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The little bird defecates like clockwork, one more step in an automated dance: walk walk walk pause, inspect, walk walk, drop, leap back into flight.

The Ad Hoc catches it out of the air with a kind of mechanical gentleness: its hands are like steel, Rita knows, but she’s sure the bird isn’t bruised. Yet. It doesn’t cry out, just tries to watch its captor with one eye, then the other.

“A decision,” says the Ad Hoc flatly.

Nearby, a white moth flutters around, resembling nothing more than a paper circle caught in the wind. The Ad Hoc opens its hand.