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*I’m beginning to think the true Universal Constant is paperwork,* Lea thought. She held the clipboard between a thumb and finger like it was a dead rat and glared at the massive pile of boxes, crates and equipment that had been hastily dumped in the large cross corridor.
“This is ridiculous. Why are we doing inventory? We’re on a giant talking alien spaceship, not in some warehouse on Earth. And aren’t we supposed to be coming up with clever sneaky plans right now?”
Rodriguez chuckled. The floating bed he was on shifted a little, overcompensating for his movement. “Hate to tell ya, but this is how most of our sneaky plans start. Paperwork and meetings. They focus on fast-roping off black helicopters and blowing shit up in the recruiting ads so people will sign up. Here, I’ll take that. I’m still not up for much lifting. You open the crates.”
Lea gave him the clipboard and stopped complaining. She had a brief but vivid memory of Rodriguez, bloody and screaming with pain after being shot by a defensive robot. He’d healed fast, but he was still recovering. *I saw his internal organs. How can he be so calm about it?*
And she knew he was calm about it, because she’d been damaged by alien tech too. Sensing his emotions was like breathing air—it took no effort and she couldn’t stop it.
Lea headed for one of several personal footlockers and threw the lid open.She needed to think about something else.
“Wait, this has to be wrong. It’s stuffed with DVDs from the rec library. Or someone’s personal collection.” She held up one. It had “Grand Canyon Vacation [year]” written on the disk in marker pen. “I don’t remember this movie hitting the theaters.”
“Oh.” That made sense, actually. The Wiyert were getting a crash course on their long-forgotten home planet. She liked that part. They were astounded by the most ordinary things, and the questions they asked made her equally curious about how they lived. Or, from the sounds of it, died. Nobody took vacations on Beredul. “Right. One footlocker, miscellaneous video. Including cartoons. I don’t know if that’s a good idea—the Wiyert already think Earth-humans are a bunch of hyperactive children.”
“Nah, just you.” Rodriguez grinned. “They’re hard-core, but so are we.”
“Not like them, you aren’t. I’m not sure they even have a word for fun.” Lea opened more boxes, wondering how the language sessions were going. And, being honest with herself, when she was going to be able to spend some time with Ivars.
She knew they had to learn to communicate with the Wiyert. On Argo, the AI could provide translation services but they weren’t going to be able to stay on the moon-sized ship all the time. She had picked up a lot automatically with her mental link to Argo, but the rest of the team had to do it the hard way. So she got to spend time making lists, and making sure Rodriguez rested like he was supposed to.
*A fine way to conquer the galaxy. We’ll just bore everyone to death.*
|What I Write||
My current project, One Blood, is the next book in the world of The Scent of Metal–the continuing adventures of a machine telepath, a band of dent-and-ding Special Forces soldiers, and some VERY lost Neandertals. Oh, and an immature AI in a spaceship the size of a moon….
Guardian’s Compact series:
The Scent of Metal
I hope to write the first two chapters of One Blood. We’ll see….
More than last year?