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.
â€œSo you just stop repairing yourself, and create a replacement?â€
â€œYep,â€ I replied, â€œHappens to all of us; we call it the cycle of life.â€
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.
â€œHow old are you?â€ I asked.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ the translator said. â€œIâ€™m reasonably sure that if I started, it was long before my memoriesâ€”but then is that me? Do you remember climbing out of the water, or standing upright?â€
â€œNo, not even as legends,â€ I said, while running the pre-flight check. â€œItâ€™s just the creative extrapolation of our science department. Best guess.â€
â€œYeah, thatâ€™s what I do: Guess.â€ His little floating sensor pod had followed me into the cabin, and watched me as I worked. â€œHave you made a replacement for yourself?â€
â€œWe call them children,â€ I said, beginning to look forward to my comfy stasis chamber, â€œand itâ€™s a touchy subject. But yes, yes I have, and they are doing well on their own.â€
â€œSo how come you are still around?â€ He asked, so matter-of-factly from the translator. â€œThatâ€™s the touchy part,â€ I said to the nuisance of a translator, â€œbecause I would prefer to continue repairing, instead. How do you do it?â€
â€œIs this where wars come from?â€ He pursued, in an odd leap of logic. â€œPossibly,â€ I said a bit too testily, as I walked back to the airlock with my voyeuristic envoy following, â€œbut you havenâ€™t answered my question.â€
â€œIâ€™ve seen your wounds heal; you already know how to repair.â€ He said dismissively, as though I had asked a silly question.
I opened the airlock to let my guest back out. â€œThat doesnâ€™t happen at a level that I am readily aware of.â€
â€œWhat was your question?â€ He asked, as his little observing orb floated out the doorway and turned to watch me close the door.
â€œAhh…Nevermind,â€ I said, realizing the answer would also be something I could not be readily aware of. â€œIt was just an impulse really.â€ In some ways, he did seem rather smart.
â€œI hope you find what it is that you are looking for.â€ And even as I closed the hatch, I began to miss him.
â€œThanks, maybe Iâ€™ll see you again some time.â€
â€œIâ€™ll always be here.â€