Lightspeed Food

Lightspeed Food

A Story by StarNinja
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The world of interstellar fast food is cutthroat indeed.

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Lightspeed Food

 

My name is Emilio. I live in the Kandora and Bun System, a thousand light years from Sol and Earth System where all you fat cats probably live. It’s a real s**t hole out here but the money’s good so eh. Why’s the money good you ask? Because people been flying the inky black void for ten thousand years but they still need to eat and brother, Kandora and Bun is where the food is.

The system’s been through hell and back, but you’ll still find the best Quicky Meals in the galaxy right here. I’m talking deep fried, I’m talking sugar coated, I’m talking the good stuff. You veggie folk out there may like your nutrient paste and your protein cubes, but if you want the best mouthwatering, crunchy, fatty food in the universe at a great price in a minute or less then come on down to Kandora and Bun. Your liver will hate you but your taste buds won’t!

I fly the big haulers full of meat and potatoes for these folks. That’s my job. It’s not exactly a dream come true, but it beats being a meat guy. Or a sanitation guy. Yick. And like I said, the money’s good. It’s not great, but it’s good enough. So that’s what I was doing when I got a call from an anonymous number asking for me by name. The company policy is not to answer those, but I was bored and hoping it was one of those telepathiters you hear so much about.

“Emilio my friend. I want to offer you a job,” said the voice on the other end. It sounded like an effeminate man or a husky woman, I wasn’t sure.

“I already have a job, partner,” I said like I was in a Western or something.

“You don’t have to spout the company line at me. This line’s protected. No one can hear us,” said the voice.

“Who is this? Is this Phil? Don’t be an a*****e I’ve been up all night, Phil,” I said.

“This isn’t Phil, this isn’t a prank call and this isn’t a game. I have a hundred million with your name on it if you help me sink Kandora and Bun,” said the voice. They sounded pretty serious.

“Okay. Suppose I believe you. How can I verify that you’re telling me the truth?” I asked.

“If you’re not interested I can call someone else. There’s a thousand haulers in the system that would love to get paid to sabotage their own company but if you’re not interested…”

“Wait hold up. I never said I wasn’t interested. Just trying to cover my a*s,” I said quickly.

“Is that a yes? If it is, meet me at this location and we’ll both benefit greatly,” said the voice. A message appeared in my inbox. “See you soon.”

“Hey wait,” I said, but the call ended. “M**********r.”

So that was the deal. I’d gotten offered a hundred million credit job to sabotage my employer. It was like Yulemas and Hallow’s Eve all wrapped up into one! It sounded too good to be true. It was, of course, but not for the reason I thought. I called the crew up to the cabin. Haulers don’t need too many people on them to run smoothly, but corporate types like to cover their buns as much as the next guy so they had double shifts for long delivery flights. That meant there were four of us. Four regular folks responsible for a million tons of foodstuffs. Including myself there was our cook and medically certified medicine man, Jumbles. J-mumbs made sure the food didn’t get gross while we were in transit from planet to planet or moon or orbital habitat or wherever we were going that month. He was also in charge of making sure we didn’t die from the Coughs as well as handing out the Good Stuff on those long nights when it came time to play cards.

Next was the backup hauler, Fiddly. He was tall and skinny and mean. You wouldn’t think it from his plain features and blank stare, but he was a cunning son of a b***h and no one who’d ever crossed him lived very long to regret it. I think he had a history of some kind, but he never talked about it and no one ever asked.

Lastly there was Shiva, our mech wreck tech jech. Any hauler worth his spit knows how to kick an engine until it starts up again, or even slap on a suit and do some deep space hull repair, but Shiva is a wunderkind with a plasma torch. She can get an engine running with gum and twine. That’s not even mentioning her computer skills. She can do it all. She was way too smart to be stuck doing hauler work for a food corp but not pretty enough for the corporate elite to get a desk job. So it goes. I got them all in the cabin and told them the gist of things. Hundred million split four ways for sticking it to the man? What could go wrong?

“First of all it could be a trick. Internal Affairs loves laying traps like that,” said Shiva.

“They can’t do that,” said Jumbles.

“I have heard things,” I said pensively. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Don’t be a p***y. None of us are getting investigated for anything,” said Fiddly. No one said anything but we were all thinking if anybody was, it’d be Fiddly.

“They do random tests and such I’m sure. I don’t know, maybe we shouldn’t risk it,” I said.

“Hundred million’s worth it I think,” said Jumbles.

“Well, with that kind of money we could get out of this system and do whatever we wanted with our lives,” said Shiva sounding unsure.

“Yeah, for a year tops,” said Fiddly, picking his teeth with an iron nail. “Money’s money. I say we go for it.”

“Okay let’s assume this isn’t a trick by corporate to screw with us but industrial espionage instead. One of Kandora and Bun’s competitors wants to hit our operations in this system. There’s no telling who or what we’ll be dealing with,” said Jumbles.

“Corporate spies aren’t exactly trustworthy folk,” said Shiva.

“Ah hell I say we do it. I’m barely scraping by out here and I don’t know about you but I’d like to take a swing at Kandora and Bun for the all the lousy s**t I have to put up with. The hours, the lousy pay, the s****y benefits, I’m sick of it. I don’t want to lie down and let the corporate boot press on my neck anymore!” I announced.

“You been reading Kemoffsky again?” asked Shiva.

“Relax, man. Here take a hit,” said Jumbles, handing me some of the Good Stuff.

“This is a chance of a life time. I want more than this,” I said as I took a drag. “Damn that’s good.”

“I feel the same way, but this could be extremely dangerous. Whether we succeed or fail, Kandora and Bun is going to be on our asses with legions of corporate soldiers and there’ll be nowhere to run. They own chains all over known space,” said Shiva.

“I was going to quit next week anyway,” said Fiddly.

“We don’t get to our stop for a week and a half,” said Jumbles.

“And?” asked Fiddly. Uncomfortable silence.

“Moving on,” I said. “We should all take a day or two to think about this. We’ll rendezvous and let our decisions be known.”

Everyone agreed and went back to their duty stations. It was a long day after that. I kept thinking about all the cool s**t I could do with twenty five million credits. It wasn’t much by an elite’s standards, but with that I could stop working for the rest of my life. Or blow it all in a year like Fiddly suggested.

The next day everyone had made their decision.

“F**k yeah we’re doing this,” said Shiva.

“Well all right,” I said.

“Even if I end up in prison or ultra-prison, I’ll be glad I decided to do something different with my life,” said Jumbles.

“Amen to that,” said Fiddly.

I adjusted our course for the mysterious voice’s meeting spot.

 

“The job’s a simple one,” said Gregory. That was the name of our mysterious benefactor. He looked like an overweight man wearing old black robes. His head and face were covered with scars and cybernetics. He’d had a lot of work done over the years.

“For a hundred million? How simple could it be?” I asked jokingly.

“Very,” said Gregory.

“Okay then,” I said.

We were standing on a star dock floating somewhere between Bun and Happy Time Orbital Station. A veritable army of engineer drones worked to modify the hauler in various ways I could not fathom with my tiny ape brain. Shiva seemed fascinated by it though.

“All you have to do is fly to your destination, leave your ship as per normal, and hand this envelope to this man,” Gregory said, handing me an envelope and a data profile disc. “Once you’ve done that, head to the local office branch and slap this device on the outside of one of their servers. Then you’ll board your next hauler and you’ll be done.”

“That does sound easy,” said Jumbles.

“So what’s going on with all the drones over there?” I asked.

“Better you don’t know,” said Gregory.

“Cool. So how we getting paid and what not?” asked Fiddly.

“A link to an off planet account will be sent to you with all the funds there as soon as you’ve completed your task, and we’ll know when you have,” said Gregory.

“Awesome,” I said, getting more and more terrified the longer I talked with this guy.

“Any other questions and concerns?” asked Gregory.

“Nope, uh I think we’re good,” said Jumbles.

“Good,” said Gregory.

An hour later the engineer drones were done with their work and we were on our way again. The next few days were spent trying to figure out how we were going to get this done. Shiva pulled up maps and schematics of the place we had to infiltrate. Fiddly suggested different plans of attack and insertion points and all kinds of SWAT s**t I could barely keep up with. I just wanted to walk in slap the device on the server and split but everyone thought that was a dumb idea.

“Simplicity is our friend,” I said.

“It’s also a dumb idea. We need to have a plan before we go in there,” said Shiva.

“What about customs? We have to pass them first before we can even get to the building and we don’t pass the smell test there this whole thing is sunk to begin with,” I said.

“Customs has a smell test now?” Jumbles asked, clutching his bag of the Good Stuff close to his chest.

“Figure of speech, J-mumbs,” I said.

“I can handle customs,” said Fiddly.

“How?” asked Shiva.

“I’ll handle it,” said Fiddly. “What we need is a way in the building that won’t draw suspicion,” said Fiddly.

“And I’m telling you, rappelling down the side of the building is extremely suspicious!” I shouted.

“Relax, take a hit,” said Jumbles. I did so. It felt good.

“None of us are trained combat or infiltration experts, as far as I know, so this has to be ground level in and out type of stuff,” I said.

“There’s another problem. The server room isn’t listed anywhere on the schematics which means we’ll have to find it ourselves,” said Shiva.

“That place is huge! We’re never going to be able to do that without drawing attention to ourselves,” said Jumbles.

“What we need is a good cover story,” I said.

“Filing a complaint?” Fiddly suggested.

“Too flimsy,” said Shiva.

“Educational tour?” said Jumbles.

“They don’t do those,” said Fiddly.

“What if I tried applying for a job?” asked Shiva.

“That… is a really good idea. Thanks, Shiv,” I said.

“My name is Shiva. Taking one letter off does not a nickname make,” she said, annoyed.

“Right, sorry. Okay here’s what we do…”

A week passed very quickly after that. Nothing on our minds but millions and millions of credits and also years of life in corporate prison. When Happy Time Orbital Station finally registered on our long range viewfinder, s**t started getting real for me. The station was a crossroads destination and also party central for folks just arriving in the outer belt of the gas planet the station orbited so even though it wasn’t big, a lot of product moved through there. It sucked that none of us could ever party down with the locals though. It was against corporate policy. Just another reason for me to stay the course of corporate sabotage.

I pulled the hauler in to the designated docking spot so the drones could start unloading the food from the back. I hoped that whatever Gregory had done to the hauler wouldn’t be detected by the station’s defenses and get us blown up. Everything felt so high stakes and intense so I pulled in a lot slower than I usually did because it felt like everyone and everything was watching me. I took another hit of the Good Stuff to calm my nerves but by that point it was also starting to make me paranoid.

We grabbed our things and walked down the ramp from the hauler to the customs station. It was tiny for a customs station, Happy Time Orbital didn’t see a lot of interplanetary traffic, so there was only one guy there to greet us. He was short and stubby and didn’t have any legs. Poor guy must have been a survivor of the hostile takeover from a few years back.

“License and IDs ready please,” he said as we put our things through the scanner. Jumbles immediately held up his medical license.

“I have documents and prescriptions for this stuff,” our cook/doctor explained quickly.

“Whatever,” said the customs guy. The scanner beeped red for a second but went to green when he pushed a button and waved everyone through. Everyone except me.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“You got something in your bags,” he said. I started sweating. Oh s**t. Did I accidentally leave the device or the envelope in there? No I put it in one of the sleeves of my body suit I was sure of it. He looked at me and probably noticed I was sweating because his expression changed.

“I don’t have anything in there I can’t bring onto the station,” I said.

“Yeah you do,” the customs guy said as he pushed a bag filled with green plants and liquid on top of my bag. “That’s an agricultural fine. Could cost you a half year’s salary unless I happened to not notice it this time.”

Greasy m**********r. He was looking for a bribe. That was probably the sloppiest bribe attempt I’d ever seen in my life and I’d seen a few. I made sure I didn’t let any kind of relief show or he’d take a second look at me to see if he could black mail me for whatever I was actually hiding.

“I think President Beckensale can vouch for me,” I said handing him a credit note.

“Him and his friends,” said the customs guy with a knowing cough. I frowned and handed him some more notes. “Thank you for your cooperation.”

“You bet,” I said, grabbing my things.

“That could have gone worse,” said Shiva once we’d exited the customs station.

“There went my food stipend for the week,” I said with a sigh.

“Dinner’s on me once we finish our work. In fact it can be on me for the rest of our lives,” said Fiddly.

“Oh yeah. Right. Let’s get this done,” I said.

The guy in the data disc was a dapper looking fellow named Otto. We found him rather quickly since he was waiting for us just outside the Happy Time receiving center. I went to him alone and gave him the envelope. He thanked me and went on his way. So far so good. Next stop was the office building where Kandora and Bun’s local corporate headquarters was located. The plan was for Shiva to apply for a tech support job for one of Kandora’s many call centers. The rest of us were supposed to play lookout while we read pamphlets or some s**t. If anyone asked we’d say we were there as moral support for our friend. Meanwhile we would case the place and get a good idea of where all the cameras and everything was so when we broke in later that night, Fiddly would have no trouble getting into the server room and attaching the device. Easy as space pie, right? Oh plans. How deceptively easy you make things seem.

The interior of Happy Time was in the day part of the cycle. It would be ending soon and then night would begin, which meant party time. We found the building pretty easily. It was the only one in the financial square that jutted out of the ground like an evil spike almost touching the other end of the station where the “sky” was. S**t got twice as real for me as we walked toward the imposing edifice.

“I know I’ve only known you guys for like a month, but it was a pleasure working with all of you,” I said.

“Cut the dramatic crap. This’ll be a cinch,” said Fiddly.

“I don’t know. We may be over our heads here,” said Jumbles.

“We were over our head the minute we said yes to this,” I mumbled and griped.

We made our way to the food and human resources office. Shiva wiped some grease off her face and straightened her overalls.

“How do I look?” she asked.

“Like a hundred million credits,” said Jumbles.

“Go get ‘em, Shiv… A. Shiva,” I stuttered.

“Wish me luck,” said Shiva looking appropriately nervous as she entered the office.

We waved her off and started heading for the hauler lounge while taking the scenic route so we could find where the server room was. So far so good. We “got lost” looking for the hauler lounge and then got lost for real a few times as this place was ginormous. Finally Jumbles found an innocuous looking door which simply said “server” on it in the middle of a hallway.

“I think that’s it,” said Jumbles.

“What else could it be?” I asked.

“A room where they keep the server drone,” said Fiddly.

“S**t. Well, unless we see another one around here, we’ll have to assume this is it,” I said.

Right around that time, a female voice came over the P.A. system and said, “Five minutes until night cycle.”

“We better get into position. As soon as night cycle hits, the night shift will switch out with the day shift and we better not be out in the open,” said Fiddly.

“You know this for a fact?” asked Jumbles.

“It’s a valid assumption,” said Fiddly.

“You folks lost?” asked someone.

This was when things when to s**t.

“Phil?” I said once I turned and saw who it was.

“The one and only,” he said the way only Phil can. “Hey, Coc,”

“Hey,” said Jumbles.

“Did you just call him c**k? Did he just call you c**k?” I asked.

“Watch your mouth, that’s our cook,” said Fiddly.

“Whoa, slow your roll, home slice. That’s what we call cook/docs in the inner belt,” said Phil.

“My name is Jumbles so stick with that,” said Jumbles.

“You got it diggedy dog. So what are y’all doing here?” asked Phil.

“Just trying to find the hauler’s lounge,” I said and then immediately regretted it.

“Just got done with a job? I can smell the grease on ya,” said Phil.

“Yeah exactly so we’re real tired and such so we’ll be on our way,” I said.

“I’ll show you the way. I was just going there myself,” said Phil.

“No you don’t have to we’ll… okay,” I said, once I realized there was absolutely no way I could get rid of Phil without him getting suspicious.

“Follow me, folks,” said Phil. I never get used to his weird urban/yokel accent. That’s what happens when you grow up on a sky farm in a city habitat.

Phil led us to the hauler’s lounge. I’d never been to the hauler’s lounge in Happy Time, though I’d been through Happy Time a couple of months back. Hauler’s Lounges are supposed to be places where haulers rest, recuperate and eat before going on another haul, but in reality they were set up to keep haulers away from the egg heads and bean counters that worked in the upper levels. Haulers sometimes offended their delicate sensibilities.

I expected this lounge to be like the others but in point of fact it was completely f*****g different. The hauler’s lounge in Happy Time was administered by the locals and that meant that it adhered very closely to local customs. The gas giant this station orbited has over a dozen moons as well as hundreds of little habitats and stations. Each moon was founded and settled by colonists and entrepreneurs more crazy than the last until you ended up with the tribal/clan structure that Kandora and Bun successfully conquered but unsuccessfully crushed. That meant the tribes and clans stayed but at least there was a huge pool for recruiters to hire haulers from.

I was born in the lowest slums of the planet Bun so I only got to hear stories about the crazy folks that lived on the moons of the gas giant. Now I finally got to see it for myself and it blew my f*****g mind. The entrance to the hauler’s lounge was covered with marks and scratches. Chalk marks, blood marks, other marks I don’t want to contemplate, and things carved into the wall that must have been warnings of some kind. The door was open so we walked right in. The main lounge area looked like an amalgamation of a jungle and a slum street corner. There was vegetation growing all over the place and trash and bamboo structures and torches and salvaged street lamps and little fences made from scrap and sharpened sticks and the meanest hardest looking people you’ve ever seen just whittling and spitting tabacky juice and punching each other for fun and smoking s**t from complicated looking siphons and pipes. Everything my mother’d ever told me about gas moon people came flooding back to me. I noticed someone had made a hole in the floor which led to the utility level below and five people were down there fighting to the death with spears made from sticks and screwdrivers taped together.

“Who dat?” asked one of the whittlers.

“These are my friends,” said Phil.

“Well, we know each other but… you know,” I said.

“Dey haulers?” asked the man.

“Yessirree bob, home slice,” said Phil. The man grunted, spit tabacky on the floor and went back to whittling.

The three of us tried to find a corner of the lounge that wasn’t being occupied so we could sit and wait until night cycle. Shiva would be done with her interview whether she wanted to be or not and then we’d have a bit of a window to attach whatever this device was to the server. Everything would go smoothly, I tried telling myself.

“Oh s**t,” said Jumbles.

“What?” I asked. He pointed to one of the news tubes and wouldn’t you know it there were our faces plastered right on the screen. “Ah fuckballs.”

One of the other haulers looked at the tube, then at us, then turned the volume up.

“…stunning act of terror that has left the station’s security forces reeling. The damage was catastrophic but all attempts to contain further damage have proven successful,” said the news anchor. They played a clip which showed a security feed of the hauler I’d just been piloting cordoned off by a massive security presence and drones were flying all over the damn place, doing what I didn’t know. There was a huge smoking hole on the side of the hauler and gun and plasma fire were going in and out of the hole as the two sides were fighting each other to a standstill. “If you’ve seen or you know the whereabouts of these four individuals notify a security officer immediately as they may be connected to the events currently unfolding and must be brought in for questioning. We’ll continue our coverage of this in a moment but first a quick orgy break,” said the anchor as she started to undress.

“Somebody should call Shiva,” I said. Jumbles got his phone out and dialed her up. One of the other haulers approached the three of us. I was sweating like a pig in a sun storm. He looked us over.

“You have someting to do wit dees?” asked the hauler.

“Uh, well, that looks like the hauler we rode in on but we don’t have anything to do with the gunfight that’s going on,” I said nervously.

“Dey coming for you. Dey gonna want you. You make trubble fo us?” asked another hauler, from a different clan it looked like.

“No, no trouble. We don’t want no trouble,” said Jumbles.

That’s when we heard the pounding of boots on marble as the company goons approached the lounge. It sounded like they were booking it.

“Couldn’t you just hide us for a little bit? You know, haulers stick together and all that?” I asked.

“We hide you, you make trubble fo us,” said the first hauler.

“You no part of clan. You no part of tribe. You outmen. You no family,” said a third hauler.

“Well, it was nice knowing you guys,” I said.

“Pleasure was all mine,” said Jumbles, taking a swig of some Good S**t from his flask.

“I’m not going down without a fight,” said Fiddly.

“If you fight you’re going with us in a body bag, man,” I said.

“Better ‘an pissing in a cell till I die,” said Fiddly.

“Oh s**t oh s**t oh s**t,” I kept saying.

“Dey here,” said a hauler right before a dozen armed guards bull rushed past him and filed into the lounge. A few other haulers got pushed and shoved violently out of the way as the guards entered, one got trampled.

“Stand aside, you animals, before you get shot,” said a man who was obviously the head officer.

The guards were dressed in standard shock armor, black metal which covered most of their face and chest as well as a company issue retard suit, meant to be fireproof, waterproof and everything else proof. I know, I think the name is hilarious too.

“You three are being detained for questioning. Come with us immediately,” said the officer in charge.

“What are we being charged with?” I asked.

“Nothing. You’re coming in for questioning,” said the head officer.

“But don’t we get a trial or something?” I asked.

“Are you f*****g stupid? Oh wait, you’re a hauler, why am I even asking,” said the head officer.

“If you ah going to take him, take him and leave us in peace,” said a big hulking hauler wearing an elaborate headdress. He looked like a tribal/clan leader.

“Shut the f**k up, fruitcake. I am well within my rights to take all of you in for conspiracy to commit conspiracy but because the paperwork’s a pain in my a*s, I won't so don't push me.”

I could see the other haulers getting more and more riled. An idea popped into my head.

“Hey, you don’t have to rip into them like that. We’re haulers but we’re not…” I was in the middle of saying.

“Ice him,” said the head officer. Another guard shot me in the nuts with an icer, a nasty piece of work that freezes things on contact.

“My nuts!” I screamed as I fell to the floor holding my nuts.

“Anyone else want to talk out of turn?” the head officer asked. No one said anything. “Yeah that’s what I f*****g thought. You haulers are all the same. Big talk and big walk, but you’re balls ain’t big enough. Crumple like f*****g p*****s when it comes time to be men. That’s why I’m a guard and you’re a haul driver.” He noticed some haulers giving him looks. “You want some of this? You think you can take this? Of course f*****g not. Talking like you own a pair. Goddamn. ‘Leave us in peace’ he says. Even though these a******s fight all the goddamn time. What a crock of s**t. Go back to f*****g cousins or whatever it is you were doing before.”

“No,” said the tribal leader.

“Excuse me?” said the head officer.

“We no have unyun rights, but we have rights. You no respect us, we no cooperate,” said the tribal leader.

“Night cycle will begin in ten seconds,” said the voice over the P.A. system.

“You get anymore mouthy, maybe corporate will start thinking about another purge, give those pink slip writers and corpse recyclers some work,” said the head officer.

Some haulers helped me up. The tribal leader and head officer were in a standoff. The haulers to my right and left were staring down the guards, trigger fingers twitching. The guards shifted nervously, but they kept their weapons trained at me, Jumbles and Fiddly.

“Jumblelayoo Rice, Fiddly Rufus, Emilio Escalante, come with me right now or I’ll have you all iced and then beaten until your mother won’t recognize you,” said the head officer.

“You’ll have to drag my cold corpse out of here!” said Fiddly as he pulled out a pistol and open fired. He emptied his clip into the gathered group of guards but the rounds bounced harmlessly off their metal shells.

“Okay, I’m not with him. We only met a month ago,” I said.

“Same here,” said Jumbles.

“Burn them, boys,” said the head officer. The guards opened up and the haulers did as well and all hell broke loose.

I managed to get out of the way of most of the plasma fire, though I got clipped in a few places that took months of surgery to repair. Jumbles hit the deck and didn’t move. Fiddly charged with his knife out, the crazy b*****d. The haulers were dropping like flies, since their weapons didn’t have any effect on the guards’ shock armor. Fiddly turned the tide when he stabbed his knife into one of the guard’s energy grenades and tossed him into the middle of the assembled group.

“Oh fu-” said one of the guards right as a massive explosion tore half of the guards into pieces. That brief window gave the haulers plenty of time to regroup and charge the survivors. They ripped them apart with their melee weapons and stolen plasma guns.

“Cunsidah dis my resignation from Kandora and Bun,” said the tribal leader. The other haulers cheered.

“Holy s**t that was fucked up,” I said as I tried not to look at the other haulers collecting ‘trophies’ from their victims.

“Now what do we do?” asked Jumbles as I helped him up.

“Get to the server room and then get Shiva and split,” I said.

“Do we have time to get Shiva?” asked Fiddly as Jumbles peeled blackened fabric from one his burns.

“Why, do you want her share of the money that badly?” I asked. Fiddly looked at me with what must have been a death stare.

“I’m for it. Let’s get Shiva and get out of here,” said Jumbles.

“Server room first,” said Fiddly.

“They may already have her, though,” I said.

“Hold up,” said Jumbles as he called Shiva. “Hey we were just. Uh huh. Oh. Well keep doing that then. Yeah thanks,” said Jumbles. “She’s on the run. She disabled some security measures between us and the server room so we’ll have an easy shot.”

“Nice. Okay let’s move,” I said.

The three of us left the hauler’s lounge with spears and heat pistols while the rest of the haulers split up and ran rampant throughout the building, shooting guards and capturing people from accounting who were on their way home for the day.

“Hey stop!” said one guard, who Fiddly promptly shot between the eyes.

“Wow, you’re good at this,” I said.

“I know,” said Fiddly.

We busted into the server room and Jumbles and I ripped the casing off of one of the server towers. There were wires and blinking lights everywhere. It was very disorienting, but somehow we managed to get the little device to stick to the side of the server.

“Let’s get Shiva and haul a*s,” said Jumbles.

We found Shiva running from a group of three guards. I didn’t know this before, but apparently Shiva is a world class free runner and it showed. She was ducking under and jumping over obstacles and guards like it was nothing. Her mecha-talon model legs probably helped too. They were useful for working on engines in near zero G.

“Holy mother of Vishnu what are we going to do?” she asked when she got to us.

“I don’t know. The only thing in our plan if we got this far was to get back on the hauler and get out of here,” I screamed as I fired the heat pistol at her pursuers.

“We should have thought this part of the plan out a little better,” said Shiva.

“Too late for that, shoot! Run and shoot!” yelled Jumbles as he handed Shiva a spare pulse gun.

We ran for our lives out of the building. There were guards and haulers everywhere, shooting, punching, hitting, spitting, lancing, stabbing and kicking each other. We all got hit by some kind of ricochet or another but thankfully we made it outside in one piece.

“Over there!” yelled a guard to a group of five others.

“F**k! This way!” I shouted. I led everyone to an alley which led to a backdoor to one of the many clubs in Happy Time. “We’ll lose them in here,” I said.

Fiddly bashed the door down and we ran inside. The guards weren’t far behind and they must have seen us, because they were shooting at us with all of their guns. We pushed past the bathroom line and made it to the dance floor. Some kind of techno was playing.

“God, old people music,” Shiva said.

The guards opened up on the crowd and to the soundtrack of thousand year old techno music, we ran, dodged and jumped our way through the crowd and through the front entrance.

It took us ten minutes to run from the night club to the port. With our heat pistols we managed to get past the security cordon, which wasn’t facing the station side of the port. Several security drones saw us and flew after us, asking if we wanted to contribute to station security by signing up for a civilian security pilot program. After Fiddly shot two of them down, they started firing back at us, expressing their disappointment that we’d passed up such a unique opportunity.

Jumbles found a mid-sized craft parked in the dock and Shiva got it open with a skeleton key hack she’d developed.

“Hold on to your skulls,” I said as I got the craft up and running.

“We’re taking a lot of fire, Emilio. Hurry your a*s up!” shouted Fiddly.

The station’s security forces were starting to make a blockade in front of the port. I pushed the craft as hard as I could and thanks to the element of surprise, I got past the blockade and lost my pursuers by putting the engine into overdrive.

It took several minutes for the full scope of what we’d just done and survived to sink in. Then we started cheering and shouting for joy and crying and laughing in equal measure. Shiva kissed me and I kissed Jumbles and we just celebrated for an hour straight.

After our celebratory four way had reached its climax, heh heh, we sat for a while wondering what we were going to do next. What you prudes in Sol and Earth system don’t have celebratory orgies? What’s wrong with you people?

“Imma hit the shower, guys,” said Shiva as she clicked her left leg back into its socket.

“So what’s on the agenda now?” asked Jumbles as he took a hit of the Good Stuff.

“Beats me,” I said as I put a shirt on.

“Well, there’s no place for us in this system. I guess we’ll just have to find somewhere else to call home for now,” said Fiddly.

“Congratulations, you all did very well,” said Gregory as his face came on the view screen.

“Seriously, how do you do that?” I asked.

“Never mind all that. You performed admirably. Not only did you accomplish your mission, but you improvised on the fly and destabilized the station in the process. They won’t realize our digital intrusion for a while yet. At least, not until their clean up gets under way,” said Gregory.

“What even happened back there? Our hauler blew up and a huge firefight basically took up the whole dock,” I said.

“Otto, the contact you gave the envelope to had been compromised. He acted of his own accord and made the implanted explosives on the hauler go off early, thus triggering the proxy soldiers waiting in the cargo hold to run amok. They were supposed to be a distraction once the device had been attached to the servers. However, the station security officials had gotten tipped off by the formidable counter intelligence present on that station. That would have meant the end of the op if it hadn’t been for you. I must say, you turned what could have been a great tragedy into a salvageable victory,” said Gregory.

“So we get our money now?” I asked.

“Of course. I’ve messaged the account numbers and security codes to each of you. If you’re interested in continued employment, I would like to make an offer,” said Gregory.

“Go on,” said Fiddly.

“Have you heard of Sizzler’s Deep Fried Delights?” asked Gregory.

“Yeah, you guys are pretty new on the block,” said Jumbles.

“That’s the place that deep fries everything, right?” I asked.

“That’s the one. I’m a supervisor in the Field Operations Division for Planck and Gill system and I’m in need of some capable men and women like yourselves for a big project Marketing is pushing through. Interested?” Gregory asked.

I looked at the sweaty, sticky bodies of the people I’d called crew for the past month and a half. Maybe it was the post-coital cocktail of chemicals in our brains, but nothing sounded more fun right then. I smiled.

“Okay, Greg, what do you got for us?”

© 2014 StarNinja


Author's Note

StarNinja
Take a looksee and tell me what you think. People easily offended by swearing, nudity, violence, fast food, breathing, and space operas can skip this short story if they wish.

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Added on July 29, 2014
Last Updated on August 4, 2014
Tags: fast, food, fast food, star, sci-fi, space, ship, sun

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StarNinja
StarNinja

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