An Antibody

It is little more than a hutch, really. The room is dominated by fourteen video screens, crammed in and displaying footage from across the facility, cycling from camera to camera. At the centre, the largest screen is showing a baseball game, live from Taiwan. The security chief, Barry, watches the game intently, leaning back in his office chair.

The hulking mechanised machines we call Antibodies require their pilot to verify their identity with an access code before powering up. It was a safety feature which the Corps built in after several cases where lockdown residents mugged pilots and stole their Antibodies. But with the advent of the New Economic Sphere, Corps grew wary of giving pilots too much power, lest they defect to the NES. So now, every Antibody has its own personalised access code which is valid for only 24 hours, generated and stored securely by their Corp. For the Antibodies on the roof, their access codes are stored right here, in Barry’s security console. Which is currently showing the Omnisoft Titans leading 6-1, at the top of the 7th.

Tasha pings me, “Remember, I need physical access and a distraction for long enough to decrypt the hash. Without our own code generator, we’ll just be left with a pile of scrap metal.” I finger the USB key nervously – I’ve only got one shot.

Barry whoops, as on the screen the batter connects and the ball sails into the outfield. If a machine gun couldn’t pull this guy away from his game, I doubt I’ll be able to do this subtly.

I glance back out the impromptu door. Trent is still inspecting the machine gun, as it whirrs quietly. I sneak closer to Barry’s chair, close enough to smell the beer on his breath.

Then I shove his chair forwards with all my force, sending him rolling into the computer screens. His head hits the screen, and then he falls forward, sprawling on the tiled floor.

I rush to the console, plugging in Tasha’s remote USB key, then straight into the gun cabinet in the corner, where I slam the door and hide.

The brief flurry of action is replaced by a gnawing tension. I try to position myself so that I can peer through a ventilation hole at the result. Time to let the Fed’s finest hacker do her job.

Barry sighs, rubs his head and lets out a curse. As he stumbles to his feet, the screen showing the game is phasing in and out. The other video feeds have been replaced by a series of dancing pixelated frogs, as Tasha works her magic underneath.

Barry gets to his feet and curses again, more vehemently, as he sees the frogs dance. As he reaches out toward the red button underneath his desk, I grab for a gun and throw open the cabinet door.

I line up the sights and click the trigger. Nothing happens.

Barry hits the red button marked BREACH. An alarm blares. I click the trigger again. Still nothing.

I rush toward Barry, who is still kneeling on the ground, and bring down the butt of the rifle hard toward his head. The security chief rolls with practised instinct and dodges. My rifle slams hard into the tiles with a crack, jarring it out of my hands.

Tasha pings through, “The fuck’s going on? There’s active agents popping up everywhere. This’ll take a bit longer, Jake.”

I dodge a meaty fist from Barry, who is thrown off balance. I kick the office chair toward him. He jumps sideways, with a cry of alert. But as he lands, I slide in a low kick, tripping him to the ground. He lands hard on his back with a thud.

I reach down into my pocket, and pull out Brayden’s white pills, then shove one in his mouth. He spits it out, landing with a glob of phlegm on my cheek. He throws me back with a firm shove, getting enough space to pull out a baton.

“Boy, those are nice fresh lungs you’ve got there. There are princesses who’ll pay a pretty penny for ‘em, so I’ll try not to puncture them too badly.” he cackles.

I reach around for a weapon of my own, and find only a roughly hewn hunk of concrete, cut loose by the machine gun breach. This looks to be a losing hand – beneath Barry’s civilian paunch lurk the instincts of a soldier. He advances toward me, menacing with his baton.

Tasha pings, “No Corp lackey can hold a candle to a free spirit like me. The code generator for Antibody XAEA-12 is loaded up.”

Freedom is so close, just on the other side of this gruff enforcer. Barry growls.

I hurl my hunk of concrete at him, tumbling through the air like a particularly small asteroid. The fat man ducks underneath as it smashes on the tiles behind him. I rush past him to the computer console, and grab out the USB key. The frogs dancing on the screens fade away.

Barry smirks. “Got you trapped now.” He stands between me and the roughly carved hole in the security bunker. I reach out for the rifle, sitting on the ground by his chair, and point it at him.

“Just let me be on my way. I don’t want any trouble.” I say.

“No, no, it’s too late for that, boy. A punk like you, you don’t know how to use that thing. You ain’t got the authority. I’m going to enjoy this.” he replies, as he advances, baton in hand.

I slam the USB key into the port on the back of the rifle, and click the trigger twice.

Barry falls, with two bullet wounds puncturing his head.

I pocket the USB key and head back out toward the lift.