We’d located the abandoned factory where the Marauders took truckloads of hostages. Per standing orders, we called in Aegis, the UN automech task force. There were only a few Marauders in the factory, and Aegis took them by surprise so that they didn’t have time to destroy anything.
We moved in after the battle, to search for hostages.
What we found was equipment. There were “shower” booths, with a weird device in the ceiling instead of a shower head. There were trap-doors in the “shower” floors that led into vats filled with gray sludge, and there were tubes that led out of those to fuel tanks. There were no people.
The “showers” were neural scan booths, our Aegis liaison told us. The Marauders liked to download the contents of prisoners’ brains in case they knew something interesting. But afterward…
The full horror of it didn’t hit me until the liaison reluctantly explained that with nanites, enzymes, and certain bacteria, anything organic can be processed into hydrocarbon fuel.