Chronicles of Chiron: Defragging Data Haven | Scene 3

When we reach Tenoch’s workshop, they’re working on a rifle with Chloe. “Delivery!” Cleve calls out cheerfully as he rolls the functional robot in. Seeing this, Tenoch leaves the scope project and comes over to inspect it.

“Excellent, excellent,” they mutter, walking around it. Then abruptly they ask, “Does this robot work?” pointing at the bullet scores.

“It’s out of power right now,” I tell them, dragging in my less impressive machine. “But once its battery charges, yeah.”

Tenoch reaches into a mess of cables and fishes out one with exactly the right connector.

“I’m sorry I don’t know where the EMP grenade went,” Cleve apologizes. “You might’ve been able to recharge that.”

“That went off under this one,” I share, patting the worse-off robot. “And I kind of pulled its brain out,” I add apologetically. The further in time we get from the raid, the more foolish that action seems to me. Of course, at the time I didn’t realize we’d be lugging both robots back here. And I really needed to stop it from turning back on.

Tenoch continues to inspect the intact robot. They stop suddenly and point at a piece. “This has been added after-market,” they announce. 

Cleve is quick to explain that Roze attached the dongle for data access. “So don’t wipe it yet,” he urges.

Tenoch nods. “Ah! No, of course, of course, of course.” They then ask for a blow-by-blow of the battle with the robots so as to understand their capabilities and the damage they suffered. Cleve supplies what he knows happened to the robot he fought, but he points out that it probably has video footage showing all that. Its camera will have recorded closeups of him being squeezed, pummeled, and jostled about as he ineffectually kicked at it until Hypercor showed up and plugged in.

“This other one got beat up a little bit more,” I tell Tenoch, patting the robot Cor and I dealt with. “The EMP took it out, we knocked it over, and I ripped pieces out of it.”

“Crude but effective!” Tenoch says without criticism.

“They had a charging station at the network node that also ran miasma-cleaning cycles. They’ve been through several days without that, so they might be kind of gunked up inside,” I warn them.

“Yes, we’ll have to detoxify these…” Tenoch hums to themself for a moment. “That might be better done at my outlying workshop.” Cleve volunteers the extra battery, which Tenoch gratefully accepts. They have a very positive attitude, considering its drained state to be all for the good. It’s evidence that we used the battery for its purpose.

“Oh, and the functional robot responds to verbal commands from Corazon, Cleve, and me,” I add.

“Show me.”

It’s been plugged in long enough to have a little power, so I tell it to spin in a circle. It takes a moment to process the command, but then it complies. “We don’t have control of its arms, though,” I tell Tenoch. They hum to themself more as they start conducting some tests, so fascinated that they occasionally mutter about what they are doing.

Further back in the room, Chloe eyes this whole scene with a displeased frown. Her rifle lies ignored on the table where Tenoch had been working. I apologize to her for taking over Tenoch’s attention. That does not seem to be the problem, though. “I’m just not sure this robot’s going to add up to anything,” Chloe says, adding dismissively, “Just new toys for the datajacks, it seems.”

“Well, at the very least, it won’t be beating up anybody else,” I point out.

“That is an improvement. Although it wasn’t beating up anyone who didn’t go there before.” Chloe’s suspicious attitude seems to be directed more at the hackers who live here than the newly arrived robots.

“If you’ll help me get this to my garage—particularly this one,” Tenoch tells us, rapping the broken robot, “I can use some of these components. And there might be something you can test drive for me.”

“Where’s your garage?” I ask. I leave Chloe to her sulking and step over to a jumble of materials in the corner. There are paints of various types: matte, glossy, interior, exterior. I shift some around, looking more at the colors than the kinds. Cleve notices what I’m looking at and draws my attention to some spray paints on another shelf.

“Outside. About an hour away,” Tenoch answers me. “It’s another crashed part of the ship. The sooner we get this out there, the better.” It’s certainly not something we need to do tonight, though. Tenoch just encourages us to help with this before the next time we leave on a job.

“Sure, sure, that sounds fine. We can help with that,” I agree for me and Cleve. “Oh, but do you have some paint and light bulbs to spare?” It’s clear Tenoch has the materials I’m looking for, I just don’t know if they’ll be willing to part with them.

“Hmm?” Tenoch looks over to where I’m now rummaging through a crate of bulbs. “Yes! Those are taking up space. Please! I need space for these robots.”

“Great!” I say with a smile, loading up a box with supplies. I’ll likely need Tenoch’s help later to fix up what I’m envisioning—I am not mechanically inclined at all—but I’ll take a stab at it on my own first.

As I sort through the paints, Cleve leaves Tenoch to mess with the robots and goes over to chat with Chloe. “How’s the hunting?” he asks her.

“Never enough hands. Too many mouths,” she says grimly.

“What’d you get?”

“Bush bug.” Cleve echoes Chloe’s response, holding up his hands at different widths, silently asking about the size of the prey. Chloe erases a section of whiteboard and starts drawing a rather detailed sketch of a creature, including dimensions. In Earth terms, it’s a furry, rabbit-sized cockroach.

“Nobody thought to pack deer or anything on this trip, huh?” Cleve marvels with a shake of his head. “Couple of sheep?”

“I think one of the goals was to not pollute the planet with species that don’t need to be here,” Chloe rebukes him.

I set my loaded box down on a counter and pull out the zine Dr. Citali gave me, flipping through it until I find the entry on bush bugs. “Edible, high in protein,” I read off. “Not really fast, but hard to spot.”

“Yes, that’s the tricky thing,” Chloe agrees. “Also, if they get inside a clean zone, they could end up taking over. They breed very quickly.”

“Anybody farming them?” Cleve asks. I can see the wheels starting to turn behind his eyes. “Seems like a farm animal, with that description.”

“I don’t know anyone who could farm these,” Chloe tells him. “We don’t have the facilities.”

“How fast do they breed? There were cricket farms on Earth, and other non-traditional meats. What could we build for that?” Chloe gives Cleve a long appraising look. Cleve keeps thinking aloud. “Just like rabbits, right? Rabbits breed pretty fast, too.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen a rabbit.” She gives a sharp nod of her head, as though she has just decided something. “Would you like to help on a hunt?”

“Yes,” Cleve replies immediately. “Yes!”

“Very well. Meet me tomorrow at sunrise. Bring good shoes; we need to be fast.”

I pick up my box and head to the door. “Have fun,” I tell Cleve, having no intention of joining that expedition myself.