“Annnnnnddddd we’ve got bay codes! Yes!” Z shouted after five minutes of frantic typing. “It took a bit longer than I expected, but-- What are you doing? Eeeeeeeeekkk!” the blonde woman screamed and jumped out of her chair when she saw Eve kneeling next to one of the guards. The vampire was holding her long hair back with one hand and had her face pressed up against his arm stump where the blood gushed.
“What is wrong?” Eve asked as she sat up from the man’s body. Her face was covered with crimson.
“You are drinking his blood!” The hacker pointed a trembling finger.
“Yes?” The raven haired woman licked her lips.
“You are a vampire!” Z shouted.
“Yes, you knew that.” Eve shrugged her shoulders and then wiped off some of her face with the back of her gloved hand.
“I was joking! I thought you just got the implants and eyes because you liked the way it looked.”
“Hmmm.” Eve nodded her head. “Yes, I understand that now. No, I’m not going to suck your blood.”
“How do I know that? When we get into deep space, you are going to get hungry. Then what? Do we need to like capture people and keep them on the ship so you can eat them?”
“Calm down, Z. No one is going to eat you,” I said as I stepped toward the blonde girl.
“Easy for you to say. She’s not gonna--”
“I do not need blood often. I eat regular food. The blood helps my powers. I believe I spent over thirty earth years as a prisoner in a tube without any. I can go for a long time. I’m still weak. It might take me years to regain my strength. You don’t need to fear me, Z. Besides Adam, you are my only friend.” Eve spoke quickly, and she managed to wipe the rest of her blood off of her face.
The hacker was still perched on top of the terminal desk, and she spun her gaze between the two of us. I could almost see the gears turning in her head, and I prayed that she wouldn’t do something stupid.
The elevator dinged behind us.
“Uh oh,” Z said.
“I thought you turned that off?” I asked.
“I did. They need to get someone to plug in from down below to set it manually.” She jumped from her perch and ran to the elevator.
“Can you stop it?” Eve asked.
“Maybe.” The hacker plugged her cord into the keypad. “The bigger issue is still how we are going to get out of the control tower. We can call the hover pad, but I’m guessing these fuckers are going to have gunmen down below, and we’ll be sitting ducks while we are up there. We could take this elevator down, but I didn’t think they would get here so fast.”
I looked to the side of the control room where Z had gestured. Attached to the tower were two hover cars. Their purpose was to shuttle people from the tower to various ships and back without people having to walk the great distance. We’d planned on taking them down, but Z was right, if we didn’t get on board in the next few minutes we would just get blasted out of the sky.
Then we would fall three hundred meters to the ground of the hangar.
“I can help us get down,” Eve said.
“How?” the hacker asked.
“With magic.” The vampire laughed, and the sound rang through my head like wind chimes.
“I sent the elevator back down, but they are just going to send it back in a minute. I need to figure out our take off approval, not play ping pong with these fucks. Can you handle the elevator?” she asked me.
“Confirmed,” I said as I stepped to the doorway.
“You sure you can get us down if we can’t use the hover shuttles?” I asked Eve.
“Yes. I like your plan. Let us burn their bridge.” The woman said.
I grunted and forced my clawed fingertips into the seams of the elevator door. I pulled my hands away from each other, and the metal parted to reveal the shaft. I hoped that it would have had the classic rope and counterbalance design, but this elevator looked to be using a magnetic sliding system. It would mean that I couldn’t cut a wire or blow off a counterweight to send the elevator crashing back to the ground.
I leaned out into the shaft and pointed my shotgun down into the darkness. The car was coming back up, and I could see the magnetic hangers on the roof. The devices flipped over the polarity so that the car climbed up without much energy. It made for a smooth and fast ride without any moving parts.
I pulled the trigger on my shotgun three times to send slugs down into one of the hangers. The device turned into a shower of sparks and fire almost immediately, and then I pointed my gun at the other one. I just did one shot this time, but the hanger broke just as quickly, and the elevator began to slide back down the shaft slowly. There must have been some sort of safety brake on it.
“The elevator is broken,” I reported to my friends.
“Can you two get a visual on the ship? I think it is over--”
“I know exactly where she is,” Eve said as she pointed through the window.
I’d spent only a few moments looking out of the window while Z did her thing, and the sight had overwhelmed me a bit. The hangar was massive. And there were at least fifty ships in various build states. The vessels were of different sizes, but there were three giant ones I guessed were over six hundred meters, and they blocked our view of the craft sitting behind them.
“Yeah. I know where it is on the map. I need to for the bay codes, but do you actually see it?”
“No. It is behind the one that looks like a gray whale. It is fifteen hundred meters from our position,” Eve said with a confident nod of her beautiful head.
“Fuck. More running,” Z sighed.
“We are almost there. What do you need to do for the approval?” I asked.
“Ughhh.” The young woman put her hand over her face. “I’m going to try something a bit unorthodox. This might not work, but I’m not finding a doorway to the government’s defense protocols.” She reached across the clutter of keyboards and set her hand on the phone. She clicked a few buttons on the screen she looked at and then put on a headset.
“Echo twelve. This is… EKS-One. I’ve got a bit of an issue here I was wondering if you could help me out with.” The hacker spoke with a bit of a nasal tone to her voice. “My superior was supposed to get approval to launch a craft from location one dash sixteen, bay four. For some reason, he didn’t call you guys to tell you. Now the director is here and everyone is yelling at me. I’ve got the graveyard crew sitting around with their thumbs up their asses.”
I heard a man’s voice through her headset, but the words were soft, and I couldn’t understand exactly what he said.
“Yeah. I know you need two weeks. Here’s the thing: my boss is a dickbag, his boss is a dickbag, and someone is going to lose their job over this. I’m not the girl who was supposed to be getting these approval codes, but I’m pretty sure the shit is going to roll down to me. Is there any way you could do me this favor? I know you aren’t supposed to, but I’d be exceptionally grateful. You would not believe the crap I have to deal with. Well, you probably do. I’m sure you work for a bunch of idiots as well.”
I heard the voice laugh on the other line, and then he spoke again. His accent was thick, and I realized that was why I was having problems understanding him.
“Thank you so much. You just saved my ass. I’m not joking either. Okay. The craft is HAD-35-11345-243-5432B. We are looking for a window starting now. Can you give us one?”
The voice spoke again, and Z smiled at us as she did a little fist pump.
“Great! I see the approval codes. You’ve been a real help. What’s your name?”
The man answered, and the hacker nodded.
“Well, Omar. I owe you a beer. You working all night? Can I call you after we get this thing launched?”
The man said something else and Z winked at us.
“Great. I’ll give you a call at your desk, and we’ll set it up. I have to go now. They are breathing down my neck. Talk to you soon.”
“That was very smart,” Eve said.
“Yeah. Hackers don’t just use the computer. You’d be surprised at how much stuff I get done by just making nice with someone over the phone. We are ready to go. The ship has all the codes on it. The bay doors are opening, and the approval is good. We should be able to escape Trappist - 1e without getting attacked by the planet’s security.”
“Until they figure out what is going on.” I peered over the side of the control room’s window. I didn’t see any guards down there, but we were very high up, and even the two hundred meter long ships looked like toys.
“Do we risk the shuttle?” Eve asked me as she pointed to the platforms connected to the control tower.
“I’ll send an empty one.”
The three of us walked onto the first platform. It was four meters wide and six meters long. There were two control sticks on the head podium of the shuttle, but there was also a keypad that I guessed could make the thing fly automatically.
“I’ll do that. You handle the shooting of assholes.” Z pushed my hand away from the controls and drummed her keys across the buttons. “Step back. Let’s see if this thing gets--”
“Rocket!” I yelled as the missile streaked toward us. It had been fired from below, and the long tail of smoke grabbed my attention.
I pushed Z into the other shuttle and managed to grab Eve’s arm as soon as it struck the platform. Z screamed as the craft we had just been standing on fell out of the sky, but Eve didn’t make a sound. The vampire woman was hanging from my grip, and her red eyes bore focused holes into mine.
Her feet dangled over almost a kilometer of empty space, and she would have fallen to her death if I had been half a second slower.
I yanked my left arm up, and the woman fell into my lap. Her arms tangled with mine for a second, but then we freed ourselves.
Thank you, Adam. I am again in your debt.
“No. I’m in yours,” I growled as I moved to the front of the hovercraft. I saw the group of guards down below and counted eight of them.
“This is so stupid!” Z yelled as she pushed the control sticks of the craft forward, the thing dipped and started to fly toward the ground. The top of the ship was open, and the air rushed past our heads with a screech.
Bullets were also rushing past our heads, bouncing off of the sides of the craft, and peppering the undercarriage.
I was trying to get to my feet so I could fire back at the guards, but Z was twisting our platform through the air like a drunken sailor. Every time I got to my feet, she slammed the controls another direction, and I slammed into the guardrail.
“We are going to dieeeeeeee!” Z screeched as another rocket popped from the ground.
“No,” Eve said calmly.
I looked at the vampire woman. Her dark hair flew away from her face, and her pale skin seemed to glow. She reached out her hand toward the missile, and her forehead knitted with concentration.
“Ahhhhhhhhh!” the vampire screamed. It didn’t sound like she was in pain, though, it seemed as if she was trying to lift something too heavy and she was putting every ounce of strength available to her into the movement.
I turned my tiger head and saw the missile dip down away from us. It made a looping motion and streaked back to the group of guards who had launched it. The men pointed into the air and tried to run, but they were too late. The ground exploded where they stood, and flaming bits of armored bodies flew across the open space of the hangar.
“Did you do that?” Z’s voice was half terrified question and half triumphant cry of exuberance.
“Yes,” Eve panted. Her eyes weren’t glowing anymore, and her skin looked like it had changed to an ash color.
“Uhhh. Can you do it again? This thing is broken, and we are going to crash.” The shuttle started to tailspin slowly, and it was clear that Z’s joystick motions weren’t doing anything to control the hovercraft.
“I think so, but I might faint,” Eve said.
“I’ll carry you,” I said.
“Sooner rather than later!” the hacker screamed as our vehicle lurched suddenly.
Then we were in free fall.
My feet lifted off of the base of the vehicle for a few seconds, but then the fall seemed to stop. I saw Eve’s eyes glowing again, and the woman clutched onto the side railing as if she was trying to pull it back away from its tumble. Her long dark hair floated in the air above her neck, and it danced with a frantic urgency.
Z let out a scream half a second before we slammed into the ground of the hangar. There was a tearing rip that sounded like lightning opening the sky. The hovercraft bounced once, twice, and then a third time before it slid across the ground. Each impact ripped large chunks of metal off the vehicle, but the base managed to remain mostly intact.
“Adam,” Eve whispered as soon as we stopped sliding. The woman tumbled toward me, and I grabbed her before she completely fainted.
“Ugh.” Z coughed and groaned. The tattooed woman was curled up in a ball at the front of the craft. She was bleeding from a cut on her scalp, and a stream of blood dribbled down her right cheek and neck.
“You okay?” I asked.
“No, but that is probably good. Means we are still alive.” She tried to get to her feet, but her hand missed the grab for the crumpled railing, and she collapsed back on her ass.
“I’ll carry you,” I growled.
“I’m okay, just very tired for some reason. Shit, am I bleeding?” she touched her fingers to her cheek and then blinked at the blood.
“Yes. You hit your head.” I let go of my shotgun and crouched next to the hacker. She opened her arms a bit so I could pick her up easier, and I balanced her on the shoulder opposite Eve. It was a bit of a mess with both women, my shotgun, and Eve’s rifle in the mix, but I got all the different limbs and weapons sorted by the time I climbed down from the ruin of the hovercraft. I spun around to get my bearings in the shipyard, spotted the massive gray whale ship that the Eve had pointed to earlier, and then I started running.
Only fifteen hundred meters of open hangar space before we were on the ship.