When the colonists dropped off breakfast, Jaclyn took advantage of the fact that we were all together to tell everyone the story and then bring us all downstairs to show us the puppy. When we were all back up in the suite, Cassie shook her head and finished off the last bit of some kind of meat. Swallowing, she told Jaclyn, “That was so crazy and such a terrible idea that—“
“It’s like something you would do?” Jaclyn finished.
“Well, yeah,” Cassie said. “But I’d know better than to take in a dog. I tried once when I was kid and my dad gave me hell. He gave me a big speech about how a dog is a big responsibility, but nowhere nears as big as yours is going to get.”
Jaclyn gave a short laugh. “I know. Believe me I know. I want to leave him here because they’re so easy to train, but if they won’t let me, I guess I’ll bring him home.”
Kals looked down at her hand. The puppy had licked it. “We don’t have dogs as pets. I’ve never seen one of those things act friendly.”
Katuk furrowed his brow, “Why would you keep such a dangerous creature?”
Jaclyn shook her head. “I shouldn’t, but if they’re not going to train him, I’m not going to let them kill him. We already killed both of his parents and more. There’s got to be a point where you learn what you don’t have to kill.”
Katuk paused, but didn’t add anything to that.
Jadzen Akri and the others showed up about thirty minutes after we’d finished cleaning up. They didn’t knock and wait for us to open the door either. They went into the big council room and after a short period where we could hear them talking in there, Maru stepped into the suite, saying, “Excuse me, everyone. Jadzen and several members of the revolutionary board will see you now.”
We followed him back into the big council room. It felt larger as well as oddly less frightening than it had the night before. Still, the room felt very big and very official with the chairs around the table the front and people sitting in them.
As we entered, Kals looked up at the front of the room. “They’re playing this as if they were investigating some major violation of a Council edict. That’s annoying. Someone must dislike you.”
When we sat in the seats facing the group. Jadzen looked on calmly while Iolan fiddled with something he’d found in the pocket of his suit coat. Alanna slumped in her chair, possibly hungover, possibly remotely accessing something through the bracelet she wore. Three other people that I didn’t recognized at all were also up there in addition to Maru and Geman. Geman yawned and then nodded at us.
Jadzen looked over the group of us. Everyone but Crawls-Through-Desert had followed Maru through the door and into the auditorium. She frowned as she saw Kals and then Tikki. “Kals, you don’t have to be here. Take Tikki and go.”
Kals shook her head. “Mom, I was with them during almost everything they did yesterday. If they’re in trouble, I’m in trouble.”
Tikki glanced over at Marcus, smiled at him, and reached out to squeeze his hand. “That goes for me as well, but also it’s a fascinating opportunity to learn what my fellow colonists think is unacceptable behavior.”
Jadzen gave Tikki a disjointed expression that made it clear she found Tikki’s response odd, but when she looked at Kals, she wore a tired expression similar to the one I remembered seeing on my parents’ faces when they were told I’d taken apart a neighbor child’s toy or a grownup’s lawnmower.
Without saying anything else to us, Jadzen said, “Maru, please start.”
Maru stepped up to the podium. “Greetings everyone and especially to those of you who have come from so far away to protect us. We value your sacrifice. For everyone’s good, we have a few issues to bring up. We received a few reports that your attempts to look for the mole were disruptive to regular operations of the colony as well as colony morale. You interrupted a regular meeting by Geman and Dalat. You all searched throughout the colony, giving no explanation of why you needed to be there. Other individuals in addition to Geman and Dalat were also interrupted from their work to answer questions.
“These sort of practices make it more difficult for people to practice the trades that keep the colony secure and fed. We need you to stop interrupting people during work hours and to stay off people’s property without permission.”
Maru stopped, giving all of us a polite smile. “Do you have any questions?”
Kals responded before any of the rest of us. “I was there for all of that. You know as well as I do that Geman and Dalat usually use the meeting as an excuse to have a beer. The only reason they searched the colony was to find a teammate who they thought might have gotten lost. I can’t speak to interrupting the other people with questions, but I don’t know how else you conduct any kind of investigation.”
Iolan’s eyes widened as she began to speak. I had a feeling that when he’d sent us a message to remain calm and pleasant, he’d been trying to avoid exactly this sort of thing.
The problem was that Kals wasn’t wrong. Being restricted from talking to people during most of the day would slow things down a lot.