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"We're about 20 minutes away from the point where Clarke's law kicks in and technology becomes indistinguishable from magic."
- Peter Watts

Military Spider  
   

The rollagon slid to an uneven halt. I sat down again at my keyboard, and activated United States Military Spider ARAC-57i4. Beside me, I could hear Duke acknowledging each of the other vehicles as they slid into position around the dome. I didn't bother to look up. I knew that the teams were already dropping out of their vehicles, torches at the ready. We were eight tight little islands of death. Priority one: survive. Dead heroes do not win wars.

The green ready light came up. I slid the console back and pulled the spider control board up and into position. I slipped the goggles over my head, waited for my vision to clear, and slipped my hands into the control gloves.

There was the usual moment of discontinuity, and then I was in the spider. I was looking through its eyes, hearing through its ears, feeling through its hands. "Forward," I said, and the point of view moved down, out of the forward ramp of the rollagon, and forward toward the quiet-looking dome.

My point of view was closer to the ground than I was used to, and my eyes were farther apart, so everything looked smaller-and the perspective was deeper. I needed this walk to slip into my "spider-consciousness mode." I had to get into the feeling of it.

The military spiders were hasty adaptations of the industrial models. This one had a black metal body, eight skinny legs-each ending in a large black hoof-and an observation turret. The spider could function with half its legs disabled; any two of its legs could also function as arms. There was a waldo inside each hoof, complete with tactile sensors.

From A Day For Damnation, by David Gerrold.
Published by Timescape in 1985
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