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As part of our kitchen remodel, we have to extend an electric cable where it’s buried in the concrete floor, and stretch it another meter to meet the spot where the new island will go. Not terribly difficult, with a diamond circular saw blade and a rotary hammer. Or a Martian disintegrator.

I’m not supposed to bring Martian technology with me to my post on this planet. Cultural contamination and all that, you know. But I may have accidentally packed a few things which would get me in trouble with my superiors, if they knew. As long as I keep them within the walls of my own home, though, who’s to know?

I dug out the small disintegrator from my kit bag in the back of the closet, set the power to Low, turned the beam collimator to Narrow, aimed it at the floor and poked the trigger. Nothing. Flat battery…it’s been several years since I used it. I changed the battery and tried again. With a hissing snap and a puff of monatomic dust, I dug a hole clean through the concrete slab in about two seconds.


I set the collimator to Wide and tried again, with quick, fanning sweeps. This time I managed to dig a channel for the new cable without poking through the slab again.

Sadly, there’s no hiding the deeper hole from darling wife. She was unhappy, because it opens a path for termites to get into the house. We’ll pour some termite poison down the hole before we lay more cable and pack the hole with fresh concrete. Some species of termites do eat through concrete, but poison tends to discourage them.

I put the disintegrator away again. I remember why I don’t use it… it’s too much tool for most jobs. If I need to dig a mine, or topple a building, though, I know where it is.

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