Chapter Thirty One




An alarm woke me up at quarter after six. What the hell? Fire in P117? I put on a robe, and as I trudged down there Tammy was running into the commons. I wondered what was going on.
I got to Passenger quarters one seventeen and it was a damned drill, the light was red but wasn't flashing and I didn't smell any smoke. I really didn't expect to, because except for Tammy's quarters none of the rest of the passenger section was occupied, all the apartments were locked, and wall panels blowing up is pretty rare, even on a new boat. Most fires are caused by old maids and on this trip, a stupid passenger. I don't know why they have those damned robots cleaning empty quarters.
I passed Tammy on the way back. “I missed Rilla,” she said. “I forgot she got up early to eat.”
As I passed the commons on the way home I saw the obese blonde German woman leaning back in a chair, an empty plate with the remains of breakfast on it in front of her and an eyedropper on the floor next to her. I was glad I read Tammy's book, the German woman was going to want a dildo in a minute or two and I sure didn't want it to be me. I hurried back to my quarters and started coffee, since it was too late to go back to sleep, and headed to the head to pee.
Zero G football was in the semifinals and I caught the last quarter of the game. Belgium beat Brazil two to one. I told the robot to make scrambled eggs, toast, and hash browns and went to shit and shower.
God DAMN that Mexican food, my asshole was on fire! It felt like I was shitting flames. Why do I keep forgetting what spicy food does to my asshole? Fuck!
When I got out of the shower Destiny was at the table wearing a robe and drinking coffee. “G'mornin' sunshine,” she said. “You're sure up early.”
“Yeah, I had an alarm. Just a drill, though. What time is it?”
“I don't know.”
“Computer, what damned... no, scratch that. I mean ‘disregard’. Computer, what time is it on board the ship?”
“The present time is seven twelve.”
I decided to set up a holographic map of EMF in my living room, even though it should be quite a while before we saw any pirates. I didn't know it then but they would show up early. Way too early.
Destiny had the news on the video. Some scandal in the capitol but I wasn't paying attention; I still hadn't had enough coffee.
At five 'til eight I went to the pilot room. Everything checked out, so before I started my inspection I set another holomap up in there as well.
The maps marked spacemarks and radio transmissions and used what engineers called a “passive radar system” to mark objects, but I really don't know what that means. I thought again “I'm taking some classes when I reach Mars.”
I went to inspect downstairs, but as I passed the commons it was empty and I smelled smoke. It was one of the waiters that was smoking, so I pulled out my fone. “Computer, shut R47 down and send a repair robot.”
I went outside and called the computer again, instructing it to seal the commons and depressurize it until R47 was powered down and taken in for repairs.
The heavy German woman walked up looking angry. “Hey, Joe,” she said with her heavy German accent, “I'm hungry, why is the restaurant closed?” Christ, she was in there eating and dropping not too long earlier when there was the stupid drill in the passenger section.
The passenger section had quarters like apartments with their own cooking and serving and coffee robots, but cargo pens are single rooms with a sink and toilet, although of course there's also furniture in them when we're carrying human cargo. People flying in the cargo section have to eat in the commons, or have robots bring their meals from there.
“One of the robots is smoking so there's no air in there right now. It won't be long before you can eat,” I said.
“But I'm starved!” she exclaimed, her accent even thicker than usual. Christ, how much food was enough for this woman?
Tammy walked up. “Hi, John, Rilla, what's going on?”
“Smoking robot,” I said. “Shouldn't take more than ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes!” the always hungry blonde said. “I'll die of starvation!”
Tammy said “I'll take care of it, John.” Right then a robot wheeled up and the commons door opened. Tammy and the fat girl went inside as a robot dragged the burned up other robot out and towed it to the maintenance shop.
I finished heading for the stairs. Damned stairs.
The working generator was okay, so I inspected engines. The ones I had shut down were first. Number sixty three was fine so I started it back up and noted it in the log. Next was twenty four, and it checked out okay so I restarted it as well. Even number seventeen was good so I started it back up, too. If I could add two and two and get something close to four I'd probably left it shut down, but I ain't psychic. All of the rest of the engines were fine; all engines were online.
The broken generator was still broken, of course. But everything else was in great shape for once. I trudged back up the stairs.
The only one in the commons was Lek, the only one of the three Thais on board who could talk English okay. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and sipping coffee. A dropper with coffee? According to Tammy's book that shouldn't happen. I called Tammy and gave her the news.
“Really? Wow,” she said. “I'll be right there.”
Lek said “Hello, Captain.”
I said hello as Tammy came in carrying a pot of coffee and sat down with Lek. “Here, Lek,” she said, “I brought some good coffee. But should you be drinking coffee at all?”
“Animals no drink coffee,” Lek said, “and I no want be animal. I not remember what coffee supposed to taste like.”
I left her to Tammy, she was the expert, after all, and I went home.
“You're later than usual,” Destiny said.
“Busy morning. Smoking robot, hungry fat girl, started a couple of engines...”
“Okay, okay,” she said laughing. “Lets have lunch. T-bone and mashed potatoes and slaw okay?”
“Sure,” I said, and had the robot bring me a glass of shike.
After we ate we took a short walk then watched some old two dimensional movie about the American Civil War, even though the actual war part only took a couple of minutes at the very first part of the movie. I think it was called “Lincoln”.
By the time it was over it was supper time. We had stew, watched one of the movies Destiny called a “spaghetti western”, watched an episode of Rawhide and listened to some Hendrix for a while before we went to bed.


Chapter 30
Chapter 32

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