Everyone, Meet Ray-Ray

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Everything was still and silent for a moment. Then, the cage around them began to recede into the floor.

"You guys did it!" Ace jumped up.

"Yeah," Ivan said. "I was able to convince Betty that the cage was part of an invasive computer virus and the autonomic controls took over and killed it."

"We!" Hank said as he struggled to pull himself out of the open floor hatch with his stubby little legs. "We! Were able to convince the computer."

"Yeah," Ivan said with a smile. He pulled Hank out of the hatch and set him down. "It was a team effort. Thanks, Hanks."

"You got it, monkey man," Hank replied.

"But don't you think the bad guy is going to notice that you shook the whole ship to do it?" April asked.

"Oh. That wasn't us," Ivan said.

Ivan approached a computer panel on the wall. He extended his cyber implant spike and jammed it into a data port.

"I've gained the trust of some low-level systems," Ivan said. "I'm still locked out of the major stuff. It looks like he's got Betty's fabricators working overtime building something. The good news is he's routed most of the power away from Betty's security systems. Guess he thought we'd never break out of that cage."

"Dipshit!" Hank said.

"What's he making?" April asked.

"Looks like a tearing electron plasma inducer," Ivan said.

"A tearing electron what now?" Ace asked.

Ivan let out a sigh. "It's a type of gun that is capable of blasting a target on a cellular level."

Ace felt like a frog trying to figure out how to rebuild a starter motor on a hypercycle.

"He can cook a target from the inside out," Ivan explained slowly. "My guess is he could kill someone or give them cancer or a heart defect or something without anyone knowing he did it."

"Oh," Ace said. "Why not just blast the shit out of stuff with Betty's laser guns?"

"He's a murderous psychopath from the future," Ivan said. "I'm sure he's got his reasons. Probably doesn't want to call too much attention to himself. Make it look like a natural death."

"Hey, Grace," Hank said to Ace. "Pick me up so I can get a better look at that computer readout."

Ace hoisted Hank up. The information on the screen flew by far too fast for Ace to comprehend, so he started looking around the cargo bay, bored.

That's when he noticed a gray goo dripping out of the garbage recycler.

Small droplets accumulated in a little pool on the floor. The pool pulsated like sand on a vibrating drum and seemed to be inching itself ever so slightly towards Ace.

When the pool was about the size of Ace's palm, the droplets stopped falling, and the pool started snaking across the floor.

"Guys..." Ace said.

Everyone ignored him. Ivan and Hank were chattering about quantum somethings and trans-recta-who-knows-whats. Even April chimed in, asking for clarification on what Ivan would point out on the screen.

"Guys..." Ace repeated, shaking Hank a little to get his attention.

"What?" Hank shouted. "Fuck, man! What are you fucking trying to do? Make me puke? Stop shaking me."

"There's some weird stuff crawling across the floor over there," Ace said, turning so Hank could see.

"Shit!" Hank jolted, and Ace almost dropped him. "Where'd they come from? Holy shit! Put me down, Lace."

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