Date: May 9, 2199
Axel Nash clung to a charred side of a satellite covered in Hindu warning labels, trying not to think about his life choices. White clouds crossed South America, below.
This is almost over, he reminded himself. You’re doing this for the money. All your kids need to go to school. If you weren’t a war criminal, you’d have a desk job right now and you’d want to kill yourself.
Three days ago, a Canadian smuggler dropped him off at a floating cargo hulk. Once there, Axel deployed a life boat, secured it to the hull, and waited for his partner, Asha Killick, to get into orbit.
His affirmation was broken by Killick’s voice through the earpiece inside his suit’s helmet, “The EU patrols just passed by. You’re clear. Get moving, killer.”
Axel did a quick scan of the spacecraft in orbit above Earth. He couldn’t see any military vessels at the moment, just construction supply drones and freight haulers. Far above him, a constellation of ship yards and commercial warehouses arced across the blackness of space. Beyond that was Luna and too many terrifying memories to think about. Below him, junk recovery drones, with their large claws and huge cargo bays, intercepted space debris in orbit, miles above South America.
His ear piece chirped again. “You’ve got three minutes to get over here,” said Killick, “before the Brazilians roll through.”
“Be there in sixty seconds,” Axel whispered.
He didn’t need to whisper, but open space did that to a man. It humbled free-floating astronauts. He heard it called Orbit-lul while at Micro-G Combat School.
“So, a few days of space camping has made you faster,” said Killick. “I’ll remember that.”
“Fuck you,” said Axel. “I’m never doing that again.”
With that, he switched off his magnetic gloves and tapped the thrusters of his jetpack. Inertia pushed his head back into his helmet.
Timing was everything; the next hop from the Hindu wreckage was to an Imperial Chinese “weather station,” an innocuous name for spy satellite. From the look of its gentle rotation, it hadn’t been used in decades; probably a casualty of the first Solar War. Functional ones had self-stabilizing jets in order to maintain a perfect platform for the cameras inside to snoop on the unsuspecting citizens and government personnel above or below.
The weather station was a perfect target, the size of an old jet airliner. It would conceal Axel before his final hop, where he would have to lunge ten nautical miles through open space to reach the target, the Orbital Ibara Databank, owned by the Franco-Kruge Corporation.
Meanwhile inside the bank, Killick strolled through the halls of the administrative wing, running his hands along marble panels. The scent in the air reminded him of Tavington’s in Sydney, perfumed to cover up the smell of the new life support filtration systems. Three dimensional paintings, all the rage in North America twenty years ago, decorated the walls.
Inwardly, he was bursting with excitement. Today marked the end of six months of planning. He stood up on his tip toes when no one was looking, testing the bank’s gravitational field. Franco-Kruge spared no expense. He felt like he was at sea level. Earth’s latest secure data warehouse catered to the elite’s demanding tastes. When the rich traveled into space, they expected to feel as though they were still on Earth. Floating in micro-gravity was not to their liking.
Despite the excitement, his body was calm, thanks to the sedative he swallowed on the trip up from Earth an hour before. A secretary caught his eye and smiled. He threw her a wink. Glup Data Systems, Killick and Axel’s employer for this job, would soon rejoice in their chief rival’s catastrophic misfortune.
A tour guide’s French accent bounced off the walls of the administrative wing. “…making this, the Orbital Ibara Databank a fortress, unique in its security and catalog of services. The exterior shield system and projectile defenses insure that no flying debris or would-be pirates,” he paused to snicker, “attempt to take the bank by force. Construction is almost complete, but the vault and security systems are in place, and we have already begun housing some of the solar system’s most sensitive data. Now, if you will all please follow me; I will take you on a brief stroll through the…” The tour guide trailed off. A gaggle of potential customers and Franco-Kruge sales reps followed him around the corner.
Killick continued his own tour. No one paid attention to him, assuming he was just another corporate player, inspecting his division’s operations.
His credentials matched those on file for Francis LaFont, the company’s Director of Natural Resource Development for the Western African Union. A nano-skin mask completed the disguise. The mask’s particles responded to a 3D image upload of the real LaFont. They molded themselves to form a remarkable likeness of him over Killick’s face, right down to the cleft at the tip of Lafont’s chiseled jaw.
He also wore an immaculate replica of the handmade Franco-Kruge level three director’s suit, a double-breasted navy-blue jacket with a high collar and light gray pinstripes, spaced exactly one and a half inches apart. The proximity of pinstripes on a jacket denoted a man’s seniority; the closer together the stripes, the more senior the man. His tie, maroon with gold stripes, was held perfectly against his chest with a platinum tie clasp. Electromagnetic plates hid inside his Portuguese loafers. No one could see the white honeycomb fabric of his atmospheric re-entry suit under his disguise.
At the end of a gilded hallway, Killick stopped in front of the security control room doors. Through a window, he took a second to gaze at the illuminated network of civilization down on Earth. The American capital, Denver, was a bright center in an otherwise bleak landscape. In that moment, he wondered how the country looked when the United States was the only superpower.
Killick’s earpiece cracked with Axel’s voice. “Ready for the last jump. Am I clear?”
“Give me two minutes,” Killick replied. “About to enter the security room.” He itched his cheek, feeling the mask adjust back into place on its own. He saw little ripples on his face in the window’s reflection. “Where are you?”
“Clinging to this floating hulk, the Chinese satellite,” said Axel.
“Hmmm, I think I see you. Call you back in a sec.”
Through the window, Killick could also see the bank’s tubular docking platform. The long arm extended out about one hundred meters. Ships from construction companies and news conglomerates clung to the docking arm. Corporate shuttles with their sleek lines were docked at the end.
After saying a silent prayer to the god of forged IDs, Killick waved his access card over the door lock panel. The door beeped and opened for him.
Panel screens lined the security room. Plastic crates full of equipment leaned against the walls, waiting to be unpacked. Computer terminals with empty cargo crates for chairs huddled together in the center of the room. A carpet of multi-color wires snaked over each other, under tables and into holes in the walls. The loud hum of portable air conditioning units drowned out ambient noise, keeping the room cool until the permanent ones could be installed. Killick observed two armed guards and five technicians. He’d have to move quickly.
The guards glanced over at him, nodded, and went back to talking in a corner. Each wore a black security uniform and carried Chekov anti-personnel flechette pistols on their hips, innocuous to the bank’s life preserving hull, but deadly to a human at close range.
A skinny kid at a terminal raised his hand and motioned for one of his fellow techs to come over to him. “That derelict weather satellite is getting a little close, sir. Should we engage it?” Killick could see numbers, showing distance and speed flickered up and down. The words “railgun” blinked on the screen as the kid toggled through the bank’s available weapons.
Killick recognized that kid had the power to shred the satellite, and anything close to it, including Axel. His muscles tensed.
“No,” said the other tech, looking over the kid’s shoulder. “Trajectory shows it will miss us, by about a kilometer.”
Killick pretended to take an interest in a screen next to the guards, which showed a camera feed fixed on the tour he left in the hallway. A woman caught his eye. She was slim and powerful. Her legs moved with precision—military-like. Almond-shaped eyes darted everywhere from behind platinum blonde hair. He’d seen that woman before, at a security trade show in a display case. His pulse rose.
Insurance, he thought.
He recognized a squib when he saw one. She kept two paces behind the last sales rep, sneaking glances over her shoulder every few meters. Killick and Axel knew there might be squibs on the bank, blending in with potential customers for an added layer of security. Several French corporations had license to use artificial humans for off-world operations.
“Excuse me, Director. May I be of some assistance?” a technician asked as he stepped over cables and stood next to Killick.
Killick studied the man for a second. He had crazy brown and gray hair and the buttons on his shirt struggled against his large belly.
Killick smiled. “Oh my, is that a ballpoint pen in your pocket?” he asked, pointing to the antique. He almost had to shout over the AC unit humming. “I’ve never seen one close up.”
“Yes, sir.” The man smiled, rubbing the pen in his breast pocket. Someone as high-ranking in the company as Monsieur LaFont taking an interest in his simple trinket caused him to twitch with pride. “My grandfather’s. He was a computer expert in—”
Killick’s hand shot forward like a striking viper. He snatched the pen and slammed the metal point into one of the security guard’s temple. With his other hand he ripped an eight-inch plastic dagger from under his necktie. He drove it into the other guard’s chest. The two men slumped to the ground, looks of shock combined with agony on their faces. The AC unit muffled their last futile gasps for air.
The ballpoint pen owner clasped his hands over his now empty pocket. He was about to turn and shout, but Killick took a step and drove his knee into the man’s groin. He stammered and bent forward. Killick followed this by snapping the man’s thick neck. He fell in a heap onto the wire carpet.
Killick grabbed one of the dead guard’s flechette pistols. No one in the room noticed; too focused on their work. He popped back up and opened fire with deadly accuracy. Blood splattered across terminals. Bodies crashed to the floor.
The only person in the room to react was the gunner. His eyes bulged. He shrank in his chair and threw his hands up. “What is this!” he shouted.
Killick walked past the three dead techs, blood pumping onto keyboards. Years of military service, fighting in the First Solar War, made him numb to the carnage now spilling across the room. He pressed a hot metal barrel to the gunner’s head.
“This,” said Killick, “is a brand execution.” He pulled the trigger.
Red and gray matter splattered over the screen fixed on the Chinese satellite.
Killick flicked a switch on his shoes activating the hidden magnetic strips. He would need them in a moment. Then he removed his tie clasp and pressed a button. A small pin shot out like a switchblade. He stabbed the pin into a terminal’s jellyfish interface on the desk.
The spongy computer input could accept just about any hardware interface that was pressed into the jelly-like bubble. The software in the tie clasp went to work on contact. It sought out and overrode the alarms. It disabled the deflector shields, giving Axel a clear path to jump from his perch and climb onto the exterior of the bank.
The screen closest to Killick lit up and gave him total access to the bank’s systems, life support, navigation, gravity, and security monitoring.
“Clear to jump,” said Killick.
He heard Axel grunt as he lunged from the satellite, toward the bank.
“That took you almost three minutes,” said Axel. “Getting slow in your old age.”
“Last I checked, you’ve got more gray hair than me,” said Killick as he cycled through camera views inside and outside of the bank. He found one to watch Axel gliding towards the bank. The others he fixed on the tour group.
“By the way, there’s a squib onboard,” said Killick.
“Great,” said Axel with a hint of frustration. “What’s he look like?”
“Not a him, a her. She looks serious. I’ve seen this model before.”
“You sound scared.” Axel grunted again as he caught on to the bank’s outer hull.
“Hardly. However, it was not my intent to get into a running gun battle ten miles above Terra Firma.”
The staggering size of the bank made Axel feel like a mosquito on the back of an elephant. His boots snapped against the hull via metallic plates in the boots and gloves. The heads-up display in his helmet pointed to a small gray panel, forty meters away, up the wall, and to his right.
“Headed to the vault now,” said Axel.
“So is the tour group,” replied Killick. “They’re at the main doors.”
Long, black solar arrays and communications antennas stretched away from the exterior above and below Axel. There were no observation windows on this section of the hull, so for the time being, there was no chance of anyone seeing him, other than Killick in the security control room.
The armored plates protecting the main data safe looked the same as the rest of a series of gray metal panels covering the outer hull. Axel looked down and double-checked the image recognition system in his helmet. Green lights blinked over the area indicating this was the spot. He marveled at the precision of Glup Data Systems’s intelligence branch, wondering how hackers had gotten their hands on the schematics of the bank’s entire structure. On the other side of the panel lay a Carbell Model 77 encrypted data safe.
He detached a tube of corrosive gel from his belt and began tracing a line around the hull. A moment later, he inserted a remote detonator and took a few steps back. The detonator’s electric charge would activate the corrosive and eat through the hull in seconds.
“Ready to dance?” Axel asked.
“Thought you’d never ask,” replied Killick. “Let me know when you’re in.”
Axel activated the gel. The metal turned black underneath. Light crept out of the dark crevasse as the metal disappeared. Whips of the gel floated off the metal as pockets of air escaped into the void of space. Seconds later, Axel knelt on the hull with his magnet tipped gloves and pulled the two-by-three-meter plate free.
Alarms indicating a severe hull breach flickered in the security room. One by one, Killick acknowledged them as false alerts. The ground control stations would be calling soon, looking for answers about a breech alarm. Axel had maybe two minutes before they’d try to seize the bank’s systems remotely. Then he’d be trapped and Axel would be floating on his own.
“Two minutes before ground control response,” said Killick. “And the visitors will be in the vault in less than one minute.”
“Way ahead of them,” said Axel. “Get set. Almost time to fly.”
Another reinforced plate, meant as a last failsafe to protect the vault computer from debris impacts, separated Axel from the Carbell system’s circuits and storage drives. Thankfully, removing this this plate would not depressurize the vault’s showroom.
He melted the steel away and plugged his suit’s computer system into the vault’s maintenance uplink. Illegal hacking scripts, known as Copper, shot into the vault. They would dissect and eliminate the software security in milliseconds.
Images of the vault’s operating system flickered across his heads-up display. Passwords faded. Files copied to Axel’s onboard storage. The vault’s treasures and all their failsafes became the sole property of Axel Nash. The most vital secrets for over a thousand corporations and governments now rested in his suit.
With the payload secure, Axel uploaded a final slap in the face to Franco-Kruge. They’d find that one as soon as the arrogant tour guide tried to show off their wonder vault. He disconnected his suit and pulled himself back onto the hull.
“Did you see the last script get loaded?” asked Axel.
“Looking good,” Killick replied. “Gravity will go into maintenance mode in twenty seconds. I’m on my way out.”
Killick started two separate countdowns in his head, one for the tour to reach the vault, twenty seconds, and another for the ground control response, ninety seconds. He pulled his tie clasp out of the Jellyfish interface, retracted the pin, and returned it to his necktie. One pistol went into his belt. He didn’t care to pull his dagger out of the dead guard. That would take too much time. He walked over the mess of cables, past the limp technicians, and punched the “open door” button to the hallway.
Right before the door opened, he noticed a red blinking light on the dead gunner’s watch.
“Oh, shit,” he said aloud.
The door clicked open and Killick felt the impact of a jack hammer. He heard and felt cracking in his chest as he flew backwards. He struggled to take in a breath. Tears blinded him. He crashed into a pile of crates. His field of vision collapsed to the size of a pinhead.
Get up, get up! he screamed to himself.
He tried to stand, stopping when he got to a kneeling position. His chest screamed. He fumbled for the pistol in his belt. Something ripped his arm backwards. Cartilage snapped as his shoulder tore from the socket. Bolts of pain shot down his back.
He heard a woman’s voice. “Who are you?”
Get up. Get up or you’re dead! he thought.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. “Did you kill these men?”
Killick registered a faint Japanese accent in her voice.
He tried to stand up again. A foot slammed into his stomach. He felt like vomiting, but at the same time, struggled to breathe. His arms quivered, trying to hold himself up on all fours. Blood filled his mouth, which he spat onto the cables. He forced his eyes open. Demure legs in leather sandals stood in front of him. He coughed. His fingers brushed against a cable running between the woman’s feet.
“I asked you a question,” she hissed.
She drew back her leg to kick him again. Killick yanked the cable with all his remaining strength. It snapped against her stationary foot. She flew into the air and crashed to the floor.
Killick labored to his feet. He fought agony in his chest, trying to draw in air. He growled and forced the crippling pain to the back of his mind. He’d been shot before, and it hadn’t hurt nearly this bad.
Axel’s helmet echoed with Killick’s groaning and coughing. Something was very wrong.
“Killick,” he shouted. “Killick, are you alright, buddy?”
Seconds ticked away. He continued his climb across the bank’s hull like a frightened spider, careful to plant each limb so that the magnets in his gloves and boots could grip the sleek surface. Using the jet pack this close to the station was too dangerous. He could accidentally slam into an antenna or solar panel or maintenance hatch, any of which could crack his helmet or rip his suit.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” cooed the tour guide, “we now reach the pièce de résistance in our tour, the banking industry’s most secure vault, the Carbell Model 77. I would like to point out, we have successfully negotiated with three of the five superpowers and inter-planetary multinationals to allow for all assets held in orbit, to be protected by the Lunar Treaty of 2179.”
The group stood clustered in a mirrored hallway, visibly excited to actually witness the safe that Franco-Krudge boasted as the most secure data vault in the solar system. The tour guide nodded to the four thick, black-clad security guards and waved his access card to open the door.
They entered the small vault room. “And here it is. We’ve already begun housing millions of files for our clients.” The tour guide made a sweeping arc towards the row of four computer screens. Each glowed red with the words “ERROR 9889—system boot sector missing.” His arm stopped in mid arc as the color drained from his face.
“What is that?” asked a woman in a bright red robe. She pointed a finger at the terminals. An old man next to her grabbed his stomach and vomited. People waved their arms and grabbed at each other. Everyone started to float.
“Emergency gravity, emergency gravity!” someone shouted.
The guards in the main corridor tried to claw their way to the door and help the frantic clients, only to flounder in midair. They began frantically shouting into their radios. The slick, opulent walls offered little purchase for ones who could reach out and touch them.
Curse words and shouts in a dozen different languages echoed over the sounds of people, unaccustomed to weightlessness, regurgitating their breakfast.
Killick’s feet remained planted on the floor as papers, computer tablets, gadgets, and limp bodies rose in the air. The countdown timer in his head, for the tour, hit zero. The cables on the floor began to levitate.
Sixty seconds until ground control gets the gravity warning, Killick’s mind flashed.
The squib flipped herself over. She hovered ten feet away. The cable used to trip her was still wrapped around one leg. Her face boiled with anger. The almond eyes narrowed.
“Killick, I’m at an airlock. Be there in a second. Hang on,” Axel shouted. He was breathing hard.
The room was also filled with large objects drifting and gently colliding with each other. A monitor bumped into an air conditioning unit.
Killick took a step towards the door. Daggers of broken ribs stabbed his muscles. He seethed. A notebook hit him in the head. Off to his left, the squib had anchored herself to the wall via exposed ductwork and was trying to tear a flat screen off the wall. Her beautiful blonde hair, still in its ponytail, stuck out like the end of a witch’s broom.
Killick had to get out of there. He took another step. A nebula of clutter obscured his line of sight to the door.
One foot after the other, Killick swatted at globs of coffee and clouds of paper as he staggered towards the door. Thankfully the tables were bolted to the floor. He used them to pull himself forward.
The squib finally ripped the flat screen from the wall. Sparks flew from electrical connections. She wound up and hurled it towards Killick. He managed to duck right as the screen flew over his head and smashed into a tech’s floating corpse.
Then a flechette gun caught his eye as it floated past. He grabbed it and opened fire on the squib.
The recoil felt great in his hand as he emptied the clip into her. Four rounds found their mark in the head and chest. Her head snapped back and she slammed in to the wall. Her artificial blood floated in a red mist around her. The pistol clicked and Killick tossed it away.
He pushed himself to the main door and opened it. He met with an empty hallway. Inside, he rejoiced. He knew getting into another fight would kill him.
Fifty-one seconds until ground control gets the gravity warning.
Inside the airlock, Axel didn’t stop to remove his jet pack. He had to get to Killick and somehow make his way to one of the shuttles. They had to get the hell off the bank. From the sound of it, his partner was in no shape to do a free return to Earth as the plan had originally called for. They’d have to improvise.
An android attendant floated to his left. Axel could imagine her smiling and greeting the clients and guests from her desk. She displayed all the features of the latest Brazilian models, realistic skin, bone structure. She even had faint tan lines on her shoulders. He looked straight ahead towards the security room.
Lazy workmanship was exposed when couches drifted into the hallway. A woman in an orange construction jumpsuit tried to push them out of the way as she grasped for a doorframe. Axel stomped down the corridor, the magnets in his suit boots clamping down on the metallic floor. Panicked bank employees and construction workers crashed into one another. Some gawked at Axel in his opaque helmet. One man reached out to him. Axel shoved him back into an office.
Alarms sounded. “Attention. Gravity has been temporarily lost. Please remain calm. Maintenance personnel are working to correct this minor inconvenience.”
Axel rounded a corner to see Killick wincing, clutching his side. Blood covered his hands and seeped from under his nano-skin mask and stained his white shirt. Half of his face sagged.
With the press of a button, Axel’s face shield opened. “Killick, let’s go!”
Killick perked up seeing his partner and started limping down the hallway. Axel ran over and pulled the nano-skin mask off his head.
Killick howled in pain as the adhesive was unceremoniously ripped from his flesh. He stared back at Axel with a twinkle of fight still in his eyes. Axel threw his buddy’s arm over his shoulder and started to drag him towards the docking arm.
Killick gasped as he spoke, “We’ve got about five seconds before the ground control starts investigating.” He winced and gasped again. “Maybe a minute before they take control of the station and lock us—”
“Turn your boots off. I’ll drag you,” said Axel.
Killick did as he was told and his feet floated upwards.
The intercom started in again. “Attention. Gravity has been temporarily lost. Please remain calm. Maintenance personnel are working to correct this minor inconvenience.”
They made their way into the main lobby. It was an opulent space with soaring hand-painted ceilings and a tiered fountain in the center. Water shot from the fountain into an expanding bubble, which now enveloped several glittering chandeliers. A balcony ringed the lobby. People floated everywhere or clung to secure objects. Cries for help echoed off the frescoed walls.
Axel broke into a run towards the open docking bay door, on the other side of the undulating water bubble. To his right, an armed response team stormed into the lobby, having activated their magnetic boots. They bristled with body armor and flechette weapons.
Axel locked eyes with the lead of the response team. A sneer rolled across the man’s face.
“Stop where you are!” he shouted, stabbing a finger at Axel and Killick.
A pair of floating women screamed at the top of their lungs.
Axel kept running. The guard raised his pistol.
“Who is that?” asked Killick in a sleepy voice.
Axel ignored him. Instead, he looked back to make sure he had a solid grip on Killick’s collar.
“Hold on!” Axel shouted. He flipped his face shield back down, turned off his boot magnets, and activated the thruster on his jet pack.
“Fuck it,” he said to himself. They were dead anyway if he couldn’t thread the needle.
The response team opened fire. Sparks flew up from the floor in front of Axel. Flechette rounds ripped through the massive water bubble.
Axel jammed down the jet pack throttle button in his glove. His head snapped back. The two of them shot into the water bubble. Gun barrels flashed. Sparks lit up the walls. People screamed for their lives.
For a brief second, the world calmed down and Axle heard the gurgle of water rushing over his body, as if he were scuba diving. Then they were through it. The bubble exploded on their exit, sending smaller bubbles in all directions.
They blasted through the docking bay corridor. Individual lights looked like a single tube stretching from one end to the other. Numbered airlock doors became a blur of gray and yellow. Axel threw on the retro jets halfway down the corridor. Killick’s body flew forward with the change in velocity. Axel held on to him for dear life and braced himself. The two of them slammed into the wall at the end of the tunnel. Water splashed everywhere.
Door number seventy-six greeted the two men. Killick went into a fit of gasps and coughs. Axel clicked his boots back on and felt his feet connect with the floor. Door 76 led to the Franco-Kruge executive shuttle, a sleek black luxury craft.
Axel punched the hatch release button right as the response team rushed into the tunnel. Water bubbles obscured their line of sight. They fired wildly down the corridor. Pockets of water exploded. Flechette rounds slammed into the walls.
“Eight seconds and we’re fucked!” Killick shouted. Wet hair clung to his battered face.
Ground control had surely realized the bank was under attack and was transmitting the lockdown codes to the main security computer in the bank.
The ship’s airlock doors hissed open and Axel threw Killick into the shuttle. The ship’s grav field caught him and brought him to the deck in a sloppy heap. He coughed up blood and water, but managed a thumb’s up.
Axel followed, slapping the airlock close button on the other side of the door. Once inside the shuttle, Axel found the emergency release handle. He pulled down hard. The metal lever locked in a downward position and the shuttle released its bond with the docking arm.
“That could have gone a little smoother,” said Killick.
“We’re outta here,” said Axel. “Strap yourself in.”
Axel pulled himself into the spacious cockpit and set a course for re-entry. He watched the docking arm float away from the ship’s cockpit.
Killick groaned as he pulled a tablet from his bloody suit and started tapping icons. Nash noticed that the screen was a spider web.
“That thing looks worse that you do,” said Nash.
“Might have saved my life. Oh, boy.” Killick’s mouth hung open. “Glup Data Systems just released a press statement. The headline reads, ‘Orbital Blank…the Ibara Databank was shown to be full of blank hard drives at the grand unveiling this morning. Officials were humiliated to find nothing but empty space when showing the data vault to a crowd of potential customers.’ Something about investigations and lawsuits…”
Nash felt his blood boil. “Jesus Christ, we’re not even out of sight of the place and they’re telling everyone? Fucking idiots. Did they at least pay us?” He banked around a junk drone, narrowly missing the thing’s collection claws.
“Oh shit, did they,” said Killick. “Even included a ‘performance bonus’ for the humiliation of stealing the CFO’s shuttle.”
“Is that what this thing is?”
Killick winced in pain as he took a moment to look around the opulent shuttle. “I guess so.”
They looked at each other and shouted at once, “Dibs!”