“What danger, what’re you talking about?” Dann demanded. It had been such a nice morning up until then too.
“Rose Dawn picked up his location last night; he returned to the lab where we last saw him. It’s the first time there’s verifiable information on his whereabouts since then, though there is some system data from the period of the AI’s activity that suggests he was on the move in at least one of the biomes for a time. And Dann, there are three cryo-pods that now read deceased that had been potential survivors.”
“No. No way. I know the lieutenant wasn’t taking any of this all that well, but he wouldn’t have killed people, would he? He couldn’t have.”
“Unfortunately there are relatively few areas of the ship that have camera feeds that Rose Dawn and I can access, and Lt. Cobb hasn’t been giving us much opportunity to verify his identity. The new crew deaths occurred while the AI was still operational, so we can’t be certain that Cobb was responsible.”
“The AI has been in operation since long before we awoke; has Rose Dawn finished her diagnostics yet? Can you give us any more information on the crew and how many survivors there are?”
“Yes. The four of you are the only crew currently awake and wandering the ship. All other pods are accounted for; four empty, 43 operational with living crew inside, and 3953 deceased. Privates Jackson and Pixton and yourself are accounted for in this location.” She paused, artificial face betraying hesitation.
“And Lt. Cobb?” he prompted.
“Lt. Cobb was last identified in the tramway between this biome and the sub-arctic tundra biome less than half an hour ago.” Her face twisted as she said it; it looked to Dann as though it was almost physically painful for Rose to be so uncertain in her data.
“That’s awfully close to here. You’re sure it’s him?”
She nodded. “He has taken to talking to himself on occasion. It’s … disturbing. It also allows Rose Dawn to confirm his identity by his voice print.”
Dann swirled the remains of his cup of coffee in the cup as he thought. “Just to be clear, we don’t know for sure that Cobb is a threat, right? You said the data is unreliable?”
The android nodded unhappily. “I wish I could be more specific, but yes. And, there’s more.”
He really didn’t like her tone of voice on that part. “Okay … what is it?”
“Several things, all conjecture, but worth considering. First, the cryo-bay where the survivors were … terminated.” She looked around the space; Jackson and Pixton were elsewhere. “It was very near the bay in which Pvt. Jackson’s daughter lies.” Dann’s eyes opened wide at that, and he found himself looking around as well. Rose continued, “Further, Lt. Cobb appears to be trying to avoid interacting with Rose Dawn. He doesn’t know the extent of the audio pickups spaced around the ship, or we feel it likely he wouldn’t be talking out loud to himself—unless his mental state has deteriorated further than we think it has.”
“What is wrong with him? Why has he cracked up so bad? He was just a bit irritable when we saw him last, and it wasn’t that long ago!”
“There are some … unique … circumstances in the lieutenant’s past that may be contributing to his current state.”
“What circumstances? Don’t you have access to all of our files?”