Nick the Transporter is delivering a shipment from the backwater colony on Amalthea to Ganymede City. This shipment includes a hopeful young woman called Lilly Zook, paying for her passage by treating Nick to the wonders of her home cooking, as well as 5 crates of robot parts, which come with the curious instruction that they must be kept apart.
On route to Ganymede, Nick's ship, the Truck, is hailed by the Jovian Ring Federation's Tax and Customs, announcing their intent to collect a toll of some sort. They appear to be script kiddies using a hacked AKV (Autonomous Kill Vehicle) to run a protection racket, aka, space pirates.
Nick performs a daring maneuver, rotates the craft, and EMPs the hell out of the AKV with his fusion drive. In the process, the crates in the cargo hold shift around, causing something to fly out and disappear in the shadows of the hanger. This alarms Lilly, who happened to witness this.
Computer informs Nick that the AKV is an old Chinese model, probably over 50 years old and rarely ever seen outside The Earth/Luna subsystem. Nick decides to salvage the AKV, and sends a drone to retrieve it. His phone, Computer, alerts him to the anomalies in the hold just as Lilly rushes in all panicked. Nick decides to send another drone into the cargo hold to investigate.
However, this other drone reports no problems, and in fact its cameras show that the crates of robot parts are all empty. Nick's instincts make him suspicious and he decides to inspect himself. Indeed, direct observation reveals that the drone has been hacked, and that the boxes have disgorged stuff which is moving in the shadows.
… stuff which introduces itself as Bots, an uploaded human mind in a skeletal body (composed of 5 parts) wrapped in a cloak or something. Because we hate rendering robot nipples or whatever.
Nick invites Bots to dinner, and Bots tells them he was a person. He has some recollection of being experimented upon. Also, he remembers being on Mars, very close to the Space Elevator. Lilly asks him if he remembers anything from before he was uploaded, and Bots is not very sure, although he recalls his hair was red. Nick tells Bots he picked up the crates containing his components from a Black Light Industries research center on Amalthea and he is supposed to deliver them to their branch in Ganymede City. Since Bots is a person, though, Nick thinks the Anti Human Trafficking Convention allows him to back out of the deal, or just deliver empty crates.
Outside, Nick's drone has brought the inert yet still active AKV close and Nick tries to shut it down and pull out its brain. However, he encounters some difficulties. Bots volunteers to try, and does some EVA, managing to dismantle a section of the AKV's armor and hacks it, getting a barrage of Chinese before shutting it down and removing the drive. Although perhaps Bots got infected with malware while doing this (he rolled a 02).
Nick puts the AKV on eBay and gets a buyer out in the Trojans. He might toss the AKV that way after he and Bots finish checking out Black Light industries, at sector 387 North in Ganymede City.
Before docking, Nick boots the drive from the AKV in a sandbox system, and they discover that in addition to the operational software, it contains an uploaded human mind, Chinese and in distress…