Terence was truly grateful that Alissa hadn’t tried to engage him in any kind of conversation, apparently only speaking with Mom, playing with her dead pet ferret, that apparently liked… as much as anything dead could like something… the lack of gravity.
Mom had explained she was speaking privately with her and that their conversation need not concern him. He couldn’t make himself feel reassured.
He’d been startled by the lack of gravity, since the moon had its own lightness and he hadn’t realized that the shuttles maintained the ‘normal’ pull of the planet. Agador had given him some files but apologized for not having access to the full galactic database; at least not until they could get out of the planetary code sphere and up to where he’d established.
“That code sphere where I first swallowed you?”
“That was when I came awake, yes, Terence.”
“How is it that the Station never noticed?”
“The Station was in the process of being shut down, and despite the protocols for keeping you under observation… things were a little more neglected than they should be.”
“You mean I wasn’t enough to keep Station in tip top shape.”
“Well, it should have had a full complement of Techs to do more than cursory maintenance.”
“So, Mom… can you show me the Station?”
“Yes, Terence.” An image popped up before his face and he smiled as he recognized Station, even though he’d been annoyed as a crumpled page at it before he left. He realized that it was Prime not the code entity named… Then he frowned and leaned in. “Can you magnify Station please?” They were still a full day out, drifting along steadily, stealthily toward the moon.
*Expanding.* The comfortable, buried, down-at-the-heel Station was gone. In its place a whole new facility gleamed, in coloured ice, or glass or something… probably coloured ice. It looked like a madman’s fantasy of a towering castle drawn up against the stark contrast of ice and black space, the white inferno of the sun striking it to eye-searing splendor. The ice all around it was also coloured in a specific sign.
“Chishiki Corporation: “What I Hold, I Keep” Terence read the letters out as if he couldn’t credit his own comprehension.
*There is a message waiting, coded to a ‘CEO Walingtun’* Agador said.
*Don’t touch it!* Terence exclaimed, unnecessarily. *Oh my sacred textbooks…* “Oh, my faking pen…” he whispered. “Those sparks all around… orbiting the moon… are all military shuttles, aren’t they?”
“Affirmative,” Mom said quietly. “We need to be very, very quiet mice here. I have no wish to be like anything like Eight.”
*Eight and 'Go Bang'* Alissa said in code. *I don't want to go into code yet, either, even though my parents are both there.*
In code, the system was a gigantic, shimmering snowflake, studded with decorative spikes and security dragons frozen in place. The fancy dressings on the code and the welcome mats all arrayed to impress, did nothing to hide the fact that they were dangerous. *Agador,* Terry whispered, a faint, tiny breathe of code, with Alissa an even fainter waif nearby, watching. *Can you even find our code bubble?*
*Searching. I am certain I will find it, Terence*
*Oh, I sincerely hope so, or we are in such deep red ink. This isn’t just the regular courier -- my buddy Siva -- coming through.*