"The best thing about half the city being asleep," Gwinnith began, "is there's no line at the bar!"

The rest of her crew slammed the table in agreement as they drained their glasses. The mahua hit like roses on fire. An eleven-hour shift offloaded, refurbished, and dispatched the last of the automated skimmers back into the cloud-wilds of Neptune. By the time the drone-ships came home, bellies full of ice and microdiamonds scraped from the storms, the dockworker's union would have a better idea on how to manage the manual labor of offloading from within the CloudArk.

"Man, this is gonna be great!" Rashad picked at the scab of nano-sealant he'd used to bandage a cut. "No more messy fluids! I've already put in for ten days off. Gonna play sim games 'til I pass out!"

"Nothing new there," Penni teased. Gwinnith marveled at how easily she cleaned up after shift. "I'm not wasting time on kid's stuff. The Council special-ordered a ton of new standard avatars for people to try out. My friend's a sim designer, and she's been tweaking this amazing black widow body."

"You WANT to be a spider?!" Buhr shook his head.

"Have twice as many arms? Yeah! Plus, next time you give me crap, I can eat you!"

"What about you, Buhr?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. Jaya and I just got married. I know she said she doesn't want kids, but I was still thinking I'd convince her to start a family. But in cryo? How would that even work?"

"In my experience, it works very well," Penni coughed out past her third shot.

"Why are you all drinking? I thought we were getting dinner." Muneeba arrived in stunned horror.

"Having a little celebration," Rashad countered. "We're celebrating our last physical dinner."

"Not like we can get hangovers in the CloudArk," Gwinnith added.

"Did none of you read the pamphlet?" Muneeba shook her head. "Your brain still runs off the meat. All the cryo does is slow all your biological processes."


"So, you still have hangovers. And they last FIVE TIMES as long."


Category: Book: Last Days