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PROJECT-13

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The 4C Connection

Blast from the Past (Part I)

The cavernous room was pitch black except for the winking of intermittent lights spread throughout. A blip or beep could be heard every so often and the security monitors were set to ignore such occurrences. Two doors slid open spilling light into the expanse and several hurried figures rushed into the ruined darkness.

"I can’t rightly say what actually happened sir but I know that the alarms went nuts and then we called the head office immediately as per…"

"If I wanted the opinion of an overpaid babysitter I would hire one and fire you," said the leader of the procession. He was tall and lean and wore a suit that cost more than most people make in a month. Wire frame glasses gave the illusion of astuteness while in actuality, relayed security data and other company information through miniaturized computers. "Did you actually check on the security breach or did you just pick up the phone and hope that the real police would come and do it?"

The four assistants that were with the administrator looked over at the security guard in disgust and the man shrank away from their stare. Some years ago the guard might have had potential with the military or one of the local security forces but had since faded into his current state after watching over a storage facility for the last fifteen years. Time and complacency had done their job well turning a man brimming with potential into a foppish has been.

"We had gone through the storage facility after the meteor shower hit us last yesterday. I mean this base houses some of the most important people’s stuff on Luna and we are really careful to make sure things go smooth. There were some micro-quakes after the strikes but we figured them for aftershocks of the shower. Meteors hit the moon all the time but the orbital defense stations on this side aren’t as good as the other spots around. I was just…"

"Keep talking and you’ll be just looking for another job." After moving through several sections of catwalk, the head of the administration team came to a halt. Moving to a control panel, he placed his hand against it and it came to life.

"Recognize Carl Mayhew, Head of Operations of Icon Industries, Storage Division, Region 4. Please state your request."

Mayhew looked to the console and then down into the expanse. The facility they were in was one of twelve massive storage centers provided for different people and companies to have access to recourses and equipment without waiting on lengthy shipping times from Earth. The Lunar Colonies had done well by loading countless essentials on the moon before they were needed thus reducing construction and production times and increasing profit. The moon had become a profitable place for many companies and the wealth that could be found here had attracted many. The cat walk they were on sat roughly fifty stories from the floor of the facility and robotic cranes were used to arrange the giant cargo containers. Looking back to the stacks and rows of the containers that were in view, he signaled back to the panel, "Identify the source of the disturbance for 3 February, 2104, 0430 hours."

The computer brought forth a hologram of a video feed from multiple security cameras. The image from the previous day showed a meteor breaching the wall of the facility and ramming into one of the containers. Repair and security robots went to work repairing the damage and inspecting the facility for intruders. The video then cut forward past some of the more tedious footage and panned over to the crate that had been struck. Approximately four meters wide and ten meters long, the crate had suffered massive crushing damage to the outer skin as well as damage to the climate control system that kept it’s contents in optimal storage conditions. Within minutes of the fast forward of the video, the crate shook violently once and then again, nearly wrenching itself from the stack of crates it sat in. Then all was quiet.

"Security feed shows that there has been no activity since the second tremor of the crate at 0515 hours. Would you like me to remove the crate from the tier and bring it to the platform for inspection?"

"Please do." Mr. Mayhew sounded less than enthused. On the Lunar colonies it was illegal to store special weapons or special hazards without notifying the executive responsible for the facility. In this case, that executive was him and he was less than happy. Checking the manifest for the crate as it was removed, he downloaded the sheet from the mainframe onto the mini computer he wore at his belt. The information was relayed to the spectacles that he wore and looking over the information puzzled him. The client had placed the crate here in this facility ten years ago and had paid for the storage for twenty years in advance. The nature of the contents indicated it was medical biological matter, however, a quick check of the Hyper-Net indicated that there was no company matching the name on the manifest that dealt in such things.

Arriving at the platform, Mayhew and his small entourage walked beside the crate and began to inspect the exterior. "There are no biological threats or radiation hazards detected," said the disembodied voice of the main system.

Mayhew looked at the skulking security guard. "Open it."

The man swallowed as though he had a throat full of peanut butter. Looking at the crate, he walked up slowly and went to press his ear against it as though he were going to listen for a heartbeat.

"Open it"

The guard looked at Mayehew as though he had been slapped in the face. He wasn’t accustomed to having the head of the facility here much less the regional operations director. The guard was used to autonomy in a place where nothing really happened. This was too much and he felt insulted that the Director was pushing him to make potentially dangerous decisions.

He keyed in his security code and watched the red cracked face panel of the control screen turn to green. At this point there should have been a hiss of air venting from the container followed by the locks disengaging. The guard looked to the small group and shrugged his shoulders. "I’ll go get a pry bar as we don’t want the security bots to open it. More often than not they break the door and ruin what’s inside. Too bad we don’t have something like that out here."

The doors to the crate blasted open coming clean off their hinges and destroying two hovering security robots that had just arrived on the scene. They flew into the expanse and fell, short-circuiting and splintering out of sight. The shock wave created by the doors exploding knocked the group off of their feet. The guard was thrown high into the air and over the railing. A desperate grab for anything that would save him yielded the top bar of the railing. Holding on with one hand, the guard began to plead for help as well as pray to any gods that would listen. Watching the security bots fall from sight preceded attempts to throw his other hand to the rail in order to pull himself up. As he watched the stunned group slowly come to their senses, he whimpered for them to move faster. Unintelligible sobs came to a halt as the guard watched in horror at his grip failing. With a gasp of air he lost his grip and fell away from the platform.

It was in that instant he witnessed a shadowy figure step from the crate and turn to face him.

To be continued…