Nowhere to go but down (Conclusion)

If you missed part 1, click here.

She quickly glanced round the room, only picking up the key details. She had landed in one of the guest bedrooms. It was very functional, none of the lavish adornments you might have expected. Clearly, the prince had priorities when splashing his cash and guest’s comfort was not one of them. She opened the room and immediately turned right. The blueprints for the building were easy to get hold of and she had memorised them two days ago, even before she had really decided she was going to do the job. She headed for the main staircase, not the servants’. The servants’ staircase was more likely to get surprise traffic: someone out for a sneaky smoke, or an illicit encounter with a colleague. No, the main stairs would be quieter and conveniently would lead directly into the exhibition room.

Her feet sank into deep pile carpet; perfect for silencing any noises. It was almost too easy. The security cameras didn’t move, not at all interested in her movements thanks to her hack. Even in the dark, she could see the paintings that hung on the walls and struggled to not appraise them as she passed. The frames alone would land her a pretty score. The works were all worth a lot but she knew that was not where the Prince kept the really high end pieces. Nor the ones that shouldn’t really be on display.

It only took a matter of minutes to reach the exhibition room door which was itself a beauty to behold. Reinforced with ballistic material, locking mechanisms on all four edges, a retina scanner and a digital keypad all hidden behind a glorious mirror at the end of a hallway – it was heavenly. The gilt-edged mirror swung away from the wall like a dream revealing the secure door behind it. Carefully, she prised the front of the digital keypad away from the housing of the device, allowing her to connect to the wires inside. The door’s security was separate from the rest of the house so required direct wiring into it. She took a small handheld device from her vest pocket and plugged it in to the wires now hanging from the display. She accessed the retina information and spoofed a positive result. The display, that was hanging limply, flashed green and moved to the number pin entry. This she had managed to obtain in a more old-fashioned way.

The pad flashed green again. She could hear the locks withdrawing from their housing allowing her to spin the handle on the front and reveal the treasures within. Stepping through, she paused only to pull the mirror back into position in case anyone strolled past.

The room was lit by glowing orbs at periodic spaces around the room. Polaris mountain dust gave off an iridescent glow. It required no power and lasted for hundreds of years. It was, however, really only available on the black market due to the laws on mining it. After its initial discovery, Polaris had been mined to 50% density with a decade. All mining was now banned, only natural rockfall was allowed to be collected. The Prince clearly had no regard for such trivialities.

The mountain dust bathed the room in a blue glow. It made her feel like she was almost underwater, in an aquarium staring into the shimmering tanks of wonders. She moved closer to one case and found the missing power crystals from Ilurian 7. These had been searched for decades after they had been stolen from the ill-fated voyage. Rumours abounded as to whether the crew and passengers would have survived if the crystals had not been removed. The question was whether the Prince was merely the latest buyer.

She moved between rows and rows of stolen items. All had a provenance that made her shudder. Blood had been shed obtaining all of these items which made her not want to handle any of them. But the dagger on the other hand.

She had been kidding herself this was a fun trip. But it couldn’t have been further from the truth. She was drawn to one case in particular. Her body moved as if being pulled, ignoring the glittering gems on her route. A slight shudder ran down her back; the temperature was lower here, or perhaps that was her imagination. As she faced the case she was headed for, she realised she had let her guard down. Immediately she sensed the movement behind her.

“I heard someone would be coming for that.”

She turned to see the Prince sat in a chair at the edge of the room. He was slumped into it lazily, a glass of wine in his left hand. The glass roated in his fingers, the liquid clinging to the side. He looked as if he were bathed in monochrome in the blue light, causing a deathly pallor to colour his face. She was suddenly very grateful she had remembered to put her eye mask on. It did nothing to her vision but it gave the impression of distorting her face into a blur. No-one could define any clear features even after staring at her for an hour.

She wracked her brains trying to think how he could have possibly known she was coming. She had been sitting on the lead to the dagger for two months; could he have been sitting down here waiting all that time?

“It’s not yours,” her voice came out in a strange modulated tone. Every time she heard her voice come through the device it made her pause. It sounded so unnatural.

“And you think it’s yours?” The Prince stood up. Something was off. Where were the guards?

“It should be,” she decided to say no more. Her grandfather had promised her that dagger the first time she laid eyes on it. It was taken the same time someone took his life. She had vowed to get it back one day, but it was a very big universe to search.

The Prince stepped forward. There was something about the way he moved that was wrong, as unnatural as her voice. Realisation dawned on her and she started to chuckle, a strange approximation of such coming from her throat modulator. He never saw her fingers slip into her back pocket and get the mini EMP. As the Prince stepped into a pool of light, she threw her hand round, clicking the button as it was released from her grip. It attached to the clothes across his chest. A look of confusion crossed his pallid face before the EMP took effect.

The Prince juddered, his eyes wide. He gave a few jerks of his arms before his head dropped, decommissioned. No Prince would sit alone on guard duty. Definitely not when you have android clones wandering the place. She shook her head, she should have known. He probably had a whole host of viable recreations of himself around the palace. She couldn’t take a chance he would be rebooted for information about her so she stepped up to the powerless android. She could wire up and erase everything or…

A long metal rod was tucked in her leg straps. She withdrew it and placed it against the side of his temple. She said a word of apology before jabbing the magnetic probe deep into his cortex, making his systems no better than dust.

It took only two more minutes for the dagger to be in her hands and for her to be retracing her steps to the roof. She removed all traces of her entry. It was as if someone was looking down on her as the snow began to fall again covering her footprints. The lines of silver that weaved around the hilt of the dagger, reflected moonlight in her eyes and brought the sound of her grandfather’s laughter to her ears once more.

 

This was written in response to Putting My Feet in The Dirts’s March writing prompts. #6 https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2019/03/01/march-writing-prompts-2/

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