeiTech assault did include the use of a biochemical agent, apparently delivered via orbit-to-atmos missile above the Kerenza hermium refinery. This explains why the illness is confined to the Copernicus—ours was the only ship to land shuttles near the refinery, and as such, the only ship to take on afflicted refugees.

  I regret to inform you that, due to the disorder of the evacuation and the sheer number of evacuees, proper quarantine protocol was not followed by Copernicus flight crews.

  Post evacuation, Copernicus medical staff received continuous and recurrent reports of acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among evacuees. Symptoms included anxiety, nausea, tachycardia and headaches, often so severe as to induce physical impairment (tremors, seizures and in many cases, catatonia/paralysis). However, as this was a logical reaction for civilians surviving a large-scale military incursion, standard treatments for PTSD were initially employed (counseling and pharmaceutical remedies).

  It was not until Copernicus crew members who were not directly involved in the assault or rescue operations began reporting debilitation from these same effects we began to suspect a larger problem.

  I will send another memo with a list of afflicted passengers and crew.

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