Chronicles of Chiron: Network Node | Scene 8

A beam of light illuminates Cleve before he is fully in position. Tenoch’s EMP grenade is in hand, though. The robot warns him to leave, but he stays still, testing the waters. It rolls forward on its treads, crushing whatever vegetation covers the ground here. “This is your second warning. Again, I am the Morgan Autonomous Security-Tron.” It flashes a few lights at Cleve, in case he needs visual cues rather than auditory ones. In addition to its light fixtures, it clearly has a camera. Cleve doesn’t worry about it recording information on him, though. He has no intention of leaving this robot behind for Morgan’s folks to recover.

Cleve can’t see any blades on the robot, but its arms have grabbers that could hold or bruise a person. Those are its only weapons as far as he can tell. With that in mind—and confident that an EMP won’t harm a human—Cleve runs right at the security bot, priming the grenade as he goes. He sees no reason to risk a throw going wide in the fog. “I’m probably going to die,” he mutters as he charges at the illuminated target. As they collide, the robot gets a grabber up to block his arm, jostling the grenade from his grasp. It goes flying off into the miasma. Cleve hears the mechanism engage, firing off the EMP, but wherever it landed is too far away to harm this robot. 

Cleve backs away, reaching for his rifle as the bot rolls after him announcing, “Under the Articles of Incorporation, you are being restrained.” It grabs at him, but he keeps slipping and twisting away. He sees no obvious buttons or switches to turn the contraption off. Possibly controls are beneath the panel on the chest, but the flailing grabber arms are between him and that. Cleve’s backpedaling eventually gives him enough space to get the barrel of the rifle in between him and the bot. The first shot misses, though, when one of the strong arms knocks his gun aside. It’s not the gun’s intended purpose, but the long weapon at least keeps the robot physically at bay for a bit. And every moment it spends dancing with Cleve is another that Corazon and Mariah have to complete the mission. He hears a crash over by the hut and Mariah shouting for Corazon to get to work, so they’re making some sort of progress.

“Warnings have completed,” the Morgan Autonomous Security-Tron announces. “Lethal force has been authorized.” The speed with which the arms whirl increases dramatically. There are still no blades, but the force of these could break an arm. Cleve suffers just a glancing blow, enough to leave a bruise and knock him off balance. He recovers, and his next couple shots send plates flying off the robot, wearing down its ablative armor. Tenoch just needs a fixable robot, not a perfect one.

“Damaging Morgan Network property has been added to your debts,” the bot announces, continuing to advance. With one pincer it finally manages to seize Cleve. It grabs his left arm, squeezing until he can no longer hold the barrel of the rifle. He swears under his breath as the gun falls from his grasp into the mists. The robot wraps its other arm around him, yanking him tight to its chest. The pain of injury is not nearly as bad as the misery Cleve feels. He’s certain he is going to get killed and let the others down. Still, he doesn’t give up. He wriggles around, trying to reach some of the circuitry exposed by the damaged panels, not that he would really know what to do if he got a hand on it.

The robot gives him another squeeze. “You must surrender immediately or you will accrue additional debt.” Cleve isn’t worried about debt, but it occurs to him there might be more than just two robots around here, and that is cause for concern. This bot is likely recording their entire interaction, so there is no question in Cleve’s mind that he needs to take it back to Data Haven. It and any other robot witnesses. He’s shocked to realize he’s thinking like a criminal. Or maybe like Roze.

“If you do not surrender willingly, note that forced surrender incurs a higher cost,” the robot intones as Cleve kicks at it ineffectively.

Suddenly a jazzed Corazon appears out of the miasma, terminal hook-up ready in hand. The robot has no arms available to knock her aside, and she easily slams her connector into an exposed panel and begins her hack. “Not so fast,” she mutters as she hastily types. Then she yanks her cable out of the jack and slaps the side of the machine. “You’re not fast enough for Hypercor!” she cheers as it powers down. 

“Nice!” Cleve says appreciatively, as he extricates himself from the lifeless metal arms.

“I know,” Cor replies with a grin.