Ship again. Ian will be back soon so normal service will be resumed. Anyway, for now, on with my tale.
Despite the hold-up and late arrival at the jump point we’ve arrived at Rigor III on time. I do actually take pride in my part in Winston’s affairs, even if the same can’t be said for Winston’s part. The locals seemed a bit non-plussed by our arrival. I think the lack of a steam funnel has thrown them. But we’re finally docked and Winston’s gone to change. Oh,oh, here comes. My, my new white shirt, jodhpurs creased to perfection and brass buttons gleaming. I have to admit in a Winston way, Winston is looking his best. I’m almost proud of him, almost.
‘Cap or no cap?’ Winston asks.
‘Er, no cap,’
‘You may be right. I don’t want to come over as too formal. Oh, and Ship I would like everything spotless for when I return with the Princess.’
I could bridle at that, as if somehow it isn’t always spotless? But in a rare moment of forgiveness I decide to let it go. ‘Of course,’ through gritted ship teeth.
‘And do you think you could find some flowers for the guest suite.’
‘Do we have a guest suite?’
Winston actually blushes. ‘Er, well, I’m er, giving over my quarters to the Princess. So perhaps you could also give them the once over.’
My voice quivers. ‘A once over?’ Opening the link to Winston’s rooms, is not something I would normally contemplate, unless I’m feeling particularly strong. I made it plain from the beginning that I am not a nurse made. One eye squints at it. To be fair though, it is at least tidy. The usual piles of discarded clothes have been shifted, hopefully into the laundry. Now, the bathroom?. I’ll send in an army of droids when Winston’s left. Where there’s no sense there’s no feeling.
There he goes, striding off down the gantry. I almost find myself wishing the boy all the best and hoping that his usual luck with the fairer sex doesn’t repeat itself. Which is indeed being hopeful.
And now, relax. The mental shoulders sag as Mozart’s melodic phrasing fills every corner. This is me time, with no Winston to spoil my contemplations. I’ve sent the droids into Winston’s room with very clear instructions so I don’t have to watch. I’ve even found some floral patterned bedding, instead of Winston’s favourites depicting some very unlikely spaceships.
Oh,oh, wakey, wakey, Here they come. So soon? Surely another hour or two wouldn’t have been asking too much. Anyway, there’s Winston with an attentive looking Princess on his arm. It have to admit that in the flesh the Princess doesn’t scrub up so bad. A bit gawky perhaps, but then this is Winston and beggars can’t be choosers and all that. Now he’s guiding her onto the bridge.
‘And this is where I run Ship from,’ he’s saying as the door swishes open.
I restrict myself to an ‘Ahem,’ deciding this is not the time for a lesson in the truth. I can take some comfort from the nervous smile that flickers across Winston’s face.
‘Ah, yes,’ Winston says. ‘Let me introduce you to Ship. Princess this is Ship. Ship this is our honoured guest, the esteemed Princess Rayala of Rigor III.
‘Pleased to meet you,’ I say. Oh lor, she actually giggled.
‘And I’m pweased to meet you too,’ she pauses, bobs, and giggles again, ‘Shif.’ Another giggle.
Winston seems delighted and beams ‘It seems, Ship, that full Artificial Intelligences are not the norm on Rigor III.’
How…, interesting,’ I say. How wonderfully backward, I think.
The Princess giggles again, I hope she’s not going to keep that up, and flashes her eyelashes at Winston. Did I actually see Winston’s knees buckle?. The lad has it bad. ‘Vinston, Oh Vinston dis is so dewightful,’ she chirps.
Oh, lor, again, I think.
‘Come, Reyala,’ Winston says. ‘Let me show you your quarters for the journey.’ The door swishes and Winston guides her through, as if for some reason she can’t see the opening for herself. The door closes, then opens again as Winston dips back into the room. The door closes. ‘You have made all the arrangements?’ he asks, a pleading look on his face.
Come on, deep breath, put aside normal sarcasm. ‘Yes, Winston. Everything is perfect for the Princess.’ Winston sags a little in relief and turns to go.
‘Winston?’ There were some opportunities that are just too good to miss.
‘Yes Ship?’ Winston says, eyes narrowing.
‘Is she a bit…, you know?’
‘A bit what?
‘You know. One Beruvian grape short of a bunch. I couldn’t help notice she seems to be having some trouble speaking.’
‘What no! Ship, how could you suggest such a thing. That’s the latest fashion in courtly circles on Rigor III. I think its dwightful. Er, delightful.’ At least he has the good grace to blush at this point.
‘Gods preserve us,’ I mutter.
‘Nothing, Winston, nothing.’
Winston sticks his chin in the air and walks towards the door. ‘Oh, and do you think we could have some appropriate music,’ he says stressing the word appropriate.
As the door swishes open the first bars of an ‘appropriate’ ballad start playing.
Winston smiles. ‘Very nice Ship, what is it?’
‘An old Earth song, Winston.’
As Winston trots off after the Princess the heartfelt words of the verse begin. ‘Please release me, let me go.’
Well, that’s it from me for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into a poor, put upon, Ship’s life. Perhaps Ian will let me update you all in the future, which is my past of course, but never mind.
Ship signing off, star date 24.., Help!