My informer at Shubin was in danger of being exposed. Only an evacuation mission could help him.
I had received a disturbing message from my informer at Shubin. He had frightening information about Shubin’s plans. However, He was in danger of being exposed. He could not leave Shubin headquarters through the main entrance. There was only one way. We had to evacuate him via the roof. I felt obligated to help him. But felt overwhelmed with the situation. Fortunately, Brubacker and Kjeld wanted to help me.
I met Brubacker at the orbital station Port Tressler. He, too, had disturbing news. Under a false pretext, he was invited to Microtech. It turned out that the MBOC had lured him into a trap. Brubacker was interrogated. The agents wanted to know what he knew about ENOS and Xedan. At the last second, Brubacker was freed by Thane. We seemed to be close on the heels of the plot in the Stanton system. The powers behind ENOS became nervous. However, this also brought us more and more into the crosshairs.
Kjeld had also become a target. He was careful and chose a well-hidden meeting place. The drug lab on the Microtech moon Calliope, of all places. What an irony of fate. Just a few months ago, Kjeld had caught me with drugs at a security checkpoint. Now he was seeking protection in a drug lab. There I had to pick him and some of his people up. I had to laugh. Meeting with the security company TYR in a drug lab.
When Brubacker and I landed in front of the drug lab, a 600i flew over us. I still thought what a luxury for air surveillance. But was surprised that TYR had such a ship in its possession. After the inner door of the airlock had opened I looked into several gun barrels. Frozen, I stopped and raised my hands. Red glowing eyes looked at me. Several figures in gray pirate armor surrounded me. I knew the armor. They were from Grim Hex.
“Who are you?” one roared.
“Easy boys. It’s me.” I replied in a timid voice, taking off my helmet.
“Zero is that you?”
“Yeah who else. Put the guns down before someone else gets hurt.”
“You never know who’s going to walk into a drug lab,” Root replied with a laugh.
“You’re right about that. Those places are dangerous. Is the 600i outside with you?”
“No. It’s not one of ours.” Kjeld sounded concerned.
“Then let’s get the hell out of here before any more unexpected visitors arrive. I’ll brief you on the flight to New Babbage.”
Our plan was simple. We were going to land the White Rabbit on the roof of Shubin headquarters. Kjeld and Daos would form the away team. They would go out, pick up the target, and bring it into the Star Runner. Root manned the scanner. From there he could make contact with the informer and monitor radio traffic. Brubacker and I stayed in the cockpit and flew the spacecraft. So far so good. What could go wrong I thought to myself as the building of Shubin appeared in front of us. It was night, the lights of New Babbage twinkled brighter than the stars. But I had no eyes for the beauty of the city at night. My concentration was fully on the approach.
I had to be very precise when landing on the roof. The landing pad was flanked by a wall on the left and right. It looked like a gigantic stair railing. There wasn’t much room for the White Rabbit. I landed with the tail toward the building entrance. This gave the away team a short walk. The mighty landing gear of the Star Runner touched down, and the suspension gently caught the ship. I gave the command for the mission and ran the thrusters. The aft ramp opened and the away team exited the White Rabbit.
My gaze and index finger were still on the switch for the aft ramp when Brubacker called out. “There’s a spaceship just passed us.”
“Where?” startled, I looked out the cockpit window. “I don’t see anything.”
“Yeah there. Just past us.”
Searchingly, I looked up at the night sky, but couldn’t see any spaceship. And then it happened. An alarm sounded, a red light lit up in the cockpit. “Radarlock!” Someone had locked on to us with their weapons targeting computer.
“Damn it!” with my fist I pounded on the control horn. Who was that? And where was the away team?
Then came the message from Kjeld. “There’s no one on the roof. Not in the entry area either. We’re coming back on board.”
This couldn’t be true. What was going on here?
“Root, anything on the radio? Do you have a message from the target?” I didn’t know what was louder. My heart or my voice.
“Nothing on the channel to the informer.” came Root’s prompt reply.
“And otherwise on the radio?”
“Wait. There’s a radio message on the MBOC channel.”
“Terrorist activity at Shubin Interstellar headquarters. Possible reference to detained informer at Shubin.Sending MSF to clarify situation.“
“Who’s the MSF?” I was confused, agitated, and overwhelmed.
“It doesn’t matter at all. We’ve got to get out of here. The radio call came from the MBOC. I don’t want to fall into the hands of the torturers again.” Fear was evident in Brubacker’s voice.
“You’re right. Is the away team on board?”
“Away team on board.” reported Root.
The White-Rabbit rose and slid over the edge from the roof of the skyscraper. Then I dropped it downward. We fell, just before hitting the ground I intercepted the ship and thundered between the skyscrapers of the city. The “radarlock” warning light was still on. I had to shake off the other ship. Whoever it was.
After a daring low-level flight and several zig-zag quantum jumps in orbit, I landed in the solitude of Microtech’s tundra, far from any outposts. I had to take a breath and calm down.
“Are we safe here?” Kjeld had worry lines on his forehead.
“No one will find us here anytime soon.”
We stood in the Star Runner lounge, looking at each other, perplexed. Someone had beaten us to it and caught the snitch. My source of information had dried up. We ourselves had barely gotten away.
“We’ve got to get to the Renaissance. To the Thiago party. I bet that’s where all the threads come together.” Brubacker suddenly blurted out.
I looked at him, aghast. “How are we supposed to get up there without an invitation?”
Then Kjeld spoke up. “We’ll mingle with the staff and secretly search the ship. All we need now is a quick getaway.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“The only question that remains is where to secure our classified information.” Kjeld continued. “ArcCorp would be a good place. There we can blend in with the mass of people and signals. How about at your place in the newsroom Bru? “
“There you can give it to Thiago and MBOC right away. You can get the door open with a toothpick.”
“I could ask Twitch.” I pondered aloud. “She controls the underworld on ArcCorp, and it was through her that I got in touch with the snitch. Could be she’s helping us.”
I wondered what terrifying information the informer had. We had been so close to clearing it up. Now we were empty-handed.
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