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By Robert Lynch

I’m an idiot sometimes.

There are sometimes security jobs where I am hired to test a build’s security. Basically, I break in and highlight all the issues with security implementation. They can be fun jobs, and a nice way to break up my work. A delightful palate cleanser. Asodyne hired me for one such job.

I’m so used to dealing with high-tech security systems that I forgot that a dog is much cheaper. That was how a large black guard dog had materialised out of the darkness and was currently trying to eat my face. I may not have the most handsome of faces, but that doesn’t mean I want to be separated from mine.

The dog had been more silent than a dog should be. No growl, no nails clicking on the floor. Even now, as I held the dog’s slobbering maw inches from my face, the dog wasn’t barking or growling. Strange.

I could kill the dog, and since that was what a thief might do, I probably should; but I wouldn’t have to. I grew up on the muddy streets of Cesi, where dogs are a commonplace. The best way to deal with an aggressive dog is not to hassle them. If you must, then knowing the dog is there and passively disabling it (a typical guard dog weighs 35-50kg, so dose them around 50% of a human), with either drugs or a female in heat is the way to go.

My situation, grappling with an aggressive dog, is 100% the worst situation. Dogs have two major weapons: teeth and teamwork. If you’re never within biting distance, they are no danger. And if they have a pack, they will be more aggressive and attack from multiple directions at once. If you get into a grapple, disabling the teeth is the priority.


Most mammalian jaws are made to close with extreme force but do not have much strength when opening. Dogs are typical in this sense, this dog could bite off a finger, but once I pushed its jaw closed and clamped my hand around the snout, the fight was over. It took a minute to roll the dog on its back and sit on top of it. Then, keeping my right hand clamped awkwardly, I wrapped my left arm around the dog’s neck and squeezed. The dog’s collar jabbed at my arm, but I waited through the discomfort. Choke holds work the same on dogs as on humans, and once dog’s breathing slowed, I let off the pressure.

As I got off the sleeping dog, I went to unbuckle the collar to use as an improvised muzzle, but there was no collar. I’d been jabbed by something. On closer inspection, I found an input port. The dog was cybernetic. I pulled my comm out and plugged into the port. It took a second to hack into the dog, but once I was in, I found four other cyber-dogs in the system, and they were all within four metres of me. I hadn’t heard a thing.

I stayed perfectly still, except for my fingers tapping at the screen of my comm. Predators attack when they see weakness, and if Asodyne built the cyber-dog’s behaviour on top of natural dog behaviour, then if I moved they would tear me apart. I found a sleep protocol and nearly hit it when I saw something else: a friendly protocol.

I walked casually into Asodyne’s office building, five cyber-dogs passively following behind.

“I have an appointment to see Max Stryger.” I told the receptionist. “I’m Frank Mason, his 2 o’clock.”

“I’m afraid you can’t take your dogs into the CEOs office.” The receptionist replied.

“They aren’t mine,” I said, “I’m returning them to Max. You’d better call him.”


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