Joel Robinson sat dejectedly, picking at a tuna salad sandwich. He held onto his sanity, but only just. Lippert would be his undoing, he knew it. Even now scenes of rock climbing gnawed at what semblance of humanity he retained. The pain showed on his face, blanking it with sadness.
Where were his robot pals when he needed them? Couldn't Gypsy put off servicing the life support systems for a few hours? Did Crow and Tom really *have* to hold their Silly Putty Science Fair now? He'd pleaded and pleaded with them to stay and listen to his analysis of the french-fried potato jokes as a metaphor for McCarthyism, but to no avail. He'd even called up the Mads, but they had the "Do Not Disturb" sign on again.
Alarms whooped, shocking him into a frozen expression. "Cambot, give me Rocket Number Nine!"
A small shuttle, strangely shaped, hovered beside the SOL. Then the hexfield opened, revealing a pleasant looking alien, humanoid, but bald and with a bone on his head.
"Hi, I'm Joel Robinson. Do you come in peace and all that?"
"I do. My name is Lennier and I am of the Minbari. I was on my way back from Earth when I noticed you here."
"Well, how the heck are you?" Pleasure at having someone to talk to lent an evenness to Joel's features.
"I am well, thank you. You seem most interesting. Do you suppose we might link up and exchange some information?"
"That would be just peachy. I'll meet you at the airlock."
Company at last! Joel hurried to greet his visitor as he stepped on board.
"Welcome to the Satellite of Love, Lennier."
"The Satellite of Love? Is this your purpose, to minister to wayfarers?"
"No," Joel told him, shaking his head. "I'm trapped up here by some mad scientists who force me to watch bad movies."
"That's terrible!" Lennier looked shocked. "I must stay and minister to you for awhile."
Joel looked at Lennier. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen such an attractive alien.
Lennier looked at Joel. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen such a soul in torment and an attractive soul at that.
"I'd like that. We can play Scrabble."
"Scrabble?" Lennier put his head to one side.
"I'll show you." Joel brought Lennier to his quarters and set up the game, happiness apparent in the calmness of his face. "OK, I don't have a bag for the letters, so we'll have to take them out of the box lid. Draw seven and put them on the rack."
Their hands met as they picked up the tiles and a spark jumped between them. The door banged open and Crow and Tom whirled in, sporting Silly Putty masks.
"Joel, look, we're you!" Tom said. He changed his voice to imitate Joel. "I've prepared this chart to explain why the shredded wheat caused Bela Lugosi to go insane."
Crow took a turn. "Crow, Tom--if you don't clean your rooms, there'll be...Say, Joel, who's your friend?"
"Crow T Robot, Tom Servo, this is Lennier of the Minbari. He came over to play Scrabble with me."
"I am pleased to meet you," Lennier said, bowing slightly.
"OK, Joel," Tom said. "We'll leave you two alone then."
"But Tom, we just got here!" Crow whined.
"Crow, come on," Tom stage-whispered. "Anyhow, I thought you wanted to test the Silly Putty Plastique."
"Oh, I get it," Crow said. "Enjoy your game, boys." And they whirled out again.
"Sorry about that," Joel said. "Those are just my wacky robot pals."
"They are quite...interesting."
"They're cute, but sometimes they can be annoying. I'll make sure they can't bother us again." He stood and locked the door, features regular in anticipation. "Your move, Lennier."