Lying in the dim light of that small basement, Sid was wired. He tried to nap, considering how important the next twenty four hours were going to be. There was no helping it though. Cavalier slept, nestled in his shoulder. He had to admit he was a tinge envious. He hadn’t a clue how long he’d sat in that darkness, mind unquiet, body tense.


  Eventually, his alarm did sound. He’d set it to be quiet, but Cavalier stirred regardless. Speaking distorted by a yawn ‘Hhime already?’


  ‘Yeah’ He said, voice touched of melancholy.


  ‘You didn’t sleep at all did you?’ He could practically hear smiling before she followed ‘I tried my best to tire you out.’


  Ignoring the comment, ‘I mean, we’re going to do something incredibly stupid soon. So no.


  ‘I feel like do this a lot, but would never admit it out loud.’


  ‘Despite my better efforts.’ He grumbled. ‘Though maybe my luck will change.’


  ‘Providence is funny’ She rolled off him, and off the bed, dipping into a crouch to scoop up her discarded clothes.


  ‘You seem to think you have a handle on it.’


  ‘More’ She trailed off, as she hopped into her pants. ‘Faith. You know?’


  ‘Makes one of us.’ He too set to the work of getting dressed. It wasn’t long before there was a knock on the door.


  A young lady, maybe in her early twenties was behind the door. ‘Spooner wants you in there a bit early.’


  ‘That is very spoony of him.’ Sid tried to soften his expression. ‘Tell him we’ll be up in three.’ She nodded and headed back upstairs.’ True to their word, they were sitting around the same holotable with Hyugin and Spooner waiting for them.


  The consortium’s main building was displayed, along with crude scans of several of the nearby buildings. One was marked as a consortium with a triangle, intel brought by Hyugin Sid thought. A few places were already marked, with blood red teacups. A few other buildings were marked with red circles.


  Hyugin spoke first ‘I must say, your audacity still astounds.’


  ‘Tried to blow me up. Me and Cavalier.’ He mocked being more angry than he was.


  She grinned, but shook her head. ‘The powers that be, have signed off. They’re tired of the consortium not playing ball apparently. Despite.’ She pursed her lips ‘Vigorous attempts to cajole we’ll say.’


  ‘I’d almost think you’d planned it.’ Spooner spoke up. ‘But gift horses.’


  ‘So, Guessing you’ve ponied up the explosives and some people? What are these markings about?’ Sid threw Hyugin a questioning glance.


  Cavalier threw out a guess before they’d had a chance to respond. ‘Warehouse, probably your target to lure out their security teams.’ Pointing to the triangle marked building. ‘Which are in the circled buildings.’


  ‘The lady is correct.’ Hyugin returned. ‘We’re hoping to put them on edge. We’ve got a team hitting one of their further holdings as well. I plan to make up for my losses.’ Her expression grim.


  ‘We’ll be handling the main building. Spooner said. ‘You’re going to be the core of our breach team. Speak with Arch after this about ensuring the old thunder god is still working.’


  ‘Tinkering with it already, more shots, less power though.’




  ‘Cat and 99-One will be with you two as the core of the breach team.’ He pushed a button on the console on his end the table. The view zoomed, an image of the first floor, and an elevator shaft to a small area several floors down now displayed. ‘They’ll hold the elevator while you two grab our package.’


  He waited for Sid to acknowledge it before continuing. When Sid said nothing he continued ‘Leaving U-Gar, Arch with one of his suits, and myself. Another button press, and the holotable dispalyed a full view of the first floor. ‘To gain access to the support pillars in the center here, and here’ two areas became highlighted ‘And plant the explosives. And to drop the data bomb.’


  ‘I was rather impressed. He is every bit as formidable as his reputation.’ Hyugin added.


  ‘Dive team, is going to have to jack in here using Arch as a conduit’ he continued. ‘To scramble their intra.’ A small section on the second floor, at the other end of it ‘Whole thing should take thirty minutes.’


  ‘I’ll have a my own breach team standing by to bail you out, when you’re in there for an hour.’ Hyugin frowned. ‘As these things never do go according to plan.’ Spooner looked almost insulted, but shrugged and the meeting was concluded. There was a small delay while Hyugin departed, and the runny babbits filed in to exchange places.


  Spooner went over the plan, and everyone sat quietly. He went a bit slower. When it came time to discuss the scramble of the consortium's intranet, he altered the specificity, saying they were going to let the AI lose that Sid had provided. The room sat silently for a bit as the last of it was explained.


  ‘Question’ came a raised hand from the younger diver, Ripple.


  ‘Go’ Spooner prompted.


  ‘We’re just going to let an AI lose? One that we don’t even know what its going to do?’


  Arch cut in, before Spooner could answer. ‘The building demo should take care of it.’


  ‘Yeah. Poor thing shouldn’t even have time to get its mind sorted out. Should still be breaching the last of the physical devices just as the boom hits.’ Bullwinkle stated. Patting the younger diver on the shoulder ‘Or do you distrust me?’


  ‘I agree.’ Spooner said, ignoring the interruptions.


  ‘So, what am I going to do?’ Jailbait spoke up. ‘I notice you didn’t have anything for me to do.’


  ‘Would you want to go along?’ Spooner took her measure. ‘This isn’t a slow roll. It will be hot.’


  ‘Scorching’ Sid said.


  ‘Well I mean’ the young woman looked undecided. ‘I just, feel kinda useless you know?’


  Spooner replied flatly,‘Different job, different tools.’


  Jailbait seemed to sort through several emotions. ‘Well, Can I at least be on site? Do we not need any intel?’ She frowned. ‘How am I going to get a cut of-’


  ‘Insufficient time.’ Her leader said calmly. ‘I would rather you had.’ No one else seemed to have any questions they wanted to broach at this time at least. This lead Spooner to call the meeting. ‘We roll out in eight hours. Get in your cat naps, and weapons checks now.’


  With that the room cleared. For Sid’s part, he returned to his accommodations, and retrieved his weapon case, and carried it to where he expected Arch’s lab to be. Thankfully it was still in the same spot. Arch was back at it tinkering with a drone. Sid spoke up as soon as he entered. ‘You guys ever get that test range built up?’


  ‘Nah. You trying to do a weapons check on that old thing?’ The tinkerer gave him apparising look.


  ‘That was the plan. Can just run each of the sub systems’


  ‘I was going to take care of it, but Spooner thought it was better left down there.’


  ‘Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.’ Sid set his weapon down a little harder than he meant to. ‘He always did tend to bury things.’


  ‘You could say that. Despite us taking less risky jobs he still came off as.’ The whir of a fan cut him off, as Arch tested one of the drones motors. ‘Too cautious. Know what I mean?’


  ‘Hate to think I was his courage.’ The thunder gun mostly disassembled, Sid cleaned most of the individual parts, checking circuits.


  ‘Eh, your curse is kind of reliable though.’ Shaking a screwdriver toward Sid to emphasize his point. ‘Bad to worse but never bottoming out. Things always worked out.’


  ‘Not super sure this time.’ Sid even after all this had his doubts. He’d felt things, seen things, strange things, but couldn’t shake something feeling off.


  ‘And that’s why I’m confident. Think Spooner too.’ Wandering over to look over Sid’s work. ‘Ah she was a thing of beauty though.’


  ‘Menrva was a labor of love for sure.’ Sid felt a deep satisfaction, looking at the array of parts displayed on the table.


  Arch rolled his eyes ‘No accounting for taste with names though.’


  Sid shot him a dirty look. He could feel relaxing creeping into him, the familiarity of the exchange left him feeling powerfully nostalgic. Spooner hadn’t said anything about his plan to disappear, and be the scapegoat. Spooner leaving it be was strange though. He’d hit him up after the job, no telling what Cavalier was planning either after all this mess. Sid shook it off. He sighed, hard and loud. Arch patted him on the back firmly, and gave him a thumbs up, before going back to his own work. Soon, Sid told himself, this whole thing will be over.


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