The Thief
by Sikko Abbadon

His eyes edged open slowly and he looked about himself. The cold metal walls of the packing crate which had served as his home for the last two days loomed about him. The last of his food was running out, and he was getting cold down here. They must have put his crate in cold storage – that would be just like Tri-Optimum. Sloppy, to quick to make profits and not giving a shit about who they harmed while doing so.

Fuck it. He thought to himself, opening the small sack of dwindling supplies he had brought with him and drawing out a small prybar. It was luck that I got this far in the first place, so I might as well get the hell out of here.

Using the tiny amount of space he had, he manouvered himself into a position from which he could open the lid as quietly as possible. The cheap locking mechanism gave way in almost no time at all, and he boldly thrust his head out into the bright light of a huge storage bay.

Checking that no-one was around, he grabbed the sack of provisions and hopped down to the hard steel floor, found a dark corner, and changed into his fake Von Braun uniform. Ops staff – he could live with this. His stolen access card, months worth of work by his colleagues forging the nanite-signature needed to give him access to anywhere on the Von Braun ship, clipped smoothly to the UNN standard jump-suit worn by all crew on the ship. And finally, the last thing to leave his bag, his pistol. The cold metal felt good, safe, strapped to the inside of his leg. He felt better knowing that it was there if he needed it – he could go down with a fight.

“Now.” He sarcastically muttered to himself. “Time for a few weeks of nano-replicated food and reprocessed water-based drinks. Oh, goody.”

He pulled his PDA from his pocket. The familiar white glow as the small colour screen flickered into life and his objectives flashed up on the screen. They were simple. He checked them off mentally as he re-read them for the hundredth time; steal the technical information, find the holes in the experimental Xerxes AI, make it switch down main power at 0800 and confuse them with a bit of music, locate armoury on board, steal explosives, set the communications rig to destabilise and finally get himself to an escape pod. Once back on earth, he would be clear and could easily pass off as pod maintenance, telling them that Xerxes malfunctioned and jettisoned the pod he was working on before taking down communications on the ship. He closed the PDA, which powered down automatically as he put it in his pocket.

Laughing to himself, he walked across the storage bay, towards the access doors. They opened without a glitch as he swiped his card, striding into the airlock confidently and waiting for the other doors to open. He checked his watch, which was synchronised to the ship’s standard time. It was night-time, or the equivalent of, on the Von Braun. He could have some fun.

He took little time in finding out which deck he stood on, the lowest, engineering. And shortly afterwards he found the main elevator, which he took to the second deck, where if his memory served him correctly, was the Med/Sci Deck, where he would find the Cryogenics sector, and a Xerxes access point. The entire sector would be deserted at night, so he could have a peek at some of the frozen soldiers while he was there.

Five minutes later, he stood in the entry hall to the Cryo sector. The lights automatically flickered on around him, as did the screens on the wall to his left, which showed statistics on the status of the ship, and views of the deep space around them in two minute intervals. He strolled directly forwards, finding a small elevator which took him down into a room with a four cybernetic implant upgrade rigs.

He sighed, and looked at them in distaste, shaking his head. It was sickening what other humans would do to aid the UNN. Pathetic, iron-fisted bastards. They would crumble from this defeat. He walked down into a smaller part of the sector, where he found himself at a dead end. A huge window of inch-thick, super hardened glass separated him from pure vacuum, giving him a strange view of the communications rig on a starry backdrop.

He turned, and wiped the mist off of one of the Cryo-tubes behind him. The frozen face of a recruited soldier stared at him, clouds of super-frozen gases billowed around him as tiny arms installed cybernetic implants in his skull and body

“Poor bastard.” He muttered shaking his head. For a few minutes the idea of switching off the life support machine connected to the tube crossed his mind, but slowly he reconsidered – that would draw too much attention and he would be dead within hours. Silently, he hurried back into the main hallway, through a small door, up a ramp into a room with a Xerxes console set into the wall. Seating himself, he picked up a mug, left by an operator during the day, which was still filled with some warm, synthetic tasting coffee. Sipping it, he hacked into the main AI code, bypassing all of the tight security using one of several ICE-picks that he had brought with him. Placing a small data chip marked “Elvis.” Into a chip holder in the front of the keyboard which was set into the desk, he uploaded the contents, along with a small addition to the code which set the main power core to go down. There, that would have them foxed for a while. Their precious AI singing Elvis songs for a few hours. Quietly he set the timer for 0800 hours, changed the access codes and downloaded all of the maps of the ship to his PDA along with blueprints for everything from the engines down to the Tri-Op brand underwear that the Captain wore.

He wandered back out of the Cryo Sector into the main Med/Sci area, then continued through an open bulkhead into the crew quarters of the deck and seating himself near a replicator.

A packet of cigarettes and two whiskeys later, he was reading through the maps on his PDA. Already he had located two armouries, one on the Operations deck, which he would be right at home in, and the access codes for all of the weaponry crates were downloaded to his specially modified watch. All he needed do, was carefully plug the tiny docking cable into the crate, and transmit the code to the locking chip. Easy.

Rising from his seat, he sauntered down to the elevator, and then up to the Operations deck. He checked his watch, 0100 hours, he was on a tight schedule. He did not want to be there when the shit hit the fan at 0800. The elevator made a strange noise, and then told him that he had arrived at the Operations deck. Promptly, he disembarked, and followed the route mesmerised from the map, to the armoury – stopping on the way and using an ICE-pick to hack the deck security system and de-activate the bot which would be guarding the armoury

Ten minutes later, he stood in front of two small metal crates, jam packed with explosives. He loaded up on them, equipping himself with timers and a compact heated enviro-suit, he confidently strode to an access hatch in the floor, which he knew would take him as far as a hull-access point.

Once there, he opened the airlock, first disabling the warning alarms around it, and crawled inside the tiny space, before donning the enviro-suit and pressing the button to de-pressurise.

Space was amazing. As was walking in it. He kept a low profile as he floated silently down the side of the ship to the communications rig. As the blueprints said, there was a small emergency control unit connected to the side of it. Carefully he tapped in the codes to take it offline so the microwaves did not fry him when he was positioning the explosives, and then he punched the screen, reaching down and yanking out nanite-based circuitry and wires, rendering the access point useless. He then proceeded to lay explosives inside the rig, underneath the shell which supported the dishes and aerials. Positioning the timer right in the centre, he tapped in the time to count down from – 06.49 hours exactly.

Once back inside, he discarded the enviro-suit, and silently walked up towards the hatch in Ops again. He heard someone walk above, and waited a few minutes, the stuck his head out. He heard a click as someone behind him cocked a UNN issue pistol.

His training kicked in. Whipping out his silenced pistol, he fired three times backwards and turned. A woman lay in an expanding pool of blood behind him. A UNN “goodwill” force bitch. He spat on her, and took the magazine from her pistol, walking away whistling.

At 0756, he was at a loss. After several hours of hiding from the security and frenzied gunfights, he was so close to the escape pod. But he stood defeated in front of six men with assault rifles. All displaying UNN uniforms. Frightened Tri-Op operatives hid behind a desk shaking as they told him repeatedly to drop their weapons. He waited silently for his moment. He looked at his watch, it read 0757, the men took aim and there was a deathly click as they cocked their weapons. There was a scream from the hallway and a man hurtled into the room. His clothing was torn and his neck swelled, one of their human lab monkeys perhaps. For a moment, the attention was away from him, but he somehow felt compelled to watch. The other pulled out a pistol and started talking about “the glory of the many”, or something along those lines. One man screamed as the lunatic opened fire on him, the bullet ripped through his brain – beyond the help of any auto-surgeon or med-kit. The other members of the security team opened fire, their bullets ripping into the man. He fell to the floor heavily.

His legs suddenly freed themselves, and the hacker ran for his escape pod. He heard a scream from behind, as he looked, the lunatic had risen from his position on the floor, and was holding a squirming soldier by the neck.

Screaming, he closed the door on the one-man escape pod, and launched just in time to see the communications rig go up in flames behind him. He set the nav computer to return to earth, and with his face wrinkled in distaste, stepped into a Cryo-tube.

He closed his eyes and he shut the door and the timer engaged and his rampant thoughts were cut off as the gasses engaged and froze him; I didn’t just see that, you don’t get up from that many bullets, and what the fuck was up with his ne…

The end?


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