The second shift insert specialist told me, or in fact that previous me, had a few words with me after I finished my first duty cycle.
“The first shift is the worst,” The rather roundish green Vobulorian Syoka told me in her squeaky voice. “The rest would be just the same.”
What a load of Ahagoth manure that turned out to be. Not only had things gone from bad to worse, but I had to hang in the same space for cycles longer than I’d originally intended. Or was that the original I that had done the intending? Anyway, what the ultimately long delay meant I wouldn’t make the departure for rift space. At least not for a good long measure
Of course the new I did have some different ideas about what to do with my unexpected existence. Maybe being a filterer of supersymetrical smudges wasn’t the career that I really want to continue. Besides, as it turned out, I had plenty of time to think about my future paths as the legal issues of my predecessor were going to stubbornly sticking to me about as persistently as quantum glue.
As for the shifts I had left, well, I decided to get into as little more weirdness as possible.
So I tried to interact as little as possible (thankfully my transmitter receiver was repaired so I no longer picked up any stray thoughts.
Blueneck’s clone didn’t seem that different from his original, and based on the fact that his clone had no head, I had to imagine that maybe it had wandered off as one of his stories suggested. Yep, some bit of real new xeno-biological knowledge I could take with me.
“First *blank*clone, eh?” he remarked amiably when we met again for the first time. “You’ll get over it. I *blank*did. At least the first *blank*couple dozen times, anyway. The *blank*thirteenth, though. That was a*blank**blank*. Glad that one didn’t last long.”
Yeah, I learned he’d burned through more than his fair share of clones, so this was nothing new, being brought in to replace himself. He even had fun with the experience.
Then the cycles turned to cycle and finally it was me waiting for the torpedo tube to take me back to the brown dwarf satellite. I didn’t realize the trouble I was in for, I was just glad to be off the station.
“Oh, it’s you again,” the Torpedo recognized me. I checked to see it was the same one that brought me to the station. The same one that had been tranfered to military use. “Just my luck.”
“Weren’t you supposed to get yourself blown up,” I asked, understandingly a bit apprehensive at getting into the thing.
“Turned out to be a dud,” the Torpedo told me unhappily. “A real kick in the third booster, I can tell you. That’s a kind of embarrassment you never live down.”
Well, at least I wasn’t going to be heading for another bit of recycling. Once in six millennia is quite enough, thank you. And he did get me to the station on time, so I was happy about that.
That, however, was when all the legal problems that came up as the galactic legal profession got into gear. Apparently some of the people who lost their margins on the slowdown were looking for someone to point fingers at, and as my original was the confirmed conduit for the Dark Cluster Aliens, they decided to finger me as their scapegoat. Hell, as if my damned original had caused me enough problems by forcing existence on me. I’d thought I’d had enough of consentient messing up to last me a lifetime, but this was bound to be worse. So I took the easiest, and least expensive legal advice I I could, and referred his actions as alien induced psychosis. Of course this claim meant that I would be put under inspection and observation at a facility designed for just my kind of intermittently vulnerable psychotic consentients.
I didn’t know what the odds were, but against hungry lawyers, and me being cheated out of my predecessor’s paymark, it seemed to be the only affordable way to proceed.
<<The government of the Habinachi cluster has been ordered by galactic tribunal to make a place for the failed hybrids of their cluster reunification plan. The hybrid species that resulted from their experiments petitioned the galactic counsels after discovering that neither side particularly like what resulted from their divergent species reconstruction. The hybrids insist that they have just as much right to exist as their progenitor species, and demand an environment be created for them and their special needs.>>