Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) - Martha Wells Page 0,1

of having been there, would obscure the issue somewhat. It’s not like I needed any food or used waste disposal. I’d used a little extra air and the shower but I’d purged the recycling logs. A forensic sweep might show that I’d been there. If forensic sweeps worked like they did in the entertainment media, which, come to think about it, I had no idea if they did or not.

(Note to self: look up real forensic sweeps.)

I reached the side of the station, doing a physical scan for security cams or drones or whatever while searching for feed and comm signals. Other ships were locked on nearby, but all I could see were hulls and bulky cargo mod ules, no large viewports with humans looking out wondering who that random escaping SecUnit in the suit was. I caught a few signals, but all were either debris detectors or cargo bot guides. I followed the line of magnetic clamps used by the cargo bots to secure modules to the station, and found a bot in the process of removing a module from a large cargo transport. I accessed the bot’s feed channel and checked its work orders. The transport it was currently working on was bot-piloted, crew on leave, passengers disembarked. I asked the cargo bot if I could go inside the transport before it inserted the new empty module. It said sure.

(Humans never think to tell their bots things like, say, don’t respond to random individuals wandering the outside of the station. Bots are instructed to report and repel theft attempts, but no one ever tells them not to answer polite requests from other bots.)

I climbed inside the empty module structure and up to the airlock. I pinged the transport, it pinged back. I didn’t have time to bribe it, so I sent it the official station hauler’s security key I had just pulled from the cargo bot’s memory, and asked it if I could come inside and walk through and out to the dock. It said sure.

I cycled through the lock, took off the evac suit, and found a storage locker to pack it into. At the main airlock, I borrowed the security camera to take a look at myself. I’d removed the blood and fluid from my clothes back on Ship, in the cleaning unit in its passenger restroom, but there hadn’t been anything on board to fix the projectile and shrapnel holes. Fortunately the jacket I was wearing was dark and the holes weren’t that visible, and the shirt collar was just high enough to cover the disabled data port in the back of my neck.

Normally that wasn’t a problem, as most humans had never seen a SecUnit without armor and would assume the port was just an augment. If the humans who had diverted Ship were after me, they probably knew that a SecUnit without armor would look like an augmented human.

(Possibly I was overthinking this. I do that; it’s the anxiety that comes with being a part-organic murderbot. The upside was paranoid attention to detail. The downside was also paranoid attention to detail.)

I made sure I was running the code I’d written to make my walking gait and body language more human, deleted myself out of the transport’s log, and walked out through the main airlock into the station docks.

I was already in the feed, using it to hack into the station’s weapons-scanning drones, telling them to ignore me. It was always important to hack the weapon scanners, since I have two inbuilt energy weapons in my forearms. This time it was more important, because among other things I had an armor-piercing projectile weapon and ammo in my bag.

It was one of Wilken and Gerth’s weapons that I’d taken when I left Milu. I’d spent some time on the return trip using Ship’s tool suite to take it apart and rebuild it into a more compact form, so it was easier to conceal. So now I was not only a rogue unit, I was a rogue unit carrying a weapon designed to shoot armored security. Which is just playing to the humans’ expectations, I guess.

But fooling the weapons scanners was so much easier now than it had been the first time I’d done it while leaving Port FreeCommerce. Part of it was learning the quirks of the different security systems I was encountering. But what really helped was that all this coding and working with different systems on the fly had opened up some new