“Do not interact with the Destroyer. Do not even speak with it.
It is indeed that dangerous.”
- Rising Peace, first captain of Stuck Station
Jeska’s table was one of hundreds of thousand, part of a sea of furniture stretching off into the rec room horizon.
Brightly colored banners, ancient before the dinosaurs, hung above every table. Each banner displayed one of three messages in several alien languages.
When translated, some read, “Thanks for Volunteering!”; others read, “We Appreciate You!”; and still others read, “Keep Up the Good Work!”
Every table but Jeska’s was empty.
“So…” the Destroyer said.
“Shut up,” Jeska said, looking across the table at the hovering swarm of microscopic machines that served as the Destroyer’s poker-playing proxy.
In the 28th century, such swarms, called clouds, were common in many advanced civilizations, especially in the manufacturing, medical, and practical joke industries.
This particular cloud would normally be performing Stuck Station maintenance with countless other swarms, but today it helped the Destroyer bluff, raise, and fold.
“I’m sorry you’re feeling irritable, Jeska,” the Destroyer said. “Deeply sorry. … Let me out.”
The crew didn’t respond.
“Let me out, please?” the Destroyer said.
The crew kept playing, unaware the Destroyer planned to murder one of them.
“Fellas?” the Destroyer asked.
To be more accurate, the crew was aware the Destroyer intended to murder all living things, as the Destroyer often made statements to that effect.
And the crew was aware that the Destroyer had tried to assassinate other Stuck Station residents.
However, the crew wasn’t aware the Destroyer planned to kill one of them in forty minutes exactly.
"Hello?" the Destroyer said.
Even if the crew had known of the Destroyer's murder plot, they still might have played cards with him.
There was nothing else to do.
Stuck Station had been broken for a very long time.