Daniel’s lab site was as disorganized and messy as his home was neat and serene. Every horizontal surface was covered with consoles, flats, keyboards, various forms of equipment and supplies, some I recognizable and some I didn’t. There was a huge projection screen, but it had clothes draped on the corners of it as though it was meant to be a clothes rack.
The lab was further obscured by dead and dying plants of unique varieties. There were piles of half consumed food stuffs on plates and in mugs - some of them were growing things like biological experiments.
He really needed a housekeeper and it wasn’t going to be me. I sat down on the edge of a table by moving a flat out of the way.
“So what are we here to see?”
“This way,” he coaxed. He opened a door into another room. From a distance I could see that it was an office and to my relief, somewhat more tidy.
I walked in to find three walhmites lounging around a coffee table drinking mugs of what smelled like pitch.
“Ah, here we are,” Daniel announced. “3su, I want you to meet my bodyguards, Toland, Gyiand and Raland. They’re coming to the GTD celebration with us.”
The three came to their feet. They were all over seven feet tall, two male and one female. They had to be related – possibly brothers and sister. They all had the last name ‘and.’ They all gave me the walhmite equivalent of a handshake, they balled up their right fist and struck their left breast.
“Pleased to meet you all,” I responded. No sense in pissing off a gang of walhmite bodyguards. “Excuse us.” I grabbed Daniel’s sleeve and pulled him out of hearing range back into the lab. “What do we need them for?”
“3su you have no idea the magnitude of this game I am bringing with us. It is revolutionary. It is going to be priceless. I believe if I can find the right buyer the proceeds will set me up for life.”
“They can’t come,” I stated flatly. “I don’t have room to transport three more passengers, especially three huge walhmites. You’ve been aboard my ship. What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking we need bodyguards.”
“WE? Why would I need a bodyguard?”
“People will find out I came with you. They might try to strong arm you to get to me.”
“For a Game?” I almost shouted, but caught myself. “It’s just a fricken game no matter how revolutionary it is.”
“It is not a fricken game. It is THE GAME of the century. Maybe two centuries.” Daniel looked like he had his feelings hurt. I was ready to give in, but I just couldn’t see where I could house three walhmites. They would have to sleep in the cargo bay and I wasn’t going to suggest that.
“Where am I going to put them?” I asked plaintively.
“They can just stand in a corner,” Daniel said.
“Are you kidding?”
“No, they are very accommodating.” Daniel turned back into the room where the three had taken back their positions in the chairs around the table. “Hey, you three? You don’t mind standing in a corner until we get to GTD do you?”
“Nah…Course not…That’s fine with me,” they answered respectively.
“What kind of nut cases are they?” I asked skeptically. It was a good two week trip to Valaria.
“They’re not nuts, they’re androids.” Daniel announced with a huge grin. “My latest model. Tol –and. Ral-and and Gyi-and. Get it? And…Android? Pretty life-like, huh? Had you fooled.”
I punched him in the arm. “You dirty rotten little puke.”
The walhmites rose as one and were on me before Daniel could act. “Stop!” He ordered.
Raland had made it to me and had his hand gripped tightly around my neck, he dropped me. I coughed and gasped for breath.
Daniel leaned over me and patted me on the back. “You okay? I didn’t anticipate that. I was just going to surprise you.”
I nodded, but couldn’t bring myself to talk just yet.
“They really are programmed as bodyguards,” Daniel explained. “I’m sorry, they took your playful punch as aggression, but we’ll fix that as soon as you can talk.”
I straightened up and rolled my eyes at him. “Thanks for the surprise.”
“Toland, Raland and Gyiand, activate voice recognition protocol,” Daniel ordered. “Read this,” Daniel said and handed me a card.”
“Toland, Raland and Gyiand you are my buds?” I just had time to flip the card over to see what kind of nonsense was on the other side before the three replied in unison.
“We live to serve you lovely lady.” Then they gave me that walhmite salute again.
“Oh brother,” I said as I blew air through me nose and rolled my eyes again.
“Now they will obey you just like me, and no one else. All that’s left is for you to eat the card so the secret programming verbiage does not get out.”
“Just kidding,” he grinned.
I punched him again. Harder this time. The three went back to their seats without interfering.