"She says she knows where to look."
The soft female voice echoed slightly in the darkness. There was a long pause before any response came.
"Good. We shall let her proceed. We will be interested to see how she executes her task. She handled the last situation well."
The voice was loud, composed and above all male. A voice people would find difficult to disobey.
"Will she be successful?"
A third voice, noticeably different from the previous speakers. This one was much younger.
"Rest assured she will. We have invested too much in this for her to fail."
"What if she had failed the last incident? She would be dead in the dessert and our 'investment' would be for nothing." The first voice spat the word 'investment' with disgust.
"That was not our doing. We merely anticipated the event and turned it to our advantage." The young voice was full of reproach.
"She is a remarkable creature. She will succeed." The male voice assured.
"What if she discovers who she is working for?"
"She works for you. She knows that." The young voice was tinged with contempt.
"And who am I working for? Who do you work for?"
She was answered with only silence and darkness.

The heavy metal security door with surprising silence, and from behind it two large security officers stepped through to the corridor junction. As one kept a careful watch down the corridors to his left, right and centre his partner turned and tapped in a code on a keypad to the left of the doorway. The door slid back into place and the sound of servo motors and heavy bolts sliding into place signified that the door was sealed.
"Entering section seven. Door Q4, check" the guard who had sealed the door spoke quietly into a mic fastened to his lapel. In stride the two guards headed down the left-hand corridor. About half way down its thirty metre length they stopped on the right hand side at the only door leading off it.
"Door Q5, check" the same guard reported, glancing at the green light above the door frame.
They continued towards the end of the corridor where it terminated at a blank wall. The stood for a moment, enjoying the cool air flowing from a single grated vent in the ceiling a metre above their heads.
"Corridor seven-L, check."
The two turned to head back towards their starting point. They had both taken a single step when the grate swung free from the vent, connecting solidly with the back of their heads and knocking them to the ground. A slim, black clad figure dropped quickly through the open vent to the floor. One of the guards, groaning from the knock, rolled over and reached for a weapon at his side. In an instant the figure was on him. An elbow under his chin, the other hand around the back of his head, a swift wrench and a clear crack of breaking bones. The body slumped to the floor, lifeless. The figure rose and stepped over the other guard who was unconscious but clearly alive. The intruder reached down and plucked the mic from his lapel. They then stood and began to walk noiselessly down the corridor. They had got about ten metres when they suddenly stopped, frozen. Turning, the intruder stared intently through a facemask at the prone guard and his dead companion. They stood for ten seconds before walking slowly back to the guards. The figure knelt beside the remaining guard and listened to his shallow but even breathing. With a grunt of effort they rolled the guard over. Then, crouching behind his head, the guard was lifted into a sitting position. The same arm positions, the same sudden movement, the same result. The intruder jogged back to the junction. There they paused, checking a tiny display strapped to the left arm. Counting down three seconds they lifted the mic to their mouth.
"Corridor seven-R, check." The voice was a perfect impression of the guard.
The figure then set off at a jog down the centre corridor. This extended for twenty metres and terminated at a double door. The intruder swiftly punched in a code on the pad to the left of the door, the crouched as the doors slid apart, revealing a continuation of the corridor, empty. The figure stepped through and tuned, repeating the keying process. As the doors slid closed the figure spake to the mic again.
"Door Q-6 check."
They were at the next door, in the left hand wall some five metres along, in three seconds. This time there was no sign of a pad on either side of the door.
"Open door Q-7."
The figure braced themselves against the far wall opposite the door, counting under their breath. The door shot open vertically with surprising speed, revealing the room beyond. The second the door was open a hail of laser-bolts erupted, peppering the wall. The figure launched themselves into the room in an instant, diving to the floor and rolling for any available cover. There were six guards, similarly dressed to the men now lying dead, arrayed around the room. So that they covered virtually every angle. The intruder span and pirouetted towards the nearest guard. He gave the figure a sick smile as he trained his weapon on their chest, dead centre. As he fired, though, the figure sprang into the air with unbelievable strength. The intruder somersaulted over the head of the guard, their hands reaching around his head and under his chin. As the stranger landed easily on their feet, back to back with the guard, they whipped his head sideways, snapping his neck. The deceased's comrades, having paused momentarily in fear of hitting their companion, now resumed their barrage. The stranger span, gripping the guards lifeless body and using it as a shield. The figure hooked the guards weapon, dropped the floor in death, by its strap with a foot. Kicking it upwards they caught it easily and reached around the fire. When nothing happened the intruder screamed annoyance. By now the guard's body was in danger of disintegrating from the hundreds of hits it had taken. The figure surveyed the room quickly before making a move. Letting the body fall to the ground, the figure flipped forward, hurling the weapon upwards as their hands came up. The weapon arced towards the ceiling and struck the single light fitting in the centre of the room. The whole room fell into complete darkness, only light partially by the multi-coloured lasers and the occasional small flame where a laser bolt had struck the wall. The firing became more sporadic and wild as one by one the sources were eliminated, either silently or with a short but terrifying scream. Thirty seconds later the room fell silent. Another thirty seconds passed before the door opposite the one the intruder had entered by. A harsh white light emanated from the room beyond, silhouetting the slim, black figure as it slipped through. The room was round with a single raised plinth in the centre, housing a control unit. Above this a flume descended from the ceiling, sucking a constant stream of air out of the room. A double track of metal railings hung suspended a metre below the ceiling, forming a circle around the flume. From these rails hung cylinders, joined into pairs by a single valve. The intruder approached the control unit and selected an inventory report. Reading down, the figure touched the screen. The carousel immediately began to turn until a pair of cylinders reached the point in the circle nearest the door. A sharp click and hiss sounded and the cylinders detached from the rails and were lowered down to waist height on a cable. The figure unhooked the cylinders and lay them carefully on the floor before returning to the control unit and repeating the process. The intruder attached the two pairs of cylinders with two lengths of cable and slung them over their shoulder. They then returned to the control unit and waited, looking up into the flume. A moment later a cable appeared from the flume. Attached at the end was a small box. The figure detached the box, activating a timer on the top, and placed it on the floor by the control unit. They then attached the cable to their belt and gave the cable three swift tugs. The slack was quickly taken in and the figure disappeared upwards.

Three guards tentatively approached the second doorway through the dark, smoke-filled room. Their weapon mounted torches illuminated the dead bodies of their comrades, contorted and bloody. They surveyed the cylinder store suspiciously before slowly entering one by one. The last guard in noticed the box by the control unit and quickly approached it. Just in time to see the counter reach zero.


More original work by Assa