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Rita woke up feeling cold and hungry. She was alone in the medlab, lying naked under a thin sheet. Gently, she pressed her fingers to her right side, feeling the wound. Plastic sutures covered it. Rita tried to focus her consciousness on the wound, to see whether she could feel any nanites crawling around inside of her. She couldn’t, but that didn’t mean anything — she couldn’t feel the bacteria crawling around inside of her, either.
“Hi, boss,” Linda said. “Food’s up in a minute.”
“It’s freezing in here,” Rita said.
“We’re at standard temperature according to ship’s regs. You’re missing blood. I can crank the temperature in there, but you might want to bundle up for the rest of the ship.”
“Don’t we stock blood?” Rita asked.
“We used up all the supplies on you and strained the ship’s nanite colony squeezing out more. Rita, you tried to die on me.”
“That’s not how I would describe it,” Rita said.
“You refuse to read local news before landing on a planet, go off willy-nilly drinking with the natives, and then let them shoot you when you get caught. And what do you think happens to me if you die? Barbarians poking at me, that’s what.”
“I’m sorry.” Rita wiggled her toes, just to make sure she still could. “Where are we?”
“En route to Calvary. They’ll have need for the goods we took on at Primus Drie and their passenger rates are very favorable.”
Rita had forgotten her passengers, again. “What have they been up to?”
“I’m teaching them to cook,” Linda said.
Rita didn’t have time to snicker at the note of pride in the computer’s voice before the siblings burst in, wheeling a large cart with a tray on top of it.
“Captain Valshorn, you are recovered,” the girl said.
“We have prepared a meal for you. Linda, your companion-machine, has instructed us in this most generously,” the brother said.
“Stop,” Rita said. “First of all, I’m Rita, and thanks for lunch. Secondly, what are your names?”
“I am Aliph,” the brother said.
“And I Bett,” the sister said.
“Aliph and Bett? Your parents were hilarious. You are siblings, right?”
They paused, frozen, then in unison answered, “Yes.”
Rita pulled the tray toward her and took a look at her lunch. They’d made her a ham sandwich and potato salad. It wasn’t quite gourmet but, for a meal Rita didn’t have to make herself, she wouldn’t complain. “Put your feet up,” Rita said after she took a bite from the sandwich. Continue reading “Sentient Domain: Chapter 3”