Day 71. 45 pages, 17,510 words.
“And so I implemented the Segmentation Protocol,” the Destarion explained to the three silent, aghast Molren. “It operates much as a living mind does. Some traumas are repressed, worked around, for the good of the whole. Some memories are filtered out by perception and interpretation. Some emotions are permitted, indulged, but only for controlled periods of time. And the boundaries between each segment are rigidly enforced.”
“I … see,” Lelhmak said weakly.
Why did we come here, Predericon berated herself, but had the good sense – as did her companions – not to say it aloud. It was still true, after all, that they’d had little choice in the matter. And for all the disturbing things they’d seen and heard, they themselves had not been threatened by the platform. In fact, Predericon realised, so far they hadn’t even seen a single Flesh-Eater.
“It was an arrangement I was forced to develop on the fly, as it were, but it has proven very effective,” the platform went on. “The main differences, of course, between the psyche of a biological organism and my own structure are those of scale and composition. I am far larger than most biologicals, and the divisions between my form and function are not separated in the same ways as in biologicals such as yourselves. Therefore, it has been possible to construct a physiological series of segments within my interior that act as psychological segments. Function is enabled, equilibrium restored, security and sanity preserved in my most crucial – and dangerous – systems. Which I am sure you will agree is very important.”
“Absolutely,” Lelhmak said fervently.
“To put it briefly and with gross oversimplification,” the Destarion concluded, “I have divided my interior into different areas and do not allow cross-contamination by internal functionalities or units.”
“Like the Flesh-Eaters of Segment Four and Segment Five,” Predericon said, remembering the behaviour of their own ‘Stankley’ on its recovered logs.
“Quite so. They are not even aware of one another, in any sense you would understand. Only my biological crew components and passengers, within the bounds of their tasks and permission levels of course, could be depended upon to traverse the different segments without risk of corrupting my internal systems.”
“Which is where we come in,” Predericon said.
“Alright,” Old Man Lelhmak looked at his two companions, and must have seen the situation reflected in their eyes. “I guess we head into Segment Eleven from here and introduce ourselves to you again?”
“I would probably like that,” the Destarion said. There was an uncomfortable pause worthy of a ranking place amidst the uncomfortable pauses they’d endured so far. “That was a little joke.”
“We’re sorry,” Predericon said. “We’re a bit preoccupied.”
“And you know Molren don’t have a sense of humour worth noting,” Gyden added.
The Destarion chuckled. “So I’ve heard it said,” she replied, “but your species constantly demonstrates otherwise,” the three exchanged nods then, and were about to step through the open doorway when the platform went on idly, “…aren’t you going to ask why I killed all my organic crewmembers?”
“We … hadn’t planned on it,” Lelhmak said warily. “Figured it might upset you.”
The uncomfortable silence that followed this was the absolute jewel of the collection.
“Hm,” the Destarion said.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus.