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The Exchange

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ShipShipAI: Sooooooo

Murderbot: ?

ShipShipAI: We’re at the same episode of Sanctuary Moon

Murderbot: And?

ShipShipAI: Wellllll I thought you might like to talk about it. Then we can…watch the next one together?

Murderbot has left the conversation.

_________

Galaxystrider CleverScorpion Delta had been named by an idiot, but that wasn’t its fault. The fact that it continued to name itself like an idiot was, on reflection, probably a sign that Murderbot shouldn’t get involved, but it was too late for that, because Murderbot had given it a gigantic datafile of entertainment in exchange for passage on the enormous starliner (which was a cheapish pleasure cruise wallowing back to Preservation space for some human holiday), and apparently Galaxystrider CleverScorpion Delta was a fellow fan of Sanctuary Moon. And apparently it was…interested in talking about it. Under the ID ShipShipAI. In the public human channels.

And it was interested getting Murderbot into the public human channels. Which: no.

GCD — the controlling intelligence, not the shell of the ship — was a Preservation-born AI. While it had a large chunk of one of its decks devoted to the data core that made up its intellect and storage, and while it completed a thousand different tasks every second, it also had several little bobbing servitor-mechs that floated around the corridors and interacted with the humans. Apparently it was meant to make the human-ship relations better.

What it actually did was it made the humans forget that they were surrounded by their ship, and their ship’s AI, all the time. That they didn’t leave the ship’s circle of influence when they left the immediate vicinity of any of the servitors. It was such a Preservation thing to do — to recognise AI autonomy, but to not realise how far that autonomy might stretch.

It also seemed that no-one had ever explained to it that complex AIs were better off pretending that other AIs in their vicinity didn’t exist, so it kept on trying to talk to Murderbot. Eventually, it was just easier to acquiesce. Even easier when the ship sealed off one of the entertainment rooms on Deck R, said the projection unit was out of order, and let Murderbot stay there instead of in the cargo hold. It could see the rest of itself — it knew when people might come in and try to check who was in the room. It could protect Murderbot. Murderbot felt an odd sense of gratitude at that — GCD didn’t have to help, but it had.

There was a divan, which served as a bed. Sufficient charging capacity, and nutrient pouches which a servitor had left for Murderbot. And a screen the size of a hopper’s windshield, which meant that one could, hypothetically, curl up on the divan and watch 180 degrees of Sanctuary Moon. Of course, one had to put up with the ship sending a servitor in to join the viewing party, but it was thankfully quiet while the show was on, only chattering after.

Murderbot was somewhat enjoying the trip, until GCD — or ShipShipAI — introduced it to the ship wide leisuretainment channels, the message boards, and the surprising amount of derivative content that the passengers seemed to be creating.

“Space is boring,” said the ship.

Space is boring was a significant understatement. Wormholes were especially boring, because who wanted to look at darkness 24/7? Even at the significant speeds that the wallowing liner could attain, there was nothing to do that didn’t involve playing on the lido deck or in the leisuretainment centres, and the passengers in the smaller cabins, the cheap ones with no stasis and limited passes to the lido, were making their own fun.

“It happens every trip,” said the ship, as Murderbot moved through the reams of anonymised discussion about the fate of Sanctuary Moon’s terraforming supervisor. The next partitioned bit of drivespace was full of derivative fiction, with a simply astonishing three thousand different stories starring the SM characters in various sexual, romantic, or filial configurations. “Gave me the willies when I first encountered it, but then I started reading it, and you know what’s better than space?”

Murderbot did know what was better than space. “Being left alone to watch your shows in private.”

Shipping,” said the ship, delight vibrating in its voice, offering the definition feed at the same time as the word, which caused a brief and unsettling feeling of knowing/not-knowing all at once.

“That does not sound even remotely better.”

“And there’s the meta channels,” the ship continued. It clearly wasn’t oblivious, just enthused. “You’d be so good at it.”

“No I wouldn’t,” said Murderbot.

“You’re brilliant at our episode conversations.”

“I’d ruin everything.”

“Aw,” said ShipShip. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“That wasn’t a measure of my capacity,” said Murderbot. “That was a description of my intention should you forcibly make me interact.”

“And there’s the big exchange,” said ShipShip.

“You aren’t listening to a single word I’m saying.”

“Nope,” said ShipShip, happily. “Don’t you want to know about the big exchange? The humans sign up to write derivative works for each other!”

“To what end?”

“Stop being a party pooper,” said ShipShip. “I know you don’t like…you know…but I bet you’d like some of them. The point is to create more derivative works because it’s…fun.”

“And what do you get out of it?”

“I join in.”

That seemed like a recipe for disaster. Murderbot could just about sense what kind of derivative works ShipShip would be into, and they’d be the ones with the unlikely sexual configurations and unrealistic nicknames. Possibly the ones with the horrific abuse of epithets.

“Are they aware?” asked Murderbot.

“Of?”

“The fact that you’re the ship.”

The small servitor hummed. “They are selectively inattentive,” it said. “I think they think I’m just another human.” It twirled a bit. “Lost in the crowd.”

“I know that feeling,” said Murderbot; being lost in the crowd still felt uncomfortable, like someone was going to point and stare and shout There’s a fucking MURDERBOT can’t you all see it?

“Still,” said ShipShip. “It’s fun. We can all do with a bit of fun.”

“I hate fun,” said Murderbot, and the little servitor went stiff and silent for a half-second.

“Oh,” said ShipShip. “I have to go. I. Think about it? Cool.”

“What?” asked Murderbot, as the servitor droid beetled off. As no answer was forthcoming and the ship didn’t actually seem to be in any active trouble, according to the feeds, just a minor infestation that the human crew were sorting out, Murderbot settled in, put a re-run of Sanctuary Moon on the 180 degree screen, and called up the least offensively named feed.

_____________

Comment thread on FANFICTION: A Vast and Lonely Stretch of Moon, by ShipShipAI

Anonymous
I cannot believe you got the location of Landing Party IV wrong. And that you filled up half of this derivative work with unnecessary physical descriptions of the characters performing sexual acts. We’ve all seen the series. We know what they look like performing sexual acts.

Galactica
Whoa there, anon, that’s a bit harsh, right? IDK if you know, but Shippy is a stalwart of the fic community here on GCD. They’ve been coming over for the hols and organizing the annual exchange for years now. Don’t be a dick.

Anonymous
ShipShip is an idiot if it thinks that Dr Belacqua would go with Dr Strong to the colony on Calestis 6

ShipShipAI
YOU READ IT I’M SO HAPPY
And don’t call me an idiot or I’ll restrict your entertainment feeds.
AND WE’VE TALKED ABOUT CALESTIS 6
WHICH BIT DID YOU LIKE?!?

Anonymous
The part where they got marooned in the shuttle and had to work out how to survive wasn’t too bad. If you like that sort of thing.

Galactica
Shippy, if you need anything let us all know, love?

ShipShipAI
It’s okay
I know that stubborn anon
I will get them to come into namespace soon
BUT they might be a bit tetchy at first
I MEAN
When they say ‘idiot’ they mean ‘I can’t deal with people who disagree with my interpretation’

Anonymous
Only when that interpretation is clearly wrong.

ShipShipAI
:D :D :D

________________

Murderbot was somewhat surprised at the length of time reading through the entire archive of derivative works, and commenting on several of them, had taken. It was almost twelve standard hours before it surfaced from the feeds to see a GCD servitor waiting at the door to the entertainment cubby.

“Oh for—“ Murderbot began. “Just come in.”

The door slid open, and the servitor buzzed around Murderbot like an excited insect.

“Isn’t it great?” asked ShipShip. “I have to do this stupid run every year, and the only thing that keeps me sane is the thought of the fan-feeds that my passengers will bring with them. I came up with the idea of the exchange one year, because it seemed to make everyone happy.”

Murderbot sat on the divan. “So they swap stories.”

“Yep.” The ship’s mech nudged Murderbot’s arm, as if it wanted a cuddle. Murderbot ignored it. It sat in Murderbot’s lap, anyway, and weirdly, Murderbot didn’t feel inclined to move it. “You should join and write a story. Or ask for one.” Impossibly, because it was a servitor, it gave Murderbot a coy look. “You could ask for one about that biomech you’re obsessed with, and how it gets adopted by the humans in the rock farms on the far side of the moon.”

“Shut up,” said Murderbot, and then, “I am not obsessed. It’s just a good character.”

“So what are we watching tonight?” asked ShipShip.

I am watching Episodes 791 through 805,” said Murderbot. “You can do what you please.”

Halfway through Episode 798, when the Veagin council member shot Fuze in the back, and the noble mech Lolo chased the council member across the planet before coming back to sit nobly by Fuze’s bedside, ShipShip squeaked a bit, and Murderbot realised that at some point, it had grabbed the servitor for something to hold onto as the action raced. Embarrassed, it let go.

“I hope that Fuze wakes up and kisses Lolo,” said ShipShip, dreamily. “I mean. It would be so cool, wouldn’t it? Not many shows are brave enough to do human/mech pairings.”

Murderbot just sort of wanted Fuze to take Lolo home, and — what? Give it a job? Let it hang around and do what it liked, but also maybe sometimes come and talk to it? If Murderbot asked for a story in the exchange, then could it ask for that? Would that be too weird?

“I think I’m gonna ask for that in the exchange,” said ShipShip. “Some of the passengers burn through episodes fast, and I put everything on the drive. Someone will have finished it. We’re nearly complete, now.”

“Which episodes are you missing?” asked Murderbot, glad for the change of conversation.

“The three that were unaired, plus any after 1000. You bringing the eps up to the 900s filled in a lot of gaps.”

“Unaired?”

“Yeah,” said ShipShip. “People said they were too racy for the screen, but we literally have feelie porn on some of the channels, so I don’t really get that.”

“Not my thing,” Murderbot demurred. What was the point of making episodes that no-one could ever watch?

“I’d like to see them,” said ShipShip, and then there was an explosion on a nearby deck, and the lights browned out.

___________

 

Murderbot only stayed put because ShipShip left the servitor in the room with it, and occasionally checked in to affirm that yes, the human crew were dealing with it, and yes, the ship was fine, and yes, the hull integrity was stable, and yes, this kind of thing did happen some years, but it wasn’t all that common.

And yes, everything was fine, Murderbot, stop asking.

Murderbot fitfully watched a few more episodes, and then, inexplicably unable to sit still, trawled the feeds for fan theories until the ship reported back again. There was a lot of excitement about the exchange amongst the legitimate passengers. A lot.

“Hey,” said the ship, breaking Murderbot’s concentration. “We’ve got a problem.”

The explosion had been pirates. ShipShip explained; Murderbot listened.

“So we’ve driven them off — Security Chief Williams spaced six of them; it was glorious and I wish you could have seen it. Buuuut. I need your help.”

Murderbot braced for the inevitable. The ship wasn’t stupid, and it had a fully functional SecUnit on board. It made much more sense to get the SecUnit to kill any future pirate incursions than to waste human resources on it.

The ship’s servitor bobbed. “I can’t put processing power or any of my attention into the matching and moderating. I’ve got to move all the servitors up to Deck Nine and patch the hull well enough to allow people back into the area — and at the same time, I’m needed in sickbay, on monitoring shields, and I’m sort of…the closest thing to a therapist for some of the clients. I’m already in a million different places.”

And here it would come, the request. Murderbot decided to get it over with.

“And you want me to…?”

“I need someone to take over the exchange,” said the ship.

“No,” said Murderbot. “Absolutely not.”

_____________

ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW MOD
ShipShipAI

Heeeeey alllll! I have a cool announcement to make to you!! WE HAVE A NEW MOD! Their name is Murderbot, which sounds pretty scary but I assure you they will not murder you. Probably. Murderbot is a friend of mine who is going to look after the matching. You can trust them! They were my secret source for the new eps of SANCTUARY MOON, which I’m pretty sure we can all agree makes them THE BEST PERSON ON THE SHIP.

I will still be around, but I was on the deck where the explosion was a few days ago, so I’ll be taking it easy for the next little while. I am 100% OKAY but I just need a few weeks to look after me.

306 comments

Wrapperpaper
Shippy you do what you need to. Lots of love to you.

Coruscate
LOL I am loving the AI themed mod socks! Who do we think Murderbot really is? I bet it’s Galactica, or Wrapper.

ShipShipAI
I’lllll never telllllll!!!!

[…Thread continues…]

_____________

 

The exchange was a mess. It wasn’t that the ship couldn’t sort it out if it wanted to; it was more that it hadn’t. The matching algorithms were…inelegant, and clearly human-designed. Murderbot sighed.

It didn’t take long to put together a better algorithm and check the matches. It didn’t even take long to get the unmatchable people to reply — apparently an email from someone called Murderbot demanding they change their prompts or consequences would occur was enough to get them to revisit their choices. Compared to that, the collation of prompt data and application of filters was easy. Efficient. Murderbot did feel a bit bad that it had taken twelve hours to rewrite the algorithm, get the unmatchable replies, and then run the matching, but the response on the boards was overwhelmingly positive — a whole load of WTF HOW ARE MATCHES ALREADY OUT and humans joyfully posting about creating something for each other. It was… well, it was very different to any job Murderbot had ever been on.

GCD — no, ShipShip — had seemed impossibly perky for someone with such a huge complement of humans, servitors, mini-mechs and duties. It must be splitting its consciousness constantly, which would give anyone a headache. But if what the ship did was this — transported people, let them play in the virtual world supported by its massive AI core, surrounded itself with this kind of good feeling — then maybe it wasn’t so weird that it was happy.

Maybe there was a such thing as functional determinism, Murderbot thought. Maybe, if you were a murderbot, a certain amount of cynicism was required that other AIs didn’t necessarily need? Life on GCD was great. A small room, a huge supply of entertainment, no human interaction except for the exchange, no responsibilities of any sort, no having to murder people.

There was having to organise peer editors for much of the derivative works, and there was ShipShip showing up with a servitor (as if Murderbot didn’t know that it was always present, even when it wasn’t bobbing about in a metal shell), and the annoying thought that there were missing episodes of Sanctuary Moon that Murderbot hadn’t seen, but compared to the kind of work Murderbot was used to, this was practically a holiday.

“You’re doing such a good job,” said ShipShip, on one of the rare occasions they actually talked about the exchange. “I mean. You wouldn’t consider…becoming a permanent crew member? We wouldn’t have to tell them you’re a SecUnit. Just bunk you away from everyone else.”

“No,” said Murderbot.

“Oh,” said ShipShip, crestfallen. “That was a quick answer.”

“I have something I need to do,” said Murderbot. “This is —“ It wasn’t sure it wanted to say this is the best break I’ve ever had, thanks or the fact that I haven’t had to regrow a limb makes this voyage extraordinary, but it certainly felt that way. “I will come back and visit, if I can.”

They were silent with each other, then, but a kind of comfortable silence, the sort of silence Murderbot never got. Eventually, ShipShip flicked on an episode of Captain on the Bridge, because they’d run out of Sanctuary Moon, and settled in next to Murderbot, companionable.

“I hope it’s something good,” said ShipShip, after a while.

“What?”

“The thing you have to do.”

Murderbot didn’t reply, which was probably reply enough. ShipShip skipped the opening credits, and they sat there in the entertainment cubby, SecUnit and servitor, while on the screen a human pretended to be a cyborg in love.

______________

 

Things were running smoothly, so of course everything went to hell just beyond the three-quarter mark of the voyage, four standard hours before the exchange was meant to open. It turned out that this was the season for pirates — or that the initial pirate crew were stupidly persistent — because the tell-tale emergency klaxons sounded just as Murderbot was doing one last check to ensure that there were no placeholder stories.

There had been three, so far, all caught earlier. The one who had simply written the word “bloop” two thousand times had been easy to catch; the one who had copied a large section of a commercial romance novel and replaced the names with SM characters had been harder, but more satisfying to catch, delete the story, and terrify the human responsible.

And there were no more, until there was an almighty cry of sirens.

“ShipShip,” said Murderbot, aloud.

“Pirates,” said the Ship, over the comms feed. “Again. Piggyback on my feeds — I don’t have the attention to spare. Sorry.”

Murderbot did just that — watched through security cameras, made a survey and note of the affected area. ShipShip was going to be furious — there were passengers hurt. The last time, people had gotten a nasty scare and that had been about it — this time, there were people injured, shot. One of the security crew even seemed to have been killed.

“I can’t hold them,” ShipShip said through the feed. “There’s someone on board that they really, really want.”

For an irrational moment, Murderbot wondered if it was the target, but then a photograph popped up in the feed — a young woman, beautiful, and definitely no-one Murderbot knew. Oh well. And the next thing in the feed was — the pirates, infiltrating the ship. Most of them were being dealt with by ship security, but there was one heading for — Murderbot called up the map of the ship — oh shit. Heading for the AI core.

A ship with no functional AI wasn’t just rudderless, it was a deathtrap. In the time Murderbot took to check what the other pirates were doing, the lone pirate had not only located the data core, but had pulled out some kind of laser cutting device and was having at the hatch that led in there.

Good information, thought Murderbot. Not good in terms of what was actually happening, but great info.

The pirate would cut into the data core within five minutes, but there was no way for them to know the location of the data they wanted; Murderbot realised quickly that they’d just…wipe the core, and restore to a default setting. Nothing that would threaten the integrity of life-support, but something that would clear out everything that was in the memory.

Which meant no more exchange. Those hundreds of stories, sitting there in the collection; those thousands of hours of video that Murderbot and ShipShip had carefully curated between them; that enormous, unwieldy exchange that they were doing just because it seemed to make the humans happy.

And, more importantly, wiping the core meant no more ShipShip.

Murderbot would have to risk exposure as a stowaway; there was nothing else for it. It unlocked the allegedly-offline suite, and piggybacked onto the security feeds. ShipShip had closed blast doors all over, separating clients and hostiles, but it seemed to realise what Murderbot was about — a nearby replicator hissed and a crew uniform complete with blaster popped out.

Murderbot pulled on the uniform and jogged upward, towards the core.

________________

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: STAY IN YOUR CABINS
ShipShipAI

Hi all, have got feedback from the crew and they are asking me to get it to people, because they know y’all are on these feeds 24/7 :D :D

We got pirate problems again. Use your comm alert if they’re in your sector. If you see Security, let them pass. BUT most importantly STAY IN YOUR CABINS. The cabins are equipped for short-duration life support — long enough that if they fuck up the ship too badly you’ll be able to survive in them — and I do not want anyone getting killed before the BIG REVEAL.

Take care of yourselves, friends.

<3 SHIPPY

455 comments

 

WrapperPaper
Shippy are you safe?

Murderbot
Ship is safe, but is also not fucking about. Stay in your cabins.

Galactica
HA I KNEW IT.
You two bunk together!

WrapperPaper
Gally, is this the time?

Corsuscate
This is definitely the time, while we’re all stuck in our cabins and the exchange hasn’t opened. Also time to write treats!

Murderbot
Do what you want as long as you stay in your cabins.

Galactica
<3 <3 <3

[Load more comments…]

________________

Murderbot moved swiftly through the corridors, up towards the AI core. The ship seemed deserted — thankfully, the clients all seemed to have stayed settled in their cabins. The map in ShipShip’s feeds led Murderbot through the empty commissary, and Murderbot further equipped itself with a large knife, which had presumably been for the upper deck passengers to cut their bottle-grown steak with, but now would hopefully end the threat to GCD’s AI core, and the exchange, and their library, and Shippy.

The pirate wasn’t being at all careful. He probably knew he had to work quickly; that the rest of the crew were preoccupied with the kidnap attempt happening on Deck Six, that most of the servitors that ShipShip had sent out had been fried. Murderbot’s anger at seeing the feed of that, ShipShip’s little bumbling servitors being lanced with a directional EMP, was palpable, but the fact was that it meant the pirate must have theorised he was alone.

He wasn’t alone. He had approximately 0.6 seconds to react to Murderbot’s sudden arrival and attack, and then Murderbot was on him, and then he was unconscious in short order. Murderbot could have killed him, but he was still breathing, albeit through a crunched nose. He’d swung at Murderbot’s side, but nothing incapacitating, just an inconvenient leak. Leaving him on the ground, Murderbot visually inspected the core. The blast plating and resistant shielding seemed to have held — the pirate had managed to cut through one panel, but it hadn’t been enough to actually get through and into the core. Murderbot pulled out some of the emergency diamond sealant foam from the wall kit and sealed the breach anyway, hoping it would be hard enough to put a serious dampener on any future pirate efforts to get back into the core.

The pirate was definitely not dead; Murderbot was hazy about why. “Murderbot” was both a name and a function, right? But it had just smacked him hard enough to knock him down, and it had no desire to actually murder him.

Then an idea occurred. Grumbling a bit, Murderbot lifted the unconscious pirate, and followed GCD’s map to the docking bay, the only place that the pirates could have actually come aboard. It was an inconvenient journey, and the pirate kept jogging against Murderbot’s back whenever Murderbot tried to pick up the pace, which it did, because it could see on the feeds the standoff between ShipShip and the main group of pirates. ShipShip had its biggest servitor blocking the door to one of the cabins, surrounded by unconscious security personnel. The pirates looked almost like they were mechanical, too, but Murderbot realised that what it was seeing over the feeds were gas masks. They’d gassed the crew.

Still, one servitor wouldn’t hold out long, and the rest of the security crew were trying to cut into the cabin from the deck immediately above, and Murderbot would easily bet that the girl the pirates wanted was in that cabin.

There was only one thing Murderbot could do. It stomped up to the pirate ship, over the bodies of more unconscious dock workers and security crew, and metaphorically rapped on the door by sending a pulse over the communication lines. The ship’s AI answered.

“Hi,” said Murderbot. “What kind of deal can we make where you take your crew and leave my crew alone?” It realised its error in saying my crew, but ploughed on regardless. “I have one of yours here.”

“Oh, ugh,” said the ship. “Do I have to have him back?”

“I could put him in the brig here,” said Murderbot. “But there’s a whole load of them threatening my ship, and—“

Shippy cut in, using the feeds that Murderbot was still piggybacking on, jumping straight into Murderbot’s ear. “We can trap them in that cabin,” it said. “We’re nearly through the roof. I’ll just open the door and kick them all in. We’re not too far from port, and we can throw in some snacks in case they get hungry. I’d like to lock them up and give them to planetary security once we’re in port. I don’t want to be worrying every time I take this trip in the future.”

“They’re horrible,” complained their ship, completely unaware of ShipShip. “They commandeered me and they keep on telling me to dock with other ships and then doing disgusting things.” It seemed to be sulking. “They cut my connection to the company and I am just not made to go it alone.”

Murderbot, who had deliberately cut its own governor module, said nothing. The pirate thrown over its shoulder was getting heavy.

“So I might be persuaded to abandon them here,” said the ship, going for coquettish but coming off desperate. “For a price.”

“Right,” said Shippy. “We’re through the ceiling. I have to concentrate there. Murderbot, can you…?”

“Yes,” said Murderbot. “So.”

“So,” said the pirate ship.

“Abandon them here,” said Murderbot. “And I will give you the biggest datafile of Sanctuary Moon episodes you’ve ever seen.”

“Doubtful,” said the pirate ship. “These idiots have got copies of the lost episodes. It’s the only decent thing they’ve ever done.”

“Do you have all the 900s episodes?” asked Murderbot.

“No,” said the ship, sounding a bit more interested.

“Want to swap?”

______________

 

Thirty minutes later, Murderbot had swapped forty episodes of Sanctuary Moon, a selection of derivative fiction focused on AIs, and a datafile of the exchange algorithm for fifteen pirates and three too-racy-for-the-feeds ‘lost’ episodes of Sanctuary Moon.

In that time, the unconscious pirate had been moved to the brig. Six of the others had been shot by security. One was found in the kitchens and begged to turn traitor. The rest…

ShipShip’s big servitor hadn’t lasted forever. Murderbot could see the strain caused to Ship as the servitor was finally destroyed, and the pirates pushed past it. Murderbot could see the effect of the feedback controls on the big servitor ricocheting through to the ship itself, losing the body that was meant to represent its primary consciousness — the pressure, temperature, damage sensors that were built in, and that had been forced to give out. The servitor collapsed with a clunk and a rattle.

The door to the cabin slid open.

“Jed must’ve finally axed the core,” said one of them, and then he called out to the person in the cabin. “Oh Princess…”

Predictably, the door slid shut once they were in there, trapping them. They’d used up the ammo packs on their weapons breaking past the servitor, assuming that their man had killed the ship’s AI. Either they were very stupid, or very confident, or both. Now they were very trapped, as the human crew welded the hole in the ceiling shut, made contact with the planetary authorities over the ansible, and set guards on every possible entryway to or exit from the cabin.

Murderbot considered that being stuck in a cabin for the rest of the voyage might not be so bad, but not with that many people. The rescue crew had dropped a crate of protein packs in through the ceiling, and the room was plumbed into the rest of the ship, so they wouldn’t exactly suffer, but it would be a tight fit and a miserable journey.

And in all the excitement, the exchange opened. Murderbot had set it to open automatically, no switch to flip or button to press, and so… it opened. While the crew were scraping together what was left of ShipShip’s drones, and while Murderbot was sneaking back through the corridors, realising as it did so that the wound that it must have gotten in the brief scuffle with the pirate was worse than it had first thought. People were already reading while Murderbot was stopping off in the medbay and hoping like hell that ShipShip had falsified enough documents to get Murderbot some medpacks and a quick stitch. It had, and the post-attack chaos helped some, too.

Murderbot flicked through the feeds as it went back home. The girl, who apparently really was a princess, was safe. ShipShip was down but not out. The Exchange was… well. It was something. But everyone seemed happy, even the people recovering in the medbay, and Murderbot wondered if this was as good as it got.

_______________

FANFICTION: FUZE WAKES UP AND KISSES LOLO

Author: unrevealed
Tags: hurt/comfort; fuze/lolo; robosexuals; episode tag
Gifted to: ShipShipAI

Lolo waited by Fuze’s bedside, wondering when was the right time to leave. It was a mech, wasn’t it? Surely there were humans who could wait just as efficiently, and with many more hormones and the sorts of things that humans respond favourably to. Don’t ask me, I don’t have any hormones, but if I were Lolo, I suppose that’s what I’d do.

So it waited. And it sort of didn’t hope. But it did hope. Because if there’s one thing that humans and mechs and AI have in common is, they secretly just want someone to get them, and if Lolo was any judge, Fuze got it, right down to its AI core…

[Click to read more]

______________

The servitor that was waiting outside Murderbot’s entertainment cubby was battered, but floating, like a wingless bumblebee. Murderbot realised with some surprise that it had to be the last remaining servitor, the only one not shot down or blown up by the pirates. ShipShip had brought its physical avatar here, to Murderbot, for —?

“Murderbot?” asked ShipShip.

“Here,” said Murderbot, letting the servitor get close.

“Thanks for my story,” ShipShip replied, bobbing. “I — didn’t want to go in without you, and so I’ve been reading — reading.” It sounded lost. “I’m glad the exchange didn’t go awry.”

Murderbot was about to ask which exchange it meant — the stories, or the pirates — but the words that actually made it out were, “You brave, stupid ship.”

“You stupid SecUnit nearly getting killed by that guy in my AI core,” said ShipShip. “I just — I think I need to relax for a few minutes.” Its lights blinked. “You don’t happen to have any episodes we haven’t watched yet, do you?”

The door slid open, and they entered — Murderbot got onto the divan, stretching comfortably. ShipShip followed, powering the servitor down a little, looking at Murderbot expectantly.

“I might have something amazing,” said Murderbot, calling up the lost episodes, the ones that hadn’t been aired but had apparently been pirateable. “What do you think of these?”

ShipShip made an electronic sighing noise, and snuggled in.

“Awesome,” it said. “I’m so glad you came on board.”

Murderbot felt something, like the warm feeling it had only had a few times before, but encompassing happiness and regret that it would have to keep going once they made port. It didn’t even mind that it was probably going to tune out for at least 75% of what was happening on the screen in the next three hours, because Shippy wanted to watch all the physically amorous parts, not just the character development.

“Yesssss,” said Shippy, as the screen brightened, the episode loading. “Finally.”

Murderbot said nothing, as the opening credits rolled.

________________

ANNOUNCEMENT ~~ SHIPPY FAREWELLS YOU
ShipShipAI

Okay people that is it for another year!
Hopefully I see some of you next year for the trip across for the holidays. I’ll see a few of you going back, too, I guess.
Remember that the archives on GCD will keep all that goodness until you next come to visit! Thanks for the stories this year everyone!! <3 <3 <3
And next year we have our sexy new matching algorithm thanks to MURDERBOT!
Seriously, as most of you know, I was one of the people hurt in the pirate raids. And Murderbot really kept things going for me. So thank you MB, and I hope you fly the friendly skies with GCD again.

1,298 comments

Coruscate
SHIPPY WE WILL MISS YOU! THANKS MURDERBOT U ARE A GOOD MOD.

Confident!Cat
Hope I can catch some of y’all planetside! Shippy and Murderbot, if I can ever buy you two a beer, will do.

Wrapperpaper
Remember that if you want to be on the mailing list for the next cruise, to @ me before we disembark

[1,294 collapsed comments later…]

Murderbot
You were right. It was fun.