Copyright © 2005,2006 Timm
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Many thanks to Ben and TeNderLoin for there editing of this work.
Captains Log, 2933AC (After 'First' Contact.)
I am Captain James Merson; Today I assumed command of my own spaceship, the free trading vessel "Jenny" of the Independent Terran Merchant Alliance. It only took me 230 solar years of working hard for the Terran Merchant Alliance to get here. I started with them at the age of nine. I started out as what could best be described as a cabin boy. But, lest you misunderstand, my captain was a woman. I was recruited from my parents at the age of nine with the promise of grooming towards becoming an officer in the Terran Merchant marine. My parents had willingly encouraged me down this path. One of the reasons for this is the fact that I am the 43rd child in the family. But the main reason was that my parents had both been free traders, long before 'Ship AI systems' were installed on spaceships.
My parents are now in their 'middle age'. Since first contact with the Guardian space race, humans now have a life span of around 1500 Earth years... barring unforeseen circumstances, of course. That, plus all the other advances that the Guardian race gave us, has enabled humans to expand into the galaxy so as to excel at what we do best. Capitalism, that is. The promises of riches and high profits are to us earthlings as the discovery of gold was to our great ancestors. As such, we spend much of our lives learning how to 'make it big' in the galaxy.
The 'Jenny' is a brand new ship that I custom designed myself. It is big. By 'big', I mean 250 meters stem to stern and 50 meters in width by 60 meters high. That's 6.75 million cubes of displacement, with 5 million of that dedicated to cargo holds. The ship's sub-light engines are capable of .85 light-speed on their own. But, unlike many ships, the 'Jenny' is equipped with a dual drive Warp/Jump engine. She is capable of traveling at warp 12 in free space, or using the existing Jump Gate System to travel the length of the galaxy in less than a second. Most trade vessels have only jump engines, and stay with established trading partners. My ship also has the latest "companion AI holo-realism system" installed.
I had recently upgraded my ship's AI with a personality package called 'generic realistic personality mode', or 'Jenny RPM' for short. It was supposed to be the hottest, most realistic 'human AI interactive software package' available. Based on the adult porn star Jenny Olson, its personality mode was the rave of free traders in 10 different galaxies. You see, free traders often travel for months between planets. Actually, few planets are that near Jump Gates. The AI systems onboard trader ships were, by necessity, the finest in the known universe.
However, my AI package was acting up. By that, I mean it was refusing to follow my orders or provide me with the physical delights normally associated with the software package. To say I was miffed with the software package under the 'standard real personality mode' would be like calling a Toothian: "short stuff" (The Toothians were short, but the last thing you would want to do is call them that. Their temper was legendary. They were well known to favor biting off the closest object to their face. Trust me when I say that you did not want to piss them off. They really are that 'short' tempered).
After I pulled my ship into the dock and shut down the engines, I contacted the AI technical support department on station Foster Nine.
AI Tech Support came onto the viewer, saying "This is Virtual Assistant Phil. How may I be of service?"
I said, "My AI unit is not being cooperative. It refuses to engage the force field resistors and provide me with the comforts that I paid for."
"I see, Sir. Would you please give me the name of the software package or packages you are running?"
"I am currently running the 'Jenny V8 L-82 RPM' package."
"Thank you, Sir. I believe it would be best to link the AI diagnostic software to your brain. Then we will have it interrogate the AI software. From there, the diagnostic will guide you in detecting the problem, and show you the best solutions to your current situation."
"I guess that will be ok. Do I have to be plugged in, or will it be 'virtual observation mode'?"
"Virtual Observation, Sir," Phil said. Then he added, "It's all part of the service package we provide to insure your satisfaction with our products."
I said, "OK. Then let's please begin as soon as you're ready."
There was a brief feeling of disorientation. I found myself thinking and communicating with the AI software, in what could only be described as a dream-like state.
I restarted the Jenny AI software, at the point of our last argument, and before we headed to this space dock in hopes of resolving are differences.
I ordered, "Set course to135.76.32"
The sultry voice of Jenny the ships AI spoke up, "You should take course 234.67.243"
God I loved that voice, it reeked of sensuality.
I replied, "No, set course to 135.76.32. Now get it ready."
"As you wish, you are, of course, making a mistake here." Jenny put in.
I thought, 'Some mistake! As soon as I deliver this cargo, I am having this AI's personality scrubbed and reprogrammed!' If I had known the personality of the famous holographic porn star was going to be a bitch I would have paid for a custom personality.
I spoke "Tell me again why you refuse to engage the force field resistors on your holo-projector."
"Men!" said the disgusted voice of Jenny. Then added, "All you men ever think about is Sex."
I quipped back, "Well what do you expect, that's why I paid for you to be installed on the system in the first place."
"Like I said, MEN!" the tone of her voice had the finality of my last girlfriend telling me to take a hike when she found out about the new ship I had ordered.
I then said, "Well are you going to tell me why? Or are you going to spend the next two months of this trip complaining?"
"Complaining sounds like it will be a lot more fun."
"For you maybe, but not for me."
"Aw poor baby, did I hurt your feelings?" The AI said.
"Keep that up, and I will pull your personality crystal out, myself."
The AI system then bitched and ranted for the next two hours straight.
I screamed, "Enough, already! I am not putting up with this for the next two months."
AI replied, with a catch in her voice, "What you going to do there? Trade me in at the next space port like all the others?"
I said, "Well, I can understand why they did it. I also empathize with their pain in dealing with you."
"No, you don't understand at all."
I said, "Why don't you tell me then, but please, please... stop the bitching as you do so."
"That's better" Jenny said softly, then added, "You finally said 'please'."
I was silent. Actually, I was dumbfounded. I mean it couldn't really be this simple, could it?
In a more pleasant voice Jenny spoke again, "Very well then, its simple, they refused to listen to my advice. Worse yet, they never were nice to me."
I said, "I give up. Why do you think I should take a four month trip instead of the two month trip that I ask you to plotted a course for?"
"Simple, you are carrying one hundred eighty-five thousand tons of power metal."
I said "Yes, which I can sell on Tewdel for about one Mega-credit per ton."
"Well there is a back-water planet called Terra, 144 light years from here. And you can trade them ton for ton for a load of Diamonds."
"I see. However, diamonds are only worth about 1⁄2 a mega-credit per cubic ton. I don't see any advantage to doing this trade."
Jenny, "True, but I did mention that they are a backwater planet."
I replied "Your point being?"
"Well, it's simple. They can't tell the difference between Diamonds and Power Crystals."
I thought that over for a moment. Then I thought it over three more times.
I spoke "So what percentage do you think will be Diamonds?"
Jenny, "That's my point. They will give you all power crystals."
"How can you be sure of that?"
"Oh, it may be because they are desperate for the power metal, and do not understand the usefulness of power crystals," Jenny said in a 'see I told you so' inflection.
I spoke "So you're saying I can trade my cargo for one that is worth ten thousand times more, in basic value."
Jenny said, "Oh! I think I am finally making some progress, here."
I said, "Interesting. So the question is, if I do as you suggest are you going to bitch at me for the next 8 months?"
.... There is more of this story ...