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   Chapter 18 The man in the suit

The Story of the Mimosa By Paul Kater Characters: 11888

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04


When all the shaking, clattering and double vision had disappeared Tibbaloo checked the main screen in front of them. Nothing but black space and the occasional white streak of a star they were passing at the insanity called LSP. Light Speed Plus. The ladder had fallen over. Tibbaloo Malloy picked it up and put it where it belonged. "Are we spared of that for now?"

"So far so good, captain, " Ding reported as she let her fingers dance over the console, making sure she did not hit any buttons that might create havoc. Barco had run off again as his sensitive stomach (the only sensitive thing about him) had given him new ammunition to spew.

Tibbaloo climbed up the ladder and twiddled the odd handle on the back of the metal contraption until the hatch opened. The obnoxious odour that wafted from the inside made him gag but he was able to control the reflex. No need to join Barco in his deplorable situation. "There, no problem at all, " the man mumbled as he climbed up high enough to step into the suit. Once inside it, he found a few places to hold onto and pulled himself up so he could look out of the visor. "Too small for it. Ridiculous, " he then commented, after which he let go again as the grips were not made for his hands and his muscles not used to this kind of abuse. "It just needs some comfort adjustment, that's all." He left the suit, closed it and sat with Ding. LoFat had disappeared and Barco hadn't reappeared yet. "Finally, " Tibbaloo then said.

"You really think that will be the solution, don't you?" Ding asked as she pretended to adjust the course. She wouldn't dream of that, though. Messing with a course at Light Speed Plus was requesting instant death and no one on the Maitrea was in a hurry for that.

"Yes. It will be."

Tibbaloo had figured it all out, the whole Malloy ploy as he preferred to call it in silence. He was a thief by vocation and a reasonably successful one as long as he operated on a small scale. That specific however was what had become a sharp twisted crooked nail in his flesh: he did not want to be small any more, so he had come up with a cunning plan to rob an orbiting vault-station. The station was well-guarded, equipped with all kinds of automatic systems, air-tight and air-free, so thieves would not stand a chance. Unless they had access to the soul of the Maitrea, because despite the sophisticated manner with which the computer spoke and acted, there were a bunch of mischievous software-routines in it that always were up for something as long as it was no good. The only restriction that kept kicking in (and seemed impossible to circumvent) was that Maitrea's soul would not allow people to get killed. Since Tibbaloo was a thief and not a killer that usually was fine.

"This suit will allow me to get into the station, rip open the main vaults and take everything that's for the taking. As the station is so tightly sealed and secure, it will take at least half an hour for anyone to arrive. Plenty of time for the one big heist."

"Yes. We get to play, " Maitrea responded, "and we'll be wealthy. I hope my share will allow me to buy myself free from you."

Ding snorted. Tibbaloo frowned in no general direction. "Who says you get a share? And why would you want to buy yourself free from us? Don't you like us?"

"In order to keep a peaceful and pleasant working relationship I would prefer to skip the latter question, " Maitrea said. "Perhaps I should also skip the first one for the same reason."

"Sounds like a good plan. First let's get our hands on t

and in order. Then he noticed that the suit was facing the wrong way so he could not see the actual approach on the screen.

"We're there." LoFat's voice startled the man in the suit. "Let's do it. And Tibbaloo... good luck."

"Thanks. I hope I won't need it."

Barco left the cargo bay, pumped all the air out and remotely opened the cargo door. The mechanical arm picked up the suit and swung Tibbaloo into the great outdoors. There he had his first view of the station. The clunk overhead told him he was on his own now. Carefully he played the controls of the suit and soundlessly glided through space, to the belly of the vault-station. Once he arrived there he examined the surface. There were two specific marks that he had memorised. Once he had located them, he knew where to apply the blow-torch. With effort he positioned the suit and applied the first moments of intense fire to the vault-station when the unexpected happened: the pressure from the torch made him drift away! Tibbaloo muttered as he worked the controls for the jets and got himself in position again. He'd have to compensate the blow-torch with the jets, if this was going to succeed. The nerves started to act up now because he knew that the first volley with the blow-torch had already triggered a primary alarm that had activated an internal repair-system which would try to determine the cause of the alarm. Time was of the essence now. The thief pushed hard and worked himself in a sweat when the unbelievable happened.

A tiny piece of the original crystal asteroid that the Amandians had hacked away at, long ago and in a galaxy far away, had lodged itself in an artificial crevice under the left knee of the metal suit. A spark from the blow-torch made an improbable jump from the tip of the torch to this same little piece of the asteroid. Had the crystal snippet been stuck in the black ship, nothing would have happened because of the difference in size, but the metal suit was an entirely different story. The crystal was activated, created a tiny wormhole the size of a decent metal suit, and after Tibbaloo had fallen into it the hole closed itself again, leaving the vault-stations alarms unattended for a while, and the people in the mother ship flabbergasted as they saw their boss disappear into thin vacuum.

The only thing that remained was a broken-off blow-torch.

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