More on Andrews Ranch

This story section is damnably hard to write. Figuring out the tech and…yeah.

Here’s an example, from yesterday and today’s work.


The side of the device had opened as she joined Will. Long, slender, metallic claws with scythe-like talons extended from the opening as the first netspider grappled for a purchase to pull itself out. Will muttered codes but the netspider lurched onto the side of the device, raising itself high on its eight legs, preparing to leap. Diana’s skin crawled over old scars as she imagined those sharp claws digging into her skin. She still bore the marks of a Stephens soil sampler bot gone rogue in Vietnam, suddenly acting like a Landreth netspider.

“Stop, stop, STOP!” Will yelled. The netspider crouched. “Damn it, the thing isn’t listening to my overrides!” He yanked off his armored gloves and grabbed the netspider with his bare hands as it ignored him and launched itself at Diana. He screamed as the netspider dug into his palms.

Diana lunged to knock the netspider off of Will but he shook his head, moaning and gasping.

No,” he said, his voice low, quivering with agony. He continued, speaking through deep, painful-sounding gulps for air. “No. Bloodbond. Have. To. Bloodbond. My. Control. Overridden. Shouldn’t be!

Bloodbond? What the hell?!

Red lights began to flash less intensely in her overlays. Two turned yellow, then three, then all were yellow, as Will writhed in the grip of the netspider. Diana reached for Will but he shook his head again.

“Others. Watch. Use. Vocals. Stop.”

She stared at the device as a pair of claws waved from the opening, grappling like the first one had. Two yellow lights started to flash on the left side of her visual overlays.

“Left red!” she barked. It was similar to what she would have started to do to control a Do It Right or Stephens rogue bot.

The claws stilled but did not retreat back into the device. The yellow lights stopped flashing.

Good,” Will groaned. “Secondary. Controls. Stable. Just…need…gain…primary–there!”

As all of her lights turned green, the netspider in Will’s hands crumpled into a glittering ball and he flung it back into the opening. Hands shaking, he brushed the other two claws back inside. Diana cried out as she saw his bloody palms. Will ignored her cries and placed his hands on the device, muttering code phrases as he left crimson smears of blood on the device’s skin.

As Diana watched, the blood faded away.

Will growled inarticulately. “Not enough.” He fumbled at his armored pants pocket and yanked out a knife, popping it open and slashing across the blood vessels across the back of his left hand.


He looked at her, grimacing as the blood spurted and he pressed the back of his hand against the device. “I need more blood to make the bond.”

“No. Will, there’s got to be a better way!”

There is no other way, Diana.” The desolate, empty look he gave her chilled Diana to the bone. “Not with the 9572. Damn it, this one was supposed to be mine only!” Anger and anguish mixed in his voice. “But that bastard took her and twisted her, she doesn’t know me. Yet. But she will. Sooner or later, with enough blood, she will!”

“You’re talking about a machine as if it’s alive,” Diana breathed, staring as Will kept bleeding. Was it her imagination or had the device’s skin bulged to form a mouth? The skin rippled and a metallic fang extruded, plunging into Will’s hand. Helpless, Diana stared at Will and the device. “Oh god, Will. God.”

“What do you think I meant when I said Landreth Technologies required a blood price?” Will groaned and sank to his knees beside the device. “This is bloodbonding, Diana. This is interdicted LT tech.” He whimpered and leaned his head on the device. “It wants me back. Body and soul. Oh God. Oh God.”

“Will. No.” She wobbled to kneel beside Will, taking his other hand. It tightened on hers as hard as the armored glove would allow.

“Help,” Will moaned. “Secondary. Web. Activate. Novice. She’s going to take me, Di!”

No she’s not.” Diana gulped. She pulled her hand free from his and yanked off her glove, grabbing Will’s dropped knife and slashing her own hand.

Will grabbed at her bleeding hand, but she yanked it away. “Di, no! Not like this!

“It’s the fastest way, isn’t it?” She slammed her bleeding hand down hard on the device’s skin.

Will screamed as another fang extruded and plunged into her hand.

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