Experiment #345

Six Zeros Part 9

Masq fired at the postal inspector, but with her arm hurt she missed unintentionally.

“Move,” Gerard shouted into the comm. She grabbed the liftbot and sent it careening for the inspector while everyone else ran.

“Dumb Ox and Masq, head for the cargo bay and make a lot of noise so he follows you. Cy and Fishmonger, on me. We’re gonna finish this.”

A few moments later Gerard heard shots being fired as she, Cy, and Fishmonger arrived at the door. “Toliver, I’m here,” Gerard said.

“That’s Commander Toliver-”

“Do you wanna open the stupid door or not? Give me the code.”

“It’s a complicated binary encoding that-”

“So cut the Flying Flark and give me the ones and zeroes.”

“Just put the encoder in the door slot.”

“Why am I here if we’re using an encoder?” Fishmonger asked. “Cracking codes is what I do.”

Gerard ignored him. “It’ll be faster if you just give me the code,” she said to Toliver.

“Yeah but a lot more dangerous. Just connect the encoder.”

Plasma laser fire sounded in a nearby corridor. “Fine.” She put the encoder in the door’s slot.

“Transmitting…now.” The lights on the machine began to blink.

“How long’s this gonna take?”

“Long as it needs to.”

“My Granny could do it faster.”

YourGranny wouldn’t need a device.”

The light turned green and door opened.

“Ok, I’m in.”

“Great. Leave the door open and head back to the ship.”


“You heard me.” Then, widening the communication to the whole team, he said, “Mission accomplished, return to the ship.”

“We did all this just to open the door? What about the calibrator?”

Closing back in on her, he said, “Our mission was to open the door. Now head back to the ship.”

Gerard looked inside the large cabinet that held the postal beacon. Most of it was worthless tools or things too big to carry or hide.

“We’re just leaving?” Cy asked.

“Following orders,” she said.

“Don’t want to get blown up,” Fishmonger said, pointing at his bionic leg. Cy couldn’t tell if he was joking or serious. Gerard sighed and headed back to the ship, and Ox and Masq joined them, both with white fire-suppressant gas clinging to their suits.

“Long story,” Masq said, “but I think we convinced him we were after the cargo and nothing else.”

Suddenly the atmosphere of the postal carrier rushed past them. Fishmonger was in the rear; his prosthetic leg clamped down as soon as it registered that it was slipping on the deck. The team’s bodies became missiles rushing back in the direction they’d come. Fishmonger caught Cy, who turned red and quickly caught everyone else except Gerard–she’d been quick enough to activate the magnets in her boots.

“We’ve gotta get back to the ship and out of here before he brings back more postals. Dumb Ox and Cy, you’re in back covering our escape.”

By the time they made it to the airlock the atmosphere in the ship was gone. “Toliver, you ready for us?” Gerard asked.

“Yeah, but make it quick. Four Veruzan-class ships are on their way and Kilmer wants us gone before they get here.”

“Well, if Daddy says so,” Masq said.

“Fishmonger,” Toliver said, “please disconnect Masq’s air supply for me.”

Without even a question, Fishmonger put his hand on the hose that provided air from the tank to her helmet.

“Stop it!” Gerard yelled. “Anthony, stop!”

Fishmonger closed the valve between her helmet and the air tank, then turned to Gerard.

“You’ll kill her!” Cy shouted.

“I will not have any of you disobeying me in the field,” Toliver said. “Keep your snide remarks and disrespectful banter to yourself. Is that clear? And no one fires without my say so. Got it?”

No one spoke. Masq breathed heavily, further depleting her air.

“I need a verbal on this,” Toliver said.

Cy, Ox, Pyrite, and Masq all affirmed. It seemed clear Fishmonger didn’t need to confirm. Masq was beginning to panic–she couldn’t reach the valve, and Fishmonger successfully kept himself between her and the others.

“Gerard?” Toliver asked.

Gerard looked at each of them, coming to Fishmonger last. She looked in his eyes as she said. “I understand.”

“All right,” Toliver said. “Fishmonger, reopen her valve. Everyone back on board, and quick. We’ve got a lot to get done.”

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