The Ship of the Unforgotten - Chapter 15

Camp NaNoWriMo

Cobb left the room behind the others and paced as much as one can in near-zero g, swearing under his breath. How had he let things get so out of control? He was the ranking officer in charge, and he’d done little more than take up space since he’d found them, letting them guide his every move.

Granted, he’d been in rough shape after waking up. He’d been so terribly weak, and his whole body felt dry, like he’d been out in the desert for weeks without water and somehow he’d remained alive to suffer it. It had taken a small eternity for the pod to rehydrate him to the point where he could move his tongue enough to call for help.

The computer had answered—the traitorous, compromised computer, he reminded himself—but her only autonomous unit was engaged elsewhere and would require time to get to him, she’d said. She hadn’t been kidding about that, he’d been trapped there for hours, waiting, unable to free himself. He’d gotten just far enough to see the pods around him and to recognize the significance of all the red lights.

He paced another few minutes, lost in the image of the lights. He hadn’t been able to see the contents of the pods, but he hadn’t had to. He’d felt the lifeless eyes staring at him through the frosted canopies, weighing on him, pushing him back into a coldness deeper than the freezing of the cryo-suspension.

He shook himself, feeling the intense cold all over again, banishing the eyes of the dead. He sighed, rubbing at his own eyes. He suddenly felt every year that it’d been since he’d last had a coffee, or a stiff drink. The time weighed on his skin, in it, like an itch that couldn’t be scratched.

Maybe that was when he should’ve known, he thought; when he’d felt those eyes. Maybe she did it on purpose. Left him there in that tomb of a cryo-bay. Dawn Rose was a computer, she had databases and crap, he knew. She, or whatever was in control now, must’ve accessed his personnel file, seen his personal history. Read about how his wife had died. How it was his fault she’d died, and how he’d become a wrecked shell of a man for years afterward.

She left him in that room of the dead to break him, he knew. He was fairly sure that she’d at least partially succeeded.

He smirked. They were trying to break him, too. The others, Chambers and Jackson and that coward, Pixton. Well, it wasn’t like they were exactly the cream of the crop. Not if they believed that crap about outside influence. They’d have to do better than that to get under his skin.

He looked back at the hatch. Snatches of the conversation within surfaced in his memory, and he snorted. Hakware from an external source? The whole point of the trip had been to go somewhere new, somewhere uninhabited. No, there was no external force at work here. Whatever had hijacked the computer had been aboard the whole time. That was a troubling thought. Was the computer just faulty, malfunctioning? Or was something else going on?

His eyes narrowed. What did he really know about the others? Pixton seemed to be pretty obvious. She was a coward, plain and simple, only comfortable in her computer world. But the others had all been awake before him. He only had their word that they’d been awake a few days.

He would have to watch them. Carefully.