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Avon couldn't resist studying the automated repair circuitry even though it meant crawling on his belly through cramped ducting. "Fascinating," he murmured, unconsciously imitating his childhood hero (from a series of patchy archaic CDs uncovered during the excavation of a flat in Islington, showing the adventures through space of a tall, cool-minded man saddled with an overly emotional captain who could have used a slimmer's course). Avon sometimes pondered on the quixotic nature of fate, that just after he'd finally got the nerve to get his hair styled like his hero's (despite the snickers from his work-mates) that he wound up in much the same situation. Thank God that at least Blake wore baggy shirts to cover up the flab. And that Avon wasn't stupid enough to wear a red shirt.

"Hmm... yes, I see how this circuitry recognizes damage... ah, and this actuates the regenerative mechanism. Still, what keeps it so clean? There's always dust, oil, some sort of grime..." Avon wriggled further into the conduit, eyes down as he traced the lines on the base of the ductwork.

He glanced up at a hiss, expecting to see a broken wire sparking. "Ah." Avon looked into the unblinking eyes of a reptile... rather a good-size one... actually... it was huge... and it was covered in bristly pink fur like a chenille stem used for cleaning stubborn corrosion off metal. Only it was pink. And chenille stems didn't have teeth. The reptile opened its mouth and hissed again, lunging at Avon.

Avon let out a creditable c over high c shriek, and levitated himself backwards far enough for the snake to miss him. It grabbed a pale green rodent that Avon hadn't seen and gulped it down. Then it looked at Avon again. And burped.

BBBBBBB



"Pink snakes! Green rats!" Avon sat in the Rest Room, quivering and drinking adrenaline and soma.

Vila shrugged. "Some people just can't hold their liquor."

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December 2011

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