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Chapter 03

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      Tristan had been crawling along various conduits for more than two hours when he reached his target. The back and arms of his jumpsuit were now ripped in multiple places; these conduits were much narrower than he was used to. His pack was now full; he had come across two other access points and taken what he needed from them, since the tool kits there had contained different set of tools he had been able to put together a complete electrical kit.

      The room he was in wasn't like the access points; it was small, with barely enough space for him to stretch his arms sideways. On three of the walls were opening for conduits as well as on the ceiling and floor in the middle of the 'room'. There was a ladder going up and down to the other levels.

      On the wall without a conduit was a door leading to a hall, it was an emergency door and as such it was very simple; a small window, a latch and the sensor for the alarm. The latch itself was simple, when someone had to use this door they couldn't afford the time to deal with fancy locks, you pushed it as you pushed the door open. All he had to deal with was the sensor, and now that he had the proper tools, it would be quick work.

      With the alarm tricked into thinking the door was always closed he looked out the window. The door was at a 'T' junction, he could see down one of the corridor where, if he was where he expected to be, he could find a entrance to the flight bay. He didn't leave the room, he was deep inside the restricted zone and this close to ships everyone would be armed. He doubted anyone would even bother checking in before shooting him. What he needed was a complete change of clothes.

      Watching the corridors told him two useful things; it was rarely used, and almost exclusively by pilots. He kept watching, he was in no hurry, by ship time it was probably the middle of the night, and while a ship this size never fully slept, things slowed down during the night. People grew used to having things quiet, they relaxed and they lowered their guard; something Tristan planned on taking advantage of.

      He saw a pilot walk in his direction and decided he was going to be the one. The human looked to be a little taller than him, but their body seemed close, he was even carrying his helmet. As the human turned the corner Tristan pushed the door open and reached for him, but the man was faster than he had anticipated and moved out of the way.

      Tristan reached for him again, having to leave the room completely to do it, as the man pulled out his gun. Tristan caught the man's wrist before he could bring the weapon to bear. The man tried to hit Tristan with his helmet, but it was easily blocked. And then Tristan hit the man's head hard enough to break his neck. Humans needed to work harder at protecting their necks.

      He pocketed the gun, a slim azeru, picked up the helmet and grabbed the man by the collar of his suit, dragging him in the room. He closed the door and undressed him. Once that was done he tied the man's hands together, keeping about a foot of cord that he tied to one of the grabbers he had. Lying on the ground he reached inside the hole and put the grabber against the wall opposite the ladder. He then lowered the human down the opening; there he would be out of site.

      He then put on the man's flight suit. The arms and legs were a little too long, something he took care of by folding them, he would be wearing boots and gloves over them so no one would know. The helmet would hide his face, the visor was dark, and air filter would cover his muzzle, although he had to dismantle its inside so his muzzle would fit, but it wasn't comfortable.

      Before putting on the helmet, gloves and boots he went through the suit's pocket. He found the man's ID, including the access card to the flight bay; that would make getting in easier, extra power packs for the Azeru which he put in his pack and a few items he couldn't discern the use so he left those aside, they were probably personal mementoes. In the Azeru's holster he placed the Kytron, they were similar enough it wouldn't cause problems.

      The boots went on well, but they weren't comfortable, they were a little too small and it felt odd not being about to feel the floor under his feet. The gloves fit better, except he couldn't extend his claws with them on. He quickly checked the corridors before putting the helmet on and then stepped out.

      With the helmet on his hearing was almost none existent and his field of vision much narrower, this would explain why he'd never seen pilots wear them when out of their ships, hopefully no one would question it.

      He didn't have to use the access card to enter the flight bay, the doors were wide open and even through the helmet he could hear the cacophony of repairs happening. He stepped through the doorway into the repair section of the bay; he was on the opposite side of where he had hoped to be.

      He walked among the damaged ships, not acknowledging the mechanics. Some of them sneered at him, but none of them stopped him. The rest of the flight bay was mostly deserted; he only came across a couple of pilots and engineers as he looked for a ship that would suit his needs.

      He saw many of the model he was interested in, and decide on one that was out of the way, in a shadowed corner. It was a four person ship designed for tracking other ships. Its armament was modest; The Sayatoga had more aggressive ships when it came time to take down a target, if they didn't resort to using the Sayatoga's own weapons. The one thing that counted for Tristan was that the ship was capable of deep space travel.

      He entered through the back ramp, which was already open and went directly to the control board, taking off the helmet. A quick glance told him the ship was linked to the main computer. He sat down, took off the gloves and boots, and accessed the scans of the area around the Sayatoga; it showed an asteroid field nearby. The ship he'd chosen wasn't ideal for that, but he would make it work.

      He then programmed a mask for the ship. He couldn't simply erase it from their logs considering what was going to happen, but he also didn't want it to be assigned to someone else. He had no intention of sharing his escape.

      Once that was done he programmed a series of override on the system so no one could operate it without him, he was planning on keeping it for as long as he could, he expected to have to do a lot of traveling to track down who had betrayed him.

      He was engrossed in rewiring some of the controls so he could access all the systems he would need from the pilots seat when he heard someone set foot in the ship. The noise outside the ship had slowly grown as the day progressed, it was nothing he worried about so he had pushed the distraction to the back of his mind, which was probably why he hadn't notice the approaching footsteps.

      He spun, drawing his Kytron, and aimed it at a bald man wearing dark goggles dirty pants and a ripped shirt, who was pointing a Pisteron three back at him, one of the guards' modified Pisteron three.

      They stared at each other for a few moments when the man he had been freed to track down said. "So, what do you think's going to happen now?"

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