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.


Family Outing

"I can't believe you put those things in my parents' ship--in the sleep chamber no less," I said. "It's embarrassing."

Paula looked around the room in puzzlement.

I pointed at the glow vine in the closest corner.

Paula giggled. "My perfumed glow vines are only installed by special order. Would you like to know..."

"Forget I mentioned it," I said, glaring at it suspiciously. If I let Paula get started, she wouldn't let up for hours.

"What are we waiting for?" My dad said from the corridor.

"I don't know. Are you done messing around with the old gear?"

"A true technician knows..."

"That unstowed gear is death waiting to happen," I finished. "Thanks, Dad. It's usually policy to wait until new gear checks out first, but now that you've cheated death, we are done waiting. Let's go."

"Where's Vicky?"

"Mom is suiting up with governor Smith," I said. "She said goodbye, which you acknowledged, and she left. That was almost half an hour ago."

"Oh. I guess we better go."

"You seem nervous or something," I said. "You already have a symbiont. Is there something you don't like about the vac-suit, Dad?"


"You know Mom isn't going to wait. She's been calling Paula five or six times a day to find out when her suit would be ready. It's first flight. It'll be fun."

"I haven't... I never liked first flight," my dad said. "The way new suits smell inside. The way you have to relearn the touch; learn to fly right. I takes me weeks to get the hang of these new heads-up displays..."

I started laughing.


"Dad. It's your suit. Submind designed it for you. They took your measure in the med vat, and I don't just mean size, Dad. It's the suit Trenton Jackson always wanted. Trust me. That's why Mom is so excited."

"What do you mean?"

"You'll get it. Just put on the vac-suit, and you'll get it."


Divine Math

Professor McClain entered the station at 15:17 hours. I was almost caught up with the data. I had maybe one and a half reports to check over and authorize, and maybe a few meetings to schedule, and then I could take a day off. Professor McClain met Fife Tiberman in customs at 15:23 hours, about 50 meters from my office door. As soon as I heard the argument, I knew my free day was a shrinking hope.

"You must stop this madness," Professor McClain said. "We need to leave. Now."

"What are you talking about, Rudy? I like working here. I have my own place--with three whole rooms, including a hygiene closet."

"You need to get away from these people before it's too late. They'll take away your robots and stick an alien in your head. We have to go now--before they find me."

"You're in customs," I said, walking up behind him. "Not a very good hiding place."

Rudy spun around and looked at me in terror. I don't usually inspire that look, so I pulled back my shirt collar to show him my symbiont. Some people think my sense of humor is broken.

Rudy started jumping around and shouting nonsense.

I looked at Fife. He gave me a small smile and shrugged.

I raised my voice above Rudy's sing-song and asked, "Pointing, rude gestures, and stomping dances are a common event around here, but what's with the gibberish?"

"It's latin," Fife said. "Something about Legion, or the Belly of the Beast. I think old Rudy is trying to preform an exorcism."

I started laughing. I had to lean on the wall. When I saw Rudy's face, I laughed even harder. Just as I was catching my breath, Fife tapped Rudy on the shoulder.

"It's fine Rudy. I got one too," he said. "See? It's harmless."

Rudy took one look, screamed, and tried to run for it. I say 'tried' because he ran into the wall at full speed and knocked himself senseless. It was too much. I collapsed prone on the ground and didn't stop laughing until my vision went dark from improper breathing.

Fife was wringing his hands when I came up for air. "He gets these ideas... let's just say his obsessions can be useful, but I don't think this is one of those times. I need his help on a new project."

I stood up, watching four of Fife's spider bots attend to Rudy. "What are you doing with the bots?"

"They did a basic medical scan and adjusted his position for easier care and comfort."

"You don't have a control unit... that wand you had..."

"The medical scan was automatic. Wouldn't be much use otherwise. I need Rudy here to help with the lower level decision functions. He did his Master's thesis on the mathematics of the Divine. Other than that, he's brilliant."

"You know I hate that joke, Tee Man," Rudy said. "Is that really you, or did the alien eat your memories?"

"Yes, Rudy. This is me, and the alien DID eat my memories."

"Why did I come here?" Rudy moaned, pressing his hand to a rapidly growing lump on his forehead. "Why didn't I listen to mom? No one bothers monks. Especially not in some empty stretch of low grade nickel rocks on the back side of the Belt. Why am I always chasing after some school chum and praying the latest project won't be an offense to God?"

"We give you interesting problems," Fife said. "Buddy is here."

Rudy moaned louder.

"I'm serious. He's been out at Frost River, growing silicon in an organic matrix."

Rudy sat up.

Fife held out a hand and one of his mechanical spiders leapt into it.

"Whoa," I said, taking half a step back.

Fife held it out, and Rudy stood up to look at it. The back of the spider opened, and Fife pointed at a glob of dirt. "That silicon node contains a self-programming processor. It has simple learning and memory functions, as well as puzzle solving abilities. We need your help turning my survival routines, damage avoidance and such, into something closer to instinct. We want to grow it into the matrix."

"I'm going to hell," Rudy said, reaching for the bot.

I shrugged and went back to my office. Maybe Rudy couldn't save himself, but I could save my free day.


Northern Lights

Joe walked into my office and said, "We need you at the northern hub lock. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes."


"As soon as possible," Joe added.

"I have a meeting in half an hour," I said. "But I would tell you to spin off even if it weren't true, so spin off."

Joe handed me a folded paper napkin.

I unfolded it to see a glowing purple kiss. It had be from Governor Kelly, but I wasn't sure if she intended it as a threat or a serious proxy for her grandmotherly affection. Probably both, now that I think about it.

"Great," I muttered. "What does she want?"

"She wants you to come with me to the northern hub lock."

"Fine," I said, slapping the open napkin against his forehead so the lip stain made it stick. "I'll go suit up and meet you there."

Joe made a satisfying gasp of terror and plucked it off to examine the smeared stain with widened eyes. "You freak. This stuff takes days to wear off."

"Yeah," I said. I called Sandra and asked her to take my appointments, then I headed for Custom's main airlock and my vac-suit.

I rode my ion thrusters toward station-north, flying under the rails and tangent tracks. I tuned in the northern access beacon and found a small group of people holding position a few degrees down from hub center. The pink vac-suit with the strange devices all over it was Paula, so naturally I took position next to her.

"Hey," I said. "Where's Kelly?"

"Observation deck. Where's Joe?"

"Washing his forehead."

Paula giggled. "You're not a very nice person, Ape Man."

"I love that I don't have to explain things for you," I said. "Do you know what she wants?"

"Your opinion, most likely. I'm sure it can wait until after the show."

"What show?"

Paula swept her arms in a gesture indicating the entire station.

I looked closer. There was something growing on the station hull--kilometers of it. "I didn't see that. I flew right past that stuff. How long has...."

I shut up because it was glowing, and growing brighter at a rate which would have been alarming in anything mechanical. Would you believe a sign? Bio-luminescent? Kilometers large?

"I don't believe it," I said, barely breathing. "It says 'Fort Falling.' How did you...

"You did this," I said, pointing at Paula. "This is so... so.... We need to go inside where I can hug you. Really hard."

Paula laughed and burned her suit thrusters all the way to the airlock.