Since Lena started working with Zedd, he’d badgered her about transferring to a cell. He wasn’t the only one.
You’ll wish you would have done it when you were younger, or You’ll love it once you do it. She’d heard it all. The pressure only solidified her decision to remain a human. Not that she was against it.
Maybe someday. If the process was reversible she probably would have done it by now. However, once the transfer was done, the empty human cell was useless and almost always discarded.
Lena was looking forward to having the shop to herself. She cherished the time she had to play music and zone out. Hours always slipped by, rewarding her with a glistening shop at the end of the day.
She went back to organizing tools into their hangers on the cabinet doors.
At 2:30, Zedd had finished his paperwork, and was helping Lena move some of the heavier containers to clean behind.
“Ok, I need to get going. I want to catch the 2:40. Shame we didn’t do this months ago. I like the look of a clean shop.”
“New shop resolution:” she proposed. “First Monday of every month can be ‘Deep Clean Day.’”
“Sounds good to me. I’m off. Have fun!” He walked to the door at the front of the shop, turning.
“Oh, and Lena...” She looked up from sweeping. “...try to get some sleep tonight.” She smiled as he closed the door behind him.
Zedd walked down the alley between shops, looking out at the desolate street. Nearly all the bay doors were closed. Those still open were dark and hollow- shops that, for twenty years, housed magnacycle teams, ship maintenance crews, and personal vehicle repair back when the ship first left Earth. He wondered what his new shop would be like, if it also would hold the camaraderie he loved about this location. Seeing the street empty ate at him.
“Hey!” Zedd was greeted as he entered through heavy double doors into the conference room. In the center was a large, ovular table surrounded by chairs. Some people were already seated. An extravagant buffet table had been laid out along the adjacent wall. Several people congregated around it, laughing with each other as they picked at the food. Zedd didn’t have an appetite. His mind was preoccupied with tomorrow’s race. At the far end of the room, the words MRL Welcome Forum were displayed on a large screen. Zedd grabbed an empty seat near the rear of the room and stat down. He looked around at the other team leaders.
“No Lena?” From behind Zedd, a man in his late
twenties sat down next to him. It was Erich, the operator of the Cyan team. He had short, curly brown hair sat atop his head in a thick tuft.
Zedd turned. “Oh hey, Erich. No, I let her off the hook.”
“Shame, guess I’ll see her tomorrow. Pretty cool we get to see the man himself.”
“Huh?” Zedd was still not invested in this conversation.
“Rian’s holding the meeting today. Well, not him, obviously, but he’ll be hosting the forum.”
Rian was the technology entrepreneur of Fenix, Inc. who’d risen to prominence as a result of his ambitious project to make transfer cells affordable for the every-man. Now his company was a dominant force in the Zarminian tech economy.
The MRL gladly accepted his company as a major sponsor two years ago after he proposed backup cells for operators.
Having backup cells available to operators ensured less dangerous conditions and less costly claims all while still retaining, even increasing, the ferocity of the sport. Since his sponsorship, the league had laxed up on safety regulations, but increased the insurance premium of teams who chose to use human operators. In the grand scheme of things, the change had exponentially grown the popularity of the sport.
“Oh,” Zedd finally replied. “That is cool.”
“What’s up with you, mate? You ok?” Erich asked him.
Zedd looked at him briefly. “Yeah, just nervous about tomorrow, I guess.”
“Yeah mate, good luck! Last race. Go out with a bang!”
Zedd, still trying to be polite, didn’t say anything.
Erich paused, “Oh I get it. Listen, there’s no shame in hiring a synth operator for your team once you retire. Lena’s got to understand that. Imagine how it would make you look, letting a human race in the MRL. They’re ruthless man. It would be a death sentence.”
Zedd was quiet. Why did Lena have to be so selfish? She didn’t realize her livelihood, his, and his son’s were all determined by her choice. Ever since becoming a synth, he had more energy, hadn’t gotten sick, and hadn’t received any minor injuries. But he couldn’t convince her. She was stubborn. More so, she was hesitant of change.