A Good Boy: Part 3

Kals stared at the table for a minute—which was the longest I’d yet heard her not talk when I’d been around her.

Finally she looked up. “The resistance has used this world as a hideout for years and Mom, Dad and Maru all spent time here on and off when I was growing up, but when Dad died, and we all had to disappear, Mom and Maru had a fight. I don’t know what they were fighting about. It was after we’d been here for a few weeks. I don’t know what it was about. They never talked about it again and when I asked, Mom wouldn’t say anything.”

“Come on,” Cassie crossed her arms over her chest. “You must have heard at least one word? Maybe a sentence?”

Kals glared at her. “It was two years ago. I can’t be sure about anything anyone said. I remember the sound of their voices and that’s all.”

My implant alerted me that Hal had sent me a message. I opened it, experiencing the entire dataset that we’d collected from the ansible as he must perceive it—blocks of data that you could organize as you wanted. Except I received the version that he’d organized. We’d given him data on ansible bandwidth usage and on the accounts that were active during that time. The admin accounts were hidden, but I’d guessed that people would be on their personal accounts before or after using one of the unlogged admin accounts. My theory was that Hal could compare what accounts were active during the periods of unusual activity after Jadzen came back from her trips and we might find the spy.

It wasn’t a bad idea, but knowing how we used the internet back home, I should have anticipated that practically everybody used the ansible all the time. Fortunately, there were differences. The shining columns of light thinned when a person’s ansible usage was little more than background noise and thickened when they were deliberately using their connection.

Knowing that, I traced the accounts that showed the most usage during the time period just after Jadzen’s most recent trip. Jadzen and Maru’s lines were the thickest, followed by Iolan, Geman, and Dalat’s. I could rationalize all of those. Iolan, Geman, and Dalat managed the ansible. Jadzen and Maru could be communicating with their information sources off world. I considered going lower down on our list of users, but bearing in mind Maru’s behavior and the fact that he was a motivator…

Maru didn’t have to control Jadzen to have her trust. As a motivator though, he could control Geman and Dalat even if he couldn’t control Jadzen, and if that argument Kals mentioned represented the moment he’d lost confidence in her… Well, then we knew who the mole was even though we couldn’t prove it yet or explain why.

I checked the other people’s usage anyway. The only name that jumped out at me was Alanna, the person on the council who’d argued against the idea that there was a spy.

Kals interrupted my thoughts. “You downloaded something big.”

As I became aware of the world around me again, I became aware that her eyes were on me. Fumbling for words, I said, “A data analysis.”

I probably shouldn’t have said it, but I was still half inside a world of virtual images and data patterns.

She leaned forward, and I caught a hint of a musky perfume. “What were you analyzing? Ansible use? Is Maru the spy?”

Cassie sent me a message through our implants, “Nice one.”

Aloud, she said, “We don’t know. Don’t tell anyone.”

Kals cocked her head. “I shouldn’t tell anyone that you don’t know that Maru’s the spy?”

The twist of Cassie’s mouth left no doubt that Cassie didn’t find her reply funny. “You know what I mean. We can’t prove it’s him, but right now, he’s our best guess. So don’t tell anybody.”

Kals voice rose. “I know better than that. Everyone around here knows better than that. We’ve been hiding from the Ascendancy for years. Why do you think it’s him?”

Not quite sure that it was the right choice, I decided to trust her. “Guesses, mostly,” I began and explained how Dalat appeared to be telling Geman not to say anything as we approached and talking via implant when we left, how Maru had appeared to talk to us and direct us to watch out for her, and how the ansible’s records showed that Maru’s account was in use around the suspicious times even if it wasn’t the only one.

Kals gave me her full attention, nodding as I talked. I finished with, “It only hangs together because we want it to. We don’t have any evidence. I’d send out bugs, but I’ve got a bad feeling that people would detect them here.”

“From what I’ve seen of your ship, you don’t seem that far behind us, but we’ve been under surveillance for most of our lives.” She pursed her lips, half-closing her eyes, but then said, “My friends can watch him. We’ll see where he goes and then maybe we’ll find some evidence.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? If he’s the spy, he might kill them.”

She waved her hand, batting away my concern. “Don’t worry about it. That’s what we did for the resistance. The kids watched without getting involved. We’re good at it. Besides, this is a small town in the middle of nowhere. Everybody’s in everybody’s business. It won’t take much at all to get deeper into his, and if he’s a traitor, he’s a threat to all of us.”

I felt like I wanted to argue with her, but Cassie started talking.

Glancing toward the room Katuk, Marcus and I shared, Cassie peered through the open doorway and turned back toward Kals and I. “Katuk’s not here. Jaclyn called me to say she hasn’t seen him since we were at Iolan’s. Did he say anything to you?”

5 thoughts on “A Good Boy: Part 3”

  1. This section came easier than the last one, but the middle was a little harder than I wanted it to be.

    So it goes.

    A few of you have been donating on Patreon which is great, but you may have heard that Patreon was changing their fee structure in a way increased the cost. Apparently a lot of creators did not like it (since it resulted in donors going away), and Patreon’s now changed it back.

    It’s kind of funny and probably a good thing.

    Please do vote on TWF.

  2. “I felt like I wanted to argue with her, but Cassie starting talking.”

    Dang, she’s a good motivator, drawing attention away from herself and pinning it onto the other person.

  3. After a year of reading on and off I finally caught up. Great work dude, I really like the story. Will be looking forward to whatever you have planned for the future

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