Snap Sci-Fi – Time to Go   Leave a comment

Assembled robot

“I’m telling’ ya, you’d better’d kick in a little more palm grease before I pull this duty again,” said Rathwalson, a bare-boned bot jerry-rigged from spare parts. “The way you sold this gig to me, I’d thought I’d wind up on the shores of Celestrasia, oiling my joints with some babe. Instead, I’ll be floating toward that rock there, crunching breccia and nothing else.”

“Oh, quit moaning,” said Biff Chesthair. “I’m maneuvering this bucket so close it’ll only be a leap and a step. Else, they’re gonna catch us and switch out your parts. Turn you into something you’re gonna regret. We both know why.”

“How can I not? My repeat circuit keeps showing Chrome and Pewter pissed because I mistook them for Dead Betas. What bot rests? Only boosted their Slether so I can sell it to buy more appendage junk. Hey, they’d do the same to me! And yes, I’m an idiot ’cause I didn’t think they’d have the sense to bury a tracker inside the Slether pack. So, I’m taking it…there,” Rathwalston said, pointing out the porthole to a grim, scarlets-shadowed planet.

“Look, R,” said Thurston Chiseljaw as he strapped a hefty transport box to the back of the unwilling robot. “We got to get rid of that Slether,” he said, referring to the blitz-quick addictive drug, known to bring down bots, babies and everything in between. “We can’t have both the cops and bots chasing us. Already they’re on to us. I’d do it myself if you didn’t play hide-and-seek with my helmet.”

“You lost it in that poker game last night. Now I’m wearing it,” he said, glancing at the lower part of his mechanical torso.

“Yeah, it’s your ass,” said Thurston, “and there’s no way I’m putting that back on my head.”

Meanwhile, Biff struggled with the primitive controls on their stolen ship, a hacked-together collection of gear shifting rods, a metal pegboard box passing as a control panel and a window with a target drawn on it. A few dials sporting unrecognizable symbols proved to be a complete waste of time, signifying nothing useful, to him anyway. He might as well fly blind. After much jiggering, he figured out the correct joystick to turn it towards the unnamed planet only meters away.

“If either of you loose screws wants to pay attention, we’re here. We got an hour, tops. Time to go,” said Biff to Rathwalson.

“I’m already gone. Catch you in five,” Rathwalson said as he slipped through the portal.

Biff and Thurston watched him stream towards the planet’s surface, leaving a faint trail of propulsion fuel in his wake.

An hour passed by. “Come in, Rathwalson. Come in,” Thurston hailed through the barely-functioning radio. “Come in, now, can’t hear you. Where you at?”

Nothing but a sizzle crack of dead air.

“Don’t like this,” said Biff. “Either he’s gone off someplace, or they’ve found us. I’m going down there.”

“I’ll keep watch. Not that we’re a tempting target or anything, but even if Pewter and Chrome are in a good mood, they’ll pick us off just for laughs. I mean, look at this ship,” he said, slapping the metal pegboard box that held the control panel.

Biff tugged on his spacesuit as Thurston readied the propulsion kit. “There’s not much fuel here. Might not be enough to bring back the bot anyway.”

Moments later, he disappeared into the dark abyss, floating towards his destiny.

 Headless Robot

Nothing works like it’s supposed to, thought Biff as he scrambled along the rough surface of the unnamed planet. The tracker’s sending me here, but I’m not picking up signs. 

Without warning, the sky erased it stars, replaced by a great gust of wind, then darkness. After a few foggy minutes, he regained his senses and glanced at his biometer. Oxygen…that’s good. He slipped off his helmet and breathed fresh air. A clink, followed by a ka-terrk, ka-terrk, ga-wheee sound caught his attention.

No…

Leaving his helmet, he raced towards the noise. There stood Pewter and Chrome, disassembling a sizable assembly of bots. Among them was Rathwalson, his various pieces carefully arranged in categories: appendages, intelligence, camera, receptor, and others. That packet of Slether joined others in a bin.

“What took you so long?” said Pewter, as he turned toward Biff, pulling the head off of another bot while Chrome dissected its innards.

“That wasn’t our agreement. You know all the trouble I went through to get this stuff?” said Biff.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Pewter. “You’ve pirated more Slether than anyone this side of the sector. Our profits have vanished.”

“Time to go,” said Chrome, as he rose up from the ground.

“But…but…” Biff whimpered, until he felt the cold metal finger touch his cheeks.

Chrome unscrewed the cap that once served as Biff’s head, placed it on a shelf, and dug within his interior, scooping out the piles of packets of Slether that Biff held captive for far too long. It was time for him to go.

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