Homecoming - Day 10

Madeline. How could these guys, whoever they were, have found out about him and his ship quickly enough to catch him en route? It had to have been Madeline Sobol. She’d helped him out of a jam, but the cost he’d had to pay had shown him very clearly that she was a shady character at best.

“Aru,” he said, then stopped. Aru belonged to her. His stomach sank as a tendril of doubt wrapped itself around his mind. When he’d first met Aru, he hadn’t had much use for bots, but their experiences since then had transformed distrust into friendship. Irrational friendship, he’d occasionally thought. Maybe ill-advised friendship.

He needed information, and Aru was his only link. He’d have to risk it. “Aru,” he said again, spotting the “Yes?” the bot had displayed on his tablet while he’d paused. “Has there been any tampering with the ship’s systems?”

“Negative, with the exception of the repairs I conducted.”

“Has the ship tried to establish any kind of datalink with us?”

“It is not yet within range.”

“When they’re within range, can you send a request for information to their computer?”

The bot seemed to hesitate. “Affirmative. But risky.”

“How much more at risk can we be?” He couldn’t ask Aru directly if Sobol was manipulating or controlling him in some way, but maybe he could find something in these people’s files about how they’d learned where the Night Star was going to be.

“What information do you want to request?”

“Well, not request, as such …” He was falling back on the lingo he used at Tau Ceti. Keep it together, they haven’t got me yet. They were unnervingly close though, to judge by the sounds of searching out in the cargo bay. “Sorry, Aru. Can you access their communication logs for the past couple of weeks?”

“I will do my best.”