'Have you seen this!' Flere-Imsaho yelped one day, floating quickly up to him in the pool's airstream cabinet, where Gurgeh was drying off. Behind the little machine, attached to it by a thin strand of field still coloured yellow-green (but speckled with angry white), there floated a large, rather old-fashioned and complicated-looking drone.
Gurgeh squinted at it. 'What about it?'
'I've got to wear the damn thing!' Flere-Imsaho wailed. The field strand joining it to the other drone flicked, and the old-looking drone's casing hinged open. The old body-shell appeared to be completely empty, but as Gurgeh - puzzled - looked closer, he saw that in the centre of the casing there was a little mesh cradle, just the right size to hold Flere-Imsaho.
'Oh,' Gurgeh said, and turned away, rubbing the water from his armpits, and grinning.
'They didn't tell me this when they offered me the job!' Flere-Imsaho protested, slamming the body-shell shut again. 'They say it's because the Empire isn't supposed to know how small us drones are! Why couldn't they just have got a big drone then? Why saddle me with this … this …'
'Fancy dress?' Gurgeh suggested, rubbing a hand through his hair and stepping out of the airstream.
'Fancy?' the library drone screamed. 'Fancy? Dowdy's what it is; rags! Worse than that, I'm supposed to make a "humming" noise and produce lots of static electricity, just to convince these barbarian dingbats we can't build drones properly!' The small machine's voice rose to a screech. 'A "humming" noise! I ask you!'
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