An Age of Exploration

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Scientific colony UX30 was in a slow, steady orbit around a larger than average moon in orbit around Galva-UX308-A. The planet that showed signs of life in the form of plants and some ground based creatures, though the atmosphere was almost entirely toxic. This made it somewhat of an anomaly to the greater scientific community and as such, was assigned its own small scientific outpost. Having learned from previous mistakes on a number of exploratory missions an organic crew was not dispatched with the station, instead a small contingent of robotic crew members were assigned to the station. These androids would be able to land on the surface of the moon, collect samples of the organic life there and take it back to the station for analysis. Should anything of immense significance be discovered either an organic contingent of workers might be dispatched, or more likely, organic scientists would simply remotely connect to one of the many android units on the station and take control of them to continue work.

Though the idea of remotely working on an alien species from a remote location was enticing, no one in the scientific community wanted to simply be in control of empty shells. As a solution a hiring campaign was devised, offering the budding artificial being community the opportunity to not only have high level scientific programming installed for free, but also offered a well paying job in an industry on the cutting edge of science, discovery, and technology. These were the kind of advertisements that had been plastered around cities, displayed on social media and what had specifically drawn Heather to the program.

Heather was assembled a mere two months before the program launched, originally built and hired on as a waitress at a cafe that had her custom built for their particular aesthetic. She was slender, pale, and looked to be in her early twenties. Her skin was flawless in every sense of the word, save for one simple silver ring that pierced her left nostril. She seemed to be permanently configured to have winged eyeliner and smooth, natural looking makeup. Her owner never asked if she applied the look every day or if it was just part of her face plate. All of this made her look like a typical young woman in most ways, the only divergence was the dark blue hair that faded gently into a soft purple, nearly red, colour.

When the business failed the owner was forced to sell all the equipment he had purchased, including Heather and several other androids. The new owner had no use for them as the space was being renovated into an office building once everything was torn out and Heather’s unique look wasn’t one that would mesh well with a professional atmosphere. So, Heather was officially released with nothing but a spare set of clothes, a severance package and whatever programming she had installed already. So, Heather had found herself on her own with nothing more than a pair of tight black jeans and a grey strapless top. It was a few days of wandering her city, looking for job posting and utilizing the city provided power stations before she came across the listing for the deep space research programs and had signed up immediately.

The introduction to the program was simple, she was assigned a research platform and then the appropriate programming was downloaded into an internal storage drive located somewhere inside her torso, and then she was loaded into a charging and stasis pod. All of that was a much more polished way of saying an underpaid I.T. technician plugged a cable into the data port hidden under a patch of flesh and hair on the back of her skull and loaded a package of software and protocols into her file structure. Once that was done she was shut down and placed inside a full body hard plastic box with a power cable in it. She was plugged in to power via a thick black cable that was plugged in to the port just above her left breast, and then sealed in place. Some paperwork was printed out and taped onto her container with cheap blue tape and she was loaded into a storage hold until her particular mission was ready to commence. Heather didn’t have to wait very long though, the small exoplanet at the far reaches of explored space was discovered and she was loaded into a supply rocket, bound for the space station that had recently been constructed in orbit. Like her induction into the program she was treated, for lack of a better word, like an object. Heather’s storage container was hauled in by a crew of humans, slotted into the storage bays, and then left there. One of them signed off on the delivery and then simply left her there. Nestled among three other storage containers holding similar android volunteers, she waited until the command came through to activate and begin work.

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Nearly an hour after the organic delivery crew had restocked their own supplies, delivered everything they were tasked with and disengaged the station, Heather received the signal to activate. Her eyes opened smoothly and darted around her surroundings. Everything was so solidly black that the complex artificial mind she had installed wondered for a moment if her optical systems were malfunctioning. Just as she was about to open a service ticket to the I.T. department there was a small hissing sound, as if some great seal had been broken. Appearing to her left was a thin sliver of light that forced her to squint as the irises in her artificial eyes quickly adjusted to the sudden change in brightness. The lid to her storage container continued to open until she was able to see all her surroundings.

Her container was upright, in some kind of cradle that was designed specifically for these types of containers. At the bottom of the cradle was a series of gold plated contacts that lined up perfectly with a matched set of contacts on the bottom of the container. These provided the power, data, and system monitoring while an android was plugged in to one. Heather’s eyes swiveled down towards her chest, her shirt appeared to be pulled down and tucked under one of her small mounds. Her bra was still in place, or at least appeared to be, it was definitely not how she left it all those weeks ago when she had entered the pod. She muttered a curse and pulled her simple dark grey halter top shirt back into place before moving her hand up to the power cable jutting from her chest.

Heather wiggled the plug back and forth until it came loose from the panel in her chest and she let it drop next to her. There was a nearly inaudible whirr as the panel in her chest slowly but surely slid down from its hiding place inside of her and then out until it sealed into place. She had to exert a little bit of force to free her head from the form fitting layer of foam wrapped around her head and her feet. She stepped out and onto the hard polymer floor of the space station with a dull clomp from her ankle high boots. She had just taken the first breath of fresh air to help cool her processors when she heard a hissing noise. She jumped to one side and yelped as her head swiveled in the direction of the noise.

Two pods down from her own, another flat grey pod was opening, the emblem of the science colony printed across the front of it. Heather stood there, simply waiting, as the pod opened and after a moment another android stepped out. A tall man, constructed to look in his early to mid thirties stood there, looking around the station. He was currently wearing a pair of tan coloured slacks and a light blue polo shirt, tucked in to the slacks. His hair, though clearly distressed from the foam packaging, looked to normally be naturally slicked back. It was a light chestnut colour and his over all look reminded Heather of an all too stylish math teacher. “Hey.” Heather said, trying not to startle the newcomer.

“Shit!” The new android jumped back, one hand darting to the side of the pod he had stepped out of to steady himself.

“Oh god, i'm so sorry!” Heather replied, holding out a hand, palm out as a gesture of peace towards him.

“It’s fine, god, I just wasn’t expecting anyone else to be here.” He said, finally looking towards Heather. As he did his eyebrows visibly shot up, and gave him the distinct look of surprise as he looked towards Heather. The incredibly powerful camera-like optics behind Heather’s eyes clearly saw the look and her processors went to work matching the expression against an internal database of known expressions and possible meanings. It was a series of processes that Heather’s artificial mind didn’t even consciously begin, it simply happened because of a block of coding attempting to gather as much data from around her as possible.

The automated series of events as she tried to analyze the newcomers facial expression was a new addition, it was part of the codebase that was installed specifically for scientific observations. Before joining the program Heather could have walked down the street and seen hundreds of people looking at her and never once attempted to identify anything other than the physical space they occupied and the best way to move around them. Now though, she was gathering as much data and integrating it as possible. In the blink of an eye, her processors had finished the query and come up with a few results. Either this man was surprised to see her as he thought he might be alone on the station, or he wasn’t expecting a young pretty girl to be his research partner. Her systems registered a high likelihood of the latter.

As her operating system registered the look that she was being given, everything in her social programming took over the once analytical tract her operating system had been on. Small injectors just below her cheeks and upper chest filled portions of her synthetic skin with pinkish red dye, causing the girl to blush slightly. Her eyes dropped a fraction and turned sideways, accurately simulating her looking away from the newly activated android. After only a second she looked back up towards the man and adorned a coy and almost distant look to her face.

“Sorry, no, it wasn’t you I just wasn’t expecting there to be anyone else up here.” He said, his voice deep and smooth. He shook his head and stood up straight and took one step forward, holding his hand out in front of him. “Anthony, or Tony if you like.”

“Heather.” She said planely, taking Tony’s hand and shaking it while smiling.

“Well, I am certainly glad to have some company up here. I wasn’t looking forward to months of isolation.” Tony said before letting out a sigh.

“Right, same. So uh, do you know if we are just supposed to come back here to charge or if we have orders or what?” Heather said.

“Charge? What do you mean?” Tony said before a moment of dawning realization hit him. “Oh, ohh. You’re an android! Got it. Uh yeah I would think that your kind would need a charging station of some kind.”

Heather tilted her head to the side and briefly glanced at the pod, identical to the one she had been shipped in, then back to Tony. Her new information and analytical coding snapped into gear, discerning that Tony must be one of the rare androids in the world that were specifically programmed to operate as if he was a human. Heather’s operating system made a note to treat him as such. Her scientific programming handed off the information to her socially oriented code handlers.

“Oh uh, right. Yeah I’m an android...s-sorry for assuming you were I just figured..” Heather trailed off for a moment and Tony burst into laughter.

“Gotcha! Of course I’m an android too!” Tony continued to laugh heartily, even as Heather’s lips pursed to one side and her eyebrows lowered to lend her an unamused look. Soon, though, her social programming caught on to what had happened, and she even let out a few chuckles herself before eventually smirking at Tony.

“Good one, jerk.” Heather said with a mock anger in her simulated voice.

“That’s me. But yes, I’m fairly sure we recharge here.” He said, nodding towards the containers. “Have you been online long up here?”

“No, I came online just before you did. I haven’t even taken more than three steps on the station.” Heather replied.

“Well, shall we take our own self guided tour of our new abode then?” Tony said, and Heather smiled and nodded in return. The pair stepped out of the cargo bay and into a hallway, finding that the cargo bay was at the end of the hall. The walls lining the hallway didn’t look finished, there was no paneling on it, it was simply exposed silvery ribbed tubes, wiring and bulkheads. Set into the right side of the wall were three evenly spaced doors. Each sporting a silver handle that opened the lock. The pair looked in each one and found all three to be bunk rooms; apparently the station could support up to twelve human occupants and five robotic crew members. On the opposite side of the hall were more doors, leading to a kitchen and mess hall which was a considerably large room, able to comfortably house an entirely full crew complement, as well as provide some small entertainment. There was a large central dining table with chairs and a few smaller tables scattered around the room. A corner of the lounge was outfitted with a series of shelves meant to contain books and other entertainment items and several comfortable looking chairs.

Across the lounge was another doorway leading to another hall. This one had a single larger room, outfitted with a comfortable looking single bed, writing desk, and storage, clearly the commanding officer's bedroom and office combination. There were bathrooms with pressure toilets and sinks and at the end of the hall what appeared to be a large observation deck. The room was roughly spherical, the majority of the walls were curved and clear glass panels. A few comfortable chairs were placed there and each one would allow for someone to have a somewhat private view of the inky black void of space and the hopeful twinkling stars that interrupted that void. Dominating the center of the spherical rooms view was a green and orange tinted planetoid below. It wasn’t actually a planet, but an abnormally large moon, it was the focus of Heather and Tony’s assignment.

“Wow.” Heather said, her social programming modifying the word to make it sound as if simply opening her mouth to utter it had rushed the air from her.

“Agreed” Tony said in response.

The view was incredible, distractedly so. It quickly became apparent why a separate corner was set aside for reading in the lounge and not here. The simple vastness and beauty of space was too much to not stare at. The two artificial beings stood there, simply observing for almost a full minute. Heather’s programming had just started to formulate requests to truncate the running observation software when she blinked twice and turned away. Tony did as well, his own programming running similar threads as Heather’s. The two looked towards each other and in that moment understood each other a little better. Their artificial minds might have collected different experiences while in operation, and might have even looked at the world through a different set of protocols, but they both knew that there was only one way to look at the terror and the beauty of deep space, and that was with awe.

Walking back to the lounge and out into the hallway they looked left and saw that the hall ended in a final door. Opening it the pair found what must be the largest space on the entire station. The walls were no longer exposed tubing and electronics, but instead were covered with white paneling. Fluorescent lights cast an all too bright light on every corner of the room, and between the lighting panels were large ventilation grates. Below the grates were what looked to be enormous square plexiglass tanks. Computer terminals were mounted to each case and a stainless steel work bench next to each tank. Around the perimeter were more work benches, with equipment and instruments of all kinds. The room had all the trappings of a state of the art research lab, complete with pure white lab coats hanging on pegs next to the door.

Heather was the first to step in and turn in a full circle, taking it all in. She smiled brightly, not because she had a particular interest in the incredible gift of a laboratory, but because the scientific programming she had installed was linked into her social programming and the joy of seeing all the potential caused her to be thrilled. Tony had a similar reaction, fast stepping to the various equipment tables and looking at all the items there. Both of the androids knew that this would be an interesting stay aboard the station.

Heather and Tony spent the next week getting acquainted with each other and found that the two of them had more than a few things in common. They had both been constructed in the same state, though separate factories. While Heather had been built to be a waitress, Tony had been purpose built as a teacher at a high school. When told about his career Heather had to chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Tony asked, raising an eyebrow and looking quizzically at Heather.

“Nothing, just that when you first stepped out of your pod I thought you looked like a math teacher, and I was right!” Heather said.

“I don’t know if I should feel insulted or not” was Tony’s first reply before he also began to laugh, admitting to himself that he did look the part. The two laughed and as time progressed the two became close friends, sharing evenings gazing into space on the observation deck, or days bantering back and forth in the lab as automated drones collected samples from the toxic yet mysteriously verdant moon below them. The samples collected were placed into the large plexiglass tanks in the lab where observations could be made and data collected and logged.

Tony was the first to speak up about the relationship between the two of them. It was clear it was something he had been dwelling on for a while. Heather and Tony were spending some time on the observation deck while the automated tasks in the lab recorded data on a spore sample that was nearly the size of a cantaloup. Tony tore his gaze away from the stars beyond the glass and looked towards Heather. The two of them really only had one set of clothes that they wore at all times, mostly because the issued jumpsuits that were tacky, so the two wore what they had been shipped in, occasionally donning the white lab coats when they were working.

“Hey uh, Heather.” Tony said, glancing across the observation deck towards her.

“Hm?” Tony’s words had broken her concentration on the inky blackness.

“Do you- or I guess are you programmed to feel like, uh, I guess, loneliness?” Tony said, for the first time stumbling over his words. Heather secretly admitted to herself that it was charming and that she was a little jealous, if she could feel such a thing, of Tony’s social programming. It was clearly more robust than her own. Despite that, she knew what he meant.

“Yeah, I have felt that.” Heather curled up her legs against her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “I was built to be a waitress you know. In this like, punk goth themed place that was only cool for a little while and then it all dried up. I never had my own place or anything, I just recharged in the back room. The owner eventually had to sell the business and I lost my job, which is how I ended up here. I was built to look and act perfectly human in every way, EVERY way, but I never got to experience anything other than just taking orders and mixing drinks and stuff.”

Heather paused for a moment and turned her attention back to the stars. “I’ve only been online for a little over a year now, but, I just feel like there’s so much-”

“That you’re missing out on?” Tony finished her sentence for her. Heather turned and looked at Tony, who was also looking out at the stars again.

“Yeah” Heather said, turning back to look out the windows. The room was silent for a while, the gentle hum of the station was a soothing backdrop. Tony broke the silence,

“We have all this time alone up here. Maybe we could help each other out?” Tony said, he knew it was a long shot, but Heather seemed to be in the same place as he was.

“Yeah, I think I’d like that.” Heather replied, turning to meet his eyes and smiling with genuine joy and excitement, at least her social programming made her face look like that and tagged much of the interaction with positive metadata.

It didn’t take long for the two androids to stand and then meet in the middle of the large sphere shaped observation deck. Their lips pressed against each other’s and to Heather’s surprise, for the first time in her existence her sexual programming began to load into her cache. From a logical standpoint, she knew exactly what to expect, she was built and programmed to be as close to a human analog as possible. Her complex A.I. knew what the human body goes through when it becomes aroused, but raw data is a pale comparison to the sensation of it actually happening.

Heather physically felt the small pumps inside of her hips whirr to life and begin to move synthetic lubricants towards her crotch. The lining inside her sexual assembly opened tiny pores and allowed some of the lubricants to begin to slowly seep in. Her heads up display showed a noticeable increase in CPU temperature and caused her to draw in deeper breaths to help cool it. Even without and active thought she felt her arms raise up and wrap around Tony, just as one of his hands pressed into her lower back and the other on the back of her head. The sensor laced flesh along her scalp registered his hands intertwining with her hair and she felt herself being pressed into his chest with her own. Similar to her own sexual systems, it seemed that Tony’s were just as active. Heather felt the stiff bulge in Tony’s slacks pressing into her. She was shorter than he was, which made it easy for her to break the kiss slightly and look up into his eyes. Even though no information passed between the two, they both reacted at the same time.

Heather’s hands flew down to the bottom edge of her shirt and dragged it up and off of her, the hem of it bundling up her hair and causing it to fly in wild blue and purple cascades as it tumbled out of her shirt. She dropped her top to the floor and quickly went to work reaching behind her back and unfastening her bra, allowing her small, but well proportioned breasts to contact open air. She wasted no time in working the snap and zipper on her black jeans while simultaneously kicking off her ankle high boots. Tony, similarly, had unbuttoned his shirt and let it fall off of his shoulders before furiously working the slacks free. Heather was nude before Tony, but only just barely, but it allowed her a brief opportunity to admire his construction. Designed to be fit, without looking like a bodybuilder, and slender without looking skinny. He was, by all accounts, what most people would describe as the ideal man. Heather was very sure that the school he had been a part of ordered several of the same model and then simply put a different head and face on each one for diversity sake.

The two androids met again, their naked bodies now pressed into each other and Heather could feel the heat radiating off of Tony’s body, particularly around his chest. The pair soon found themselves lowering to the deck of the observation room, their mechanical legs lowering their bodies as one in a calculated movement. Heather found herself laying on her back, the sensor laden flesh along her back registering exactly how cold it was, and the data was passed to her body control mechanisms. A whole subsystem and code base dedicated to the simple small actions that made her look just enough like a human that most people wouldn’t second guess her. Her artificial flesh puckered all over and goose bumps raised ever so slightly off of her body.

Tony was laying across her, supporting his upper half with his hands pressed into the cold plastic floor, while his legs angled his already hard manhood right for Heather’s own waiting artificial pussy. With an easy thrust of his hips he was inside of her and both robots let out their own pre-recorded groan. Heather’s arms came up and wrapped around Tony’s body, her nails scratching in to his back as his hips moved back and forth, sliding his own robotic cock in and out of Heather. The two rocked back and forth, moaning in lewd pleasure. The gentle rotation of stars outside the window was the backdrop for the sheer passion the two were engaged in. It was only the first of many times the pair would come together over the next few days. Both found that the feeling of sexual pleasure brought them a sort of high that simple research and social interaction didn’t.

After Heather and Tony had finished their first love making session, and claimed each other's virginity, they sat in the comfortable chairs on the observation deck. Both were panting, sucking in breath after breath of fresh clean air to cool their processors after the intense amount of processing power they had utilized. Once both of their processor cores had come down to a safer heat level and all remaining processes cleared the queue, Heather and Tony stood and redressed. Naturally they spent some more time kissing each other and then walked back towards the laboratory, hand in hand.

When they got in there, Tony was the first to notice the flashing red alert on one of the monitors affixed to the side of one of the observation tanks. Something had changed in the containment tank while the pair was away. Heather stooped forward and tucked a strand of her blue and purple hair behind her ear to prevent it from falling in front of her eyes. Inside the containment tank there had been an anomalously large fungal ball. Thinking it was some kind of spore based fungus cap the automated drones had carefully extracted it and the foliage it was attached to and brought it to an air tight and environmentally controlled container then returned it to the station. From there Tony and Heather had carefully loaded it into the observation tank and began monitoring it.

Tony was already scanning through the video footage of the container while Heather was doing her best to simply observe the current state of the container. The cameras behind her false eyeballs recorded everything she observed as she scanned the tank. There was some residue on the upper edges of the tank near the ventilation grates and plenty more of the residue on the grate itself.

“It looks like this was some kind of sack and it burst upward. Forcefully from the looks of it” Heather observed out loud. Moments later Tony had the video footage up on his screen and from the looks of it Heather had been correct, the globe had begun pulsating slightly before rupturing at the top. A cloud of green and grey spores had burst out of it and coated much of the inside of the tank.

“Gross.” Was Tony’s only response, but he logged the event and continued to let the internal cameras record the tank. Soon the computer terminal was monitoring changes in temperature, environmental factors and chemical compositions inside the tank. Little did either android know that the spores that had launched themselves upwards into the ventilation shaft were beginning to grow and clump together. Even in the short amount of time the alien plant based life form had begun to take shape. Before the end of the day an organic creature would have sprouted limbs and begun to feed on whatever it could find in the exposed electronics within the nearly three foot wide and equally tall ventilation tubes the criss crossed the entire station.

Over the course of the next week Heather and Tony recorded a drastic increase in nutrient rich plant growth in the area around the exploded cap, and devised that this was, perhaps, a means of spreading its seed to other locations. The working theory was that the plants would grow and still contain some of the spore like DNA, which was then eaten by other creatures and then spread via fecal matter. The pair were thrilled that on their first mission they had the opportunity to discover something of this magnitude and were genuinely delighted with every report they logged.

When Heather and Tony weren’t making observations and running any number of tests on samples of plant life from the moon below them, they spent time charging, but only just enough to refill their power cells, as the intoxicating thrill of sexual intercourse with each other filled their synthetic minds. They soon learned that their robotic bodies allowed them to engage in sexual acts that no human ever could. Heather had gone so far as to take a system snapshot of a particularly interesting session. Heather’s palms were pressed against the curved glass of the observation deck once more, her legs spread wide. Tony was behind her, he had his penis in hand, hard and read, but disconnected from his body. A small bundle of cables ran from the sexual organ into the opening left in his own body. He then inserted his cock inside of Heather and manually withdrew it before thrusting it back inside using only his hands.

It wasn't until a week later, nearly two weeks after the alien fungus cap had burst, that Heather and Tony noticed that something was amiss on the station. The two had been recharging, on average, for around six hours at a time. This would give them a full charge from a nearly empty power cell without wasting time. Heather and Tony both stepped out of their respective recharging stations after six hours only to discover that their power cells were still not fully charged.

“Huh, that’s weird” Heather said, furrowing her brow. “I only got recharged to sixty seven percent.”

“Hm, odd, I am a little more full, eighty eight percent here.” Tony said in response.

The two looked quizzically at each other for a moment and after making a brief inspection of the charging pods found that nothing seemed to be out of place or loose. Both had shrugged their shoulders and stepped back into their pods. Heather commanded her charging port to be reopened and inserted her power cable back into place before slipping back into a low power mode and waiting for her power cell to fully recharge. Tony did the same but before he powered down made a scheduled reminder to do a more thorough inspection of the pod when they were finished.

Within a half an hour of the two robotic occupants of the station powering down, there was movement on the station. One of the ventilation grates in the first crew quarters clattered open and fell to the floor. Along with it came a dusty brown shape. The creature shook a bulbous upper appendage that might have served as its head for a moment as if shaking off a daze and rose to its full height. Standing on a pair of legs that bent backwards until it stood on a set of four sharp toe-like feet. The claws were varied in length, the two inner claws were short, and thin, clearly meant for slicing, while the two outer claws were longer and thicker.

At nearly four feet tall the creature was composed entirely of toned muscle under brown flesh stretched thinly over the whole body. Sprouting from either side of the beast were two pairs of arms. While skinnier that the thick legs, they showed no signs of lacking in musculature. Three spindly claw tipped fingers protruded from the end of each arm. As it stood there, the fingers seemed to be in perpetual motion, gently swaying up and down. Topping a neck that was filled with sinew and muscle was a wide head. On either side of the elongated cranium were sacks just below the fleshy hairless exterior. They gently inflated and deflated in rhythm, as if it were breathing. At the end of the snout a wide mouth opened to reveal sickly yellow teeth, angled inward so that anything caught in its jaws would struggle and tear in its escape attempt.

As the mouth opened two long tentacle appendages, tipped slender pads and covered in suction cups fell from either side of the inner mouth and twitched and spasmed slightly. The creature cocked its head from one side to the other, looking more like it was listening rather than looking. In fact, the being had no apparent eyes at all, but instead had the same brown hairless flesh stretched over the entirety of its skull. As it turned its head one of the tentacles twitched slightly and the thing instinctively turned that direction. It stomped across the small room to the wall and after another moment of sensing the area with its tentacle, it rose up one of the pads and slapped it against the light switch on the wall. The lights in the room immediately flickered and dimmed as the creature appeared to be feeding on the electrical output. As it ingested the electrical feast it snarled and grumbled, the sound undulating out from its throat.

Tony’s pod opened long before Heather’s would and he stepped out onto the cool floors of the station. His own social programming compelled him to look towards Heather’s recharging station and smile fondly, the same way a human would if they were looking upon a loved one who was sleeping soundly. Tony walked past her pod and down the main hallway towards the research lab. As he passed the first set of crew quarters though, he heard a small noise, a sort of snoring or grumbling. He stopped and looked at the door, wondering if there might have been a human crew member who had arrived while he was in his charging cycle. He pressed his hand into the authenticator pad and the electrodes in the hand scanner read the certificate that Tony’s systems were broadcasting, allowing the door to open upwards with a swoosh.

Tony’s eyebrows shot up quickly as a look of shock, surprise, and horror crossed his robotic face. There, standing at the ready in the middle of the room, mere inches in front of the door was the open mouth of the alien creature. Wicked serrated teeth were on display and before Tony could yelp or move, a tentacle came streaking at him from inside the mouth. The appendage slapped into Tony’s throat and the small suction cups along the fleshy tip of it held fast to his synthetic skin. Small needles shot from the suction cups, piercing into Tony’s skin and to the flowing electrical current in the circuit below. His vision filled with a scrambled static pattern as alerts and warning flashed across his vision. His last log files were a jumbled mess of code and attempted entries.

Nearly an hour passed before Heather’s eyes opened in the familiar darkness of her recharging pod. She gently tugged the power cable free from inside of her chest and simply let it fall, with an idle command from her operating system the panel in her chest closed itself and resealed. . She waited a moment or two for the pod to open but it didn’t. There was an attempt by the mechanism to push open the heavy lid like door, but it didn’t do anything more than whine weakly before the motors finally gave up and stopped moving. Heather’s head tilted slightly to one side as her analytical and observation oriented programming took over. She placed a hand on the door and pushed it outward. The door gave little resistance and eventually opened fully.

Heather found the station beyond her recharging pod to be not entirely as she had left it. The lights were flickering at seemingly random intervals, casting strange shadows all around the cargo bay. Her head whipped to the side and saw that Tony’s pod was already open and vacant, though he was nowhere to be found in the room. Heather stepped lightly across the floor of the cargo bay and peered down the hallway. Just like the cargo hold the lights were flickering and having trouble deciding if they should remain off, or spring to life. Heather scanned the hall, and though her eyes were constructed to capture images in high definition, they were by no means designed for this type of environment.

“Hello? Tony…?” She called down the empty hallway. For a moment she heard nothing other than the angry electrical buzz of the overhead lights. Then, for a moment, all the lights and power seemed to return to the station as if nothing had happened. She heard a subdued hiss from just up the hallway and her operating system devised that perhaps Tony was exiting one of the rooms. Her robotic eyes swiveled in the direction of the sound only to see a pair of legs protruding from an open door way. The door falling from the ceiling down and hitting the legs before detecting an impact and raising back up, only to repeat again.

Heather dashed forward, recognizing the slacks and dress shoes to be Tony’s, but when she rounded the door to look into the room she could only yelp and fall backwards, bracing herself against the exposed ventilation tubes and electronics of the exposed hallway walls. Tony lay face down on the floor, his head chewed roughly from his neck by what looked to be vicious teeth. The head itself lay across the room, his face still locked in a look of terror and simulated pain. Heather had expected there to be parks and electricity arcing across the cables that were severed and jutting out from inside his neck, but there was none. A complex array of chemical analysis receptors in her nose told her operating system that there was an increase in carbon monoxide and other toxins in the air, signs that some time recently there had been smoking electronics in here.

Heather left the gruesome sight behind her and moved up the hallway towards the laboratory, hoping that there would be some kind of reason or better yet, video surveillance of whatever incident had taken Tony offline. Moving up the hall, she passed the porthole leading to the hallway that ended in the observation deck. As she always did, she peeked down the hall to catch a glimpse of the stars beyond. As Heaters eyes fell upon the star field and the moon below, she saw the silhouette of something else as well, standing around four feet tall and grumbling, the sound reverberating down the hall.

Heather’s operating system, in conjunction with her artificial intelligence, immediately formulated a plan and caused her legs to sprint down the hall at the maximum speed possible. Even as she ran, she could hear the thumping footsteps of whatever it was pursuing her. She dashed into the lab and swung her hand wide, trying to land the palm of it on the authenticator panel. She managed to only get two fingers on the panel and was forced to look over at it to try and realign her hand, but it was no use, whatever was chasing her was too close, the door would never be shut in time.

Heather ran across the room and put one of the examination tables between her and the creature. As it came into the vibrant light of the lab she could see in clear detail the greenish brown skin covering the bulbous head. Her eyes darted to the four claw tipped arms, noting the presence of what appeared to be artificial flesh clinging to them. Her scientific programming was triggered and her eyes immediately began recording the creature, saving data to an internal storage disk, but to her detriment, also using several of the CPU cores in her chest to render and save the video. Heather felt her movements lagging as her processors were busy. To her continuing horror, the creature opened its mouth and two flesh and sucker tipped tentacles came streaking towards her. Heather found that she was fast enough to duck out of the way of the one aimed at her throat, but the other latched onto her left wrist. Heather, in accordance with her self preservation programming, pulled her arm back in an attempt to break free. As she did, the sensors in her artificial skin alerted her to the pin prick of small needles stabbing into her hand. Before she could even process the implications of this, she felt the power fail in her hand and up her arm. She realized in that moment that this creature must feed on electricity, making this entire station and herself a feast. She also knew exactly what had happened to Tony. Heather then felt herself being pulled towards the open and waiting mouth of the creature, it was clearly trying to reel her in. Even as she pulled back, the tentacle held fast. She sent the command to disconnect her arm, but because of the angle she was at, the locking mechanisms held until her arm was in a neutral position.

Pressing her lips together, Heather knew what to do. She lifted her booted foot to the counter top and used it to pull back, turning her torso as she did so to maximize the distance between herself and the alien. She strained and she was beginning to receive damage reports from the shoulder joint. Just as she closed that last window in her field of vision there was a distinct ping, and her body was flung backwards by the force of her arm breaking inside the joint. The power cables and data lines were still intact for a fraction of a second, as was the artificial flesh wrapped around her shoulder. As she flew backward and tumbled into a workbench, the skin on her shoulder ripped haphazardly around her shoulder and the cabling inside of it frayed and snapped. Her now disconnected arm went limp in the grasp of the creature, who let it fall to the floor.

From where Heather sat, she looked over at where her arm had been, there was a large flap of thick flesh coloured material hanging loosely from her collar bone, and below it a small shower of sparks crackled and illuminated her body. The skin had pulled a long strand of flesh off and was already exposing some of the electronics inside of her chest. Blinking status LED’s were visible and under the right circumstances thick bundles of black data cabling could be seen, pinned in place to Heather’s internal framework. Heather had never seen inside herself before, and the mere sight of it caused her eyes to widen and her mouth to drop open. She was so used to looking down at her chest and only seeing human like breasts, not torn skin and electronics.

Heather didn’t have time to waste though, she looked up in time to see the creature that had attacked her vault cleanly over the desk, the wickedly sharp clawed feet aimed directly at her. Heather quickly scrambled to one side, attempting to crawl away, but her systems were attempting to use an arm that was no longer attached to her. Another brilliant flash of white light and a pop were heard alongside a whirring sound as Heather crashed forward onto the floor. She Kicked her feet wildly to try and push away but the creature landed on them. Her vision once again filled with alerts of sectors of pierced skin along her thighs and calves. Worse still, Heather could hear the sound of her own flesh being torn off of her legs as the two small inner claws worked independently to dig into Heather's legs.

Heather was undeterred and struggled to free herself, and in response the creature pinned down her legs and crouched down, putting Heather’s back in range of the four claw tipped hands. Even though they were far less muscular than the legs, they were more than enough to slam into her back and tear away great sections of the skin like coating there. More of Heather’s electronic and robotic inner workings could be seen, and the arms tore into it, seemingly with glee. Heather was bombarded with alerts, errors and messages about more and more of her systems going offline.

Her eyes became unfocused, the small internal iris inside her camera like eyes losing power and relaxing. Her mouth hung open, though her voice poured out.

“Alert, hos-hostile creature de-detected-ted. Engaging sel- error, pelvic module off-off-offline. Offline. Please- alert, critical dam-damge sustained.”

Her head swiveled from side to side as she spoke, the movement was no longer the smooth easy movement she had been built to perform, instead they were stunted jerking motions. Each one taxing the small motors in her neck to move her head in different directions at the same time. The creature perched on her back stopped ripping free flesh and cables when it came to the metal plating inside of her back that protected her power core. The microphones inside of Heather’s ears registered the squealing sound of the claws raking across it several times. The creature was clearly becoming frustrated and Heather’s voice continued to announce more and more damage. The alien’s large head turned to look at the source of the noise and it opened its jaws wide, barking twice at Heather. Heather was incapable of doing anything other than spouting the most base level of information from her operating system, and in response the creature on her back stepped forward, pressing its massive foot into Heather’s back and placing much of its weight on it. Heather’s delicate feminine body wasn’t built to withstand that much force and in one sudden movement, her rib cage, constructed of hard plastics, crumpled inward and shattered.

The creature didn’t even register that Heather’s body was crumpling, instead it’s jaws clamped onto Heather’s head, and like an excited puppy, used its massive neck muscles to jerk her head back and forth on her neck. Heather’s systems were in a critical state now, and didn’t even register that one of the teeth had pierced into one of her eyes, another into her forehead and dented her metal skull inward. It didn’t take long before the creature had worn the metal spine inside of Heather’s neck free and in a sudden jerking motion to the left, Heather’s head went sailing across the lab. It impacted the very containment tank that the creature had been birthed in with a thump and then fell to the floor.

Heather’s face was a mask of neutral uncaring, her operating system had drawn power and resources from her social functions to attempt to reconcile the massive amount of data coming in about her body being torn to pieces. As luck might have it, Heather’s head landed with her facing her own body, allowing her one remaining eye to peer at the creature as it raked its claws against the metal plating in her back. Heather’s body was attempting to respond to another device being disconnected, and her one remaining arm flailed ineffectively against the floor. Small whisps of smoke curled out of the now ruined neck, as power and data cables shorted across one another. Eventually some of the plastics caught fire and Heather’s neck joint began to melt into pink and white sludge, dribbling in globs onto the exposed circuitry in her neck and onto the floor.

Heather’s head had lost power long before the plates in her back were torn free with a squeal, and a pair of tentacles lowered to her now exposed power core. Her body was flailing but as the creature drank the electrical life from her body, soon she lay still. The smoking stopped when the power ran out, and the fire that was melting the flesh around her neck and shoulders eventually subsided. Having drunk it’s fill, the creature lumbered off into the station to start making a nest from whatever scraps of cloth and electronics it could find. There it would lay more eggs and feast on the power that the orbital station provided.