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Richardine X-Machine

By Paula Grover All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy

Chapter 1: The P.S.W. Android

Richardine X-Machine was created to make up the shortfall in Interplanetary Caregivers. There simply weren’t enough personal support workers in The Home Solar System in 2216, and so Richardine was built to come in and help the huge population of aged and disabled people on the Colony Worlds. “Interplanetary P.S.W.s” at that time were required to have a degree in Space Travel and Technology. They were also obliged to have access to sturdy, space-worthy star-crafts.

Richardine had been set up with a compact “Care-Ship” which would take care of the "Home Solar Run". She was responsible for servicing the Luna Prime and Martian Colonies of the Inner System; and the Jupiter One Europa Outpost and Outpost Station BX-Titan of the Outer System, each of which were situated on one of Jupiter's and Saturn's many moons. It was quite a task; but Richardine, or “Richie-X” as she was commonly referred to, was equipped with many features that made interplanetary care-giving her specialty. One of her advantages over Human care-givers was that she did not require oxygen to breathe. She could travel across Martian and Lunar landscapes without a heavy space-suit and oxygen tank. She could lift thousands of kilograms of equipment at a time, and transport them across low or high gravity atmospheres. She could mentally process and perform tasks up to fifty times faster than a Human worker, and she never lost her temper or her emotional equilibrium.

She did have a somewhat more mechanical manner than a Human being, of course, and that had the potential to be a disadvantage. Still, in all the test runs that Richie-X had performed, she had been successful in making basic connections with her Human clients. They had been happy to have anyone come and visit their communities to lend a helping hand to the sick and injured. It was especially appreciated by the more distant communities, such as the colonies at Europa and Titan.

The creator of Richie-X, however, knew that Humans had an edge over machines when it came to personal interaction. It had been a very long haul trying to come up with an android that could even begin to connect with Humans on a personal level. Creator Capricorna Asteron, or Mistress Capri, as she was known to Richie-X, had finally succeeded with the Personal Support Unit known as Richardine X-Machine.

It had taken years to develop, but Capri had finally managed to endow her creation with emotional equilibrium and an excellent moral-values program. Unlike many of the prior attempts, Richie-X had an extraordinary capacity for empathy. How it had happened exactly, Capri did not know. Nevertheless, it had been cause for celebration. She and her assistant Andruna Clairelight had taken Richie-X out to a Zero-Gravity Dance on Luna Prime, and they had partied the night away in fine style.

It was indeed a victory, but Capri knew that the Humans on other worlds would be dying for a little fluff-n-feather-ball comfort as well; and so she had equipped Richie-X with a small menagerie of andromals. Accompanying her on the Compact Care-Ship “Sharky’s Ark” was a beautiful Aquatic-Green Labrador Canine Unit named Neptuna; a black-and-white Bovine-Pony Unit named Toro Caballo; a saucy, sandy-colored Rock-Dune Duck named Quackine Duckworth, or “Quacky”; and a Genetically Modified, Technologically-Enhanced Cockatoo Bio-Unit named Milk O’ Birdkindness...Milk-O for short.

The andromals, unlike the biological beings on Earth which had inspired their creation, did not need to eat, drink, breathe, or produce waste products...except for Milk-O, who did have semi-biological breathing and eating/drinking capacity, but who could also turn these off when necessary. He also had a recycling capacity which could be used to take food and water that he consumed and create a special gruel for use as emergency food to feed biologically-based life-forms.

The Compact Care-Ship in which they all rode had been named “Sharky’s Ark” after Capri’s father—Cap’n Jack “Sharky” Sharkton—who had been the creator of andromals. He had created them so that people living in space stations and on colonies could have pets. Natural-born animals in general did not take well to space-flight, although there were some cats and dogs who had adapted to their owners’ space-faring lifestyles. Nonetheless, “andromals” were becoming increasingly popular with the space-faring population.

Andruna and Capri were accompanying Richie-X and the andromals on this tour of duty because they wanted to observe her as she went out into the field. This would not be just another test run. Richie-X would be performing her chores alone, while Andruna and Capri watched her progress on the ship’s viewing monitor. If this field run was successful, Richie-X would soon be sent out on her own to perform her duties.

At present, Richie-X was at the helm and piloting the Care-Ship expertly. Andruna and Capri simply sat back and enjoyed the ride.

“We are drawing near to the Martian Colony,” Richie-X informed them.

Neptuna barked in mechanical excitement, while Milk-O perched on his head. Toro Caballo gave an odd moo-whinny, and Quacky joined the chorus with her incessant quacking.

“Silence, please, andromals,” Richie-X commanded the group, “You will all get your chance to visit with people when we arrive at our destination.”

Capri nodded her head in approval. She was glad to see that Richie-X was taking charge of the somewhat rambunctious bunch. She could not help but feel proud of her beautiful blue-eyed android! Richie was sharply dressed in a one-piece, gold uniform and was now the picture of efficiency. She had once looked like any other android until her silver, metallic body had been given a magnificent make-over. She now appeared as a Humanoid, and Capri knew that she was special both inside and out. She had lovingly crafted her fiery red hair and plenty of personality to go along with it. People had told her that she was reaching too far with her android-creation, but thankfully she had not listened to them.

Andruna looked at her and nodded as Richie-X proceeded to initiate all docking protocols, including the contact of the Colony’s Planetary Command Post to request entry to Mars.

When Richie-X had successfully docked at the Space Hangar, the two Humans let out audible sighs of relief.

Richie-X turned around and gave Capri and Andruna a look which could only be described as victorious.

“You didn’t think I’d make it, did you?” she asked saucily.

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