Another fairly quiet day. Dr. Korvusar came down to the crew area today. It isn’t off-limits but we never explicitly tell the passengers they can come down either. She showed up about the middle of the afternoon.
I was in the crew lounge. I try not to stay in my cabin, but there isn’t any need for anyone to be on the bridge in jumpspace either so I was in one corner finishing off that net video I had started the other day. I saw someone come down the ladder and stood up when I saw it was her.
“Dr. Korvusar!” I said, standing up and giving her my best friendly greeting. “I hadn’t expected you to join us. What can I do for you?”
Saahna and Jami looked up from a board game they were playing on the opposite side of the lounge then looked back to it when they saw I was talking to her. Do’rex was on the bridge, he did spend most of his time there, and Varan was probably up in the passenger lounge in case they needed him.
“I was wondering if I could have a tour of the ship, Captain,” she asked. “Since I’m going to be travelling with you for a while, I thought it would be good to see where I’m going to be staying.”
Both Saahna and Jami looked up at that, Jami with a frown on her face, but I waved in their direction. “Sure, I can do that.” I nodded to her. “There isn’t much to see, really. Where do you want to start?”
“How about the bridge?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
I hesitated, but hopefully not enough for her to notice. “Sure,” I said. “This way.” I gestured towards the door at the front of the lounge. I stepped forwards, waited for the biometrics to recognize me, then gestured her through the door as it opened.
Do’rex looked back as we entered. He clicked once in surprise then turned back to the console as Dr. Korvusar looked around. The shutters were still closed over the cupola and most of the displays were in standby mode. My console was shut down and it looked like Do’rex was running approach simulations on his.
Dr. Korvusar tapped the captain’s chair. “So you run everything from here?”
I shook my head and pointed to the Navigation console. “Nope. That’s mine. Captain Anna sat here because she was the captain. Do’rex and I were the ones who actually flew the ship.”
She smiled slightly at that. “Captain Martin didn’t fly her own ship?”
I shook my head. “She always said that she left that to people who were more qualified. She hired us to run the ship; she handed the important stuff.”
“Buying and selling.”
“Yeah, that was her speciality.” I shook my head. “That woman could sell freezers on ice planets.”
Dr. Korvusar nodded. “And I understand that you learned from her?”
“Yeah, that was one of the main reasons I stayed with the Phantasmal Hope. She was good. Really good.” I paused as something suddenly hit me. “Wait… how do you know about Captain Martin?”
She looked at me steadily. “I did my research, Captain. Just like your Lieutenant Denan did with me.”
I frowned at that. “What are you talking about?” I asked, trying to sound as innocent as possible.
She continued to look steadily at me. “I know someone was doing research on me before we left Venad. And I know it was her. And I know she relayed what she found to you.” She paused, but before I could say anything, she continued.
“If I didn’t trust you, Captain, I wouldn’t be here. After all, there are over 100 ships a day coming through Venad. I could have gone with anyone, right?”
I openly stared at her. I recognized those words. “OK,” I said, finally. “What the hell is going on here?”
She smiled innocently. “I have no idea what you are talking about, Captain. Now, can we continue the tour?”
I frowned, but nodded and gestured towards the door. I saw Do’rex casting glances at us but I waved in his direction and he turned back to his console.
The next hour passed in polite, meaningless chatter. We went through the entire ship, I pointed out things of interest and she nodded and asked the appropriate questions. Eventually we wound up back in the crew lounge.
“Thank you, Captain,” she said, taking my hand. “Now, more than ever, I am convinced I made the right decision by travelling with you. I hope you will feel the same way.” Without another word she turned and went up the ladder to the passenger lounge.
As soon as she was gone I went in search of Saahna. The Grayswandir’s computer told me she was in her cabin, and while I would have rather not bothered her I needed to talk.
Eventually, the door slid open. Saahna stood there, looking annoyed. “What is it, Captain?” She emphasized the last word a bit too much.
“Korvusar knows you looked her up.” I said without preamble.
She frowned. “What?”
“She didn’t call me on it, exactly. Well, kinda… But she let me know that she knows a lot about us and that you, specifically, had looked her up a couple of days ago.”
“She what?” She looked away, thinking. “I was in Melant’s room. Well, his fresher.” She smiled weakly. “How did she trace that back to me?”
I shook my head. “Maybe she just assumed it was you?”
She looked back at me. “Even that would indicate that she knew that I was the computer expert on board. She knows us. She knows who we are.” She paused, looking away again, then back. “Derek, who is she?”
I sighed, looking away. “I don’t know.” I paused, thinking. “Maybe this wasn’t my best idea.”
“You couldn’t have known.”
I shook my head. “I knew something was wrong. But getting the guaranteed payment every Jump…”
She nodded slowly in return. “Yeah. But if she wanted to do something to us, she would have by now.” She looked at me. “I know you accepted her, but should we just dump her at the next port? We could do that.”
I thought, then shook my head. “Yeah, technically I could. But, given what she has shown she knows about us…” I stopped and thought. “We’ve gotten ourselves involved in something. What, I don’t know. But for some reason I think bailing out now will be worse than if we stay in. She needs us. Whatever is going on, she thinks she needs us. So… if we dump her she may take it out on us. And I don’t want to risk that.”
She thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah. That makes sense. I trust your judgement on this kind of thing; you’ve never led us wrong before.” She looked at me. “I’m not going to dig into her background any further. I think that may not be our best idea.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I get that.” I paused. “Sorry I got us into this.”
She shrugged. “You don’t have to apologize to me; I know how you think.” She paused for a moment, looking away. “Listen, about what I said the other night…”
I hesitated before responding. “Yeah, look…. I understand…”
She interrupted. “Yeah, well… maybe I was wrong.”
I froze, thinking for a long moment. “Well… just… let me know. OK?”
She nodded, still looking away. “Sure…. Thanks.”
“You too,” I said, then winced. “Any time you want to talk, you know where I am.”
“OK.” She still wasn’t looking at me.
“OK,” I said, trying not to have an awkward pause. “Well… thanks. I’ll let you know when I find out anything else.”
WIthout waiting for a response I turned and headed back towards the lounge. A few moments later I heard her door slide shut.