Stories

The Horrible, Terrible Story of the Murdroid


Gather round the campfire, children, I have a story to tell you.

Campfire? We're not camping. Or outdoors. In fact, we're in a space station.

That's not important, gather round all of you. I am going to tell you a story.

Is it going to be about your boils again?

No! This is a much more terrible story.

More terrible than your boils? Gathry can't sleep at night because he keeps having nightmares about turning into one giant boil.

Gathry is a special child, young one. And trust me, this story is much scarier! I swear it!

Alright, alright. We'll gather around then. It better be good though.

Everyone here? Good. Good. I am about to tell you a story about one of the galaxy's most horrid monsters. Something that makes miners shiver in terror and freelance bounty hunters constantly look over their shoulders.

Is it pirates? I bet it's about pirates.

No, it's not about pirates.

Macroers then? I heard someone talking about them in the service bay last night. Is it macroers?

Pfft. There's no such thing as macroers. Seriously... Someone replacing a pod pilot with a fully automated computer system. That's ludicrous.

But isn't that just what rogue drones are?

Listen, this is my story. Let me tell it, alright?

Fine. But it better be good.

It is, it is! Now shut up. This story is about the Murdroid!

Is it about some sort of android?

No, not Mur-droid! It's Murd-roid.

I thought you said this wasn't about your boils.

Not that type of roid! I mean asteroids! Will you just let me tell the story already?

Sheesh, no need to yell.

Ahem, as I was saying... A long, long time ago, when space travel was in its infancy, things like mining lasers or mining drones didn't exist. If someone wanted to mine an asteroid, they had to do it by hand. Men and women went out into the vacuum of space in a flimsy environmental suit armed with a pick axe and a shovel, nothing else.

What? That doesn't seem very likely. I never heard about that in school.

Shut up already! That's how it was, alright?

If you say so.

Anyway, the job was dangerous. A tear in your suit, and you were dead. Pirates could wipe out your mining ship and then you'd be stranded on an asteroid with no escape. But the dangerous conditions toughened the miners up. The toughest of them all was a man named Henry Johns. He could extract a hundred fifty units of ore in an hour. He swung two pick axes, one in each hand, and when he worked there was a cloud of dust around the asteroid so thick that you couldn't see anything. He used to work with others, but one time a man accidentally cut a gash in Henry's survival suit. Instead of dying, Henry took a piece of rope and tied it around his leg to cut off the vacuum, then kept on picking away even though he had almost no oxygen left in his tank. He finished off mining, but never had anyone work with him again.

No one knows where he came from, or even what race he was. Amarr, Gallente, Caldari, Minmatar, some folks even think he was a Jovian. No one is sure. All they know is that Henry Johns was the best damn miner that ever lived. He worked for 5 ISK an hour, which even back then wasn't much, but he loved his job and never complained.

Then the mining laser was invented. The company that employed Henry let everyone know they were being replaced. The laser was cheaper, it was faster, and it was safer. All the miners were in danger of losing their jobs. But Henry Johns, he knew he was better than any light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. He went to his boss and challenged him to prove the laser was better than he was.

His boss, he told Henry to forget about it, telling him it was too dangerous. That he'd lose and might as well just get with the times. But Henry was insistent and finally his boss agreed to the contest. They picked the largest asteroid in the system. The first to reach the other side was the winner.

Old Henry, he told people, The center is the toughest. The Veldspar down there is denser, more compact than the flakes and dust on the surface. It's gonna take all I can do to make it through there.

The contest started, Henry Johns with his two pick axes, the mining laser fitted with the most efficient crystal they had. At first, it seemed obvious that Henry was outmatched. The laser cut into the asteroid and started burrowing down towards the center, while Henry was swinging his pick axes in wide, lazy arcs and barely scratching the surface.

But then Henry worked up a sweat, and his pick axes fell in a rhythm, and if there had been air around the asteroid anyone listening would have thought it was sweet music being played by Henry Johns. He was working so fast, people could barely see his arms moving, they looked like blurs that were just pounding into the asteroid. Soon, he caught the laser, and his fellow miners were cheering him on, then he passed the laser by, and everyone fell silent watching him do it.

It was like he had four arms, or even six, his boss said, watching Henry Johns pound away at that asteroid. Soon, no one could even see Henry at all, he was so far down in the asteroid. But people watched his progress on a computer monitor and he hit the center and he started to slow down and the laser caught up.

He and the laser were neck and neck, going through that dense Veldspar in the center of the asteroid. The laser was constant, predictable, spitting out the same amount of ore no matter what. But Henry, he was just catching his stride. He hammer and whacked and he broke through the center first, heading toward the other side.

But when they reached the 3/4th mark, Old Henry, well, he started to get tired. His arms weren't moving as fast and his pick axes weren't hitting as hard. It seemed certain that the mining laser was going to get through first, and Old Henry would go home a loser. The mining laser was only a few meters away from breaking through the other side and Henry, he trailed ten meters behind! Everyone rooting for Henry were ready to give up.

Then the mining laser's crystal shattered. It was the damnedest thing anyone ever saw, that crystal shattering like that. Nearly exploded. The technicians on the mining barge scurried to replace the crystal and get the laser started back up. But Henry, he kept on whacking away, a surge of strength going through his arms as he pounded that ore like a piston. Soon, he caught up to where the laser had shut off, then passed it by.

The laser started up again, and it was only a few centimeters behind Henry Johns, but that was enough. Henry broke through the asteroid first and there was great cheer from all of the miners watching him. And then Old Henry smiled, then laid down and died.

He had given it his all to beat that machine and his all was taken from him. His heart exploded in his chest, some saying it went at the same time the crystal did, that Henry Johns spirit and will drove him on to keep pounding away to prove that man will always be better than machine.

That's a great story grandpa, but what does it have to do with the Murdroid thing? And it didn't sound very scary to me.

Are you kidding? Some crazy man digging through an asteroid with pickaxes? That was really scary to me!

Aww, everything scares you Gathry.

Shut up kids, I'm not done telling the story yet! I'm getting to the Murdroid part! Now be quiet and listen up! You see, they buried Henry Johns in the thing he worked on every day. They cut a hole into an asteroid, put his body in, and sealed it up, a pick axe in each hand. A final, fitting resting place for a hero of the working man.

And there his body lay for hundreds of years, until people forgot all about the time when men mined asteroids by hand, and forgot about Henry Johns, and certainly forgot where he was laid to rest. Some young miner, some enterprising pilot, came across this huge asteroid floating alone all by itself one day. And he didn't know about Henry Johns, so he activated his mining laser and went to work, shearing off valuable ore to take back to his station and refine it.

But when he cut deep enough into the asteroid, he vaporized the remains of Henry Johns, leaving only one arm clutching a pick axe behind. Well, no one knows why or how, but the act of being burned up by the very thing he'd lost his life to beat gave that arm of Henry Johns unholy life. That pick axe wielding arm flew straight for that mining barge and hammered into it with terrible power, destroying the ship in one shot!

No one knows what happened to the arm after that, but every once in a while, floating in some old asteroid belt, a miner will see an arm holding a pick axe. If that miner is smart, he'll align to warp immediately and get out of there. A few foolish ones will try to take a picture of it with their ship cameras, but that's all the time the Murdroid needs to close on a ship and hit it with that pick axe and blow it up.

How do you know all this, grandpa?

I know, because I was that first miner that the Murdroid attacked. And - OH MY GOD, THERE IT IS BEHIND YOU!

We're not going to fall for that grandpa.

Lousy kids.


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