“It was so nice of you to invite me out for lunch, Marcin. You must have known how tiring it was to be stuck on the holodeck for seventy hours a day,” Bradley said, picking out a concentrated steak paste from the spaceship’s vending machine and inserting the proper number of plasmocredits.
“Not a problem, my man,” Marcin responded, himself choosing an array of fruit-flavored capsules. “After being assigned to holodeck duty just a few hundred years ago, I know how arduous the decades of ion resampling can be.”
The two spacecitizens found themselves a booth in the cafeterium with a pleasant view of simulated Earth-scenes. As they dug in to their nutrient supplements, they shared a companionable silence.
“After we’re done, we should hit the gymnasion complex for some splorf-ball. That is, if your hardass supervisor will give you any more time off,” Marcin said after he had downed a particularly flavorful kumquat capsule. “There’s a bunch of guys down there who are master splorfers.”
Bradley shrugged apologetically. “I don’t think that’s happening. Steve said he wants me back at the holodeck in twenty minutes. The panels are really finicky at this time of the solar cycle, and every nanosecond I’m not there is another gravity field that has went un-resampled.” He squeezed the last bit of steak concentrate into his mouth, savoring the meatlike flavor.
Marcin was looking around at the other citizens in the cafeterium. “Well, here’s something that will brighten your mood. Look over there.” He pointed at a table on the far end of the bubble-shaped room.
Bradley craned his neck to see what his friend was pointing at. As soon as he saw who it was, he immediately turned back and hissed, “You idiot, it’s Denise! Do you think she saw me?”
Laughing, Marcin replied, “Yeah, and she’s coming over here right now. She probably wants to talk to me about those sanitizer drones that are acting up in her section.”
Hyperventilating, Bradley began to mess with his sheer white phosphorosuit. “Do I look okay? Am I presentable?”
“You look fine, dude,” Marcin reassured his frazzled companion. “Oh, hey Denise!”
“Hey Marcin, hey Bradley,” Denise greeted. Bradley could only force out a strangled “huh” in response, but he was spared additional torment as Denise and Marcin quickly fell into a conversation about the topic Marcin had predicted.
“I’ll get one of my guys on it straight away,” Marcin was saying. “Your section will be up to code soon enough.” Denise made a move to leave, but Marcin stopped her. “Just one more thing, Denise.”
“What’s that?” Denise asked, looking curious as Bradley whispered, “Shut up, shut up, shut up,” under his breath.
Marcin giggled before blurting, “Bradley wants to clone your embryos! He told me that his fertilization apparatus is always activated for Denise!” Embarrassed, Bradley slumped low in his seat. “Isn’t that right, Bradley? You want to enter into intersexual embrace with her, don’t you?”
Bradley could do little other than shake his head feebly.
“Well, you can inform Bradley that my embryo crevice is strictly off-limits to lechers like himself,” Denise responded haughtily, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Have a good day.”
Once she was out of sight, Marcin commented, “Well, that didn’t work out as well as I’d have hoped. But face it, man, you were never going to talk to her yourself, so I thought I’d help out a bit. Anyway, I hear that she’s always furgling guys whenever we make a stop at a planetary colony, so she’s probably more infected than the whole Gallarion galaxy after we seeded it with protoanthrax. She’s practically furgled every guy in a million lightcentury radius.”
“Marcin?” Bradley snarled.