Caretaker Gravis watched from the observation deck across from docking bay five. The mining cruiser Silverback made final launch preparations in the moss-green light reflected from Atlantis III 450km below. He didn’t wait for the launch, instead darkening the viewing glass and shutting off the artificial gravity on this half of the station. All crew were already aboard. Once they departed, he’d be the sole inhabitant of the station for the next hundred days. It was more space than one man needed, strictly speaking, but the solitude gave him the time to pursue other ventures. The station could cycle through its routines for a thousand years without human intervention, probably longer. Caretakers were just the backup systems.

He floated down the empty corridors of the massive structure. He’d explored every bit of its 334,451 cubic meter bulk, and it held no surprises for him. But it did hold secrets. The Silverback would be gone any moment. Caretaker Gravis flew silently, salivating. It was time to resume the dark work that no one else could do.

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. I found it on pages 88-89 of my copy of The Art of Alien: Isolation. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page.

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