As Steve and Jackie first stepped from the dark corridor into the light of what Lumbra called “the lab,” they had the sense of entering a cathedral. Tall columns rose from the floor and blurred together in the distance above. Rows and rows of workbenches were arrayed before them, each occupied by some collection of parts and assemblies. The din of many voices echoed and blended into the sound of a choir.
AMNOZ was already there, but scarcely looked up when they entered. He was with two humans, both very similar in appearance to Lumbra, bent over a particularly large pile of debris
on one of the benches. It occurred to Steve that they were studying AMNOZ for ideas for building their own automated amigo. As Steve approached the bench, one of the Lumbra
replicas looked up. “Steve, your robot is so quaint. We’re enjoying its retro design.”
“Uh, thanks,” muttered Steve. “Do I know you?”
“Of course, replied the replica. “I’m called Lumbra, as I’ve told you.”
Jackie interrupted. “I thought he was Lumbra.”
“Yes,” spoke the other Lumbra-like one. “We are Lumbra.”
“Oh, that’s … a family name?”
“You could think of it that way,” Lumbra 2 explained.
“So somebody can fix our time machine?” Jackie asked.
“We can,” the Lumbras answered.
Steve handed the control to the nearest Lumbra, who examined it while they all said “Hmmmm.”
“Was this device originally built for another purpose?” asked the nearest Lumbra.
“Yes,” said Steve. “It was a portable music player.”
“This is exactly like the Frenchman’s device. It appears to have a configuration called shuffle mode, and it is stuck in that mode.”