Basing House, England, 1645
The roborat poked its nose from a crevice in the priest's hole. From this dark hiding place, the rat's chrysillium eyes began searching the tower room for motion--left to right, up and down, grid by grid. A nanosecond later the rat's voice recognition module detected a sound--three-point-two meters away--and identified it as human communication. The automatic focus mechanism took over and all sensors became operational.
The rat began recording.
During the next twenty-four hours the rat collected as much data as possible on the everyday life of seventeenth-century Basing Castle. Had it been spotted by any of the soldiers or Royalists in the castle, it would appear no different from any of the hundreds of other rats running through Basing's walls and sewers.
Its on-site mission accomplished, the rat's impervium microchips switched to Base Instinct Mode. Now all it had to do was survive to return to its home base in the twenty-first century. Tactile whisker sensors twitching, it slunk cautiously forward, intent on reaching its original transmission location in the priest's hole without detection. Once there, as programmed, the rat positioned itself and waited with the patience of the machine it was.
Three minutes, eight-point-one-six seconds later, re-transmission began.
Three. Two. One. Zap. The rat disappeared from Basing castle and materialized on the far side of the pale green rilisium plastic of the Chronoarchaeological Society's Time Travel Transmission Chamber. Within minutes the rat was sequestered in decontamination and connected for download.
"Good boy, Ratsputin." Dr. Bess Blackwell grinned as the status bar on her palm set surged forward. Ratsputin had collected even more information than she had hoped. Somewhere in it she would find what she was looking for--the treasure of Basing. It was as good as hers. And she would recover it.
"You won't beat me this time, Graffe and Graffe," she whispered.