Entering the grocery store, Karen O’Bien collected items like an automaton, deep in contemplation. In the morning there would be a vote on using emergency funding reserves to mobilize old war machinery world-wide. She didn’t really get a vote, but her decision would heavily influence the Minister of Defence. If they decided to abandon Earth’s co-operation with the Tasla in the bizarre search for a particular DNA sequence, they needed to do an all-out strike world-wide to quickly destroy the bots before they had time to retaliate. No one was quite sure just how much firepower the aliens could unleash if provoked, and she wasn’t keen on finding out. No one was. That was why for years they’d put up with the annoyances. Things were changing, though. The annoyances were becoming dangers as more of the population lost patience with expensive repairs and interruptions to their lives. Government hand-outs to appease angry scientists and medics were seriously draining resources. It couldn’t go on.
At the meat dispenser, she was about to press the button for lab-cultured roast beef, when she noticed a Tasla bot standing right beside the machine, just sitting there looking creepy. She hesitated, then went ahead and pushed the button. Before she could place the roast that was neatly dispensed into her cart, the bot intercepted it and stuck a biopsy implement deep inside.
“Hey!” She protested. Without thinking, she grabbed at the roast, getting her hands on it just as the bot pulled back out with a long cylindrical sample. The result was the metallic appendage snapping her wrist and thrusting her back. She grasped the limp wrist with her other hand, unable to do anything but moan in pain.
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