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.


Consultant's Fee

"Bio-domesticate Consultant? Isn't that one of those pretentious titles for dog trainer?" I asked, handing his card back. I have enough of those from official channels as it is, all cluttering up my data console.

He shrugged. "Even if you do have a rather talented chimp trainer aboard, he couldn't possibly have time to run these dock workers and train domestics at the same time. You must pay top allotment to have so many well trained chimps handling the luggage."

I wasn't sure, but I think there was a question hidden in there. "The luggage handlers are the environmental inspection team. They just like tossing luggage around."

Doug had that look on his face. The look people used to get when I told them Curious was in charge, and they should go complain to him.

"Misty," I said to my head enviro-tech. I also used chimp sign, and Doug turned to look. "Please find Mr. Blatt a guide for the day, and see if Callie has time for a visit in my office. I'll invite Paula, then take her to lunch when we're done."

Misty made one of those faces which is probably humor, but might be irritation. It's hard to tell with chimps. "I will assist," she signed. "Callie will want to give her thoughts to this man. You are letting Paula speak?"

I nodded, and Misty turned to round up Callie. It must have been the right answer.

"I don't recognize those signs," Doug said. "What's her vocabulary?"

"What?" I asked with genuine confusion.

"Vocabulary," Doug repeated. "How many words does she know?"

I hesitated for a second, and then shrugged.

"It must be a couple of hundred at least," Doug said. "What did she say?"

I sighed. "Mr. Blatt..."


"Doug," I said. "I know a few dozen hand signs, but only because Misty sat on me until I promised to study. She is at least as intelligent as I am, and, if recent evidence proves out, more intelligent than you."

"If she was that smart, you wouldn't have had to use sign," Doug said calmly.

"That's true," I said. "But I wanted to compare your last name to the sound of gas escaping from an elastic bag, and it's funnier in chimp sign."

"That's a new twist," Doug said. "But it's still an old joke." He didn't appear insulted at all.

I gestured towards a chair, and he took a seat.

"You're serious?" Doug asked.


Doug leaned back in his chair and said softly. "I'll be."

After a moment I asked, "Be what?"

"Hum?" Doug said, drifting into focus. "I'm not sure. I have a cranky old chimp who does tricks if you catch him in a good mood, a ship which needs retirement, and a subsistence trust fund. I've picked up some tech skills knocking around in Ida, but..." He shrugged.

"We have a large population of chimpanzees here," I said. "A couple of them can grow your ship back into shape in a few months."


"Where have you been for the past year?"

"Studying the gravitational tides in asteroid clusters 78K17 and 78T02. Did that for about 18 months, then headed out here as soon as I heard the OSA had fallen apart and the Martian Republic was becoming... less than republic."

"Why would a dog trainer be studying gravity?" I asked.

Doug shrugged. "I was looking for a natural gravity lens, and Backspin is a lovely little space-station where a man can live well on a small income."

"Gravity lens," I muttered.

"Yeah," Doug said. "They're suppose to cause weird effects, like large objects orbiting smaller ones, and stuff like that."

"Yeah," I said. "I think we should talk about this later. I'll bring Eddie, and Rick if he's not out ice-hopping. This discussion requires alcohol, and I have work to do first."

Doug laughed.

Callie showed up, asked him a few dozen questions about chimpanzees, and then hired him to help run her office. Paula scheduled him for a symbiont in two weeks, and the chimpanzees made rude noises at him until he laughed and apologized for ignoring them when he first arrived.

Yesterday, when Eddie showed me the file on the latest 'interesting arrival,' I was sure the pampered rich kid would be a waste of oxy. I totally lost the bet.


Sub Station

"I don't want to move my ship," I said. "I visit on a regular basis."

"We need those docks," Governor Kelly Grace Smith said. "We are pushing capacity as it is, and your ship is occupying valuable real estate."

"I don't want to move it," I muttered, feeling about eight years old.

"You need a bigger suite?" She asked. "Or I can get you a workshop. The old technician shop in your section won't be in use for some time. You can have that."

"Pipster just had five spiky little kittens which might make useful diplomats." I said.

"And Pipster likes the ship," Kelly said. "Sorry, but that only gets you two months. It also gives you plenty of time to get started on a design for our new Submind lash-up hub. I believe that is what you call them. A 'lash-up hub'?"

"Yeah," I said, considering the possibilities.

A lash-up is, of course, any spinning object to which you can anchor your ship and provide a bit of centrifugal weight. A lash-up hub is designed for the purpose, often providing services such as oxy and hydro to go with the spin. Some lash-up hubs are rated higher than their affiliate space stations.

I was so lost in the dream of a lash-up grown from scratch, grown by Submind and custom designed to provide maximum comfort, that I didn't hear what Kelly was saying for many seconds.

"Or we can call it a 'Suburb,'" Kelly said, giggling.

"How about Sub Station?" I asked. "Our Submind Sub Stations make the best Suburbs this side of Ceres."

Kelly grinned. "Three months, and I expect to be impressed." Then she took my elbow and led me to the door, where, you guessed it, she pressed her very orange lips to my forehead before shoving me out of her office. Some of that stuff she wears gets brighter if you rub it, so I was afraid to touch my forehead until I reached a cleansing station.

It didn't occur to me until later that I had agreed to manage a project, and it was a really big one. Kelly has that scatter-brained act down cold. I know it's not true, and she still lulled me into compliance. You have to respect that kind of talent.


Transparent Sanity

Vincent K. Selmon stopped by my office a few days ago. His new vac-suit was ready and he invited me along for the virgin flight.

"Why not," I said, looking at Rhonda behind him. His daughter was in an obvious sulk and clearly about to unleash her strongest disapproval. "Or you could take Rhonda."

Vincent laughed and Rhonda turned into a smoking volcano. I could feel the pending explosion from the other side of my desk.

"Rhonda refused to get a symbiont until I was ready to be on my own," Vincent said.

"Oh," I said. I figured there was no way I would get out of this one unbloodied, so I went for it. "You're not ready then? To be on your own I mean."

Vincent laughed again. Rhonda turned to ice. I was impressed.

"I'm 63 years old, and until a few weeks ago I expected that to be about it." Vincent said. "Now I have this symbiont and the space vehicle of my dreams, and no one is stopping me without use of force."

"Then let's party," I said. "I'll call Eddie and Rick, and Curious... maybe Kevin. We don't want too many. We'll get an early start tomorrow, and hop a ride on that new ice-clump Rick noticed orbiting below us."

"I won't sleep a bit," Vincent said happily.

Rhonda glared at her father for a minute, and then turn on me abruptly. "The sanity is getting a bit thin around here, Dee. I can see through it."

"Not true," I said. "Everyone here went crazy years ago. Anything normal is just force of habit."

Vincent chuckled and stood up. "Doc's lab. Eight sharp."

"See you there."

Rhonda's temperature returned to a nice mid-range, but her smile was a little scary. She took a breath and filled the room with her tiny person. "Thank you."

Which was not what I was expecting. "My pleasure. I need to get away for some zero relativity, and this is a good excuse."

"Right. I'll ask you what that means later," Rhonda said, and left.

I'm still trying to absorb the vac-suit Kevin was wearing. It looks like a grip loader, complete with mag cables, only with two legs and two arms. I suppose it makes sense for an ex-cyborg.

Vincent's suit is a giant beetle. I'm not surprised. I was impressed by the ion wings though. They unfold from underneath the carapace and spread out for meters. I had trouble keeping up with him once he got the hang of it.


Imaginary Math

"Why would I care about fake numbers? I asked Joe.

"Not fake," he said. "Not fake. Imaginary. Imaginary numbers."

"Sorry," I said. "Sheesh." What did I care about the square root of negative one?

"Normally I would sooner tell you to bugger off than ask for anything, but Kim reminded me how you brought us together--and for some reason she thinks you have a sense of humor."

"Thank you?" I asked.

"We're having a Brain Eater family get together tonight. Kim says to stop by and watch me eat the first bite of ceremonial brain-food cake. It looks like you."

"Gee thanks," I muttered. I need to pay more attention to what I say about people. Kim read one of my boring personal logs about Joe, and was so intrigued with my description that she tracked him down and started sleeping with him.

''So you'll stop by? It's chocolate fudge."

"Uh... I don't know. It's a bit creepy, " I said. "And there's the thing where we don't like each other."

"Your loss," Joe said. "I need to know where those drives came from. I found some data. It's not complete, but I if can tie into the original q-link, I might...."

"There's only one drive, Joe, and why should I tell you anything? I got you the drive, and you won't even let me have a super-node."

"Tell me and we'll talk about a super-node," Joe said.

"It would be nice to start dumping data on the Relativity tests I've been running."

"Fine. Please just tell me where they came from before you disappear for another week."

"One of the old Jupiter bases. There's a whole nest of crazies around Jupiter, and every one of them owns a base-station or hydro-ship or something."

Joe snapped his fingers. "I've got a couple of cousins living over there. I'll bet they can help us track down the q-link."

"The q-link fell into Jupiter. The drive was reset to n-link on Jupiter Station Seven before they shipped it."

"But there's data in there. It can't be null."

I shrugged. "How'd you get it online? Has to be null before you can link to the local quanta."

"I.... I tuned it in I guess," Joe said. "I felt for the connection and..." He stopped.

"You activated your symbiont and grabbed hold of an imaginary number," I said.

"I was explaining that part when you started to play dumb," Joe said. "But yeah, if you want to get metaphorical."

"It's the only way I do math," I said. "Was that before or after you officially linked it to the local quanta?"


I looked at him for a minute and then shrugged. "You're the math wiz. You must have tapped into something."

"Yeah," he said thoughtfully. "Thanks."

"No problem," I muttered. I almost asked why they called it an 'imaginary' number, and not something like 'impossible' number, but he would have had to answer it instead of leaving.


Reasonable Expectations

"Why are you pacing away my new Submind enhanced moss carpet and muttering about unreasonable expectations," Paula asked me. She was standing in my way.

I laughed. "My Nana was prone to full blown rants. She would go on about 'unreasonable expectations' until someone caught her taking a breath and asked her a question. It had to be a question. She used to say that questions switched her brain back on."

I shrugged. "She always ended a rant by saying something like, 'Reasonable is never reasonable to everyone.'"

Paula nodded and said, "The first mistake starts with two people and the application of reason. Even if total consensus is achieved, there are two sets of rules in operation. The rules may look the same, and sound the same, but that doesn't mean they understand each other."

"What?" I said.

She smiled. "That's what my aunt Penny used to say about unreasonable expectations."

"Ah." I said. "The infamous Aunt Penny. The forth pee I believe."

"Stop it," Paula said. "Do you want to talk about it, or should I start growing some more carpet?"

"I'd rather pace, if it's all the same to you. I didn't enjoy my grandmother's rants."

"Right," Paula said. "That was a rhetorical question, but I can see I'll have to create a pacing area for you. For now, get out of the apartment. There's a mature installation of this carpet in the feline park. If you have to pace, please go there."

"Really? You mean the feline park for our section?"

"Yes," Paula said with exasperation. "All of them."

"When can I come back?" I asked.

She walked over to the door and held it open. I'm fairly certain I was oblivious to an entire level of social dynamic, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

"Right," I said. "I'll comm you."

The park is nice. If you like cats. It wasn't long before Curious joined me, and I suspect Paula held the door for him as well. We had a drink at the Dizzy Pig and then were allowed to come home as long as we didn't pace, swing, make too much noise, or otherwise disturb the new growth in any way. Clearly defined and, I suppose, reasonable expectations.