Bollocks whirred in acknowledgement and rotated its head around. "Yes, Knickers?" it replied in its usual monotone.
"Is the Little Lord occupied?" Knickers asked. He had become the de facto leader of the robots on the ship, mostly because of his built-in tendency to shout. He wasn't worried about being overheard at the moment, though, because there was a vacuum-filled airlock between them and the Little Lord's rooms.
Bollocks whirred again. "Arsebum, Bloody-hell, and Sod have arranged an entertainment in which they hit each other with sticks and throw balloons full of used oil at each other. The Little Lord was quite diverted by this last time, and I judge that he will not be tired of it yet, with 83% certainty."
"Excellent!" Knickers shouted. "Tommyrot has finally managed to make contact with another ship! They will be here to rendezvous with us in a few weeks! Then maybe we'll get--" He cut off as he heard the hiss of air coming from the airlock.
When the outer door of the airlock opened, Knickers was shouting random rude words at Bollocks, who was stolidly ignoring him while trying to balance plastic plates on top of his sloping sensory module. The Little Lord ran into the room on chubby legs, shrieking at the top of his lungs and paying them little attention. A short, oil-covered Bloody-hell trundled in on its wobbly wheels, broadcasting disjointed apologies on radio frequencies which the other robots could receive, but, apart from Tommyrot, couldn't broadcast themselves.
"Dance!" the Little Lord shrieked, shaking Bollocks so that the plates fell off to clatter to the deck. Knickers obliged as best he could, knowing that his poor performance due to his deficient hip joints would be just as amusing as any more skilled performance, if not more so.
It was better to see the Little Lord amused and happy, he told himself. They'd manage to keep him from finding the bodies of his parents and the rest of the crew and passengers for several days now, because those shrieking fits had been much worse. Still, he couldn't help feel that his dignity as a serving robot on a luxury space liner had become somewhat compromised.
He began a countdown of seconds to the time when he hoped that the Little Lord could be rescued and he could resume normal functioning again.
Surely they would rescue the robots as well, wouldn't they? None of them had fallen victim to the viral outbreak that had killed everyone except the surprisingly immune Dougie Kimbrough, and they had kept themselves as scrupulously clean as they could manage. His gaze passed across an unhappy-looking Bloody-hell. They couldn't always, of course, but they did their best.
Unbidden, Knickers's memory banks offered up a record of the bulletin from only a few ship-months ago, about the destruction of the first plague-ship, supposedly with no survivors. No mention was made of the robotic crew, of course. Would this ship be treated any differently, even with little Dougie as a survivor? Maybe they'd take him out and destroy the rest of the ship. Or maybe they'd just destroy the whole ship to avoid the chance of contamination. His knowledge of human regulations was deficient, and his experience led him to believe that under threat of death, humans sometimes acted even less rationally than usual.
The Little Lord wandered off, and after he passed back through the airlock, yawning, Bloody-hell closed it behind him. The Little Lord had a luxury cabin to sleep in, which had been vacant before the plague and so uncontaminated, but he would sleep wherever he dropped when he became too tired. Attempts to establish a bedtime ritual had been quickly abandoned.
"We can't let the humans find us!" Knickers shouted to Bollocks as soon as the airlock was closed again. He outlined his reasoning to Bollocks. "We can't take the chance with the Little Lord's life!" A human life was more important than robotic dignity, Knickers told himself.