|A telescoping repair robot cleverly known as RR21 examined the L.S.S. Mazzlefaloo on the repair deck yard. It was dismayed by the condition of the spaceship. It’s hull was battered and pitted and the engines not just leaked but poured caustic fluids that stained the deck. The low lying deck cleaning robots with the giant circular brushes wouldn’t even approach the puddles until the leaks stopped. The repair robot stared down the deck cleaning robots like an annoyed parent, insisting the “deckies” immediately clean the deck, but they refused.
The repair robot scanned the ship with its “head” of sensor arrays that could see even the slightest imperfections in nearly any material. It approached the ship, rolling on its wheeled bottom-heavy platform base, to examine a curious and circular structure attached to the hull just above the main engine mid-section. It looked like a steel cap, but wasn’t on any of the schematic or engineering drawings it was provided. Perhaps it was an “as-built” feature that never made it into the documentation.
The robot’s main body telescoped up, and an arm with a two-section grip reached out to the cap. It was solid in place. RR21 grabbed the cap with both ends of its gripper and rotated it counter-clockwise, known through repair yards as a lefty-loosey action. The cap was in tight and made a horrific squealing sound as it was turned. The grip let go, the “hand” rotated at the “wrist”, and the two “fingers” gripped the cap again and continued to turn it.
The noise caught the attention of Lieutenant Zeppolloofwa, who was standing at the back of the repair yard section of the flight deck with the pilot, who wasn’t paying any attention as he nibbled on a snack that he found in a vending machine in the waiting area. The Leesoslop navigator watched the robot unscrew something on the hull, and hit the pilot on the shoulder to get his attention. Zeppo pointed at what the robot was doing. Quaso knew there was no cap there, and immediately turned his heads looking for a route of escape as the Leesoslop officers abandoned their supervisory duties.
RR21 was unscrewing the cap when it made a spark. “Shit,” it said.
The undetonated ordinance shell exploded into a thundering fireball, blasting the repair robots to bits, peppering its severed arms and sensors and wheels and attachable tools and supply tanks all across the repair yard. The malleable hull of the Mazzlefaloo absorbed the explosion, rippling across the entire boxy fuselage like ripples in a pond. The force of the explosion knocked the starship over on its port side. It landed with a thump that clanged through several decks.
“We’re not cleaning that up,” the lead deck cleaning robot proclaimed. The low lying robots turned around and scurried away.
Lieutenants Quasomooloo and Zeppolloofwa complained loudly with all their mouths to the first replacement repair robot that rolled into the area to investigate the explosion and why RR21 wasn’t responding. The replacement repair robot, designated RR38, witnessed one of several Dozer-Droids pushing small pieces of RR21 into a pile in the corner of the yard for collection and recycling. They pointing over at their starship, laying on its side, its starboard side facing the ceiling and oozing thin trails of smoke.
RR38 apologized for the mishap in its thick synthesized voice in the Leesoslop language, and assured them their ship would be repaired, as soon as a salvage rig could move it into a new repair yard. The word “salvage” made both Lieutenants go instantly ballistic because salvage to them, as does most people, means an abandoned wreck that the insurance company has totaled and paid out the claim. Not only was their ship not actually insured, but it was their only ride out of there, but it was also the Leesoslop civilization’s only starship.
“The ‘salvage rig’ is a big crane that will move your vessel to an undamaged repair facility,” RR38 explained. “We will continue to perform the repairs in house, and return your vessel to original specification. There is no insurance company involvement.” The repair robot wasn’t sure why he had to explain anything about an insurance company.
“I would hope so,” Quasomooloo remarked with his left head. He then added with his right head, “But it is important that you repair her quickly, as our commander expects to leave this station very soon.”
“He is on a very important mission for very important people,” Zeppolloofwa remarked with his right head. His left head added, “Very important people. So important, we aren’t even allowed to know who they are.”
“So if that ship,” Quasomooloo said, pointing at the turned over wreck of the L.S.S. Mazzlefaloo, “is not in tiptop shipshape by the time he is done with his meetings...”
“And ready to go!” his other head injected.
“…then there will be some hell to pay.”
“I can assure you of that,” his other head concluded.
“Our commander will dress you down until you aren’t looking any better than that pile over there if the ship is not ready in time,” Zeppolloofwa remarked, pointing at the recycling pile where a large boxy robot was collecting and grinding up the debris into smaller bits for recycling and reforging. The navigator’s other head added, “We have been bawled out by him before and when he was done, we didn’t feel worthy of being in the same species as him for our failures.”
“And that was for indiscretions for way less serious than this,” Quaso lied.
Zeppo said, “Our commander just isn’t our commanding officer, but the commander of the entire armed forces. One doesn’t ascend to that position by being docile.”
“One gets there by chewing up and spitting out anyone who gets in one’s way,” Quaso explained. His other head added, after a dramatic pause, “And if that ship is not ready when he leaves his meeting, you are in his way.”
“I see,” RR38 responded nervously, who did have self-preservation sub-routine as part of its rudimentary class four artificial intelligence.
Zeppo looked at Quaso with his heads. “Did I tell you what I heard on the back-channels?”
Quasomooloo frowned, and responded. “No, I haven’t been able to talk to you since this mission started. That ogre has been breathing down our necks the entire time.”
“Ogre?” the robot asked.
“Our commander,” Quaso explained. He turned his head back to Zeppolloofwa and asked, “So what have you heard?”
“You know that new capital ship they have been building forever?” Zeppo asked, not waiting for a response. “Word is that they are going to name it after you-know-who.”
“Really?” Quaso asked, feigning amazement.
“Who?” the robot asked.
“Our commander,” Zeppo explained.
“But that is unprecedented in the entire history of our military forces!” Quasomooloo objected. He shook his heads in disbelief, and was nearly stuttering. “They cannot do that! They have never named a ship after anyone in active service. All of our ships have been named after legendary long dead heroes of the Leesoslops.”
“Despite how hard he rides us, always yelling at us about anything and everything, you have to admit, he is a living legend,” Zeppolloofwa remarked.
The pilot nodded his heads. “You don’t get a brand new top of the line capital ship named after yourself by being docile,” he said.
The repair robot recalled how one gets something in Leesoslop military society. RR38 did not want to be chewed up and recycled over a mistake another repair robot made. The repair robot finally remarked to the Leesoslops, “I have ordered the entire might of repair robots on this station to immediately begin repairing your ship. I have also ordered all other robots to support the repair robots. We will have your ship repaired very quickly.”
“Well I hope it’s in time,” the navigator moaned.
“Please make yourselves confortable in the waiting area,” the robot remarked, scurrying off in a big hurry. As the Lieutenants stepped towards the waiting room, the deck vibrated as a giant crane quickly appeared between large driving wheels. The other robots scattered towards the walls to let the salvage rig get close to the Mazzlefaloo, as it wasn’t slowing down for anything in the way. The salvage rig hummed and the Leesoslop starship slowly lifted up and banked itself upright until the electromagnetic control of the crane. It pulled the ship out of the damaged repair yard and carried it into the adjacent yard, which was visible from the waiting room as well.
As soon as they sat down and made themselves comfortable, they watched hordes of robots of different shapes, sizes, and functions pour into the repair yard like flood waters released from a failed dam. RR38 was in the midst of all these other robots, cursing orders at them. “Move faster! Pull those engines off, rebuild them now! Peel off that malleable hull and prepare the new one! Why isn’t the hull energizer here yet?!?!?!”