Kay followed Syrge into the passage. The first moment of decision came almost instantly.
“This way or that way?”
Syrge was standing on the ground proper, but he had to hold onto the handrails to do so. Kick allowed herself to rotate so she looked upside down to him. Just for fun. She pointed right and said, “That way,” then shot off to the left. Syrge practiced his summersault one time before following her. The passage led straight ahead to a turn that looked right angle, but quickly proved to be a curved line following the inside of the convex surface of the end of the axel cylinder. They followed the curved passage until Kay’s SPS showed them near the middle of the end dome and they spied a door and a sign. The sign read: Please Knock Before Entering.
Syrge looked up at Kay like an eager puppy. She shrugged her shoulders. Syrge knocked on the door three times. He looked back at Kay. She looked back at him. He rolled his eyes and looked at her sadly.
“I already told you. No sex. I’m only ten.”
Kay reached out and grabbed his tie violently and jerked him so that his face was centimeters from hers.
“Okay. I get it. I’m a slut, ho, vamp, fleece, promiscuous woman! Leave it! Your petty moralities have no meaning for me, but your petty moralities bore me to where I want to do violence on you. Use your brain to shut up now Big Bowl Of Sorg For Brains.”
The door opened and a voice called out from within.
“Holy shit! Come in! I’m… uh… I’m, like totally dressed already! Fuck!”
They heard a thumping sound like someone hitting a piece of wood at high speed.
“Ow! Nothing… Nothing going on here! Come on in!” The voice sounded winded and was breathing heavy. Kay coasted forward on the barest toe powered momentum. Syrge was holding onto her tail with his right hand and chewing the nails of his left. The passage ended at a spin interface. There was a spinning artificial gravity ring beyond the interface. Syrge gaped at the spinning ring.
“That. Is a pretty primitive transition ring. Do you know how…”
Kay grabbed him and kart wheeled through the stile. Both of them crashed and lay splayed across the floor of the room.
The walls were made of some brownish red substance with weird random swishes and swirls for markings. Kay’s computer could not find any connection to any known language in the swirls and swoops. Before she could even formulate a question about it, Syrge answered.
“Wood panels. Weird.”
The carpet was a light tan. There were several screens on the walls, but they were all paused on extremely boring scenes with no captions or UNOs. They were all pictures of old Earth though.
The voice hailed them again, closer.
“Hey! Come on! I’ve got food! Ice cream and shit!”
Kay and Syrge shrugged at each other. Kay pulled her own gun and pointed to Syrge’s. Pantomiming how to carry it pointed down and forward as they advanced. Syrge smiled at her antics and continued to let his gun had swing along casually at his side.
“Hey, Kay! It’s great to be in gravity again huh? I don’t feel weak at all!”
Kay shot a poisonous look at him. She approached a door and pushed the button marked to open. She shoved Syrge against the wall out of any potential line of fire. The door slid open and she leveled her gun trough the entrance. There was a table spread with food, a naked lady on either side and at the far end of the table a very fat bearded man holding his hands up and laughing… or possibly choking.
“Hey woah! Unarmed! I would’ve come out to meet you but I’m so fucking fat! Huh! Huh!”
The two ladies on his flanks stood perfectly still. Kay looked at them closely.
“Huh huh huh. Don’t mind the sex bots. They’re my only company mostly. Pretty good conversationalists though. Good programming.”
Kay inched into the room looking around at the walls and ceiling. There was another wider door in the back that this man could possibly fit through.
“I’m just bullshitting you. I use them for sex. Huh huh, that’s it. Hey! You got my beacon!? Have a seat?”
Kay moved to the chair across from him, but remained standing. Syrge stepped into the doorway.
“Surprise inspection!” he yelled, “Didn’t they notify you we were coming!”
The fat man started laughing louder.
“Oh shit! She brought a fucking baby! A talking baby.”
Syrge jumped up onto the table and appraised the food.
“Adam Gorgonowiks at your service. Did I hear you mention this food being available to us?”
“Hey knock yourself out kid. I have some good drugs too.”
“That’s your opinion.”
“Huh huh huh. Far out man.”
Kay finally sat down. Syrge was crawling around on the table eating things.
Kay leveled her gaze on the man.
“So. Who are you?”
“Well, Kay, can I call you Kay? I feel like we’re an old married couple as many times as I’ve programmed my bots to look like you. I am the Custodian.”
“Custodian of what?”
“Of this thing! The station, man! I used to have to go to a lot of meetings and shit, but once I let this end go to nature, people started leaving me alone.”
Syrge looked up from his feast, his pupils were dilated and his face was covered in some kind of red sauce.
“I read that the wild was over a hundred years old.”
“Yeah… Huh huh… It’s been here a while. Hey! Check this one out! You know how nearly everybody these days is transhuman, right? Well, I’m the only trans-fat human! Huh huh huh!” Kay and Syrge looked at each other, “Nothing? Man, that would have killed in Century 22.”
Syrge decided he could not eat anymore for the moment so he dropped into a chair next to one of the sex bots and swiveled so she was in the center of his vision.
The custodian started laughing again, “Check the little guy out! Margaret Thatcher! Dance for the boy!”
As the bot started gyrating and twerking to Syrge’s apparent delight, Kay ate what appeared to be a grape and asked, “So how old are you exactly Mr. Custodian? Did you come here from Earth?”
“Yep! I was one of the first wave of immortals! I’m not sure exactly how old though… Back in, what? 82? 2382. They changed the length of the station cycle year. I forget if you divide or multiply by 0.8 to convert to Earth years… Or maybe they changed it back a few centuries later… Either way, super old. And Hey! From what I can tell, I’m the only first waver that didn’t go completely nuts!”
“Oh yeah, you appear to be quite rational.”
“Huh huh, yeah, well, most of em are into some pretty sick shit at this point. You wouldn’t believe some of the things these guys do! I just like getting fucked up and laid! Playing games! Although… having you two here gives me some ideas…”
Kay held up her gun and waved it around.
“Don’t get any ideas. And you’d be surprised what sort of twisted things I can imagine. I grew up in the weirld. My dad’s immortal.”
“Your dad’s a baby, girl! I know this one guy that would put his consciousness in like the bodies of twenty different forms, human, animal, monster, always a few sexy ladies, and then fight himself to the death! No kidding! He got off on murdering, torturing, and violating himself!”
Syrge’s eyes were following the sway of the bot’s naked bottom and his mouth was open, but he was at some level still paying attention.
“That actually sounds rater fascinating. I imagine being immortal is really an eternal struggle against deadly boredom. Chesty McSlutburger here is only eighteen and everything bores her.”
“Chesty Mc… HUH HUH HUH!”
The fat man almost fell onto the floor.
“You’re going to kill me kid!”
Kay clapped her hands three times.
“Mr. Custodian! Will you please send these bots away! You are corrupting the petty moralities right out of this kid, and he really only has, like… two ethics.”
“Sure sure,” He snapped his fingers and they exited through the large door in the back.
“Now! To business! I know all about you guys! I know you don’t have long to live, I know any friends you have in the slums are in even more danger, and I know how to help you! But! I need you all to do something for me!”
Hours later, Syrge and Kay returned to their nest and told everybody what had occurred. Rip had already left. But Vince was back, quiet and moody.
After a lengthy retelling of the drug finding trek, Kay finished.
“So basically, he says he has priority commands that can stop the slum sphere from being vented, which he says is due to happen in three days, and to get him to do so, we have to break into the zoo in the Science Wheel and steal some frozen genetic material.”
Elvis looked confused. “Genetic material for what?”
Kick Herald spread her wings.
“Birds! This hamlet wants to bring the birds back from extinction and loose them in the station! If we don’t bring him the birds, he won’t save the slum sphere. And apparently he’s the sane immortal. He also said to watch out for the ninja monkeys.”