Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Imperium's Finest

“That doesn’t belong there!”

After nearly two decades in covert operations for the Imperium, you’d think I would have gotten accustomed to the ability of the artificial intelligence implanted within my neocortex to sound, simultaneously, reproving and condescending. 

I really didn’t need the AI’s input to know the isolinear chip I was realigning was not, in point of fact, properly placed. The not-insignificant amount of current travelling through my biological systems and threatening to short out my cybernetic implants served as an exceptionally effective indicator of that. But bless his silicon-encrusted heart, Odysseus couldn’t resist helping.

One of these days, I would succeed in my ongoing quest to convince him of the expediency of butting out when I got in a tight spot. Yeah…and then I was going to get my sock drawer organized and finish off by getting caught up on the support payments to my three former spouses. Some challenges were beyond even the considerable assets of one of the Imperium’s most effective black operators.

Shrugging off such concerns in favor of more-pressing matters, I shunted the excess current to a capacitor implanted in my left thigh and, with a deft flick of my wrist, snapped the chip into place. A series of LED’s on the access panel changed configuration and, with a hiss of displaced air, the blast door in front of me opened. Ne panel in front of me changed their configuration and, with a hiss of displaced air, the magsteel door in front of me opearly a half-meter thick, I was impressed by how easily it rotated outward on the duranium gimbals. It was hard to not give credit to the Consortium for their industrial capabilities. My primary focus on this mission was to make sure that considerable advantage over the Imperium didn’t become insurmountable.

You currently have 4.775 minutes, plus or minus 17.425 seconds, before Consortium sensors will detect the unauthorized access of this vault. If you have not accomplished mission objectives and initiated extraction protocols within that time span, your odds for successful completion of mission parameters as well as your continued survival decrease below acceptable levels. In simplest terms, Dex, get your posterior motivated!”

I gritted my teeth and accepted discretion as the better part of valor rather than expend time with a suitably-snarky retort to the AI. Detaching each of the half dozen trinary explosive charges from my armored vest, I sub-vocalized my request and my ocular display lit up the structural stress points with a greenish pip. Placing a charge at each point and actuating their chemical components to critical mass, I gave the chamber a brief, longing glance. I’d have preferred bringing the tech home to blasting it to smithereens but the Imperium doesn’t pay me to think…just act.

Probing a back tooth with the tip of my tongue, I felt the disorientation as I dematerialized and reappeared aboard my singleship.

Mission objectives achieved. Initiating warp to Base Hydra. Well done, Dex. I was…worried for you. ”

In spite of myself, I smiled at the grudging tone of approval in the AI’s rasping mechanical voice. The old softie did care after all.


This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge prompt phrase: That doesn't belong there. 

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