Ivan, though he retained no olfactory unit in the slightest, could smell a rat. It was one thing Woodworth choosing to take his first vacation in two decades of Outer Galaxies employment, but another entirely that he chose the morning of Yrpa Minor Day as the moment in which to shuttle off into the cosmos. Frankly, it was enough to make his ocular feeds jitter and his PG.firewall to weather curses even 19th Century shellbacks would have thought twice about muttering. Nobody heard him, mind, he had switched to Silent.
That was the trouble with micro-managing a hit with a baker’s dozen of partially-conscious-entities, you never knew who paid for their batteries. That’s not to mention the admin involved in such an exploit. Everyone’s schedule ran concurrently, with no leeway to put down a grav-weld and take a minute to plan out the low-key murder of a lowly OG clerk who’d found himself on the wrong end of a spark-plug one evening. Quotas ad infinitum.
Ivan had been over at Umpteen Appliances, talking nice to a renal unit by the name of Testing-1-2-3. He was fairly certain he had pulled her matrix, when there was a scuffle just on the edges of his periphery.
A sizzle, a spark and a sprint.
Immediately intrigued, Ivan tweaked his vision, something about the gait of the man had struck familiar even at this distance. A bar of white suddenly appeared where teeth would have appeared on a flesh-bag; Ivan’s version of a grin. A quick Movement Pattern Scan proved his theory correct. It was his paymaster, Phineas Emeritus Woodworth. Fancy that.
Ivan found the Homindroid heaving and sputtering its last, eye-shutters morsing a description of its attacker. It was keeled over by the trash, its wires dangling in oil puddles. It had puncture wounds in its neck and torso. Ivan had taken a step back at that, no need to be overly helpful. He’d only just had an overhaul himself a month back.
So he lingered just out of arm’s reach, submitting his warbling compatriot to a full diagnostic. It was a Newark B7 with only 9,456 days on the clock. Practically fresh off the factory floor. He twinged with jealousy.
“Friend of yours?” Ivan asked, pointing a thumb in the direction of Phineas’ escape. Any stick, no matter how inconsequential, thrown then and he’d have tracked it like a bloodhound. This is what servitude did to a robot, drove him to extremes such as this to get one over on a Squidgy.
The Hominidroid coughed sparks. “Friends do-do-do-do-do thisssss?” His head began to judder and shake uncontrollably, his vocalizer locked in a feedback loop.
Ivan was practically giddy. He’d been looking for the right amount of dirt to take Phineas to the cleaners for the better part of twelve years. He could nigh on taste success. “What did he do? Gosh, please tell me it was fraud?”
It hadn’t been, but it had been just as juicy. Ivan had followed it up like the diligent droid he was, crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on the kill contract he’d brokered with a particularly rude man by the name of Finkelbottom. Edmere Finkelbottom III. His only preference: that Ivan do him like he’d done his daughter, by taking away everything she owned in the most demoralizing of manners. So, just what he’d been planning since the day they had met, then.