BBJJQ -- Chapter One
The Hankoo was a reclaimed Sheyang 'salvage' vessel that had wound up as property of the Hynerian Navy. Its current passengers had laid claim on it because of its large machine shop and the Dominar had been very happy to oblige.
At the moment Jerry and the Bot were on the bridge while Questor and Jool were down in the shop performing an inventory.
"Jerry," the perky blond android asked, "Questor is and is not like me right?"
"Well yes BB. The race that developed his technology was far older than Warren Mears. However, there are many similarities in systems."
"Did you know Warren?"
"Never heard of him. I did know Ted Buchanan though...at least by correspondence."
"Willow told me about him. Robots doing evil are bad and a trope she said."
"Well Warren had found some of Ted's notes that he had published. I think Ted had discovered one of the older models of Questor's lineage and done some reverse engineering."
"Will I become evil? I don't want to, sex is far more fun."
Jerry goggled for a second, "I thought that track of programming had been removed?"
"It has. I still enjoy sex though. Is that wrong?"
"No, no it's not," the old engineer smiled at the Bot. "As long as it comes from you and not from an outside compulsion."
Jool and Questor were renovating a 3D lathe. The Interion scientist and the advanced android had hit it off quite well.
"Questor could you lift the work surface for a moment? I have to calibrate."
"Of course Jooloshko," with no strain at all, Questor raised the 100 kilo slab of alloy 12 centimeters from its frame. "While you're looking there can you determine the condition of the vibration dampeners?"
"Oh! I should have thought of that," Jool replied. "Of course."
"That's why there are two of us working on this project."
"You know, when I first met you I thought that Erp's technology level had spiked," Jool commented as she spun out the worn dampers from their housings. "Then I find out very few people knew about you at all."
"My creators wanted to keep it that way. The tech level has increased however, you can see an example of that with the Heinlein and BB. Therefore, though I am in no immediate danger of being obsolete, others like me may appear sooner rather than later. Only this time, designed completely by humans."
"What do you think of hyoomans?"
"Brilliant and impulsive. A dangerous combination. That's why I was created of course."
"I see. You can lower it now."
On Plantach III, the planet that the Dominar had loaned the Earth expedition, it had been decided that several small teams be sent out. The crew of the Hankoo had been selected to go to the locations of Maldis's previous appearances. With two androids, they should be far more resistant to mental manipulation. Jerry, Dr. Robinson, had gone because Questor was going. Jool had volunteered because she considered Jerry and Questor scientists of her caliber and actually worth talking to. Also, she was the only one affiliated with the Moya that Maldis had not encountered before.
Their first stop had been Likos, the location of Moya and crew first encounter with the malicious entity. The planet was now far better off than the information they had gotten from Crichton and Pilot had indicated.
At the moment they were en route to the last known location of the merchant Kyvan's space station. The Bot had been loaded with full piloting knowledge and seemed to be enjoying herself as pilot in command. In fact getting her off the bridge was basically impossible.
"Hello everybody!" the Bot said cheerily over the intercom. "The station is in sensor range and has given us permission to dock. Would somebody more capable of lying please come to the bridge?"
Jool, the Bot, and Questor were the first to board. The station was in terrible disrepair, small, and cramped.
"No sense of home," the Bot tsked. "My best friend Willow and my baby sister Dawn would be very displeased."
"Welcome travelers. You don't really look like Sheyang though?" a rough voice carried through a concealed speaker.
"We had a difference of opinion," Jool said smoothly, "They saw themselves in possession of their ship and we did not." The only weapons the Hankoo's crew were carrying were the pulse pistol on Jool's hip, and the Bot's battleaxe and crossbow.
"Interesting group. I ain't seen an Interion in many a cycle...and yer associates seem like Sebaceans, but not quite.
"We're humans," Questor replied. I am Questor, this is BB, and this is Jooloshko Tunai Fenta Hovalis."
"Hyoomans...Oh really? Well, that's never no mind. Yer definitely not Peacekeepers. They would never allow such a mix of races. You are not exactly pirates either. Your ship has had most of its tools of th'trade yanked from it."
"To reduce misunderstandings," Jool cut in.
"Quite...Very well, I'm open for business," a panel slid open and a cluttered, dirty, but brightly lit arcade was revealed, "Welcome to Furlow's garage and tradin' post..." A large Sebacean woman in grubby mechanic's coveralls came up to them with a huge grin on her face. Jool's hair turned crimson.