1) "There was a hand-painted sign affixed to the wall beside the door. 'THE FISHBOWL,' it read. The bright letters were surrounded by smiling planets and cheerful flowers. New as Rosemary was to the ship, she had an inkling that the sign was Kizzy’s doing.
She opened the door, and gasped. Before her was a wide, domed room, constructed from interlocking sheets of plex. It was a window, a giant, bubble-like window, with the entire galaxy spilling out beyond. And on their side, everything — everything — was green. Large hydroponic planters were arranged in spiraling rows, bursting with broad leaves, perky sprouts, and dark, fat vegetables. Handwritten labels were affixed to skewers at regular intervals (the alphabet used was not one that Rosemary recognized). Some of the plants were flowering, and delicate trellises encouraged the climbers to grow tall. A branching path stretched out from the doorway, lined with re-purposed cargo crates and food tins filled with bushy tufts of grass. Bits of tech junk painted with bright shapes peeked out here and there, adding dabs of color. At the end of the path were three steps, which led into a sunken garden. A ramshackle fountain chattered quietly there, with a few benches and chairs nearby. Behind the benches, small decorative trees stretched up toward the sun lamps that hung overhead. But once Rosemary noticed the lamps, her attention was drawn back to the bubbled window, to the stars and planets and nebulae waiting just outside.
After a few seconds of gaping, Rosemary had the presence of mind to note the smaller details. The window frame looked worn, and of a completely different make than the rest of the room. The hydroponic planters were of all shapes and sizes, and were banged up enough to suggest that they’d been purchased second-hand. But the room was one of those strange, wonderful places that benefited from a lack of uniformity. The plants were healthy and well-tended, but somehow, the scuffs and dents and painted scraps were what made them truly come alive."
2) "Dr. Chef glanced over his shoulder, even though no one had entered the room. 'Hey, I have a confession to make.'
'I haven’t told anybody else this. This is secret. Top, top secret.' He had lowered his voice as much as he physically could.
Sissix nodded with exaggerated seriousness. 'I will say nothing.'
'You know how you said Humans can’t smell anything?'
'I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Humans aboard this ship don’t smell nearly as bad as other Humans.'
'Yeah. I’ve gotten used to them.'
'Wrong.' He paused with dramatic importance. 'I routinely mix a potent anti-odor powder into the soap dispensers in the showers. I rub it into Kizzy’s solid soap, too.'
Sissix stared at him for a moment before crooning with laughter. 'Oh,' she said, gasping for breath. 'Oh, you don’t.'
'I certainly do,' he said, puffing his cheeks. 'I started doing it not a tenday after I took this job. And do you know what the best part is?'
'They can’t tell the difference?'
Dr. Chef let loose an amused harmony. 'They can’t tell the difference!'
They were both still laughing when Ashby walked through the door. His hair was wet. He had clearly just bathed. Sissix and Dr. Chef fell silent. The laughter returned, even stronger than before.
'Do I want to know?' Ashby said, his eyes shifting between them.
'We’re making fun of Humans,' Sissix said.
'Right,' said Ashby. 'Then I definitely don’t want to know.' He nodded toward her. 'Molt came early?'
'My sympathies. I’ll take over your cleaning shift.'
'Oh, you’re the best.' That was wonderful news. Cleaning products and new skin did not mix well.
'Remember that next time you’re laughing at us lowly primates.'"
3) "[Jenks] nodded back toward the homestead. 'Do you know why Human modders give themselves weird names?'
She shook her head.
'It’s a really old practice, goes back to pre-Collapse computer networks. We’re talking old tech here. People would choose names for themselves that they only used within a network. Sometimes that name became so much a part of who they were that even their friends out in the real world started using it. For some folks, those names became their whole identity. Their true identity, even. Now, modders, modders don’t care about anything as much as individual freedom. They say that nobody can define you but you. So when Bear gave himself a new arm, he didn’t do it because he didn’t like the body he was born in, but because he felt that new arm fit him better. Tweaking your body, it’s all about trying to make your physical self fit with who you are inside. Not that you have to tweak to get that feeling. Like me, I like to decorate myself, but my body already fits with who I am. But some modders, they’ll keep changing themselves their entire lives. And it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes they seriously mess themselves up. But that’s the risk you take in trying to be more than the little box you’re born into. Change is always dangerous.' He tapped her arm. 'You’re Rosemary Harper. You chose that name because the old one didn’t fit anymore. So you had to break a few laws to do it. Big fucking deal. Life isn’t fair, and laws usually aren’t, either. You did what you had to do. I get that.'"