The "Do Something!" set of questions used by Mothers everywhere, usually beginning with "Have you?" or "Are you". -- Knitnan
The wake-up call had been put together by someone who had heard of roosters and decided to improve by adding louder elements. Cal got out of hir bed-nook before the automatic discomfort protocol could start running low currents through hir body.
Ze barely got time to yawn and stretch before the automated staff management program, inevitably nicknamed 'mother' and variants thereof, kicked into gear.
"Have you gone to the toilet?"
"Gimmie time to stretch, Mom..." Cal finished cracking hir joints and stumbled to the tiny chamber that would whisk away Cal's biological waste and disassemble it into its most valuable and stable compounds. From there, it was a short trip to the neighbouring cleansing booth.
Cal grumbled and leaned back to press the button. Automated systems had been attempted, long ago, but there were obvious flaws.
"Have you washed your hands?"
"I'm washing my entire self, Mom." Cal had learned to be thorough and efficient. The hot water turned off in five minutes. The automated body scrubbers activated in three. And 'Mom' would lock the tube if it thought that Cal had not been thorough, activating the scrubbers anyway.
"Did you brush your teeth?" greeted Cal, regardless, as ze exited.
Sigh. "Yes Mom..." Cal slid into a fresh, clean set of Ship's Skins. Emblazoned with the hated company logo.
The regulated breakfast was low-bit Nutri-food. Paste in a tube and a separate allotment of water. Cal devoured it without any sign of enjoyment. It was all the company would give hir, it was all ze would take.
"Remember to dispose of the empties."
Sigh. "Yes Mom."
Cal read the ship status. Element tanks at a collective 85%. Still. They needed to find more stuff. Too bad that the ship was currently in a vacant spot and incapable of any interesting speeds when 100% tanks were not in existence.
So, in essence, the ship had woken hir up with nothing to do. Another fine day in Supplied Demand.
"Have you done your exercise regime?"
"I'm about to, Mom." Cal forced hirself into the running shoes and jogged to music along the paths between the tanks. In hir youth, ze would have noted which ones needed the most stuff. But that was something that didn't improve any kind of performance numbers.
How much of this cargo was hir own output? Ze'd heard of gatherers spending years on the Out Path, and coming back with a literal load of their own crap. It put new meaning to the phrase, 'a shitty tour'. Supply drones didn't care how long anyone had been out. And the company only cared about that which came in.
After running, came weights. Cal swore that 'Mom' was a secret sadist, pushing hir to do 'just one more' until every muscle was jelly.
Cal knew that ze was just an adaptive repair unit in a bigger set of automated machines designed to ensure that Supplied Demand got all the useful elements that it could eat. Today just... enforced that. Dance to the music, little monkey. And if you're needed to do a job, we'll let you have some candy.
Of course, Supplied Demand was legally obligated to make certain that Cal was in peak physical shape. Adequate nutrition. Adequate comfort. Adequate companionship. Adequate...
Not exemplary. Not excellent. Not descriptive at all, but... adequate.
Personally, Cal could not wait until Furlough, when ze would hit the nearest arboretum and just... exist... somewhere other than these grey and adequate walls.
It would be nice if the company allowed Cal a hobby. Something to do that did not involve checking and maintaining and keeping an eye on the fill level. At least they couldn't stop hir from singing.
"So hoist up the John B sai-ils. See how the main sail sets. Call for the Captain ashore, I wanna go home..."
(Muse food remaining: 13. Submit a Prompt! Ask a question! Buy my stories! Or comment below!)