The Unity Chronicles

Danger Pay

Unity Standard Time: 01:01, 24th of December U114. Fenry Asteroid belt, Haven system.

It was a means to an end, that was all. The man was brilliant, certainly, but he was as good as dead. She knew this because she had been hired to find and kill him, and had already succeeded in the former.

Now he was stood next to her in his workshop, fussing and chattering over the plans displayed holographically above his workbench. She understood much of what he said, but there was plenty that was unfamiliar too. She concentrated as best she could, and began to follow aspects of his excited babble, though the full picture still eluded her.

She became aware that the room was going dark, and muttered a curse. Turning her head carefully, she noticed that the bright holographic display dimmed as it reached the periphery of her vision, and became clear again when she looked directly at it. Her peripheral vision was fading. The pain would start in just a few minutes, and render her all but helpless.

"Can you build it?" she demanded, now impatient and keen to get the job done.

"If you can get the materials and components," he replied, "I can build it. No guarantee it'll work, but it'll at least be a start." He looked up from his plans as if the realities of the situation had only just occurred to him. "Why, did you say, you were interested in a cloaking device?"

"I told you, I'm a defense tech contractor with Unity." A lie. He shook his head, his narrowed eyes showing his growing suspicion.

"No, Unity want me dead. That's why I'm here."

"Some do, but some think you're more useful to them alive. That's why I'm here." This, at least, was not a lie.

He seemed to accept her explanation, albeit hesitantly. He was clearly more interested in the prospect of pursuing his research, and getting the resources to do so, than in preserving his life at all costs. That was what would prove his fatal weakness.

She returned to her ship and set her course for the jump to hyperspace, retiring to her bunk with a hypodermal syrette of morphine as the autopilot took her off to collect the scientist's components.

She hoped it would be worth the delay in her contract, and dismissed any thoughts of reneging for the scientist's sake; he was a dangerous man, albeit only as a result of his intellect, and could not be allowed to aid Unity directly or indirectly.

It was a means to an end. As soon as he had made her significantly more dangerous, he would cease to be a danger himself.

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