Note: There will be a chapter inserted between chapters nine and ten. Chapters have been renumbered in the manuscript.
Destiny was already awake and dressed when I got up the next morning. I'm glad she was there or I might have overslept.
"Are you going to sleep all day? Your breakfast is going to get cold. I'm eating."
I groaned, rolled out of bed, put on a robe and followed her to the dining room. She'd made coffee and had the robots make French toast, bacon, and tater tots. I didn't feel like tater tots. "What time is it?" I asked.
She laughed. "You need a clock right there on the wall! Computer, what time is it?"
The computer said "The time is seven twenty eight." Good, plenty of time. I finished eating and took a quick shower and started my morning chores about five minutes early. This time two of the computers disagreed with the other two. Two said "systems were nominal", one said that engine sixty four was getting three volts too much and the other said number sixty four was two volts short. Oh, well, I was going to have to walk the stairs anyway, so I decided I'd get engine and generator inspections out of the way first. Even though two or three volts was almost nothing when you're talking terrawatts.
As I passed the commons Lek walked up, the one that talked English kind of okay.
"Captain Knolls?" she said, which confused me because the whores usually called me "Joe" even though my name is John.
"Lek?" I said, "how can I help?" I read Tammy's book, I didn't want to piss these dropheads off.
"Look, Captain, you surely know what not having drops does to us by now."
I almost said "I ain't got no drops, bitch" but I didn't. Instead I said "You're short of drops? Look, talk to..." Damn, I almost screwed up and gave Tammy away. Damn it, John!
"Uh," I continued. "You need drops? Look, Lek, I finally get it. I do inspections and can confiscate..."
"No," she said, "It's Sparkle. She going to..." she hung her head. "Buddha, but I really hate myself. I not human without drops! What has happened to me? But Sparkle need drops or she be dangerous wild animal."
I really felt sorry for these women. I didn't think of them as whores any more, life had really kicked their asses. Tammy's book had really opened my eyes. Poor women. I called her on my fone, but she was already on it.
"Tammy, could you get some..."
"Drops to Sparkle?" she interrupted.
"Yeah. Is she..."
"She's okay. Now, anyway. But John, even though I knew, thanks. Please, if it comes up again call me, don't hesitate!"
"Jesus, Tammy," I said, "Of course I will, after I read your book I know how dangerous a dropless drophead is."
I finished walking down the hall to the stairs, then down that five damned flights. Most of this boat is engines. Second is generators, the generators take up more space than quarters and storage, and storage is as big as quarters.
I checked number sixty four first, of course. It read normal. I almost logged that, but it suddenly dropped two volts, then immediately to a two and a half volt overvoltage. Bill told me once that that usually meant a bad connection, he's kind of a nerd.
It's good to know nerds.
I shut sixty four down like the book says, then inspected the rest of them. I don't know why I have to check the port generator, since it's broke, but I do so I did.
The starboard generator was fine.
The damned alarm went off. Fire in cargo seven. I didn't know whether to cuss the damned whores or the damned stupid engineers who design shit that catches fire and have emergency drills when there's a real emergency.
I fucking hate it when there's an emergency upstairs when I'm downstairs. I have to run up five flights of stairs. Yeah, we're at half gravity now but it goes down slow, after the first day you don't really notice it dropping. The droppers hadn't complained, except when it had sudden changes like when we sped up to beat the rocks. I'm just glad I didn't have to run up the stairs that day I was climbing around outside. Oh, wait, I did, didn't I?
I wished we were at zero G, I could have made it to the top in seconds. But then, of course, the women would kill me.
The red light was flashing on cargo seven. "Computer, is there anybody in there?"
"Parse error, please rephrase question."
God damned computer. "Is cargo seven, uh, occupied?"
"Negative." That was a relief; not only does the company get pissed off when cargo was damaged, these weren't just cargo, they were people. Human beings.
At least, they were human when they had their drops. What Lek said was spooky, like one of those old horror movies Destiny likes, the old two dimensional ones with werewolves and vampires and no colors. I kind of shivered a little.
The flashing light went out and I went in. There was a burned up maid in the room. Hell, was it noon already?
Another burned up... wait, what was the number on that thing? R2? That's the same maid that burned up before. Whoever programs the robots that repair the other robots needs an ass kicking, or at least an ass chewing.
I pulled out my fone. "Computer, take R2 out of service until the Martian maintenance."
"Acknowledged." Another robot dragged it off to storage, and a third started noisily cleaning up the mess.
I went to the commons, which right now was a restaurant with robot waiters and robot cooks and about a hundred naked women. I thought "I'm going to start inspecting cargo at meal time!" Not that these girls eat much, except the fat blonde with the German accent. They slept more than anything.
"Attention," I yelled. They ignored me, the din continued. I pulled out my fone and addressed the PA, they can't ignore that.
"Attention, ladies, who lives in number seven?"
"That's Crystal," one of them said.
"Where is she?"
"I don't know. Oh, there she is," she said as another woman walked in.
"Where have you been?" I demanded. "You're supposed to go to the commons when your quarters catch fire."
"What?" she said, startled. "My quarters caught fire? I was in Leslie's cabin and got hungry. Is my stuff okay?"
What stuff? "Yeah, the only thing that burned was the maid."
"Good, I hate that noisy damned thing! Robot, I want a ham and cheese sandwich and a chocolate shake."
I finished inspection by one thirty and was starved by then. Destiny called. "Where are you? I'm starved," she said.
"Walking back to our apartment," I said. Oh, shut up you two, that's what I said. I told you I don't want that "professional" shit, I ain't no God damned professional.
We had pizza and beer and watched an ancient comedy called Blazing Saddles and I didn't understand a lot of it, but some parts were funny. Destiny thought it was hilarious, and told me to read some history.