The next week or so was spent alternately between planning and training. Toliver called the next mission “The one they’d been recruited for” but wouldn’t give them any more details on what they were doing, except that they were to plant a virus in a Ftharan dignitary’s personal data center.
“Why do we have to go inside the building? Can’t we hit it from a network drop outside?” Fishmonger asked.
“If only we could, but the virtual screening procedures would pick up any viral code before we could install it,” Toliver said.
“What if we hack the screening software so that it lets our program through?” Cy asked.
Everyone blinked at him.
“It’s a no-go,” Toliver said. “They’re checked every thirty seconds against backups, and even if we were fast enough, the approval process is set at two minutes to thwart such attempts. The only way to upload a virus is at a panel within the building.”
“Can’t we just blow it up?” Pyrite asked.
“The server room is shielded and each cabinet could withstand a bomb hit.”
“What’s the virus do?” Masq asked.
“Then how will we know if it’s installed correctly?” Gerard asked.
“That’s a whole lot of nothing for us to risk our necks on.”
“Perhaps you’d rather I blew up your neck right now?”
“I’m just saying that if we can’t confirm install on the ground, they won’t let us back in a second time.”
Toliver shook his head. “It deletes certain sensitive files, pertinent to the security of the Colonial Federation.”
“Which files?” Fishmonger asked.
“Classified. I don’t even know their exact nature. But if we get this done right you’ll be ready for that shuttle and a million credits.”
“Did inflation go up?” Cy asked. “I remember a million credits being a lot of money. Seems like a lot to delete some files.”
“Files must be important,” Ox said, though everyone else had already thought of that.
“Who’s the dignitary whose house we’re busting into?” Pyrite asked.
“Boss Clawf,” Toliver replied.
Gerard’s ears perked up.
“The head of the Ftharan syndicate?” Fishmonger asked.
“When we pull this off we’ll be famous,” Pyrite said.
“Yeah, till he finds us and feeds us our own stomachs,” Masq said. “Boss Clawf is no one to mess with. I say we pass on this job.”
“Yeah, this is a death wish,” Fishmonger said.
“Count me out,” Ox said.
“Hey, no skin off my back if your head explodes for non-compliance.” Toliver raised his finger above the tablet computer he held. “See you in the afterlife.”
“Let’s not be hasty here,” Gerard said, pulling out of her own thoughts.
“Awww,” Pyrite said in a patronizingly sweet voice, “Did little nummy-kins fall in love with the big, dumb ox?”
“Stop it,” Cy said. His skin began to turn a shade of red.
“Playing the hero, Mr. Hero?” Pyrite asked.
Cy raised his fist but Gerard stopped him. “You can’t do this on your own, Pyrite, so either do something helpful or we all get blown up,” she said. “Either we’re all-out and dead or all-in. What do you say, Masq?”
“I think twelve-year-olds should be in school,” he said with a smile.
To Be Continued…