Author : Benjamin Fischer

“So you’re a butler.”

Xero repressed the urge to roll his eyes and sigh. The woman across the aisle on the maglev had seen his replicant’s sigil, a broad tattoo of the symbol for Gemini on the back of his left hand. She’d also seen his impeccable dress and the parcel he’d retrieved from the spaceport. She’d put two and two together and now she wanted to talk.

“I am an executive,” he replied, setting down the display screen for his book.

“Which is another word for butler,” the woman said.

Xero would have slapped her if she hadn’t reeked of money, but the ostentatious garnish on her purple dress suggested it was straight off some Euro runway.

“You are new to Luna, ma’am?” he asked her.

“Why–yes,” she said. “You can tell.”

“I pick up on such things,” Xero said.

“Like a good butler would,” said the woman. “So, he cloned himself to get out of doing the household chores? You Lunies amaze me.”

“Yes, I do the chores,” nodded Xero, ignoring the slight. “But our relationship is much more than that of a servant and master. I manage his economic interests and his wives when he is traveling or indisposed.”

“Wives? In the plural?”


“Hmm,” she snorted. “The casual polygamy of this place still astounds me.”

“Oh, they get along,” said Xero. “Never bored for company.”

“I’ll bet.”

“You’ll bet what, ma’am?” asked Xero, even though he knew.

She leaned in.

“So in the dark,” she said, blushing, “can they tell that you’re not him?”

Xero chuckled.

“I’m his executive, ma’am.”

“But do you–do you, you know?” the woman asked.

“From time to time.”

“And what about him?” she asked.

“Not his taste,” Xero said, and then seeing the continued color in the woman’s face:

“Sometimes when I’m with them,” he said, “he will watch.”

That shut her up for a moment and Xero almost got back to reading the latest chapter of his favorite serial when she piped up again.

“How large is your household?” she asked.

“About average for Copernicus,” he replied.

“What’s average?” she asked.

Xero set aside his book’s diamond case.

“Two of us, the three wives, the pool girl, the plumber, the gardener, five different Intelligences, two sponsored children, and maybe three entertainers on contract. That’s everyone who lives in the quarters, at least,” he said.

“That’s average?” asked the woman.

“Mmm, yes, ma’am. About average.”

“Everyone lives like that?”

“No, but the option is always there,” said Xero.

“But that must be expensive-”

“Twelve adults and Intelligences, ma’am. We all pull our weight.”

The woman shook her head.

“Absurd,” she said.

“Maybe,” Xero said, “but it’s damn good fun.”

The woman snorted.

Xero glanced at his darkened book. He sighed and opened his mouth anyway.

“In the Concourse Level, ma’am. There’s a club called Young’s.”

She raised an eyebrow at him, not understanding.

“When your husband starts looking,” he said. “You might as well begin with the best.”

“What?” she said.

“It’s what you’re worried about, isn’t it?” said Xero. “Getting replaced.”

“Jim would never-”

“Ma’am,” Xero said, grinning, “I’m sure he’s thinking of you as well–he’s probably already getting an executive of his own.”

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