A string of small black objects lined a curved section of one of the mining
station's main passageways. Each one had a tiny red light that blinked in
synchronisation with the others. There were thirty four in total, matching
the number of mechanoid guards that were marching closer and closer with
every second that passed.
"Done!" Antoine announced as the final gravity grenade had been
armed. "As soon as all those metal freaks have stomped into this
area, we detonate and they'll be no more!"
"Excellent!" Lex said. "Are you sure that this corridor
is a dead end?"
"Absolutely." Antoine answered. "My map reading skills
are extraordinary! Those machines can only get to us from one direction.
As soon as they are all in range, we duck into that room, seal the door,
then pow! All gone."
"Simple and deadly!"
A rhythmic 'thud thud' could be heard. It was becoming distinctly more
audible every moment. They were almost here.
"This is it!" Lex said melodramatically. "Remember, we
must stay in view until the last possible nanosecond. They must come as
close as possible."
"No problem!" Antoine said. He energised his disruptor rifle.
It rumbled to life. "Is your camera ready?"
Lex tapped his small ear-mounted device. "Recording as we speak."
At that precise instant, the door at the end of the corridor crashed open
and slammed on to the polished floor. A line of tough looking mechanoids
began to file into the passageway, their unnecessary red eyes glowing
Lex and Antoine opened fire, showering the walking death machines in puissant
energy. Sparks, flames, and the occasional highly polished limb scattered
in every direction. The mechanoids continued their advance and returned
fire. Lex and Antoine were overwhelmed with lethal killer beams. Debris
from the walls and the ceiling crashed down all around, covering them
in scorched tiles and panelling.
There were now fifteen mechanoids in the corridor.
"Almost half way." Antoine announced. His finger was poised
over the detonation button on his hip-mounted multi-purpose remote activation
The leading machine suddenly halted and looked down. It appeared to be
looking at the grenades.
"It's spotted them!" Lex said. He began to fire wildly trying
to draw the mechanoid's attention away from the explosives. The machine
merely raised its hand to deflect the blasts. Antoine also fired, blowing
away several of its fingers. Oil and other more high-tech fluids dribbled
from its stumps. The mechanoid’s concentration remained on the grenades.
"Go for its feet!" Lex shouted.
The two journalists entered into a rapid fire frenzy and unleashed a searing
torrent of intense energy fire onto the leading mechanoid. The concentrated
attack paid off. The death machine stumbled, and then crashed to the floor,
legless from its knee joint down.
"Ha ha harr!!" Antoine laughed. He was enjoying this immensely.
What could possibly be more enjoyable than blowing a war machine's legs
off? Not much!
Antoine’s elation was short lived.
Two of the other mechanoids had spotted the grenades. There was no way
that the journalists' weapons would be able to get them all, and the ones
that were yet to enter the corridor would retreat and re-evaluate their
"I think our cunning plan has been foiled." Lex said, stating
Antoine was thinking hard. "What can we do?" he said. The likelihood
of legendary status seemed to have faded away. In a fit of anger, he began
the firing frenzy once again. Another mechanoid crashed to the ground.
There was no reason for Antoine to laugh this time, three of the others
had spotted the grenades.
Antoine bowed his head in a moment of temporary despair. It was lucky
that he did so. An unerringly accurate blast of light passed through the
space where his head had been only milliseconds before. he didn't notice,
so he wasn't shaken.
"Antoine!" Lex said. "Look what they're up to!"
Antoine looked up. Two of the mechanoids were picking up the grenades,
their arms were almost full already. They began to walk back towards the
corridor's exit. A couple of other Mechanoids picked up the rest of the
"Oh brilliant!" Antoine said sarcastically. "They've stolen
our grenades. I'm so happy."
Lex looked at his companion. "You're not looking at the whole picture,
"What picture are you talking about?"
"I was being metaphoric. They have stolen our grenades, but look!"
He pointed at them. "They're taking them out and past their comrades.
If we detonate now we'll get them all after all!"
Antoine leapt into the air and performed a double back-flip followed by
a series of rapid punches and kicks. "Yes!!!"
Energy fire continued to flow from some of the machines none of which,
purely by sheer fluke, hit Antoine during his acrobatic display.
Antoine pressed the button on his remote unit. "We'd better take
Lex nodded and the two journalists leapt into an adjoining room.
The gravity grenades took effect. Lex felt a deep feeling of internal
stress wash over him as a concentrated graviton wave pulsed through the
Antoine also had that deep feeling and was beginning to feel nauseous.
All the lettuce that he had eaten recently was desperately trying to get
out. With the help of his will-power augmentation implant, he managed
to keep it down.
A deafening crunch reverberated through the station as the graviton wave
collapsed completely. For a small instance of time, a singularity with
more mass than Bahl itself created an intense gravity field right next
to the mechanoids. Lex and Antoine were pulled into a wall at great speed.
One point six seconds later silence reigned and calm returned.
The two journalists peeled themselves off the wall and staggered, dazed
and disoriented, around the room.
"I feel so high!" Antoine said. "I've never felt the effects
of those things before."
"Me neither." Lex said. He smiled as the lingering sensations
passed around his body. Very pleasing. "We'd better get moving. This
whole complex is going to blow in twenty minutes."
The journalists stepped back out into the corridor. what an amazing sight!
An almost perfect sphere, forty metres across, had been sucked out of
the station and condensed into a small solid ball about ten centimetres
"There they are." Antoine said, pointing. "Those idiotic
machines got sucked into that one all right!"
Lex looked annoyed. "I wish I could've recorded that."
"Never mind," Antoine said. "You couldn't have recorded
"Apart from the fact that it would have torn you up into thin and
manageable strips of flesh, the intense gravity field would have sucked
in all the light. You wouldn't have been able to see anything, therefore
you wouldn't have been able to record anything."
"I guess you're right."
"I am indeed!"
The two journalists began to make their way across the graviton damaged
section and across to another corridor. A few metres down was the map,
apparently undamaged. Antoine rushed over to, eager to examine some more
of its operational characteristics. he began to manipulate some of the
Lex caught up with him. "Antoine, remember that we haven't got much
time. Find out the best way to get to Mac without..."
Antoine interrupted. "Look at that!" He said with disgust.
"I opened up the correlation maintenance routine and displayed its
principal constituents. look at the coding pattern."
Lex looked. "It looks fine to me." He said, pretending to know
what he was staring at.
"You're not looking hard enough. Section one point three and two
point three have an inconsistency in relation to their synthetic intelligence
Lex was getting annoyed again. "So what?"
"The accuracy of the output from their co-dependent background functions
is directly related to the level of graphic detail available to the mapping
display. It'll only take me five minutes to update these systems and I'll
almost double the perceived resolution of the screen..."
"Leave it alone!" Lex shouted.
"But I could so easily get it to conform to the recent program protocols
defined by the Artificial Mind Bureau on Ganimaen IV!"
"In less than twenty minutes this whole station, complete with that
stupid cartographical heap of mindless sub-whatevers is going to be annihilated!"
"This map device is not stupid! Nor is it mindless. Its intelligence
systems are verging on sentience in complexity!"
"Please, can we get on with our assignment. Awards remember? Merchandising?"
Antoine thought for a moment. "You're right. I did it again, didn't
"Forget about it. Just call up the main map and locate the crew.
We have to get to Mac Mytar, interview him, then get out within sixteen
"No problem." Antoine operated the map's control panel with
tremendous expertise. In no time, the correct display was showing. The
position of the station's personnel could clearly be seen. "They're
all in Mac's opulent quarters on the complex's northern side. All that
is, except Angelina."
"In the gym."
"Really? I remember you said that as far as you could tell her job
was to be in the gym."
"Indeed I did."
"I wonder what for?"
"Mac Mytar probably likes his women well-toned and full of stamina."
"We'd better move." Antoine said.
The two journalists began a rapid walk in a northerly direction.