The electronic lock released its vise grip on the door with a quiet click, and the heavy slab of composite poly‑steel slid open on servo‑mechanisms hidden in the wall, just as if the intruder was authorized to be there, just as if he was another administrative technician carrying out his mundane duties on Sub‑Level 5 of the most secure networking facility on the station. Security systems composed only a fraction of the training involved with the Gamma Operations Division, training that begins in early childhood and focuses the mind, body and soul, through years of instruction and drill, into a precisely calibrated instrument.
No matter how strictly he had trained, though, or how many missions he had completed, as he padded silently along the clean, white corridor of the installation, a tremor of electric adrenaline spiked down through his core, through his guts and ran out to his finger tips and his toes. A carefully memorized, three dimensional schematic of the target complex revealed itself in his mind and rotated around until it locked into position, oriented with the sterile structure around him. The server room lay directly ahead, a short walk, a few layers of automated security, and direct access to the data‑net would be his; it was almost too easy.
So, of course, it was. It wasn’t so much a direct perception as it was a feeling in the back of his neck, instinct, intuition; the culmination of a whole lifetime spent in drill after drill after drill, until the skill, the perception, the attention to detail merged into him. It became him, and he became it, and when the foreign operative entered Sub‑Level 5, he knew it instantly.
His fingers worked quickly at the access panel to the server room, eyes scanning the corridor for any company. Biomimetic film, sequenced nano‑injection and a few other bits of tradecraft had the door sliding open in a moment, but he felt the presence watching him. Too quiet to be station security, and why hadn’t they tripped the alarm, surely they knew about him just as he knew about them? Inside the doorway now and with his back pressed against the wall, taught and alert, he slowly drew the long, high‑density ceramic blade, eyed the banks of data‑net servers before him, and waited for the server room door to slide closed, maybe with his mystery companion locked on the other side, he might have the chance he needed to upload the raid‑ware.
The door did slide closed, and the automated locking mechanisms snapped‑to with absolute confidence, but the comforting solitude he expected was not there. Suddenly, though, she was there, right in front of him, just out of blade reach, but there. He was familiar, of course, with the concept of chameleon skin, a nanite matrix that refracts light around its subject, rendering it effectively invisible. A brilliant, technological impossibility, or so he thought.
From the top of her head to the tips of her toes she was decked out in a skintight bodysuit that covered everything, but hid nothing. The nanite matrix disengaged, he supposed, to punctuate her entrance, she stood in the aisle between the server banks, covering him with a sleek little carbine that was just made for action.
Everything about her said Syndicate, and things were about to get messy.