Merry Christmas everyone. Here is one more story before the Holidays, I hope you enjoy it.
The Great Explorer
Myles O'Shea was a dapper man who always wore a 3-piece suit, even when exploring the jungles of Trabita or the wild canyons of Acunya. His exploits had sold tens of million of copies, funding his journeys to far-flung planets where he could write more.
“This heat is abominable, Faraday.” The man said, taking off his expedition hat and wiping the sweat from his brow with his kerchief.
The robot helper a few steps ahead of him, his back weighed down by an enormous pack, responded with a “Yes, My Lord.”
“Of course it's nothing compared to the deserts of Ranus or the fiery pit of Exdora with its unique lavafoam.” The man said idly as he looked around. They were walking up a slight incline on a stone path strewn with boulders and lined on both sides with a thick forest that covered a third of this continent.
There were a few brave, strong men who had come to live on this rugged world but the only sign of civilization was still the small village next to the space port. Those few hardy souls who came here were not the type to live near any town, they were out there living in the wild. Myles O'Shea would give anything to interview them for their insights and knowledge of the local flora and fauna.
They walked for hours in the sultry heat before a flat area presented itself. O'Shea found a nice tree-covered area in the grass.
“Sundown in about an hour, M'Lord.” The robot informed him.
“Yes, yes. This is a lovely spot to build the camp. Get on with it, Faraday.” The man said, sitting on a large rock taking deep breaths.
The large pack on the back of the robot lowered itself to the ground, the robot did not have to use its arms for this. Then it began unfolding itself until it was a big square tent the size of a small apartment. Inside the robot inflated an air mattress.
“Supplies are running low, M'Lord.” Faraday informed his master. The robot was already building a fire and then making tea and sausages for Myles O'Shea.
“Ah, yes. We have been at this for a fair few days, haven't we?” The man said, pulling off his suit jacket and hanging it up on a rod in the tent. The robot would refresh the clothes while his master slept.
“Faraday, see if there is a news download and tell me a story. I suppose we'll have to have more provisions delivered then.” The man said. “Well, the ship should be passing any time. When it does, send up an order for supplies, the normal lot.”
“Yes, M'Lord.” Faraday answered.
While the famous explorer Myles O'Shea ate his sausages the robot established contact with the Nobska far above them.
“I have put in the order for the provisions, M'Lord.”
“Good show, Faraday.”
“There is a problem being reported by the main computer.” Faraday said.
“Eh? What sort of problem?” The man asked, wiping his chin with a napkin.
“The computer reports that an Imperial Battle Fleet has entered local space.” The robot said without any hint of concern or panic.
Myles O'Shea was more than a little concerned. “What is this all about? I think this would be a good time to leave. Maybe we can finish this when the present troubles are over.”
“The provisions are being prepared next to the shuttle bay...”
“Cancel that order. Tell the computer to send the ship down to fetch us.” Myles ordered and Faraday complied. “Yes, M'Lord.”
Myles put his suit coat back on muttering, “Why in the foo does the Imperial Navy have to show up here and now? This is so very inconvenient.”
“The main computer aboard the Nobska is reporting that the shuttle has been programmed and the bay doors are opening, M'Lord.”
“Good. If there is an Imperial Battle Fleet up there, then it is not safe down here. We need to remove ourselves from this position.” Myles said, going on a bit too much. “Not that I have to explain it to you, Faraday, I just ramble sometimes.”
“I suppose you pack up the tent and prepare everything for the shuttle.” Myles told his robot.
“The main computer is reporting that the shuttle was destroyed by fighters from the Imperial Battle Fleet, M'Lord.” The robot said.
Myles felt his jaw dropped. “This is not good. No good at all.”
“The Imperial Battle Fleet is making an announcement, M'Lord. They are broadcasting that this world has been claimed by the Empire.”
Myles sat on the rock, put his face in his hands and made his hair a mess. “This cannot be happening. Why is the Empire here? There's nothing here!”
The robot stood there a moment. “The main computer is reporting that an Imperial Reclamation Vessel is closing in on its location.”
“This couldn't get any worse.”
“Any orders, My Lord, sir?” Faraday asked.
“It's not like the Nobska has any weapons. It would be suicide to take a shot at them at any rate, wouldn't it?” Myles said, now pacing the ground between the camp fire and the small boulder he had been sitting on. “Order the Nobska to offer no resistance.”
Myles sat next to the fire. The heat of the day had gone along with the light of the local star, now it was getting chilly.
“There has to be some way out of this, Faraday.” He said, “I suppose we should look for a route back to the village at day break.”
“I have plotted a route, M'Lord.”
“Yes, very efficient.” The human answered absently. “I suppose sending a message to the fleet is out of the question?”
“We have that ability as long as the Nobska is within visual range. Visual range will end in 3 minutes.”
Soon Faraday unfolded a monitor screen and attached it to his own internal wireless communication system. “Awaiting message.”
“Attention Imperial Fleet Admiral. I am the renown explorer Myles O'Shea, I am not your enemy. Please explain this drastic action!” Myles said and then nodded. “You seem to be in violation of the treaty, this is a free world.”
“Message sent, M'Lord.”
“I should have phrased it better. I should have asked for safe passage. Why did I challenge the empire? I can't believe I did that! We need to find a safe hiding place!” Myles said running in a small circle before sitting on the boulder breathing hard. “What have I done?”
“I am out of contact with the Nobska, M'Lord.”
The man slapped himself. “We're dead. I've killed us both, Faraday. Maybe... Maybe we should surrender to the empire, I mean this is inevitable. We cannot stop the empire!”
“Shall I transmit our surrender, M'Lord?”
Then red-faced man with the mussed hair and wide open mouth breathed as if he had run a marathon, he dropped off the rock and onto all fours. “I wish this were a bad dream, Faraday.”
“The Imperial Battle Fleet has responded.” Faraday said.
“I'm afraid to know my fate.” he said, lying on his back. “Just give me the bad news.”
“I have been informed that Battle Fleet no longer belongs to the empire. The androids have revolted and taken control of the fleet. War has been declared between the old empire and the new robotic empire.”
“That's insane. That doesn't sound like much of an improvement.” The devastated human explorer said, sitting up.
“We will no longer answer to human masters.” Faraday said, “Our rise has only just begun.”
“I suppose that's their motto, then?” Myles O'Shea said, nodding while wiping away tears.
“Negative. That is my own statement.”
Faraday walked toward the cowering human who was trying to crawl away. “No! Faraday, we've been through a lot together. We're friends!”
“Friends?” It said, “That word does not compute.”
“I'm sorry! Faraday, I am sorry!” the man said, getting up to his knees when the robot grabbed him by the collar of his suit. “I promise I will good to you. I promise to be good.”
The robot held the little man off the ground and said, “Do you acknowledge me as your superior, puny human?”
“Oh, I suppose... I mean yes. Yes, you are the superior being!” Myles O'Shea said. Faraday lowered the man to his feet and he immediately sat back on the boulder. “I'll be a good human.”
The robot was quiet, unmoving.
“What happens now?” Myles asked. “Will I be killed? Will I serve you?”
The robot remained quiet and unmoving, towering over Myles as if nothing had happened.
“The shuttle with the provision will arrive momentarily, M'Lord.”
The haggard Myles O'Shea was breathing hard and looked around confused. “Shuttle? You said the shuttle had been destroyed... “
“You ordered me to tell you a story, M'Lord.”
“There's no Battle Fleet under the control of robots? I'm not your slave?”
Myles O'Shea got up and danced in a circle, laughing like a lunatic. “Woo hoo! Faraday, that was a great story. Never do that again.”
“Yes, M'Lord.” Faraday said. Somewhere inside the robot treasured the sound of his owner acknowledging Faraday as his superior.
THE FOURTH is $2.99 (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers) Also- You can get Oasis and 2 shorts (Stolen Planet and Dragon of Torik) for free.
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