We investigated a crash site on the planet Hurston and made a disturbing discovery.
Brubacker moaned like a small child who did not want to walk during a hike. I sipped my whiskey and watched Hawk. He just shrugged his shoulders. Finally, Chhris and Skorpi came with their drinks. The bartenders were particularly slow again today. Brubacker told me that he had already drunk half the bar empty and was feeling like shit. The authorities had revoked his license to fly the Carrack. The letter said that he was not competent enough to fly a spaceship of this size. In this rare moment I could agree with the authorities.
It was getting dark. Above the glass dome of Wally’s Bar the first stars could be seen. The DJ turned up the music and the laser show began. We stood together at a high table. I told the others about the message I had received from the Activist Network in Loreville. A communications satellite had crashed on the planet Hurston. The authorities played it down. But there were signs that there was more to it than that. We should take a look at the wreckage.
It took us half an eternity to get to the spaceport of New Babbage. Brubacker kept throwing up in flower pots. In the metro he passed out. That could be cheerful. He wouldn’t be much help on this mission. At the spaceport we split up. Chhris and Skorpi flew ahead with a Vanguard to meet the contact man in Loreville. Brubacker, Hawk and I loaded a rover into the Carrack and flew after. One last flight with the Clarke. Brubacker had to sell it.
On board we took Brubacker to the med bay and pumped him full of some kind of chemicals. As long as it helped. Hawk flew the ship from Microtech to Hurston. Chhris and Skorpi had already arrived and were on their way to the contact man to get the coordinates of the crashed satellite.
After our arrival, Hawk landed the Clarke outside the city. There we waited for the other two. Brubacker was back on his feet and completely overexcited. He climbed onto the Carrack, stood on the top of the bridge and shouted “I am the king of the world.” I shook my head and wondered what kind of medication we had given him.
The sun was just setting when Chhris and Skorpi gave us the coordinates of the crash site. The sky was orange and the warm light was reflected in the city’s skyscrapers as the Clarke took off. “We fly with the Vanguard directly to the satellite and check the situation. Follow us,” Chhris said over the radio.
After a short flight Hawk landed the Carrack 5 km from the crash site. The last part we drove with the rover. While we were on the way, Chhris and Skorpi already examined the satellite. The worried voice of Chhris could be heard over radio. “Shit, there are weapons-grade MTX-1 chips from Microtech installed here. That can’t be. What are they doing on a Hurston Dynamics communications satellite?” “Communications, no way.” Skorpi said. “There are large laser weapons mounted here on the side of the satellite.”
That was frightening. Weapons manufacturer Hurston Dynamics had developed a killer satellite disguised as a communications satellite. Hurston used chips from Microtech to control it. According to Chhris, there was no official approval from Microtech for this. I wondered if these were the chips that Microtech’s chief development officer secretly and illegally sold.
“To read the circuit board we have to go to one of the bunkers on Hurston,” Chhris said. Oh no, I thought. Not storming a bunker full of armed guards again. Why did the trips with Brubacker and his crew regularly have to lead to a firefight in a bunker. That wasn’t for me, I preferred to remain quiet and unnoticed.
Nothing helped. If we wanted to know more, we had to go through it. We all flew with the Carrack and manned all weapon stations. We had quickly knocked out the defense towers of the bunker, now we were standing in the elevator and going down. My stomach cramped up, I had a bad feeling about this.
The elevator stopped with a jerk. The room was dimly lit. Some wafts of mist wafted through the air. Boxes were standing around everywhere. Quickly we moved forward, weapons at the ready. The plop plop of a silenced rifle could be heard. “Left clear.” shouted Hawk. Tense as a bow, I went around the corner to the right and suddenly stood in front of a guard. More by instinct than consciously I pulled the trigger of the C54 SMG. Sparks flew when the bullets hit the armor of my opponent. The guard collapsed. “Right clear” I shouted. I changed the magazine. The rate of fire of the Gemini was too high for my nervous finger. With one shot, I emptied almost an entire magazine.
Further back in the bunker I heard again muffled shots. The others had already advanced further. I moved up when I saw another guard in the corner of my left eye below me. He was standing one floor below, below the stairs. The others ran straight into him. I pulled up and took aim. A drop of sweat ran into my eyes. It burned, I could see nothing anymore. It went plop plop. Breathlessly I paused, had I hit? “Thank you Zero.” I heard Chhris on the radio. Phew, hit, the congested air came out of my lungs with one blow.
When we arrived in the server room, Chhris put the circuit board into the reader. “The data is encrypted. We need to get to Microtech. I can decipher it in one of Microtech’s laboratories.” somehow I didn’t like what Chhris said. “Chhris, you quit your job. Do you still have access to a lab?” I asked. “We have to break in,” Chhris replied bone dry. I had feared it. And guaranteed, the lab was in a bunker and guarded. Great!