by Caitlyn Konze -
Your mother is mad. Your father is false. Your soul is tainted. Her father lied to her about her mother's death. If one was true, what of the other claims? Her father had rescued her mother's body from the void of space. Enough time without oxygen could have left her mother alive but brain damaged. Dozens of scenarios, explanations, and questions saturated Anjelika's mind. A headache began to pulse in her temples. She spoke again to the hacker before her. “Search the names referenced in the feed, including the poster.”
Glass bent over the interface pad. Three faces appeared in the monitors: Darl Meerstein, Zauto Pulk, and Marget Seam. Each displayed their current status under their spinning silhouette. DECEASED.
“Darl's wife got a sizable settlement and still resides here. The other two have no surviving relatives.”
Goosebumps pinched Anjelika's skin. Could it be bizarre coincidence? Life expectancy was halved outside the bulwark of bureaucracy. Maybe these laborers just got unlucky.
“Search the roster of the Hekate, not including my father.”
Three more portfolios. Three more dead. It felt like a balloon expanding in Anjelika's chest until she reminded herself to breathe and the sensation faded.
Pushing her spectacles up the bridge of her nose, Glass whispered “I don't like this, Anjelika.”
“One more. The death record for Jeleen Loynis.”
There was some mumbling about moving camp, but Anjelika's friend continued to fiddle with the pad. The monitor wall flickered.
“I'm getting some resistance. The document could be locked.”
“Are death records usually locked?”
Glass's eyebrows met the rims of her glasses. “Not for this long.” She plucked the cord from her lap, inserting the flat end in the right side of the interface pad and the round end on the left.
Half of her mouth curled in a lopsided grin. “My skeleton key.”
Before Anjelika could inquire further, the screens trembled again. All but the center monitor turned off, creating the sense that the room's shadows were animals, claws stretching toward the two girls. Glass's jaw sunk low. Anjelika followed her gaze to the contents of the screen. “No. That...that can't be right. You have the wrong document. Search again.”
Swallowing so hard Anjelika heard her throat bounce, Glass replied, “There was only one hull breach and one person spaced on this date. According to the postmortem exam, the body your father's ship recovered was male.”