Programmer of Innocence, Programmer of Experience

Characters: Klevetati Yoshino, Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry knocked on the door, hoping she had the right one. A voice she didn’t recognize said cheerfully, “Come in,” and the door slid open.

Entering, Dana saw a room quite different than what she’d been expecting, and a small, slender woman standing in the middle of it. The shape of her face and eyes suggested an Asian heritage, but her white skin and hair were that of an albino. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought these were Katia’s quarters!”

The woman chuckled quietly. “Actually, Katia has been staying with me, since her own quarters were lost.” She bowed deeply from the waist. “Anla’shok Klevetati Yoshino, at your service.”

Dana smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Anla’shok Dana Gentry…um, I’m one of the new assistant engineers.”

“Yes, of course. Katia has spoken of you. Very highly, I might add.”

“That’s very kind of her,” Dana said, blushing. “Um, have you seen her? I’ve looked everywhere I thought she might be, but I can’t seem to find her. I have some new programs for her to look at, that she might be able to improve…she’s very good, you know.”

“Yes. I’m afraid she’s not on the ship. I believe she has taken a quick trip to Minbar to visit a friend there. I might be able to help though. A lot of my background is in computer programming, as it happens.”

Dana blinked. “She’s not here? Oh… well… all right. Katia told me that some of the Phoenix’s decks have to be replaced, but she’s been worried about losing the AI… well, I’ve come up with some programs that might make losing the decks less of a shock to the AI… I mean for the ship its the equivalent of having to have new limbs grown, right? So, I’ve prepared a sort of electronic sedative… something to help ease the shock until the new decks are in place…”

“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Yoshino said. “If you like, I could look the code over for you. Would you like some tea? Oh — and you are not allergic to cats, are you?”

Dana smiled, relieved. “Thank you! I’d love some tea. No, I’m not allergic, I love cats!” She handed over some data crystals. “Here’s the programs I’ve been working on.”

Yoshino accepted them with her left hand, which Dana now noticed was missing most of its little finger. “I’ll take a look. Just a moment while I put some water on.

Have a seat,” she added, motioning to a chair.

“Thank you.” Dana sat down, getting comfortable. A cat made her way up to Dana, nudging her feet. It had a cast on one leg and very short fur, apparently growing back after being shaven. “Oh, look at the darling! What happened to her fur? Was she hurt in the attacks?” She reached down and gently rubbed the cat between the eyes, eliciting a purr. “What happened to her leg?”

“Yes, she escaped from my quarters — just as well, there was a hull breach in here — and got rather badly hurt. Doctor Trassano was a great help.”

Dana picked the cat up, setting it gently onto her lap. “You poor kitty! She’s adorable!”

“Her name is Kuri — for the red fur on her face,” Yoshino said. “She’s been with me since I left Earth.”

“Hello, Kuri! Wow.” Dana laughed. “She’s probably seen more than I have! How long have you been a Ranger?”

“She could probably tell a tale or two, that’s true,” Yoshino said, setting a cup of green tea in front of Dana, and sitting in front of her computer to look at the programs.

Dana sipped the tea appreciatively. “There might be some stuff there that I’ll need permission to implement…”

“Me? Not very long,” Yoshino said, answering the prior question. “I had just finished my initial training at the time of the Minbari civil war. I joined the Phoenix after some of her crew rescued us.”

“Really? Wow, I never even heard of the Rangers until I was almost done getting my engineering degree. I went to Minbar just to study!”

Yoshino’s attention was on the small screen in front of her, studying the lines of code that scrolled slowly across it. “I don’t think Katia will be gone very long. Otherwise she would have expressly left you in charge… I was rather lucky to learn of the Rangers, actually. I left Earth in fear for my life.”

Dana blinked. “You fled Earth? I can’t imagine being in that kind of danger… where are you from?”

“Japan. I was … well, have you ever heard of the Yakuza?”

Dana shook her head. “No, I haven’t.”

“Japan’s organized crime. I was … a gangster, after a fashion.”

A helpless grin spread across Dana’s face. “I’m sure that’s not as fun or romantic as it sounds! I love old gangster movies! I’ve seen The Godfather twenty times at least! I’m from dull, proper England! Just about anything unusual sounds exciting!”

“I thought it would be exciting, when I got involved in it,” Yoshino said with a small, sad smile. “But it is a long, and really not a very pleasant story.” She didn’t have the heart to explain further. This young woman was still an innocent, and there were too few of those left in the world.

Dana smiled sympathetically. “No, being a criminal probably wouldn’t be a lot of fun! I’ll stick to fiddling with exciting machinery. Still, if you ever want to talk…”

“Of course,” Yoshino said, still studying the code. It was an impressive effort. “I think this should work very nicely, and be a great kindness to the Phoenix besides.”

“I’m glad you like it! I really want to salvage the Phoenix,” Dana said, smiling. “She’s such a wonderful ship!”

“Indeed she is.” Yoshino removed the last data crystal from her machine and passed them all back. “I think you could go ahead and upload this to the main system, ready to activate when Katia gets back.”

Dana nodded. “All right. I’ll do that as soon as I go back on duty. When do you think Katia will return? Did she go for supplies? Or is that classified?

“I hope you’re going to get some rest in the meantime….Actually, I believe Katia went to visit a friend. Someone who was on the Phoenix before — the accident.”

Dana grinned. “Well, I’ll try to rest if you think I should… is her friend okay? Is it someone who was hurt?” She frowned in concern.

Yoshino considered for a moment before answering. Apparently some of Dana’s innocence would have to be sacrificed tonight after all. “After a fashion. I think — I am not certain, but it is my best guess — that she went to see Dunstan Kordieh.”

“The saboteur?” Dana’s voice had instinctively dropped to a whisper. “Wow, I’ve heard some wild things about him. Most people say he is insane. He can’t hurt her, can he?”

“I don’t think so. I certainly hope not.” She had not heard much about what had become of Kordieh, but she was certain the Rangers on Minbar would not have taken him back — even as a prisoner — unless he was no longer a threat.

Dana nodded, not really comforted. “I hope not, too. She’s a great engineer… and a good person.”

Yoshino sat back, sipping her own tea. “Perhaps you should ask her about it when she returns.”

Dana smiled shyly. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to intrude… I’m sure she knows what she’s doing.”

“I certainly hope so,” Yoshino said thoughtfully.