The PriMate tried its best analysing Chuck Marley, but he hadn’t installed the recent updates. In fact he hadn’t updated it in quite some time. His room was stuffy, and dietary feedback had been deactivated.
Marley’s attempt at biophysical independence had backfired. His shower sprayed him with a bodywash that was perfect for a female of almost any species, but for a young heterosexual male it would be weird. He lathered himself down with a bar of soap he’d brought back from the Shabbylands and stepped out of the shower.
His PriMate ordered him to do ten push ups. Marley ignored it. With less enthusiasm it ordered him to run around the room. He ran halfway around. The PriMate gave no further orders. Perhaps it sensed that change needed to come from Marley – conscious, motivated change.
Marley asked for a full-body scan, designed to detect everything from common colds to a malignant tumour. He had last subjected himself to one of these two years ago when he was ordered to cut down on Betelgeuse Burgers.
The first thing the PriMate told him was to get a haircut. He had just had one. This had to be a joke. A computer-head appeared above him. It was bald. Marley’s PriMate was pretending to be jealous.
“There are two hundred and thirty updates available. Please download them.”
For once Marley updated them all, and the computer-head once again had a full head of hair.
He requested a cup of tea and tried a new combination: ginger, ginseng and jasmine. It was perfect. Updating the PriMate had its benefits.
Most tea in the Orion Arm came from Tebussy, orbiting Teegarden’s Star. The Tebussians were largely human colonists, and pacifists, having settled the planet in 2700. Its nutrient rich stone was convertible to soil enabling cultivation of much of the Orion Arm’s medical precursors and antidepressants, as well as tea.
Marley had seen an advertisement that hinted it was a Tebussian Dreamliner his step-mother was cruising about in – a new way for the rich to spend the excess of other people’s hard-earned money.
If Olan was aboard one of these ships, then surely she was earning more credits to put him through school, in whatever way she could. She had been in the military; doing what, Marley was not so sure. She could have been an orderly or gunner for all he knew. He yearned to know more. His past was locked in her past.
He yawned. “Commence body-scan.
The PriMate imitated a yawn. “Proceed to the diamond plate.”
He was not about to get into a yawning competition with a computer, so he complied.
An electric halo encased his body. Circular discharges enveloped him, running from head to foot. They tingled. “Did you have a nice day?” This seemed like an afterthought from the PriMate.
“Stand by for blood testing.”
Marley hated needles. PriMate ran his distraction scripts. “The astral whale mates once every three hundred years.”
A needle pierced his wrist. “Ow! I didn’t know there was such a thing as an astral whale.”
“Human beings are the only species that cry.”
A needle shot into his bicep. Tears welled in his eyelids.
“Sporting Sirius have never won the Orion Arm Champions League, despite being in the final eleven times.” This was interesting…until a needle jabbed a buttock cheek (whichever cheek was beside the point).
He bit his bottom lip and tasted blood. “Plasma extraction commencing. Duration: 3 minutes.”
Three minutes seemed an hour. Four clamps held him in place, stopping him from wriggling while fluids were extracted. Excerpts from an old Pollywood film played on the VT.
It was an action sequence. A human wielded three scimitars – one in the left hand, one in the right, one in the mouth. The body parts of seven Baconians flew everywhere; they fought on, minus several limbs. One hopped around with one arm, blood spurting, while he closed in on the hero. Marley supposed that the relentless gore was meant to make him feel better.
Just when it looked like the hero was going to get done by a one armed and one-legged assailant, the screen went blank. Needles whisked from his body.
“Cholesterol: 7. Advice, medicate immediately.” A dispensary in the wall shot three red tablets. “Take these.”
Marley swallowed the pills.
“Immunity: 9 out of 10.” This was because while Marley liked cooking, he didn’t like cleaning. He cleaned so infrequently that some stains couldn’t be removed. A mushroom sprouted from a pile of leftover onion peels. Marley had tried the mushroom and it may have bolstered his immunity.
“Take your medication three times daily. Anything else?”
“A psych assessment.” Marley sighed.
“Stand still. Electromagnetic envelope calibrating.”
Aura readers measured the balance of forces in the personality complex: colour varied from age to race. White indicated inner mastery. Green, unfulfilled desire. Dark red betrayed cynicism. The aura of Frisky Benjamin was known to change with each role he played, such was the depth of his acting.
Three green arrows directed Marley to the diamond for a psych scan.
“Do not move. Open your mind.”