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Science Fiction Ramblings

My Hover Craft is Full of Eels: Part Four

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Happy Thanksgiving!  In this segment, my characters devise and begin to execute their break-in plan.  I think I’ve been watching too much Arkham Origins. No capes, but a few too many grapnels.  Anyone know a synonym for grapnel?

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Blondie proved to be a big disappointment. She gave him a call and continued her fan-girl act by asking a ton of inane questions about the sport. It turned out that Blondie loved to talk about driving, but had no interest in the eXime fabrication process.   Persephone asked him if he knew anyone who worked at the plant. He laughed and said that he was friends with a guy who took out their trash. “You mean their janitor?” Persephone jumped on that statement a little too quickly and had to backpedal to keep her cover up. “I mean it sounds like a good job, steady. Not sexy like racing though.” She eventually fabricated a story that she had a girl friend in the shanty town who was looking for a guy with a steady job.   “Maybe the four of us could go out for drinks. I mean if this friend of yours isn’t a jerk.” She got a date and a time set up.

Poor Blondie, Persephone always felt a little sorry for the dumb ones. He and his friend waited for a full hour in bar but the promised date night never materialized. Of course Persephone was there just staying out of sight at a back table.  Blondie’s buddy was tall, square, had big shoulders and a bushy beard. In short, he looked like he came from a long line of algae farmers, all the way to the plaid flannel shirt he was wearing. Hardly a suitable match for Persephone’s friend, even a fictitious one. She got a few good pics of the janitor and used them to get a name and a home address for the guy.

She spent the next day putting a little research into Mr. Adam’s schedule and planning how she could use him to break in. Janitors were a fantastic resource for people like her. No one paid much attention to them and they usually had key card to all sorts of places that a normal worker drone wouldn’t. After all, even the boss needed to have his trash taken out. All she would probably need to do was break into his apartment and liberate a uniform and his access card

Than there was the job itself to consider.   She needed to know everything she could find out about the eXime complex. The yellow pages had them listed at 6580 Hollocene Rd, right at the fringe of the old city platform. Their compound was protected by a glassine-link fence with scanner access through a gate flanked by two surveillance towers. Not a typical ornament for a relatively minor engineering company, but then not entirely out of place considering the tech-grabbing mentality of the colony citizenry. That was pretty much all she could determine from the outside. She called in a favor from one of her computer-minded contacts and the girl was able to dig up some construction schematics that gave her the general layout of the interior. That didn’t help her much with security though. Guard towers on the outside implied something nastier on the inside. She hoped her janitor had high level access.

He did have a convenient schedule, being on the night shift at least. He worked four tens and then had three days off. He had a day off coming up tomorrow. She phoned Arch with the plan. “His pattern is to go out for dinner at eight. I’m going to break into his apartment to get the access card. That means I’m going into the eXime complex tonight. No reason to give the guy time to discover that his card is gone. He probably won’t notice that it’s missing until he needs to go back to work. Hell. I might even put it back.”

“I’m coming with you,” Arch said.

Persephone hadn’t expected that.

“You might run into some piece of tech and not realize it’s important.”

She bristled. “I photograph everything, whether I recognize it’s important or not. You and your father can browse through the footage at you leisure. And anyway, I only planned on needing one access card.”

“I look more like the janitor. You’d be swimming in that guy’s uniform.”

Other than black hair, the resemblance was minimal. Arch looked nothing like an algae farmer. Too bad for the algae. “I might be able to get away without a disguise. Though they do have a live security feed.  Someone walking in iwearing a hoodie might raise some eyebrows..

“Wear whatever you want. Personally, I vote for that latex number you were wearing when we set up this job. Regardless, I’m still coming. I can be the get away driver.”

“You’re not paying me to come back with one of their craft, so why would I need an H-car driver?. I’m just taking photographs of their construction process and any files I’m able to find. I’ll be fine. Done this a million times.”

Arch’s face lit up the mention of stealing an H-craft, but he shrugged. “You know what I mean. I’ll wait outside with my tread car. Still think I should go in with you.”

“Is there any reason that every man I meet turns out to be an idiot?”

Arch glowered at her.   “What happened to the customer always being right? I mean we are paying you a lot for this”. His look might have been ferocious, but frowning just made a cute little crease in his forehead. Persephone had to resist the temptation to say “Awww.”

“You’re just an adrenaline junky. I’m a professional.”

The conversation went back and forth like that for another minute before Persephone threw her hands in the air and said, “Fine.   You can drive the fucking car. Driving is your life, blah-blah-blah.”

“And you will video stream everything you see to me in the car. If I tell you to grab something, you grab it. If I tell you to get out, you get out.

“If I knew you were going to micromanage, I would have asked for more money,” Perephone mumbled.

Three hours later, Persephone lowered herself to the window ledge outside Mr. Adam’s apartment while Arch waited in the alley with his tread car. H-craft weren’t practical in confined spaces and most people couldn’t afford one. The average colonist relied on either a mini-tread or a balloon cycle, so called for their ridged balloon like tires that allowed them to navigate through sludge. Arch, being the wealthy play boy son, had a luxury tread car. In the colony luxury meant a four cylinder ethanol engine and upolstery on the seats. It could probably out-pace the average Jasperite renta-cop. Maybe. Although the organization had recently enhanced their entry requirements, including a clause requiring staff to run at least a thirteen minute mile.

It was perfect night, low cloud cover, torrential rain. Persephone had on her latex outfit complete with gloves and a close fitting hood. It was a practical decision that had nothing to do with Arch’s opinion. The thing shed water like an oil slick and didn’t inhibit her movements. She had her gear belt with her as well. Grapnels, rope, a towel, glue, flash light, mini cams, tracking chips, and one of those fancy EMP devices that Arch had used on her. She’d mounted a low-light video cam into her goggles and as requested was running a video feed back to Arch. She didn’t expect much chatter from him while she was breaking into the janitor’s apartment.

Despite the rain, the guy had left home right on schedule and was now on route to restaurant he went to every time he had a day off.   The place was called the Algae Bloom and it served up a selection of locally sourced products marketed by exBioform. Thing like scenedesmus broth, and filet of silt worm. Apparently the guy must buy into the company hype. Or he’d simply developed a taste for the stuff by eating it every day in the company cafeteria.

She cut a small circle of glass from the window, then reached in and popped the latch. She detached her grapnel line, squirmed through the narrow opening, and dropped quietly to the floor. She dried herself with the towel and mopped the rain off the tiles. The window had let her into the kitchen, room one of a three room apartment so it didn’t take her long to toss the place. The guy’s access card was still clipped onto his uniform which had been stuffed into his laundry hamper. It had been a bit of a pain to find. She’d assumed the guy had unclipped it before shedding his uniform and had searched the desk and counter space before zeroing in on the hamper. The ID card looked like it might have gone through the wash a couple of times. She chided herself for not noticing that during her surveillance of the guy. Could have saved herself a few seconds of searching. She grabbed the card, uniform, and company hat and strode back to the kitchen. On her way out, she wiped down the sill and used a tube of clear adhesive to cement the piece of glass back into the window.

She fired another grapnel and dropped into the alley next to Arch’s car. The guy had the door open already. She slipped in and Arch put the car in gear even before she gave him a thumbs up.

She shrugged into the rumpled eXime jump suit. Arch was right. It was big on her. She rolled and pinned the sleeves and the pant legs, but it still felt like a sack.   She hoped she wouldn’t need to do much climbing.

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Author: KMolyneaux

Author, Knitter, ex-Academic

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