A Madman Turns Fifty

Artemis was glad to be back...in fact, he was downright elated. Just being around the Serraco logo made his no longer existing skin crawl (He was still trying to think of a phrase to replace "makes my skin crawl", being a robot and all. The best suggestion was from H-343, "makes my circuits boil"). He was even happy to see Holly again.

"Hey dude, had fun?" Holly asked.

"Oh, I guess, if nearly dying is considered fun these days. Where's the Missus?"

"Uhh....I dunno, on the ship?"

"No...really? I thought she was on a waterslide at Ganymede Falls....seriously, where is she?"

"I think she's...wait, I can send him now?" Holly said, talking to someone else on the ship.

Holly always amazed Artemis. How a once intelligent AI could become so damned stupid was simply mind numbing.

"'Kay dood, she's in the Panoramic"

"Thank you for the mentally stimulating conversation Holly. As usual...."

Artemis made his way to the Panoramic, a small Officer's lounge that, in line with the name, offered a panoramic view of the space behind the ship. Artemis had been there once or twice for mandatory Officer's meetings. It was one of the things that made him hate being the ISO, that and being in charge of one of the first departments to go when budget cuts were made (Blue Dwarf's sister ship, Red Dwarf, had its Innovative Sciences department cut due to a lack of funding and a huge abundance of sentient sexy robots....it was hoped that other JMC Innovative Science staff would learn from that grim mistake).

Artemis floated into the Panoramic. It hadn't been touched since the incident, and was nearly pristine....but very very dark.

"Hello? Dear? I'm back!"

The lights popped on, and Artemis was greeted by his family, Boyd, some of the Promenade rodents and service robots, and Holly. A chorus of "Suprise!" in various languages bombarded the scientist.

Artemis looked to the banner strung above the bar.


"D'oh, you remembered! Which is weird because I didn't....what the science, is my damn calender malfunctioning again?"

Artemis' birthday had passed while the crew was away on Fernandos. The Missus was upset that Artemis was going to miss his own birthday, and set out to give him a halfway decent belated birthday party when he returned. She managed to fetch some old decorations, though most weren't actually birthday decorations (on a ship with thousands of people, one would think there'd be more birthday supplies...there was a large amount of Quinceanera supplies for some reason). The shortage of food made the buffet (for those who could actually eat it) difficult, but luckily there was enough junk food leftover in the Panoramic to make a halfway decent food table (she dropped the rest off at the Refectory for the crew to eat. It was mostly junk food, Funions, pretzels, pork rinds, Twinkies, your basic lower life-form foodstuffs).

It wasn't a high-class affair (compared to some of Artemis' past parties, at least. His richer-than-rich parents bought a full-sized 3-ring circus for his 5th birthday, and had Nicholas Cage killed), but Artemis loved it. The low-class food, the assloads of booze, the re-appropriated decorations and the hand-made decorations from his children, and some of the rodent neighbors he had come to love....it was all a brain could ask for.

Artemis embraced The Missus, "D'aww, it's perfect!"...and was swarmed by his children.

"Oookay, family hug...this is....nice?" Artemis said, still not used to having "spawn" that actually loved him.

"Heeeey! Artie!" Boyd said, awkwardly joining in on the group hug. "Oh...Boyd, uh...I missed you too"


Half a century old. He had been around for over 3,000,000 years, and was (sort-of) one of the last human beings alive....yet turning 50 was still mindblowing to Artemis.

He was entirely sure that he would be dead by now, if not on his way out, dying in a bed somewhere from Radiation...like Marie Curie (and his great^5 grandmother Artemis K. Pritchard, who was the first scientist to discover that Radium was radioactive...after making a glowing necklace out of it). The ILIAD had probably saved him, removing him from the decaying body that he had spent the last 3,000,050 years in. On top of that, he was essentially immortal now. His brain was locked in a stasis-enhanced nutrient solution that would prevent decay so long as the suit was running (and since ILIAD had a redundant power-system he could keep running for eons, so long as he didn't tax the power unit), he would probably still be alive another fifty years from now...and so forth...probably still alive another 3,000,000 years from now living in some retirement home alongside whatever species replaced the Human Race.

Artemis sat at a booth with two rodents, Boyd, and Holly (via a tracked monitor).

Nikola, his cowardly son, had nestled himself next to Artemis to hide from some of the party-guests that looked as if they might hurt him.

"What's on your mind?" Boyd asked, knocking Artemis out of his haze.

"What? Nothing, nothing"

"It's been ten minutes since you made a snide comment about something, it's really out of character. Is the corporation blackmailing you?"

"No, I'm just...dealing with old age. It's just weird turning half a century old"

"It's just like any other age except it's divided by ten five times"

Boyd never ceased to amazed Artemis.

"Uh...right, I don't know why it's so...strange. I'm essentially immortal, I've got a wife and eight beautiful children, and....maybe it's just a mid-life crisis"

"But aren't you immortal?"

"Yes...I just don't know how to explain it. I guess a part of me is still clinging to the fact that I'm somewhat Human"

"I remember my midlife crisis, I threw caution to the wind and sent a bunch of spam emails to Corporate Headquarters. It was pretty funny until they took away my email privileges" Holly added.

"Right..." Artemis said. "I could always delete the part of me that's feeling off, I am a cyborg after all"

"That'd be sooo much better than doing something really rash and stupid to make yourself feel young again. Chet did that once....I think, that was either a hallucination or nighmare...or corporate brainwashing....something like that" Boyd added.

"Hold on......"


"....great annals of science that is much better"

"So, what now?" asked Holly.

There was a period of silence.

"Wanna get sloshed?" Boyd proposed. The group agreed, and the waitress-bot came over with a tray of overly garnished drinks.

"To Artie, and to another fifty years of avoiding the CFTCOAH....go knows they'll find us eventually" said Boyd.

Nikola poked his head out from his hiding place, fascinated by the array of colors ahead of him. He tried to grab the drink from his father.

"Nikola, no! Your mother would format my hard-drive!" Artemis said, sliding the drink out of the Skuttling's reach.

"Drink wench, get me a Sprite for the wee-one" Boyd said to the emotionless wait-bot. "Tonight, we forget that there's almost no food and we'll all probably starve to death very soon!"

"Here here!" the group chanted.


Anyone is welcome to show up if they'd like, free drinks and some junk food....it's something!

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