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Analog

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Ionner didn’t think long before he initiated the docking procedure. The screens of his agile frigate "Forager 002A-IV” showed residual electromagnetic activity on the wreck of CA-401 cruiser "Broderick”. It was probably coming from emergency devices maintaining power supply. Its engines and launchers have been disassembled from the hull. Disassembled, not destroyed. It looked like the Empire of The Third Sun abandoned one of heir military ships. Maybe there was nothing left on it that was valuable to the disassembly team but Ionner was sure that he was going to find some useful junk. The army of the Empire of the Third Sun has never been very thorough when it came to clearing their units. After withdrawing a unit from liner service they usually removed the engines, power system and of course armament. They didn’t like to waste time on gutting and retrieving minor electronic devices and the crew’s equipment. "Broderick'' looked like fresh meat so Ionner had a chance to be the first Scavenger on it.

After he stepped aboard through a technical airlock he didn’t find any other Scavenger’s tag. So he was right, he was the first one there. He quickly marked the wall on the right with his sign right in the middle. According to the Scavengers’ code from then on until he left, the ship belonged to him and he had the right to collect and carry out as many things as he could. Afterwards, the ship would become available to everyone.

Ionner headed to the crew cabins. He didn’t find anything interesting in the first one but he removed a fully functional control panel from the door and a set of oxygen, smoke and toxin detectors. A good military detector was probably worth several dozen imperial credits. These things were always in demand. He wasn’t going to make a fortune on it but the ratio between working time and earnings made it a gravy train. Even if on the entire ship there was only one detector left in each cabin, in one day Ionner would have made a week’s worth of money. He was counting on something more though. After he’d found an almost new mobile holo player and a pack of stimulants with a dispenser he grinned from ear to ear. This was promising to be Hefty Haul.

He already made two laps back to his Forager with a backpack full of electronics and other valuable finds. The second time he returned onto his ship, he looked once again at the scanner screens and located the room on "Broderick” which was the source of electromagnetic activity. A sick bay - he thought - there always are multilayered emergency power systems. Maybe the soldiers missed something, like a cubic battery built into the automatics of a wall of respirators - he was daydreaming.

He entered the room cautiously, as usual. After all, since there was power there could have been an active alarm or some other light defense system. He was holding a gun in his right hand and a versatile welder in the other. Something fell on him from above and pierced his suit. Before he blacked out, he saw lights on the panel of a treatment table and a few medical robots going around in circles.

***

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Ionner woke up abruptly. He was tied to the treatment table. Instead of his right arm there was a cybernetic limb. The pain coming from it was enormous. He was under the impression that this sensation brought him around. He tried to move. Two medical robots leaned over him instantly. After a moment, he got dizzy but the pain started going away.

- You have been subsumed into my swarm - he heard a voice. It was coming from one of the robots standing near the medical table.

- What did you do to me? - Ionner was woozy and his voice was barely audible.

- We made a countertrade transaction. I know you’re quite familiar with barter. I installed a part of me in your body and in return I took your right arm. You’re a part of my swarm now. You became an Analog.

- What trade?

- Your-mine new hand is an integral part of my swarm. You can’t get rid of it or allow the lack of power because then you’ll die. To make things easier for you, Analog, I installed a standard power outlet in your-mine hand. When the hand requires charging it will inform you with an easy to understand, even for you, Analog, pain signal. I’m giving you, Analog, a part of the power over this limb as I took over your biological limb. I deem this transaction favorable for you. Submit to the Black Queen, live long and happily.

The medical robot that the voice came from undid the belts, which tied Ionner to the table. It stood still for a moment and then started going round in circles just as it was, when Ionner entered the sick bay.

Ionner sat up on the table and looked at his arm. It looked slightly odd but when he tried moving it, it turned out it was quite functional. It was almost like a standard prosthesis. It had a tendency to lag behind sent nerve signals. It was going to be as much as slightly annoying and shouldn’t be an obstacle in daily functioning.

Scavenger got up and approached the medical robots. He tried reprogramming them so they would follow him but they all seemed broken. He turned them off one by one and dragged them onto his ship. When he was fixing the last one in his cargo hold the new cyber limb started hurting. The pain was becoming stronger and stronger and Ionner felt pulsating burning in the spot, where the charging outlet was.

- Holy fuck - he cursed and walked up to a tool charger. The output was standard indeed so he had no trouble connecting the charger. At that very moment a spasm of orgasm jolted his body.

Charging the limb was pleasant. Access to the "Forager’s 002A-IV” was pleasant for the Black Queen.

***

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Four days later, after he’d packed the last working electronic junk retrieved from "Broderick” that might have been worth something, he sat down in the pilot's seat. He set a course for Etero, where his friend receiver was and started the engines.

However "Forager” took off in a completely different direction, straight to the Black Queen’s temporary nest. The ecstatic expression on the newly acquired Analog’s face suggested that Ionner had nothing against it.