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The Architects: The Illusion of Death – Part 1, CH 6

Crawling through an old maintenance shaft, Sirius had his suit’s radio muted. He had been right, the captain was not a fan of crawling through old, dusty, tunnels in a bulky EVA suit. He’d made him lose the mag boots; it was faster and quieter to float than to walk. Since they had set out, the captain had been mumbling under his breath about the less than satisfactory situation and it was starting to wear on Sirius’ nerves. Sirius was willing to bet that the last time the captain was on the float in an EVA suit was before Sirius himself was born.

Sirius had spotted these old maintenance shafts on the captain’s computer. They were old. Old enough that the entrance on the captain’s deck had rusted shut. Using his chisel and a lot of profanity, he managed to crack it open enough to get them through. Luckily, the tunnel was airtight enough to prevent the captain’s deck from losing pressure just yet. But Sirius knew that any sudden shift in the metal bulkheads could compromise the seal, hence the EVA suits. They suited up quickly, and Sirius left a little surprise for anyone who wanted to poke around upstairs.

There was a resounding boom, his surprise had been found, which meant it wouldn’t be long before their escape path was found out. That meant they needed to move fast. The tunnel let out into the lower decks. He’d have the captain lose his uniform jacket, maybe spread some grease on his face. The lower decks didn’t see much of the captain anyways, wasn’t like he’d be a quick spot as long as he kept a low profile. They floated to a stop at the exit. Sirius patched his comms back to the Captain’s suit.

“We’re going to need to crack the suits, lose your jacket too. Do you remember how to pop open one of these?” he gestured to the EVA suit.

The captain waved his hands in placation, nodding with both hands, a gesture he had picked up from the spacewalkers on his ship. The movement caused him to tumble slightly in the low g. He disassembled his suit, slowly, and pulled his uniform jacket off while Sirius did the same. Sirius scraped his palm across the inner wall of the tunnel, picking up decades of grease and rust.

“Come here”, he told the captain.

“That shit will probably give you cancer”, the captain replied, his face twisted with disgust.

“Better cancer than a bullet in the back”, Sirius shrugged.


The captain floated forward, and Sirius smudged the residue over his face and arms, then did the same for himself. Using his chisel, he also made a few tears in the captain’s otherwise pristine t-shirt.

“There, now you look like one of us. Stick close to me, don’t look too imposing or captain-ly, and we’ll hit the rescue boats before you know it”.

Sirius popped open the final door and looked furtively into the corridor. Empty, so far. He pushed out into the hallway, stopping himself gently at the opposite wall. He waved the captain over, who crossed the hallway much less gracefully. Sirius checked his watch, it was between shifts, which meant most people would be in their quarters or the mess hall right now. No better time to hit the rescue boats than now. They were nearly to the lifeboat deck when an emergency alarm sounded and the ship’s lighting changed to red.

“Oh, shit, that’s close quarters combat lighting. People are going to be moving to the lifeboat deck pretty quick, we need to beat them there, or join the crowd”, Sirius said.

“Looks like we don’t have much choice”, the captain motioned toward a gathering cloud of crewmen moving down the hall like synchronized swimmers or dolphins in a pod. They pushed back into one of the walls, and once the crowd passed by, they tagged along keeping to the rear. Down at the lifeboat bay, crew leaders were already lining people up to board the boats.

“Dammit, they’re checking IDs, exactly like they’re supposed to do. How are we going to get around that?”, the captain asked him.

“I don’t know, I’ll think of something”, Sirius wasn’t convinced.

He looked around for inspiration. There wasn’t much to go on. He floated to a medkit strapped to the wall, looking for something.

There. A blood pouch. Sirius grabbed it. He could work with this.

“Hey cap, here’s something. Come here, and pretend like you got your arm chewed up by one of the CNC routers”, Sirius popped the bag and spread some of the blood on the man’s arm and shirt.

“I thought the grease was bad, but this is absolutely vile”, the captain complained, but let him continue.

“Alright, get over here, and do your best to look injured”, Sirius took the captain, holding him with a low grav rescue hold, “You’re too quiet for a guy who got his arm torn up. Surely you can put the waterworks on for the 5 minutes we need to get aboard a boat”, the captain looked outraged for a second, then started whimpering.

Sirius nudged him in the ribs – hard, making him yelp for real.

“There we go, that’s more like it”.

Sirius took the bloodied, crying man to one of the crew leaders in front of a lifeboat. He could see the leader’s eyes go wide at the sight of them.

This would be easy.

“This guy got chewed up real bad by one of the machines”, Sirius explained over the captain’s blubbering, “let me get him on board and some medical care, then you can check his ID for statistics when we shove off”, he pushed the captain in front of him, showing the bloody mess of an arm. The crew leader turned his head in disgust and waved them through.

“Go on. I’ll find you two later”, the leader said, his face a tinge of green.

Sirius dragged the captain onto the boat and deposited him into a flight chair. Strapping him up, he sat next to him and strapped himself in.

“So far, so good”, he muttered to himself, he had no idea what he would do once the crew lead came back to check IDs, but he figured that’d he’d handle it as they went. For now, he was exhausted, he’d just come off two shifts nonstop without rest. Barely had time to realize he wanted a nap before he slipped from consciousness. 

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