It didn't take very long for it to happen.

One moment he was standing, using his emp to fend of one of those cursed robots - the next he was lying with his back on the floor.

The explosion had been big. Spirals and great coruscations of fire had plumed their way to the high ceiling of the cargo area and the dull, yellow crane that hung from it.

This was no way to die.

He tried to move his head; see where the robot had gone. See whether or not it had been consumed by the fiery mass…

Somewhere beyond his reach, the emp rifle lay on the floor. Although the smoke blinded him from seeing what it was, something heavy - tremendously heavy - lay across both his legs and his belly.

His chest - some parts showing through the ragged, stained suit he wore - ached considerably.


He tried to take in a deep breath: found it was impossible, and lay back. Stopped struggling.

It was then that he heard it.

A low buzzing noise that neither the door to this hateful place nor the bot who guarded it had emitted before…

Gradually, it grew louder and louder, and he was reduced to looking wildly around the room: a desperate attempt to find its source.

'Get me the hell out of here!' he screamed, as the small, flying machines made themselves present.


Nothing, but the low humming, and the swarm of perhaps a dozen or so of the nanomachines as they slid peacefully into his view.

'Dammit you sons-of-bitches!' he roared, letting all the breath he had worked up escape in a single shout of denial: violence - the feeling of being betrayed.

Another breath.

'You promised me! You promised!'

Nothing: no escape for the dying.

Or the dead.

The nanos loomed closer, sat above him, small fabric wings patting the air: their buzzing caused by the tiny eyes they swivelled to watch him, the twitching and ripple of countless hairs made of metal that layered the tiny machines on their underbellies.

'No,' he said, calming with shock, 'You wouldn't. Not after all of this.'

His head swung round to try and find the executor of these intricate little things.

Such beauty.

'No,' he repeated: a barely audible whisper. 'No.'

Then they struck.

It was easy for them at first: find the carbon molecules that formed the majority of this human's structure and decompose them. Push them out along fine silver tubing as refuse.


Plumes of black carbon atoms were sent flying into the smoke, as the nanos worked.

And as he screamed.

He was alive, and they were deconstructing him, bit by bit; part by precious part.

And as they cut him up and reduced him to a mere film of grease on the floor of the vast cargo bay that had, so quickly, become his tomb, he wailed.

It was an inhuman wail, more like that of a dog in pain, patched here and there with hissing and splutters as he choked - slowly - on the blood they drew up from his heart.

Drew it up, split it up, and spat it out.

His heart stopped beating, but the hateful, ear-piercing screeching went on until there was nothing left of him but the vocal cords and the nerves that made it work - her orders. As she would have wanted.

He had become - against all his will - her servant. To buy, use and throw away as rubbish when his days were over.

Tirelessly and full of maliciousness, the tiny nanos whirred on their axis' and left.

Left the long, wide hall and its ageing crane.

Left the flimsy boxes scattered about its unswept floor.

Left a stain of red and white and yellow upon that floor.

Left the vocal cords that still worked, screaming in anguish, pain, hate and suffering - he had become all those things and more.

Such beauty, insect.

Such beauty in death.


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