Something quick and dirty for the time being.
“Fix that arm into place!” Nen cried, screwing on the last two fingers. Vax pulled the wrench from his belt and wound the bolts frantically. Alarms sounded throughout the cargo hold. Fearful announcements echoed across the room and no doubt across the ship.
Nobody predicted the attack. Nen was on the bridge when it happened. She was there when the scanners detected the jatman pods flying towards them. Their speed was uncanny. Newer models, she suspected. Before they were within twenty tiks, she ran. She had to get to the cargo hold.
She and Vax had been working on mobile artillery for the past month. It had been a pet project the captain allowed them to experiment on since they boarded. Nen and Vax excelled in engineering, but wanted a chance to prove their skills. Neither expected an invasion would be ideal for their purposes.
Nen took a step back and wiped sweat from her brow. The headless giant was almost complete. She was proud of its titanic legs and its wide body, its powerful arms level at its sides.
“Paragon, forgive me,” she muttered, “but this is beautiful.”
“We’re running out of time!” Vax cried out, drilling bolts into the robot’s shoulders. “They’ll be here any minute!”
“Then stop panicking and screw that arm in!” Nen told him.
“We don’t even know if this will work!” he called out, “It could fall apart the minute we launch it! What then?”
“Then we either die screaming or live out our lives in a chaos mine!” Nen called back, “That incentive enough?!”
His hand pounded against the shoulder joint. “I think it’s –”
Something slammed against the bay doors.
Vax paled. Nen faced the doors, “They’re here.”
She ran to her right. A control panel sat on the side of the giant. “Step back!” she called to Vax, “We’re taking this baby for a ride!”
Vax rappelled off of the robot, “You sure about that?!”
She hit a string of buttons on the panel and reached up, “No!”
Nen pulled a lever.
Clamps released themselves from the limbs and body of the massive machine. A whirring screech sounded as gears beneath its shell winded and ground into each other. Steam hissed out of its joints.
The doors split. The hundred legs of a slathering nalmasek forced their way into the cargo hold. Its gaping, rotating mouth opened and emitted a shrill roar. Vax ran behind a crate and screamed.
Nen pointed at the creature and shouted her first command: “UNIT HRO! DESTROY TARGET! GO!”
The robot burst forward. Wide hands seized the alien’s jaws. The beast’s legs danced and struck at the iron body of its opponent. The front part of the robot’s chest flipped open. A cylinder slid out, aiming at the creature’s face.
It fired into its mouth. Legs and teeth and bits of skin flew as the thing exploded. Smouldering remains collapsed in front of the door. The robot relaxed, straightening up with its arms falling to its sides.
Nen took a moment to admire its efficiency. Not even she could have predicted its speed. She shook herself awake, grinning as she called out another command to her creation: “Unit HRO! Secure crew! Go!”
It buzzed. Nen knew it was accessing the crew database she loaded into its memory banks the night before. Arching its legs, the giant thundered forward. It crushed the still-burning cadaver of the nalmasek as it jogged into the hallway and rounded a corner.
Watching the robot storm off, Vax stepped out from behind his crate. He turned to his friend, “Shouldn’t we follow it?”
Nen struck a match on her leg and lit the pipe she placed between her teeth, “It’s got it covered.”
“We don’t know what it’s going to do without us!” Vax reasoned, “What if it starts mixing up the crew with –”
A blast fired down the hall. A long, multi-jointed leg bounced off of a wall in the distance.
Nen took another drag of her pipe and breathed deep, “I rest my case.”
Next week, something completely different.
See you next time,