Bitchin' Betty Ch. 04byOnoz©
Diego sat with his chin in hand, playing idly with the two-day old stubble on it. They'd been hurtling through space on a very specific course, but what that course was he didn't know. Betty would chatter to the navigation computer every now and then and there would be a slight adjustment in the flight, then it would continue for hours with no excitement.
"Are we there yet?"
No, stop asking. We're still 6 hours away from Arden.
Diego yawned and turned onto his side. Something was digging into his ribs. He sat up and fumbled in his pocket, turning out the small alien tool he had found in his footlocker.
"Say, what is this thing anyway?" Betty pried herself away from her game of chess with the navigation unit to see what he was talking about.
Hmm? Oh, that. It's a lot of things; tracking device, suit charger, bottle opener. You name it.
Tracking device, suit charger, bottle opener…
"Bottle opener?" It didn't look like any bottle opener he'd ever seen.
Yeah, or… well you used it as one a lot. I'm actually pretty sure that 'bottle opener' wasn't among it's original list of uses.
"Oh." Betty returned to her game of chess and Diego started pressing buttons on his bottle opener. For the most part he would press a button and it would beep back cheerily at him with no apparent effect.
There is an instruction manual you know.
"Instruction manual? What do I need one of those for? I've got this thing figured out just fine."
Uh-huh, Betty nodded, clearly not believing Diego.
"Instruction manuals are for sissies."
Five minutes passed with much of the same button pressing, cheery beeping, and no progress.
"Instruction manual you say?"
Diego paused for a moment, then continued pressing buttons. Just as he was about to turn up a dial that looked like it might be the volume Betty stopped him.
I wouldn't do that.
Turn that dial.
That's the self-destruct timer.
"I see." Diego's hand made a hasty retreat. "So where's that instruction manual?" Betty giggled and flashed an image into Diego's mind. "That's very disturbing you know."
Of course, that's why I do it.
Diego sighed and then pressed the bottle opener into a slot on his right thigh. If he thought that the previous image Betty had flashed was disturbing, this next bit would have had him on his knees with a front row seat to his lunch's second coming. That is, it would have if there had been space in the the shuttle to do so. After a few minutes of clash of the titans with his stomach, Diego sat upright again.
"What's the line from that old movie?"
I'm afraid you'll have to be a tad bit more specific than that. Betty said sweetly.
"You know, the one about robots taking over and virtual reality." There was a hum as Betty searched through her memory banks.
The Matrix? She ventured.
"Yeah, that's the one."
Another hum. 'There is no spoon?'
"Nope, something else. You know, the part where he sits up in his chair and says something really stupid."
Oh, 'I know kung fu.'
"Yeah, that's the one." Diego laughed tentatively, satisfied that his stomach wasn't going to rebel, he laughed again.
Men. Betty muttered.
"What was that?"
Nothing, nothing. We're coming up on Arden's system, so you might want to hold on to something.
Remembering the initial jettison of his shuttle, Diego made a frantic grab for the nearest handle-looking object. His hand shot out and his fingers wrapped around a large, ominous looking lever.
Not that one!
Diego's head turned in slow motion to look at what he had just grabbed. The label was upside-down.
"Oh shi--" At that precise moment the shuttle spun into a tight spiral, and then veered off sharply to the left towards a nearby moon. A robotic, monotonous voice kicked in to mention that a habitable moon had been located and they were on course to crash land on it in approximately 22 minutes. Diego's mind and Betty exchanged glances and they both started pressing buttons and knobs, turning dials and pulling levers in a mad effort to abort the 'evasive action.' The shuttle stopped spiraling and the navigational computer figured that now was a great time to try out it's new weaving maneuver. Diego quickly gave up trying to take control and curled up into the fetal position.
Several minutes later the ship had stopped it's evasive action and was just making a bee-line towards the moon. Diego was lying on his back with his legs propped up against the hatch and his arms folded across his chest, watching Betty's image in his mind. She was sitting down with her chin in her hand and the other arm outstretched towards the control panel, idly pressing buttons.
Nope. Oh I give up.
"Computer? What's the name of the moon we're landing on?" There was no answer. Diego lifted his head and raised an eyebrow. "Computer?" There was a faint whirring and hum, then:
His head sank back to the floor and he closed his eyes.
You say that a lot.
"It fits a lot of situations."
Having decided that there was no hope in trying to take control of the shuttle's course, Betty resumed her game with the navigation unit. This was the third round they had played, and Betty was starting to wonder what kind of a computer the navigation unit really was, it took hours to think out it's moves and it invariably lost. She moved her knight forward, captured a pawn and put his king in check.
The computer hummed for a minute, then moved his king into a more isolated corner of the board. Betty arched her eyebrow quizzically then advanced her queen.
The computer buzzed happily and announced that Betty had won.
You're not very big on this chess thing are you?
"Oh no, I could have won about 23 plays ago. But it is so much more fun to play when I turn off my navigation systems." Betty thought about this for a minute… navigation unit turning off it's navigation systems. She gave up trying to see the logic in it and sighed.
Diego? Fancy a game of chess?
Diego took a look at the chessboard and decided his brain wasn't in the mood for committing suicide just yet.
Betty's lip turned out and she adopted the biggest pair of puppy-dog eyes ever seen. Diego's will lasted just long enough to see her eyes start to tear before he gave in.
Betty beamed and set up the next round, the navigation unit watching in amusement. Betty was white and started first. Diego thought for a total of three seconds and then made his move. Convinced that this would be an easy win, Betty started to make her moves faster.
Two minutes later Diego smiled.
"Checkmate." Betty's eyes opened wide and she took a look at the chessboard.
Wha… how… she floundered.
Diego shrugged and lay back down. Her eyes narrowing in suspicion, Betty glared at the navigation computer which was beaming back at her gleefully.
Un-phased, the computer announced that they were entering the small moon's atmosphere. Diego found a lever that was markably less dangerous than the previous one and braced himself.