Hawk entered the engineering room. He could tell it was an engineering room because on the other side of a twenty-foot tall plate glass window he could clearly see what was a hundred-foot-tall engine. Above the hundred-foot-tall engine was a fifty-foot-long sign that had both English and Rhaokin words. The English word read “Engine.”
This was the room where he would find the weapon.
He looked at his watch. Thirty minutes remaining. Plenty of time.
There were a few Rhaokin in sight, but they all had their backs to him, and none of them turned at the sound of the door opening. Luckily, the opening mechanisms on the doors here were greased up nicely.
The lighting was dim—the single source from a lone bulb overhead. The room was completely metallic, and all the computer-like equipment had a polish, slightly reflective. It was enough to be a nuisance, and enough to make keeping out of line of sight, or L.o.S as it is called in the biz, that much more difficult.
As soon as Hawk took a step, he immediately noticed his reflection on the wall of a computer that looked like the type of trashcan Oscar the Grouch would live inside. Hawk dive-rolled behind a desk, and remained crouched, holding his breath.
None of the Rhaokin moved. Good, Hawk thought. Their senses aren’t anything spectacular.
Hawk looked around the room for his target. He had no idea what the bug spray machine looked like. But it was definitely in this room.
Across from him was another reflective machine. This one looked like the giant metallic tray that fast food places use to store burgers and chicken nuggets. And between each of the tray areas, clear as day, Hawk saw three reflections of himself, crouched behind the desk.
“Fuck,” he said, much louder than he intended. He dove underneath the desk and held his breath.
No Rhaokin moved. None even shifted.
Hawk crawled out from underneath the desk and crawled prone on the floor, up against the far wall. At this point, if they hadn’t noticed him, they certainly wouldn’t notice him now.
He crawled across the right side of the room, looking to his left, searching for a machine that in some way resembled insect genocide.
The Rhaokin didn’t notice him. They didn’t move. They stared resolutely, stubbornly ahead.
Actually, that wasn’t the case. They stared ahead… and slightly upward.
Hawk crawled a bit closer.
There, in the center of the room, he saw frayed wires of different colors, sparks flying from where they’d been severed. There was space enough between them for a machine, and the space crackled angrily.
But Hawk didn’t focus on that.
His attention was drawn towards the thick purple waterfalls flowing down the necks of the twenty Rhaokin in the room.
Hawk approached, but knew before he had visual confirmation that his suspicions were correct.
The Rhaokin were dead, all of them. Their necks were slit, and they stood upright only because of the trunks at the top of their spines.
This wasn’t just bad. This was apocalyptically disastrous. Humanity would be blamed for this. He’d been spotted by enough Rhaokin, he had to backtrack, and quickly. He couldn’t be seen.
Hawk sprinted from the room. The door shifted open, and he ran through. The Rhaokin whose memory he’d modified sat at her computer, unmoving, in a daze.
That’s what he had to do. Erase the memory of every Rhaokin who’d seen him.
He ran out of that room, down the hallway and into the security checkpoint. Kicking open the closet door, he spotted the security guard still restrained.
“Sorry about this, again,” Hawk said. He withdrew the memory erasing device that he wasn’t convinced wasn’t actually a taser and pressed it to the back of the Rhaokin’s neck, just above the trunk. It sizzled, the Rhaokin twitched for a second and then slumped.
He placed the device back into his tactical utility belt and ran out the door.
The door to the Wall opened up before him. He was back in the city. Now he just had to reach his car without being seen. In broad daylight, in the most heavily trafficked part of the ship, as a human, he would have to cross through an over-populated shopping mall, then somehow figure out how to get back to the residential portion of the ship, then figure out which of the jellyfish legs of the ship was the one he entered, then sprint all the way back or use the elevator all the way down to the base of the leg where he left his car, where, hopefully, it remained. It was impossible, even for him. There was absolutely no possible way to do that.
And then he remembered the most difficult part—he would have to modify the memories of about fifty Rhaokin. The ones he drank with, the ones he hung out with, and the one that he almost slept with. He would have to somehow recognize them and find them within a crowd of about four thousand other Rhaokin.
All in under thirty minutes.
It wasn’t just impossible—it was extremely impossible. It couldn’t be done, not even by him. There was just no way that he, Hawk Abrams, Master Infiltrator, could possibly do all of that without getting caught by a single Rhaokin. It was insane. It was insurmountable. It was literally the most incredibly, insanely, ridiculously, most impossibly impossible mission that he ever—