ROMULUS (The Innerworld Affairs Series, Book 1)

ROMULUS (The Innerworld Affairs Series, Book 1) by Marilyn Campbell

Book: ROMULUS (The Innerworld Affairs Series, Book 1) by Marilyn Campbell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marilyn Campbell
waved her comment away. "Never mind. It was supposed to be a joke."
    "I am programmed with an understanding of humor but not the ability to interpret it. Please place your right palm over this sensor then state your name and the words bumblebee, fascinating, house, nowhere, permanent, quick and zoology."
    Aster did so and felt a tiny shock.
    "Your handprint, voice sample and DNA have now been registered as belonging to the resident of this apartment. From now on, yours is the only hand or voice to which this unit and its facilities manager will respond."
    Like the courtyard of the complex, the efficiency-style apartment felt familiar to Aster. The one room was furnished with a dark green sofa and chair, a light wood coffee table and a small dinette set. A Murphy-style bed was concealed in one wall with closet space on each side. A cream-colored carpet covered the floor and soft light emanated from the walls.
    Opposite the bed wall were the reflective chrome panels of the supply station and a small desk and chair with a monitor in the wall behind it.
    It took Oona very little time to fill Aster in on the capabilities of the facilities manager, as she had received a fair introduction the previous night. The residence came equipped with a full set of manuals anyway, in case she preferred a hard copy.
    A soft bell chimed from the desk. "Your vidcom," Oona said, pointing to the monitor. "Touch the screen to accept the call."
    Aster smiled when she saw the name Cherry Cochran on the monitor and actually chuckled when the instant she touched the screen she saw Cherry's face. "Hey, you. Miss me already?"
    "Wait. I hear you but I can't see you. You need to allow the video transmission. Slide your hand down the right side of the monitor to get a menu. Once you do that it's pretty much like the computers we're used to. I think it's just a matter of learning the terminology. Then we can just talk to it instead of choosing from menus."
    Aster thought she had no problem figuring it out until Cherry shrieked.
    "Whoa! This is definitely too cool! Tell me what you did so I can do it too."
    "I chose the full image option. But I don't know what you're so excited about. We've Skyped before."
    "Step back a couple feet and you'll see."
    Aster did as requested then let out a startled gasp when a three-dimensional image of her friend popped in front of her.
    Cherry laughed out loud. "You should see your face. It's a hologram, like we saw in the meeting yesterday. I'm on my way up. Bye!"
    A few minutes later Aster opened her door and Cherry burst into the apartment. "Wow! Don't you love that crazy excuse for an elevator! My apartment looks like yours, except it's done in burgundy and grays. I'm hungry. How do you turn on your magic maker?"
    "Hello, Josephine," Aster prompted.
    "Hello, Aster," the lifelike computer voice replied.
    Cherry frowned. "You are so disgustingly predictable. You named your facilities manager after your housekeeper? Oh, well, order me something with a lot of calories and some of that fake wine. Even if they don't allow alcohol, I can pretend."
    Before Aster could reply, Oona interrupted. "Excuse me, Miss Mackenzie, now that you have company, I will return to my post in the lobby. But I have one more thing to show you." Oona picked up a box next to the vidcom and handed it to her.
    Inside, Aster found what looked like a cross between a watch and an ID bracelet.
    "It is your portable vidcom. You can wear it on your wrist or simply attach the bar without the band to your clothing. It is automatically synchronized with your primary vidcom and your facilities manager. I can demonstrate it after your company departs."
    Cherry waved a hand at her. "It's okay, Oona. I got this."
    "Very well. Miss Mackenzie, just call if you require something." She bowed her head and left them alone.
    "Did I hear her say she has a post in the lobby?" Aster repeated.
    "Yeah. Rom may have said they don't believe anyone means us any harm but they also

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