The two sides have divided Rabbah. They began taking hostages just yesterday. I think this will be my last transmission.

Chloe took Abbas back. She and Suharto and Guo came and dragged him out of the water filtration area while we changed filters. She grabbed me and held my arms behind me while they hit him across the skull, knocking him out and causing who knows what kind of brain damage, and dragged him out of the room. Chloe threw me against a wall. I did not black out, but I wish that I had. My jaw has a lump in it almost as big as my fist.

In retaliation, Rusul and Fletcher grabbed Ghadir from the common room while she was trying to plan our meal schedules.

Dagon and Suharto grabbed Vivien at some point during the day; then Payam and Haven nabbed Ihsan, while Rusul and Fletcher grabbed Bulus; and Chloe and Guo grabbed Natsuki. Yvain gave himself up to the anti-unionizers. I have holed myself up in the computer room to write this last communication. I doubt, after all the violence, I will have access to this room again.

We have managed to clean all the dead plants – some of them had survived, amazingly, and we relished every morsel of the strawberries and tiny new lettuce leaves. Over fresh food, Natsuki and Ihsan and I had talked about how we would negotiate this civil war that has been brewing for so long. Natsuki believed we would have to choose sides at some point, but none of us could foresee that we would be forced to choose like this.

The octopuses floated dead into our bay as well. They were discolored and mottled in ways they shouldn’t have been. Vivien thought they had been floating in the still water and bloating, like dead bodies apparently do (I have never seen a dead body other than Vahan, and then not for long), but it could also have been radiation.

I am trying to decide if I regret anything about this voyage. I am sorry, so sorry for the failure, but I would not have made a choice to stay on Earth if I were invited. But I no longer think that we can walk away from our training, or enforced social contracts, so easily. I wanted us to, I had so hoped that we could. Maybe we do deserve to die, because we couldn’t get past our anger at Earth and just survive long enough to create a new way of life.

They are banging on the door. I don’t know who they are, but none of us will be alive for much longer, no matter what Kailash says. I do not regret that I never gave in.  


Everything has been sabotaged.

The bivalves outside of Rabbah have been destroyed, released to the hungry mouths of the octopuses, which are also beginning to show signs of weakness from the radiation. Our kelp and seaweed were found shredded and spread across the rest of our garden, soaking salt into the soil and weighing down the delicate greenery. Lettuce strewn across the floor, dead fish and the tubes full of eggs scattered everywhere. Water and slime spread sickly reeking across the floor.

Our attempt to recycle filters for printer material was also smashed. The resin and carbon were in a chunky, melted heap on the floor and the printer ripped, as best I can describe it, in three places.

The air is thick with the stench of bodies and the weight of carbon dioxide. I have not crawled back into the vent system yet, but I can only imagine the rancid soup of dying algae rusting through the metal into spaces below – leeching holes to allow Europa’s oceans, slowly, to reclaim Rabbah.

The city of waters it shall be, indeed.

What remains untouched? Only what our demented saboteur assumed we would need – the remaining unused filters, the nutritional loaf stores, and the computer. Perhaps they allowed the octopuses to live because they can use them as a bargaining tool? We still have the ability to mine the water, but we can’t until the company shows a serious investment in our future. Something like that.

Kailash, Rusul, and Fletcher were furious. They locked all of us, even Haven and Budur, in the common room for a full day while they wrote long missives to their military cronies on Earth, trying to figure out what to do. Yuda and Guo eventually showed us how to crawl through the air filtration system to get out of the common room, and we escaped to our respective rooms only choking a little on the salty, rotting fog.

I don’t know if those three men care. It has been several days, and Durada, Ihsan, and I have already spent most of our time in plain sight, cleaning. I haven’t seen many of the rest of the group. I think Yuda and Bulus are focusing on filter changes, although it seems useless now without anything producing oxygen. We’re just recycling the same particles in and out of our lungs. I’ve developed a wheezing cough that rattles right next to my heart, and I imagine a layer of black dust collecting in the bottom of my lungs, soaking up moisture from my body and oozing up the sides, coating each bronchial branch with a little more tar each day.

I can guess who the lead saboteur is, but I don’t know how many of the other unionizers were involved, and why they thought this might work. Vivien and Abbas were for certain not part of it. Chloe had to be the ringleader. Yuda has less interest in the movement lately than Guo, but they are rarely apart so I am not sure. I can’t imagine Samira or Cyril getting their hands dirty – they’ve made pretty speeches about the responsibility of the upper classes to the lower classes and how that’s failed, but it seems to me that Chloe and whoever else helped her are violating that social obligation just as badly as the Hou CEOs of Breathe Easy.

I still have not told anyone about the communication we received from Breathe Easy, and I suppose that Kailash has not either. Why should he, when he can maintain a semblance of control this way, as though everything were going according to his group’s plan?

I sneak in and read the communications back and forth with the military officers. They are getting more violent in each exchange. Some recommend tying us up and blindfolding us. Some think we should be drugged until a solution has been reached with Breathe Easy. Some think we should be beaten, or outright killed, because no solution is forthcoming. Some gently think we should go to trial back on Earth for our continued bad behavior, because Earth would certainly sentence us to death or asteroid mining – as though we were not de facto sentenced outside of a court to a hard life/death far away from civilization anyway.

Being part of civilization has never done anything for me. That’s why I genuinely wanted to leave it.

It seems as though we have, for now, been set free while Kailash, Rusul, and Fletcher decide what sort of punishment we should receive. They seem to lump those of us who are neutral – who just want to work – in with the unionizers. I guess if we aren’t with them, then we must be against them.  And now someone has destroyed the only thing keeping us neutral, and that was our chance at survival.

We have a month or two in food stores, but I’m sure we have less than that before our air and water filters completely go. Then we’ll find out if we have a few days of air, or if we’ll die of dehydration first. I read once that you can live for between 2 and 5 days before you die of dehydration, while it takes weeks to die of starvation. I suppose in a strange way I’m glad for the quicker death.

I will have to ask Ihsan if we have any poisonous plants left in the garden. I’m not sure about an overdose of coffee senna.


I hardly focused this week on my necessary duties – the garden has become self-sufficient for now, Bulus and Ihsan are back changing air filters instead of Suharto – and instead spent many late nights digging through Kailash’s communications with Earth. He has not spoken much with his previous correspondents, but I reread many of the messages, fitting them into the pattern Yvain suggested. I had Yvain join me, and he nodded along with the recommendations, but after a few days begged off the task. It was too much like his previous life, he said.

But finally, after four weeks, a message from Breathe Easy has arrived. They received our water, but the organic pollutants throughout make it harder and harder to filter. I wanted to scream at the screen that of course we have more organic pollutants – we have introduced fish and octopuses and shellfish and kelp and seaweed to the water when there was no other life on the planet, as we were instructed to do. Eight octopuses died in the water, and Breathe Easy could have easily seen it coming. We have known since before the revolution that Europa’s waters were exposed to radiation from space, so of course our animals would be susceptible and die. And of course their bodies would taint the water.

Although we completed our mission, we have been denied more supplies. Between that and the recent troubles with union talk, we are a liability and they said that the men must put us in order before they would send anything more. They might send us our own material for a filtration system, but they would not send us anything else to keep our colony running. If we were not mostly on our own by this point, they said, then we would have to be a financial loss.

Our lives are a financial loss.

Our conflicts are our own fault.

I waited through the night for Kailash to come into the computer room. He was surprised to see me, eyes squinting, stopping in his tracks.

I told him about the message. He sat heavily on a crate.

“Why,” was all he could manage, after several minutes.

“Because we’re a group of convicts who couldn’t see our common cause and killed ourselves,” I replied.

He stared up at me for a long time. “Do you really think we are dead?”

I shrugged. “We could probably manage on food, but the air, the water … our filters are not enough.”

“We can make new filters …”

“No, we have no more printer material. We’ve melted down some old filters but it just doesn’t print properly. We have the next round lined up to be printed today, and then we’ll run out of air in a few weeks.”

Kailash nodded. He saw his own vision of the future spread out before him, eyes dancing across the scene in his head, then he pushed me out of the way. “I can explain this to them,” he said. “Cleaning up after us, for the next round of colonists, is also an expensive prospect.”

“Our water is too dirty,” I said. “I don’t know if they want the Europan oceans anymore.”

But Kailash was already tapping away at the console, composing his plea for silk and carbon fibers so his life would be spared. Praying to his false idols. Failing to rely on his instincts. Maybe he thought the recent take-over by the small group of anti-unionists would be enough to convince Breathe Easy to save us, as though an elite minority would be able to control the majority here, with nothing to offer.

I decided I had to break the news to the group, but I have not yet as of this writing. Kailash won’t – he’ll hold out until we hear from them again, and I can’t imagine that we will.

Sometimes, while I sit at this console, I imagine myself walking out of the airlock and swimming through Europa’s frigid waters and screaming into the black. 


They have barely healed, it has only been a week, and already the anti-unionizers have attempted another takeover. They played it smart this time, as well – their numbers would not have allowed them to fight hand-to-hand, or weapon-to-weapon, so they came up with a plan.

It was breakfast, Ghadir served us another seafood stew with strips of dried kelp – she had managed to somewhat dry them, so they were sticky like fruit candy – and we were all eating together, a rarity as many of us had reset our sleep schedules to avoid each other. But it was a potential transmission day, a day we might hear from Breathe Easy, which we haven’t for two months now. Some held out hope that we could see a mysterious supply ship, since we sent the barrels back. I am surprised that neither Vivien nor I were detained or beaten by Chloe and Zariah and Suharto for our deviance, but perhaps it was because there was potential for explosive violence with the anti-union group.

I ate slowly, watching hands as they raised utensils to check stitches and check for shaking. I cannot look most of these people in the eye anymore, so I watch their hands. Hands can show intention as much as shifting eyes and the chewed corners of mouths.

But I saw no hand twitches, no fingers writhing for knives. Instead, Kailash stood and wiped his mouth, then Fletcher took one last swig of his soup, and Rusul chewed a sliver of kelp and nonchalantly stood. Budur quickly left the room, and Haven started clearing bowls.

And they all left. Zariah and Chloe looked at each other, slurped the rest of their soup and stood, but it was too late. They moved too slowly, and the door to the common room slammed shut. Scraping sounds from behind suggested they moved crates full of scrap in front of the door.

Kailash’s voice boomed through: “We are taking Rabbah. This nonsense about unionizing has to stop. We must all work for our common cause – survival. Agree and we will let you out.”

Zariah, Suharto, and Chloe all looked at each other. Yvain moved to stand behind me, ready to strike anyone who came too close.

“There’s more of us,” Chloe said.

“I agree,” Zariah said, then more quietly, “But we could agree to their terms and fight back later.”

“We did not believe in the Declaration of Incorporated Personhood,” Suharto said, “we don’t have to agree to this rhetoric, either.”

Guo clutched his broken wrist, bandaged and just regaining mobility. Yuda, who had not been in the initial fight, held him close.

“You are all still very hurt,” I said. “If you fight back, your stitches will burst. We don’t have any more antibiotics.”

Chloe scowled at me. “What happened to you, Aelis?”

I shrugged. “I only ever wanted to be away from Earth. These politics smack too much of Earth, to me.”

She chuckled.

Zariah looked at Suharto. “Shall I, or shall you?” Suharto gestured for Zariah to speak. She walked to the door and boomed, “Alright, you win. Let us out.”

Scraping, and eventually, the door opened. Rusul, Fletcher, Kailash, and Haven were all armed with knives. I looked at Yvain, but he did not return my gaze.

I checked Kailash’s communications that night, and one correspondent had recommended that he take hsotages. The correspondent said that in the military, they would send out armed drones to surround a village and keep any insurgents from leaving. An ancient and honored technique, the insurgents would starve, perhaps run out of water before food, and eventually surrender. Only a handful of times in any country’s numerous wars did insurgents allow their numbers, including civilians, to starve.

Hunger is a powerful force.

They let us out, followed us with knives. Kailash handed me the duty roster and I, who have never divided tasks before, told everyone their assignments. Those of us who were neutral were paired on tasks with the unionizers, forcing us into confined spaces and long days with an agitated group. Assigned partners were divided up for the long day. I had to work with Suharto, whose dark stare into the distance was almost audible. We replaced all the filters in the air system, and ensured the algae still belched oxygen.

I admit that I have grown to like working in the air filtration system. It is mindless work, repetitive, easy to teach. In the algae rooms, the air is fresh. Only the air sitting in the main rooms of Rabbah gets stale with our panting, angry breaths.

Suharto is not good at this task. He is one of the men who hardly performed manual labor on Earth. He stuck by Zariah as often as possible, riding on her computer expertise I’m sure. She might have crazy ideas, but she can handle circuitry with ease. I don’t remember seeing Suharto actually work on a crystal core, I only assumed he had been smart enough to pick up the basics and work hard. But he fumbled the filters and scraped his fingers many times. I was afraid I would have to stitch him up with whatever thread was lying around, and with no antibiotics, I couldn’t guarantee that he would survive.

Perhaps that wasn’t such a bad thing, I thought. But I pushed the thought away – after Vahan, no one deserved to die. Suharto would not have chosen to send Vahan to his death if he had known. At least the unionizers have an abstract appreciation for life, even if they don’t understand that their actions could cause death in a more personal sense. I pushed that thought away, too, and shoved Suharto to the side to fix the mess he began making with the filter.

We hauled the filters into a storage room to scrape the collected dust off, and hope we would find a good number to reuse. Fletcher and Bulus were organizing crates full of compost for Durada, adding older compost to newer batches so it would take on some of the active cultures. Fletcher gagged – he might be Ikin, but he had become unused to hard labor in the few months that he had been here. He sat with Rusul and Kailash and talked and swallowed painkillers.

My eyes grew hot and I looked away.

Suharto dropped his crate of filters with a loud thud, and Fletcher flinched, glaring daggers at the former army man. I walked between them to redirect their gaze, and scraped layers of black dust off the filter into the compost bin.

“They forced you to work with us, I see,” Suharto sneered at Fletcher, while scraping grime from a filter.

“That one isn’t worth salvaging,” I said loudly, “It looks as though it has been used a few times before. We should just replace it. Start a pile for recycling.” I pointed at the floor. Suharto tossed the filter to the floor, but did not take his eyes off Fletcher.

Fletcher smirked. “I am surprised that a Bakalov would abandon all his ideals for a tight pussy.”

I tensed to catch Suharto if he lunged, although I would probably only hurt myself, but he cackled instead. “You think that is why I want to separate from Earth? You haven’t been on the front lines of our pointless wars. I’ve killed people for ideals I barely understand. You, I’m surprised by – you’re told you’re not even human and you work in fields like animals, you’re fed like animals, penned and moved from place to place like animals, and yet you, an Ikin, think Breathe Easy is worth fighting for.”

Fletcher glared. “I worked to join that society. It is the best protection there is from insurgents and violent storms. When was the last time one of your cities was attacked by a hurricane, huh? Or a terrorist? The outlying Araboa territories are fraught with violence, from within and without, as armies try to get into your country to destroy it. Violent waves eat our shores, our homes, and even people. Coming from the Araboa, I am smarter than you caste people, but joining your society kept me alive. Working with Breathe Easy keeps me alive.”

“If neither of you work, none of us will be alive!” I snapped. Fletcher laughed. Suharto gave me a dirty look.

“Stab me in my sleep later, Suharto,” I said. “Finish cleaning these filters so we can breathe for now.”

Ten hours later, I stumbled into my room, and Yvain was already lying on the bed. I had not spent the night with him in a couple of weeks, and I stood exhausted in the door, unable to think but unable to give up on my reluctance to be with him.

He looked up at me when I entered. “What has kept you away, Aelis?”

“Suharto is a dull student,” I replied.

He shook his head and sat up to look at me straight on. “These last several weeks, you have been working instead of coming to bed. Something happened in your mind to keep you away. What is it?”

I couldn’t look at him. “What did I do to you?” he persisted.

My eyes were hot again, and dry. I blinked to clear the film beginning to cover my vision, sharpening the view to the gray floor. I finally said, “I am afraid of what you’ve taught the anti-unionizers. I am afraid of why they want this. This colony.”

He nodded. “I thought that might be it. You think I trained them to hurt. I did not.”

I finally looked at him.

“It’s true,” he said. “I had them run circles around the common room, and do push-ups, and lift crates and walk them back and forth. I had them meditate, and focus. But I did not teach them any combat moves. I did not encourage them to make weapons. That was Rusul’s idea, and Kailash researched it. They wanted to hurt, so they found a pattern to print knives. Haven smiled at Vahan and encouraged him to die for the cause. Budur would tremble and look delicate and Kailash would surge into action, when otherwise he was all words. They have all become homicidal together and I could not stop them. I tried to exhaust them, but I could not stop them.”

I looked deep into his eyes. They sagged with dark weights, from a long struggle. I chose to believe him and crawled into bed. His arms were comforting.


A fight broke out two nights ago. Blood still stains the halls. I hate myself for not foreseeing it.

I had fallen asleep without looking through Kailash’s missives to Earth, after working an extra shift in the garden to ensure our grapes and blackberries could twine over some ancient bits and pieces from the old computers before Zariah and Yuda gutted them. I said a trellis would be better, but we do not have the material to spare for printing an elaborate piece of equipment. And yet it is important to keep the vines from strangling our other plants, so we use the scrap we have.

I have been too tired and I did not see this coming. Yvain has been very tired as well, from his own physical exertion with the anti-union group, but I don’t know how he didn’t see their plan coming to fruition. Maybe he sympathizes with them more than I thought. Or maybe he is more on the side of the unionizers? It is so hard to know what anyone’s motives are, because they are not for survival alone.

And now our chances for survival are even lower. So many people were hurt in that fight, they will be loopy on our painkillers – draining the last of our medical supplies to the dregs – and they will be unable to work, I am sure of it. Ihsan stayed out of the fight this time, fortunately, and she and Bulus helped me stitch up the wounded. Actual stitches with sterile silk-carbon thread, too valuable to use on these shiftless, thankless people, but I sewed them back together anyway, against every nerve fiber that screamed for me to let them contract an alien infection and die.

We have a smattering of bandages and antivirals and vaccines, but everything else is gone. And Chloe, Guo, Dagon, Cyril, Samira, Suharto, Zariah, Kailash, Rusul, Fletcher, and Haven are all injured. Some have broken bones, and Ghadir thinks we may not have enough calcium in our diets for their bones to knit properly. She is concocting a slimy kelp soup to force down their throats, hopefully bolstering their immune responses and bone knitting cells. They are taking large doses of antibacterials as well, to keep them from getting sick on the water and air. On their separate sides of the colony, they gobble painkillers and laugh triumphantly. I don’t think either side won.

Vahan is gravely ill. He took part in the fight and lost a lot of blood, and I don’t know what to do for him. There are medications that can help his heart, he says, but they are expensive and he has not taken them in years, and Breathe Easy certainly would not send them our way, no matter how nicely we asked. His face is pale, and his hands shake. He lost a lot of blood, because a broken nose did not clot well enough and deep cuts on his arms and chest leeched the rest of what he had. At least one person brought a knife to the fight, and I wonder who it was.

Haven hasn’t bothered to visit her partner. I spent the whole day yesterday with him, and Yvain frequently stopped in to bring water or soup.

I don’t want Vahan to die, but I find myself imagining the day, and I feel the weight of worry lift and I’m confused. I like him, he is a refugee of a broken system just like I am, and there is no reason to wish for his demise. He is not a likely target for assassination, because he is not a ringleader for the anti-unionists – just a pawn in their self-immolating demonstration. So he will suffer to the end.

I asked him yesterday how he wanted to die. I have never had to ask anyone that before. The Gadhavi could only prescribe medication and recommend treatments, but it is the Senfte customer assistants that talk to patients about their death options. It is the Ikin that dispose of the bodies. It is Arany talk show hosts and self-help gurus whose ideologies inform the process of dying. It has never been my place to know anything about it, other than the fact that it will happen to me someday, and I will not likely be missed.

But it seemed important to ask, because Vahan is Bakalov, and stubborn and loyal. He clings to this idea of personal uselessness, which led directly to his slow and agonizing death from … I don’t know what. Infection or internal bleeding. Who can know.

“I feel like Cyril should lean over me and give me reasons for everything that’s happened to me before I go,” he said, half a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth.

“Do you want me to get him for you?” My voice held more of a knife’s edge than I intended, a knife that certainly was not for Vahan.

He coughed, which I think was an attempt at laughter. I offered him a glass with thick, foggy water, but he waved me away. “No, of course not, he wouldn’t come even if you asked. I don’t know how we can have a death ritual here, anyway. Maybe Kailash should give me my options?”

I shrugged, but I couldn’t let go of the anger forging in the hot pit of my stomach. I answered, “I don’t think Kailash or anyone should give you your death options. They used you. You should at least choose for yourself, in the end.”

“Bakalovs do not get to choose their way,” he said. He began coughing again.

“Think about it,” I answered.

He died this morning. Kailash forced Fletcher and Abbas to remove the body and dump it in a container in one of the least-used storage rooms until he could figure out what to do with it. Cyril muttered some words as the body passed by him in the hall, but he didn’t attempt to follow or intervene further. I can see why the Arany did not want him anymore.

I think the only thing keeping the peace is the physical damage each side inflicted on the other. Neither side is trained well enough in the art of restraint, Yvain thinks, but I would never suggest that most military men have no restraint and that is the problem. He’s the only one I ever met, and even he smuggled weapons until abuse and a discharge forced him to stop.

He has not been sleeping on the floor, but I have worked through the night to avoid sleeping in the same bed as him. The garden has become all-important to me. I harvest seaweed throughout the night, clean fish and bivalves and leave them in the common room for Ghadir, make stripes of kelp, harvest lettuce, turn the compost, and pluck the brown leaves from our cucumbers, grapes, squash, and herbs. I think the water has become so tainted that even the plants can barely drink it. If we humans did not eat so much soup, I don’t think we would stay hydrated enough.

I spend my days, when I am awake, in the air filtration tubes, checking the algae – none of which have been sabotaged since the day Yuda and I saw the sliced bags – and changing air filters, then changing filters where I know how in the water system and waste systems. The only people I run into are Ihsan and Bulus, and sometimes Durada, as she pulls buckets of waste out of that system for the compost heap.

If I look at Chloe and Zariah and Rusul and Kailash in the eye, I am afraid I will reflect back the senseless, selfish, divisive hatred and something inside me will explode. I fear I will kill someone, and it will feel like self-defense because they are trying to let me die.


We did it, we released the octopuses and despite how small they were they lifted the barrels and we attached them to the ship and we sent the old supply ship away.

Yvain piloted the ship for me so I wouldn’t be suspiciously sick. I just want Breathe Easy to send us more supplies. We have been reusing some filters, so our air and water are metallic and thick. I cannot believe that Yuda, who worked so hard on changing the filters every day, would fail to see the need for new printer material.

I also finally asked Yvain about the meetings with the anti-union group. We were lying together in my bed – which he has done for a few weeks now, although we are not having sex.

He sighed. “They are very angry, to the point of violence. Their extremist words feed each other’s violence, and I am trying to guide it into other outlets. I physically work them until they can barely stand, and that has helped so far.”

“You are making them stronger?” Horror leached into my question. “If they become physically strong enough, they could overpower the other group.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Yvain said. “There are more unionizers than anti-unionizers, and I think they would actually get themselves hurt, possibly even killed, if they took the group on all at once.”

“But what if they try to sneak up and attack the unionizers, one at a time?”

“I know they want to do that. I am trying to convince them that this is dishonorable, and not something that Breathe Easy would want us to do.”

I nodded. I don’t think the tactic will work, but at least there is some guidance for the moment. “What about Payam?” I asked.

Yvain sighed. “I think he is beginning to believe their rhetoric. He didn’t at first, and I told him that I was only there to guide the dangerous chaos in their hearts, but we have been around them for so long now that I think he actually agrees with their morality. He was a soldier, but he was not in the military for very long, spent only a few months on the front line before receiving a dishonorable discharge. He didn’t have time to think about the pain he was being asked to endure for a country that barely put a roof over his head.”

“You’re starting to sound like one of the unionizers,” I said.

“I don’t completely disagree with them,” he replied. “And with the hatred emanating from the anti-unionizers, we might be safer with Samira and her strange preaching.”

“But Chloe wants to use sabotage of our food supplies and filters, which puts us in danger, to convince the company that we are somehow valuable enough to keep, if they don’t want to lose their investment. Which is ridiculous, considering how much money they’ve lost on us already.”

“We got the water to Earth, that might show them that some of us are worth aiding,” Yvain said.

I hope that he is right. Our supplies are so limited, we are still attached to Earth by an umbilical cord.


The unionizers have officially stopped working while they wait for a response to their transmission. That has left me in charge of changing out all of the filters. Vivien wants nothing to do with the group anymore, so she’s been hard at work, probably to ignore much of what is going on, but her partner Dagon still spends time with Zariah and Suharto, Chloe, Samira, Yuda and Guo. Abbas, Chloe’s assigned partner, has taken over Dagon’s and Chloe’s work, harvesting and cataloguing. As a former Ikin, he has picked up the art of gardening quickly and I’m glad that he’s left the unionizers to work here. Someone has to.

I finally swallowed my fear and read up about unions, in the dark days before the revolution. They employed a tactic called strikes, where all the workers would walk off the job, which would force the company they worked for to lose money. It didn’t work very often, but all the way until just after the revolution, when the Declaration of Incorporated Personhood became hallowed law, some people could not get used to the demands of the job and went on strike.

I think that is what the unionizers want to do now, but we are so far away from Earth, I don’t see how our starvation will inconvenience Breathe Easy. I don’t want to die here just to make a point.

I spoke for a while with Yuda and asked for the group to release Ihsan from her prison. I need the help with the air filters, and I don’t think anyone else in the non-union group could learn how to make and replace them. Zariah and Chloe do not like me so well, but Yuda still appreciates that I am willing to learn many skills. They released Ihsan just yesterday, and her help with the air filtration system made all the difference. I was able to replace most of the filters, and I hope the air will finally begin to clear. Bulus came along for the ride, and I might use him more for that sort of work – he picked it up very quickly. He still shadows Ihsan, seemingly hopelessly lost, like a puppy.

Yvain, meanwhile, has tried to get in with Kailash, Rusul, and Fletcher, which means that Payam has finally been forced to spend some time with Samira. Durada has finally kicked Cyril out of her room, and he has gone to live with Samira, so I don’t know where Payam is staying. I know that Yvain only wants to use his influence to keep them from becoming too extreme, but I don’t think that group is even worth talking to anymore, after they attacked Chloe. Both sides are too willing to abuse human life without understanding what it means to lose that help.

Granted, if we had fewer people, we wouldn’t have as many mouths to feed or have to change the filters as often.

I snuck in last night to the computer room, which Kailash jealously guards during the average shift. I have no idea what he does in there all day, there’s no such thing as instant communication for us. So I wanted to know, and dove into the communication archives. I hoped to find a response from Breathe Easy, but I did not see one.

Instead, I saw several communications – which have been going on for weeks – with military groups on Earth. Discussing the union talk. How to stop it.

Kailash is Senfte, and his anti-union friends are not military. The military men are either unionizers or neutral – an odd development, and I wonder if the brain melt that Yvain talks about had something to do with that. Kailash wanted advice on military training, organizing, attacks. One correspondent suggested that Kailash enlist Vahan, because of his military family. That has proven not to work – now that Vahan’s defect has come to light – and Kailash needs more advice. And he is receiving it, descriptions of strength training and weapons creation. And I suspect he is relaying this to the rest of his people.

No wonder Yvain has stayed so involved. He never speaks about them as though he likes them, but he is in fact keeping a lid on their explosive violence, which, with no military family or training, would go disastrously wrong. I can only imagine what they have discussed printing out or poisoning or sabotaging. I have not had the stomach to ask him yet for details, but I will soon.

The stress makes me sway one way, and then the other. A few days ago, I thought to ask Ghadir to help me find a way to hide the food so that the unionizers couldn’t eat, but now I want the anti-union group to suffer as well. Besides, I am not a Hou. It is not for me to bestow food unto the masses, only to worry about my part in the whole.

There is some good news, as a few of us work to keep the colony running. Vivien wants to release the latest octopuses – we have five of them, but I don’t want to name them because I am afraid that they will be slaughtered – so I am coordinating with her to load the barrels onto the supply ship and send them on their way to Earth. The octopuses are still very small, but perhaps they could push the barrels anyway.

Thanks to the hard work of Bulus, Abbas, Yvain, Ghadir, and Natsuki, we have sprouts coming up and our nutritional loaf will last long enough for the plants to grow. Ghadir has started feeding us a lunch of seafood stew, including some scaly fish that have begun swarming around Rabbah, pecking at our bivalves. But we have lots of bivalves, and our tube worms have grown to huge proportions. I thought they almost looked like lobster tail when they were cooked, and I think maybe Ghadir will serve us tube worm steaks at some point soon. We will not starve in the near future, unless Chloe decides to destroy our garden again.