—Kill Process Engage—
“Error! Error! Recompile target data,” said Rich. How many times had he done this? Twenty? Thirty?
The robot had so many broad plates over its arms and legs it looked like a tropical bush, but metallic. Blades, barrels, and valves protruded from chest and hands. Sickly brown lights glowed deep within its eye sockets. It clicked, whined, and beeped. Servos focusing and refocusing the optical modules.
—Target: Richard Gant—
“Name correction: Ricky Grant,” Rich knew all passengers and crew—there was no Richard Grant aboard.
—Correction logged. Target: Richard Gant—
“Dammit!” Rich rubbed his eyes and cast a morose look to his chief mate, Carson, who started to speak, but Rich raised his hand. “Pssssssht!”
—Attributes: Captain of U.S.S. Blumkin—
“Error! Error! Rewrite Captain of U.S.S. Bloomkist, requisition 545342355q470980198fa09sff480987029380987093, lot 1234t870f8sjdcf3hsciuhc98yfwu43iuhu, shutdown, shutdown, error, error, reread attributes parenthesis variable:occupation=florist rename Ricky Gant.” Rich ran out of breath.
—Error. Buffer overflow. Reset—
Rich exhaled like a released balloon as the machine deployed it’s auto defenses and shut down. “How’s my ship?”
Carson knew the drill. Rich insisted on status of his ship before any updates regarding the assassin robot. “All is well. Three days before Europa flyby. No major change in resource budget to Neptune Station. Also, it’s orbit is degrading less than expected.”
“Good. Progress on this thing?”
“No, sir. Nothing yet from NASTA, and everything we’ve found that could slow this thing down would risk hull breach.”
“What about an EMP?”
“Tried it. No effect, and it took some of our systems down.”
“Can’t get close enough. No effect. You look tired, sir.”
Rich nodded. “We’ll hold out this way as long as we can. Now let me rest up for the next round.”
“Let’s put you in the water purification plant this time,” said Carson.
“No,” said Rich. In twenty minutes the thing would reboot itself and start looking for him again. “It found me too fast in laundry, I barely got three hours sleep.”
“Yeah, but you’re tricking it into shutting down faster, too. You’re doing well, captain.”
“It’s probably checking non-resident areas first. Put me in D3 and evacuate the few that live there.”
The door woke him.
—Captain Richard Gant—
“Open voice interactive terminal,” said Rich. He looked at his watch. Two hours. How long could he keep this up?
—Kill Process Loaded—