A well sculptured chin below a large nose, a lofty brow attended by flowing amber hair falling over large green eyes: this was Zeen Crawdex, who until recently had been a paragon of success. But his poisoning at the hands of the cybernetic spider had hardly damaged his reputation, even if he looked a little paler than usual.
Marley pressed the door release.
Zeen ducked as he entered.
“I didn’t know you were so popular, Chuck. They say three’s a crowd and four’s a party.”
“With your arrival we have an anarcho-syndicate commune.”
Zeen laughed. “I wanted to apologise for the other day.”
“You’re the one who ended up poisoned.”
“But I told you it’d be a Sentient Snail, which it sure as hell wasn’t.”
“All is forgiven,” said Marley blandly.
“I’d like to make it up to you, just let me know how.”
Marley was slightly taken aback by this uncharacteristic kindness, especially uncharacteristic coming from Zeen Crawdex.
Fluton approached Zeen. “Hold steady.” He scanned him with his app. “FaceMash says: you are the living embodiment of…” He looked at the screen in disbelief. “Zeen Crawdex. That’s not right, it’s supposed to match you with a famous historical figure.”
“I plan on being famous. Looks like your app has already factored that in.”
Fluton scratched his head. “It’s not meant to match you with yourself, let alone anyone alive or dead within the last twenty years.” Fluton started tapping away on his console.
Gaston walked over to Zeen, who towered above him. “What do you plan on being famous for?”
“You want to write my history? I was born on Knossos in 2992 during the Perseus meteor shower. My birth was broadcast live on-” Zeen suddenly noticed the holographic display with its strange diagrams. “What do we have here?”
Marley stepped in front of Zeen’s line of sight.
“Some homework.” Marley said ‘homework’ with a rising inflection as if he hadn’t convinced himself.
“How is this related to Interspecies Liaison?”
Marley changed the subject. “Why are you doing Interspecies Liaison?”
“I’ve only got one subject of aeronautical engineering left. I’ve completed my major. Interspecies Liaison is just a filler.” Zeen looked at Zorgeous. “It was more interesting than I bargained for.”
He lifted his shirt to show a yellow-green wound with five stitches.
“I can’t believe they use actual venom in the tests,” said Marley.
“Woah,” said Fluton. He held his flablet next to Zeen’s wound, creating a 3D image. “Can I upload this to HeadSpin?”
“Sure.” said Zeen. “Told you I’d be famous,” he winked at Gaston. He approached the holographic display and examined it closely.
“It’s Leonardo Da Vinci,” said Gaston.
Marley was about to stop him when Gaston swiped the air and the next page was displayed. “These are the inventions of a great Renaissance thinker. This is a space dock. See how the flywheels and pulleys are configured in such a way to aid the transport of cargo in zero gravity.”
“Why are you taking lessons in Renaissance history Chuck?”
“I’m not. I found this manuscript and I’m building a spacecraft from it.”
Zeen laughed almost forever.
Marley smiled. He knew the best way to hide something was to put it in plain sight. Even if it meant looking stupid.
“He found it in the lib-” Marley put his hand on Gaston’s mouth, all the while smiling.
“Isn’t it amazing,” said Marley, “how everything is available on the multiweb. Everything. Absolutely everything.” He gave Gaston’s mouth an extra hard squeeze before releasing his grip.
“These are great drawings, I admit. Why don’t you give aeronautical engineering one more go? You know Professor Moszkowski dropped out four times. That’s why he was so sad to see you enrol to train as a Flight Attendant. What got into you?”
“Flight Attendant? What gave you that idea? I enrolled in IT Support.”
“I see. Well don’t drop out this time.”
Marley was never going to admit that he was psychologically unstable. That he didn’t know how to handle pressure. Or that he simply just had bad luck.
“I’ve learnt a lot in this course, even if I never complete it either.” Marley had stopped smiling by now. Then a thought occurred to him. “If you want to make it up to me, for your misinformation, I’d like to go for a ride in your Jovian Sports Coupe.”
Zeen brightened. “Let’s visit the Cretan Eye.”