His glance moves around the space, looking for something else he can use as a weapon. A box he can hit me over the head with. A knife he can put to my throat. His complexion has gone ashy. These memories we’re generating right now are awful.
Adrenaline is tapering, and that goes into the file too, along with the feeling of staving off exhaustion. I say, “You can kill me, or try to kill me, and you’ll have that memory forever. So will anyone who gets your download. You can never go home again. Except we can’t never go home again. And then you’ll have to explain.”
“You can’t kill me for the same reason.”
“I don’t want to kill you.”
“Then what are you going to do?”
this is a prequel story to another free tor short: Sinew and Steel and What They Told. i’d read that one when it was posted last year, and felt pretty medium about it, but rereading it today in refresher-preparation for reading this one, i enjoyed it more than i had and ended up giving it a whole ‘nother
and this story rocks.
it may be that reading the murderbot books has given me more of an appreciation for this kind of story/character: someone not-quite-human passing for human, hiding their agendas and figuring ways out of seemingly impossible dilemmas.
graff is, in many ways, the antithesis of murderbot, being an extremely empathetic creature, but the strategic moves he makes; weighing his loyalties and ethical code against his fear of discovery, are very reminiscent of what m-bot does, and the action sequences—running through the tunnels evading pursuit alongside a reluctant accomplice, blocking the feeds and comms along the way—it made the little murderbot-shaped piece of my heart flare up.
i’m thoroughly glad that i reread and re-evaluated Sinew and Steel and What They Told, and this second story hooked me in a big way, so i guess i’m ready for more of this character, and if she starts writing murderbot-sized novellas about him, i will snatch them up without hesitation.
read it for yourself here: