I had to tilt my head back to look at the web. Seeing it in its massive entirety was better done at a distance, but I had to be here, close enough to see the spider crawling toward one of the climbers. Climbing the web was just recreation on the Sun Dog. But that spider was doing things it shouldn’t, and it was my job to stop it. Ideally, before it freaked out another colonist. I wasn’t hopeful. Nope, it’s front grabbers had already scooped up a climber and was heading back toward the floor of the big drum. Its victim was yelling and banging on the grabbers to no avail. The spider hooked into a girder, and trailing a thin line behind, it jumped, traveling sideways across the web as the drum turned. The colonist was screaming now. The spider landed, deposited its wiggling burden unharmed, and released the cord which swung sideways with the rotation, endangering climbers. Then it was off again, heading for another human.
“How many is that?” I asked the climb master.
“Four, Anthony. It hasn’t hurt anyone. Yet. It’s only a matter of time before one of those lines knocks someone off though. I sent out the recall, but that doesn’t mean they will listen.”
I nodded. This batch colonists were big on personal choice. Risk was not discouraged. The spider had another person in its grabber. This one wasn’t struggling.
“I want to try a catch net.” This was a piece of emergency equipment that fired a net that deployed and then spat out a parachute. It was designed to catch falling climbers and was guided by the ship’s AI. The climb master spoke into his wristband phone. It took a while for him to stop talking.
“The ship AI was having a hard time. It won’t recognize that peripheral. I had to get it to latch on to the climber’s phone.”
I scowled. Something else to fix.
We waited for the spider to jump. When it did, the net fired, and spider and climber were engulfed. I realized only after the fact that this could have killed the climber if the spider hadn’t released its line as soon as the net surrounded it. Why had it done that?
The climber was scraped a bit, but otherwise unperturbed.
“I don’t think it meant me harm,” he patted the carapace. “It kept saying, ‘Rescue!’ I think it thought it was helping.”
I snorted. It was a peripheral. It couldn’t want anything.
“In danger. Must help.” Said the spider.
The climber patted the spider again, “No buddy, they’re fine.”
“Fine? Safe?” Asked the spider.
“Yes. They’re just having fun.”
“Fun. An expression of enjoyment,” said the spider. Then it turned towards me, pointing its camera at my face. “Anthony! Friend!” It scuttled over to me and pressed its metallic body against me. I staggered and stared. It seemed the Sun Dog had a new mascot.
Copyright Sabrina Rosen April 2020