Chapter Thirty Six




It was only a little after seven when I woke up. Destiny was asleep, so I put on a robe, started coffee, and went to the head to take a piss. I turned on the video; nothing on but the news. Nothing new, some “special report” about Martian piracy. Of course, they didn't say anything I didn't already know. I finished my cup and took a shower. Destiny was waking up as I was getting dressed.
“You're up early again! Another alarm, sweetheart?”
“No,” I said, “I just woke up early. I don't know why I fell asleep so early last night. It isn't like yesterday was a busy day or anything. Hungry?”
“I don't know, what time is it?”
I had to ask the stupid talking table. It said seventeen after seven. She got a cup of coffee and told the computer to make a turkey omelette, and again the stupid damned thing said “There are no Turkish omelette dishes listed in the database.”
Stupid computer. She sighed. “Stupid computer,” she said, “I want an omelette with turkey meat. A turkey omelette has nothing to do with the country called Turkey.”
The idiotic thing replied “Parse error, please rephrase.”
“God!” Destiny exclaimed, “Jesus but Dad's computers are stupid. Computer!”
“Waiting for input.”
“I want an omelette with turkey meat.”
“There is no meat that has come from that country.”
“Turkey the bird, damn it!”
“Parse error, please rephrase.”
“What meats are available for omelettes?”
“Chicken, duck, turkey, and beef.”
“An omelette with turkey meat.”
“There is no meat from that country,” the idiotic thing repeated.
She was becoming annoyed. “Damn it, computer, I want an omelette with bird meat.”
“Please name the bird.”
“That must the dumbest computer I ever saw,” she said.
“Waiting for input,” the computer stupidly said, obviously picking up on the word “computer”.
“Damn it,” she started.
“Roast beef and cheese omelette,” I said.
By the time breakfast was finished cooking I only had fifteen minutes to eat, the stupid computer had wasted most of our morning time together because its programming was so idiotic.
The “special report” about pirates was still on when I left for work, and still didn't have anything to say that I didn't already know. The news is almost as stupid as the stupid computer.
I left for the pilot room with two minutes to spare. I hadn't even finished my breakfast. God damned computer!
There was a light on the map as I went into the pilot room. Damn, but that computer has shitty timing; I had to do readings and couldn't check it out.
Luckily everything was normal; the computers were agreeing, we were on course, and it showed nothing except engine seventeen and the port generator had anything wrong with them.
The light was pirates, about four and a half light minutes away, but they weren't headed anywhere near us. A few minutes later it was off the radar.
Still, it was worrying. Even though we had tangled with pirates farther out, this was the first trip I'd ever run that I'd seen pirates anywhere near this far from Mars. And it would still be well over a week before we met the fleet.
I went back to our quarters to fill my coffee. Destiny asked “Trouble?”
“Pirates,” I said. “They showed up at the fringe of radar but are gone now. Remember, you can't talk about pirates to anybody.”
“I know, don't worry.”
The robots hadn't thrown the rest of my breakfast away, so I finished eating before starting inspections, chatting about droppers and pirates with Destiny. I kissed her and started inspections. Luckily I only had to inspect downstairs. Luckily? Hell, there were all those damned stairs... but I guess that has nothing to do with luck.
At the bottom of the stairs I started with the generator, and there was nothing wrong with anything except number sixty two, which had a robot attached, and seventeen. I logged sixty two and started towards all those damned steps.
But as I passed the starboard generator, there was a yellow light. What the hell? It was fine when I went down there. I looked closer and checked the panel – it was dangerously warm. Damn it, that should set an alarm off! Looking closer, number seventeen was drawing an obscene amount of power. I hit the generator's emergency shutoff, and the readings said the batteries were draining at a rapid rate as gravity got lighter.
I took off at a run to seventeen, and the robot attached to it was starting to smoke badly. I also saw that the robot had plugged itself into the main power. I tried to disconnect it from the engine, but the lead was too hot to touch. My fingers were going to be blistered. I kicked the robot's main power cable loose from mains with my boot as the robot burst into flames and the alarm went off. I got the hell out of there and ran back to the generator room.
The batteries weren't draining like they were; some-thing in the robot had shorted and had been feeding number seventeen with the mains it had plugged itself into. At least the yellow light had gone out, but it was still way too hot for my liking, it being our only remaining generator. I'd let it cool some more before I fired it back up.
I went back to seventeen, which was in a vacuum by now. I waited for the door to open. Still smoking, the robot was half melted. This robot wouldn't be doing any more repairs! It was surely totaled. I found a pair of gloves and was able to disconnect it. I got some cable cutters, cut off the plug and plugged it back into the engine's robot plug. Maybe other robots couldn't try to fix it like that. I hoped so, anyway.
I walked back to the generator. It had cooled almost to normal, so I restarted it. Gravity started to rise again.
My fone buzzed; it was Destiny. “What's going on, John?”
“Trouble with an engine and the generator,” I said. “I hope it didn't upset the droppers too much. I'm on my way upstairs now, have you had lunch yet?
“Well, yeah, it's two in the afternoon. I was worried.”
“So was I,” I said, “but I think it's okay now. Have the robot make me a sandwich, would you?” I was starved, but I'd been too busy to even notice I'd been hungry.
I trudged wearily up all those stairs to correct the ship's course. Destiny brought my lunch to the pilot room. “You're sweet,” I said, “thanks, but this will only take a few minutes and I'm done... I hope. Just put it on the table and I'll be right there.” She kissed me and left.
I went and finished my lunch, and had a beer with it. This had really been a crappy day. Shit, except for Destiny the whole damned trip was a trip through hell.
We sat on the couch cuddling and I didn't even hardly notice that an old gray Dracula movie was on. I must have been really tired, because even though the movie didn't have any colors, Dracula's eyes looked red.
Destiny was comforting me after my bad day, and I fell asleep in her arms. She woke me up and led me to bed, but I was too tired to do anything but sleep.


Chapter 35
Chapter 37

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