I stood next to one of the counters in Iolan Mekus’ lab, considering sitting on it but then reconsidering when I noticed the same kind of square chips that had absorbed our biological samples.
Standing then, I asked, “So okay… If you think they’re using admin accounts to communicate and then deleting the specific logs of their ansible use, then who are the admins?”
Iolan grinned, but barely. “I see where you’re going, but it’s not that easy. That was my first thought. The other two admins are Geman, who is no fan of the Ascendancy government and Dalat, the other pilot, who is in his own world. I know anybody could be a traitor, but the two of them are poor candidates. I’ve been forced to look elsewhere.”
Marcus looked up from one of tables. “How about mind control? I know I’ve mentioned this before when we were talking among ourselves, but you guys have people who can tell you what to do and then you listen even if you disagree. It’s crazy.”
Iolan blinked. “Well, of course mind control is a possibility, but we do have some experience in resisting it here. Now, as for myself, I grew up in a leader gene line and even though we were stronger and more powerful than most humans, our best weapon against other humans had to be our voice. So, as for myself, I never discount that possibility, but there are so many potential motivators… If you think about it, I could theoretically be causing it despite not being interested in destroying myself or ever having any real interest in being a motivator at all.
“I was far more interested in learning to be a genetic counselor and doctor—so I left my motivator abilities quite underdeveloped. I’m far from the only one of us who is like that. You don’t become part of a group like this without hating that part of ourselves. The only people with good motivator training are Jadzen Akri and her daughter, young Kals. The rest of us have the potential, but we’re only good at the direct, obvious commands—the kind of thing everyone will pick up on.
“Only people with real training could both make someone use their ansible access against their will and make them unable to talk about it. Jadzen and Kals wouldn’t have needed to do it. Jadzen has been going back on and off to recruit for years. Kals’ training was interrupted and I don’t see any motivation for her to destroy her family. The only way for mind control to work like that, in this case, is if the Dominators got them and—“
Cassie looked up from whatever she’d been fiddling with and the desk she’d been standing next to. “Dominators? Whoa. Wait. You’ve got Dominators here too?”
Iolan cocked his head to look at here. “Of course. They’re all over human space. They were the Abominators’ group that handled problem humans and prevented human rebellion.”
Cassie turned toward the rest of us—Jaclyn, Marcus and I, mouth twisted and probably thinking what the rest of us were—that the Dominators were a supervillain team back home that specialized in mind control. It would make a kind of sense if they turned to be Abominator founded group—except we couldn’t explain that without explaining we were from Earth, something we didn’t want to do in case Lee’s people got wind of the fact that he came to space with us.
Cassie turned back to Iolan saying, “I always thought the Dominators were only on our world.”
Iolan nodded. “It would be better to think so. They’ve been known to plant commands that don’t activate for years. All the same, I’d have expected them to trigger long before now. If we are dealing with Dominators, guessing motives is useless and it could be anyone no matter how little sense it makes.”
Jaclyn frowned. “There aren’t any tells that someone’s been modified by them?”
Brows furrowed, Iolan put a bracelet on his wrist and tapped it. “There might be. I’ll do some research. Perhaps the Xiniti might do the same. There might be some default commands that we might activate to check for Dominator manipulation. It may be that I was wrong to discount them. It wouldn’t be impossible for them to include a mini-personality with the skill to use motivator abilities. We’ve had resistance groups broken up by exactly that. It’s just that they’re effective enough that I wouldn’t expect them to take this long to destroy us. They’d have found out our location and called in the Ascendancy long ago.”
“Okay,” Jaclyn looked over everyone. “I’m thinking we have to investigate the Dominator angle, but I don’t think we should assume that’s got to be it. We should be looking just in case it is someone else—even if we can’t guess who right now. Anyone else ready to call this meeting done?”
Iolan nodded. “One thing I’d ask of you all… Please don’t tell anyone that we’re suspecting Dominator involvement. We don’t want a panic. Some of us here only barely survived Dominator controlled personalities. Aside from that, who knows how the Dominators might have told them to respond?”