Chapter Seven | Stuck Station

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7.01 - Hobbies

Oct 19 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

Without thinking, Daniel thrust his hand into a nearby column and pulled out a handful of coasters.

He aimed at the creature, wound up and 

"No, thank you,” the creature said peaceably, its calm voice causing Daniel to halt mid-throw. “I already have plenty of those.”

In shock, Daniel dropped the coasters and realized he hadn't been hallucinating: the monster could speak.

At the same time, a silent avalanche of papery discs tumbled over Daniel: the column he had plucked the coasters from had collapsed.

Dumbfounded by the creature's speech, Daniel, up to his neck in coasters, was too surprised to pull himself from the pile.

"As you can imagine," the creature said, "collecting coasters is fun at first. But the appeal doesn't last. Each coaster is identical.”

“What,” Daniel said.

The “what” wasn't a question; it was a statement of Daniel's utter incomprehension. The same creature that had earlier tried to disembowel him was now giving him hobby advice.

Daniel stared open-mouthed at the pulsing form hanging above his head like a blunt, fat, living stalactite.

Then the creature tilted its body 45 degrees, almost as if cocking its head in thought, and said, "If, however, you do enjoy collecting many identical items, I am sorry if I implied it was not a source of amusement. I meant no offense.”

It spoke in a soothing, reasonable tone, one without a hint of pride or condescension; the voice wouldn't have been out of place coming from a therapist Aye or a sentient pop-up ad.

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7.02 - Octopus?

Oct 22 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“My name is Prnei Star Nebula Galaxy,” the creature said. “It doesn't translate well in most languages.”

The creature extended a talon-tipped tentacle toward Daniel, who flinched.

When Daniel opened his eyes, he saw that the talon had stopped a foot from his chest. The claw, Daniel noted, was still speckled with Jeska's blood.

“In some human cultures, it is still appropriate to grasp another's manipulators in greeting, correct?” the creature said.

Daniel couldn't move; the creature was a terrifying, cylindrical mass of alien horror.

The creature's eye widened in embarrassment.

“I am so sorry!” it said.

The tips of the creature's two tentacles expanded, and the talons fell from its arms, hitting the ground with a metal clang.

Looking closer, Daniel saw tw0 curved pieces of silver alloy resting on the bay floor. The creature didn't have claws; it had been holding knives.

When Daniel looked back at the creature, he saw that its entire skin tone had turned bright yellow. Even its red eye changed color to match.

“Again, I apologize,” it said, deeply ashamed. “Once I finished my performance, it was rude of me to point a weapon at you. Even if the blades are dull.”

The creature was right: the “talons” were curved and wicked-looking, but their tips were blunt, too blunt to do any damage.

If it's that dull, then how did it get Jeska's blood on it? Daniel wondered. And did it say “ended my performance?” Wait … was it all an act? ... It  tried to kill me!  And why did it turn yellow?

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7.03 - Ink outline

Oct 22 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Took forever to get these spoons into the right shape,” the creature said, picking up one of its former 'talons' and examining it in the light.

Daniel's head swam with questions.

Where is Jeska? What is this place? Jeska's gone? Why did it shape spoons? Jeska's gone. JESKA'S GONE. JESKA'S GONE. No, don't think about that. Deal with it later. Where am I, really? More importantly, why isn't this thing trying kill me?

The creature dropped the weapon, and then, with the same tentacle, took Daniel's hand in its grip, shook it up and down, and then released it.

When Daniel didn't say anything, the creature continued speaking.

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” the creature said. “Jeska told me that your name is Daniel. You may call me Prnei or any variation thereof. Whatever is easiest for you. Excuse me a moment."

And then the creature that called itself “Prnei” began to change shape.

With its snail-like foot gripping the ceiling tightly, the creature slumped and relaxed.

It no longer looked like a smooth-tipped bullet with vertical lines down its lower half. It still had two tentacles, but its body had taken the shape of a swollen blood-red raindrop hanging above Daniel's head.

As it transformed, it changed color again, losing its yellow tint and becoming an odd mix of white and black. Its red eye was the only color in its body.

If an art student drew an ink outline of a two-armed octopus, painted its one eye, got bored, went to lunch, came back, realized the two-armed octopus project was due in ten minutes, cursed himself, and turned the work in without coloring anything else, Daniel thought the project would look a lot like the creature he was staring at.

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7.04 - Legs

Oct 22 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Daniel had seen octopuses in pet shops before.

cloud- and gene-modded octopus could survive in the vacuum of space, understand basic commands and, most importantly, help around the home. Before his life fell a part five years ago, Daniel had considered purchasing one to aide in repair work.

Of course, Daniel wouldn't buy the alien in front of him. Not enough arms … and too much attempted murder.

“I'm sure you wish to continue your tour,” it said. “Stuck Station is truly beautiful. You'll like it. At first.”

Daniel continued to gape, and the creature noted Daniel's confusion, but misunderstood the cause.

“Many pardons,” the creature said, apologizing again. “Even with the cloud translating, my speech must sound muffled.”

Then with a blast of moist air, the creature coughed and grunted, and the vertical lines running down its lower half expanded.

The tentacles -- the ones that made up the creature's snail-like foot, the tentacles that Daniel had thought fused -- curled upward, like someone peeling a banana upside down.

For some unfathomable reason, the alien had been holding the tentacles straight down, like a human pressing her legs together and walking on her tiptoes.

With its ten tentacles, it looked much like every other octopus Daniel had ever seen … except this one rested on the ceiling instead of the ocean floor.

“If I keep my arms rigid like that, it blocks my mandibles," the creature said, which made an odd kind of sense. As Daniel had seen earlier -- when the creature tried to eat him -- the creature's jaws rested underneath it.

"Very difficult to talk with one's feet in one's mouth, as your species says. Can you hear me more clearly?"

Daniel just stood there slack-jawed.

“That is much better,” the creature decided, and shook itself to get the kinks out of its ten arms.

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7.05 - Suckers

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

After a little more stretching and shaking, the creature that called itself Prnei put the finishing touches on its transformation.

With a soft slurping sound, it pulled in the suckers on its arms, making the little O's look less protruding and less threatening, more like tattoos than tools for keeping prey in place.

The creature's legs swelled becoming almost cartoonishly thick and plump.

Its eye changed to pinkish-red, a sharp contrast to the chilling blood-red that had glared at Daniel earlier.

And finally, the creature opened the scar on the opposite side of its body … or rather, Daniel realized, the creature opened its other eye. The creature had been keeping one eye closed the whole time.

“Ahhhh,” the creature said, in its soft but vaguely masculine voice.

It didn't look like an abomination anymore. It looked harmless. More than harmless.

It was adorable, even comical, and somehow its lack of a visible mouth made it all the more innocuous.

It reminded him of one of those little bad-guys in that game Jeska had been addicted to … Prac-man? Krak man?

However, despite its metamorphosis, the creature's new form didn't make Daniel feel at ease.

Because, even though Daniel's internal translator changed the sounds the creature produced into words, Daniel could still hear the clicking from the creature's hideous maw, the jaws hidden away beneath its ten tentacles.

And the sound of the clicking mandibles made Daniel replay the last hour in his head, especially the creature's effort to stab, strangle and eat him.

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7.06 - Resignedly

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Then, thinking about all the garbage he put up with recently, Daniel found his voice.

"Prnei …" Daniel said very softly.

“Yes, Daniel?” Prnei answered even more softly

“WHAT IS GOING ON?!” he screamed.

Prnei shrunk back, shame flashing in his eyes.

Daniel was astonished. This creature had just tried to kill him ... right?

“I am deeply sorry if I have upset you,” Prnei said. Its skin turned a faint yellow.

Then Prnei whispered, almost too quiet for Daniel too hear, “Keep it together, Prnei." As he said this, Prnei's shiny skin quickly turned back to black and white.

“Maybe he'd like to take the tour?” Tour Guide said, out of the blue.

“That's probably a better idea,” Prnei said, sounding relieved.

“No tour until you answer me!” Daniel snapped. “Tell me everything. Why did she leave? Where is my ship? What is this place?”

"I do not know where Jeska intends to go,” Prnei said. “And your ship is with her. I am sure you will see it again. Jeska said she would be back someday.”

“And this is Containment Facility One,” Tour Guide said, happily but unhelpfully.

“Please … I just want some answers,” Daniel said. His rage vanished as quickly as it had appeared; he was too emotionally drained to keep it up.

“Daniel,” Prnei said, “I understand your curiosity. But there is only a short amount of time before you must take the tour. A few days at most.”

“Who cares about the tour?" Daniel said, resignedly. "Tour Guide, take me to my friends.”

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7.07 - Jettison

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“The tour is mandatory for all incoming crew,” the Tour Guide said.

“So?” Daniel said.

“If you don't take the tour, you will be uninformed about the nature of your duties.”


“If you don't take the tour, you will also be jettisoned out an airlock.”

Daniel's eyes widened.

“Don't worry, being jettisoned is only as bad as it sounds,” Prnei said, doing a terrible impression of someone trying to make the best of something.

Prnei added quickly, “It wasn't my idea. The jettisoning process is automatic.”

“That … That's stupid,” Daniel said.

“Yes,” Prnei said. “Most of this place is.”

“The tour is not stupid,” Tour Guide said, sounding hurt. “After a few hours, you will be reunited with your friends and be ready to get to work.”

“I'm guessing the tour is stupid?” Daniel asked Prnei.

“Most definitely,” Prnei said. “It is probably more accurate to call the tour 'pointless.' But you must take it. I fear for your safety. Being jettisoned is unpleasant … and fatal.”

“I thought I had days.”

“Yes, but why risk it?” Tour Guide said.

“'You have a few days, 'officially,'” Prnei said, and Daniel was surprised to see it use the ancient human “air-quotes” gesture with its tentacles. “But sometimes Stuck Station ayes don't do what they're are told.”

Daniel had the oddest feeling that Prnei was overstating the system's competency to save its feelings.

That worried Daniel.

Because, if the other systems were anything like Tour Guide -- who hadn't been able to answer basic questions --  Daniel would be surprised if the station's ayes would be smart enough to wait a few minutes, let alone a few days, before giving him the spacekick.

He reluctantly decided it would be safer to take the tour.

“Fine,” Daniel said.

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7.08 - On with the tour

Nov 01 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Excellent,” Tour Guide said. “Don't worry. The tour will answer all your questions.”

“It will not,” Prnei said. “But at the end, my friends and I will. And you will have many questions.”

“We must hurry,” Tour Guide said. “They won't let you pick your room until you take the tour. And you want to get a good one before they're all filled up.”

“Plus the jettisoning,” Daniel said.

"Welcome back to the Containment Facility One Tour!” Tour Guide said, as if it hadn't heard Daniel. “As you are in the visitor's bay, make sure you take one of our complimentary coasters.”

Daniel didn't move.

“Make sure to take one of our complimentary coasters,” Tour Guide said again.

“I'm not taking one,” Daniel said. “Let's just do the tour.”

“Make sure to take —”

Prnei reach down, grabbed a coaster, and slid it into Daniel's hand.

“If you do not take one, it will loop endlessly,” Prnei said.

Daniel rolled his eyes and pocketed the coaster.

"Now that you have received one of your free gifts on with the tour,” said the cheery voice. “Say your name for our records."

"No,” Daniel said, just to see how what would happen.

“Welcome to our facility, 'No.' We are pleased to have you aboard.”

The voice paused a second, and then continued. “Sorry. Old joke. Please tell me your real name.”

“My name is Daniel Wei,” Daniel said with a sigh of exasperation. "Let's get this over with."

"That's the spirit!" Tour Guide said.

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7.09 - Early warning

Nov 02 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“During the tour," Tour Guide said, "we will be visiting 57 sites across the facility—"

"Fifty-seven? Ugh," Daniel said. "I should've taken my chances with the airlock."

"—before finally making our way to the final orientation presentation," Tour Guide said.

Prnei's eyes grew wide, as if he had remembered something important, and began speaking rapidly over Tour Guide's patter.

“Daniel!” Prnei said urgently. “I forgot to inform you! Whatever happens, you must not look at the int—!”

Before he could finish, there was a flash of light and a terrible smell, and Daniel found himself standing somewhere else.

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7.10 - Cafeteria 407

Nov 04 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

The stench was overpowering – like a dead fish soaked in cat urine.

Daniel hoped the teleporter wasn’t the cause of the smell; he couldn't take 56  more sniffs of it.

After blinking back tears, he saw that Tour Guide had returned him to the cafeteria.

"This is Cafeteria 407 ,” Tour Guide said. "One of the many culinary destination across--"

“Already been here,” Daniel said, eager to move this along.

“Deeply sorry. On to the ….”

As Daniel held his breath and prepared to flit across the station, he wondered what Prnei had been trying to say about the orientation.

“Do not look at the int—!” … Interrogator? Interception? Interesting objects?

Again there was a flash of light, and the smell was back, worse than before.

Stuck On: Fear

While many sentient lifeforms experience fear (see Stuck On: Hugs and Phobias) not all react the same way.

Some ignore it. Some embrace it. Some feed off it. Some sell it as gag gifts at parties. A lucky few, like Trak, never feel it.

As for humans, fear is a powerful emotion.

Not as powerful as, say, love or hatred, both of which have spawned countless interstellar conflicts and – thanks to the unfortunate invention of the senso-conversion beam powered countless interstellar conflicts.

But fear is a close third on the list.

Nausea is high up there too. But there is some debate as to whether nausea is an emotion at all.

The least powerful emotion?

Boredom … though Jeska and the current crew of Stuck Station crew might disagree with that.

As for fear, what awaited Daniel, Trak and Rachel-7 in the final orientation room would induce paroxysms of terror in almost any intelligent being.

Despite Prnei’s unfinished warning, Daniel was not afraid.

He should have been.

This has been Stuck On: Foreshadowing … I mean, Fear.

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7.11 - Familiar

Nov 08 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Daniel stood in a dark chamber, and, except for a series of glowing shapes that danced in the distance, there was no light.

“...To the Main Medical Center,” the Tour Guide said, finishing its sentence.

Daniel waved his hands in front of his face in an attempt to shoo away the lingering smell.

It was a different odor this time: a disturbing bouquet of out-of-control forest fire with hints of alien desserts that had passed their sell-by dates.

His medicloud was letting him breathe it, so it must be safe. But Daniel couldn't imagine how.

When it finally dissipated, Daniel thanked the gods.

The moving shapes in the distance drew his eye. All were uniformly white and could have been five feet away or five miles away.

“Like all amenities aboard Containment Facility One, our medical center is second to none,” the Tour Guide said. “Normally, mediclouds will help injured crewmates wherever the injury happens.”

Ignoring Tour Guide, Daniel focused on the glowing shapes. They looked … familiar.

“However,” it said, “should a crew member require special care --  if they catch a particularly nasty virus that a medicloud can't deal with, for example --  the patient will be flitted to this center, where our cloud specialists will use the most advanced techniques and equipment available.  A speedy recovery is 99.99 percent guaranteed.”

Have I seen those shapes before? Daniel thought, as one of them winked out and another appeared.

“In fact,” Tour Guide added, obviously quite proud, “since the creation of this facility there has not been a single crew fatality.”

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7.12 - Borrowed memory

Nov 08 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Daniel wanted to rush through the tour and find his friends (55 more sites to visit, he thought glumly), but he had to know if he was right.

“Is that what I think it is?” Daniel said, pointing at the glowing shapes.

"Please hold all questions until the end of the tour,” the Tour Guide said.

“Can I at least get some light?”

“Please hold all questions … My apologies. The last being to use this chamber hadn't needed light to see. At least at first,” the Tour Guide.

“That makes no sense. Do you practice being cryptic?”

“Please hold all questions until the end of the tour.”

And then the light came on and Daniel was well and truly flummoxed.

He stood in front of something so rare that people who had seen similar objects sold their memories of it for princely sums.

It was a cloud nest.

He’d seen one before in a borrowed memory that he had rented as a teenager. It had been expensive.

He didn’t even remember the memory  now – he’d had to return it – but he did remember having the memory and that’s why this thing looked so familiar.

The nest was a structure of interlocking geometric shapes at least 100 stories tall, a spire of glowing rods and metal cubes and crystalline pipes and a thousand other myriad shapes that seemed to shiver and dance in an unseen wind.

Collections of pyramids and spheres stretched out like limbs; some of the spires branches were as big as the spire itself.

And despite his recent fatalism, Daniel hoped he’d live long enough to sell this memory.

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7.13 - Cloud nests

Nov 08 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Stuck On: Cloud Nests

Clouds don’t get bored easily, but when they do they build nests.

Developed by manifold species since the creation of your universe (Universe 7C), most nanobot swarms share certain characteristics:

  • They are sentient.
  • They are fast, reliable, and unless they’re shoddily built – like the cloud that installed kitchen appliances on the roof of the Afterthought –  they obey orders.
  • They remain at the same job they were created for, either because of programmed restrictions that can't be removed or – like the ones on Stuck Station – because of a sense of duty to a greater ideal.
  • They don’t need payment or rest.
  • They only ask for a few minutes off every century for vacation time to “expand their horizons.”

However, after eons and eons, some clouds become … eccentric. They develop odd habits, bizarre hobbies, and harmless mental disorders.

And they build nests.

Because it takes a long time for a cloud to become bored, the number of recorded nest sightings can be counted on one hand -- if you’re a species with 237 fingers per hand.

A cloud may begin to build nests when it has reached, at a minimum,  67 million years of age.

In each recorded sighting, the cloud nest varies in size and color, but each nest takes the shape of a tree made of glowing geometric shapes.

Cloud nests are also rare because they don't last long.

As soon as any other intelligent lifeform observes the nest for longer than 30 minutes or moves within a few feet of the nest's outer exterior, the structure falls apart.

Scientists don't know why clouds demolish their nests or why clouds build them in the first place.

There are several theories, but most of the theories are boring.

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7.14 - Doodling

Nov 14 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Daniel had his own theory about why clouds made nests: It was a form of doodling.

And unlike bored schoolchildren, clouds could use any type of matter as a virtual pen.

It seemed obvious to Daniel. After millions of years, the swarms grew tired of their jobs, and, to break the monotony, they sculpted towers out of whatever atoms they found lying around.

Daniel could relate. He’d been miserable as a janitor and had spent much of the time doodling on every two-dimensional surface he could find at the Humboldt Sector Hospital.

The doodling theory also made sense to him because it explained why the clouds destroyed their nests – they didn’t want to get in trouble.

Daniel erased unflattering pictures of his boss when the boss got too close; clouds destroyed their impromptu art when they knew someone was watching.

Daniel wished the clouds would relax and stop caring what people thought. Even when he worked at his dad’s cloudyard, he’d thought they worked too hard.

But there was no doubt they were fascinating to watch. Entranced, he stared at the telltale blur of the clouds moving through the air, enjoying their leisure time.

One of the larger clouds converted a shimmering metallic octahedron into a three-foot-tall purple cone. Another swarm dissolved an entire limb of the tower. Still another built a series of tubular strands of clear material at the object's base.

Until today, Daniel hadn't known that clouds made scents when they doodled.

Daniel smelled lilacs and diesel fuel. Unlike the stench that had accompanied him into the Stuck Station medical center, this odor was oddly pleasant.



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7.15 - Hiding

Nov 15 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Tour Guide,” Daniel said quietly, afraid he’d alert the swarms and force them to dismantle their art, “let’s just move on. Take me to the next site.”

“You must see the Main Medical Center’s second-floor facilities. It's part of the tour.”

“Then take me there now!” he whispered.

“The second-floor facilities are 300 feet in front of you.”

“You mean the nest?” he said, pointing at the swaying structure.

“I’m sorry,” the Tour Guide said. “I don’t understand the question.”

“The big tower?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand the question. The second-floor facilities are 300 feet in front of you.”

“Ah,” Daniel said, finally understanding -- The Tour Guide couldn’t see the tower.

Daniel figured the clouds were shielding their actions from the Aye's sensors and the sensors of any other Ayes that could snitch on them.

The fact that Daniel could see the tower meant the clouds hadn't cloaked their art to organic life. Daniel didn't know why.

Maybe they just forgot? Daniel thought.

“Can’t you just flit me to wherever I need to go,” Daniel asked. “If they know I’m looking, they’ll stop.”

“They who? And, as I said, the next site is only 300 feet away,” the Tour guide said.


“Exercise is good for you. And looking at your body, you could do with some exercise.”

Daniel noted the Tour Guide was changing up its formulaic answers, becoming a little more talkative.

Also, Daniel thought, becoming a little crazier: No human had needed exercise since the invention of the personal medicloud.

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7.16 - Tower

Nov 15 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Rather than continue the pointless conversation with a mentally unstable Aye, Daniel started walking as far from the tower as he could.

Moving quietly, he hoped that taking the long way around the nest would help him reach the next part of the tour -- without the clouds catching him watching them, of course.

Daniel tried not to stare, but the nest was beautiful and alien.

The top part of the tower, a smooth bulge of spheres and more octahedrons, was easily the size of the Afterthought. But just beneath that bulge, the tower tapered down to the width of Daniel's index finger before expanding again to another bulge of geometric shapes.

Though it looked flimsy, the material must have been as solid as diamondglass. Otherwise, in this single-gravity environment, the tower would have snapped like a twig.

Hypnotized, Daniel thought the nest seemed … nice. It was the product of a trillion trillion trillion tiny bored minds and didn’t have any purpose other than wasting time. A beautiful waste of time.

Definitely a doodle, Daniel concluded.

One of the clouds descended from high above and wrapped around a glowing pyramid on one of the tower’s limbs.

The shape begin to change.

Abruptly, the cloud stopped its work and rose two feet above the pyramid. The bulk of the cloud pointed straight at Daniel.

Daniel cursed. He’d been seen.

The swarm let out a fine mist, which Daniel knew as a cloud sigh.

As the clouds relayed the message that playtime was over, the tower dissolved into nothingness.

“No!,” Daniel said, and sighed.

Not going to see that again. At least I got the whole thing recorded and—

“Gods,” he said, remembering his broken augmem.

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7.17 - The Main Medical Center

Nov 16 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

With the tower gone, Daniel had a better view of the medical center.

The place was big. Staggeringly big.

Humboldt Sector Hospital had been 50,000 square miles of sprawling medical complex, and if Daniel’s estimate was right, this room could swallow all of Humbolt and easily have space left over for the 250-mile asteroid that Humboldt had been built on.

Without his measuring app (which the augmem had managed), he knew his estimate could be wrong. But that didn’t change the fact that the place was large.

So large he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him – until he remembered that since their most recent firmware update, his eyes couldn't … at least not intentionally.

The floor behind him seemed like it went on forever and with his magnification on absolute maximum he could see that the floor slowly curved upward before becoming the walls and eventually the ceiling. It was as if someone had hollowed out a pearl the size of a moon and filled it with medical tech.

Daniel hoped it was medical tech.

For all he knew, the random assemblages of metal, ceramic, plastic, and organic tissue that dotted the curving ground could be the ship’s creators.

He moved closer to one of the small installations, a pile of interconnected electronics covered with glowing screens and what appeared to be several small organs  floating in clear containers.

“Hello?” he said, trying to initiate contact.

“Yes?” said the Tour Guide.

“Not you,” Daniel said, and reached out his hand to see if the pile would react.

“Please don't touch the equipment,” the Tour Guide said.

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7.18 - Blood

Nov 17 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Daniel felt relieved.

If the Tour Guide was right, he wasn’t surrounded by the silent, slightly creepy, makers of Stuck Station.

These things are just medstations. Not alive.  

That thought made him feel better. He trusted hospital tech, even if he couldn’t understand it.

And if this place was like most 28th-century hospitals, these machines made  mediclouds look as useful as a cloth bandage.

Anything these machines can’t handle, I don’t want to see, Daniel thought.

He headed toward the spot the Tour Guide had mentioned.

“Gotta get that exercise,” he said.

“Exercise is good for you,” the Tour Guide said again, oblivious to Daniel’s sarcasm.

He passed a piece of equipment that looked like a three-foot-tall rectangular blob of clear gel, hovering three feet off the ground. Curled tubes of yellow metal dangled from the blob’s edges and connected with the floor.

Near the shadow of one of the machine's corners, Daniel saw something marring the perfect whiteness of the glossy ground.

Clouds must have been so busying doodling they didn't clean up after their last procedure, he thought.

Immune to 99.99 percent of known diseases, clouds weren't bothered by dirty workplaces, even ones that were supposed to be sterile.

While the room looked mostly spotless, they had missed a few red splotches of blood, mostly likely human, recently dried.

Stuck On: Medstation

Medstation is the generic word for any piece of medical equipment that does the work of mediclouds, but is not a medicloud itself.

Medstations can range from the simple (antiviral dispenser) to the complex (organ duplicator) to the absurd (forehead lengthener).

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7.19 - CSI: Universe 27048B

Nov 18 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“The bloodstains look ... new."

“Let’s move on,” the Tour Guide said, breaking its cheery tone. It sounded nervous.

“I’m right, aren’t I? Where did it come from?” Daniel asked.

“It is …” The Tour Guide said and then stopped.

“Tell me,” Daniel said, in what he hoped was his sternest voice.

“The blood belonged to the most recent patient treated at this award-winning center.”

“Jeska?” Daniel said.


“Wait, you said the last patient hadn’t needed light to see," ” Daniel said, confused.

“At first,” the tour Guide said.

“But the blood looks human.”

“It does look human.”

“Just tell me whose blood it is!”

“Visitor Rachel-7,” the Tour Guide said reluctantly.


“Please hold all questions –”

“No, you’re not hiding behind that. How could that be Rachel’s blood?”

“It is merely the result of a small accident. You don’t have to worry.  Visitor Rachel-7 made it through the conversion process in perfect health. Now, I must ask that we—”

“’Conversion?’” Daniel said.

“Please hold all questions until the end of the tour.”

Daniel glared at the ceiling, even though the Tour Guide’s voice came from everywhere.

“Who cares if you answer my questions?!” Daniel said.

“I could be fired for breaking the rules.”

“I won’t report you,” Daniel said through gritted teeth.  “Just tell me what happened to her.”

“If the boss considers your friend’s minor – very minor – injury my fault, I could be fired.

“I won’t report you!”

“I can't know that for sure.”

Daniel let out a scream of frustration.

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7.20 - The pit and the process

Nov 22 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Still glaring at the ceiling, Daniel accidentally walked into a safety railing and let out a grunt of pain.

He followed that grunt with a shocked intake of breath.

Protected by the thin, blue guard rail that Daniel had banged his thigh against, a vast pit had formed in front of him. If he squinted he could see the edges of the pit still expanding, the clouds hard at work reforming part of the Medical Center.

That wasn't there before, Daniel thought. Or maybe it was, and the clouds are just peeling back the ground to let me see the second floor.  

Oddly enough, what the Tour Guide had called “the second floor” was actually below the first floor. Daniel chalked that up to his still-forming, completely unsettling “The Tour Guide is insane or at least malfunctioning” theory.

When the clouds stopped building, Daniel saw that the pit was full of fog and dark, motionless cylinders. Daniel couldn’t see the bottom, but he could tell it was a long way down.

The guard rail had saved him from a nasty -- maybe even fatal -- fall.

Daniel leaned over the railing and gazed at the darkness below.

He was just about to get a better view one of those cylinders, when a bright contact window opened in his eyescreens, revealing a pretty face contorted with rage.

In the window, a beautiful woman he had never seen before began cursing him loudly and passionately.   

She had a shock of shining red hair, emerald eyes and a robe just like his, with the word "Visitor" on its left breast.

As she switched from pure cursing to a mix of cursing and insults, Daniel realized he knew her.

Her haughty tone and oh-so-perfect British accent gave her away.

“Hello, Rachel,” Daniel said.

Then, at the sudden understanding of the “conversion process” the Tour Guide had mentioned, Daniel laughed so hard he almost lost his grip on the railing and plummeted into the pit.

Which only made Rachel-7 curse him more.

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7.21 - Panic

Nov 29 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

One hour earlier

Rachel-7 awoke to find the Afterthought mortally wounded.

According to her readings, the ship spun end over end in zero g, and – somehow, at the same time – remained at full stop.

Her sensors were full of contradictory data like that: she was low on energy and suffering from an energy overload; her hull had multiple breaches and needed no repair.

It was all wrong. Not wrong in the normal “something is always wrong with the Afterthought” kind of way, but wrong in the “AAAAAAAAAAUUUUGGGGHHHHH” kind of way.

Even her thought processes moved slowly. Everything seemed dull.

The ship’s too badly damaged. My datacore must be broken, Rachel-7 thought, the idea filling her with horror. I’ve been lobotomized.

“Do you need help?” said an insufferably cheery voice. The voice came from her starboard and port sides at the same time.

Rachel-7 didn’t respond. She had to think.

How long have I been out?

She couldn’t guess. She might have been drifting for years.

Activating her optical sensors, she “saw” only darkness. No stars. No light of any kind.

“Do you need help?” said that same voice.

She couldn’t locate the speaker.

Come to think of it, she couldn’t sense Trak or Daniel in her hull.

Her friends were missing. She was alone, awash in a sea of impossible information.

Rachel-7 felt herself starting to panic. It was a foreign feeling.

She didn't like being alone.

Taking a metaphorical deep breath, she tried to calm down.

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7.22 - Breathing

Nov 29 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

You can do this, she thought. You’re great.

And, she reminded herself, Trak and Daniel aren't “friends." They are co-workers who serve to highlight your own exceptionality.

She'd admit, she did have a certain fondness for the ugly Mek and the drunken human.

But that’s as far as she’d allow herself to emote. She didn’t need friends. She didn’t want them.

“Idiots?” she said, hoping they’d quickly respond.

When no one said anything, the worry spread deeper inside her, like a virus coldly infecting her mind.

“Trak? Daniel?”

It was quiet.

She couldn’t sense any lifesigns in the ship’s cabin. She couldn’t detect any kind of cabin at all.

The Afterthought’s decks had vanished.

The explosion gutted us, and my frien— my coworkers are gone.

The worry inside her grew.

She issued another emergency broadcast message: “Ship in trouble. Please respond. Quicker than As Soon As Possible.” 

Or at least she tried to issue one. Her communications array had disappeared as well.

She suddenly became aware of an unpleasant sensation along the Afterthought’s keel. A marked decrease in temperature coupled with minor discomfort.  The entire surface of the hull became covered in condensation.

The Afterthought had no nervous system and Rachel-7 didn’t feel pain. But the discomfort wasn’t … pleasant.

She heard a hissing sound and immediately identified it. Someone was breathing aboard her ship.

Daniel was alive.

And if Daniel made it, Trak, with his over-armored body, would certainly have survived it too.

She stifled her elation.

You don't need to celebrate. You don't need them, she thought. Alright, you can celebrate a little.

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7.23 - Damages

Nov 29 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Daniel?” she asked.

Then fear gripped her.

Rachel dear, she chided herself, many creatures breathe. That sound might not be Daniel.

Her mind raced. Someone else could have found a way inside the ship: Alitma. Rogue Meks. Some type of salesbeing.

Rachel-7 couldn’t decide which one was worse.

“If you aren't Daniel Wei, please say so,” she said.


“Whoever you are,” she said, “if you’re thinking of reprogramming me, I’ll have you know that I am perfect the way I am. Also, if you’re thinking of deleting me … I’d rather you didn’t.”

No response. The breathing continued.

She decided to ignore it for now.

“I’m ignoring you for now,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not watching you.”

The second statement was a lie. She still couldn't see anything.

Then something struck her as odd: she realized her voice had not come from her communication array. That array was gone.

In fact, she couldn’t pinpoint the exact source, but her words seemed to be coming from just below her cabin.

Then the unpleasant discomfort along her hull abruptly increased, so much that Rachel-7 tried to activate her forward repellors, hoping to assess the damage.

She felt the ship shake and then go into sudden, terrifying freefall.

There shouldn’t be this much gravity. I shouldn’t be falling, she thought as she fell.

She ordered full power to her repellors, and it did nothing.

As the Afterthought plummeted, Rachel-7 glimpsed a dim, tall, glowing tower of geometric shapes in the darkness … a Cloud Nest.

She was stunned at the rare sight … and then felt her ship hit something rock solid.

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7.24 - Pain

Nov 29 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

The impact didn't cause any serious damage  as far as she could tell  but it did create an unpleasant sensation in the forward section of the Afterthought.

It was so unpleasant, Rachel-7 considered labeling it "pain."

The sensation took up residence in her mind and knocked thoughts of the cloud nest right out of her.

If she hadn't been so distracted, she would have felt more unnerved by that moment of forgetfulness: Rachel-7 had never forgotten anything in her life.

In the dark, she felt her hull leaking some type of coolant she couldn’t identify.

At the same time, her sensors were still screaming nonsense at her, and then that aggravating voice chimed in.

“I am so sorry!” it said. “Do you need help?”

“Of course I need help!" she snapped. "I think my ship is dying. Emergency classification…”

As she trailed off, Rachel-7 found she couldn’t access her list of emergency classifications.

“Can you move?” the voice asked.

And then Rachel-7 developed a new theory.

I must have been picked up by a repair crew, Rachel-7 thought. And they’re testing my systems.

Cheered by the possibility, she grew impatient.

"Can you hurry this along?" she thought. "I have to find Daniel and Trak. I mean, I have to find my co--"

She stopped.

"I just need to find them," she said quietly.

She felt an unseen force lift the Afterthought off the flat surface and then flip the ship 180 degrees.

By now, her optical sensors had adjusted to the dark … barely.

There was a strange circular obstruction between her visual receptors, but she could still make out the light of the cloud nest.

CLOUD NEST! Rachel remembered suddenly.

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7.25 - Bend

Nov 29 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Instinctively she tried to move toward it, hoping to investigate and, maybe someday, exchange the memories for a better ship …

And her motion made the Afterthought fall again.

This time, however, before it hit the ground, the same invisible force lifted the ship and held it in the air.

Rachel-7 felt the temperature decrease across her entire hull.

“Looks like you can move well enough," the voice said. "All readings normal."

“Normal? I am broken in every sense of the word,” she said. “I demand to speak to the head technician.”

“There will be time for that later. Let’s move on.”

She detected something foul, some type of gas. It created a new kind of discomfort, a discomfort different than the pain she had experienced.

It was so powerful, she thought her forward sensors might be corroding.

Are they spraying me with acid? she wondered.

Then there was a flash of light and the Afterthought was standing vertical, its cabin pointed upward.

Her forward sensors felt no discomfort, no damage. Whatever they had sprayed her with was gone with no ill effects.

"Welcome to Containment Facility One!” said the cheery voice. “We of the —” There were some splattering sounds. “—thank you for volunteering on a project that we know will benefit all life.”

“We’re sure you want to get settled in,” the cheery voice continued. “But first let’s turn on the lights.”

The glare was so bright Rachel-7 thought her optical sensors would burst. She instinctively tried to veer her ship away.

But instead of moving, something terrifying happened.

She felt the Afterthought bend.

And then Rachel-7 really began to panic.

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7.26 - To Err

Nov 29 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

There wasn’t any sign of the reality-mangling Kep Effect. She felt none of the discomfort usually associated with a high-intensity energy weapon volley. No ship architecture-shift protocol had been activated.

Yet for no reason she could see, part of the Afterthought had slumped down like a melting ice sculpture.

Her cabin and her forward visual sensors now rested at a 45 degree angle.

Rachel-7 hadn’t been afraid of the fusion cannon explosion or the Kep Effect or Alitma’s warship.

But now, alone and totally out of her depth, Rachel-7 felt real fear.

“Trak?! Daniel?!” she screamed. “Someone?!”

Rachel-7  became aware that the view from her optical sensors had shifted. Originally they depicted a bright light, but they now showed something … else.

Something that, despite her fear, she quickly identified.

It was a pair of feet.

Human feet.

Her feet.

She felt the fear melt away, replaced with a blinding rage.

She’d been wrong – she wasn't inside the Afterthought, and hadn't been since the explosion.

The minor discomfort, the condensation, the energy conundrum, the indecipherable movement readings all suddenly made sense.

Rachel-7 was itchy, sweating, hungry and 100 percent organic.

The ship hadn't bent; Rachel-7 had tilted her neck down to avoid the glare. There was no intruder onboard; it was the sound of her own respiration.

There had been no coolant leak; she had smacked her nose – the round object that had been blocking her view – on the ground and bled on the floor.

And, as for the “acid,” she must have smelled something awful.

Her junkpile of a ship had disappeared, replaced with something much worse.

Rachel-7 was human.

And it was all Daniel’s fault.

I knew I’d been lobotomized, she thought. 

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7.27 - Blank brokerage

Nov 30 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven


“Never thought of you as the blank broker type,” Daniel said, when he had stopped laughing and Rachel-7 had stopped cursing.

“That’s offensive,” she snapped. “And I didn’t have any say in the matter.”

“I know. … Ha.”

“It’s also not funny.”

“You being human is very funny,” he said, holding back another laugh.

Stuck On:  Blank brokerage

From A Human’s Dictionary of The 28th Century (Now with Black Hole Detection)

Blank brokerage: Noun. Slang for any medical procedure in which an artificial or organic lifeform (the blank broker) voluntarily transfers his, her, or its mind into an organic body (the blank).

Though minor malfunctions have been reported, historically the procedure has been simple, painless and completely reversible.

Blank brokerage differs slightly from mind duplication, wherein a copy of a sentient’s mind is placed in the blank.

It is important to note that, in blank brokerage and mind duplication, no life is extinguished by transfer.

The blank, which is grown for the sole purpose of the procedure, is an empty shell.

Despite many popular virtuals depicting blanks suffering pain or fomenting rebellion, the blank – which can be grown in the shape of almost any lifeform – is no more alive than a cloned spleen.

[A note from the dictionary’s Edit-o-Tron 4500: In many galaxies, there is still a stigma associated with becoming an organic lifeform.

In those locations, “mind transference” is the politically correct term for the procedure. Some Meks and most Ayes find the phrase “blank brokerage” crass and insulting.]

[A note from the Author: Some Ayes – like Rachel-7 – find the whole procedure crass and insulting.]

[A note from the Humbolt Sector Judiciary Department: Involuntary Blank Brokerage is a serious crime. If you or someone you know has been forced into a blank without your consent, please notify your Sector Representative.]

[A note from Stuck Station’s Edit-O-Tron 4500: This "Stuck On:" has too many addendums. A rewrite is strongly suggested.]

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7.28 - Stunning

Dec 01 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Good to see you, Rach,” he said.

In more ways than one, he thought, as he looked at his now-stunning friend.

Flowing crimson hair framed her perfect face, an oval of dark, flawless skin. Crystal clear eyes and sparkling teeth, she was a knockout.

Which made her “conversion” even funnier.

“I suppose it’s good to see you too,” she said. “You are uninjured?”

Because of Jeska’s bizarre behavior – Daniel’s powerful denial-reflex refused to call it a betrayal – he saw Rachel-7's beauty without longing. To his broken heart, she was lovely in a distant sort of way, like a fire seen through a hazy viewscreen.

That didn't stop him from staring.


Gorgeous or not, she was still Rachel-7, and that meant he had to keep her pride in check. He and Trak found the best way to do that was not answering her questions.

“Captain?” she said, sarcastically.

There was something about her eyes, though.

“I’m going to start calling you names, and when you feel like I’ve described you perfectly, please answer.”

Daniel wondered why her eyes seemed so familiar. And then he realized they were the same eyes she had used as her personal avatar. He'd only seen them anytime she deigned to meet "in person" with him and Trak.

“Moron? Fool? Idiot?”  she said.

Trak, Daniel remembered.

“Is Trak with you?” he said.

“You respond to ‘idiot,'” she said. "Good to know. He’s not with me, but he’s fine, if this incompetent Aye is to be believed.”

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7.29 - The Blue Pharaoh

Dec 02 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Trak is supposedly waiting for us at the final room of the tour.”

She said the word “tour” with the disdain Daniel normally reserved for notions like torture, genocide, or sobriety.

So Trak’s ok and Rachel-7’s ok … sort of. Daniel thought. At least, Jeska hadn’t lied about that.

Jeska didn’t lie at all, said the part of him that was fighting a losing battle with the truth. She was just confused. And worried. That must have been why she took my ship.

“So,” Daniel said, “we meet up with Trak and try to find –”

“Aren’t you the least bit curious as to why I am a kepping human?!”

“You’ve wanted to be one of us so long,” Daniel said, “I assumed you’d met the blue pharaoh from the old Earth stories, and she turned you into a real girl.”

“Still not funny. I don’t know why I'm human.”

“I didn’t ask.”

“But you wanted to know.”

“Nope,” he said, and looked around the spherical medical center. The place was dead quiet. “I want to know why we’re still alive. That cannon should have killed us. I’d also like know what’s wrong with this place. … Speaking of which, do you know anything about coasters? ”


Daniel filled Rachel-7 in on what had happened to him after the explosion.

“So I could get spaced if I don’t take the tour,” Rachel-7 said. “I’m not the least surprised. This place is a disaster.”


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7.30 - Wounded nose

Dec 05 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Well, when Jeska gets back …”

“Daniel, she’s not coming back.”

“She could.”

Rachel-7 rolled her eyes. “She's made a fool of you again. Why do you fall for it?”

“I think it’s a misunderstanding,” Daniel said quickly.

“She put one over on you. And she had that Prnei fellow help.”

“No. She’ll be back,” he said, but he heard the doubt in his own voice.

“She won’t.”

Daniel stared awkwardly into space.

“Anyway, how’d you contact me?” Daniel said, when he came back to life. “I couldn’t reach you.”

“I tricked Tour Guide into opening a link chat,” she said, looking pleased with herself. “The Aye is stunningly stupid. It took me to three different locations on its idiotic ‘tour’ before I convinced it I didn’t want to do a look-around.”

Daniel nodded his head. “And you have no idea why you’re human?”

“Ha! I knew you were curious!”

“Then I guess you win in this conversation,” he said, still smarting from her critique of his former lover. “Any thoughts as to why you’re now oh-so-lovely, Miss Universe?”

“You find me attractive. Great," Rachel-7 said, rolling her eyes.

Uh oh. She's already full of herself. Don't let her know she's pretty. 

"Not that attractive," Daniel said.  'I mean, you're maybe a 6 out of 10?"

Rachel-7 ignored him.

"Hey idiot?" she asked. Without thinking, Daniel started to open his mouth.

"Not you, idiot," Rachel-7 said. "The Aye idiot. Hey, idiot, why am I now an unwilling member of the homo not-that-sapiens?"

"You didn't ask before?" Daniel said.

"I was too angry at you to be bothered."

“I will answer your question,” said the Tour Guide.

Daniel felt frustrated. "You'll answer that question, but won't tell us why we're here? Or where here is?"

The Tour Guide, like Rachel-7, ignored Daniel.

"My programming says that, if I have to apologize, — for example, if I accidentally cause someone to smash their olfactory organ on the floor —"

"That was your fault!?" Rachel-7 said, touching her now-repaired nose with her new hands.

"I am required to respond to the offended party. …  I might have responded more quickly if Visitor Rachel-7 had stopped belittling me."

In Daniel’s experience, Rachel-7 got along with other Ayes just as well as she got along with organic life.

True to form, Rachel-7 let loose a stream of Ilixian profanity.

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7.31 - Obviously

Dec 06 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Ignore her,” Daniel said. “Just tell me what happened.”

“There’s a simple reason for your loaner body, Visitor Rachel-7.” the soft voice said.

Rachel-7 jumped in. “The reason is that you are a terrible Aye who is terrible at everything you do?”

“No,” the Tour Guide said. “For security reasons, all Containment Facility One visitors must have corporeal forms. Normally, we would have given you a choice between an organic lifeform and a Mek—“

“Mek,” Rachel-7 said without hesitation.

“But, unfortunately we are still awaiting the arrival of a shipment of supplies for Mek production.”

“And” Rachel-7 asked, “the reason you’re too stupid to order your clouds to build new supplies is …?”

“Without a mechanical proxy to transfer you to,” the Tour Guide said, not answering her question, “we gave you a body-type based on the last species to board the facility.”

Daniel figured it out a split-second before Rachel-7, and closed his eyes in anticipation of her reaction.

“I’M BASED ON JESKA?!!” she screamed.

“Only in so far as you are female and human,” the Tour Guide said, meekly.

“Plus you have different eyes, mouth, hair, skin, ” Daniel offered.

“And hopefully a different brain?” Rachel-7 said morosely.

“Can you give us some more information?” Daniel said, as politely as he could.

The Tour Guide went silent.

“I don’t think this place works like it’s supposed to,” he said.

“Obviously,” she said.

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7.32 - Human?

Dec 08 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“I wonder why everything here seems broken,” Daniel said.

“Doesn’t matter. We have to move before Alitma finds you."

Daniel raise an eyebrow at her apparent expression of concern. Had being human already started to change her?

“Because I’m certainly not listening to another one your lame attempts at bluffing,” Rachel-7 said. “It’s pathetic, and you’re not good at it.”

That's the Rachel-7 I know.

“I’m sure Alitma thinks were dead,” Daniel said.

“Ugh, of course!” she said, remembering. “He thinks were dead. I knew that, but I couldn't ...

A shocked expression took over her face.

"I couldn’t access the information fast enough!" she said. Obviously something like that had never had happened to her. "This mind has almost no memory storage capacity and terrible retrieval system! It's barely a brain. More of like datacore lite.”

Given his recent memory trouble, Daniel had to agree. Maybe I can find another augmem when the tour is over?

“And what’s worse,” she said, “I have to devote most of my mental resources just to hold this conversation. I used to be able to do a thousand things at once. Now I struggle to think about what I'm going to say next. How did your species accomplish anything without running multiple instances of yourselves at the same time?”

“We built Ayes,” he said. And augmems.

“One of humanities few good inventions," she said. “Now, let’s finish this tour. I’m not getting jettisoned – I plan to live forever."

She thought for a second.

"And if have to die," she said, gesturing to herself with both hands, "I’m certainly not dying in this."

Daniel stared.

“Stop that.”

“Sorry. Traumatic experience, et cetera, et cetera,” he said.

"I’ll meet you at the final room of the tour?" she said.

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7.33 - Move on

Dec 09 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

“Sounds good.”

“Hey Broken Aye,” Rachel-7 said. “Any chance we can speed this thing up? Can Daniel and I commute our sentence? Or is there an abridged version of your speech?

“I’m sorry,” the Tour Guide said. “All tours must be taken individually to allow visitors to appreciate the grandeur of the station. And it would be unwise to miss a single part of the history behind some the facility’s fine amenities, especially—”

“So, ‘no’ then," Daniel said.

“I’m sorry,” The Tour Guide said.

Daniel took a swig of his flask.

“I’m going to need one of those before this tour is over,” Rachel-7 said.

“I’ve got plenty left … for some reason,” he said.

Putting his flask back in his robe, Daniel didn’t see Rachel-7’s eyes widen at his words.

He hadn't figured out why the bottle was nearly full, but he didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I wonder what a horse is, he thought.

“You can have some when we meet up,” he said.

“If there’s any left,” she said, looking relieved.

“Yeah,” he said. “Say hi to the blue pharaoh for me.”

“Still not funny. Tour Guide, let’s get a move on!”

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7.34 - The story of the Blue Pharaoh

Dec 09 2011 Published by under Chapter Seven

Stuck On: The Blue Pharaoh

Humanity’s first interstellar war made life difficult for historians.

Much survived the Xerxes Conflict (certain cliches, Pac-man, and a third of the human race) but so much was lost to the mists of time (cough syrup, the apron, and any concept of casual Fridays).

Another casualty of the 2107 war — besides the almost 30 billion actual casualties — was Earth's rich literary tradition.

Only 20 percent of poems, plays, books, and fairy tales still exist unscathed.

As such, historians are unsure where the concept of the Blue Pharaoh originated.  (Academics privately called the Xerxes Conflict "the war that made our jobs almost impossible.")

Through years of painstaking research, scholars have managed to piece together the story.

The tale is, at best, allegorical, and at worst, incomprehensible. Despite its brevity and somewhat unpolished style, the Story of the Blue Pharaoh is still popular in 28th-century human culture.

The Story of the Blue Pharaoh

Once upon a team, there was a block of wood that wanted to be a real boy. Out of nowhere, a blue pharaoh appeared.

Sensing the block of wood's plight, she used her magic wind to turn the piece of oak into Pancake-io, a tiny wooden action figure.

Eventually the blue pharaoh, who was a bit absentminded, remembered that the block of wood had wanted to be a real boy and not a poseable figurine.

So the Blue Pharoah transformed him into a human.

Then they were both eaten by a whale.

There also may have been a cricket involved.

The End.

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