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​》Daria Jane Fulton, born Kraemer, PhD, communication department, orphaned, adopted by Michael and Susanne Fulton.《 Jason stared at the lines before his eyes. 

“Her natural parents died?” He turned to the Admiral. “Yes. During the suppression signal emission. They were too close to one of their emitters when it was turned on. Field density was too strong, and it killed them.” Franziska said in a low voice. Apparently Jason had not known, and his suspicions concerning Daria’s involvement were somewhat validated. She felt sorry for him. Julio had been lead from the interrogation room, but was still in custody to prevent any information from leaking to the public. 

“She’s a linker!” Tears shot to Jason’s eyes. All of his world began to crumble, although hurt and mad at Daria for sending the two women to their quarters fin, he still loved her. 

All the time he had hoped that his suspicions were wrong, that once he had brought forth his observations they would be dismissed. Some secret mission she was on to help the Orion population. 

Anything.

Something. 

Crushed hopes weighed down on him. 

Sobbing, he let his head sink to the table. “It isn’t confirmed, after all, she is still doing well although the suppression signal is on.” The Admiral tried to comfort him with little effect.

“Don’t you think that they hadn’t adapted?” Jason rose his head, wiped away his tears. “It is not that difficult to create a checksum based communication protocol, immune to suppressing signals. All the signal does is limiting the linkers ability to communicate, but they themselves are probably fine. One or two will sacrifice themselves for the rest of them, maybe a few more, but the majority will remain hidden.”

Ophelia and Oleson exchanged a look, then nodded. “You know an awful lot about them.” The Governor edged a little away from Jason. “I know nothing. But we implemented similar systems throughout the fleet, in order to prevent any external, or unauthorised internal, influence from hacking, or disrupting our systems.” 

All present looked to Harald Rüttli, who nodded in agreement with Jason’s words. “Checksums were always part of computer communication, but it got strengthened, and improved. He is right. They have taken our own measures and used them against us. Probably.” 

Jason stared blankly in the distance. “In addition, they probably had devised a means of shortrange communication, allowing them to communicate freely with one another, without the aid of the nodes previously installed throughout the ships. On Orion one is monitoring the frequencies, they could install and use the nodes, so they wouldn’t have to stay relatively close to one another for communication.” He reached for the tablet with Daria’s file on display. 

Moments later he had the information about the D.E.Human chips on screen. “I estimate, based on this data, that they have a range limit of three to four meters, probably less.” Intentionally pushing his sadness and anger away with the technological topics to occupy his mind, Jason stared into the tablet. 

“We still have to scan you, you know?” Lieutenant Oleson put his hand on the tablet, covering the screen. If a gaze could kill, Jason would’ve committed murder that instant. “I know. But I have to do this.” 

Putting her hand on the Lieutenant’s arm in a calming manner Franziska slightly shook her head. “You can continue this line of work, if it helps you get over this hard time, but now,” she got up and reached for his hand. “you have to get scanned.” 
My father had a heart attack, my girlfriend of many years is a D.E.Human, and I’m in a tube to have my brain scanned for a chip. Staring at the ceiling of the tube Jason ground his teeth. Oh, and I might have quite successfully made a baby, or two, with a woman on a ship, whom I will never see again in my life time. That ought to make an uplifting story to tell the kids. Or to be discovered in my journal. “You’re clean.” 

Not that he had doubted it, Jason couldn’t help but feel relieved. After all, Daria could’ve given him an implant somewhen during their endless nights, both on Explorer and Orion. As he got up from the bed that had transported him into the tube Lieutenant Oleson handed him his own tablet and glasses. “Sorry for the inconvenience. But I had to be rude.” 

“No apology needed. You’re doing your duty, and I need to do mine.” He immediately began working as he left the room. 
Worried Franziska watched the security footage of Daria in her cell. She seemed frightened, always trying to get close to the guards. But even if they were linked too, the suppression field blocked their communication. Slowly she seemed to succumb to isolation, although she wasn’t isolated. 

“How is she, Admiral?”

“Not as good as I’ve hoped, Governor.” Franziska greeted Ophelia, who in turn took place next to her, staring at the screen. 

“They don’t seem so menacing, do they?” Ashamed Governor Mbuntu had to shake her head. “I’m guessing that she had the others in her head all her life after we shut the nodes down, now she doesn’t.” Although Daria’s adoptive parents were clean, Franziska suspected that other children, other grow ups, disconnected at the time of the suppression signal, had kept close to Daria. 

“Time is almost up.” Ophelia noted, she wore her glasses, had a countdown running for only a few more minutes until the suppression signal was turned off again. 

It reached zero. Almost immediately a cry of anguish came from Daria’s cell. “She senses the blockade gone but no one is contacting her.” Ophelia leaned closer to the screen. Gently shaking her head Franziska agreed. Assuming that no one would do so either she felt pity for the young woman. If anyone did contact her, they would run the risk of being exposed too.

“Will she lose her mind?” Ophelia turned around to the Admiral. 

“Maybe. I’m talking to her.” Leaving the surveillance room with the Admiral, Ophelia had doubts about the success or outcomes of that endeavour. 

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