I hate this job.
It's boring, the pay sucks, and I was just denied reassignment.
I don't complain much though, the boss is scary.
If I piss him off, my head will roll. Literally.
Well, I should really say it's as expected of an underground society.
But that guy isn't right in the head.
What sort of loony puts his "priceless collection" in orbit?
And then orders us - the guards - to wait on the planet below?
I mean, that’s a [Vault] up there you know?
It’s just a freighter.
No, it’s more accurate to call it a ‘flying box’.
It has no guns, no armor and the shield is mostly for show.
We board and loot these things all the time!
Also, why the hell are we in this middle-of-nowhere star system?
There isn't even a drop of excitement out here!
"Proximity warning - unknown craft on collision course with target." (Security VI)
"Impact event - hull breach detected. Intruder detected in the interior." (Security VI)
Hey, hey, hey! That's not the kind of excitement I meant!
"All hands to the hangar, we are going to assault that freighter!" (Squad Leader)
Orders came through the radio in my ear.
I obediently follow the orders and head to my ship.
Oh right, they did say this was some sort of trap, didn't they?
I didn't believe it though - the risk is way too high.
A single container on that spaceship will have me set for life!
I figured the "It's a trap!" excuse was so we wouldn't get greedy and run off with the loot.
Well, the boss is way too scary to try something like that anyway.
I reach the hanger and with practiced movements jump into the provided ship and start leaving the ground with the rest of the squad.
* * *
Three minutes later we're approaching the freighter while sticking in formation.
There's twelve of us so a single ship doesn't have any chance of winning in a firefight.
However, this particular intruder has decided to ram their ship into the freighter and board it.
He's probably trying to hijack it and make a jump to get away.
It's a fool's errand - even the best of hackers would take at least 10 minutes to break that ship's security.
"Hey chief, is it me or is that ship's Jump Drive charging?" (Grunt 2)
"Wait a second, that's way too fast! What the hell?" (Grunt 3)
"I mean, our opponent is the rumored rogue Epsilon, right?" (Grunt 4)
"A rogue Epsilon? That's impossible, yo. They're just dolls with no brains right?" (Grunt 3)
"Then how do you explain THAT!" (Grunt 2)
I'm not sure what an "Epsilon" is, but the others are raising a big fuss over it.
"Quiet down!" (Squad Leader)
The chief's voice puts an end to the commotion.
"Our job is to blow up that ship and make sure the target doesn't escape!" (Squad Leader)
"Hah! Good one, chief." (Grunt 1)
"As if that old fart would let anything happen to his money!" (Grunt 3)
It's a joke, right?
It has to be a joke.
The loot in there would set me up for twenty lifetimes.
"I'm serious. That thing is way more dangerous than we can imagine!" (Squad Leader)
"... are we seriously doing this? Won't the boss get mad?" (Grunt 1)
"He'll be even more mad if it escapes.
Look, it's just about ready for a jump. It must have started charging almost immediately.
Target the reactor room near the back of the ship and take it offline!" (Squad Leader)
> Narrator PoV <
High-speed automatic cannons mercilessly assaulted the "Vault" ship.
The shield is penetrated in an instant.
The hull is chewed up.
The interior is pulverized.
Plumes of flame escape from the sides.
Engines die out.
Life support and artificial gravity go offline.
But the all-important Jump Drive and reactor diligently perform their jobs.
The Jump Drive is an important component, but its small size makes it near impossible to hit with weapons fire.
As long as it has power and coordinates, it can rip open a wormhole in space and allow ships instant, safe passage across the galaxy or your money back.
The reactor on the other hand, is shaped like a 20 meter sphere and is an extremely delicate piece of machinery.
Standing next to it, right in the way of the gunfire pouring in from the outside, is a person.
Covered head-to-toe in a pitch-black space suit, the figure stands while holding its arms in front.
Bullets with a caliber size like a human head ripped up the ship’s hull like paper.
Those same bullets suddenly lose all velocity and stop dead, repelled by an invisible force.
"Jump Drive charging. Wormhole will open in 10... 9..."
Such a message is displayed on the figure’s helmet visor.
However, the face inside is bleeding freely from the ears, eyes and nose.
Like the weight of the world crushing down on it, the figure shakes furiously.
It falls to one knee from the strain.
Time seems to slow down.
The floor explodes.
The figure is thrown against the far wall.
Crashing into it hard, it loses focus.
Several bullets plow into the reactor.
For an instant, space itself cracks. A dazzling white light engulfs the ship.