King kept his eyes dead forward as he climbed out of the lander. Never mind the gold waves to his left, or the dense foliage to his right. 108106 was the paramount focus of this scene. Beyond it he really wanted to take a look at SSSB-111.
As his boots hit the sand he noticed it felt extremely slippery at first. Then, as he applied his weight, it seemed to become extra-frictional. He felt the soles of his feet become slightly warmer. He leaned back into the cockpit to retrieve a locator from the dash and then stood upright to activate it.
The electronic fog that had shrouded the area was gone. He did see a narrow band transmission of noise coming from the tree line. It was powerful but he could see no source for it. As an afterthought he reached back into the lander and behind the seat. The 60mm plasma pistol along with its holster came free and he quickly slapped it to his right hip, un-snapped the lock-strap, and tapped the grip to warm the weapon up.
As 108106 sat in the sand about 30 meters away King played his fingers across the locator box. He tied it to the microphone and speakers in his collar, and shot a hail directly at 108106. The voice that came back seemed frightened. 108106 was not programmed for that.
“111 is jamming me from himself. I cannot lock on to it. I cannot lock onto any other of my SSSBs.”
“I’m on a locator box 108106. Can you show me where 111 is?”
The small screen went dark for a second as King looked down to it. Then an overhead graphic appeared and in the center was 108106. Off to the right, towards the foliage and slightly farther away was a target that kept fading in and out. He knew that had to be the little bugger. The target was, unfortunately, in the same area as the narrow band noise. He put his right hand on the pistol grip and went forward. His feet got warmer in the gold sand.
The walk was slightly taxing as this planet had a gravity pull just slightly higher than Earth. Kings feet got warmer than normal quickly and he attributed it to the extra pull. He kept his breathing deep and slow. The wind blew lazily in from the off the water and he kept his eyes moving from 108106s’ sleek cone shape and the tree line just up the beach from it.
“Issue your recall 108106. Get your SSSBs back onboard as soon as possible.” He could only hope the message got thru to the crickets. 108106’s report of being out of communication with all of its SSSBs did not in the least bode well.
Without the slightest pause 108106 replied, “Issuing recall.” Seconds later, “I am getting confirmation replies.” King couldn’t easily miss the glee in 108106’s voice.
King made a mental note to be wary not to step on anything that moved. His weight alone might not damage an SSSB but in this higher gravity that might not hold totally true. He also became aware of the gold mist rolling in off the lazy breakers. It was odd how far up the beach it was traveling. It was also leaving a fine deposit on his suit.
“Get 7574 in the loop and keep it informed.” King felt 7574 must still be engaged in its little search loop. Anything from the surface should be a good distraction.
“Attempting now.” 108106 replied. It then added, “I have return confirmations from 399 SSSBs.” …and then, “7574 has the full current report now.”
“Good. Get them aboard. Maintain your link with 7574.” King moved past 108106 and made the 20 degree turn towards the trees. 15 meters on he saw two SSSBs just out of the undergrowth, slowly trekking towards the beach.
“111, reply.” At his hail both SSSBs halted. King could only frown.
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