K-2 couldn’t look at them long enough. The sparkles in the black space before her…they were so beautiful. How come she had never heard of them? Why, in all her “life”, had she never been introduced to stars?
The same man came back to the room she was in. K-2 just then noticed where she was. There were black leather seats with a table in the middle with cup holders. There were small windows lined up around them. In front of her was the passageway that led to the front of the ship. She glanced up.
“Why aren’t you driving the ship?” she asked in slight shock.
“Autopilot knows where it’s goin’,” he replied with a smile. “You want somethin’ to drink?”
K-2 hesitated. Drink? She had never done it. All she had needed as a robot was oil, and Arver’s only needed that and a battery charger. Wait, she thought, if this man had offered her a drink, that must mean that he thought it normal. And that meant…
“Are…are you a human?” K-2 inquired, her eyes widening by the second.
He laughed nervously, and then stopped. “ ‘Course I’m’a ‘uman. Wha’ else d’ya think I’d—” he stopped. “You’re—you’re not?”
K-2 shook her head. “You couldn’t tell? I have a circuit board for a face.”
“Well I just though’ it was a costume or somethin’,” he replied. “Y’ need ‘elp with it, that’s for sure.” K-2 bowed her head. Was it that funny to look at?
“What are y’?” he asked.
“I’m an Arver,” K-2 replied.
The man stopped. His short blonde hair stood on the back of his neck. “But…but that’s impossible,” he stammered. “They’re all gone.”
“I’ve been forgotten,” K-2 explained calmly. “The dictatress of Nosgo transformed me. I was a robot before. I…I thought humans were extremely rare in Altross.”
“You’re not kiddin’?” he cracked a smile. “Good god, everyone knows about you! She wouldn’t quit talkin’ about y’. Humans ‘r all over the Galaxy. Its Arvers that are rare. Nosgo was the only place they lived.”
“But…” K-2 was confused. “That means—”
“Vastrada turned ‘em all to robots,” the man finished.
“You already know?”
“Of course—everyone knows. Vastrada invented machines and whatever else she’s got in that lab of ‘ers—some of it no one’s even though’ of befor’. You were ‘er ‘oh so precious’ experiment.” He said with some awe.
“Wha’ was your numba’?” the man asked. “K….4…”
“K-2490,” she recited. “But—K-2, if you don’t mind. What’s yours?—your name, I mean, not your number.” K-2 added.
“Ted,” he stated bluntly. “Ted Orbitron.”
K-2 smiled. She had never seen or even met a human before—with the exception of her mistress.
“So,” Ted evoked. “I assume you’re going to Frauk just to get away from Vastrada.”
“No,” K-2 objected. “I have to get to Emperor Conogo. He must do something about her. If she is not stopped she will be out of control.”
“Isn’t she already?” Ted asked, perplexed. “What could Conogo do?”
K-2 couldn’t reply directly. “I—well—he has to do something about her! I’m traveling there myself to advocate it!”
“Big words there, K-2,” Ted smiled.
“I will get to Planet Tinacia,” K-2 finished firmly.
“And I’m not gonna argue with ya. I don’t disagree that she’s gotta be stopped,” Ted assured her. “Somehow, though, I don’t think you understand wha’ you’re dealing with…”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you know wha’ she’s done?” Ted asked.
“Is she still alive?” K-2 asked. “Really, though…not some spirit?”
“She’s real all righ’!” Ted rejoined, “as real as I am talkin’ to ya. You don’t know wha’ she is now?”
K-2 hesitated. She…was not a human? She shook her head.
Ted leaned closer to her as if he was afraid of being overheard. “She’s used ‘er own technology to develop somethin’ she made only for ‘erself.”
“She’s made ‘erself a magician,” Ted almost whispered. “A witch is wha’ she is. She used ‘er power and technology to make ‘er sup’a’natural.”
“She’s made herself an enchantress?” K-2 inquired.
“But…but what about the Nosgo senate? It ruled Nosgo under her, practically—are they not doing anything about it?”
Ted, again, looked at her as if he hadn’t heard of such a thing as a “Nosgo senate”. “Vastrada killed them all years ago,” he responded. “She’s tyrannical now.”
K-2 didn’t say anything for a while. Vastrada, then, was free to do whatever she wished. She didn’t have to ask permission from any senate.
“She has not conquered any other planet?” K-2 confirmed. Puzzled, she thought aloud. “That is why she has not died—because she made herself immortal. But then…why has she not made herself Empress of the Galaxy? There’s no one to stop her—she could very well take over another planet. Is Emperor Conogo still weakening?”
“’Course he is—much more than befor’,” Ted answered.
“Why has he not done anything, then?” K-2 insisted. “While she is not the ruler of any other planet…what better time would there be to conquer her?”
“I don’t think y’ understand,” Ted said nervously. “Now just because she isn’t doin’ anything reckless, doesn’t mean she isn’t doin’ anythin’ now.”
“What else could she be working on?” K-2 questioned, not expecting a good enough answer. And she did not receive one, for Ted remained silent for a while. At length, he spoke ever so softly.
“I don’t know.” He paused. “But I still don’t think y’ understand ‘oo she is now…”
“Why not?” K-2 straightened up.
“You’ve been asleep for a century, K-2—Vastrada’s done a lot since you fell asleep.”
“Yes, along with turning Nosgo into a robotic nightmare!” K-2 added. “And I didn’t fall asleep—I was shut off.”
“Alrigh’, Alrigh’, so you weren’t asleep,” Ted said calmly. Before he could say another word, K-2 interjected again.
“I am not sure if I want to know everything Vastrada has done. I have seen enough to know she must be stopped. If the Emperor cannot help me…I don’t know who can.”
Ted seemed to give up. “I wish you’d let me tell y’ a little more befor’ ya’ go divin’ inta’ this,” he said, apparently concerned. “I’ll help ya’, since it’s my life along with everyone else’s. But y’ still won’t let me tell y’ what I think she’s doin’?”
“No,” K-2 answered.
“I’ll get y’ to Frauk,” Ted announced, rising and shaking his head. “And I also know someone ther’ who can ‘elp you.”