Dammit. What were they doing? I glanced down once more, in frustration, to the display that placidly continued to inform me that my connection had not been interrupted. Chris and his gang were still there, they just weren’t answering me.
I looked again at the satellite, just beyond the windshield of the one-man-pod I was piloting, gleaming with sunlight from its mirrored surfaces, turning gently in the cold silence of space. It was large enough to hold an army, yet, for all it’s bulk, it didn’t look very threatening, or even that extraordinary. But it was.
That ordinary looking satellite was loaded with more shielding and weaponry than that possessed by all the moons of Jupiter and Saturn combined. I wasn’t getting through without help. Even with help I might not get through.
I touched the display with my thumb, opening the mic. “Come on guys, I’m freaking staring at the hub. If I’ve come all the way out here for nothing, when I get back down there, I’m gonna be in an ass-kicking mood, and it won’t be that blond guy I’ll be railing on.”
“Take it easy, we’re calculating,” Ned’s voice chirped with a trace of sarcasm.
“Yeah? Then why were you so reluctant to tell me that that’s what you’re doing?” Irritation was giving way to anger, and I felt blood rush to my head.
“Yo, yo, sorry dude,” Chris sounded genuinely apologetic. “I was trying to crunch some numbers here and it was more complicated than I anticipated. If I had answered you, it would have screwed up my calculation.”
I was somewhat mollified, but still a little skeptical. “Yeah? All three of you?”
“Yeah man, we were doing a huddle here. Relax. Anyway, we figured out how to get you the code you need, but it’s changing all the time, so you’re going to need to approach to within one meter from the dock and wait for a sec. We’re going to need to jack your system from here so we can get the code the instant it changes, and feed it in without delay. As soon as that door opens, you gotta be ready to go in, because it won’t stay open long.”
I nodded, even though I knew he couldn’t see me. “Got it.”
I touched controls to my left and right and the pod slipped toward the port effortlessly. I slowly pulled it to a halt, just a few feet from the door. From my angle it looked like I was nearly touching the satellite with the nose of my craft. Then I waited, my hair prickling with adrenaline at being this close to something this well guarded. The automated systems would not suspect me, as it was not unusual to be approached for maintenance purposes. My vessel was not armed, and the intelligence network would detect no threat. But if a human should happen to be looking instead of a machine, they might notice that the imperial insignia on the side of my pod was a bit outdated. And if that happened I was dead meat.
I had recovered this pod from a junkyard just to serve this purpose. I would have preferred a more up-to-date one, but I couldn’t have one of those without stealing it and that would have set off extra alarms. Then, even the automated intelligence would be suspicious.
The door popped open with a silent suddenness that made my hyped up, over-active senses reel. My fingers twitched on the controls, making the pod lurch forward, and shudder hesitantly into the dock. I managed not to bump into anything, though.
Once inside, the door slammed shut noiselessly, plunging me into a moment of utter darkness, before the port lights switched on to illuminate the steel box I was now locked inside. I glanced down at the display to observe that air and heat was being piped into the box, and in a few moments, I would be able to step outside the pod without suffocating or freezing to death.
“When it’s finished recompressing the bay, it’ll open the inner door,” I heard Chris say over the connection. “And beyond that will be various corridors protected by doors that will require further codes to be opened. Some of them require thumb prints and retinal scans in addition to codes. I know you only wanted to get into the lobby, but the lobby is shielded like a bomb shelter. You can’t do any damage from there.”
“Some of those doors only require codes?”
“Yes, one that leads into the water supply area, and one that leads to the atmosphere regulation area. All the vulnerable areas, like the engine room, have maximum security.
“Atmosphere regulation area, eh? What if I pump this place full of hydrogen? I’m sure the engine room sparks from time to time.”
“Not really, it’s cold fusion powered.”
“Well, what if I set off a spark in the air ducts? That ought to propagate, right?”
“Yeah and it’s too fast, you’ll kill yourself in the process.”
“Still the best idea I’ve got so far. Open the door to the atmosphere regulation area, Chris. I’m going in.”
I climbed out of my seat and struggled to get into an emergency space suit. If I was going to flood the place with hydrogen, the air wasn’t going to remain breathable. I cast a forlorn glance to the pod’s small cargo space, where I had stowed three hundred pounds of explosives that I wasn’t going to use now. I took one block of C4 out of the pile and tucked it into a pouch attached to the thigh portion of the suit.
The pressurization of the bay finished, and the inner door opened with a roar of metal grinding against metal. A roar that was barely audible from within the heavily insulated craft, but identifiable as a roar, nonetheless. I looked out the front window of the pod to gaze momentarily into the area just beyond the airlock, letting my arms and legs trail lazily behind me in the zero gravity. Well, I thought, here goes nothing.
This was my entry for the word prompt “Trace” in Rachael Ritchey’s #blogbattle
Copyright 2016 Grace Petrelli