Author : Jonathan Wooldridge

I finally finished converting enough of the ore to fuel for the flight home. My knee had healed almost completely from the landing, and the patch in the tank looked solid.

And he was still there, watching and asking questions.

“So you just stop repairing yourself, and create a replacement?”

“Yep,” I replied, “Happens to all of us; we call it the cycle of life.”

We had been discussing species differences for the past half hour, ever since the translator came back online. Watching me use the med kit, and then repair the ship fascinated him. He was as curious about mortals as I was of him.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” the translator said. “I’m reasonably sure that if I started, it was long before my memories—but then is that me? Do you remember climbing out of the water, or standing upright?”

“No, not even as legends,” I said, while running the pre-flight check. “It’s just the creative extrapolation of our science department. Best guess.”

“Yeah, that’s what I do: Guess.” His little floating sensor pod had followed me into the cabin, and watched me as I worked. “Have you made a replacement for yourself?”

“We call them children,” I said, beginning to look forward to my comfy stasis chamber, “and it’s a touchy subject. But yes, yes I have, and they are doing well on their own.”

“So how come you are still around?” He asked, so matter-of-factly from the translator. “That’s the touchy part,” I said to the nuisance of a translator, “because I would prefer to continue repairing, instead. How do you do it?”

“Is this where wars come from?” He pursued, in an odd leap of logic. “Possibly,” I said a bit too testily, as I walked back to the airlock with my voyeuristic envoy following, “but you haven’t answered my question.”

“I’ve seen your wounds heal; you already know how to repair.” He said dismissively, as though I had asked a silly question.

I opened the airlock to let my guest back out. “That doesn’t happen at a level that I am readily aware of.”

“What was your question?” He asked, as his little observing orb floated out the doorway and turned to watch me close the door.

“Ahh…Nevermind,” I said, realizing the answer would also be something I could not be readily aware of. “It was just an impulse really.” In some ways, he did seem rather smart.

“I hope you find what it is that you are looking for.” And even as I closed the hatch, I began to miss him.

“Thanks, maybe I’ll see you again some time.”

“I’ll always be here.”

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