Goodbye Sol – Page 17

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My mouth went dry. I walked to the door of my room, pushed the button and walked inside. My mind buzzed, immediately replaying the little that I had heard. I turned on my display and activated the security camera for the common area where Skyler and Willow’s bunks were. My heart pounded as I turned up the audio.
The two were sitting at opposite ends of the lower bunk, neither of them speaking. Willow was sitting at the head of the bed, her knees tucked up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them. Her chin rested on her knees and she stared at the floor.
Skyler was at the foot of the bed, with one leg hanging off the side. He leaned back and looked up. He picked at the under side of the top bunk.
I didn’t know what to do. I just watched the screen waiting for one of them to make a move or say something. I checked to make sure that the cameras were actively recording. I set it to save to my personal drive folder. My hands were sweaty and my muscles tensed, as if begging me to get up and move, but I stayed seated in front of my screen. I didn’t know whether or not I should immediately go and tell Emeric what I had overheard. I had no way of knowing just how serious they were. I didn’t know what they were planning. I didn’t have any evidence, and while Emeric would likely believe me, it was still a case of my word against theirs.
As I stared at Willow, my heart was filled with sadness. I had trusted her. I had pitied her. Now I was uncertain if she was worthy of that trust. I hoped that she would come forward and tell one of us about whatever Skyler was planning. I didn’t know if I should confront her or wait for her to come to me. I was frozen in place, as I watched, waiting for one of them to make a move that would tell me what to do next.
It felt like an eternity before either of them spoke or made any movement, but finally Willow’s lips moved. I quickly turned the volume up to maximum.
“…do about it now,” she ended.
“I think I could use a little pick me up.” Skyler looked at Willow. I couldn’t make out his expression, but his tone was much more calm and collected than what I had heard before.
“Like what?”
“Like you said before about my fan mail. I’d like to go through some of it.”
“We could see if maybe Anaya is in her quarters to help us with that.”
“You can go check on that.” Skyler said dismissively.
“No, you can come with me if you want to see it,” Willow said, in a tone that was non-negotiable.
I stood up, minimized the security window, and tried to make myself look busy. I realized I could still hear them through my speakers, and rushed to mute the video then closed the application down again. I flopped on my bed and picked up my tablet hoping to make myself look calm and relaxed, as if I had been lounging in my room for a while.
“This button or do I knock? How does this thing work?” I heard Skyler say. It felt as though I was hearing him mid-sentence.
“Open,” I said and the computer opened the door to my quarters.
Willow and Skyler were standing just on the other side, both looked completely normal. I don’t know what I had expected. I caught myself wanting to say something like “traitors”, but I kept my mouth shut.
“We hate to bother you,” Willow said, “but Skyler really wants to go back to the Raven to see the mail he received from home. Is there any way you could help us with that?”
I wondered if this was the start of their plan. If I let them aboard their ship, would they just undock and try to rush off? “I’ll have to check with the Captain on that, but I know Asher was concerned about anyone going over there. He didn’t want anything to happen with all of the modifications you had made.”
Skyler smiled. It didn’t seem like the smile of someone devious, someone planning to potentially murder three other people. “You’ll finally get to see why they sent me on this mission. I’ll be surprised if they sent enough storage space for all of my fan mail.”
I tapped on my display and turned the in-ship communication system on. “Captain, Skyler would like to go to the Raven to view messages from Earth. Can we help him with that?” I heard a slight echo in the hallway behind Willow and Skyler through the open door. I wondered if they thought I was being rude for not inviting them in.
Emeric quickly replied, “that’s not going to work right now. See if you can transfer the files onto our ship. I know that Asher already has a connection to their computer in place.”
A cool rush of relief washed over me and I mentally thanked Emeric for not wanting them to go over to their ship.
I turned my attention back to Willow and Skyler and smiled in what I hoped came across as warm and welcoming. “We should be able to load them up in the dining area upstairs if you want to follow me.”
I walked to the door and moved past them into the hall without a word. I half expected Skyler to be more confrontational or adversarial, but his whole demeanour was so light. His smile wide and he seemed to bounce with excitement.
As we walked, the two of them were right behind me. My skin prickled and I could feel my ears twitching at the slightest noise. In my mind, I pictured them taking advantage of their position, knocking me out, and rushing back to the Raven before Emeric or Asher had a chance to stop them. I imagined them damaging the airlock and leaving it open while disconnecting their ship, sucking all the atmosphere in the LD out into space. I took a deep breath.
We all sat around the table, and I turned on the display. I connected to the Raven’s data storage system and pulled up the files. “These look like them,” I said smiling at the ease at which they appeared. About a hundred files total were listed on the screen ordered by date. I scrolled through the list to the bottom.
“Where are the rest?” Skyler said, as he scanned the screen.
“I don’t know what you mean. These are all of them,” I replied.
“Look at the time codes. There must be hundreds missing. See here?” Skyler scrolled the display back up to the top and pointed to the first few files in the list. “In a single data file burst, there were dozens of recordings.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. That’s all there was on the Raven to be pulled over.” I explained as gently as I could. “If I’m not mistaken, Willow, you had to disassemble the communications to fix something else, right.”
Willow nodded.
“Well maybe that’s why there’s not more,” I tried to explain.
Willow’s eyes moved to the ground, her fingers twisted together and I knew somehow that the fan mail had stopped before she had repurposed the communication hardware.
I looked at the dates and something clicked in my mind. “Of course there wasn’t more communication,” I said mostly to myself, “most information on your expedition didn’t survive the Great Wipe. And even before that point, most people’s priorities were already shifting.”

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