“I told her ‘no ruffles’ and when I came back ‘this’ is what she showed me.” I brought up the picture off the NET that Cassie had presented me. It had to be the most disgusting thing I’ve seen this side of a Tuldavian ceremonial dress. Per my instructions to Cassie, it was red, and it did have a low neck (to the waist), but it was covered with layers and layers of ruffles. It must have had at least thirty yards of material.
“Honestly, 3su, I didn’t do this,” Daniel said. He smiled. “But I wish I had thought of it. I can visualize you in this dress with your new hairless look. You would look like a stylist sticking out of a pile of red bedclothes.”
I cuffed him playfully on the shoulder. “If you didn’t do it, how did she get it?”
“She probably picked it up with one of the uploads from a port. Where have you been lately?”
Ma-rye-a had all the latest security programs. Daniel kept them up-to-date for me. I didn’t think it was possible for her to let a virus aboard with access to the programs. But, what did I know? Each time we arrived at a port Ma-rye-a would allow uploads to update our information systems and downloads to the port’s systems as an update to their data on us. This is standard fare - part of the general requirements for using a Refitting Station or Port. It helps keep folks honest and gives the I.N.C. system its information for Galactic Forces research. I.N.C. is the fundamental data we all need. Navigation, including restricted air space and any new ‘windows’ that develop for faster transport routes, registration and crew information for all vessels including restricted personnel movement and changes in equipment and weaponry, and lastly transportation, loads and flight plans.
“It happened after our stop at Refitting Station Terrell, but you will never convince me that she picked up a thing for ruffles from an upload.” I plopped down in my seat on the bridge.
“I swear, I did not do it,” Daniel reiterated. “But the good news is I can fix it.” He turned to the console and started accessing Cassie’s program. He asked her a few questions, like where she had been in her uploads. Cassie doesn't stick to the I.N.C. data base - she roams the NET links of each port we dock. Then he asked her to search for a few things. His work is fascinating to me, but so beyond my abilities it would be like comparing a horse cart to a Hyper Drive Galactic Cruiser.
Daniel is very young, only about twenty-two earth years. It seems to be the young ones that always possess the most talent for programming. When he was even younger he studied with the masters at the Galactic Academy, but he succeeded in going way beyond what they could teach. He could have a job anywhere, but he chooses to live at Trade Post 1313. He told me once he liked the flow of the place. Mercenaries coming and going, Guardian’s interactions (the planet bound versions of the MT units), the smells (frankly, I have to hold my breath sometimes at Outposts and Trade Posts, they are such a conglomerate of people’s and animal’s smells), and the freedom. He lived once in New Japan, but he said it was too crowded and didn’t have the diversity of the Trading Posts population. However, he got in the habit of dressing in the Asian style while there – robes of lovely silk – the wilder the design and the more vibrant the color, the better. The robe’s colors run like dye bleeding into his hair. He has very thick, wavy hair down past his shoulders. The front is short around his face, but the back is in a thick braid. I don’t know the natural color because I have never seen it, but he keeps it vibrant blue with streaks of green and orange. He looks like a parrot in full plumage.
He likes learning new languages – says an auto-translator is cheating. His aim is to master a language every two years. He already speaks twelve. I have been working with Arr, Jake’s friend, to create a Henu/English dictionary for Daniel for his birth date this year. He will really love it. The Henu language is not only written, but has hand signage for most of its expressions. Daniel expresses himself well with his hands. He has very long, thin fingers. He would have made a good musician playing a keyboard of some kind. I bet he has a two octave range.
“There it is.” Daniel said. He leaned in further on the keyboard, as if being closer was like communing with it. When he’s working, he keeps his hands on the console, but as soon as he settles back to think, he runs his hands through his hair. It keeps the front of his hair in a constant state of un-kept splendor - like he has just ruffled his feathers. His fingers flew across the console again. “I was right. She picked it up at the Refitting Station. There…” he said, as he picked up his mug of tea. “All better.”
“Do you feel better, Cassie,” he asked.
“Much,” she answered. “I can’t believe I suggested ruffles to you, 3su. Am I forgiven?”
“Of course,” I said. “Why didn’t Ma-rye-a’s security system catch it. Do we need a new upgrade?” I asked Daniel.
“No, it was a bug. She was searching a particular site on a link from the Refitting Station that was not all that clean. It snuck in as a search program and then corrupted. No telling what she would have progressed to suggesting for your wardrobe if you hadn’t come right away.”
“Good thing it wasn’t Sam who caught it,” I said.
“Sam would not be looking at ladies undergarments,” Daniel said with a smile.