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The capital black fabric letters “JAKE” moved slowly with boy’s clothing. He was pressed against the wall with nothing under his feet except a small pipe on the wall and the precipice below. His boots were planted against the wall, and there was little enough gravity that he was in no danger of falling. Jacob was the boy’s name. He thought that he must look like a little doll with all the gear he was wearing. No one had been meant to live where his family did; no one should live here anymore either. After a thousand or so years, that was one of the rare things that had not changed....
Jacob’s breathing rasped as he waited, a homemade makeshift energy sword held ready. He glanced up to the place where his people lived. He could see the white running lights of ship hull salvagers he probably knew. Even though the miners were far away, he could see them as well as he could see his immediate surroundings. The difference was his close surroundings were ugly, with a bluish haze, and colors were nonexistent, or highly desaturated. He would not have been able to see that much where he was, as it was pitch black, without the enhanced vision coming from the special computer in his visor.
Jacob was watching a drone lurking below and no longer minding its own business. Jacob pushed off and floated out into the low pressure atmosphere of waste and escaped gases, and slashed the mechanical drone as it leapt to tear him apart the best it knew how. Too bad it hadn’t been fixing some part of the ship, like maintaining the main line shaft Jacob had been following down. Too bad for it….
Some maniac had eventually succeeded in turning the ship functions against its creators a thousand years previously. The damage had never been undone in the ship wide wars that had ensued. Jacob, only known as Jake to himself, knew this now. Although Jacob was his name given by others the sortned version, “Jake” hadn’t existed on the tongues of people for over a hundred years. By rights he shouldn’t have been able to read the balck letter that he himself has actually pasted to his suit. Jake knew many things. One day he had been the inevitable person to find the room, filled with ancient disintegrating papers, and a rare working A.I. panel. It was probably the last still accessible to his tribe. The room had been located in a long abandoned civilian section that was more than half collapsed from old damage by the time Jake had gotten there. Infrastructure was safer… a stronger home to live in. But the A.I was still functioning. He had come to understand some of what the sky blue panel said, and eventually it had taught him more of its language. Jacob had learned more from it, like what “sky blue” was … It had made him the only person onboard who was willing to take action. It had given him a mission.
Jake kept pushing off footholds, keeping a cable in hand, a cable that followed the twenty foot diameter pipe he walked along, heading downward, forwards, and downwards again, along the string of pipes going from someplace to somewhere else. C-Dock was still around two km away. Clusters of machines stirred in the eerie glow of his helmet display visor. The people he knew stayed above, where the machines seldom strayed and were easy to pick off when they did. Where he was now was the machines’ domain.
Gleams flashed below that weren’t from the color of his energy blade. He moved further down the tunnel into the increasingly hostile environment. The drones protected the master computer. Jake knew that now from the A.I. terminal. The malicious things had finally noticed him, and here they came. Through his visor’s infrared image capturing components, Jake spotted a giant leach-shaped thing, four feet long, bigger than the rest of the bots at this level , heading toward him with its infinite number of razor sharp tines, undulating to propel itself through the low pressure atmosphere.
Jake’s blade was modified from a energy saw, using instructions he got from the old A.I ‘s library. Jake buzzed the legged leach into shrapnel, twitching, flying, clumps of inoperable recyclables. Liquid slag beaded Jake’s energy device’s yellow glowing blade. A myriad of sparks consumed oxygen, as they sprayed-out in a beautiful pattern in the low gravity, bringing a moment of color to parts of Jake’s otherwise homogenous grayscale vision. This might be his last time to see everyday- common construction sparks….
The cylindrical column of the gigantic pipe continued to stretch past Jake. He yanked the thin cable he had been following to pull himself an extra few inches toward the great column, and jumped as hard as he could. He quickly dispatched another drone that performed a similar aerobatic attack against him.
His visor illuminated a patrol of drones that came after him before he had leapt, about 30 meters away and as he rotated in freefall, he saw that more were following suit from every direction but his home... where he had come from. Jake sped downward, aided in his endless leap by his suit. There were too many obstacles to navigate around to go very fast with his jets. The usual large payload of jet fuel for a suit had been replaced by something special. Jet fuel was normally reserved for maneuvering only. Small projectiles were worthless against him, other than as means to interrupt whatever his trajectory would happen to be at that moment. The suit was very resilient to bullets. A good missile would take care of Jake, but the bots were not very well equipped... or smart. The main computer several miles more below C-Dock probably wasn’t even functioning anymore. He guessed he’d find out in 2 seconds or so.
Jake twisted and turned more and more, as the melee accelerated into outright battle. Decayed as they were, the bots attacked him voraciously. Jake’s magic-like blade only worked at close range. He had to wait for the voracious drone to approach within the pole’s length before he could take a slash at them.
Jake ignited his main payload of high temperature burning “stuff”, packed in high pressure endurance cans strapped to his suit. Jake immediately burst into flame. He was covered in flames head-to-toe, so hot, the “death stuff” as he had come to call it, would even scorch his suit and crispify it within minutes if he were not careful.
Oncoming bots committed kamakazi suicide. They melted, trying to grapple onto him to use devices that could cut through his suit. Jake screamed alound as he accelerated toward the outer wall, the thin air exerting more and more pressure, going faster and faster.
Hurtling through the night, a blazing star, he headed for the archway labeled C-Dock in large discolored letters. Drones, now clearly devoid of any capacity for organization, dumbly perished while closing in for their kill. The small but powerful Stuff tanks Jake had fired didn’t deter all of them. A drone managed to latch on, and cut one of his suite’ many tude appendages Jakes had added over the last few years. Jake brushed away the maniacal droid, now weakened by the Stuff’s flames.
The suit was a hodgepodge of things he had put together, improving on the original. The cut in the golf ball diameter hose wasn’t anything that would result in quick death, obviously, Jake thought. Maybe one of the safeties had shut it off. Otherwise, Jake knew he would have perished in the flames of his own creation.
The energy saw cut out an eternity later. Quickly, another bot crept successfully through a slit somewhere in his suit. Jake howled screamed in despair and fear. The now very visible C-dock grew faster, and faster in his vision. There was little way to repel the drones now, drifting through space. The flames had died out to a slow guttering.
He compensated for obstacles and drones buffeting him from every side. The drones’ electronics had eventually succumbed to the blazing comet that Jake had been, but at the same time his defenses had evaporated like water in a vacuum.
It was getting very hot in the compromised suit. Other Energy weapons blazed and his predicament continued to escalate. There! C –dock. Unable now to successfully counteract all of the spins he was taking, Jake hurtled on.
He desperately hoped that he would hit the bounce pad accurately. He feared the results if he did not. He banked, into the beginning of the outer wall, running perpendicular to it. Drones tore at his protections until they shredded, and continued to hang on as he hit the pad. Much of the collision G-force was absorbed by the pad and his suit, but Jake’s body was still was nearly shocked into unconsciousness as the crash-force collision smashed some of the bots latched onto his failing suit.
The pad bounced him ninety degrees through the large open hatch, and sent Jake careening through the passage way beyond like a mail package, through a force field, and out into the well lighted other side.
Gunmen passed him before he finished dashing through the tunnels. When the firing had ceased for awhile, Jake looked around through his unmodified, dead, visor. Jake popped open his helmet and struggled out of the burning vestiges of the depleted equipment that had saved his life and brought him here.
“Quickly now, get away from that.” A round fired once more. “You! Take care of that suit pronto… James, check him,” said someone.
The man presumably named James ran over and proceeded to make sure that the extremely dazed Jake didn’t need a stretcher for a broken neck, hole in the chest, or other some such debilitating problem.
“What’s your name boy?” asked the same one who had given orders.
“Jacob”, Jake said hurriedly, making sure that they knew his burned hair and watering eyes didn’t mean that his brain was so much cooked pudding.
“Good. Are you alright?”, said the man giving orders.
“I think so”, Jake replied.
“Good. Back in the day, I would say something like that to see if they’d say a word two, only to find out that they’re deaf or dead,” said the man giving orders.
Jake let James quickly check his feeble form.
“The run hasn’t been safe for a person since before you were born, boy. You are the dumbest person the sector; did you know that?”, said the man giving orders.
Jake’s wobbled his head as a sign of recognition, that also meant “yes”, whether he wanted it to or not.
“Your uncle’s been expecting you, but first James will give you a full medical just to make sure you’re going to keep talking tomorrow,” said the man.
Jake slumped to the floor unconscious.