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Chapter 4

The venue for the roll call/navigation conference is a huge hall. I’d suspect it would house a concert on other occasions. Today it was filled with representatives, each at an assigned seat with their ship designation stamped on it. I was trying to figure out the pattern for the seating arrangement that the bot ship had come up with. At first I thought it was by ship size, but that went out the window when I saw I was on the 4th row, 2 rows back from Janna’s relatively small milship.Teegs somehow was placed right beside me.  I get so lost in my thoughts trying to reconcile the workings of an AI’s mind that i’m startled back into reality by the start of roll call.

‘Agemmenon - AX43D’ a voice boomed throughout the room as a holographic schematic of the ship hovered over the large stage.

A slight woman dressed in red stood up in the audience and announced herself in a voice whose force belied her size. ‘The great ship Agemmenon, home to two million , four hundred seventy four thousand , eight hundred and thirty two souls, provider of year round grain and bread to the fleet, Guardian of sixty seven percent of the seed stores for humanity, and proud companion to our neighbors on the Great Journey announces its participation in this, the four hundred and fourteenth fleet conference. We have no navigational requests.

Teegs leaned over to me ‘Oh boy. We’re gonna be here for a while if everyone goes the windbag approach. Just get in and get out I say’.

I open up my pad and look over the approved introduction that my superiors had written for me. I could feel my face flush as I flipped to page two. Maybe I could edit it down a little.

Teegs turned toward me as I lamented over my prepared speech. ‘Don’t worry. It’s expected for this to last all day. Every ship deserves it’s time to shine, right? You can bet I’ll be reminding all of the others who they need to thank for the fruit they’ll be eating for the next year.

He’s interrupted by another booming name announcement ‘Triton - T9ZLD1!’ as a man in military uniform stands to attention. This time the accolades include ‘Defender of the Fleet’ , ‘Home of Valor’, and ‘Peacemaker’ along with a complement of one million one hundred thousand seven hundred eighty two souls and an exhaustive listing of its most powerful weapons.

This was obviously going to last a while. And since I still had no idea what order the ships were being called, I didn’t know if I was next up or hours down the line.

All the names and numbers started to blur together as I started to doze off. More than a couple of times I caught my head nodding forward as the long line of designations were called out. Now I understood why Janna felt this to be a pointless exercise. The ship introductions all ended with ‘We have no navigational requests’ . And now , as one of the slight men from the group of matriarch ships stood in the middle of the room I waited for him to parrot the now familiar phrase.

‘We are requesting a navigational change for the fleet’

I immediately woke up, along with seemingly everyone else in the conference.

Next Chapter: Chapter 5