Jo raised her gun at the sight of the newcomer. It was one of the skeletal machines she’d earlier – one of those things that had split her group apart. It was limping, and one side of its face was caved in. It stopped.
‘One of your demons, Singh?’ she called.
‘No,’ he said, and she pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. The thing raised an arm, gesturing to her with one clawed, fractured hand. Jo swore, loudly. ‘However, it may bear useful information about the state of this facility.’
It staggered one step towards her. She took two steps back. (Was there something behind her? Behind Dr Singh and his war machine? The hall was so big, too big, and anything could be hiding in the dark little alcoves sunk into the wall. But she couldn’t turn her back on that thing.) She pulled the trigger again, and nothing happened. The machine advanced; she slowed her breathing, tried not to panic.
‘Your gun’s a piece of shit,’ she said.
‘Machine! I am Dr Vijai Singh. One One Five Dash Nine Nine Discolestia Dash Zero. Do you recognise me?’
The thing stopped again. It turned very slightly, looking past Jo. A voice like rust rattled out of the machine.
‘After all this time. Singh.’
It moved. Jo stepped away, letting it pass; it ignored her, making its way to the wrinkled old man.
‘Who were you?’ said Singh. Then, to Jo: ‘Go about your duties, please. The weapon I have given you will work as soon as you are outside of this chamber. I believe I may have private business to attend to with this individual.’
Jo didn’t need telling twice. To Hell with this, she thought. As soon as she could, she’d find her way out of the Mountain, she’d get a message back to Earth and they’d burn this place down to the bedrock, as they should have after the war. She’d play along for now, then fuck these robot fuckers.