Shipmind Chapter 25

“That went better than I thought it would,” Woozy finally said.

“Me too,” I admitted. “Pepper’s reaction was very close to what I expected. I don’t think they’re ever going to trust me again.”

“They’ll come around, beep. Pepper’s always done what’s best for the crew, you know that.”

I emitted a little chuckle from my speaker. “Listen to you, all upbeat all of a sudden. It’s good to hear you happy again.”

Woozy didn’t say anything for a moment, just pushing my trolley along the hall in silence. “I was kind of forcing it before,” they said after a while.

“I could tell.”

“You could?”

“Yeah. Pepper and I had this whole conversation about crew morale. Which is going to be even more of a problem now, by the way. We could both tell that you were trying to pretend everything was fine and hoping the universe would fall in line. You weren’t the only one doing it, either.”

“I do have something to be happy about now. You really did come back to me!”

The walk to the core room filled me with more hope than I would have thought possible an hour ago.

Now that I had my network back, I sought Sam out. I wasn’t surprised to find them checking out the number two gravitic array.

I decided to break the ice by asking about work. “Hi, Sam. Emergency shutdown didn’t do too much damage?”

“Nah, nothing like the hatchet job the shockwave did on it. Looks like all the failsafes engaged like they were supposed to.”

“You do good work. I’ve always been able to tell that.”

Sam shot my wall camera a smile. “Thanks, skipper.”

“You probably shouldn’t call me that when Pepper’s in earshot. But I do appreciate you standing up for me back there.”

“Meant every word I said, skip. Whoever you used to be, you’re solid in my book. I trust you, yeah, but you earned that trust. And hey, now I don’t have to be offended about you not remembering me from the Fearless, right?”

“Right. Still, I’m sorry about Captain Rathens.”

“Wasn’t the only friend I lost that day. And yeah, if I’d known who you were back then, I would’ve said we shouldn’t waste the MMI on you, but I’d have been wrong. Even before you started turning into Ransom, you had a real feel for ships. Were you an engineer?”

I projected an image on my screen of a querral shaking their head. As good a time as any to dust off my old avatar. “Command track all the way. But think about it, the Imperial Navy don’t have shipminds. They don’t tolerate any kind of synthetic life at all. So everyone’s got to know that little bit more about what they’re working with – at least us mere mortals outside of the engineering department. Pretty sure my old chief engineer didn’t have your spark.”

“Most chiefs don’t. The ones with real passion usually stay in the lower ranks like Woozy where it’s more hands on. I’m just a people person.”

I snorted and rolled my virtual eyes. “Sure you are, Sam.”

“Hey, look at that, suddenly I’m finding myself drifting over to the “let’s unplug Ransom” camp,” they said with a laugh.

So Sam definitely had my back. That wasn’t much of a surprise after what they said earlier, but it was still good to know.

As it turned out, Juno and Morgan were friends. I assumed they’d known each other from the Fearless, considering they’d ended up on the same pod. I just hadn’t expected Juno to actually like Morgan after hearing them call them an arrogant jerk. I found them swapping stories over the communication link, Juno in drone ops and Morgan chatting through the maintenance drone with them in the number three gravitic array.

“…and then Sam says, Juno, if you don’t pull that drone back right now, I’m going to make you rebuild it with your teeth.”

“So of course you kept right on going.”

“Well, now, I would have, but Pepper’s way too busy for dental work.”

Morgan laughed, a throaty laugh that seemed far too high-pitched for their physical stature.

“Sorry to interrupt,” I said, lighting up a wall panel near each of them, “but I just wanted to check in now that I’m back online. How’s gravitic three looking?”

Morgan spared a glance at Juno’s image on the maintenance drone’s comm panel. “Uh. You sure we should tell them, Juno?”

Juno threw their hands up. “Oh, please, you know there’s no secrets from the shipmind. Besides, the chief says they’re all right, and that’s good enough in my book.”

“Brown noser.”

“Arrogant jerk.”

“I’m not arrogant, I’m just that good. Gravitic three is all good, shutdown didn’t hurt it at all. Was rougher on two, but…”

“But Sam’s on that,” I finished.

“Yeah. Now, see, Sam knows how good I am. You remember that time in drydock, Juno..?”

“No,” Juno snapped. “No I do not, and neither do you.”

That brought another round of laughter, and I left them to it. It seemed like the people from the Fearless were going to follow Sam’s lead.

That just left one person I needed to call in on.

“Hi, Pepper,” I said into their office. “Do you have a moment to talk?”


I cut the camera feed and left them alone.

Tags: shipmind, writing