Complaints: Part 3

Geman frowned but didn’t argue at Kals’ suggestion that he and Dalat used the meeting as an excuse to drink.

Maru’s mouth tightened, reminding me of a growling dog. “Kals, you may be assisting, but you can’t speak on their behalf.”

I spoke even as Kals began to open her mouth to respond, “It’s okay. She’s gotten everything right. I didn’t know about the meeting being an excuse to hang out and drink but it’s definitely true that we weren’t randomly searching people’s farms or property. We were just looking for Katuk. Our implants weren’t detecting him and we were worried that something had happened to him. It turned out that he was safe.”

“That’s right,” Jaclyn stepped forward. “Speaking only on a practical level, we need the freedom to talk to people whenever it works best for them and for us. Some people will have time during the day and others in the evening. And if it looks like we’ve got a person missing, we’ll look for him. This isn’t the kind of planet where I’m comfortable assuming someone’s okay.”

Katuk cleared his throat. “I’m sorry that my disappearance made it necessary for the others to search for me. I felt it was necessary to disappear for a time and didn’t realize that the others would want to search for me. Had I understood that I would have coordinated it with them first.”

Maru swallowed and nodded, not taking his eyes off the Xiniti. “Thank you, Katuk. All of us here appreciate how far you must be from your people right now.”

“All those with me are members of my clan,” Katuk said.

“Not all of you,” Maru said, looking over at Kals and Tikki. “Kals. Don’t you have duties that would prevent you from assisting them? You’re involved in our greenhouses, livestock, and farming. Surely you have enough to keep you busy.”

Kals shook her head. “We’re in the slow season for me. We’re collecting data, but I won’t know how well this year’s crops went until the harvest. Once the harvest is in, then those of us in crop design get to work. Right now I can collect the data I need in a few hours. Besides, you know what my real duties are. As one of the few with fully active abilities, my first duty has to be defense. And that means I need to be with them. Otherwise, I won’t be able to help.”

Maru’s jaw dropped ever so slightly. “You shouldn’t have said that—“

Chin down and staring at him, Kals said, “Why not? They’re on our side. For the good of the colony, we need to be coordinating with them, not spying on them and if I were spying on them, I couldn’t do it from the greenhouse.”

Maru turned to look at Jadzen who shook her head. He turned to Tikki. “As a new member of the colony, I’m sure you have duties that you could be doing—“

Tikki shook her head. “I’m afraid that I don’t. Because I’m a life support specialist, they assigned me to help maintain the greenhouses, but the greenhouses are in good condition. We do maintenance, but there’s not much to do. They keep on telling me it will get busy later in the year, but it isn’t yet.”

Behind Maru, Alanna shifted forward in her chair, no longer looking like she was semi-comfortably nursing a hangover. She gritted her teeth as she stood up. “You both just dropped your duties to help the Xiniti? We know what’s really going on. These Xiniti are human and somehow they’re not triggering the rash…”

She shook her head. “You’re putting the colony behind men who will disappear when the job is done. You should be thinking of the colony first. Is it slow for your teams? Then you should be helping another if you’re done early. The earthworks team is working night and day on the barricades. Kals, you know you could be helpful there. And you, life support girl? I’m going to talk to your superiors. My team could use more help and I know you’re an engineer—“

“No,” Kals kept her eyes on Alanna. “You’ve known me on and off for most of my life, Alanna. I’m my mother and father’s daughter. There is nothing I won’t do for this colony and right now, we need the Xiniti, whether they’re biologically Xiniti or human. Iolan thinks there’s a mole. I think he’s right. I’m almost certain Geman and Dalat are controlled without their knowledge and I’ve seen hints ever since I’ve been here that someone knows that Mom is coming when she goes back. You’ve heard the stories. They shouldn’t have known she was coming. They shouldn’t have known her plans. You and I both know it.”

Alanna stood up straight, staring at Kals, face reddening. “Are you accusing me?”

7 thoughts on “Complaints: Part 3”

  1. Edit possibly:
    “As one of the few with fully active, my first duty has to be defense.”

    Seems to be missing a word, maybe:
    “As one of the few with fully active abilities, my first duty has to be defense.”

  2. “And if you ever hear anyone talk about someone being controlled and they start to offer evidence, you must argue vociferously about how it’s not you. Get mad and argue a lot, as that will draw attention away from me.” <– what the controller said, probably

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