The clattering at the end of the corridor was getting louder and drawing nearer.  Swearing softly under his breath, the saboteur laid the toolkit down on the corridor floor and came deftly to his feet.  He drew a gun from a holster at his hip, a simple projectile device modelled on a crossbow.  It fired sharp electronics-packed darts the length of a pencil.  They could easily rip through a couple of centimetres of ship-skin, and their electronic payload could badly confuse an AI for minutes and scramble completely sub-AI intelligences.  And a decent shot could incapacitate or kill a human too.  His finger rested lightly on the firing stud, and he gazed into the darkness, listening to the inexorable clatter coming towards him.

As the scuttlebug loomed into view, the saboteur reflexively squeezed the firing stud and a single dart left the gun in a hiss of compressed air.  It punched though the metal skin of the 'bug like a nail into plasticine and blue sparks crackled and crawled all over it.  The saboteur relaxed slightly, relieved that it was a basic maintanance robot that was undoubtedly on a preprogrammed route through the ship.  Flinching at shadows, he thought to himself.

Eight sharp pincers closed around him from behind, piercing his shipsuit, his flesh, and his bones.  A sensation like ice boiling away under the firey beam of a mining laser filled his body and then disappeared as the golem ripped his body away.  Blood sprayed from his neck and his eyes bulged.  Heat shock proteins triggered, and the oxygen uptake in his brain surged as he realised he was dying.

His body was shredded in front of him, bloody gobbets flying in all directions, and then the pincers that had disposed of it curled back inwards in a brilliant gleam of metal.  There was an impact underneath his jaw, and then a warmth at the base of his neck.  He wasn't breathing, but his blood was oxygenating and circulating.

That was unnecessary, he thought.

"So was killing the scuttlebug," said the golem, its voice metallic and harsh, sibilants emphasized into an inhuman hiss.


The AI of the Jean d'Arc had isolated the data bank that had failed to purge and was putting together an analysis package to send into it when the fuzzing suddenly cleared up and the golem came back into contact.  It listened with amusement to the golem's capture of the saboteur and considered having him executed for treason. After some seconds deliberation, equivalent to a human jury spending three weeks in session, it ordered the golem to interrogate the head, and then gave it free rein to deal with it as it saw fit.

It deployed the data package into the compromised data bank.

The End

4 comments about this story Feed