“Tilt your head a little further toward me,” the dentist instructed.
I obliged and felt the jaw mike snap into place over my back molar.
“That should do it,” she announced. “Give it a try.”
I ordered the mike over a year ago, but hadn’t been anywhere with the facilities to install it. This layman’s variety of a jaw mike, unlike the Galactic Forces model, was not actually installed in the jaw surgically. Theirs was far more sophisticated. For this model the wearer had one of their back molar’s ground down like you were prepping for a crown, but instead the mike was fit over the tooth.
I leaned up and took my “Ear” out of my pocket and stuck it in.
“Just touch the top of the mike with your tongue,” Dr. Hval instructed.
I placed my tongue on the top of my now ‘mike-tooth.’ The mike was remotely locked onto Ma-rye-a.
“Ma-rye-a can you hear me?” I asked my ship.
“Loud and clear Captain,” Ma-rye-a answered clearly in my Ear.
I could hear background cheering from all my AI crew. We had been waiting for this for over a year. This kind of device would keep me in contact with them. It had an almost unlimited range.
“Well?” Dr. Hval asked.
“Perfect.” I smiled at her.
“As advised earlier in the literature I sent you, I would encourage you to have it checked and a maintenance run on it once a year,” she said as she put my chair back up into the full upright position. “If you call ahead we can have a tech handy to run the check right after your annual cleaning.”
“Thank you, doctor,” I said and extended my hand.
“I hope it is as useful as you anticipate. I hated grinding down a perfectly good tooth.”
I was blessed with great teeth. Not a cavity or crown among them and straight as fence posts.
“I appreciate you doing it for me even if it was against your better judgment,” I said, as I slipped out of the chair.
“How did it go?” Marstead asked.
I slid into the seat next to him.
He insisted on accompanying me to the dentist. He said it was either him or one of Luchin’s officers. He was not going to let me go unprotected until they caught the folks who ransacked my parent’s quarters on the UOA campus. I tried to assure him I could take care of myself, but he was having none of it. I could see the bulge of his blaster under his suit coat. I, on the other hand, wore mine quite visibly on my hip. I had my license handy if someone questioned me, but it wasn’t likely. This was a port city and folks were used to armed citizens.
I leaned over close to him with my Ear next to his so he could hear the spillover.
“Say hello to Marstead, Ma-rye-a,” I said.
“Hello, Admiral,” Ma-rye-a replied in a raised voice.
“Nice,” he said as he leaned back in the seat and smiled. “I must admit I do feel better with the installation of it.”
“I’m surprised you never had one installed in all your years of military service.”
Many of the upper level military had them. Once they were connected to the LE address of you designated receiver it was the most efficient means of communication.
“I did at one time, but had it removed and the tooth replaced years ago after I retired. I didn’t have any more use for it. Who was I going to talk to…my house monitor?”
Marstead was right. There were computers, flats, cuffs and slap-ons that you could use to do the mundane things in day-to-day life. I could sell my slap-on now that I had the jaw mike. I might even get a nice price for it since it was a newer model, lightweight and Daniel had even programmed it with a few games to help pass the time while I was waiting for deliveries and not on board Ma-rye-a.
“Carrie? Can you put my slap-on up for sale on the NET? See what you can get,” I said.
“Will do,” Carries confirmed in my Ear. I was enjoying this instant gratification already. If I had been using the slap-on just now, instead of the mike, I would have needed to pull up my sleeve and do some fancy finger work before I could give orders. This ‘talk’ and have done with it was great.
“I’ll be home is a couple of hours,” I told my crew. I knew they were all listening. “Going to spend some quality time with Marstead before I head back.”
“We’ll be waiting for you, Cap,” Sam said.
I ran me tongue over the top of the mike to turn it off. “I am all yours for the rest of the afternoon,” I announced.
“Great.” Marstead leaned forward and punched an address into the cruiser’s controls. “Next stop lunch.”
I almost choked on my luncheon roll. My eyes must have grown wide because Marstead leaned across the table and placed his hand over mine in a show of concern.
There was no need to remove the EAR receiver earlier when I was finished talking to my shop. It is designed to allow normal sound to filter through. So, I was not necessarily surprised when I heard Ma-rye-a whisper in my ear. I was however surprised and shocked by what she was saying.
I pulled my hand out from under Marstead’s and jumped to my feet.
“Someone has broken into my ship. We have to go! Now!”
By the time we arrived Marstead had already notified Luchin, Luchin had sent back-up and they were there with the culprit in custody. The Captain of the Galactic Forces had not speared time or staff in executing a team to take the perp down. I could count more than ten men there including the Captain himself.
Luchin’s men were pushing the guy into a GF van as we parked.
The Captain strode up to the cruiser.
“He disabled your security and was working on shutting down the ship totally so there would be no evidence of his being there, when we arrived. I’m taking him to headquarters for questioning.” He nodded to his second in command and the man hoped in the cruised to speed away. “We did a sweep of the area. He appears to be alone. I want you to look over your ship. He didn’t have anything on him, but I want you to make sure nothing is missing,” Luchin said. “He took down your security pretty damn efficiently, so he may have tech that could have transported something out before we got to him.”
I nodded and rushed aboard Ma-rye-a.
“Ma-rye-a? Are you alright?” I asked as I stepped up on the platform.
“I am fine,” she responded, “but Sam is gone.”
“Gone? Like shut off, right?” I asked.
“No,” she said quietly. “He isn’t here anymore.”
“He has to be,” I said anxiously as I sped though the ship to the bridge.
“No,” she said again. “The intruder wiped his program.”
“We didn’t know he was gone until it was too late,” Horus explained. “We all felt the ‘space’ as soon as it happened, but then…” His voice trailed off.
“What will we do?” Carrie asked. “He’s always been here.”
Carrie sounded as lost as I felt. Sam was my second AI and the most important of my crew this side of Ma-rye-a. I didn’t know how to function without him. I sat down in the pilot seat and broke into tears. I thought I didn’t have any more tears to shed after my parent’s death, but like a mother who had lost a child, I cried for the loss of Sam.