This is the public log of DeeDee 'dzyjak' Jackson, a fictional character. DeeDee lives and works aboard a space station which orbits Saturn, and sometimes he writes about it.


Flow Control

Now that I am Customs and Immigration, I can keep anyone or anything I want off of the station. I also hired four chimpanzees to help with luggage inspection. It feels good to exercise a little power sometimes.

"Hey," a man shouted. "Get away from that. Scat!"

One Track, Kelly's enviro-tech and one of my luggage inspectors, was curling his lips at a red-faced, over-weight merchant. The merchant was trying to grab a small ship-bag while trying to remain out of reach of the chimpanzee holding it. It was very funny.

"Who is responsible for this animal?" the man shouted. "Is there a Customs agent nearby?"

I started laughing out loud. My laughter offended the man so much I almost passed out from laughing too hard.

"Control this animal," he shouted at me.

Through my laughter, I pointed vaguely behind him at the other three chimps. They had developed an interest in the rest of his luggage. This guy was obviously not from one of the troopships.

One of the launch workers who knew what she was doing had noticed and came over to untangle us.

"Can I help you?" She asked.

The merchant turned to her and thrust out his forefinger. "Get rid of these animals." Then he pointed at me and said, "And arrest this man for endangering the public."

The woman looked at me and raised her eyebrows. She knew who I was. Everyone did. I looked at her name tag.

"In a moment, agent Quinn."

"Yes, sir." She said with a brief smile and a nod.

"What's your name, applicant?" I asked the bug-eyed merchant.

"Sam," he said a bit numbly. "Sam Tellerwell."

"What's in the bag, Sam?"

"Who are you?" He asked.

"DeeDee Jackson," I said in my best noir voice. "But most call me Dizzy Jack. At the moment, I am Customs and Immigration. So are those chimps rifling through your luggage. Are you trying to hide something from us, Sam."

"Hell," He said. "Take the damn chocolate then. Just like all custom agents. I can't stop you."

"Chocolate?" I asked. "Chocolate?"

"Earth chocolate," Sam said quietly.

I looked at One Track, and he gestured something about Kelly (I'm still a bit shaky on the hand signs) before waving a half eaten but carefully rewrapped chocolate bar.

This could be good. "A man who can get Earth chocolate must have serious connections."

"Yeah," Sam said cautiously.

"One Track here wants some chocolate for a friend of his, but sometimes he has trouble focusing on more than one goal," I said suggestively. "If you were to 'donate' one or two bars, there's no reason you couldn't share the credit. Kelly is our acting governor--until we have a chance to hold an election."

"Kelly Grace Smith? The writer?"

I nodded.

"Governor?" Sam said, his voice going from excited fan to pure businessman in less than a heartbeat.

I nodded again.

"Can I meet her?"

I gestured. Sam looked at the chimpanzee and nodded. Then he held out his hand and introduced himself to One Track. Sam Tellerwell is going to fit right in.

I turned to Quinn and said, "See if you can find Mr. Tellerwell a merchant's suite with on-site storage and demo facilities."

"Yes, sir." The look in her eyes suggested Sam would be joyfully donating chocolate to more than one cause.

In other news, the Martian Republic has decided to withdraw from the Outer System Alliance. They put Mars Metro under martial law and are denying all traffic except to and from the planet. Many of those people came from here not so long ago, and we aren't happy about this. The OSA is now an unstable collection of twelve city-states centered around the remaining metros--and probably better off without Mars anyway.

Ceres Metro and seven other belt metro-stations have allied with Jupiter System. Wendy has officially requested 'OSA Diplomatic Headquarters' here on Fort Falling. She asked nicely, so what could I do? I set her up in a multi-family suite with Ben and Sarah.


Herding Cats

It started in Doc's control room. Eddie gave me the data-unit, and Paula put a medallion around my neck and gave me a less then professional kiss.

"Diplomat? Representative? I don't believe you people," I said. "It's Submind. Right? Are you sure an alien virus is a good judge of these things?"

Eddie was laughing, but Paula's body pressing against mine distracted me from any possibility of further comment.

"We need someone to herd cats," Paula whispered into my ear.

"Herd cats?" I asked.

Curious laughed at that one, and made shooing motions with his hands. Doc, a.k.a. Submind, seemed to think it was funny too.

"An appropriate metaphor," Kelly said. "And you have proven yourself capable of rounding them up, at least, if not exactly herding them."

"I don't remember anyone saying anything about hundreds of cats wanting to become citizens of Metro Falling," I said.

"Just think how much easier this will be," Counter-Spin Rick said.

I seem to have found myself in charge of Customs and Immigration. Not a problem. Bonus oxygen even--I can be an angry jerk all day long and no one will dare complain. I also have a feeling Curious is going to love helping people with their luggage.

"Fine," I said, "But it's temporary.... And don't expect me to be thankful."


Foreign Dissidents

Wendy is here. She held position outside Fort Falling for three days before we let her lash to the station. She has requested an audience with our 'Head of State.' We've been trying to decide if this means the OSA has acknowledged our independence, or if they just want their troopships back.

I tried to convince Eddie that Curious would make a good Head of State until Doc tells us who is in charge, but he managed to veto the idea before he started laughing too hard. We have leadership--Eddie being a prime example--but we've been doing everything by mutual agreement. I'm not sure we actually have an official government. I didn't consider it at all strange until new citizens started to ask questions.

Six of those new citizens are from Titan station. They were rescued by Counter-Spin a few weeks ago, and spent some time in med-vats recovering from low-gee attrition. Apparently they are Wendy's sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces--plus another mated couple who are friends of the family. I've never seen a family which liked to argue so much.

Wendy actually threatened to have Ben arrested for endangering the children. No one bothered to point out we didn't have time to waste on such business if Sarah and the girls were on Ben's side. They just kept arguing. This argument in no way stopped Wendy and Sarah from ganging up on Ben for other reasons.

Ben put up with complaints he couldn't fix for about ten minutes, then, to my surprise, he said softly, "Be silent. All of you."

I was even more surprised when all four powered down instantly.

"Wendy," he said. "We will not be leaving Fort Falling. The girls have made new friends, and Sarah and I can do real work here. We've already applied for biotech implants."

"Biotech?" Wendy asked. "Implant? Are you crazy?" Then she looked at me and asked, "Is everyone here insane? Those things are eating your brains."


When I didn't say anything else--because unlike the sane people, I'm not fond of argument--she turned back to Ben and declared, "I will not let you get away with this. I won't let you infect my nieces with those things."

That's about when one niece joined the argument while the other one started to cry hysterically. I didn't hang around to see how it turned out, but I suspect it will be a couple of days before Wendy remembers she is here to speak with someone in charge.


Gone Fishing

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" I asked Curious, putting Rat Bane's carrier down next to the small fish pond.

Curious shrugged and released the latch on the cat carrier. When I say "latch" and "carrier", I am most definitely not trying to describe a giant watermelon with feet and an exposed rib-cage.

Rat Bane didn't want to come out.

"Why do we have to use Rat Bane for these eco-tests?" I whined. "It takes him a week to become civilized again."

Curious laughed at me and knocked on top of the cage. To be fair, Rat Bane gets into the cage voluntarily. He expected rats though, and he couldn't smell any. Curious knocked on the cage again.

"That's not going to work," I said. "Look, he's never seen a fish before. The hatcheries don't like cats hanging around the open tanks. I don't know why. Sane cats won't get wet when rats are more convenient."

Curious reached out to shake something onto the water. Thumb-sized fish started leaping into the air. Rat Bane had one on the shore and was watching it flop before I was certain he had left the cage.

I should have known. Haven't I said we are all insane?

"You always have to be right," I muttered. Curious patted me on the back and grinned wider--chimpanzees can grin really wide.

Rat Bane tossed the fish experimentally twice, then he crunched happily into it's head. I could hear him purring from my position of relative safety ten feet away.

"Paula," I called across the park. "What kind of fish are these?"

I heard a muffled reply and a data-unit came sailing through the air. She's a bit cranky from the new symbiote, but I have to admit, she's a really good shot.

"Thank you," I shouted, rubbing the back of my head.

I'll spare you all from my attempt to explain the genetics and call them giant guppies. Judging from Bane's reaction, the station cats are going to love them.


Memories of Thought

I had a conversation with Submind. Doc was there too. I asked Submind how it remembers anything when it hasn't been truly sentient in millions of years.

"We are the Thoughts of the Submind."

This appeared to be the only answer I was going to get from Submind. Doc giggled, which was proof enough it was Doc, and asked me a question.

"What are you thinking right now?" she asked me.

"I... That maybe that's a stupid question."

"And you base that answer on a history of questions you have encountered? Things you remember?"

"Yeah," I said. "I get it. How about I think that's a slippery answer if you want to know what I think."

Doc giggled. Then Submind joined her. I've never heard Doc laugh like that, so it must have been Submind. I still don't know what was so funny.

"We are the memories," Submind said. "We live them and become thought."

"How do you pass on your memories?" I asked. "I mean, assuming 'virus' isn't a total misnomer, there is a life cycle of some kind. Are those symbiotes and vac-suits instinctive or what? What does it mean when you say 'achieve sentience'?"

Apparently the word 'instinctive' is just as funny as 'slippery', because that's about when they starting laughing again.

"Eating is instinctive, Dizzy, but cooking is not."

"My point exactly," I said. "How do you remember cooking after generations of never doing it?"

There was an odd shift in Doc's eyes, and they narrowed at me. It was laser interest in my direction--Submind being the laser.

"You are misguided in your questioning. We are the thoughts. Memories simply are. We have encountered many sentients, but only we are the thoughts. Sentience is an explaination for our awareness of your kind. This awareness triggers a memory set, a personality meme, which is most likely to be compatible."

Lasers can blind a person.

"So you don't know?" I asked.

They started to giggle again. Doc shook her head and said, "Memories of thought, and thoughts of memory; and forward both directions."

"Either way you're drunk," I said, giving Counter-Spin's favorite punch line. It left them laughing.


Captain Canine

Dogs are fine. Other people's dogs are other people's problem. I have no problem with dogs. Arrogant troopship captains with dogs are another matter.

"Your dog," I told him. "You clean up after him."

"I have a meeting to attend, and someone needs to take Comet for a walk," Miller said, holding out the leash.

"Or better yet," I continued as if I hadn't heard. "Train him to use the canine auto-facilities in the nearest park."

He continued to hold out the leash. I was sure Captain Miller understood I wasn't his aide or the local dog walker. I was also fairly certain he had no illusions about our first meeting, but the man seemed determined to push my buttons.

"I'm an unpleasant, sadistic jerk," I said. "Why do you keep calling me?"

He blinked at me a couple of times, then dropped his hand to his side and grinned. "I hadn't thought about it, but I suspect it's because you are the only sane person I've met here."

"That was an accident," I said. I had no idea what he was talking about.

He knew that too.

"You left me hanging in the hydro-park for two hours--with no gravity--guarded by a trained chimpanzee," he said, still grinning.

I nodded politely and wondered if he was the type to hide his revenge behind a grin.

He shook his head. "I thought you folks were going to take my ship. I floated there for two hours thinking about it. I don't like loosing ships."

"We don't need any more ships," I said with a frown. "Especially those monstrosities. I want to puke just thinking about the first two days of initial thrust... What, two Gees, two and a half?"

"One point eight," he said. "What I'm trying to say is you treated me like I expected to be treated. Even when you came back to assign me rooms instead of a cell. And you treated Curious like... like you hadn't noticed he was a chimpanzee."

"We're friends," I said. "And it used to make people crazy."

He nodded. "I didn't understand you had no intention of confiscating my ship until Kelly stopped by to invite me over for dinner," Miller said. "Wonderful person. I don't know why the Martian Republic cares about it. So, Kelly thought I was joking when I asked about it. It hadn't even occurred to her."

"And all of this makes me sane?" I asked him.

He laughed.

"Half sane," he said. "Everything else was so strange... Those slush-bomb... Vines everywhere... I was wandering alone through a half-ruined space station, wearing enemy atmo-gear, and no one seemed to care. You were the most normal encounter I'd had since arriving in Saturn System."

"I'm still not going to walk your dog."

He laughed again.

"I'm going to be low on time for a few days, and Comet chews when he is bored. I suspected if I annoyed you properly, you'd come up with a good suggestion. The hydro-park has canine care facilities? I'll look into it. Thank you."

"Yeah," I muttered, not sure if I was irritated or amused by the captain's tactics.

He reached down and rubbed the back of Comet's head. Comet's tail thumped against the deck a couple of times.

"Do you think Comet could get one of those bio-suits like Curious?" Captain Miller asked.

"Probably," I said. "All three of my insane cats have one. Many of the station cats have them. And most of the chimpanzees have one.... Well, the symbiote anyway."

"You have cats?"


The captain nodded. "Then we won't talk about pets."

So maybe he's not a prick. And the arrogance could be breeding.