As card players go, the cloud was good. As poker cheats go, it was great. As unwitting assassins go, it was perfect.
At least, the Destroyer hoped the last one was true.
The cloud called itself Q44–50978A-44408-C544 or Q44 for short. Like many clouds, Q44 was a gray patch of fog slowly spinning and churning back in on itself.
It was blurry too; the nanobots that made up its mass were too small to see without complex instruments.
Holding five cards near its center, Q44 looked like an out-of-focus cumulonimbus had decided to steal a hand from Texas Hold’em.
The Destroyer didn’t care what Q44 looked like. Appearance didn’t matter when it came to murder.
He silently ordered the cloud to begin Cheat 207, one of the many illegal poker moves he had taught the cloud over the millennia.
In keeping with station protocol, Q44 could not and would not assist the Destroyer in any way, other than by helping him play cards.
However, after enduring eons of the Destroyer’s arguments, Q44 recently—within the last 100 million years—agreed to help the Destroyer cheat at cards, too.
The idea of using deception had bothered the honest Q44, so it had run the Destroyer’s arguments by the The Containment Facility One Administrative Mind, the artificial intelligence that ran Stuck Station.
The Administrative Mind had given the ok, if only to stop the Destroyer’s whining.
As Q44 began Cheat 207, invisible tendrils of its body spread across the table, gliding by the coasters the crew used as betting chips.
Streams of trillions upon trillions of nanobots surrounded the deck of cards and began searching for their prize.
They floated easily through the fraction of an inch between each card and through the spaces between the molecules in the cards themselves.