Dave Freer, Eric Flint, Baen, October
“The social dynamics of societies have never really been studied with a total absence of external influences. This presents a unique sociological research opportunity second to none. It will finally put real Science into future interventions.”
Dr. G Zola, Chief Operating Officer Sysgov. Pyscometrics and Sociological Monitoring and Adjustment.
“We need to go back to her, Derfel. She’s in trouble and so is Kretz. He’s out there somewhere,” said Abret, trying for a semblance of calm amid the surge of aliens that cramped him. “Look, I’m sorry that I said to her that we needed rescuing, but we do. Unless, well, you haven’t given me your local language dataset, can you talk to them? Get them to let us get out of here. Or you can stay if you want to. But Kretz and Selna both need our help.”
By the sour expression, neither of those were popular names. Well, that wasn’t surprising. Derfel had had his attentions refused by the better part of the crew. It wasn’t his fault, maybe. But it meant that he had a few extra grudges, as if he needed such excuses. “No,” he said. “Let Kretz help Selna. You’re not making things easier here. They expect you to behave like a leader.”
Abret had made up his mind. He drew the laser pistol. “Tell them that they’re to take me to the airlock. You’re needed, Derfel. But you can stay here if that’s what you want. Let’s go. Now.”
Derfel didn’t move. “Check your charge meter,” he said.
Abret looked down at it. It was blue. Empty.
“I expected trouble from you, Abret. You always treated me as if I was fecal matter. Now it is your turn.” He spoke to the coterie of brown uniformed aliens in their language, and they advanced warily on him. Abret turned to run.
Later, in the cell, he realized that that had been a mistake.
But at least he was alone.