Drednanth: A Tale of the Final Fall of Man
Decay said quietly. “These counts … the nine hundred survivors found so far includes about a hundred humans, an estimated hundred and fifty Fergunak, and the rest are Molranoids?”
    “That’s about right,” Bendis said. “A hundred and ten humans, I think it was last time I checked for sure. Molranoids are generally tougher, see, so we’ve found more survivors in rough spots and we’ve had more recoveries from serious injuries than deaths from them. I think one of our guys in logistics said that this was a fairly normal disaster distribution. That’s part of the reason they divide ‘em up by species at all, you know – for timing and triage purposes. And our survivors are mostly Molren since they were the most numerous species aside from humans,” the Acting Controller sighed heavily. “Anyway, the longer we go, the fewer living humans we’re going to find among the ruins. Statistically.”
    “But the human count also counts ables?”
    “They’re divided at a sublevel,” Lou said, “but it’s hard to make out because there’s only eighteen of us.”
    “ Eighteen ?” Clue exclaimed.
    “And the other ninety-odd are ables?” Decay insisted.
    Lou nodded unhappily. “The thing is,” he said, “there were a couple of big able living habs that went completely untouched – we’re not sure, but it looks like they were on sleep-shift and that might have had something to do with it, like their … I don’t know, their mental signatures or something were slowed down, harder to find or target. It’s all in the reports we forwarded to you. Anyway, that was about seventy ables right there. They’re tough too,” he added with a little shrug, “so they survive a knocking-around. That’s what they’re designed for. Technically, medically, they’re just very tough humans. We needed to use a few of them for transfusions and transplants, but there was more than enough among the casualties that we didn’t need to do anything too grisly,” he uttered a hollow laugh. “Lucky us, eh?”
    “Well, like I say,” Clue said awkwardly, “our medical bay can fabricate organs and things if needed, even if we’re understaffed and the configuration system is shot. Meat’s easy enough.”
    “Appreciated. It was weird though. All our fabrication plants were hit, all our big habitats and gathering places, but those two big dorms of ables were okay,” he grimaced. “Well, ‘okay’ in that there used to be eight plants and about three thousand ables. Statistically, like I say, they did pretty well compared to the rest of us. Better than the Bonshooni, even, from about the same starting population. I’m thinking it must ’ve been the fact that they were sleeping.”
    “Pretty small starting population,” Janya remarked idly, “for ables.”
    “It’s a very old and established settlement,” Janus noted. “Not exactly the wild frontier.”
    “Right,” Lou said, giving him a nod, “and the general ideology wasn’t in favour of having too many of them around anyway,” he added, sounding apologetic. “There were limits to how many ables we could print off per head of population, and what configurations we could give them, just like on an AstroCorps ship – except in emergency situations, of course,” he added with a second little nod, this time in Z-Lin’s direction. “We’re not about to turn our noses up at their help now, though, are we? Wild frontier’s got nothing on this mess. We’d’ve been printing the big buggers off around the clock since the attack, if we had any printers.”
    “We can triple your able complement if you’re really not too fussy about their smarts,” Clue said. “If you’re willing to trade us for any more starship-capable specimens that we could add to our crew, we’d be more than willing to make that transaction permanent when we leave. I’ve calculated that we could swap at least five of our ables for a single qualified one from The Warm, depending on the

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