Done for @ModernBabaYaga, this letter is Part 1 of an ongoing Character Letter series re: The Wayfarer books by Becky Chambers. The series will feature characters from the first two books, primarily focusing on Rosemary and Sidra (although others will show up from time to time).
If you’ve read this series (and if you haven’t, you should; it’s excellent), you know that Rosemary and Sidra only meet for a few minutes at the end of The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. They never connect again, and there’s a very good (and heartbreaking) reason for that.
Here, Sidra’s curiosity has gotten the better of her and she’s reached out. It’s taken Rosemary some time to organize her thoughts, but now she’s ready to see where this goes…
Item Date: 37/308
From: Rosemary Harper (path: 9874-457-28)
To: Sidra (path: 8952-684-63)
Subject: Re: Hello
It’s great to hear from you, and I apologize for the delay in responding. Every time our ship punches into the sublayer, displacement floods through my entire body…and realizing yesterday that I’d allowed one tenday to somehow morph into three without messaging you back felt a bit like that. I just…I wanted to have Jenks’s blessing. I hope that makes sense. Last night, after several cups of mek and half the sugarsnaps Kizzy had on hand—I have no idea where she was storing them—I finally collected enough chemical courage to ask him.
Please understand – we, all of us, know that you aren’t Lovey. You couldn’t possibly have known that those corrupted files contained her memories. While I obviously can’t claim to comprehend what it’s like to be an AI, I’m incredibly familiar with how it feels to be Rosemary Harper, certified Clerk and Swirling Anxious Mess. Had I been in your situation, forced to make a critical decision without time or any information or even perception of what was occurring around me, my “programming” would’ve instinctively chosen what appeared to be the safest option. Like you did.
It’s been over a standard since…well, since, and Jenks has remained mostly silent. But he did tell me and Kizzy that in the final seconds of her life, Lovey was aware that they’d be attempting the hard reset, and she urged them to try. No one blames you for what happened. I appreciate you reaching out. I’m a curious person, too.
Is ’”person” the correct term? Pepper and I chatted earlier this week, and she mentioned that your body (“Kit”? She seemed to think you prefer “body” these days) was programmed with “sense memories” prior to you…downloading yourself? I’m sorry; I’m probably getting the terminology wrong. In any event, Pepper says that to her eyes, you’ve become something that isn’t quite an AI, but also isn’t human. I’ve been wondering if you agree.
Congratulations on a successful Home opening! I’m thrilled for you and Owl. Kizzy’s not quite ready to visit yet, but once she walks in, you’ll need a disgruntled ketling or two to drag her out–three if fire shrimp’s on the menu. I’m still a novice in this area, but if I understood correctly, your consciousness is now split between your body, the AI framework in the walls, and several petbots? And one of the bots is a dragon? I’ve always wanted a pet, but my father wouldn’t allow it. Do you think Pepper would be willing to buy a second one and send it to me? I’d love to do something similar here if Tycho (that’s our AI) agrees. I’d reimburse Pepper for the credits, of course. Tell her that I checked with Sissix, and she’s on board with the idea.
Bizarre that your tattoo-artist friend is an Aeluon named Tak—not long after I joined the Wayfarer, we hosted Pei (that’s Ashby’s partner) and her crew for a while. She’s a cargo runner. Someone had secretly rigged her ship with mines, which Kizzy discovered by accident while she was fixing the life support system. That was a hell of a Tuesday. Anyway, Pei had been travelling with a small crew of her own, including two soldiers—and one was an Aeluon named Tak! You said that Blue claims he knows a dozen Taks? That must be horribly confusing. But I’m assuming yours still has both their eyes.
Our next job is almost a tenday out, but we’re being compensated well (I should know; when the payment gets bottlenecked, guess who’s expected to fight with the receptionists?), so we’ve temporarily slowed our speed, drifting afloat more than chugging along. Kizzy and Jenks are happy because without the usual demands placed on the engine, they’re able to tinker with all the Minor Stuff That Will Inevitably Become Major Problems If Not Attended To Soon. Corbin’s a smidge less miserable because our leisurely pace means less pressure on his precious algae. Sissix is pleased that Corbin’s now only scowling once an hour, as opposed to every 12 minutes. And a less-stressed Sissix results in a happier ME.
Sometimes I lie in this bunk and remember what life was like back in Florence, before my father’s arrest. Before I met these beautiful weirdos. If I were an Aandrisk, there’s no question who my feather family would be. They accepted me from my first day forward, and I’m grateful. And I hope it’s not arrogant to believe that in some way, my presence here has rubbed off on them too.
You didn’t have time (or occasion) to meet us. But you scanned the personnel files, so you remember that we have a crew member named Ohan. He was a Sianat Pair, though he’s currently a Solitary. If you haven’t personally encountered a Pair (trust me, you’d remember), you can read about them on the Linkings. He wasn’t the most social crew member – I don’t think any of us truly knew him at all, to be honest. He spent most of his waking hours staring out the window, mentally tracing patterns we couldn’t see and listening to whispers we couldn’t hear. But over the past standard, he’s really emerged. He joins us for dinner most evenings now (which delights Dr. Chef more than I can describe), and he’s begun to join our conversations unprompted. Last week, Jenks and Kizzy decided they’d hold a Battle Wizards tournament after dessert, and Ohan asked if he could play a bard! He’d read about lutes, and thought it might be fun to experience that for an evening.
I was walking over to the snack counter for more of Dr. Chef’s spice bread when I heard that, and I practically FELL OVER. It was one of the strangest, most breathtaking moments I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve spent several days on Hashkath with a substantially-inebriated Sissix!
I’ve only visited Port Coriol once so far, but I remember being fascinated by the energy there. Seems like a natural place to build a bar. You must have some stories, and I’d love to hear them.
Your new friend,
Item Date: 37/308
From: Sissix Seshkethet (path: 789-045-26)
To: Sidra (path: 8952-684-63), Rosemary Harper (path: 9874-457-28)
Subject: No encryption? Well, don’t mind if I do.
Rosemary – You neglected to mention that you sprung the pet dragon idea on me when I was half-asleep and hadn’t warmed up enough to think properly. I still would’ve said yes—because pet dragon—but you definitely timed your moment. You’re lucky that you’re so charming! Also, you’re already telling Sidra about *that* Hashkath trip? My my. Maybe I’m the one influencing YOU!
Sidra –It sounds like things are going really well for you! Rosie shared your message with me—well, technically, I read it while she was in the shower and that apparently counts as “private” to a human for some reason—and although we’re strangers at the moment, we’re…also not. I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished. I’ve thought about you over the past standard, wondered what happened to you after you left our ship. There were times when I was really tempted to ask Pepper for your node identifier, and…well, I trust you understand why I couldn’t. But I’m getting there.
Post: “Like a star?” What an appropriate name you’ve chosen!
Want to see everything I’ve created in the same place? Because you can do that!