Nova sat leaned back in the pilot’s chair and watched Bernard out of the corner of her eye as he ranted. The red light on the panel flickered like it was suffering a short circuit. Lifting her head she arranged her shoulder-length blond curls onto one side and reached for a clipboard.
“It seems the conditions are in your favor,” she said and began leafing through the papers on the steel pad.
Bernard blinked on. “We’ll have to upgrade our vehicle for reasonable long-distance economy and subject me to a processor makeover and a software tweak, followed by a complete and shameless inspection from top to bottom. It’s simply not worth it. Please say this was the first and last time.”
The pen scratched away as the young cabbie marked her personal log. “This was the first and last time.” She dropped the clipboard onto the empty seat next to her. Resting her eyes on the endless blackness outside she split into a wide yawn.
The shipboard computer responded with a grunt. “I shall treat your sarcasm much as I would a backfire in hyperspace. Are you aware that our conversation has suffered an unbecoming imbalance in recent days, ever since you received that mysterious telegram? I am the only one doing the talking!”
“The things you notice, Bernard.”
Bernard let out a sigh. “You are positively incorrigible. I shall deal with the nuisance aspect of your personality later. For now allow my artificial yet sincere concern extend itself to other areas. Something is troubling you, Nova. Don’t deny it. I see it, sense it and hear it. You work hard and you’re carrying a burden. You need time off! But I’m warning you, that does not imply switching off your only friend in the entire universe — me!”
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