Who: Andy, NSD, Mk 10, 001 & 099
Where: Andy's 'room', Axillary cargo bay 15-B
When: 2 minutes before Blue Dwarf 'tea' party.
"Mark ten, if you would be so kind." A somewhat nasally-sounding voice
requested casually. The be-speckled eyes stole a look up from the
clipboard and the furious pen that accompanied it.
"With pleasure" Come the reply that didn't even bother to mask the
devious undertones.
A roaring charge and a twist of light was the precursor to the sudden
explosion. From the under-side barrel rushed a beam of energy.
In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment the target of the vicious attack
exploded into a sea of grey and sliver dust.
A moment of silence and soon the sea began to shudder. Blocked out by
the scribbling of the black ball-point was the light sighing sound as
the dust began to slowly pull itself together. Then almost ala
Terminator 2, out from the reflective pool formed a Skutter. This was
when it presented the two with its middle digit.
A rare smile graced Nameless Scientist Dude's lips. "Excellent, the
Neo-skutters seem to be not only impervious to all normal damage but
also reform in a starling time of-." The cleaner simply couldn't take
it anymore.
"Alright, now you've blown apart a good TWENTY of my skutters. Now
would you kindly STOP attacking my mates and PISS OFF!?" Andy yelled,
indicating to the cargo bay door with a strong gesture from his thumb.
NSD's index finger dipped up to push back his glasses. "Oh stop
whining. Mr. Febuggure gave me explicit orders to test to see whether
or not these new Skutters would pose any danger to the ship." Mk 10
gave the closest approximation to a shrug as his arms would allow. "I
don't know what you're worried about Andy. Some of them even liked
getting blow up… you know how those things are gaining personality
traits by the second. Soon they won't have a problem with taking a
shot for the crew. Heck knows it'll save me from having to do it. You
know how many times I've got to see that Charlie guy up on lab deck a
"Well maybe people would STOP shooting at you if you wouldn't be so-."
Andy's sarcastic reply was cut short by a gentle ram from the light
blue Skutter, 099. "-Not now ninety-nine, the adults are talking." The
Cleaner replied in a condensing tone. The Skutter gave him an
unnoticed dejected look before turning and sliding away into the shaft
and up to Cargo bay 8… with 001 in stealthy pursuit.
NSD took this time to cut in. "Mr. Roos, as you know these new
nano-tech skutters are going to be finite in number. Sure they can
rebuild themselves at will but in order to actually create another,
lone, nano-bot they'll need one of those silver beans that the
Centaurians left us."
The squat security robot's hand curled up from its massive gun to
stroke under its huge red visor. "Yeah… I was wondering about that.
Why are they named after those half-human half-horse things… they
don't exactly look the part."
An audible scrapping noise issued from NSD's mouth as he ground his
teeth. "Centauri, Alpha Centauri. They come from ALPHA Centauri
therefore they are called Centaurians… get it!?!" Either he was having
a bad day or the geek had as much a lust for specifics as much as a
certain cleaner did.
"Oh…" Mk 10 withdrew his comment. "…but why would they put an Alpha in
front of their names? It makes them sound like half-robot half-horse
things instead."
A loud crack sound came from NSD's pen as the scientist's fingers
drove through it. "Moving on-" The man added through clenched teeth.
"From our count we believe that there are just over 300 of those
things. While that may seem quite a lot at first, I think that you'll
quickly come to find that demand will quickly out-weight supply. A
standard mining vessel had THOUSANDS of skutters. I'm quite surprised
you managed to survive the past month without doing yourself in. When
we get back to Earth we're going to order more but… well… I've done a
bit of research during my coffee break and I've noticed-." The
scientist paused has he handed the Cleaner a clipboard.
Andy's eyes scanned the line chart. A once happy blue line that steady
went up then suddenly plummeted. "-What is this?" The Australian man
ventured quietly. "You see Mr. Roos… when the skutters transform into
something else… well, you remember when were seeing how well their
shape-shifting capabilities worked. Well… since the skutters are a
machination with a personality they copied that and… long story short.
People are going to want these nano-bots on something else than being
simple skutters. But as they are now, when they change form they'll
most likely change into something without a CPU or a personality. That
chart, that's their brain waves, when we changed it into crowbar and
back into a Skutter-."
"-It was dead." Andy finished for him as the grim realisation washed
over him.
"Now I wouldn't say that it was dead, only that it's mind was-." "-And
only I can 'tell' them what to do, can't I? People are going to ask me
to kill one of my skutters so that some rich bastard can get a
'cutting edge' car or that some General wants a shiny new gun."
Mk 10 looked up at the Cleaner. "That's about it. Now mate, we've got
some tough decisions to make in life but look at 'em." The robot's
small arm swept through the Skutter-filled room. "You think that this
is living? It's not like they're going to be turned into a hoard of
can-openers either. Who knows, they might serve a vital goal to
humanity. Like a hyper drive or an experimental new limb replacement
prototype. A lot of things have got to be better than cleaning up
after the Blue Dwarf when so many other Skutters can easily take their
Andy didn't want to admit it, but the cannon toting droid had a point.
NSD nodded sagely as he gave the cleaner a pointed look.
Suddenly the scientist jolted as a blaring emergency siren screamed
from the sides of the cargo bay. The once frolicking Skutters suddenly
stoped to look around, though many stared directly at their 'leader'.
Mk 10 paused as a transmission was feed directly into his CPU.
"There's a riot going on up on Cargo bay 8. The crew is going crazy up
there. Look Andy, I know I just used your skutters for target practice
but I'm going to need help to contain the problem."
Andy stared at the Robot as though he had just asked the Cleaner to
stick his head out of an air lock and sing the national anthem. The
security bot lifted up its hand in defence. "Look, if you don't help
me now then there'll be a bigger mess to clean up later!"
A half second of thought later and the Australian man turned, cleared
his throat and quickly yelled. "C'mon lads, we've got arses to kick!"
A rousing chorus of affirmative screeches came from the grey skutters
as Mk 10 led the way with a Plunger-armed Andy in tow.
Leaving a suddenly venerable feeling scientist behind.
<Tag. Or will continue in the havoc.>

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