With an impatient snort, Mondo Zax levered his chair up to smirk at the screens depicting the panoramic devastation taking place outside. The harvesting of planet 45658b progressed well. In the space of a mere week three continents had been defoliated, with much of the resulting detritus already compacted into protein modules. The only disappointment was the soil being too rich to support the construction of factories. Arboria's crust was fecund to a depth their deepest drills had yet to ascertain. But they certainly no longer lacked fuel.
"Anomaly detected," an assistant muttered.
Zax scowled. "Dislike those."
The aide tapped a key. A display by Mondo's head flickered to life, revealing a closeup of a native, snarling as it thrashed amidst severed cables and smoldering microcircuitry. It had yet to do any serious damage, but the creature's current rate of progress was carrying it inexorably towards the fuel rod bays.
"Flush the chamber!" Zax seethed, clenching his favorite wrench.
The aide looked uncertain. "Flushing. Leave us at half-power."
"Ahead of schedule already." Zax squinted. The thing was tearing out fistfuls of wires, prying coolant chips from their slots and bashing the panels to smoking ruin. How the pest had managed to worm its way in so deep was anyone's guess. But there was a certain ironic justice to drowning its body after fire had consumed so many of its fellows. Zax was unable to suppress a cackle at the thought.
The aide flicked a switch. The tank began to fill with viscous black fluid. The creature glared down at the rising ooze, then with a snarl dove in headfirst. Pathetic vermin. Perhaps he would have one scooped to run experi –
"Auxiliary crankshaft disabled," the aide muttered.
"Impossible!" Zax squealed, eyes narrowing. "Kill it!"
Fumbling, the aide hit another switch. The view shifted just in time for Zax to see the ventral fuel cap on the Reaper's underbelly pop off, followed by gushing oceans of fluid, the drenched intruder flailing in its wake. Its tiny figure shot improbably sideways from the fountain, grasped a charred branch, somersaulted between retaliatory volleys from the Reaper's bow-turrets, and was gone.
"Find it!" Zax bellowed. "I want its head on a -- "
Banks of warning lights glimmered, accompanied by a choir of alarms. Even as Mondo began sputtering commands, the entire cockpit shuddered. And Zax found himself screaming with fury as the deck beneath him began to tilt.