The vent was not a tight passage. Rather it was forty feet crawl through something that had the width of a larger garden flagstone. I’d seen a few of these in the Goharti Arboretum. Although only at daytime. The place is a hellhole after dark and anybody who says otherwise is a damn fool. The gangs show up there in a jiffy after dusk. I know because I live a mile away from the place. My crawl was short. I managed to make it to the other end in twelve seconds. Not bad for someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle than they used to do. I didn’t exit the vent just yet. I looked at my upcoming surroundings in my recessed hiding place just inches shy from the vent’s opening.
The vent was flush with the angled walls. I could see the Recreation Lander straight ahead of me. To the left was the control room. Operators of the docking bay’s dome hangar door were present there. Or were they. My wristcomm doesn’t have a thermal scope. I couldn’t know from where I was. They couldn’t see me from their angle and I couldn’t see them. Lights were on in the control room. That didn’t mean they were there though. An active light can mean anything. A lone maintenance biped android was working on terminal near a wall. He was facing away from the recreation lander and my current position. No security cameras or sensors were present. A spaceport like this is not a candidate for those either. But that’s neither here nor there.
I made my move. I darted across the open area in a low crouch sprint. I kept my head down and my back arched forward as I slid towards a rear positioned landing skid. Had I not been wearing my flight suit I would have skinned up my knees. This was a hard concrete. The only noise made was the sound of the heavy Ashlar, Martez, and Duratek fibers of my flight suit contacting the concrete as I slid beneath the recreation lander’s body. I then produced the tracking bug. It had a range of six hundred light years. I could track this lander for a long, long time if it didn’t make a jump and I didn’t know where it would go to at all. I planted the bug and heard the click and thump of it attaching to the recess of the lander. It powered on.
“Who is there?” He had a low pitched authoritative tone.
Shit! It is the maintenance biped. He turned around. I went prone on my belly and drew my plasma subcompact. My gun was quiet. It had a whisper like report. If he spotted me I’d shoot him. He drew a small pistol. It was a flechette gun. Common around here. Looked like an older type of dart repeater with a lever by the trigger guard for slamming in the next dart after firing.
“Who’s there? Make yourself known. This is private property.” He started to sound panicked. His thinning synthetic skin was showing me that his servos and gears were moving faster. Cyborgs and androids can panic. They know when danger is close. It was a fifty-fifty crapshoot that he would spot me. If there was anybody in the control room they had not heard his calls out to me in challenge. Or they just weren’t paying attention. They could have been reading the latest sports scores or munching on snack. That was in my favor.
He was getting closer.
“I’m just going to shoot you. I’m using the new broad head expander high velocity darts. They expand inside you. Just like 20th century hollow points. They’ll make a big hole and they’ll turn your insides into ground chuck. Why don’t you give up and explain to me why you are on private property?”
He saw me in the corner of his eyes and turned around to me his muzzle was coming in second place to his now turned around head. I fired. Hot green spheres of plasma jetted out of my gun’s barrel and struck him in the face and neck. His synthetic skin was now charred and his neck was severed. He fell to the ground. Was he repairable? I wasn’t sure. He tried to kill me. Ask a mechanic. In a fight, it’s you or them. Plus, it was self-defense, gun on gun. Did I sneak onto spaceport property? Yes. I did. Was it justified. Yes. We aren’t looking at taking this to a court. We’re looking at figuring out if this is fraud. If he goes off planet that’s harder to do. Especially when we don’t know where he’s going. I holstered my pistol and darted back to the vent while dragging the maintenance android behind me. I held his head by his hair as his face was still red with embers from the plasma burns. I looked up at the control room. The light was on and the situation up there remained unchanged.
I sighed with relief as I checked the opening to the vent for any threats. With none observed I crawled in feet first and dragged both the head and then the android’s body into the vent. I rolled around and proceeded to keep crawling out. Instead of going back the way I came once I was out I exited the exhaust tube and climbed the fence on the other side of the little side area between the docking bays. As I stated in the hangar there were no cameras or security scopes inside there. Neither were there out on the hangars. At the corporate spaceport, there would be. But not at this public-privately owned spaceport. Also, the cameras and the security are mainly at the perimeter.
Androids don’t have many rights unless they have special ‘free’ status. You cannot be charged in this sector or the United Earth’s Space for murder of an android unless it is ‘free’ or a protected android. Those are rare to come across and most of those androids are impossible to tell from humans. This one was obviously one owned or leased by the spaceport. If my shooting was discovered and I was found in the wrong, criminal destruction of an android would be the charge and a minimal to nominal fine would be the case unless there were any aggravating circumstances discovered. Yet, this android was about to become ashes in an exhaust vent. Its fate would likely be unknown to all but me.
I dropped my flight suit and threw it into a trash bin. The flight suit was unmarked, sterile, and not at all personalized. There was no way for them to link it back to me or to my employers at all. I altered my appearance for one reason: avoiding detection. I made my way back towards the spaceport club through some narrow spaces. I quickly turned left when I saw the claimant and his wife come out of there. The two of them were discussing their meal. I activated my wristcomm and began filming them while being concealed by a dumpster and a corner joint of another docking bay building.
“That winkisella was wonderful, dear. Thanks for recommending it.” She had a soft voice. And she had a lighter orange complexion than her husband. If I was meeting her socially I would suspect her as being shy right away. She wore a lime green dress with a knee length skirt to all four of her knees. Each shoe was a small mauve ankle boot that had some odd embellishment. He wore a black suit and a tie. His pants extended to all four of his ankles where they met the heels of sturdy brown brogues. His tie was black and was a little too long in my opinion. But I don’t like ties, and I oftentimes don’t wear them. When I do have to dress up for my job I can avoid ties and just do well with a collared shirt and a jacket. But that is rare. The tie was rather unnecessary for him as his beard obstructed at least three quarters of it.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, my beloved. Only the finest for you. Are you excited for our getaway?” He had a pleasant voice that suggested business acumen, power, and knowledge. Or maybe he was just a bullshitter. He could have been mistaken for a politician over a businessman. The beard lent to a philosophical bent. However, I was still curious as to what was going to happen regarding his philosophies regarding honesty.
“I am, dear. Aren’t you sure you shouldn’t rest though instead of roughing it out there. What did the doctor say about this?”
“He said exercise may just help this bone. After all, starve a cold, feed a fever, right?” He laughed after saying that in such a way that it reminded me of a child scurrying with a broom to sweep a shattered vase under the rug. His injury happened months ago, it was a mild fracture. He was fit to go to work. The only thing I needed was him to slip up and do something he shouldn’t. My footage that I was acquiring now wasn’t ground breaking. But it would please the management especially Unit 94.