Geman’s voice carried through a storm of technical details about the ansible network. “Are you okay?”
Dalat looked up at me. “You’re looking kind of white, kid? Did you just get an implant?”
“About a week and a half, maybe two weeks ago…” My voice trailed off as my implant gave me the exact number of seconds. I took a breath, concentrating on the process of breathing as I’d learned to do when meditating.
It was better. The roar of detail became background noise.
Nodding, Geman stepped closer to me, looking me over. “Yeah. That fits. People take time to adjust to new implants. It gets better. When you start out, the implant’s got so much information you don’t know. As you use it, some of that becomes part of your regular memory. So instead of opening up ten or twenty streams of inquiry with one question, maybe you only open up five or one or two? Anyway, you learn how to filter it better and only follow up on questions a little at a time.
“You can tell it to slow down. Don’t forget that. I don’t know what speed the Xiniti set their implants at, but it’s probably faster than the human norm. What’s your C-sets rate?”
I queried the implant. “It normally has me at 400 something, but based on my reaction to the most recent data push, it’s throttling me down to 360 or so.”
Dalat stared at me. “Three hundred and sixty? That’s got to be wrong. What geneline are you from? That’s some serious mental mods.”
I tried to keep my tone even. It wasn’t hard. I wasn’t even lying except that I wasn’t mentioning the world. “None in particular. I’m from a fallow world that got a bunch of genes added to the mix. What modifications we’ve got are completely random.”
Dalat’s eyes flicked between Cassie and me without saying anything.
Geman glanced over at Dalat and then back to us. “That’s pretty impressive. The normal human rate is closer to 120 and unmodified humans are closer to 60.”
My implant confirmed his figures, adding that my C-set rate wasn’t unusual for Xiniti, but that they’d been modified to take cybernetic enhancement better.
I chose not to follow that line of inquiry to its end, but it opened a lot of interesting questions. For example, was my capacity random Abominator modification or random stuff from Lee’s people?
Whatever it was didn’t matter now, though. We were here to find a mole and I had a direction to go.
I looked between Geman and Dalat. “Cassie asked if you knew if anyone else could get access to admin on the ansible. What do you think?”
Geman’s brows furrowed and he frowned. “Can’t say. We haven’t given anyone local admin access who isn’t supposed to have it. Registered ansible techs can still get in. Plus, we basically turned off logging of admin actions in case the ansible gets audited. Right now it only logs the actions of the default admin account and no one’s using that one.”
Dalat nodded. “I know you’re not supposed to do that, but we had to. No other choice if we wanted to keep it secret.”
Geman nodded. “That’s right. If they ever figure out it’s anything more than a deep space relay, the colony’s screwed. We’ve had to set things up so that all the admin accounts are hidden, filter out our actions from the logs, and give our special local accounts total power over the thing.”
So basically, if someone created an account for anyone outside the admin group, you’d never know.
Off in the distance, a large animal roared and something else screeched. I couldn’t tell whether it was defiance or a death cry. I glanced over at the force field poles that surrounded the grassy field of the starport.
“Who set up the ansible to work that way?” From what I now knew about ansibles, they weren’t easy to modify.
Geman sighed. “Rinson. He was one of the earliest colonists. He used to be an ansible tech and he came from a geneline optimized for tech work—long, thin fingers and toes and mental mods. He might have had a prehensile tail too. I can’t remember now. It’s been a while.”
Cassie had been watching them without talking, but then she said, “What happened to him?”
Geman paused, but after a moment said. “He’s dead. One of those dog-things got him years ago.”
Dalat turned his head to gaze at the line of shield poles, but turned back to us. “We weren’t even involved then. The guy died and Iolan was the only admin for a while, but then he brought us in because he didn’t have enough time to handle it alone.”
He frowned as he ended. “Sorry, but Geman and I were about to have a meeting when you showed up. It’s good to be neighborly and all and chat, but we still have to talk.”
Geman glanced down toward him. “It’s no big thing, but you probably shouldn’t be here. It’s colony security stuff.”
“Sure,” Cassie said. “We get it.”
She stepped away from the building and I walked away with her. I considered opening an implant communication channel to her at about the time she opened one to me.
Her words tumbled out as we connected. “Were you watching them with sonics or anything? The gun gives me a few different ways to see in the dark, but I can use them for more than that… Did you see that their heart rates spiked when you started asking about the ansible?”