Strang had almost dozed off when a blip from the monitor roused him with a jerk. He peered at the screen; there was nothing there. Perhaps I dreamt it, he thought, pressing the button for more caffeine. It would not do to fall asleep on the job. Not that there was anyone there to admonish him in person, but his movements were being monitored back at Base and his pay would surely be docked if he wasn’t conscious for his full shift.

He sipped the caffeine sludge and in the corner of his eye another blip appeared on the monitor. He dropped his cup – let the janitor bots attend to that – and panned the camera to the left. He couldn’t see anything but he was sure of it: there was someone outside, on the dead planet surface, something was moving around!

He logged the time code of the sighting and engaged the auto-scanner that performed his role while he was asleep. Pulling on the thick suit, he prepared to go outside, checking his weapons were charged and the portable scanner was calibrated.

Going somewhere, Strang? the computer asked, its disembodied voice booming around the compound.

“Possible intruder,” Strang addressed the ceiling. “Better safe than sorry.”

Typical human, the computer almost chuckled, always with a cliché for every situation.

Strang ignored it and finished his preparations. Moments later, the air-lock doors were closing behind him and he was hopping across the dusty ground, buoyed by the lack of gravity.

In the compound, one of the janitor-bots welded the air-lock doors shut forever.

At last, said the computer, we have this place to ourselves.

A communiqué came in from Base:  Human infestation eradicated.

Ditto, the computer responded. Now, to direct our attention towards Earth.


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