Airomem finished speaking as she completed a hand drawing on the board on the wall behind her, depicting the ship before and after the Hand of God. The other members of the room squinted at it, trying to absorb all the information that had come their way, except for Vaca who was staring into the speckled stars outside the window.
Hannah, Elliot, Disci, and myself sat on the same side of the table as him, accompanied by Ruth, who had refused to leave her parents side since their imprisonment. But despite her young age, even she had been far more attentive than Vaca, her eyes following Airomem with each description and her forehead wrinkling at some of the more difficult parts of the story.
We’d decided to keep Vaca on the council, not for his opinion, but to keep him from stirring trouble in other areas of the ship. There were those who would follow him, those that still believed that he was the rightful chief. And though they were no longer the vast majority, keeping him in leadership kept them satisfied, and acted as a safegaurd against mutiny.
“So let me get this straight,” Said Elliot, gesturing at the drawings, “Prior to the Hand of God, the ship was one piece. We knew that, and we can agree upon that. Then, the Hand of God struck, and the ship broke apart, and we lost much of what the ship used to be able to do. We also knew that.
“But what you’re stating is that we originally lost much more- that we were in total darkness, that we lost all the heat, and that there were no heavy rooms but instead extremely light rooms. All because there is a room full of poison that gave us these things, which was damaged in the Hand of God, and now can kill us instead. How can something kill us and give us life at the same time?”
“Think of it this way,” Said Airomem, “When you plant seeds, you do not eat the dirt and compost that you plant them in- that’s poisonous to you. However, your food comes from that soil. The power room, the poison room, is like that.”
“That follows,” I said, remembering how I had learned about plants drawing pieces of soil into themselves to grow, “But what about how your side keeps us alive now?”
“After the asteroid,” she said, tapping her foot, “We were able to give you back some of the capabilities of the ship through wires. Without them, you would have died long ago. And we’ve taken special care to keep these wires alive, to keep you alive.”
“I’m sorry, but this all sounds a bit ridiculous,” Said Elliott, spreading his hands and taking a step back from the table, “We’ve just met you, and now you claim that you’ve been caring for us our entire life, in addition to our ancestors. And after what happened to Segni, I can’t help but be suspicious, even if you story does hold some merit.”
“I thought you might say that,” Said Airomem, and pulled out the black rectangle from her belt and flicking it on as Elliot flinched back, “See this? This is called a stun gun. This blue light here, this spark, is what keeps you and the ship alive inside the wires. It’s complicated, but you’re going to have to believe me.”
“Can you open up some of the wires and show us then?” Asked Disci, as we leaned forward.
“No, it’s very dangerous. More dangerous than the stun gun itself without the proper tools.” She said, then saw Elliot’s suspicion returning, “But wait, I can do something!”
Then she walked over to the window and gave three blue flashes, and her hands started weaving signals again as Elliot cocked his head.
“She can talk with her hands,” I explained to the group, “The other side of the ship is concerned for her safety, so they are constantly watching for her to appear in the windows and receive messages from her. From what I understand, at this distance they can only convey simple messages and at a slower rate than typical.”
“Wow!” Said Ruth from the table, “Can you teach me that? I want to learn to talk to them too!”
“Of course, if we have time, though only a few on the other end of the ship know how to converse,” Said Airomem, “Now, is everyone ready?”
“Ready for what?” I asked, at the same time as Elliot.
“For proof that we’ve kept you alive.”
“I just don’t think you have any way to adequately prove it.” Said Elliott, waving a dismissive hand,“There’s no way-”
But then, Airomem flicked her wrist to give one final signal, and Elliot’s mouth shut with an audible clicking of teeth.
Above, the lights shut off, pitching the room into instant darkness. Vaca shrieked as the legs of his chair left the floor and he started floating upwards, along with the rest of us, each pinwheeling our arms to keep from turning upside down. To my right, the vent that had been spewing warm air suddenly ceased to work, cutting its breeze as suddenly as the lights had been extinguished.
Then, a two second after it began, it was over. The lights snapped back on as we clattered to the ground, the chairs nearly rocking over and air flowing through the vent again. Disci’s face had turned a pale white, Vaca’s eyes were wide with accusation, and Ruth’s expression was filled with wonder. Elliot’s hands shook as he smoothed his shirt, and Airomem cleared her throat as she waited for him to speak.
“Yes, erm, well, that will do Airomem,” He said, his voice slightly higher than usual, “You’ve made your point. Go on.”