With the volume of Alanna’s reply, Kals stepped backward. “What? No. I’ve never suspected you, but someone is.”
Geman sat in his chair, face blank of emotion, but his jaw muscles tightened. Speaking slowly as if were difficult, he rasped out, “I’m not… controlled. I’d remember… it.”
Everyone turned toward him—Jadzen, Maru, Alanna, the rest of them, and we, of course, were already looking toward the stage.
As the colony’s leadership had turned though, they’d all gone several shades paler. Geman stood up in his chair, saying, “I… I…”
Then he fell over onto the floor, beginning to choke on his tongue. Kals jumped up on to the stage, her voice taking on a queer tone. “Stop choking yourself! You misunderstood me. I said you weren’t controlled.”
He opened his mouth and started breathing in great gasps.
She watched him as he pulled himself up into a sitting position. “Do you have any orders that will be activated if I ask you questions about what you just did?”
In a quieter voice, she asked, “Will any of those orders have lethal consequences for you or others?”
Taking another breath, he said, “Yes.”
Kals took a look back at her mother and turned back to Geman. “Why don’t you go back to work? Or if you’re done for the day, go home. Don’t think about this meeting.”
Geman stood up and walked out of the auditorium. No one spoke until we heard him walk through an outside door.
Iolan spoke first. “I think we now have all the proof we need that there’s a mole. Thank you Kals for your quick thinking. You saved a life today.”
In her chair, Jadzen let out a sigh. “Iolan is right. Thank you Kals. We’re going to have to discuss the best way to handle Geman now that we know he’s controlled and that Dalat likely is as well.”
Walking to the door Geman had left through, Alanna opened it, looked through, and closed it again. Addressing Kals, she said, “Why didn’t you ask who did it?”
Kals gave a small bow in her direction. “I guessed that if whoever had done it forced people to choke themselves on their own tongues if someone suspected that they were controlled, the motivator would put triggers on asking for their name and it wouldn’t stop there.”
Alanna nodded, “I think I’ve seen that. Back before I left, our group had a mole. No one knew who, but after we made a few guesses, my second in command’s wife shot him and then killed herself. We didn’t know if it was a motivator or if she was just depressed. We didn’t have any motivators in my group who could have stopped her, so we never found out.”
Kals stepped off the stage to stand back with the rest of us. “We’ve developed techniques to protect against other motivators messing with our work, so you might not have ever found out even if you had one in your group. My school taught us how to set triggers based on sound, words, smells, pictures and more. You had to know what’s associated with what in someone’s mind before you could change a command. There are different systems for doing it.”
Alanna gave voice to almost the same thought I had. “It’s not the same, but it almost sounds like breaking into a computer program.”
Shrugging, Kals said, “I wouldn’t know, but it’s a challenge to work out how to unravel someone else’s commands.”
Iolan stood up from his chair. “My motivator training was minimal compared to some here as was my computer training, but I’ve done enough of both to know the we have significant work ahead of us.”
Clearing his throat, he said, “Jadzen, we’ll need experienced motivators to go through their heads—yourself or Maru, perhaps. I know we have a number of others. Kals might assist. In any case, they’re all we need to find the mole now.”
Alanna smiled. “Then the investigation’s over. There’s no need for it if our motivators can get the mole’s identity out of their heads.”
Jadzen rose from her seat. “I don’t think that the investigation is completely over, but I do think it should be put on pause until our motivators have had a chance to examine Dalat and Geman. I’d prefer not to deal with any more controversy than we have to. Maru assemble a list of motivators that could be trusted with something like this and have it to me by this afternoon.”
Maru give her a short bow and Jadzen said, “Good. My thanks to all of you for your work. You’re dismissed.”
Jaclyn and I both looked at each other. I don’t know what she was thinking, but her eyes had narrowed and she was frowning—which led me to think that she was thinking that this all seemed a bit premature. Neither of us had time to figure out a way to broach the subject though.
Cassie crossed her hands over her chest. “Are you sure about that? It seems to me that if anything goes wrong with Dalat and Geman—like maybe they kill themselves—you’ve got nothing.”
Jadzen looked Cassie up and down. “If it comes to that, we’ll put you back on the case, but for now, we’ll leave it to our people.”