Riox’s body lay unmoving on the table. The crew was speechless.
A sound broke the silence.
“CHIRP! CHIRP! CHIRP! CHIRP! CHIRP!” Riox snored.
Riox wasn’t dead. He wasn’t even injured. The Destroyer’s plan had failed.
“What happened?” Jeska and Anderson said at the same time, though Anderson said it like this: “What … hap…end?”
“So close,” the Destroyer said.
“Administrative Mind, remove Entity 107’s poker privileges immediately!” Prnei said.
The station’s chief artificial intelligence, mortified that another assassination attempt had taken place on its 2.7 billion year watch, ordered Q44 to cease Poker Program: Destroyer One.
“What happened?” Jeska asked again.
“Nothing,” the Destroyer said.
“Shut up,” Jeska said. “Prnei, what happened?”
“Entity 107 tried to kill Riox,” Prnei said softly.
“What?” Jeska asked, still in shock.
And Prnei explained what he had seen. Throughout the explanation, Prnei’s chameleonic skin changed colors in time with his emotions.
Anderson had thrown his cards down, Prnei began. (Prnei’s skin showed blue for contentment.)
Jeska had thrown hers down. (Still blue.)
Then the cloud threw the Destroyer’s cards down. (More blue.)
When the Destroyer’s cards fell halfway to the table, a dart that had been hidden behind the cards shot toward Riox. (The blue turned to green, the color Prnei turned when he was afraid.)
“What!?” Jeska said.
“Let … him … fin … ish,” Anderson said.
The card was on a collision course with Riox’s midsection. (Prnei’s green color darkened to show increased fear.)
Prnei didn’t know where the dart had come from, but he guessed the Destroyer’s cloud might have built it. (The green changed to red, which meant theorizing or intense concentration.)
The tip of the dart was so sharp, it snipped the hydrogen from water molecules as it flew, Prnei said. (Darker green for deeper fear.)
“How could you possibly see hydrogen molecules?” Jeska asked.
“Shhhh!” Anderson said.
The black and white dart soared toward Riox. (Darker and darker green).
It would hit just above his mouth and tear through his entire body. (Darkest green).
Three feet. Two feet. One foot.
“Just tell us!” Jeska said.
“Now I’m actually interested,” the Destroyer said. “So shhh.”