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Chapter 10 Learning things

Celeste wearing her ship's jumpsuit walked into the salon and plunked down into the chair next to Ben. “I know you must have a million questions, and now is a good time to ask them.” 

“I'm not at all sure about how this is all going to work. Can you tell me what is likely to happen?” Ben asked.

“Sure, some elements are common to these expeditions. We're going to slowly approach Pastoral. Some planets had space-based weapon systems. If there are any, I will disable them. Then we will go into orbit and spend some time analyzing surface conditions.

“What do I do while all this is happening ?” 

“You can help me a lot here. We have to pick a landing location to make contact with both groups. Far enough away that they will have to come to us, and not so close that we can't see who is coming. This could be anything from a single vehicle with a few people, to a militia armed to the teeth. At that point, we'll have to work together and play it by ear as the old expression goes. This is why it's always an adventure, and we both need to be cautious. Most go well and are enjoyable, or at least are tolerable. Some places, however, can be bleak, tragic and extremely dangerous.”

“Could you tell me what happened to your last partner?"

Celeste gazed off at one of the vids, and then abruptly looked back at Ben. “Yes. It's hard for me to find a partner to work with. I need to personally like and trust my partner, and the flip side is they need the capabilities to do what I can't. This is a difficult thing to quantify since every situation is different. So they have to be smart, honest, adaptable and not be impulsive, at least as far as the expedition is concerned. But most importantly he has to accept me as I am.”

“My last partner, in the beginning, was good, but over time, he started to order me around. It was about little things at first, and then it got worse. He would disregard my advice and started to take full control of the ground side contacts. One day he arranged a meeting with the local military officials at a nearby large base. These were not good, and I thought potentially brutal people. I suggested he do this near the ship where I could protect him. When a small group showed up in a vehicle, he just climbed in and said that he was going to their base. I insisted that this was a bad idea, and then he called me ..... a machine and told me to shut up.”

On the way to their facility, they asked him how many people were on the ship, and he stupidly said no one, just a computer. When they reached the base, they went to a small room. One of the officers asked him how to get onboard. He told them, the computer has to grant access, only he could get in, and it was now time to talk business. The senior officer told him, "We know a lot about computers, and we want your ship. He pulled out a sidearm, and I watched him pull the trigger. Over the next minutes, I felt him die through his sensors.” Celeste stopped talking and looked away.

“What did you do?” Celeste looked coldly back at Ben, “That military base doesn't exist anymore.”

Ben leaned back stunned. “I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say other than to promise you I will never treat you that way.”

“Thanks, she said with a small smile. “I trust you too.” “How about we watch a vidflick? You choose which one. I have an almost endless supply of them, and I have only watched a few.”

That night Ben was asleep when he sensed something. He rolled over in a sleepy haze and noticed Celeste lying in bed on her side wearing pajamas with her eyes closed. He moved a little closer towards her and drifted back to sleep.