A/N: For some reason this chapter is incredibly short. I wrote it several months ago and don't remember why. Enjoy!
For all the mission directives and intentions of this game, Steve found himself desperate to know what on all of Seriot he was building. It looked sort of like a grappling hook, except instead of three object-gripping prongs, to this he was supposed to attach at least ten, possibly twelve. Then there was the base. Usually on a grappling hook prongs were mounted onto some sort of circular base, usually a very shallow cylinder that the wire emerged out the back of. This cylinder was anything but shallow and there were wires sticking out it every-which way. If he could just figure out whether his instructions were the right way up or not. It was such an unfamiliar, counterintuitive shape. He had no idea how to frame it.
Steve sighed and glanced around himself for inspiration. He’d rented a workshop for an hour, though he’d learned that any build taking longer than forty-five minutes was usually doomed to second place. There were tools hanging in neat rows around the walls of the workshop, gleaming under fluorescent tube bulbs. But Steve could see no way that any of it was going to help him.
If he was able to figure out which way up his instructions were supposed to be, he’d know which end was supposed to be on the ground and which in the air, and whether he was going to break the stupid thing by building it in this direction. He glanced at his stopwatch. It had taken him two and a half hours to complete his tour-of-the-city hunt for components. An hour of that had been his head start so Linea would have been going for an hour and a half. She had to have collected all her components by now. She must have.
“Ah, screw it,” Steve muttered, and pulled a handful of receipts from his bag. There had to be a clue in there somewhere, some vital material that could point to only one build. For instance, if you’d bought platinum, then the chances were you were building a catalytic converter.
Steve’s purchases pointed towards … he had no idea. There were the steal tongs that reminded him of a grappling hook, the steel rings that he’d screwed together to make the cylinder. The wires were made of a metal he’d never even heard of. What had it been? Lutankum? Lokentum? Something like that. Steve laid the receipts out in front of him to try and find the right one, his rollerskate-clad feet almost sliding out from under him. He giggled and removed the skates, having forgotten to do so earlier in his haste to get started building.
Scanning the receipts, he read their primary purchases one after another. “Steel rings, twelve tongs, six wheels, Mexium, Lokentum. Ah, Lokentum, that’s what it – what the?” Steve’s eyes widened and he gasped, glad he was no longer on his skates to fall over with shock.
Mexium. He had heard of that before – only one time in his life, yesterday, when he’d read the nanobot report. Was he building a robot? Yes, that made sense! The tongs, like the grappling hook they resembled, could cling to anything they desired, just the same as hands could. The tongs were the arms and hands, the cylinder was the body, the wheels the feet. And the rest of the components – the lenses, the speakers, the microphones – all were synthetic replacements for the eyes, ears and mouths of living beings. He was making a robot!
Steve jumped from one leg, to another, to another. He’d been desperate for something worth building, and what could be more worth building than a robot? Something that could go on to do odd jobs about the ship, freeing up everyone else’s time and energy to do actual important work. Or maybe to perform services that were rendered impossible by a crew member’s species. Steve knew he would love to have a robot that could hand him things from high shelves so that he didn’t have to waste time stilt-raising himself up, scaling down what he needed, stilt-lowering, doing whatever he needed to do with the object, stilt-raising again and then scaling back up. He’d often wondered why there were so few robots on the ship – the only ones he’d ever seen being vacuum bots.
Steve glanced once again at his stopwatch. Two hours and forty-five minutes, fifteen since he’d last checked. Chances were that gave him fifteen minutes, going by how his last match against Linea had ended. He grabbed a handful of wheels. They could kick him out of his apprenticeship if he didn’t have it done in ten.