Evan worked well into the night. He could have left it to the other technicians, but he kept hoping to see Margaret walk through the lab’s door. When the clock chimed midnight, he gave up on her and left the lab as he did every night: alone. He kept the hover car on manual controls so he would focus on the road rather than on the sad state of his personal life or Aldric’s project. That man and his research were consuming Evan’s life. He promised himself once the project was finished, he would leave Darkside Experimental.
The physical airlock of his garage slammed shut and left Evan sitting in silence. The halogen lights of the immaculately maintained garage clicked on. He did not spend much time with his car, but he did not want the space cluttered in case the airlock or the force field failed. Evan remembered his parent’s home on earth and the garage filled with boxes, tools, and a lifetime’s accumulation of belongings too valuable to throw away, but not important enough to keep in the home. Parking in the driveway was not an option on the moon, so his garage was for the car and nothing else.
Evan punched the key code into the door. It slid into the wall with a hiss. He walked inside and leaned against the counter. When the door slid shut, the airtight seals slid into place with a soft, sucking sound followed by a low chime confirming his home was airtight. The lights came on and revealed three men sitting around Evan’s kitchen table.
“Welcome home, Evan,” said the tallest of the men. Even seated he was nearly as tall as Evan. “We’re glad to see the taskmaster didn’t keep you working until the morning.” He made a point of looking at his watch and said, “Oops, my mistake. He did keep you working until morning.”
“What do you want, Marcus,” Evan asked as he walked past the men to his kitchen.
“You know what we want,” the tall man said as he stood up, nearly bumping his head on the ceiling. “Just give it to us and we’ll be on our way. Don’t give it to us and we’ll see how well you can do your research with your fingers cut off.” Marcus tilted his head toward one of the other men, a thug named Caleb whose shoulders were almost as wide as he was tall. Caleb pulled out a black ceramic-bladed knife from his pocket, the kind perfect for getting around security.
“I’m working on it, but there is only so much I can do without getting caught,” Evan said. “The man is extremely paranoid and I’m sure he has the place bugged. His security codes are incredibly complex, so a straight hacking attempt is all but useless.” Evan poured himself a glass of water and took a long drink before continuing. “But you knew that didn’t you, and that is exactly why you came to me. I just hope Aldric hasn’t figured out how to bug my place yet. If he has, well he already knows about you and is running your images through his facial recognition software.”
The four men looked around the room, their eyes dodging about from potential camera to potential camera. Caleb even pulled his coat up around his head to try and cover his face. “He can do that?” Caleb asked.
“You bet your ass he can,” Evan replied. “That man is brilliant and worried that everyone is out to get him and his technology. He’s not a bad person, just misguided, but the moment you let your guard down around him he will burn you in ways that you cannot imagine.” Evan poured himself another glass of water and looked Marcus in the eyes, waiting for the man to blink.
“Fine,” Marcus barked as he looked away. “We will keep playing this your way, but we need some results. There is a deadline here, and if you don’t meet it, you’ll end up regretting it more than you can imagine.” Marcus nodded his head toward the front door. His associates got up from the table and made their way in that direction, each of them scowling at Evan as they passed. “We’ll be back, Doc. Try not to disappoint us next time.” Marcus turned and joined the others in the airlock before sealing the door shut behind them.
Evan’s shoulders slumped as he breathed out. “Too close,” he said to no one. “I really need to invest in some better locks.” He drank the rest of his water and eased the flechette pistol back into the hidden holster beneath the kitchen counter. It was not the first time Marcus or one of his goons h visited Evan, but each time they came their threats were a bit stronger. It would not be long before they stopped threatening and started breaking things. Evan’s deal with the devil would grow costly if he was not careful.
He set down the glass and walked to the one luxury item he had. The overstuffed reclining chair dominated the center of his main room, He sat down on the soft grey cushions and let out a loud sigh. He leaned back and lifted the footrest and leaned back. “This is getting a little out of hand.”
Marcus, or more correctly the criminal syndicate he worked for, wanted the plans for the reactors used to power the moon. It was the single most well-guarded secret on the moon outside of the void engine project. They approached Evan not long after he got hired on at Darkside. They started with promises of wealth and a lab of his very own. Evan resisted at first, but the numbers went up and then the threats started. By the time he agreed Evan knew that they would most likely kill him once they had the plans. They probably planned that from the beginning.
Fortunately, Evan had a plan to get the plans and escape with his head on his shoulders. If they met with some success the excitement and celebrating would cause enough of a distraction that he could use the program he spent all of his free time working on. It would find the files and hide them on the data stream in a channel only Evan knew about. The trick was that it would set off all kinds of alarms shortly after completion, so getting out was the key.
Evan smiled to himself and closed his eyes. He was almost ready to make his move. It was going to be spectacular.