Colonel Becker checks in with Mitch and the computer systems officer at the computer core. They explain that the program affecting the main computer appears to be a copy of an AI, unable to achieve “that spark” without residing on specialty hardware – which was always the barrier to a breakthrough. The rogue software was isolated and ready to be deleted, when suddenly a voice began broadcasting over the entire ship.
The Lieutenant confirms that the voice they’re hearing is coming form the system in Locker 17, which had re-connected to the ship. Becker and the voice have a brief exchange, in which Rasputin apologizes for the behaviors of its agent and describes that it had predicted the creation of the clans. Its last statement that “there is another” seemed strained, and was cut off – the signal from locker 17 discontinued. Shortly thereafter, a fire is reported at locker 17.
The party arrives to find the Cromwell cylinder completely bored out with thermite – its insides completely destroyed. Interrogating the marine who was on duty reveals that Sergeant Stimson was the prime suspect in the crime. They find him having voluntarily reported to the brig, and debate his punishment.
The following day, the ship is ready to jump to Jordan Wais and makes the hop. Upon arrival, they are surrounded by several dozen small warships and are hailed.
“Hello darlings,” drawls the man on the screen, “welcome home….”
Well, at least whether we can trust the AI is now a moot question.
Damn that man! While I can understand why he did it, we really did need that AI. And if that was what Kerensky was talking about, we might well have lost the best chance to beat back these clans, these remains of Kerensky’s Exodus.
Considering what we met on Persephone 2, we needed that edge, and that rash action might actually have lost us the war. Not to mention the support of Kerensky and her people.
The last thing the AI said before it was destroyed was “there is another”. Another what? Another AI? Another matter it needed to tell us? It could be anything, really, but maybe, just maybe, there is another AI out there that we can track down, hidden away in some forgotten vault. Yeah, right.
As for what I should do with gunnery sergeant Stimson, well, I am not sure. Not execution; he should have been kept under observation for a few more days, at least, but he wanted to go back to work, and since I thought activity might take his thoughts away from chief Fagan, I let him.
I cannot, however, trust him now. Meaning the solution would probably be to drop him off somewhere, kick him off the ship. Of course, it won’t solve anything, and might in fact complicate things in the long run. Leaving behind a former crew member who might carry a grudge, who has information that could be used against us, it will most likely come back to bite us in the ass at some point.
Of course, letting him go is not an option, so the only other alternative I can see is keeping him locked up on the ship.
And tomorrow, we’ll jump into an inhabited system. Considering the word of our return should be out by now, I am half expecting a welcoming committee, of one kind or another. I just hope we won’t have to fight our way through.