Shifting Cargo: Deleted Scene

Checking left and right, he spotted her in the control room, dropping into a seat. He dashed forward and dropped into the seat next to her.

“Leaving so soon?”

She turned to him and glared. “Are you kidding? I thought that was all you needed, the timeline. Please tell me you don’t need any more.”

Her exasperation calmed him some, and a small smile stretched his lips. “No, I don’t need any more. You just seemed in a rush.”

She looked back to what she was doing. “Damn straight, I’m in a rush. We need to get off this fucking planet, STAT!”

“Um, it might be too late for that,” Angus said.

“What?!” Ellie said, her hands freezing over the controls. She glared up at the speaker. “What did you do?” Her voice sent chills down his spine. She sounded like she was ready to eviscerate someone.

“Earlier, Zee had recommended that I attempt to crack the encryption on location transmissions…”

“And?” Ellie drawled, her entire body seeming to draw out the word.

“I may have been detected.”

“What the fuck, Angus!” She turned and glared at Zee.

“What did I do?” he said, putting his hands up in the air as if in surrender.

She pointed a single finger at him. “You put him up to this. He doesn’t need any encouragement to do something stupid.”

Zee paused, unsure how to respond. He’d never heard anyone claim an AI had done something stupid before. Cold and calculating? Sure. Unethical? Yes. Stupid? No. AIs were beyond biological intelligence. They could learn things at phenomenal rates and process information at speeds unfathomable for biological systems. They weren’t stupid. “Uh,” he started, but couldn’t seem to finish whatever sentence that was meant to be.

“Don’t even start,” she said, looking resigned as she turned back to the controls.

Zee silently sighed in relief.

The screen before them lit up with information. All of it was in a foreign language, so he couldn’t read it, but he recognized flight checks when he saw them. Some of the ships he’d been on in the past had been little more than shuttles, and he’d been able to watch the main display while strapped into his seat for takeoff.

Angus disrupted the silence that had grown between them by clearing his throat. “Um…”

Ellie sighed, her head tilting to the ceiling. “What is it now, Angus?”

“We may need to accelerate out launch further. Would you like me to take over?”

“What?” she said, her body going stiff beside him.

He couldn’t blame her. He tensed as well, his gaze automatically going to the view outside, searching for threats. Had they been detected? Angus had said he might have been detected. Had they traced his signal back here?

Silence reigned for a moment, showing yet another of Angus’s more biological traits. He acted almost hesitant to speak. “I am detecting irregular movement in the trees. I believe we have been found.”

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