A Ship of Agendas @lord22
Security Breach

Chapter Seven: Security Breach

One moment Beka and the rest of the crew had been going about their business. They checked doors and rooms. They searched halls, and Beka was amazed. She'd never seen a ship this clean, or consoles this well maintained. Any of the great powers in the galaxy would kill to have a ship like this.

Then came the explosions. Beka and the mercenaries found themselves getting shot at by humanoid androids. Several people were gunned down as they ran for cover. For her part, Beka and Trance were taking cover and firing around a corner. A bolt of plasma shot past her and burned the wall. Beka fired a shot that blasted an android through the torso. It did not fall but fired again.

"What the hell happened here?" said Beka, backing behind cover beneath the barrage. "Where did all these security bots come from?"

"Maybe we did something to make the person who owns this ship angry?" said Trance.

"Why would a Commonwealth Captain try to murder us after we saved him?" asked Beka, turning around the corner and firing to down a robot. But more were coming toward them, and several mercenaries were shot dead.

"This isn't any good, we're getting torn to bits out here!" said Beka. "Trance, try to get in contact with Tyr. And where the hell is Geratex?"

Then the androids were right on them. Beka ducked under a swipe and ran back alongside Trance. Shots whirred over them, and, amazingly, Beka wasn't hit. She and Trance rounded the corner, firing another shot.

"No payment is worth this!" she shouted, opening a channel. "This is Beka! Gerentex, we need to get to the ship and get the hell out of here?"

"Negative." snapped Geratix over the com. "We'll be shot to pieces by the Nietzschean fleets, and the ship will be theirs. We'll have to win."

Typical. Beka took an easy job, and it turns into a shootout.

Tyr looked fairly calm, all things considered, as Harper watched him work. The Nietzschean seemed almost godlike, in the olympian sense. Androids could crush steel and take a dozen shots to the chest without dying. But Tyr made them look like jokes.

He wielded his bone blades and a vibro-knife to cleaved through one of them as they ran down the hall. Then he raised a heavy repeater and unleashing it. In a flurry of blasts, he mowed down the androids ahead of them. But this wasn't random fire like rough mercenaries did, Tyr aimed and focused, and nearly every shot hit.

Harper fired as best he could, trying to cover Tyr's blind spots. But it seemed like by the time Harper took aim, Tyr had already changed to where his blind spot had been. He was one scary motherfucker, all things considered.

"Alright, take a right here," said Hunt over the com.

Tyr glanced to a ventilation shaft, covered by a grating. Raising a leg, he kicked the grating, and it broke off and hit the far edge. Then he motioned to Harper, before raising his rifle and unleashing hell. With a glance behind him, Harper saw half a dozen androids falling. Then he ducked under and slipped in, Tyr coming behind him.

"Any reason this place has to be so cramped?" asked Harper. "This is the maintenance section of the ship," said Hunt. "It's not designed for comfort. In fact, it was designed, so someone who wanted to board the Andromeda would get lost. Keep following that tunnel, then take a right."

So they followed Captain's hunts commands, winding this way and that. Harper was able to memorize it easy enough, but he had the feeling that an ordinary person would get lost in no time. "Geeze, this is like a maze."

"I doubt we'll have to worry about any minotaurs, unfortunately," said Tyr.

"Unfortunately?" asked Harper.

"Killing a giant half-man, half-bull would be far more entertainment than fighting these bots," said Tyr. "Captain Hunt, your security systems disappoint me. I could wipe these out by myself."

"Well, they were experimental," said Hunt. "Standard practice was for the crew to be able to defend the ship themselves. And there were concerns about AI uprisings. So they deliberately made it so organic soldiers could defeat the systems.

"They were more a supplementary force."

"Cannon fodder," said Tyr.

"Well, we don't like those words, but, yes," said Hunt. "Although to be fair, Andromeda doesn't have much practice. We were never boarded, and even advanced AI's need practice to excel at something.

"Left here."

Harper realized something. "Hey, Tyr, you know about the Greek Myths."

"Yes," said Tyr, "all the ancient mythologies of Earth are taught to us. The Kodiak Tribe were the caretakers of Nietzschean ideology. And the myths of our past were the foundation of that ideology."

"See, I was always more of a history man," said Harper. "So who's your favorite?"

"What?" said Tyr.

"Who's your favorite greek hero?" asked Harper.

"This doesn't seem the time," said Hunt.

"Look, I'm trying to keep from freaking out here," said Harper. "So, who's your favorite?" How many times did he have to say it.

"I always liked Hercules," said Hunt. "He helped a lot of people and didn't do anything really horrible. What about you, Tyr?"

"Odysseus," said Tyr. "He engineered the downfall of Troy where Achilles and Agamemnon utterly failed. He made fools of all his enemies and survived to live as a king where all the others died a miserable death. I presume it is the same with you, Harper."

"Actually, I've always been an Adonis man, myself," said Harper. Why would he think he'd like Odysseus? Sure he was the cleverest greek hero but that didn't mean Harper had to be a fan.

Tyr scoffed. "Adonis wasn't a hero. He was a pathetic waste of space whose existence was entirely defined by which goddess he'd belong to as a pet. Even his decision to choose Aphrodite was decided for him by her girdle.

"In the end, he didn't even die in battle. He went hunting and got gored by a pig."

"Oh look who's so smart," said Harper. "Well, let me ask you this, how many beautiful Goddesses were lining up to let Odysseus rail them? Because Adonis had two."

"So did Odysseus," said Tyr. "Both Calypso and Circe were goddesses, and both attempted to control him for their own ends. Calypso even offered him immortality. But he would not be kept from his rightful dominion. He returned nonetheless, murdering the suitors and taking back what was his."

"So he gave up two goddesses and immortality so he could rule his own kingdom," said Harper. "Yeah, real smart."

"It wasn't so he could rule his kingdom," said Hunt. "Left again."

"What do you mean?" asked Tyr.

"Odysseus loved his wife, Penelope," said Hunt. "It had nothing to do with immortality or a desire for power. He never wanted to go to Troy; he wanted to stay at home and raise his family. He spent twenty years trying to get back home.

"He wouldn't have done that for power."

"He loved her so much that he slept with every goddess he ran across in the journey," said Harper. "Not buying it."

"If a goddess possessed the power to turn you into an animal and eat you for dinner, tried to seduce you, would offend her?" asked Hunt. "People who offended gods in greek mythology didn't live very long.

"Besides, it was a different time. You can't hold people from less advanced periods of history to modern standards. And you're here."

They came out of the shafts and into a long hallway over a huge generator room with pillars of light shooting up. Harper rushed up to a console at the far end. "Alright, alright, we're here. What now?"

"There is a panel designed to reset the system," said Hunt. "I need you to activate it."

"To what end?" asked Tyr.

"Oh, I get you," said Harper. "Rhade compromised the ship, so we do a system restore. Won't this kill your AI."

"I just need you to do a temporary reset to yesterday," said Hunt. "We can retrieve her memories later."

Harper nodded. "Right, right, I'll see what I can do." He checked the console and was at a loss. He had no idea how to use this thing. Pressing a few buttons, he tried to get a feel for it. "Let's see uh, wow, this tech is really kind of weird, isn't it."

"It's state of the art Commonwealth design," said Hunt, somewhat proudly.

"Not anymore, it's not," said Harper. "I haven't seen a CPU like this in years. Not since I left Earth, and we were using majorly outdated stuff."

"Outdated?" asked Hunt. "How long have we been in the Black Hole?"

"Well, um, not to be a downer, but around a hundred years," said Harper.

"A hundred years?" asked Hunt. "Where is the Commonwealth? What happened?"

"Well, I hate to say it," said Harper, "but the war ended, and you lost. Course, the Nietzscheans didn't exactly win either. See, as soon as they took over, they fragmented and fell to bits. They've all been fighting each other for years.

"And, of course, the Magog invaded after that.

"Actually things have been sort of a shitshow. The Wayists call it the Long Night."

"This is…" Hunt fell silent for a bit and went out of contact. Harper worked on the machine for a bit, having trouble. Then Hunt came back. "Nevermind, nevermind. Alright, so who are you working for?"

"We're sort of independent, actually," said Harper. "My boss wants to sell this ship to the Drago Kazov, but we're sort of scheming to take them out with the machines."

"No one is selling my ship to anyone." snapped Harper.

"That seems a bit of moot point at this stage, Captain Hunt," said Tyr, humor in his voice. "What is taking so long Harper?"

Harper glanced up in annoyance. "Look, I'm a super genius, but I'm not familiar with this system. I've been trying to figure it out from the ground up. But I think I'm going to have to do a mental connect." And he drew a cord from the implant in his shoulder.

"Why didn't you do that before?" asked Tyr.

"It's dangerous, okay," said Harper. "If there is a hostile presence, I could get my mind fried. Hey, Hunty Boy, anything else you want me to do?"

"Opening the doors would be nice," said Hunt.

"Got it," said Harper. "Tyr, watch my back."

Then he plugged in.

Instantly his consciousness was drawn deep into the Andromeda's systems. His mind tried to rationalize it as a series of flowing boxes and texts. Walking along it, he moved through the passages as quickly as he could. As he did, he scanned through the various systems and couldn't make heads or tails of them.

Yes, they were on the surface similar to the ones' on Earth. But these ones' had been a super-advanced variety. Same principles, different layout. It had probably been lost with the fall of the Commonwealth.

"Ah, geez, this isn't working at all is it," said Harper.

Then he turned and saw a figure coming toward him. It was a shadowy figure that then took on the form of the most gorgeous women he'd ever seen. She had a gigantic pair of tits, and her smooth Asian features were beautiful. And that long hair-

Oh, wait, she was activating security systems.

"Unidentified interference detected. Activating defense mechanisms," she said.

Harper ran. He wouldn't be able to keep this up much longer; already, he could see the system getting locked down. No way was he going to be able to perform this reboot thing in time. But he might activate something else.

Activating the doors, he opened them, and then he terminated the connection. There was a blur, and then Harper was drawn out. He stepped backward, sweat on his brow as he hit the railing and slumped to a sitting position. "Okay, I can't reprogram her directly, but I do have the doors open. I'm going to need more time for anything else."

"Time is something we don't have," said Tyr, holding a detonator.

Harper looked up and saw androids approaching from either side. "Drop your weapons, and you will not be harmed."

"You are in no position to make demands of me, machine," said Tyr. Then he pushed the detonator, and there was a massive explosion behind the machines on both sides. The rear ranks were obliterated, and the front was sent falling. Tyr fell to a kneel and unleashed a flurry of shots that killed the front ones. Then he rolled to one side and firing a few shots. Some of them went an inch past Harper's face, but they all hit. Harper raised his gun and saw nothing.

"How did you do that?" asked Harper.

"I set up explosives at the entrances while you were working," said Tyr. "Best to be prepared."

"Hunt, you're free, but we're pinned down," said Tyr. "I suggest you take action."

"Thanks, I'll see what I can do," said Hunt. Then the channel was cut.

"We're not pinned down," said Harper.

"Best not to let Captain Hunt know we are still able to act," said Tyr with a smile. "Harper, can you download a systems map?"

Harper got up and began working at the machine. Now they had time. "Yeah, I think so."

"Do it. We'll have to adjust our plans," said Tyr. "Hunt probably has a manual override to the security system. If and when he uses it, we need to be able to get to the missile tubes as quickly as possible.

"It won't be long until Cuchulain arrives. When he does, we'll have a warm welcome waiting for him."

Rhade observed the cameras; hands clasped before him. Andromeda was performing very poorly. She'd killed many of the mercenaries, but Tyr and Harper had evaded them and unleashed Hunt. Meanwhile, they were rapidly running out of defense bots.

He supposed he couldn't blame her. A cold machine could never understand war like a human being. "Andromeda, why aren't they dead yet?"

"I appear to be experiencing difficulties," said Andromeda. "My conflicting loyalties are making it difficult to target my enemies. And the mercenaries we are fighting are proving quite skilled."

Ah, so Andromeda was trying to throw the fight. Weakening her own systems to ensure Hunt could reverse the process. Even as he contemplated this, the last of the security was gone.

Rhade sighed and drew up his force lance. "…Fine, I'll kill them myself.

Somehow he knew this would end in a confrontation with Dylan. From a pragmatic perspective, Rhade wanted to kill him while unarmed. But he truly hoped to face him on equal ground.

It would be… entertaining. And it was only against worthy opponents that virtues could be honed.

Author's Note:

Okay, so this chapter took a long time.

Basically, what happened was that I was disappointed by a lack of response. So I turned my mind to other things. Then I got a belated response and decided to continue it. But I'd gotten out of practice and was stuck for a bit.


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