An Impossible Price, pt. 3

My Sword & Laser Anthology retreat is over, so I'm back and posting again. Sorry for going away, but I really needed to get my head around that piece!

He handed the tablet back to Dana and opened the inner door of the delivery compartment built into the apartment bulkhead next to the door. Inside he found a substrate module enclosed in plastic, but with no label, just a note. He plucked the note from the packaging and scanned it.

A gift for you and your A.R.U.W.D. - MS

He grimaced. “It’s from Sobol.”

“Isn’t she the one who saved your life?”

“Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t forgotten about that. But she’s also the one holding the strings that were attached to that save, and I don’t know how many of those there are yet.”

He owed Madeline Sobol big time for getting him off of Haruna, a potentially lethal and uninhabited junkyard world. She’d granted him use of a ship, an act of charity that seemed destined to plague him with hidden costs. Receiving more gifts on top of that sounded warning bells in his mind.

“What does it do?”

“No idea. I’ll have to get it analyzed before I install it. Looks too small to be a vocalization module. Too bad, it’d be easier to deal with him if he could talk.” He could talk to the small bot with no problem, but Aru lacked the ability to speak in return. He communicated visually by outputting text to nearby displays.