Torah was the first to open her eyes. She had no idea how long she had been out. Her eyes moved around in an attempt to see her surroundings. She determined she’s on some sort of aircraft. From her position she could not see the entire room; however she could see a portion of the main window. The view through that window revealed a night sky. She also could see a pilot seated at the controls, although she could only see the back of his head.
The last thing Torah could remember was being in the royal audience chamber of the palace. She and her friend, Susan had just engaged a fight with the royal guards and Susan was preparing to leave when someone in a space suit appeared and covered them both with what seemed to be a blanket of energy. That is the last she could remember until now.
“Susan” she suddenly thought. She looked around quickly and then saw her on a bunk near hers. She appeared to be unconscious. Torah looked back at the pilot.
“Where are we?” she asked sitting up.
The pilot looked over his shoulder at her and smiled.
“Well, welcome aboard the Bobcat, miss” he replied in a somewhat upbeat voice. “I’m not sure that our location will have a lot of meaning for you. As I understand you have not had much experience with space travel.”
“Space travel” she thought. With his question she was now aware that she was probably in space. She also wondered how he knew that she has never been in space before this.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Well, we are heading for a small planet called Remidian,” he replied. “We will be there in three more days.”
“Three more days; how long have we been in space?”
“Two” he said turning around to face the controls.
Just then Torah heard a moan. She turned to see Susan sitting up and holding her head.
“Who jumped me?” Susan asked.
“Okay,” the pilot said turning his seat abruptly to face the two girls. “My name is Will Zephon. I’m sorry for the way I had to bring you on board, however I am aware of your devotion to your cause and I didn’t think you would be overly willing to come voluntarily. The fact that you are a shadow fighter is very advantageous to us and I am in desperate need of your help.”
Torah started to feel anger at Will.
“What gives you the right to simply grab people and take them with you into space,” Torah began.
“Whoa now Torah, hear me out.” Will injected.
“And that’s another thing,” Torah continued, “how do you know so much about me? I am a covert resistance fighter on my planet, so I should be unknown. Yet you seem to know all about me. Did you capture me for the bounty you could make?”
“No, I borrowed you for your skills” said Will.
His words caught Torah off guard. She considered herself as kidnapped; however Will used the word borrowed. That word had defused her anger and now she was interested in what he had in mind for them.
Torah got up from her bunk and made her way forward, sitting down in the co-pilot’s seat. She looked out the main window.
“We don’t seem to be moving.”
“We are traveling several times faster than the speed of light. You can only tell we are moving when there is something to reference it by.”
Will turned his seat to face her.
“Allow me to explain. On the planet we are heading to there’s a group who have taken a certain property of ours. That property is now at the city security stronghold. This stronghold is protected by security systems and booby traps. Torah, you and your Shadow Fighters are well known for their ability to breach such structures. We need you to enter this building, and take back what was stolen from us.”
“Or your world will end, I suppose?” Torah’s tone contained cynicism.
“In a manner of speaking, that is true.”
Torah sat for a moment, quietly considering what was said. Susan moved up front as well and sat in the seat directly behind Will. She looked at Susan.
“Hey,” she said, “what about Susan? She’s not a Shadow Fighter. Why did you take her?”
Will sat and looked at the two of them. He was puzzled.
“I thought… I mean you two were standing before the Empress to be condemned. Naturally I assumed…” It is now very clear to Will the capture of Susan was in error.
“I guess she can stay on board the Bobcat until you complete your mission.”
“Now, what a minute,” Susan said, “I can handle myself very well and I can be an asset to Torah.”
“I must admit, she has shown me that she is a resourceful fighter and a quick thinker” said Torah. At the same time I’m not sure she understands what degree of danger she will be exposing herself.”
Susan felt that she could help this situation, in light of what she had already been through, and she intended to let them know.
“I’ve served as a crew member on a faster than light star cruiser, been attacked, captured, twice now, and fought off elite royal place guards. I think I have shown that I am capable.”
Torah smiled at Susan.
“My mistake, she is a Shadow Fighter” said Torah, looking back at Susan.
Will had his reservations. Both of these girls are only in their late teens, yet Torah has a reputation that defines her as experienced fighter. And he certainty did need their help. Will took their statements as an agreement that the two would take on the mission.
“Great; we will go over all the data during the next three days.” He swung his seat back to face the controls.
“By the way,” asked Susan, “what is the property we are to recover?”
“Well, it’s not a what,” said Will, “rather it’s a person; Ambassador Joshua Zephon of our planet.”
Torah looked at Susan. They both understood why Will was so determined to see this mission through.
Over the next three days the girls learned all that was known about the building in which Ambassador Zephon was being held. Their briefings, while reroute, covered plans for getting in and out of the building, as well as certain individuals that would be helping them during certain portions of the mission. They were also briefed concerning the equipment they would bring with them. In addition during any off time that they had, Torah taught Susan all she could about security systems and booby traps. They were finally approaching the planet.
“Most importantly,” said Torah to Susan, “don’t touch anything.”
“You mean anything suspicious?”
“No, I mean anything. You have to develop a sense about things. A booby trap uses various devices such as moveable objects, water, even air or light as a triggering mechanism. If you do see anything that you just don’t feel right about, let me know.”
“Alright, we’re almost at the city” said Will. “Get your stuff ready, this will be a quick drop.”
Will maneuvered the ship so to blend into the flight path for airborne vehicles. Most vehicles in the city were ground vehicles; however the upper class of citizens had airborne craft that they used. The designated flight path was not monitored with radar; however local enforcement officers did patrol the aerial traffic. The Bobcat was roughly the size of a large airborne truck.
The girls grabbed their gear bags and stepped to the rear of the ship. They felt the ship decelerate. Because this is a covert mission, the two wore regular street clothes as opposed to their uniforms.
“Now remember that you will be met by Shawn” said Will.
Torah and Susan had been shown a 3D image of Shawn during their inflight briefing.
Both girls were tense, Susan especially so. The buzzer sounded signaling that the rear door to the ship was about to open. As it did, they saw some sort of alleyway below. It was night and there were very few lights. The road quickly grew closer. It was wet from recent rains and the propulsion systems of the ship caused ripples on the puddles. The ship then entered into a hover about three feet over the road and the two quickly jumped to the ground. Almost immediately the ship gained altitude, flying to the end of the alley, making a right turn.
From the shadows emerged a figure. They recognized that it was Shawn. He was very muscular with dark hair. Susan felt he had a kind face. He was wearing a type of utility jump suit.
“This way” Shawn said.
They walked swiftly to a vehicle that resembled a step van. They entered the back of the van where they found two filing cabinets. They had been briefed on what to expect, so there were aware of these cabinet. Torah unlocked one and the front opened like a door. Susan also unlocked her cabinet. Each climbed inside their individual cabinet closing and locking the door.
Sitting in their individual cabinets they could feel the van as it traveled through the city. Soon they came to a stop. They could easily hear what was going on around them. There was the sound of the van’s roll up door opening. Shawn moved the cabinets from the van onto a hover dolly and moved it to a loading dock. He was met by a security guard.
“Good evening sir,” Shawn said, “is this building K330?”
“This is K330, Security One. What do you need?” replied the guard.
“I have a shipment of these two filing cabinets.”
“This late? Let me see your orders.”
Shawn handed him some papers. It was not normally easy to forge papers for the Security One building. That was true except for shipping orders, which were very common.
“Okay,” said the guard. “You can take them to the storage room on the third floor. Use the freight turbo elevator. Here, you need to return this pass when you leave.”
Shawn was handed a card with a digital time clock displayed. It showed how long he had been in possession of it. In this way they knew if he took too long in the building. He was unaware that they were now using this card. His timing would have to be perfect.
Shawn pushed the hover dolly to the freight elevator and entered, selecting floor 5. The doors closed and the elevator rapidly ascended, stopping on 5th floor where he got off. As the doors closed behind him, he looked down the hallway. Almost immediately two security guards entered the hallway and spotted him.
“Hold on, “said one guard, “what are you doing?”
“Uh, I was told to take these cabinets up to records.” Shawn replied
“Nothing leaves this floor without authorization. I need to see your paperwork.”
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t given any paperwork. I was just told to move these cabinets.”
“Well, without any paperwork, you can’t take these anywhere.”
“Please sir, I’ve only been working here a short time. I don’t want to lose my job.”
“Sorry, but these are the rules. You’ll have to take these back and go get the proper paperwork.”
“But they locked the control room after I loaded these.”
“That’s alright, we’ll unlock the control room and you can put them back there.
The guards escorted him to the control room. They unlocked the door, and Shawn placed the cabinets inside, shutting off the lights as they all left. Shawn took the elevator down to the loading docks, turned in his pass. They checked the time on the pass and told him he could go. He then walked to his truck and left. Once they felt it was safe, Torah and Susan opened the door to the cabinets and entered the control room.
Torah located the console that controlled the turbo elevators, while Susan, using passcodes she was give during the inflight briefing, obtained access to the system controls.
“I hope these codes are correct” said Susan
“I hope so too,” said Torah. “Remember the changes you make in the system console are vital, so be precise.”
Susan nodded affirmatively as she typed.
“Why don’t we just disable the alarms and take the turbo elevator up”
“That is the direction they would expect an assault to come from. We are going to use the turbo elevators as a diversion while we use the stairs. The only problem is that the stairs don’t all go where we want to go, so we will have to get off on some floors and cross over to other stairs.”
“Is that where we will encounter the booby traps?”
“In all likelihood; Okay, I’m done.”
“Me too” said Susan. The girls exited the control room and headed for the number 4 stairwell, taking it up to the next floor.
As they cautiously made their way through this floor, they took note of the lack of environmental controls. There was no air conditioning and the humidity was high. The floor smelled of mold and dust with paint peeling from the walls. They made their way to stairwell 2. Next to the door to the stairwell Susan spotted a drinking water fountain. With the heat and the tension of the mission she had developed a case of dry mouth. She bent down and reached to dispense the cool water. Torah saw what she was doing a stopped her hand from reaching the lever.
“What…” said Susan.
“See that blue powder under the fountain?” Torah asked.
“That is a chemical we have used as a booby trap. When you mix that chemical with water, you get an explosive surprise.”
“Torah reached into her pocket and pulled out two detonator caps. She set them each and placed one on the back side of the spicket. She handed the other to Susan and asked her to place it in the light fixture directly over the fountain.
“What is interesting,” Torah said as Susan placed the detonator, “is that the resulting explosion creates a volatile gas as a byproduct. Any spark will ignite it taking out this whole floor”
Susan was a bit confused.
“You want to blow it up?”
Torah didn’t answer. She finished and then handed Susan a small control box.
“Push the button and the water fountain goes; push it again and the light will blow, got it?”
Torah looked at Susan.
“You’ll know when.”
They left this floor and climbed the stairs to another. The rooms on this floor were similar to the last floor they were on. As they crossed the room they came to a point where the room was lit by moonlight through a window. Torah stopped putting her hand in front of Susan to stop her.
“See anything strange about this light?” Torah asked.
Susan look, but didn’t know what she meant.
“Notice first that there is no way to reach the next stairwell without passing through the light.”
“Now, checkout the source of the light”
“It’s from the moon?” asked Susan.
“The moon?” Torah looked at her with a look like she should know the answer. Suddenly it hit her.
“There’s no moon tonight” she said.
“Exactly; this light source is not natural. Also look at the wall on the other side of the room. The paint peelings seem to be in a pattern.”
“They are sensors” said Susan, pleased with herself. She was starting to get good at this.
“Mm-hm” Torah said nodding.
“So if we were to disrupt the light, what would it trigger?”
“I don’t know, and right now I certainly don’t want to find out”
Torah reached into her gear bag, and produced a black rod with several hooks on one end and a handle on the other. She extended the rod like a telescoping antenna, and began to maneuver it through the light.
“Wait a minute,” Susan exclaimed, “I thought if you disrupted the light bad things would happen.”
“Well, if you notice, those paint peelings have some space between them. I’m pretty sure that those who designed this trap didn’t want it to go off anytime a moth or roach disrupted the beam. This rod has very little mass, and we need to unlock the window on the other side of the light source.
Susan thought for a moment while Torah manipulated the hook end on the window latch
“Why do we need that window unlocked?”
“So we can get in from outside” Torah answered.
“Outside! We are going outside?”
The window latch released.
“Can you think of a better way to get past the trap?”
Torah then put the rod away, and opened the window on their side of the light. She picked up a board and propped it next to the window. Climbing out onto the ledge she obtained two ropes from her gear bag and using a grappling gun she attached one rope onto the underside of a ledge above the middle window. Then she turned to Susan and started to tie the other rope around her waist.
“I’ll swing over first, and then you will follow” said Torah
Susan looked nervous. Torah looked at Susan.
“Are you okay?”
“You trust me don’t you?”
“Yes” replied Susan.
Torah stepped up to the ledge holding the other end of Susan’s rope. She checked the security of her own rope, bent her knees, and push off. She gracefully swung out and around to the other window, opening the window on impact. She looked out the window back at Susan who was looking back at her.
“Okay, just climb out onto the ledge and push off. I’ll pull you over to me.”
Susan climbed onto the ledge and looked down. They were up at least eight stories. She just stood there.
“Go ahead and jump” said Torah
“No” said Susan
“Come on; you trust me don’t you?”
“Then push off.”
“You said you trust me.”
“Then push off and I’ll pull you in.”
Torah was getting frustrated
“Look, you told me you piloted a space shuttle from a star cruiser hundreds of miles above a planet. This is certainly no more dangerous.
“Yeah, but I was inside the shuttle.”
“We need to get this done. I know you can do it.”
Susan knew she had to. She looked at the rope and realized that part of her problem as the fact that she didn’t have total control. She reached down and untied the rope from her waist. Torah saw what she was doing but remained quiet. Susan then closed her eye for a moment. She then opened them and pushed.
It was a graceful arc as she swung from one window to the other. Torah caught her as she landed. Susan looked wide eyed.
“I did it!”
“Yes, you did” responded Torah with a smile. “And you’ll get to do it again in a bit.”
They crossed this floor and found two doors side by side. They each opened a door. Susan’s door went down, while Torah’s door ascended. They looked at each other.
“What do you think?” asked Susan.
“I don’t know. It could be a deadfall.”
“What’s a deadfall?”
“There will be some sort of trigger device that, when operated, causes an overhead object to fall, killing you?”
“Oh” said Susan, instinctively looking at the ceiling.
“Let’s try up.”
They cautiously climbed the stairs until they reached a door. It was locked; however there was a small security window they could look through. Torah peered through.
“What do you see?” asked Susan
“It looks like the roof” Torah answered.
“Do you think it’s a booby trap?”
“I’m not sure. It seems likely, but I think we should investigate the other stairs first. This door is hermetically sealed and will take some work to open it.”
They descended back down and switched to the other stairs, continuing down to another door. This door also has a security window. Susan looked into this one.
“Okay, I can see guards and prisoner’s cells.”
Torah opened an old metal access panel next to the door.
“And this is an access port control. Good!”
Torah reached in her bag and removed a small handheld computer. She attached an electronic coupling device to the input wires of the access panel, and then connected to it wirelessly. Susan also pulled out a handheld computer and connected to the main operational computer.
“We won’t have much time. Their security system will detect the wireless connection” said Susan
“I know” replied Torah, working as fast as she could.
Torah accessed the elevator control and sent the turbo elevator at the prison level to the ground floor. Since this was an unauthorized descent, the entire building went on alert assuming an escape attempt. The red flashing lights and Claxton alarms made it hard to concentrate.
“All elevators will be sent to the top floor and lock down” said Torah. “All except the one I just sent down. The building security will focus on the ground floor.”
Susan took her cue and began typing.
“And the prisoners will be returned to their cells for a count” said Susan. “I will unlock the Ambassadors cell, and the stairway access door.”
As the alarms sounded, Susan executed the commands. Instantly, the stairway door they were standing at made a loud click and drifted open.
The girls both put on a face shield. The shields covered their faces, and projected an electronic diagram of the prison floor based on their position. They also used thermal sensing so they could see all living beings on the floor.
Susan opened the door slightly and Torah pitched in two flash-bang grenades. Susan activated the riot control system which deployed heavy smoke. The grenades exploded with bright flashes and two thunderous explosions, disorienting the occupants.
In mere moments the room was so thick with smoke that everyone on the floor could not see. The smoke did not inhibit breathing. Torah and Susan found their way quickly to the Ambassador’s cell. Susan maintained monitoring of the security systems on her face shield.
“Here it is” Torah called.
They entered the cell and each grabbed an arm of the Ambassador and escorted him to the stairway door. They could tell the smoke was starting to dissipate. They exited into the stairwell and removed their masks. The Ambassador could now see who was helping him escape. He was surprised by what he saw.
“Who the heck are you?” he asked.
“Friends – We are your way out!” answered Torah.
“You? Two teenage girls?”
Both Torah and Susan found these statements objectionable.
“We’ll discuss your anti-feminist philosophy later. Our time is better used getting you out of here.”
“And real soon” said Susan. We have security moving two elevators down. They are probably going to be headed our way. And the building is now in total lockdown. Oh-oh, we just lost our wireless!”
“I guess they found out. We best get moving” said Torah. “We are in for a rough time.”
To Be Continued… Part 2 of 2 coming soon.