While Mich is busy with the drives, Shark takes a
look at the gcarrier. It's quite bent, but he figures he can save
time by doing some of the disassembly himself. The first job will
be to wash out the seawater that's managed to get into a lot of the systems.
Unfortunately the structure of the gcarrier itself is twisted. Some
of the panels are popped out already. Nevertheless, he starts work
on what he knows will have to come apart. He doesn't see anything
resembling rams and chains for straightening things, but he guesses that
there's some higher tech equivalent that Mich can identify when he's not
Misha helps him clean out the mess. Engineering clearly involves a lot of sweeping and cleaning up, and it might be good for this ship to have an assistant engineer for those tasks. Teri has helped with that sort of stuff in the past, and until she left, Jenny Roberts was very good in that role.
Helia calls Mich and asks him if she can cook him something. She decides to prepare navy bean soup. There are about a dozen varieties of dried beans in Vonish's larder -- nothing in there is labeled -- and she asks Mich which looks like a navy bean. With that in hand, she checks the computer for recipes and starts cooking, making guesses as to what the supplies actually are. Fortunately, the recipes themselves are extremely well organized and searchable. She sets it cooking, sets the alarm, and goes off to sleep -- still stoned from the painkillers and relaxants.
After a couple of hours, Helia takes a sample of the soup down to Mich in engineering. It doesn't smell bad, and he's definitely eaten much worse before. Right now all he wants is just this cup, but if she'll leave it on for an hour or two he'll no doubt want a good bowl of it.
"Hi!" says Helia. "You make leather jumpsuits?"
"I make these," replies the proprietor. The suits are leather catsuits. The ones on the rack are hanging open at the front, although there's no obvious fasteners. They're clearly designed to fit and conform with the wearer's body. Colors are shades of black and gray.
"Can you make me one that has this black and this gray in it?" asks Helia.
"No. It has to be all one color."
"OK, I'll take one in the black."
"I'll have to measure you."
"OK." Helia takes off her vest and shakes out her wings. "If the first one works out I'll probably take several others."
"Do the wings go inside or out?"
"Generally I wear them like this." She shows where her suit is cut out, and how she usually covers them with her vest, when it looks like a backpack. "It's not good to have them totally confined. It's good to be able to take off whatever covers them."
"So you want to use those while you're in it?"
"I might need to. Certainly they're good to show off, you know, and I think the black will look good with the color of them."
"Well, if you'd like to come back here, I'll measure you."
The stall is mostly enclosed, fabric on a steel frame.
The man holds open a curtain at the back, where there's a small dressing
room beyond. Ed checks it out briefly before Helia goes in.
The man indicates to Helia that she needs to take her clothes off. She strips down to her skivvies, but that's not enough for him. He wants them all off. Naked, Helia looks like a well built 12 year old girl. The man walks all around her, has her hold her arms out and back, and then gets her to move her wings around, both spread and as if flying. He has her lift her feet, and studies them too. He hasn't taken any measurements as such, just apparently measuring by eye as he scribbles notes on a pad. The fitting complete, Helia dresses again and comes back out.
While the two of them were in the back room, Ed's been checking out the merchandise. The leather feels firm but supple, about 3 mm in thickness. It seems to have no fasteners, just an opening down the front. The neckline and wristline are high. There are gloves and booties of the same material on the hanger with the suit.
Ed asks the man how much the suits will cost. He says Helia's will cost 300Cr each; the three she wants (in various colors) will be ready tomorrow. Ed asks in what line of business are his customers.
He replies, "All sorts of lines. They have to be making some money and be committed to their job, but some of the deep sea fishers use them."
Helia asks, "Is it waterproof?"
"It's not going to stick to my skin permanently, is it?"
"No. Make sure you wear each one at least once a week for five minutes or so."
"OK. Is it alive?"
Ed wants one in mottled gray. He too is taken into the back room for measurement, although the man thinks that he will have one off the rack for him. As Ed takes off his clothes, he makes sure his SMG, and the pistol he was wearing under his clothes, are within easy reach. The measurement doesn't take as long for someone without wings, and Ed is soon done. The man says he has one back at his place, and would tomorrow be OK to pick it up? Ed agrees that's fine. His will cost 200Cr.
Ed then glances around. Seeing no-one in the
area, he whispers conspiratorially to the man, "My ship's captain mentioned
that you might also have a zack."
"Not for you, no."
Helia says, "What about for me? Wait, what is a zack? Is it a north-going one or a south-going one?"
"I'm not sure..." He turns to Misha and asks, "Could she?"
"I've no idea," says Misha.
The man turns back to Helia. "Could you?" he asks again. "It'd be interesting. You might hurt yourself. Maybe. Maybe not."
Helia says she thinks she'll just get the leather suits, but adds, "If I like his can I get one?"
"Can you use one?"
"If I see him use his, can I decide then?"
He turns to Misha, "Is she OK?"
"Not always," says Misha.
"Maybe," he says to Helia. He beckons Misha into the dressing room, and takes his measurements. Misha notices that the man's notes are mostly drawings, with notations in what is probably some sort of shorthand.
As they come out, Misha asks him, "How soon can it be ready?"
"How soon do you need it?"
"I can have it tomorrow."
"Can you deliver it to my ship?"
"No, you'll have to pick it up here. You should wear it. Be here with cash."
On the way back, Ed tries to figure out why Helia might be able to have a zack, but he can't. Misha is tall, while Helia is short; clearly that isn't the issue. Age, perhaps? Or is Ed a little too stocky?
They return to the ship to find that Mich is doing well with his engineering work.
Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead calls Misha.
"Since I didn't tell you when he went into a coma, I thought I should tell
you that he's come out."
"How long do you think it'll be before he's back to duties?"
"He has strength... at the moment he's just staring around vacantly into space. According to my equipment he keeps seeing -- something. I don't know what he sees, but I don't think anybody else sees it."
"Hallucinating? I take it this is an unexpected state for him to be in?"
"Not considering what he's had."
"Any idea how long he'll be in this state?"
"No," says the Baron cheerfully. "But it's fascinating." He promises to let Misha know when he comes around.
MIsha, Ed, and Helia go ashore to pick up their suits.
Ed is wearing his SMG on the outside; he is wearing a turtleneck so he
can disguise the suit on the way back.
As they pass through the dry dock, they notice that one of the workers seems to be ignoring most of the others. He's not paying attention to anybody in a very familiar fashion. Ed points him out to Teri, in case he causes trouble later.
It's an easy trip to the vendor. Ed quickly
scopes out the surroundings of the booth, in case they need to go through
it on the way out.
The proprietor takes their money, and hand over Ed's and Helia's suits. He then takes Misha in the dressing room, and produces something that looks in every way like one of the suits outside. The man handles it cautiously, as if it might bite him. He even has a matching scabbard, with a leather appliquéd zigzag pattern on it.
To Misha, the suit feels just like those outside. He slips into it. It's rather like getting into a wetsuit, but it's slightly slimy inside. It feels a little warm. The front hangs open. Misha sees no fasteners, but he tries holding the edges together and it seals with no apparent seem. The suit feels like skin.
The man cautions him to wear it at least five minutes every week. He then shows Misha how to open it -- just run a finger down the seam and it comes open. He then gives him the boots, telling him never to wear the suit without the boots. The boots seal up the same way. There's also gloves and a hood; the latter has a transparent extra fold that can come down over the face.
Misha asks if people wear clothes over it. The man says that while you can, here it would be conspicuous. He then thanks Misha for the honor, tells him to contact him if Helia "can," and they leave the dressing room. Helia reaches out to touch Misha's suit, but the man warns her not to do that.
Helia puts hers on next. It is a little difficult
to put over the wings -- there are extra seams to enable her to put them
through the slits. The suit feels very comfortable, and is quite
form-fitting. Hers too has a light hood, which almost rolls into
a turtleneck behind the neck. She puts her vest over the top of the
suit -- she's conspicuous anyway, so why not?
Ed is next, and he leaves with his SMG on the outside of the mottled gray suit. He still silently ponders why he wasn't considered suitable for a zack.
They do get some funny looks on the way back -- mostly Helia, who's wearing her vest over her suit. Nevertheless, they arrive safely back at the dry dock.
In the dry dock, the worker who was ignoring them
on the way out is now looking at Misha. Misha looks at him, and walks
towards him. The dock worker comes down and meets him.
Misha glares at the man, who stops in his tracks.
Misha says, "Why are you watching my ship?"
The man doesn't answer, but takes a step backwards nervously.
"Why are you here?"
"What are you doing? Who are you?" The man apparently has gathered his courage enough to speak.
"What am I doing? I'm asking you a question."
"Who are you?"
"I'm Misha Ravanos, captain of this ship."
"Who are you?"
"Why are you watching my ship?"
"Who are you?"
"I'm the one asking you questions!"
The man takes a step towards him. He is not obviously armed, but Ed notices that he has a blade tucked under his robe. Ed and Helia are hanging back; the larian has edged toward the ship, but Ed is standing ready, watching the pair closely.
"What are you doing?" the man resumes. He is ignoring the SMG that Ed is using to cover him. In fact, he's ignoring everything except Misha.
"I'm asking you questions." Misha is not intimidated by the punk's attitude.
"Who are you?"
"Who are you?"
"You know who I am. Who are you?"
"How would I know who you are?"
"Who are you?"
Ed asks Teri to get a good close-up of this guy from the ship. She replies that she already has it covered; she is also prepared to provide backup if needed, but Ed and Misha seem to have it under control.
Misha studies the face in front of him. The man looks a little nervous; while he's not looking for a fight, he obviously considers it an option. Above all he looks puzzled.
The man asks again, "Who are you?"
"I'm the captain of the Third Eye."
"But who are you?" The man has his hands loose but ready to react if necessary.
Misha says nothing.
"Who are you?"
"You don't know who I am, do you?"
"Who are you?"
"Why do you keep asking that question?"
"It's the best question. Answer that question and I know who you are."
"OK, I give. I don't know who I am."
"OK, now you can answer a question for me. Who are you?"
"You know who I am."
"No I don't. I don't know who I am, and I don't know who you are."
Over the commdot, Helia says, "Misha, tell him he has to tell you."
"Who are you?" the man asks again.
"Who are you?"
"You know who I am."
"No, I don't!"
"Yes you do."
"Who are you?"
"You know who I am."
"OK. You're the guy watching my ship and watching me. Why are you here?"
The man does not answer.
Misha turns away from the conversation, but listening for motion behind him.
"Stop!" the man commands, and moves towards Misha.
As Misha steps to the side and turns back to him, the man reaches for Misha. He grabs the captain's shoulders hard and says urgently, "Who are you?"
Misha quickly brings his arms up and brushes the man's arms aside.
The man looks at Misha with astonishment and, no longer holding on, falls over.
The man is conscious, but may not be for long. He is bleeding heavily from the stumps where his arms used to be.
Ed calls the ship with a medical emergency. Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead responds quickly, rushing out to the dockside with his gear. The Baron stumbles awkwardly in the heavy gravity, and Helia helps him by carrying his bag.
The man's arms are severed close to the shoulder,
not where Misha brushed them aside. The cut is clean, and the Baron
is sure they can be re-attached easily. The man is stabilized, and
Bridgehead directs them to carry him inside the Third Eye -- quickly.
In sickbay, the Baron starts work. Ed, somewhat qualified as a medical assistant, helps him. Apparently this is a routine procedure to the Baron, who operates with an air of precision and no wasted movement. He asks Misha whether the person is a security risk; the captain replies that as long as he is unconscious, he's no risk.
Misha asks Teri to meet him in the exercise room
with her battledress. Helia goes up to the bridge and watches on
Misha wants to know what the zack did. He hits pieces of furniture for a while, getting no reaction from the suit. Various angles produce no result.
Ed realizes that they have the incident on film -- he'd told Teri to take a close-up of him. Helia patches it through to the exercise room for Misha.
The video is not very useful. Misha put his arms up, and the man's arms fell off. It was a clean cut, with no cauterizing.
Helia plays excitedly with the video, slowing it down, zooming in, and so on. Still, it's hard to tell what happened. As Misha brought his arms up, something neatly sliced the man's arms. There's a bit of a flash of something, but nothing that can be brought into focus.
Ed pursues his own investigation. From helping the doctor in sickbay, he saw the cut was clean, with a slight curve as the man's arms moved away. He examines the video carefully, and after a while comes to the conclusion that something extended from Misha's elbows, slicing the man's arms as Misha pushed them apart with his wrists. He also returns to sickbay and makes sure he has a sample of the cut tissue for later examination.
Misha continues in the exercise room. He hits a chair, with purposeful intent to damage it. Nothing happens. Teri declines Misha's request to try it on her. He is not surprised, and goes to his suite to take off the suit.
Misha, dressed in normal attire, checks on their
guest in sickbay. The man is unconscious, with some sort of cast
or something over the area where the arms are joined on.
Misha asks Ed, "Was it a clean wound?"
"Very clean. It's like... you have a weapon in your elbows." As Misha looks astonished, Ed continues, "I'll show you. Come with me."
Down in the exercise room, Ed shows him how the mechanics
of it worked. The angle of the wound was up from Misha's elbows through
the arms. Ed explains that he expects it's microfilament, like a
very fine wire. Ed shows him the flash on the video, which could
be interpreted as something moving at that place. He says it has
to be something that comes out of the suit, not permanently sticking out
of it. Explaining microfilament to Misha is difficult, but not impossible;
Ed's sand grain analogy works well.
Ed then tells Misha about his an examination of the tissue sample from the wounded man. It seemed like a simple mechanical slicing action caused the wound. As to how he would trigger it, ideally he'd make it respond to adrenaline or some similar body response. He'd make it illegal for civilians to have, of course, and the likely reason that Ed was refused a zack was he was judged too aggressive.
Helia disagrees that it's aggression, but rather willingness to act. Misha's more likely to hold back, whereas Ed is more likely to use force first.
Misha dons his zack and returns to the exercise room
with Ed, Teri, and the furniture. First he tries cutting the chair
with an elbow, but nothing happens. He then tries getting angry at
the chair -- which is easy, as he's getting frustrated by now -- and wills
it to cut the chair. Nothing happens. The jherig, which has
been around the whole time, seems undisturbed. Misha wonders if it's
something to do with being attacked.
Be careful what you ask for, Misha... Ed suddenly grabs a chair and flings it at him with his full strength.
The chair is sliced apart as Misha brushes it aside.
They repeat the experiment, this time recording it from multiple angles. Ed swings a chair leg hard at Misha, who stands still. Misha falls over as Ed hits him solidly in the leg. Fortunately the suit spread the impact well, and Misha is not really hurt.
Ed laughs. He says that Misha should try to respond, not just stand there.
Once again Ed throws furniture at his captain's legs. This time Misha reacts, and as he kicks it aside the table falls into many pieces.
Ed reviews the tape. He expects to see something coming out of Misha's knee. What he sees is something from the knee, the toes, the shin... Ed tells Misha that stuff apparently comes out wherever it's needed.
Misha replies that it's obvious that he should always wear the whole thing... probably there's no problem if the suit slices itself.
Ed then experiments with his "normal" suit. He starts by bringing the hood up over his head, and the transparent mask part down over his face. It seals the same way as the zack. He is comfortable inside the suit, despite the heavy exercise he's been doing.
Misha throws a table at him. Ed blocks, but it hurts. It's better than leather, but he didn't cut it up. There is no external observable difference between the two suits. Misha's is a dark gray, while Ed's is mottled, but there's no other apparent difference.
Misha takes a glove to the doctor to find out it's
alive -- something Ed had wondered about. He tells Bridgehead that
this was what did the injury to the guest. Bridgehead runs scans
on the glove, and says it has no brain activity, and doesn't appear to
be an organism as such.
Misha then asks how soon it would be safe to make his patient conscious. Bridgehead says that he'd like to give him a couple more hours -- it's a very clean cut and is healing quite well.
Meanwhile, Ed has been trying out his suit.
Putting his hand in freezing water reveals that it keeps him warm quite
well. Putting a glove in a sealed container for a couple of days
will reveal whether it respires, but first he has other things to try.
He can breathe through the faceshield... is it waterproof? Obviously
he doesn't want to try it out in the sea outside, but he can make a shallow
swimming pool from one of the labs.
With Mich's help, they rig up a seal for the door of one of the module labs. The pool entrance is adjustable for height, and Ed starts out with it about a meter deep. He goes underwater and finds out not only that it keeps the water out, but he can breath. He swims about underwater happily, breathing underwater. His buoyancy seems unaffected.
Mich suggests he try it in a vacuum; Ed declines. Mich concedes that since they're on a water world, it probably works best underwater.
Ed muses, "Works best underwater. Those that need them have them. I wonder if there are, like, cities, with just one place above water."
Mich wonders about the difference between the high mineral content of the sea here, and the pure water Ed is using. It hasn't seemed to hurt the suit, though.
Ed reports back to Misha everything he's found out about his suit. He also tells Helia, since presumably hers will do the same -- except for her wings, of course, which are exposed.
Another person takes the place of their guest. The workers treat him no differently, and he gives the impression that he's ignoring everything. During the incident, they had watched with interest, then after it was over resumed their tasks, albeit somewhat shocked.
The Baron calls Misha to tell him that Robert seems
to be coming around. Misha rushes down to the sickbay, and the two
of them wait expectantly.
(Referee and Mike Mitchell only)
Robert wakes up. "Hi, Doc, it's good to see
you. How are you?"
"OK," says the Baron. He turns to Misha and says he could release him. Misha nods, and Robert is untied.
"Hi," says Robert to Misha. "What brings you down here?"
"You've been unconscious."
"No, not really. I've been travelling."
"Travelling? Where do go?"
"Everywhere. And nowhere."
"Well, from my perspective you've been unconscious. Have you completed your travels?"
"For the time being."
"Do you feel like you're going to be travelling spontaneously, or...?"
"Do you think you're ready to return to duty?"
"All right! So do you know where you've been?"
"Everywhere. I journeyed through the universe. It's a flight of fancy, almost."
Ed asks, "Are you going to do any more of that... drink?"
"It would be interesting. If I was bored with nothing else to do. I'd probably use smaller quantities, start small and see how I progress. It gives you great insight."
Ed says, "I would go buy yourself a wetsuit." He adds to Misha, "Not one of yours." He says everyone on the ship should have one.
Misha says, "Well, you're free to go. Go find out what's been going on the last three days, and go back to your regular duties."
The Baron tells Robert to come back if he starts feeling strange. Robert asks after Vonish, and Bridgehead says he should be able to return to his duties soon. As for this other gentleman in sick bay, they don't know who he is yet.
Misha asks Bridgehead if he's ready to be awaken. The Doc says he is. Ed suggests that when he awakens he should answer questions liberally and honestly, and be strapped down. Neither of those are difficult issues for the Doc. Ed suggests a certain drug he's used in the past, but the Doc says he has some stuff he picked up -- the attention span may be a problem, but the subject will be very happy to talk.
The man wakes up.
"Good morning," says Misha. "What's your name?"
"Who are you?" says the man.
Misha looks at the doctor. "Is that a typical reaction?"
The Baron shakes his head.
Misha continues the questioning. "Who do you think I am?"
"I don't know who you are."
Robert asks, "Are you experienced?"
Ed politely suggests they limit the questioning to the captain, and maybe the doctor.
"Yeah," continues the man, "I don't know who you are. I'd really like to know who you are."
Misha says, "I'd like to know who you are. Please tell me who you are."
"I'm just someone."
"Do you have a name?"
"Yes. Oh, yes, I'd be happy to tell it to you! My name is Jan Zustra. I'm not very high up in Zustra, but that's my name, and Jan of course I've had... I've had my name for a long time. How long have you had your name? Who are you?"
Ed has adopted a quiet, peaceful, calming tone. "Your name changes when your job changes?" he asks.
Jan looks puzzled. "No, that's not right at all. No."
Misha asks, "Your name changes when your position in Zustra changes?"
"No. Does your name change? Names are so unreliable. That's why I want to know who you are."
"Who are you?" asks Misha.
Ed says, "What do you do in Zustra?"
Jan continues, "Oh, I do lots of things! For example, I watch. I do a lot of things like that. I do a lot of ignoring people."
Ed asks, "And what do you base your judgment on?"
"If you're dangerous."
"And what happens if we are?"
"Oh, if you're dangerous you don't get in. Into the starport. That's what I do, keep people out. Got to make sure that people don't get in. If you're dangerous, you could kill people or something."
"Are we dangerous?"
"No. No, you're not dangerous at all. I want to know who you are, but you're not dangerous."
Misha says, "Why is it not enough to tell you my name?"
"Because names are such... who are you?"
Ed says, "What else do you want to know about us?"
"What more is there? Once you know who somebody is, what else do you need?"
"We need an example so we can tell you who we are."
"Oh. Well, not everybody knows who they are, so that's not always very good, but often a lot of people think they know who they are even when they don't, but when they do know who they are then it's very good to hear who they are, and well if they're important they know who they are."
Ed says, "I am very much the same as you are. I am a watcher for my leadership. I collect information and bring it back to them, and let them judge what should happen next."
"Do you choose the information you bring back?"
"They tell me to watch a person and report their activities. I generally cannot edit it."
"But do you say everything? Do you say that at such and such a time they scratch their nose? Then you edit. You are reporting what you think they want to hear."
Ed says, "Yes. That is who I am."
Misha asks, "Do you report everything?"
"No," replies Jan. "There isn't time to report everything. You can't report everything all the time because things are changing when you're going along and you're reporting something and the next thing you know you're way behind."
Ed asks, "To whom do you report?"
"Oh, I report to Zustra."
"And who is Zustra?"
Jan looks puzzled.
"Oh, Zustra is all around. There's one probably watching the ship right now."
Misha says, "Why is Zustra watching the ship?"
"We're watching the ship because we want to know if you're dangerous."
Ed says, "But you've already decided we're not."
"No, you're not dangerous. But I don't know, there might be somebody here who is. I don't know if everybody's dangerous."
Misha asks, "Why did you attack me on the pier?"
"You wouldn't answer my questions. I wanted to know who you were, so I prompted an action to try and find out who you were."
"Did you succeed?"
"No, I don't know who you are."
Ed says, "But what did happen?"
"Something I did not expect. You cut my arms off. Yes, that's right, I distinctly remember my arms falling off."
"How did that happen?"
"Who are you anyway? I know how that happened, it just sort of... you just sliced my arms off."
"How did he slice your arms off?"
"Without any skill. He seemed lacking in skill. It was a very crude move, it wasn't like he meant it. I couldn't be talking to you if he'd have meant it. I was not planning to offer any defense, but obviously I didn't really need any, because you were ineffective. Very inept."
"Or unwilling to kill you."
"No, inept. It was definitely ineffective. You can't do that if you're unwilling. You have to be committed to it. It was very inept."
Robert says, "Look at your hands."
"Yes, I had noticed that they're back on. I assume one of you did that, thank you." He looks at Misha again and says, "You should practice. You should practice a lot."
Misha asks, "What should I practice?"
"Practice everything. Everything."
Ed says, "There's not enough time to practice everything. We just went through that."
"Start with one thing, and if you live forever you will practice everything."
Misha asks, "What should I start with?"
"Start somewhere. If you're going to practice everything it doesn't matter where you start. You need to practice everything because one day you may need to use it."
Ed asks, "Who taught you to use it?"
"Could they teach the captain?"
"No. Definitely not. He's not Zustra."
"Is he supposed to have that? The suit?"
"I don't know. Who are you?"
Misha asks, "How does one become part of Zustra?"
"One is Zustra."
Ed asks, "One is born Zustra?"
"Your father was? Your mother was?"
"Is everyone on this starport part of Zustra?"
"No. No, not at all."
"Are all the natives?"
"No. There aren't that many of us, only several hundred."
Misha asks, "Is membership in Zustra secret?"
"Oh, yes. I mean, it depends who to. To you, yes, absolutely. In fact I really shouldn't be talking about it."
"Is membership in Zustra secret to other people who live on this planet?"
"Yes. Not to everybody. But certainly to all of you. I should not be talking about it at all. I wonder why I am."
Ed says, "I am Zustra."
"Oh no, but you're not. You're not Zustra. What do you watch for?"
"Dangers to my government."
"How do you tell?"
"I use my experience to judge."
"Ah, well, there you are."
"So I am. So you can't."
"No, I can't. Because I can't talk to the others on here who do the same thing."
"You can't talk to other Zustra people?"
"I can talk to other Zustra. But not to the others. The others who do the same thing. Watch Guard. Protect."
"Who are they?"
"The others. The rest of them. I don't know who they are. Well, I know who they are, but not what they are. I don't know who they are."
"Are there other organizations like Zustra?"
"Yes. I suppose so. I don't know. They don't tell me and I don't ask."
"How many others are there?"
"I don't know. I have no idea."
Misha asks, "What's a zack?"
"It's many things."
"They're a suit."
"A suit is a zack."
"What we watch for. What we protect against."
Ed asks, "You protect against zacks?"
"But you know how to use them."
"No, I don't know how to use them at all. In fact I've never seen one before."
"Where do zacks come from?"
"I don't know. We haven't figured that out."
Misha asks, "Why did you ask me in particular who I was? Is there something special about me?"
"Because I needed to know who you were."
"Do you need to know who he is," says Misha, pointing at Ed.
"No. It's all an instinct thing. You just have a feeling that somebody is somebody you need to know who they are. And if you need to know who they are you go to them and ask them who they are. If they don't answer, just keep asking them who they are, because you need to know who they are, unless you know who they are, you can't know who they are."
"So how do you know when you know who they are?"
"I'll know. It's a feeling. I'll know. But you really should practice more. You're not very good."
"How do you know I'm not so good if you've never seen a suit before?"
"Because I know what it should do, because I'm trained to know what it should do. It would kill me. Very quickly. Very effectively. It would destroy me."
"Did you know I was wearing a zack when you asked me who I was?"
"No. Because I didn't know who you were."
"Do you know more about me now?"
"Yes. I don't know who you are yet."
"Have you asked other people who they are?"
"Were you satisfied with their answers?"
"How often have you asked this question?"
"Not very often. Three times before."
"In how many years?"
"About thirty years."
"Do you only ask offworlders?"
"No, I ask anyone who I need to know where they are. I don't ask questions unless I need to know the answer."
Ed asks, "What would happen if we were found to be dangerous?"
"You wouldn't be let in."
"We are in. What if we were found to be dangerous now?"
"You wouldn't be let in."
Misha asks, "Aren't we in the starport now?"
"Not quite. You could still be stopped."
Ed asks, "Is the starport the center section?"
"This is the starport. Sort of."
"What section could we never get into if we were dangerous?"
"If you were dangerous enough you might get through a couple of rings, but I hope not."
"What's in the center? Of the starport."
"I don't know. Mechanical stuff. Power. That sort of thing."
The interview is over. The Baron puts him back
under. He says that it will help him sleep through the bad headache.
Everyone but the doctor leave sickbay.
Ed suggests to the captain that Jan Zustra should stay that way until right before they leave. "We now have knowledge of a secret society that is set up to protect, and that knowledge might be worth keeping us from leaving the world. At the moment it looks like the fact that we've taken one of their people and probably killed them doesn't seem to bother them that much. But knowledge is worth more than one lone soldier. So I would suggest that we not let this guy go and let them find out that we know about them."
Misha asks, "On the theory that he died before we could get anything from him?"
"Because they don't know about truth serums and the other stuff. But I also suggest watches -- Teri and I will be setting watches."
It's agreed. They will set up watches, and
the ship's external lights will come on if the lights in the dry dock go
off. Mich still needs the doors open for the heavy equipment, but
he should be finished with that today. Then of course they need to
use some of the equipment to straighten out the grav craft. Equipment
needs to go out, but nothing more needs to come in. The doors will
be kept closed until unloading. Ed reluctantly admits that they probably
shouldn't buy any more wetsuits... but Teri could provide an escort.
It suddenly occurs to Ed that he isn't officially a member of the crew, as he was protecting the Marquis, not technically the ship. He applies for a job, at least until they're back. "What do you need on board, captain?"
Misha offers him First Officer. Ed accepts.