You’re a low-ranking security officer for a Provident research office.

Your feet hurt and your jumpsuit is chafing you in places you didn’t know could chafe. This door you’re guarding is super important. It leads to the basement of the facility that people in white coats and important looking rank bands come and go from. You don’t have clearance to walk the halls of the underground lab, so you do your security-ing by the front door.

You’re alone in a pristine hallway filled with apparently less important doors. The only thing keeping you company is the chattering scientists you can hear down the hall and the security cameras that are making you too self concious to scratch that itch on your thigh that’s really bothering you.

Your shift your weight from one leg to the other, just waiting for someone to walk by or for your shift to end. Whichever comes first. This is so boring. Your prayers are answered as a red and black figure turns the corner. You stand at attention and give the robot a once over as she approaches you, but you’re taken aback slightly.

Three legs pad softly and rhythmically toward you, and the slim robot looks forward with one unblinking eye. Her pointed ‘ears’ and screen face remind you of the dozens of servant bots you’ve seen in cafes and stores and even in the lab, but you’ve only ever seen ones that were bipedal. You aren’t aware of any heavily modded robots owned by anyone on the premises, but there’s probably a lot of things you don’t know about. You’re just a security guard, after all.

“Can I help you?” You ask once the bot is in front of you, and she looks up at you from her short stature.

“I’m Gams. Model-G class-A Mechanized Secretary.” She recites with no inflection, but with an accent that’s unfamiliar to you. “I have an order to retrieve data from the labs. My identification should’ve been sent ahead.”

“I’ve never heard of a ‘gams’ before. You sure you’re in the right building?” You ask, and her eye squints slightly in a way that makes you feel very small.

“Who do you think you are? Questionin’ a capable woman about her work. Disgraceful. Let’s get this over with.” She points to the tablet on your hip, indicating she already knows your ID protocols. Has she been here before?

“Ah. Um, yes ma’am.” Aside from the leg modification, apparently someone’s given her a powerful personality module. Her owner must be a bit of a masochist… it does the job of putting you in your place.

Her face flashes as she transfers her identification materials to your slate. Your slate is a faulty hand-me-down from the higher security tiers, and someone along the line busted the thing’s fingerprint scanner. After you struggle for a minute to unlock it, Gams reaches over and taps the screen with a finger, and it immediately unlocks. What? ...Maybe you’re just an idiot.

She looks at you expectantly while you swipe through a few tabs. You can’t find the words to voice your suspicions, but her ID looks legit… but something doesn’t feel right. An unfamiliar robot demanding you open a door that most authorized people already have a keycard for, and she seems to know more about you than you do about her. You decided you need a little more information.

“So, Gams.” You say conversationally. “State your task.”

She squints at you again which you’re more used to the second time, but she does as you ask. “XA Vatican has requested that I retrieve files pertaining to the [AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED] incident on [AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED].” You wince slightly every time she says ‘authorization required’ in a louder voice.

Vatican is a name you’ve heard, but not a person you’ve ever seen. XA’s are comically above your rank, as Gams is sure to remind you. “So, if you’d unlock that for me.” She makes a shooing motion toward the door you’re guarding. “I’d have a much easier time doin’ the important things I need to do, and you can go back to standin’ here and countin’ specks on the tiles.”

This is the part where you would normally unlock the door, and she seems to know that as her stare bores into you. Still, you hold fast in your suspicions. You could stall her here for a second while you get someone to double-check her ID. What’s the worst that’ll happen; her owner will complain to your boss and you’ll be reprimanded for being too protective of federal secrets? Unlikely.

“No problem, but I need to call my supervisor first, so -“

Before you can get out your next word, your back is against the wall and your feet dangle above the ground. The small bot has her hands around your neck as her widened eye stares at you menacingly. Your first instinct is to grab your stun gun, but it isn’t on your hip holster where you left it. But you know you had it just a few minutes ago.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” She says as her fingers tighten around your throat.

Panic sets in and you try to kick the robot in her chest, but she’s unmoving as her three-legged stature does it’s job of keeping her stable. You can’t get a sound out, but Gams giggles. Giggles at you. The pit of your stomach sinks as you look up at the security cameras hoping for backup, but they’re all turned in other directions. Who moved them? Was it her?

“Who-” You can just barely choke out, but one of her hands unravels from your neck to press a finger gently to your lips to hush you. Whoever this robot is, she’s as patronizingly tender as she is terrifying. It seems like this situation is pretty above your paygrade.

She leans in close to you and you can feel the static emanating from her face. “My boss told me to do this covertly as to not make too much noise, but you love to play don’t you?” It doesn’t feel like your hear her amused whisper with your ears. It comes from inside your head, and for some reason it feels like it’s always been there. “Be good for me and don’t struggle too much, alright?”

Struggle? Is she going to choke you to death? You grab her arms, but it’s the last mistake you’ll make. The white orbs of her forearms you assumed were decoration begin to emit a green haze. Your hair stands up on end and the bot’s poncho whips as if a strong wind is originating from herself. Before you can process what’s about to happen to you, a crack of lightning runs down her metallic arms, into your neck, and shoots a firey pain down your spine. You try to scream, but you’re out before you hit the floor.

After an unknown amount of time you finally wake up with the worst headache you think you’ve ever had. You open your eyes. Your keycard is missing and a red alarm flashes overhead.