Chapter Forty Two




I pulled out my fone and called the fleet commander, who I was amazingly boss of, and told him about our little power problem, then asked the computer what the robots were doing about repairs. Or tried to, anyway.
“Computer, what is the, uh... status of...” and the God damned machine interrupted me, of course. Who programs this junk anyway?
“All cargo unconscious except specimen in commons area. Danger to cargo.”
“Computer,” I told the piece of shit, “God damn it, how much oxygen will keep them alive and asl... uh, unconscious without damaging them?”
“The percentage is...”
“Add it, you piece of shit!” Yeah, getting pissed at a machine is really smart, ain't it? But I really needed sleep. “Computer. Where are them fucking robots?”
The stupid thing replied “Robots have no sex and do not engage in...”
Jesus. “Computer, where are the...”
A robot carrying oxygen bottles and masks came in, the door opening quickly, it entering quickly, and the doors closing really damned fast. I thought nitrogen was harmless? It turned out that the nitrogen wouldn't hurt us but monsters would; they were all outside the commons trying to get in to kill us and eat us. We would have been dead if we'd tried to get to the houseboat.
We got to work making the vampires and werewolves and frankensteins and whatever the hell kind of other monsters these damned dropheads were back into humans, or something not really all that different from humans, again. Some had some pretty bad cuts, we gave them their drops first and then medics took them to sick bay to treat them. I ordered the computer to put normal air in sick bay.
Poor broads. I really feel sorry for them. I hope Destiny's charity can help them, it sure looked like Tammy was getting results from Lek. Lek was wearing clothes and acting like a respectable lady, although her eyes were usually a little bloodshot and she wasn't smiling much, especially for someone who came from the Land of Smiles.
That God damned stupid fucking computer must suck at arithmetic, because I barely got the last drop in the last monster's eye when she started waking up. Scared the shit out of me, how would you feel if you were putting eye drops in Dracula's eye and he started to wake up? Especially if he had scary red eyes like a mad dropper? Christ, I almost had a coronary!
Now I had to see what the hell was wrong with that damned generator and do a full inspection of the engines. Shit. Well, it wasn't as bad as that Saturn run when all the engines blew out, at least I had plenty of full batteries and all but one engine was working.
You guys know, of course, that you can only run fifty eight engines on batteries. That's only point twenty five gravities and usually not even that much, I don't know how Bill managed more but he's a nerd that reads a lot of technical manuals. The whores ain't gonna like it one little bit. And if more pirates come... I mean, we ain't that near to Mars yet, we have a while. I'm just glad I have that fleet. And its commander said I was in charge! Wow, I ain't never been in charge of nothing but machinery before.
Tammy called. “John, we need nitrous oxide, a precise amount, in the atmosphere. The computer said I don't have the clearance to accomplish it.”
“Give me a minute,” I said, and hung up. Hung? Up?
“Computer,” I ordered the fone, “add whatever Doctor Winters asks for to the atmosphere.” What the hell is nitrous oxide and why did Tammy want it? I called her back. “You're getting your nitr, uh... whatever. What the hell is it and why does it need to be in the atmosphere?”
“Nitrous oxide. Laughing gas. It will calm the droppers down and they won't mind the low gravity much at all.”
“Will it affect us?” I asked.
“Of course it will,” she answered. “What, you think it's something that only affects droppers?”
“Well, I'd hoped so. What will it do? Look, Tammy, if I can't think straight we might die. It's bad enough with me being so damned tired and sleepy, I already can't think very straight.”
“I've seen you drunk on wine!” she said.
“Not when there were pirates after us and running on batteries and with another hailstorm coming that we'd been past if our only working generator hadn't broke and when I'm in charge of a God damned fleet and I ain't never been in charge of nothing before. Captains may not have to know as much as they did when they had to go to college, but we got to know when it's okay to drink and when beer will kill you. And this is one of those times. I can't get intoxicated!”
Intoxicated. Them two is rubbing off on me. “I can't be breathing laughing gas. It could kill us all. Because right now I need what little brain I have left.”
The computer interrupted with an alarm. “Meteor shower ahead”.
She thought a second... maybe not even that long. “Get an oxygen generation belt from sick bay and breathe from that. Your thought processes may even be clearer depending on how much nitrous you ingest.”
“I what? ‘In jest’? What's funny got to do with it?”
“Breathe. Drink. Eat. With this it’s just breathe. Keep the oxygen mask on and you should be okay.”
“Okay,” I said, and told the computer to flood the pilot room and my quarters and Tammy's quarters and engines and generators with normal air, with Tammy's laughing gas mixture in the rest of the boat, and then I went to the pilot room to steer around the space rain, holding my breath.
After driving for fifteen or twenty minutes, by hand, no less, and I almost never do that even though I did fighting all those God damned pirates, but I had to because I was on batteries, I was around the rocks. I clipped the bottle of oxygen that a robot had brought to my belt and put on the mask. I had to see if the robots were having any luck with the generator, and I still had a hell of a lot of engines to inspect down there.
There were a hundred giggling, naked women in the commons. I guessed Tammy and Destiny were in my cabin where air was normal and they wouldn't get stoned, and that Tammy had been generous with drops. She sure knew what she was doing.
I went back down the five damned flights of stairs to the starboard generator. God, but it was a nasty, stinking, bloody mess down there, so many body parts piled in the hallway I wasn't going to be able to inspect half the engines or the other generator. Apparently the bodies and body parts had been thrown, pushed, or chased over the storage railing into the hallway with the high ceiling.
Where were the damned robots? I pulled out my fone. “Computer,” I said, “why aren't there any robots working on the generator?”
It replied “Repair machinery is removing parts from the port generator that were not damaged when the generator incinerated to install in the starboard generator.” I wondered how the hell they got there past the stinking mess.
“Can they fix it?”
“Why not?”
“We are lacking a replacement pressure regulator. Port generator pressure regulator was incinerated.”
Damn. “Okay, computer, How long is it going to take to replace everything except the regulator?”
“Between one and three hours.”
It sounded like time for a movie, I thought, so tired that I forgot how badly I needed to sleep. I inspected the engines and was amazed that there wasn't anything wrong with any of them after what I'd put them through. At least, the ones I could get to, bodies and parts of bodies were piled three or four meters high. I started back to my quarters, but stopped when I had an idea. I called my “second in command”; heh, how about that? Anyway, I asked Ramos “Does anybody in this fleet have a spare pressure regulator that will work on my generator?”
The answer was a “yes”; one of the boats could shut down a generator and remove the regulator, whatever the hell a “pressure regulator” is, dock, and my robots would install it. Of course I had to get paper from the company, but we had three hours. I called Ramos again and told him to to dock and supply when the paperwork came in
I left my bloody boots on the landing and walked in my stocking feet to the pilot room to send paper to the company, then went home.
We didn't even bother with dinner, we just took a shower together and then sat on the couch cuddling to Clapton. This had been one hell of a long, trying day. In fact, today had been several days long. At least tomorrow we would have normal air and better gravity.
We both fell asleep on the couch, cuddled up together.


Chapter 41
Chapter 43

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