The Ship of the Unforgotten - Chapter 27, Pt. 2

Camp NaNoWriMo

Jenny Pixton flew through the air, her heart as light as her body, mind aflame with possibilities. Do something about the bots themselves! Of course! She shot her hand out and caught the edge of a standing desk, pivoting around her hand and hauling herself back to the deck briefly before launching off again in the direction she needed.

The problem with the maintenance bots was that while they were still under Rose Dawn’s control, they kept having their control overridden by the AI’s superior speed. But it wasn’t that much superior, and it wasn’t that much more powerful than Rose Dawn herself.

If she could somehow neutralize or even defeat the speed of the AI, then she could establish some sort of control over them. It would probably only be enough to shut them down or render them immobile, but that would be good enough.

She crashed into the bulkhead she needed, cushioning the landing with her arms. Wrenching open a cabinet, she pulled out one, two, then three racks of phones. Just the things! she thought. They’d do wonderfully. They were quite powerful for their size, already equipped with all the communications hardware she could hope for and capable of fully interfacing with the ship’s systems, and she had enough of them to take down a significant number of the maintenance bots on the ship. There’d been units enough for all of the ship’s crew and passengers after all.

Floating the racks through the air to her preferred workspace, she was tapping away at her tab well before they’d floated along behind her. This shouldn’t take too long, she thought, bits of code flashing through her mind and out through her fingers into the tab.


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“Sorry!” Pixton called as she hurtled through the door again, scaring the wits out of Jackson. She held a rack of phones in her arms as she flew, one in her hand, and—she was about to fly right right into one of the bots!

“Eyes forward!” she bellowed; she couldn’t do much more. She herself was wrestling with one of the blasted things. It had gotten her away from the decks, ceilings and bulkheads and she had all she could handle trying to keep it from choking her. It was a long-limbed beast, arms as flexible as the hoses they contained; they were intended to let it pressure-wash interior surfaces of the ship when it was hooked into the water conduits. Now they were trying to squeeze the life out of her. At least it wasn’t one of the vet bots; no needles to worry about.

Pixton glanced ahead with barely a hint of concern in her eyes as another set of robotic tentacles waved towards her. She held the phone in her hand out like a talisman, an almost eager look on her face. “You want me? Come get me, ugly!” she cried with a grin.

It obliged, or at least it started to. The wash-bot snagged her arm and began reeling her in, but then it started to spasm, almost as though it were having a seizure. As Pixton drifted closer and closer, the movement of the bot got jerkier, the freezing lasting longer before it burst into motion again. Finally, once she was right up next to it, it seized up and stopped moving entirely. Moving quickly, she duct taped the phone to the thing’s body.

“How’d you like that?” she called. “Sorry, I broke your toy.” Disentangling herself from the flexible arm, she kicked off its bulk; it had gripper treads to let it traverse wet decks and bulkheads easily, so it wasn’t moved by her launching. Pixton flew straight toward her and the wash-bot that was even now trying to get an arm around her throat. As Pixton got closer, her bot too began moving erratically. Jackson ducked to get her neck out of line with the arm, and then Pixton was on top of them. She slapped the phone against a flat panel on the bot’s chassis and taped it in place. “And that’s that for this round!” she said.

“Pixton? What on earth did you do?” Jackson asked, a note of real respect creeping into her tone; she didn’t waste any time pushing off the now lifelessly-drifting hulk to a bulkhead well away from it, though.

“Overrode the AI’s control. It has to work remotely, so there’s latency in the commands it sends. When my re-purposed phones are close enough, they’re fast enough to constantly override the AI’s ability to—”

“Okay, okay, I get it. You overwhelmed the signals it’s sending.”

“Yeah, basically! It’s too far from them to keep up.”

“So we just have to stick these things on them when they show up and we’re good?”

“Should be. Unless it does something like—”

“Um, Rose Dawn can hear us, let’s not give her or it any tips, huh?” Jackson said, eyebrow arched.

“R-right, good idea. Anyway, we won’t run out of these any time soon. Here’s the first batch. I’ll go make more!”