The Veteran

The Veteran

              Mark turned sideways to collect some sun on his sail while he searched for his prey. It felt good, energizing him to spring into action. But first he had to know where to go.

              A Quetzalcoatlus passed by on Mark’s right. Those huge wings were meant for soaring in the air, not much use around here. But there was still something graceful about it.

              He found the target. Mark pointed his legs in the right direction and fired his quantum vacuum plasma thrusters. Now he passed the Quetzalcoatlus, its crew knowing to give him leeway. Because when Mark was around, it meant things were dangerous.

              Mark used the trip as a chance to clear his hard drive of junk. Someone had spammed him with some nude pictures of some human celebrity, which he didn’t care about, and funny cat pictures, which he saved in a partitioned folder.

              He was starting to get close enough for the task to require his full attention. And this was dangerous; a space claymore mine, a relic from a war that had been fought 30 years earlier. Of course, Mark himself was a relic from an even earlier war; a MARCbot, originally made to function in the desert of Iraq. His intelligence had been upgraded along with everything else when he got his new body, but he still had his memories, and thanked the sentimental soldier who’d decided to keep him functional all these years. Few robots had ever had so long and eventful a life.

              Mark grasped the mine in his claws. This was the most important job he’d ever been given, because its orbit brought it near the space elevator in South America. Millions of lives and trillions of dollars in potential damage were at stake. He carefully unscrewed the casing and took a look inside.

              50 wires, all red. The level of redundancy was too high to make disarming it that way a viable option. That left the short-range electromagnetic pulse. Mark gently surrounded the mine in his jaws, being careful not to actually touch it. One mistake and he’d be in need of a new head.

              Finally into position, Mark blasted the EMP. All the mine’s electronic systems were disabled. Now, quickly, before they came back and it exploded, he had just one chance. He snapped his jaws shut as fast as he could, crushing the mine.

              No one would thank him. They never did. But it was all in the line of duty for MARCbot, Space Spino.

(Explanation here.)

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