Further: Beyond the Threshold

Further: Beyond the Threshold by Chris Roberson

Book: Further: Beyond the Threshold by Chris Roberson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Roberson
and then shrugged. What was the worst that could happen?
    “Does it work?” came the voice of the chimpanzee in my left ear, speaking in English, and it took me an instant to realize the sound was being narrowcast to the plug vibrating in my ear rather than issuing from the beak of the escort.
    “Yes, it seems to be, Maruti,” I said.
    My words were, I assumed, instantly translated by the chimpanzee’s interlink, and as soon as I spoke, his mouth opened in a smile. “Well, thank the demiurge for that.” Sighing, he ground out the stub of his cigar in the empty martini glass, walked over to a cube sitting on a nearby counter, and dropped the glass and stub toward it. The glass, stub, and ash all vanished in a flash of light as they reached the surface of the cube, which I realized must be another of the matter-synthesizing fabricants, the debris now converted into raw materials for future fabrication. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have other pressing matters to attend.”
    The chimpanzee turned and headed toward the door, pausing before exiting to glance back over his shoulder.
    “Oh, Captain Stone, I almost forgot…The salvage team was able to recover some of your effects from the wreckage of your craft.”
    The chimpanzee pointed to the silver box that lay beside the chair in which he’d sat.
    As I went to pick up the box, Maruti waved from the door. “I trust I’ll see you tonight on Ouroborous? I expect you’ll enjoy the surprise you’ve got in store.”
    I scarcely noticed what the chimpanzee was saying as the silver box slid open in my hands.

TWENTY

    There’d been mass restrictions on what we could bring on board Wayfarer One , of course, but nothing like those I’d known from my days in the Orbital Patrol. But that’s only to be expected. After all, a buoy tender on a six-month tour has considerably less in the way of amenities than an interstellar vessel intended for a century-long voyage. So where I was lucky to squeeze forty kilograms of personal items when I served on board Cutter 972 , on Wayfarer One I’d been able to bring along close to two hundred kilos.
    All that was left of that allowance were the three items on the bed.
    In the millennia I slumbered, anything metal, ceramic, and plastic had fared much better than those items that included organic elements, all of which had long since disintegrated, but even the strictly nonorganic had become badly pitted and decayed with age. Only these three objects had been sufficiently intact that they could be restored to pristine condition by nanoscopic repair robots.
    A lifetime of memories and all that remained were three items—an action figure, a cap gun, and a handheld.

    The action figure I’d had since I was six years old. At that age, I don’t think anything in the world was more important to me than The Adventures of Space Man . Produced in Australia but broadcast throughout the United Nations and elsewhere, it was the most popular children’s animated program of its day, and arguably one of the best ever. Or at least that’s the position I’ve been arguing since I was six. Other kids might have told you that Battlesnakes was better, but that was just a weekly series of half-hour commercials for a line of collectible robots, and anyone who preferred Maniax was just an idiot. Amelia Apatari always said that Taimi Taitto, Girl Reporter was a better program, but I know for a fact that she hardly ever watched the show as a child, preferring the original graphic albums, and that she only claimed to like the show out of a misguided sense of solidarity with the titular heroine and her faithful dog, Lumi.
    No, for me, it was Space Man, always and forever. Assisted by Space Monkey, his simian sidekick, Space Man journeyed through interplanetary space on board their ship the Space Racer in a hazily defined near future, fighting the forces of Dark Star, a multinational terrorist organization. I can still sing the full theme song word for word,

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