I read a short story in the 90s (but possibly much older) based on Berserkers as created by Fred Saberhagen.

AFAIR the occupants of a salvage ship had retrieved a smallish device/craft of unknown origin. It is heavily damaged and not working.

A berserker had then shown up, and (totally unprecedented to crew's knowledge) opened communication with the occupants of the ship, promising their safety if they surrendered the device. One of the workers on the ship attaches the device to power and they discover it is self-repairing (only having lacked a power source with which to do that). They further suspect it could be valuable against the berserker itself, and that is what prompted the strange behavior.

They stall the berserker long enough to get the smaller device 'mostly' repaired, but decide not to push their luck, ejecting it from the ship before making a run for it. As they leave, and the story is ending..

..the device winks out of existence on one side of the berserker, only to appear on the other & attack it from behind. It has hyper-space jump technology that the berserker lacks!

Can anyone name the story? I'm not sure if it was by Fred Saberhagen himself, or one of many other authors writing in (or out) of canon. I read it in an anthology which I have since misplaced.


Quite possibly from Berserker Base, the Zelazny story 'Itself Surprised '.

A small excerpt:

Wade Kelman felt uneasy as soon as he laid eyes on the thing. He shifted his gaze to MacFarland and Dorphy. "You let me sleep while you chased that junk down, matched orbits, grappled it? You realize how much time that wasted?" "You needed the rest," the small, dark man named Dorphy replied, looking away. "Bullshit! You know I would have said 'No!' " "It might be worth something, Wade," MacFarland observed. "This is a smuggling run not a salvage operation. Time is important.

Another small excerpt related to the ending:

For so long as the screens permitted resolution they watched—the ponderous movements of the giant berserker, the flashes of its energy blasts, the dartings and sudden disappearances and reappearances of its tiny attacker. Later, some time after the images were lost, a fireball sprang into being against the starry black.

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    I found a full version at an URL based on "berserker base itself surprised" (not sure if it is considered OK to post such URLs) and can confirm that is the story (although some aspects of it that I got wrong and others I forgot). Thank you! – Andrew Thompson Feb 19 '13 at 5:07
  • Don't do it, sir- there's already a thing about it- but likely definitely not in this case. I was a bit antsy about my 'excerpts' as it was. – Solemnity Feb 19 '13 at 6:48
  • Consider it 'not done'. :) – Andrew Thompson Feb 19 '13 at 8:07

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