The library’s uppermost levels, where Nerissa seldom ventured as the books there were still a rather difficult read, had a book with a similar blossom on the cover, and a mysterious title: BOTANY. She was still reading the book when Steamy found her, bearing fresh eggs from the ducks and fresh water from the discharge tanks to swap out and clean his power unit.

“What are you doing, my lady?” he asked upon finding her. The lenses that served him for eyes whirred as they focused on the object in her hands.

“I’m cutting the flower’s stem and putting it in water,” Nerissa said. “The book says this will keep it longer.

“My lady, that is salt water. Much like myself, the flower can only run on purified sweetwater.” Steamy gently poured the water down the floor drain before replacing it with discharge tank water. “There. Perhaps it will last for some time, and delight my lady thereby.”

Nerissa thanked him, and held up the book. “I think I’ve identified it,” she said, pointing at a picture. “What does ‘cultivated’ mean?”

“A very good likeness and a distinct possibility,” Steamy whirred at the illustration, a similarly red blossom. “Cultivated means that it must be cared for, like our gardens above and below the water, or it will not survive.”

“So someone is out there,” Nerissa said triumphantly. “If this plant was cared-for, a person must have done it!”

“I cannot speak to the existence or nonexistence of that which is not in my program,” Steamy said. “Now, if my lady will excuse me, I have chores to perform.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!