Behind enemy lines

in Slice of Heaven

Earth
501.20.04

Seleth made his way through the dark tunnel. He was wading through thick slop that stuck to the webbing between his toes. It disgusted him, but he had to move forward. How humans could live in conditions like this, their sewage only meters beneath their feet with open access to the surface was beyond him.

He rounded a corner and his navigator blinked. An inconspicuous blue light. Just once, but enough for the seasoned agent to know he had arrived at the coordinates. He tapped a few commands on his state-of-the-art Hcom wrist communicator. A secure line was opened to the Gohorn ship hovering behind Saturn. “I’ve reached the access grate. Proceeding into the structure.” A female voice on the other end responded: “Copy that, keep the line open.”

Seleth retrieved a small decoder from his belt and attached it to the access panel of the grate above him. It sprung to life when he entered the decode sequence command. A few seconds later, the grate popped open. He caught he grate as it fell and quickly and silently placed it next to him. “Grate open, going in.”

He jumped up and latched onto the ring that was the end of the pipe behind the grate. It was narrow, but Seleth had no trouble fitting inside. Slowly but surely he made his way up for a while, until he reached a horizontal pipe that led in two directions. His navigator blinked again, twice. He had to go left, so he did. Suddenly, his overhead display sprung to life. A map of the structure he was entering popped up on the small glass slate in front of his right eye, with the entire section he was currently in marked in bright red. “Damn it, biometric sensor field. Hold on.” Seleth turned to his belt and fiddled with the controls of his suit. He was wearing a black E-weave suit, designed by Ventaar intelligence. It hosted a number of features, one being the ability to sense changes in the skin color of the Ventaar wearing it, mimicking it’s effects. Another was a low level dampening field emitter that would block life signs.

“Done, proceeding.”

“We are reading a fluctuation in the pipe drainage system. Are you getting that too?” Seleth had already seen it on his HUD. “Yes, they are pumping water into the system. No worries.” The pipe filled with water as he progressed. Slowly at first, more rapidly then. Seleth took a deep breath before he was completely engulfed in water, let go of the pipe and started swimming rapidly through the pipe to his destination. The humans couldn’t have been more helpful. Swimming was so much easier than walking. Also, he was very happy to get the slop washed off his webbing.

A few minutes later he reached the end of the pipe he was in. The pipe turned up and was sealed by a heavy, metal lid. It didn’t seem like there was a way to open it from the inside of the pipe. He waited a while, while he got some equipment from his pack. After another minute or so, the water started receding and he could talk. “Command, I have reached the entrance to the structure’s interior. Scans indicate no life signs on the other end of the access hatch. No security measures on the hatch itself either by the looks of it. Proceeding to cut through.” With those words he fired up his laser cutter and went to work on the side of the hatch he figured either the lock or the hinge would be.

It turned out to be the hinge. When he finished cutting and pushed against the hatch, he heard a clang as something fell to the ground on the other end. “Damn it.”  Quickly he pushed the hatch open and slid through before replacing it quickly. He found himself in a maintenance corridor. It was poorly lit. A few flickering lamps that looked like they’d been there since the Stone Age were all that was there. There was no movement in the corridor. “I’m in.”

He rushed through the corridor, following the pointers of his navigator and HUD. Left, left, straight on, up the stairs through the door leading into the parking bay for the company’s hover vehicles. Through the parking bay into the staircase for maintenance personnel and down into the basement. Every step he took, his body adapted to match the surrounding environment.

He paused at the door leading into the basement of the building. His scanner indicated several life forms patrolling the corridor beyond, and another two near the door to the data center. “Now for the fun part.” Seleth pulled out his weapon and removed the safety before opening the door. The corridor beyond was brightly lit and painted in pristine white. Smart move. Not much would be able to go undetected against a white background. Not much, save a Ventaar. He stepped into the corridor and immediately his skin cells adopted the pigmentation of the surrounding area. His E-weave suit copied it and within less than a second, Seleth was as white as the corridor around him. Only his dark eyes remained dark.

Then there was the matter of the patrol. Two men wearing light body armor, embossed with the company logo, and carrying some mean looking laser rifles had just passed him on their round of the floor. Seleth needed them taken out, so he quickly rushed up behind them, reading his weapon. Once he had gotten up close, he simply pressed the stun gun to the back of their necks briefly. Without a sound the two guards fell to the floor, completely paralyzed and unconscious. “Tsk, tsk. Should take better care of your six, people.”

Seleth proceeded down the corridor until he came within view of the door to the data center. The two guards there were looking right at him. A bright red panic button was clearly visible on the wall next to one of the guards. “Hmm…not good. Have to do something about that.” The agent reached into another pouch on his belt and pulled out a small, metal ball. With a click it came to life as he placed it on the ground, where it immediately adopted the color of the floor. The ball folded out, sprouted tiny metal spidery legs and started walking to the door, controlled by Seleth. The guards didn’t seem to notice the metallic pattering of tiny legs as the small spider bot ran up the wall under the panic button. Once there, it attached itself to the base of the panel which hosted the button, blinked once with a bright blue light before becoming almost invisible again. Seleth knew enough.

Staying close to the wall he started walking up to the guards. At first, they didn’t see him at all against the white background, but soon they saw something moving. “Hey, what’s that? Who’s there? Identify yourself!” Seleth walked up as close as he dared go before switching back to his neutral grey color. His suit colored back to the black it had been before. “Holy shit, a Ventaar! You, stick ‘em up! Sound the alarm!” Seleth raised his hands as one of the guards reached for the panic button. As soon as he hit it, an electric shock went through him. He screamed and fell to the ground, with his partner watching him do so in amazement. That was all the time Seleth needed. He rushed up to the other guard, again pressing his stun gun to the man’s neck. He slumped to the floor with nothing more to say. “Guards neutralized, alarm deactivated. Beginning decryption sequence. Estimated time to next patrol; four minutes.”

The decoder he had used earlier worked it’s magic again on the door access panel. It took a while longer this time, but a satisfying click, followed by a sharp hiss as the door slid open, made Seleth smile. He stepped into the large room. It was chilly inside. The hum of many computers filling the space. “Which one do I need?” The female voice on the other end of his Hcom line replied. “Look for access terminal 254-Z.” Seleth started looking. Two minutes…  “Found it.”

“Good, insert the codes we gave you. After that, get out.”

He did as he was told. The computer terminal accepted each of the codes he had memorized willingly. Once he had put in the last one, the terminal responded with: “Commencing data wipe of all banks. Confirm deletion of following; Main database, Backup database. Proceed?” Seleth hit the “yes” button on the screen. “Thank you. Have a nice day.” The computer sounded very friendly before it started wiping it’s memory banks.

One minute…

Seleth turned and rushed back the way he came. But instead of going back into the sewer system he decided to detour  into the parking garage, where he picked out a nice hover car. It was easy to get it working, using the tools at his disposal. Just as he left through the main parking bay exit, he heard alarms sounding behind him. A second later, a force field was erected over the exit. “Too slow, kids. Too slow…”      

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