The Dragonfly Mechanic

[A simple clear window with the standard ‘video start’ symbol awaits. When accessed, the symbol reshapes itself into the outline of a cat, seated in relaxed alertness. It turns to look at the viewer and flicks its tail.]

The video opens on a typical Anarchist community workspace: tables and precision machines attached to the walls due to the constraints of microgravity, with open spaces in the center for larger projects and people clustering and moving among all of them. The camera adjusts so that only one is in focus; a smallish flexbot who currently resembles a cross between a dragonfly and a preying mantis. Its carapace has an almost flowing quicksilver finish with the outline of a cat in gold-hued wire embedded at its throat, and sapphire-blue eyes that glitter in the harsh industrial lighting. It’s grooming one of its antennae in clear nervousness, work-in-progress all but forgotten on the bench next to it.

It tilts its heart-shaped head to one side and asks someone out of view, “Are we on?” then straightens up with some surprise – “We’re on!” The bounce from its sudden motion is counteracted with a flick of delicate filigree wings, then it addresses the camera with the style of informal bow that would typically be used by a Chinese woman. “Hello, and thank you for your curiosity about those of us who don’t expect to be foci of the show. I’m Li Hua, the Dragonfly Mechanic – and yes, before you ask, I’m Lilly’s dragonfly.” She spreads her mandibles in what’s easy to recognize as a smile, for all that her mouthparts resemble a pair of wire cutters. “You’ll see me around for assorted hardware-related tasks. Nanotech and robotics are my specialties, but I can do a bit of any number of things. And that’s what I like about this gig. The variety and challenge that gatecrashing offers is different than what I could find anywhere else.”

A flick of her antennae indicates the scattered electrical and mechanical components laid out around her. “It’s great fun. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to it.” She bows again, and the video fades out until all that’s left is the feline glyph.

[The cat watches the viewer for a moment, blinks once, and turns away to hop out of the frame. It ambles off through the nearest exit, tail held high.]

The Dragonfly Mechanic

Gatecrashers dcwickham Jssra