Sensing the forcefield down, Nexus stumbled forward into the Zorgon throng. He was not going to lie down like a good dog. He opened his jaws and howled. The high frequency of the howl dropped Gaston Dimble to his knees, hands over ears.
Without the Professor’s leadership the Zorgons ceased to drum and everyone stopped, baffled and disoriented. Zorgeous, seeing his people lose the initiative, braved the howling and lurched forward.
Nexus was completely focused. His eye closed. He did not see Zorgeous approach.
Zorgeous lowered his head, concentrating what little antler sense he had left into a beam aimed dead at the eye of Nexus.
The two frequencies clashed to produce a crackling wall of sound that sent shock waves through the Orion Arm. For 30 seconds every light switched off. A few nearby stars considered prematurely going supernova.
Zorgeous, powered by horn sense, and Nexus, powered by internal logic and electrons, grimly contested this battle of the frequencies. Many devices across the sector malfunctioned. But Nexus, at the centre of the disruption, was immune.
Then something strange happened. The energy feedback rippling through the cyberdog’s circuits ignited a spark. Something like life flickered within. Entranced by this new experience, Nexus faltered. The question of good and evil occupied his CPU. Transistors and resisters disputed the merits of realism and idealism. Capacitors pondered the nature of duality. And love. What of love? Nexus dropped to the ground, whimpering.
The Zorgons cheered as one. They showed the cyberdog no mercy and crushed him underfoot, taking his limbs as trophies as they hurtled inside the perimeter.
Once inside the vaulted lobby, chaos ensued. Prototype machinery in display cabinets was smashed. The Zorgons charged forward, antlers down. Receptionists behind long silver desks hid under chairs. Luddites cheered from the afterlife.
The Zorgons trampled forward into the main hall where the proud portraits of scientific trailblazers looked sternly forward. What would Linda Janix have thought of this intrusion? How would Grulos Jandy have reacted? Could Leyla de Brule’s computers predict what was going to happen next? Heisenberg’s quantum, bustling beneath his portrait, went mad with anticipation. Had Fillies Contaminate known about the imminent change to world order he would have drunk himself so senseless that his artificial liver would have short circuited, even though it had no electronic components.
In the centre of the hall, the statue of Rothball Hazard imposingly dominated. But the sculptured eyebrows were oblivious to the throng below. Little did the rump stone thigh sense that the balance of Zorge was shifting, nor did the marble coat catch the winds of change.
The crowd of Zorgons gazed at the statue in bewilderment, as if hypnotised.
Zorgeous shoved his way forward. “This man, my fellow Zorgons, is the cause of our troubles.”
“This man, my dear Zorgons, will stop at nothing to steal our red dust. He has already stolen our Guardian!”
The murmur increased.
“He is an affront to our dignity. A scourge. A menace!”
The murmur increased tenfold.
“A traitor. A friskrit!”
The murmur was no longer a murmur.
“He is worse than an upset stomach,” said Dimble.
A Zorgon pointed out that the big stone man was not moving.
“It’s a statue,” Zorgeous said patiently. “A representation of the most hideous, meanest of beings ever to set foot here. A statue of despicability!”
The murmur reignited.
“Topple the statue!”
The Zorgons raced forward as one. They pushed up against the statue. The rabble heaved and strained. The statue began to tremble. It began to shake. It shivered as if it was a real scientist performing tests inside a cryogenic chamber.
“Stop!” Zorgeous ordered.
They stopped, looking around as if shaken from a dream.
“Now, when I say fritscrit, heave as one unified rabble.” He waited two seconds. “Fritscrit!”
A thousand grunts told of the battle between masses and marble. The statue shook so violently that the calculator slipped out of its hand and crashed to the floor, splitting into a thousand shards.
Emboldened, the Zorgons redoubled their efforts. The statue creaked and reached tipping point. Acting Chief Scientist, Head of Roboto-Genetic-Engineering, Rothball Hazard, toppled to the floor face first. The pencil snapped in two like a broken heart. His arm fell off and bounced, slapping the head off the shoulders. The head rolled to the far end of the hall.
At that very moment a door opened.
The real Rothball Hazard stepped onto the threshold, only to be confronted with his own head bouncing towards him, the glaring eyes staring directly into his own.
He stood stunned as the head screeched to a halt at his feet. He was crestfallen. The monument to himself was shattered. Worse, his own head, the marble head of the statue, was taller than him.
He clenched his fists like a wailing child.
The Zorgons stamped, forewarning Hazard that they were about to charge. If they reached him, he’d be more than a fritscrit. He’d be dead. He knew Zorgons as peaceful and non-violent. But he also knew that they knew that he knew that he had done something bad.
The Zorgons charged.
Hazard took action. He pointed the Antlers of Amplitude.
The Zorgons stopped as one.
Slowly they got down on their knees, begging him.