|A life suit, aka modern spacesuit, being constructed.|
Photo in the public domain thanks to NASA
What does Jeb know about the mysterious package in the airlock?
“Why half?” Kosi says about me being a half shaman.
“Didn’t get to finish my schooling.” I’m lucky there’s still that easy answer available. I make my voice light and my tone light-hearted though I’m thinking dark things about my mother possibly having an Earth-grown body floating about in a silo somewhere in space. “They are dead, the bodies left behind in the silos?”
Kosi knows exactly what I’m asking. “In stasis,” she says. “Don’t worry about them waking up. They can’t by themselves. Enough of that depressing subject. How can I separate the data-waving boots from the mysterious object, so I can have a good look at it?”
We have nicely circled the apparent existence in our midst of the Ark Ship. “What is the object?” I say.
Kosi laughs. “For me to know and you to find out, I think. Be more fun that way.”
Fun for who? Maybe that thought shows on my face for the entity starts into an explanation.
“Earlier I was thinking we’d borrow a couple of bodies and go hunting. You seem to like the Maremma girl, you could borrow hers. I’ve never been hunting.”
“You’d borrow the Maremma girl’s body?” I say.
“I don’t need to now,” she says. “The thing in the airlock is a life-suit. I’ll use that. There must be a way I can reprogram it. Hip hooray! It’ll be the first time since I got data-waved that I’ll have arms and legs to do things with!”
She is cheering too soon. A cascade of suspicions follows my memory of the alien entity hidden in the blood-drained woman called Arley who was meant to be have been revived with my blood. Was it him who was meant to have been fed on my blood? And him in the bundle brought to Thyal and Mongoose and me just before we took off in the shuttle?
I shudder. The life-suit in the bundle will be Arley’s skin. Its occupant will be the alien entity. Where before I merely didn’t like the sound of the project, now I dread it.
“These data-waving boots …” I begin. I revise what I know about them. They extract human DNA + personality patterns from people stored on spaceships called silos and transfer the patterns to Lotor. In settler parlance, the resulting reconstituted people are the Earth-born. “… whose are they?”
It seems to me that I must get Kosi to realise the alien origin of the life-suit, the boots and even, maybe, the pyramid-shaped starship we’re in. Because we aren’t in the doughnut.
“Does it matter?” Kosi says. “Come on.”
She causes the door panels keeping me in the room to slide apart. I fall into the Maremma girl’s arms.
“She’s with me,” Kosi says at the girl. “I might need a hunting dog or three? Go find them and bring them to the underworld?”
The Maremma girl shoots me a gaze of such misery before she runs off that I boost my attention to hyper-alert. “Where are you taking me?” I say.
Kosi laughs. “Obviously, I can’t physically take you anywhere. But you’ll probably follow the rainbow blip arrowing along the floor if you want to see your friends again.”
She threatens me and my friends? I take a deep breath. What choice do I have?
The blip sparks and sparkles with the same colours as the watch-tower on the cliffs during my last night on Lotor. The cherts still under the skin of my feet liven up too. Prick and prickle.
I realise two things. The blip is of the same alien technology as the watch-tower, and so possibly also the life-suit, and it is interacting with the therefore also alien cherts. Wish I had a pair of tweezers. Funny that the Ark Ship reconstituted me with them intact?
The arrowing starts along the upper U gallery and I follow it to the opposite arm. It spirals down the fireman’s pole, and I slide after it to the floor of the hall from where I follow it into the mysterious crowd circling the mysterious mid-point.