The first day, then, on the Inter-Space, was moderately uneventful.
K-2 seemed to be the only passenger. Ted had told her that since the only ones that use the Inter-Space was the humans, (since the robots had masters to serve), business was not what it once was. This, however, did not seem to dampen his bright spirit. Ted acted more like a flight attendant than a pilot. Autopilot, he had said, was fully capable of arriving safely to Frauk.
K-2 had asked if there was some sort of charger on board, for she could feel her battery wearing down. There was not.
“But this is a public transportation unit,” K-2 was puzzled. “You do not have chargers for the Arvers that are on board?”
“Up till this point, Arvers were extinct,” Ted explained. “I can turn the ‘eat up on board. Maybe that’ll help it.”
“Its natural heat—not air-conditioned,” K-2 replied sullenly. Ted sighed.
“Well, we’ll get to Frauk as soon as we can. We’ll find you a charger. You feelin’ tired?”
“A little bit…” K-2 admitted. Now that she thought about it, her eyelids were quite heavy. “Maybe I—yes, I am.”
“That’s one of the symptoms, I hear,” Ted remarked. “My friend’ll have one on ‘is ship. We should be more than ‘alfway there.”
K-2 exhaled a nervous sigh. It was a little chilly in the cabin, so she shivered. It was so nice to be able and feel and react to everything she did. It was so nice to be able to actually do the things her “mind” wanted her to. It was so nice to actually be alive. But then she thought of those millions of Arvers that no longer had that privilege. Her memory of the bartender, when he did not answer her question—he truly wanted to answer her. His “mind” was screaming out for help, wanting to answer her; he was forced to ignore her questions. But he had given her so much information already. Why did Vastrada program their minds to tell only certain things? Every fact would count…
If she thought about it too much, her head would begin to hurt. She turned back to Ted, who still sat in front of her.
“Who are you taking me to?” she inquired.
“A good friend of mine,” Ted replied pleasantly. “I’ve known ‘im pretty much all my life. ‘E’s the son of one of the greatest astronomers of our time—”
“And who would that be?” K-2 asked sheepishly.
“Cornelius Albert Charles Galilei de Lunar.”
“It’s his son?” K-2 gaped. “I hope his son’s name is not as long as that.”
Ted laughed. “Of course not!—good ol’ Nic always went by the shor’est name ‘e could. But you’ve ‘eard of ‘is dad?”
“Of course I’ve heard of him—who hasn’t?” she said excitedly.
Even she knew who this man was. Cornelius de Lunar was the famous astronomer who discovered the two other galaxies apart from Altross. Along with that, he studied their forms, way of change, and their inhabitants. Everything that everyone in Altross knew about the other Galaxies came from Dr. de Lunar. He was a couple thousand years old now. Humans in the Altross Galaxy live longer than those, say, in the Milky Way. Their planetary orbits revolve around a massive star they call the “Sun”. The Sun is so huge and bright, that the human’s life spans are shrinking intensively. Cornelius de Lunar was the oldest man in the Galaxy. K-2 was surprised and relieved he was still alive. She had always admired him.
“But…his son?” K-2 asked.
“The reason I’m takin’ y’ ta Nic is because ‘e’s an expert on robotic and Arveric technology. Built ‘is own ship, so I ‘ear. ‘E knows everythin’ about Vastrada. Though he doesn’t like ‘er, ‘e studies ‘er research. ‘E hopes one day to use ‘er own technology against ‘er. A lot of people are countin’ on ‘im, ya know. Can’t say he enjoys the pressure. But ‘is dad sure is proud of ‘im. ‘E’s pretty much the smartest guy I know. ‘E takes it from ‘is dad, y’ know—always studyin’ and research and whateve’ else goes inta’ that. ‘E’s quite the bore…” Ted chuckled. “But ‘e’s a good kid.”
“So he knows about batteries and brain disks,” K-2 slightly smirked. “What use will that be to me?”
“One, not a lot of people can be trusted these days. Vastrada has hypnotized some in the past, and no one would doubt she is doin’ it again. And Nic knows a lot about Arvers, and y’d have reason to trust ‘im. ‘E’ll see y’ safely ta’ Tinacia.”
“But why him?” K-2 persisted. “I don’t understand—”
The ship instantly jerked and turned on its side. Ted and K-2 fell to the wall. The computers in the engine room were going crazy. Noises erupted all around the ship. Glass shattered and metal clanked as the ship slowly turned upward again. Ted was trying with all his might to stand up. As soon as gravity let him he spun into the pilot seat.
“What was that?” she whispered, when everything stood still again.
It happened again. She fell back. K-2 found her unstable footing. Her head swirled. She finally felt the beginning effect of her Exhaustion. She walked as quickly as she could to the seat next to Ted. The ship was hit again, and again. It jerked almost out of control. K-2 collapsed into the passenger seat. They were heading into asteroids.
“What hit us?” she cried.
“I dunno,” Ted yelled over the noise. “But—”
The warning noise came from the screen blow. Ted glanced back, gaping.
“There’s someone on our trail,” he yelled. “And they’ve got a hell of a ship.”
The guns came out of the ship behind them, and Ted spun the controls and the Inter-Space whirred under the huge asteroid. Their pursuers flew at their tail. Vigorously slanting over and under the cluster of asteroids in their way, K-2 nearly screamed as they brushed the side of one.
The spaceship behind them was bigger and shinier. K-2 glanced in the review mirror of the ship: it had NOSGO printed on it with a snake engraved at the end. She could not see the driver since the window was black.
“It’s one of those bounty ‘unter ships!” Ted exclaimed.
“It’s from Nosgo!” K-2 shouted. “They are coming for me!”
“Well let’s ‘ope they get tired!” he said mordantly.
“Can you not go to light speed?” K-2 urged.
“Are y’ nuts—asteroids’d kill us in the first five seconds!”
The ship tossed and spun on its side. The two of them struggled to stay strapped in, and Ted grabbed the control as hard as he could. K-2 began to get nauseous—a feeling she could not recognize. She still heard the guns and the speed of the ship behind them.
A shot hit one of the wings. They swerved but kept going. The edge of the asteroid belt was just ahead. Then laser guns sounded behind them. K-2 saw their misfired shots land on the asteroids just beside them. K-2 felt even more fatigued. Her battery was dying out. With no battery charger or alternative power source to help it last longer…she could hardly sit up in the chair.
“Is it at top speed?” K-2 cried, as another asteroid exploded.
“No I’d thought I’d go slower! Of COURSE I’m goin’ at top speed!” Ted shouted. “We’re almost there—hang on!”
The Inter-Space spun in circles as it dodged the laser bullets. K-2’s vision blurred as they reached the edge of the asteroid belt. Another shot hit them as they left the cluster.
“Initializing light-speed and…”
With a click and a pause, K-2 fell out of her seat. Collapsing onto the ground, she lay there as the ship accelerated to light speed. K-2 slowly closed her eyes—she didn’t have the strength to keep them open. “K-2!” from Ted was the only thing she could hear. Her ears were weakening. Suddenly, she couldn’t sense anything, and she jerked and fell face down, her eyes staring blankly at the floor.