Don't try this at home, kids.
Spokane watched as the crowd absorbed Admiral Channel. He let out a long sigh as soon as the Admiral was out of sight.
"Damn." he heard Morgan mutter.
Spokane looked back at his companions and found them both staring at the disk under his hand. He picked it up holding it up to the light. He scrutinized it for a moment or two to no avail. He knew sooner or later he'd have to do something with the stupid thing, but he had no urgent desire to hurry.
Morgan leaned forward taking the disk from Spokane's hand. He sat back holding it in front of him, twirling it between his fingers. Spud's face framed a question that Spokane didn't need to hear to understand. He nodded his ascent saying flatly, "Best get it done."
Spud shook his head as a halfhearted smile waned across his lips. He reached into one of the pockets of his vest retrieving a small, black square. He placed the device on the table, while holding his other hand out to Morgan. Morgan let the disk slip into his palm, and then placed it into Spud's outstretched hand.
The device was nothing more than a thin square with a slot in one side. It was a projection box designed to display information encoded on disks like the one Spud now held. It was a simple piece of equipment which was standard issue to everyone in the Business. This meant that it was almost always defective.
Spud pushed the disk in with his thumb and waited. Spokane was mildly surprised when he heard the characteristic hum issue from the box. "You fixed it," he said half question, half statement.
Spud flashed his big cheesy grin. Spokane grunted out a chuckle. An image began to coalesce above the box, resolving into an astrogation map with a large red "X" dominating one area. A set of coordinates and dates appeared just below the "X" in neon green letters. Spokane stared at the map for a moment, and then waited a moment longer. Nothing else appeared. Spokane looked at Spud, who only shrugged. Spokane leaned forward resting his arm on the table still waiting for something further to appear.
It soon became apparent that the map before them was the sole content of the disk. Spokane hung his head in frustration. Without lifting his head, he asked in an aggravated tone, "Do either of you even know where those coordinates are?"
"Of course not," replied Morgan.
Spokane sat back in his chair, raising his head slinging an arm across the back of his chair. He looked at the map again. The coordinates meant very little to him. He had a general idea of the area they indicated, but anyone could have figured that out from the large "X". 'A pilot should know more about things like this," he thought to himself. "Still, things like this are best left to navigators."
"Where did Pavlov go?" he asked aloud.
"He went to the bathroom about half an hour ago," answered Morgan. "He must have flushed himself."
Spokane and Spud began to laugh, while adding their own pertervations to the theory of their navigator's fate. Things became progressively worse, until a particularly slimy remark from Spokane sent them all into hysterics. Eventually, Spud laughed himself out of his chair.
* * *
They found Pavlov standing at the end of a long hallway staring down at the floor intently. He did not seem to notice the approach of the trio. Spokane looked down to the floor and saw three colored lines under his feet. He turned, following the track of the lines with his eyes. They transected the length of the hallway as far back as he could see. He turned around again, following the lines up to where Pavlov stood. At this point, the hallway intersected with another and the lines became intermixed with three other sets of colored lines.
"The bartender said to follow the yellow line," stated Pavlov still staring at the floor.
Spokane looked down again to find that the center line of the set in their hallway was indeed yellow. He followed the line up to the intersection, then promptly lost it in the maze. Spokane blinked, shaking his head trying to clear the jumble of colors from his sight.
"The yellow line?" asked Spokane.
Pavlov nodded. "It leads to the bathroom," he said still studying the cluster on the floor before him.
The color struck Spokane as oddly appropriate and just slightly logical - in a stupid sort of way. He briefly wondered how long and at what expense it had taken the station's planners to come up with such a brain fart. The more pressing question, however, was how long Pavlov had been standing there trying to find the bathroom? It wasn't a pleasant thought.
"Pav?" said Spokane finally.
Pavlov lifted his head, turned, and looked at Spokane. There was a pause as Spokane waited for him to say something. After a moments pause, he raised his eyebrows in a questioning look. Spokane knew that look. He had come to learn in the eight years that he had known the man that he spoke more with expressions than with words.
"Do you know where beta-zed 105.36 mark 0.0037 is?" finished Spokane, reading the coordinates he had scrawled on his hand.
Pavlov smiled a weak smile. Spokane accepted this as meaning that he had received the information and was formulating an answer. He waited a moment, then a moment longer. Pavlov's smile faded as he asked through a sigh, "What zone?"
Spokane nodded feeling the same satisfaction that he felt when, on the rare occasion he succeeded in using a computer properly. He lifted up his hand and peered at his palm. "Zone ... Nine, I think," he replied squinting at the smudged writing.
"That's right," affirmed Spud
Pavlov reached down to his belt, flipping open a small case and withdrawing the contents. The device he produced resembled a calculator with an overlarge screen. A modern day map. Spokane listened to the steady stream of clicking keys and responding beeps as Pavlov entered the necessary data. Shortly, there came a succinct and resolute beep. Spokane waited patiently as Pavlov studied the screen, thinking to himself, 'I should have one of those.' He pushed the thought aside with a mental note to try and do something about it later.
"Nowhere," annouced Pavlov.
Spokane's eyes widened. "It must be somewhere." he said cautiously.
"Yes," he replied. "Nowhere"
"You don't know where it is?" countered Morgan.
"Of course I do," he answered in an indignant tone. "It's in Nowhere just past Pentor."
Spokane exchanged wondering glances with Morgan. Spokane shrugged as he began to wonder whether Pavlov's bladder was a bit to full. He was about to ask the exact question when Pavlov spoke.
"I can get us there, but why?"Spokane, Spud, and Morgan all groaned. "Come along Pav," said Spokane. "We'll tell you all about our new fearless leader on the way back to FRED."
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