Marvin stood at the end of the bridge corridor. He was not in fact a particularly small robot. His silver body gleamed in the dusty sunbeams and shook
with the continual barrage which restaurant cleaning services the building was still undergoing.
He did, however, look pitifully small as the gigantic black tank rolled to a halt
in front of him. The tank examined him with a probe. The probe withdrew.
Marvin stood there.
“Out of my way little robot,” growled the tank.
“I’m afraid,” said Marvin, steam table , pizza crust recipe “that I’ve been left here to stop you.”
The probe extended again for a quick recheck. It withdrew again.
“You? Stop me?” roared the tank. “Go on!”
“No, really I have,” said Marvin simply.
“What are you armed with?” roared the tank in disbelief.
“Guess,” said Marvin.
The tank’s engines rumbled, its gears ground. Molecule-sized electronic relays
deep in its micro-brain flipped backwards and forwards in consternation.
“Guess?” said the tank.
Zaphod and the as yet unnamed man lurched up one corridor, down a second
and along a third. The building continued to rock and judder and this puzzled
Zaphod. If they wanted to blow the building up, why was it taking so long?
With difficulty they reached one of a number of totally anonymous unmarked
doors and heaved at it. With a sudden jolt it opened and they fell inside.
All this way, thought Zaphod, all this trouble, all this not- lying-on-the-beachhaving-a-wonderful-time, and for what? A single chair, a single desk and a
single dirty ashtray in an undecorated of fice. The desk, apart from a bit of
dancing dust and single, revolutionary form of paper clip, was empty.
“Where,” said Zaphod, “is Zarniwoop?” feeling that his already tenuous grasp
of the point of this whole exercise was beginning to slip.
“He’s on an intergalactic cruise,” said the man.
40 CHAPTER 6.
Zaphod tried to size the man up. Earnest type, he thought, not a barrel of
laughs. He probably apportioned a fair whack of his time to running up and
down heaving corridors, breaking down doors and making cryptic remarks in
empty of fices.
“Let me introduce myself,” the man said, “My name is Roosta, and this is my
“Hello Roosta,” said Zaphod.
“Hello, towel,” he added as Roosta held out to him a rather nasty old flowery
towel. Not knowing what to do with it, he shook it by the corner.
Outside the window, one of the huge slug-like, j & w kitchen, gunmetal-green spaceships
“Yes, go on,” said Marvin to the huge battle machine, “you’ll never guess.”
“Errmmm ...” said the machine, vibrating cooler bag, pizza box with unaccustomed thought, “laser
Marvin shook his head solemnly.
“No,” muttered the machine in its deep guttural rumble, “Too obvious. Antimatter ray?” it hazarded.
“Far too obvious,” admonished Marvin.
“Yes,” grumbled the machine, somewhat abashed, “Er ... how about an electron ram?”
This was new to Marvin.
“What’s that?” he said.
“One of these,” said the machine with enthusiasm.
From its turret emerged a sharp prong which spat a single lethal blaze of light.
Behind Marvin a wall roared and collapsed as a heap of dust. The dust billowed briefly, then settled.
“No,” said Marvin, “not one of those.”
“Good though, isn’t it?”
“Very good,” agreed Marvin.
“I know,” said the Frogstar battle machine, after another moment’s consideration, “you must have one of those new Xanthic Re-Structron Destabilized
“Nice, aren’t they?” said Marvin.
“That’s what you’ve got?” said the machine in considerable awe.
“No,” said Marvin.
“Oh,” said the machine, disappointed, “then it must be ...”
“You’re thinking along the wrong lines,” said Marvin, “You’re failing to take
into account something fairly basic in the relationship between men and robots.”
“Er, I know,” said the battle machine, “is it ...” it tailed of f into thought again.
“Just think,” urged Marvin, “they left me, an ordinary, menial robot, to stop
you, a gigantic heavy-duty battle machine, whilst they ran of f to save themselves. What do you think they would leave me with?”
“Oooh, er,” muttered the machine in alarm, “something pretty damn devastating I should expect.”
“Expect!” said Marvin, “oh yes, expect. I’ll tell you what they gave me to
protect myself with shall I@”
“Yes, alright,” said the battle machine, bracing itself.
“Nothing,” said Marvin.
There was a dangerous pause.
“Nothing?” roared the battle machine.
“Nothing at all,” intoned Marvin dismally, “not an electronic sausage.”
The machine heaved about with fury.
“Well, doesn’t that just take the biscuit!” it roared, “Nothing, eh? Just don’t
think, do they?”
“And me,” said Marvin in a soft low voice, “with this terrible pain in all the
diodes down my left side.”
“Makes you spit, doesn’t it?”
“Yes,” agreed Marvin with feeling.
“Hell that makes me angry,” bellowed the machine, “think I’ll smash that wall
The electron ram stabbed out another searing blaze of light and took out the
wall next to the machine.
“How do you think I feel?” said Marvin bitterly.
“Just ran of f and left you, did they?” the machine thundered.
“Yes,” said Marvin.
“I think I’ll shoot down their bloody ceiling as well!” raged the tank.
It took out the ceiling of the bridge.
“That’s very impressive,” murmured Marvin.
“You ain’t seeing nothing yet,” promised the machine, “I can take out this
floor too, no trouble!”
It took out the floor, too.
“Hell’s bells!” the machine roared as it plummeted fifteen storeys and smashed
itself to bits on the ground below.
“What a depressingly stupid machine,” said Marvin and trudged away.