LOST COLONY CH. 07-5

 Geographic overlay

 List data

He touched “Geographic overlay.”

Sparr watched in wonder as the display transformed, replacing the text menu with a radiantly colorful map of Kaybe. Seas, continents, islands, forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes appeared in intricate detail. What he was seeing wasn’t the remote scans the Alliance had shown during the months of preparation for the mission. The Odysseus itself had taken these images from orbit.

The controls were unfamiliar to Sparr, relics of technology hundreds of years old. Only after trial and error could he figure out the basics of navigating across the map, zooming in, and exploring locations. The map was sprinkled with dots. Most were unmarked, but a few were labeled with icons or short names. By consulting the map legend, Sparr identified towns, fabrication sites, mines, and other places of interest. He dug at his memories, trying to match what he had seen from orbit with the map at his fingers. After several frustrating minutes of inspection he located first Shong, then Santi. Horn Island lay just to the north, unnamed, but with a symbol confirming it to be a mine.

He would continue his journey to Santi. On the map, the town was marked by a red triangle which, according to the legend, indicated a fabrication site. As astounding as it was to find a functioning colonist-era mine, it was of little use to him. He couldn’t build anything here, just stockpile ingots that to his knowledge were useless. Worse, he had no idea how long he would be safe. The point of planting rocks outside the facility door, and of using the landslide against the military drone, was to make it appear that natural events had destroyed it. But the service drone was a different matter. Bogg had blocked it from exiting the facility, but Sparr had to acknowledge the possibility that it had sent a distress call, possibly containing his photo, to whoever had sent it. And in either event, whoever he or she was, they might investigate regardless. He couldn’t risk staying any longer than necessary.

***

“You Alain?”

Sparr and Bogg stood on the spit, watching the skiff approach through the unpredictable surf. Beyond, a heavy barge wallowed, stacks of crates lashed to its flat deck. It was from the barge that the skiff had been sent.

“Yes,” Sparr said. “Jance told you to look for me here?”

“Not Jance, but word got out.” A man and a woman worked the skiff. He rowed, while she eyed Sparr suspiciously, her hand resting on a wicked blade at her side. “We’re headed to Santi.”

“You have room for us?”

“Yeah,” she said, sizing him up. The little skiff tossed in the waves, just off the beach. “Ten tokens.”

“Five is fair,” Sparr countered. “You’re not even a day out.”

They settled on seven. Later, Sparr and Bogg huddled under a leather tarp, trying to avoid a stinging rain. Before them, Santi began to emerge from the mist.

Sparr reflected on what he had learned on Horn Island. With some experimentation with the control panel, he had been able to shut down production, listening with satisfaction as the mechanical sounds subsided. He had disabled the lights and ventilation, leaving the facility, and Horn Island itself, quiet. Sparr grabbed several of the ingots and departed the facility, doing his best to seal the door behind him. The Precipice should be pleased, and with what he had learned from the map he hoped to find a fabrication site in Santi.

But it was the other piece of data in the drone’s memory that troubled him. The data cluster called ‘List data’ had contained three files. The first, labeled ‘Track’, contained the names of the Odysseus crew, starting with Captain Fowler and ending with the most junior technicians. The second, labeled ‘Whitelist’, held only two names: Kevin Happner, and Calista Brandt.

Before Sparr opened the file labeled ‘Contain’ he already knew that it would hold but a single name.

Alain Sparr.

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