Darcy was just waking up to the pressure of his bladder, his hammock swaying gently in the breeze from the open tunnel door and snapped awake, clutching the sides so he didn’t spin out onto the floor. The door was open from the garage and Redcap stood there.
“Wake. It is time to wake and the rainstorm is dropping to a tolerable level, if you have adequate protection.” The horse clomped in, down the centre aisle, stopping to stare disapprovingly at the gritty puddles on the floor and the various containers they’d set, trying to stop catch the leaks. “This damage to your barracks must be repaired. The raz’r fields need to be checked. The row covers on the lifeweed require maintenance.”
Rest day is over. Darcy thought resentfully. The wind was still howling outside, but must have dropped below a certain critical level for Redcap to wake up. “Literate Redcap,” he said. “Many of us do not have appropriate protection for this level of weather. The filtermasks are too old to protect us. The suits are for use only in the open buildings.”
The horse stopped and swung its head around to face him. “Illiterate Darcy…” Inside it somewhere something clicked and he braced himself for some kind of punishment for speaking up. “You appear to be correct. Inventory of this barracks shows inadequate protection.” The head swung back. “Illiterate Fitzwilliam, you will manufacture new filter masks for this barracks and… it ticked the floor with one front hoof. “The others as well. This is unacceptable. Fragiles are required to be provided with basic protection. This will be remedied.”
Darcy swallowed. The machine actually seemed reasonable… much more reasonable than Versace had been, who had something to prove.
“Until protective gear is manufactured… Fitzwilliam you will need four Illiterates and I shall set up the equipment. Illiterate Darcy, your protective gear is adequate, though old. You will ride out on me and we shall inspect our precious fields.”
“Ride? I… I don’”
“Cease your protest. It is the most efficient way. It signifies nothing. Be prepared to go out in forty-three minutes.”
“Yes, Literate Redcap.”
Station made the noise that was its equivalent of clearing its throat diffidently. “Galactic Tech Terence,” it said.
“Yes, Station?” Terry emerged from a learning module that Agador had set up and his head was dancing with graphs and charts and visual programming aids. It was strange enough that the instructor was not human but looked vaguely like a starfish that blinked in rippling patterns that Agador helpfully translated.
“Intergalactic Stellar Current reports that all shipping in this area is still delayed. Transit points are unstable all along the routes of the Eastern Arm of Corporate Space.”
“So that means that both the CEO and the regular courier will be delayed. Prime will be upset. Both his visitor and the service that he pays for will not be arriving.” He still had to play the part of a Galactic, though he was buried deep in the training programs as if he were.
“The Board will certainly have some kind of compensation in place for the shifting stellar currents, Tech,” Station hastened to reassure him. “And the CEO in question would be the very person to speak to about it, when he arrives, after all, since he IS head of Eastern Arm Transport Company.”
“Of course. Make a note for me, and remind me later. Where is Alissa?”
“In the garage, Tech. She is redesigning a stomper. It appears to be a more efficient design than previous.”
“Excellent. Remind her to eat and sleep, please. She shouldn’t fall over again.”