Well, this isn’t going to go any better than our last delivery. We managed to get into the docking bay, and with a little bit of rewiring, were able to close the bay doors that had been left open to space. The entire station is empty! We did briefly restore power, and then we got warnings about dangerous organisms being eradicated (us?), so we un-restored it quickly. Moving through the quiet station, we heard a few scratches and thumps in one of the waste disposal units. I wrapped back on the hatch, and was surprised to get one of those “voices in my head” that are usually just Widget or Lexx. This one said:
Hello? Is someone there?
I must have answered the same way, because my next “thoughts” were each answered:
My designation is I-9. . . . Maintenance and Repair unit. . . . There appears to be a malfunction in the door access. . . . It would appear there is a power malfunction.
We forced enough power into the hatch to open it for I-9. He and Widget must have been having a conversation without me, or I-9 is just programmed to be pleasant, because he’s been very helpful. Last he knew there were twenty-one others on the asteroid-station in addition to I-9: one in command, twelve scientists, six security, two maintenance workers. They just disappeared, right where they were standing, or eating, or working. We kept passing small piles of dust or ash, and… piles of clothing beside them. I was already getting a bad feeling, when I-9 explained that he hadn’t seen anything unusual, as he was in the waste unit clearing a clog of bio-matter. I asked if he’d managed, and he replied that it fixed itself. We are now going around and counting up dust piles/staff. I think we’d best wrap up our visit here, but do we leave the cargo? Not like they are going to pay, though perhaps I-9 would be a fair trade.