Lucretia didn’t know whether to laugh to cry when Leon placed the device on her desk.
“It’s them again,” he seethed, furiously yanking on handfuls of his own beard. “Those Reclaimers, Madam. They have no respect for the serious work that goes on on this base. I mean, just look at it!” Leon gestured to the entirety of the object. “No regard for the obvious magical talent that went into creating such an object! And the haphazard construction of the-”
Holding up one hand, Lucretia stopped him mid-rant. “It’s a Fantasy Roomba with a knife tied to it, Leon. Garfield sells all of the components at the Fantasy Costco. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Leon’s eyes almost popped out of his head. “Not a big deal?” he squealed. “Madam Director, may I remind you that you have gnomes and children working on this base? A knife-wielding Fantasy Roomba is dangerous enough to a being of normal stature, but Davenport and young Angus and myself are in far more danger than the rest of you. It nearly took out one of my knees!” Pointing at his leg, he continued, “I suspect it’s that Taako. He just can’t pass up an opportunity to-”
“Thank you, Leon,” Lucretia said authoritatively. The gnome shut up. “I’m very sorry about your… Knee wound. I’ll take your thoughts into consideration. Davenport, please walk Leon back to his quarters to prevent anymore… Surprise attacks.” She couldn’t stop the corner of her mouth from twitching with the hilarity of the situation, but managed to swallow the smile just in time. Leon huffed at her. “After you have seen Leon back to his quarters, you may go home for the night. I’ll see both of you in the morning.”
“Davenport!” said Davenport. The two gnomes exited.
Lucretia slumped forward in her chair as the door closed. She held her head in her hands and just stared at the Fantasy Roomba. A fucking Fantasy Roomba, of all things. This was what was so urgent that Leon had needed to call an emergency meeting with her? This?
That was when she noticed it. On the back of the unit, someone had painted the word “Stabby” followed by the Bureau of Balance symbol and a rank insignia giving the Roomba the status of Reclaimer. Well, Leon had been right about one thing. This was the handiwork of Tres Horny Boys. Just not something they had cooked up specially for him. Not this time.
The original iteration of Stabby the Fantasy Roomba hailed from a plane that had been destroyed by the Hunger. Davenport had picked up the little machine about forty years into their never ending journey on the Starblaster. It was called the Arcane Sweeper and held several charges of Prestidigitation; to be used daily for cleaning the floors of one’s home. Supposedly Davenport had gotten it just as a souvenir, but everyone on the ship knew that he was just tired of yelling at them all to clean up the living room. The only problem was that, with the knowledge that he would never be able to have a dog on the ship, Magnus seemed to have adopted the Arcane Sweeper as his pet instead.
The idea to tie a knife to the Arcane Sweeper had been conceived by the twins as a way to prank Magnus. They had thought that someone would get stabbed in the ankle, Davenport would order Magnus to put the Arcane Sweeper away, and that would be the end of it. That plan backfired when Magnus actually found the whole thing hilarious (after the Arcane Sweeper had stabbed Merle) and a good way for him to train. After that, the knife became a permanent fixture atop the Arcane Sweeper; much to Davenport’s chagrin. Nevertheless, the rest of the crew would come to have a love/hate relationship with the newly-christened Cleaning Officer Stabby over the next sixty years.
Laughter bubbled up the back of Lucretia’s throat before she could stop it. She gave in to the whole situation: the nostalgia, her exhaustion, and the outright hilarity of it all, laying her head on her desk and howling until she had nothing left in her. Gods, oh gods. It was Stabby. One more remnant of the life she had taken from her crew reemerging again without anyone knowing. One more of Tres Horny Boys’ shenanigans that she now had to put up with. A fucking Fantasy Roomba with a fucking knife.
When she could once again breathe, Lucretia sat up. She wiped the tears from her eyes. And she pulled out a pen.
Official notice from the office of the Director: Stabby the Fantasy Roomba has passed the Trial of Initiation, and as such is a full member of our organization. Please treat it with all the respect it deserves.
There. If they were going to goof on her, she could goof right back. Lucretia placed the Fantasy Roomba on the floor of her office. “Good to have you back, Cleaning Officer Stabby,” she said to herself.
Stabby spun in a circle and disappeared under her chair.
“I’ve missed you too.”