“Aru, tell me something. Why did I accept this job again?” Corwin asked his tiny mechanical co-pilot. The Autonomous Remote Unit Waste Disposal robot was his sole companion on the antique wreck of a ship they were flying. Lacking any sort of capacity for vocal communication, it instead sent a text reply to his console display.
“To pay off your debt to Ms. Sobol,” the text helpfully read.
“Ahh, right, thanks for that cheery thought.”
Madeline Sobol had been head of civilian security on the junk yard world of Haruna, a hostile wasteland of a planet with no food, no potable water, and no human inhabitants. Aru had, like all other robots on the planet, been programmed to offer what assistance it was capable of offering to humans stranded and in life-threatening danger. Luckily for Corwin, Aru had controlled a variety of chassis, one of which had been instrumental in getting him to a wrecked ship containing food. Maybe more importantly, it had equipment for communications with the people in orbit.
They were almost a week out from Haruna now, in a ship that Aru’s maintenance chassis had been able to repair barely enough to be space-worthy.