Operation Search and Expunge (5/5): After-Action Report

Unidentified Habitat, Moons of Braníthár, Mírlan System – Mission Complete

The view from the hab’s for’ard lounge was spectacular, Morria decided. Outside, storms and swirling winds swept the blue face of Braníthár, and  the upper limb of the planet flashed with periodic fluorescence  as Tehelmír’s radiation swept over it.

Her new bioshell was a vatjob, but close enough to her usual frame to feel close to home. She turned her attention back to the trigraphic projection unrolling between her seat and her employer’s, the counter at its base ticking off from MET +0:13:30. From behind the eyes of the gray shadow of her previous incarnation, she watched as…

…it slammed and locked the entrance door, infowar daemons code-locking it behind, then moved smoothly through the server cluster, snapping off precise needler shots at the technicians.

Even as they fell, it moved to the control pillar, and punched in a request; data began to stream up the pillar in a continuous cascade, too fast to read on the recording, while the hiss of cutting torches came through clearly.

”I haven’t had the opportunity to review the file listing you pulled. Anything noteworthy?”

”Mostly just the usual – Delphys InVids and slinkies, any amount of flat text, audio and EM recordings – a few poorly secured consumer product and printfood recipes. But there was one item of interest; copies of the Ikarakakt forknapped mind-states.”

”So, the Narijics are moving up to slaving, now.  Good to know.”

Meanwhile, the projection continued to unroll; the data streaming up the pillar coming to an end even as the hiss of the torches came to a stop. The shadow unslung the pinch from its shoulder, twisted its midsection, and set it on the floor.

With a crash, the door fell inward.

The image blurred and stopped as the lifelog ended. Mission Elapsed Time +0:15:69.


”Enough to tell the tale. Office staff, in the outer ring, and if the security there was even halfway competent, some of the core techs should have survived them, the pinch, and my bugout charge. Total data loss, though.”

”Excellent work, Operative, excellent! The Association will pay out the full performance bonus.”

”There’s just one thing that always bothers me about these missions, Chief.”

He looked at her inquiringly.

”I never get to remember if I thought of any good last words.”