The Maiden of The Tower, Pt III

[Part II]

Kyle Prince, contracting engineer for Gothel Demolition, maneuvered his shuttle to get a better look at the old relic, shielding his eyes against the light reflecting off its metallic surface.  It was still in decent condition, but the style was such an old aesthetic that he could not suppress a bemused laugh.

“Man, look at it.  Half expected it to be covered in cobwebs.”

His on-board AI, Max, appeared beside him holding a holographic clipboard, making little checks as he ran through some routine calculations.  “I do not understand.  You are well aware that an arachnid could not survive, let alone spin a web, in the vacuum of space.”

“Yeah, Max, I know.  It’s just an expression.”

“I see.”  The AI flickered, then continued, “I am unfamiliar with it.  Would you please define more precise parameters for its use so I may accurately catalog-”

“It means it’s old,” Kyle said, interrupting but not meaning to be rude.  “Things on Earth that have been abandoned for a long time generally get cobwebs on them.”  It was hard for the AI to understand non-literal phrases; he was only an M-5 AI, not as advanced as a Spectrum-class designed to run an entire station.  Just getting Max to accept a name other than M-5, which Kyle insisted was too cumbersome and impersonal, took almost a year.  Max mostly took care of navigation calculations and gave Kyle someone to talk to besides himself in the vastness of space, but over time Kyle had grown rather fond of the little guy.

“I believe I understand,” Max said, “the expectation of experience even in opposition to logic.”

“Something like that.”  Kyle swung the shuttle closer to the station, amazed it showed signs of being functional.  The cylindrical shape still spun to imitate gravity within, and even some of the running lights still illuminated the designations on the side: T-295 RESEARCH STATION BETA.  Still, it was two decades behind the latest designs and looked every bit the relic that it was.  For Kyle in particular, the station had begun functioning when he was only two.

“Hard to believe that was the best we had to offer once,” Kyle said

“Twenty years has seen much in the way of advancement.  That does not negate the importance it held at the time it was operational.”

“I suppose so.”  He looked at it a while longer, then finally shrugged.  “Well, it’s not going to be anything but a footnote, soon.  Ready the grapple; let’s put her to rest once and for all.”

Max hesitated.  “I do not see how an inanimate object would require -”

“Just an expression, Max.”

“…yes, Kyle.”

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