I have reached the end of my journey to Colonia, taking only some light damage when I got too close to a brown dwarf. While Dreamer was being patched up I got friendly with a couple of the crew at Jaques Station, which lead to several heavy drinking sessions, funded by all that exploration data.
During one of these sessions I found myself putting the galaxy to right with the crew foreman 'King' Louie, a rotund chap, with big arms, a shocking mane of ginger hair and heavy set features. Our silent partner 'Ein' Stein watched on, in his usual stoic fashion. Louie had told me that Stein was as good as any Engineer out there, better in fact, but he is also clever enough to know that there is nothing he could invent, that wouldn't be put to the wrong use eventually.
Louie had asked me if I had learned anything out there alone, and I had quipped that I was alarmed at how fast I had got use to the taste of my own recycled water. Emboldened by his polite chuckle, I told them about my identity crisis, how I died, that creak and being remade as a copy (Day 5)
, adding, "after all we already synthesize ammo, fuel and limpets."
Louie pondered for a moment before responding. "Maybe you could scale it up for a ship, but something living... and anyway you are missing the important part."
Feeling I was walking into a trap, I still had to ask, "which is?"
"If they did have that technology, why would they waste it on your scrawny arse?!"
Much as I wanted to come back with a good argument, all I could manage was, "it isn't that scrawny!" Which just moved him from grinning to laughing.
So it caught us both by surprise when Stein spoke. "Monkeys are expensive!"
To say Stein is quiet would be an understatement, he doesn't speak unless he has to, and when he does, he doesn't bother with the beginning or the middle of sentences. His words left us staring at him in bemusement, while he just stared back as if trying to burn away the dense clouds around our brains.
Finally with a sigh, a real heart felt sigh, he was forced to add, 'commanders are cheap!"
Louie looked genuinely surprised. "Damn, he's got a point! Commanders are a dime a dozen, and they have all the data being constantly recorded. If they were dead already, nobody would know if they got brought back inside out."
Feeling the conversation was swinging my way, I took the chance to tell them about the drunk who had been rescued too many times, and how he had told me we were all just 0s and 1s.
"Poor sod! Looked behind the curtain." Stein surprised us again, this time with an almost emotional response.
I was still mulling over the Oz reference when Louie commented "I think that has to be a record!" To which I couldn't help but add, "in sentences, words or syllables?" Under Stein's scowls the banter went back and forward, and the moment to pry an insight from him was sadly lost.
When I left a few days later Louie presented me with a tinfoil hat, telling me to make sure I didn't remove it, as it wouldn't take long to scan my brain. Stein was there as well, he didn't say anything, his presence alone said enough. I gave them a bottle of Lavian Brandy I had pinched from Didi Vaterman, they would enjoy it, and it wasn't as if she would miss it.
This isn't the end of my journey, but it is my last logbook entry, all this thinking and writing can't be good for me.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."