“A mutiny is not what I am suggesting,” Viktor said.
“Then what are you saying?”
Viktor took a sip of coffee to give himself a moment to think. It tasted like water scooped up from the bottom of a muddy hill. The five miners arrayed around him–well, four miners and Rebecca–weren’t getting it.
“I am saying tensions are high right now, and people are becoming suspicious of one another. It is dangerous. We all need to carry protection, just in case.” He hefted the heavy wrench to give the others an idea.
Jessica frowned, the skin on her forehead moving the white bandages of her head. “Won’t carrying weapons escalate the issue?”
Viktor nodded. “Which is why we need a simultaneous show of good faith. To help everyone relax.”
“Like, backrubs or somethin’?” Jimmy said. Nobody laughed. Viktor let the silence stretch a moment before continuing.
“I am going to surrender my personal encryption key to the Captain. I have nothing to hide. Let him see the communication logs with my wife on Luna, all personal computer activity, everything. It’s the only way to set their minds at ease. I think all of you should do the same.”
“Like slag I’m doin’ that,” Jimmy said. “I don’t need Hayes creepin’ through my net logs. A man’s search history is between him and God.”
Viktor ignored him and focused on the others. Siebert, ever the follower, nodded immediately. It might make him uncomfortable, but he’d do it if everyone else did. Jessica took longer. She stared off at nothing for a long thirty seconds. For a while Viktor considered saying something, to make sure she wasn’t still showing symptoms of her concussion.
“Yeah,” she finally said, closing her eyes. “I don’t have a better idea, and I’d prefer Hayes probing my history instead of my physical body.”
Viktor gave her a thank you smile, then used a wall handle to spin himself around in the microgravity to face Jimmy.
“Aww, hell, if I’m the only one who doesn’t do it I’ll look guilty by default,” he said.
“Perhaps you’d throw me to Hayes to save the rest of your skins? After all we’ve been through, Vicky?”
Viktor spread his hands in as reasonable a gesture as he knew. “Hayes is already losing his mind. We’re trying to do whatever we can to defuse it.”
Jimmy looked around the room for support. Jessica and Siebert stared back expectantly. Knowing that Jimmy was the kind of kid to react unpredictably when backed against the wall, Viktor said to the others, “Give us a minute. I’ll meet you in the galley.”