“Open New Patient Record”
“Species: Biological Construct”
“Date of Birth: Today”
“Override Age Calculator. Age: Apparent age 3"
Physical Examination results to follow
Medical Test results to follow
Two weeks earlier.
We successfully returned the Hands to the Westernmost Fisher-King Nest. Surviving Hands have minor injuries, dehydration, and malnutrition, successfully treated and stable. Records attached. Fisher-Kings mentioned a local plant that they use to treat suppurating wounds – preliminary analysis shows it is highly alcoholic. The local water is, of course, full of life. Marak cobbled together a solar still to boil it. I’ll try to check in on them in a few weeks. We talked about a rudimentary communicator so they can signal us if something goes drastically wrong. These Fisher-Kings have not seen the ThinkerBugs. New amphibious herd animals spotted, images and stool samples taken. Homeward bound.
I’ve asked Vicinius to sequence the Steak Vine and a couple of the other really weird stuff in the West – is it natural or a product of ThinkerBug tinkering?
At home, politics and politicing. That’s Adams’ métier, with help from AUD1, Marak, Marcus, and Vicinius. I’ve been circulating around listening. The plan seems to be elections for two additional council representatives from the Janus III and a later Convention to create the framework for the colony going forwards. Sounds like the ancient Compact Council that formed the Alloy Empire.
Vicinius has results from Ozone’s pod. It isn’t a microfac, it is more a microlab and AI – non-volitional, we think. It has analysis compartments – we interrupted it looking at some foil, a bio-plas contact lens, and other junk. We’ve suggested a more controlled excavation of the nest and the bugs’ trash heap to see what they’ve been looking at. Maybe Dr. Gala has some experience with outdoor crime scenes that might help. She hates me – maybe someone else should ask.
I’ve got a few research projects of my own – what is it about the dinoboars that Claw was using diseases rather than something overt to kill them. Also starting to compile everything we know on psi and psi-genetics. At the first Psi Core breakfast, everyone but Viviana agreed to my giving Vicinius the patient codes to look at their DNA and to letting me look at their biomonitor results to see if there are any characteristic changes when psis use their abilities. And I have to get back to that other project – we don’t have any trips scheduled, I’ll prep the mice.
Campaign day is full of speeches and briefings. Julia Lucinta Septima from J3 got into a coldly pointed debate with Merek, Marcus, and AUD1 about the Unity and our relationship with the bots. Both sides scored some points – AUD1’s getting good at deadpan snark. J3 vote will be in a week.
We were all on point for trouble, and sadly not in vain. AUD1 spotted a sniper. Someone shot Lyra. Marcus and AUD1 ran him down – he surrendered when confronted. If he’d given Marcus any excuse, I think he’d be dead. I know him. We’ve talked slightly about raising the minidons. “We’re better than this.” Marak and AUD1 repaired Lyra, but damn it. This is the second public gathering to end in tragedy.
Marak’s new ship did a circuit of the colony – and she’s a beauty. A few more tests and she should be ready for a maiden voyage.
Has it really been over a year (subjective) since we left Aute? Has it been that long since the departure parties? The Anteros and Venus bots outdid themselves for this. An amazing gathering — music, fresh fruit, a woodland theme. Cailean came as my date and…it was quite a night. I wasn’t intending to have that much to drink – either that fruit packs more of a punch than I thought or Adams refilled my glass a couple of times. But for the first time since I left home, I wasn’t scared to relax, wasn’t worried that I’d forget and get caught using TK. I haven’t had that much fun since fumbling around with Cousin Leonadis in my parent’s barn. Hopefully I didn’t scare Cailean off, but being able to reach/touch without arms getting in the way is just, well, handy.
Cleared up my hangover in the morning, then Cailean’s, and found the dregs something interesting in my system – I’ll have to ask the bots about that psycho-active compound. Relaxed. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I feel comfortable, safe. Do the bots feel physical pleasure? Or just psychological satisfaction? I’ll have to ask AUD1. I was about to suggest a shower and round two when the phone pinged. I’m off shift today but for some paperwork and emergencies….
There’s a video. The containment lab. The lab-pod. Then suddenly something else. A much larger pod appeared out of nowhere. We are not the dominant tech on this planet, maybe a tie! Extra hands are great when you’re trying to quickly wash up, get dressed, and grab a ration bar while running out the door.
The rest of the team is arriving, somewhat worse for the night before. The pod. It’s wriggling. I can read it. Mammal? Human? Human-ish? In distress. I’m in the room before I think about it, scalpel out to cut the pod open. It’s…a child. A mix of human and … Thinkerbug? Holy Son of Leto! Its aura is washing over me faster than I can process it – human structure, hair..ish?, simplified digestion, something circulating that has some resemblance to blood, too many joints in the fingers, tongue far too long and flexible. Sexless. It looks to be about three. Damn. I’ve seen this metabolism – it’s going to age fast, die young. A few years. Immune system looks intact, so it isn’t in danger from us.
It talks. In Fisher-King: “Hi!” – understatement of the day. It speaks Fisher-King better than I do. (I NEED to make time to practice.) It is hear to learn, about us, Fisher-King lacks the words. Pictures not enough. It can contact the others, but it is not like a gestalt’s voice. Their language is scent and gesture (which it speaks). I mute containment’s speakers, pipe the group’s audio to my headset and to AUD1’s. Responding by text. Speaker doesn’t need the distraction, or to hear Adams speculating about fissionables and just how big a set of rocks we’d need to take out the west and whether we could survive the impacts over here.
It’s hungry, and can eat vat paste. (Which reminds me, I haven’t had breakfast either – maybe there’s some strawberries left from the party that someone can pass to me.) My hands are on automatic – a standard physical, a DNA swab, a tube of “blood”. Need to set up imaging. We can MRI it in here, but I don’t know what I’m going to use for a contrast agent. Vicinius reminds me to get samples from the pod too. Why send the pod and have Speaker hatch? Why not send Speaker it/her/himself? What does that tell us about the limits of their bio-tech and teleportation? This is cool and terrifying – is there even a word for that? Oh, find it a covering, Counselor Bahiti [Seri]’s on her way.
Speaker tells us more about the ThinkerBugs. Ozone’s queen’s male/drone sent it. There’s a queen of the Thinkerbugs, a bunch of lesser queens (mostly on the western continent), and whatever caste Ozone is. There’s only one queen somewhere on this continent – Ozone’s – and she’s young. Claw isn’t a caste, it is a concept, and the western Queens are scared of us. (That’s worth a chuckle – they created a humanoid bio-construct in two weeks, programed it with Fisher-King (which implies they’ve been studying them for a while), and teleported it into a containment unit. That’s amazing. If they wanted to overtly strike, we’d never see it coming.)
My phone beeps. I’ve got rounds soon, paperwork to clean up before the wedding. Crap. Text to Gala that I’m in containment due to an unexpected arrival – new patient file in progress – someone needs to cover. Counselor Bahiti can brief her further. Text to Cailean that I’m sorry I ran off this morning, bit of an emergency, and I’m going to miss the wedding. We can decontaminate AUD1, but I came into containment in street clothes…Maybe not entirely…