"The New Star", a flash fiction piece
Agent 7827, code name “Notion”, crept through the director’s office, the light from stars filtering through the window her only light. Getting inside had challenged her skills. Disable the power to the building after having already hacked into the juvenile security system. Pick the outside lock and make her way in pitch black to the building’s third floor. Through the stairwell door their inside asset had left disabled before leaving, then pick yet another lock in the outside office and the last the director’s door.
Two minutes forty-eight seconds had elapsed. She only had another sixty seconds to find the cube. If she wasn’t clear of the facility by then, she’d risk capture.
Notion scanned the room. He wouldn’t leave it in an obvious location, and definitely not sitting out on his desk like some trophy, though it certainly qualified.
No, the Chinese had stolen this tech from a half-insane Missouri inventor working out of his garage and she’d die before she allowed them to study it long enough to figure it out.
Methodically working her way around the room, hands feeling in the dark for the slightest indentation or gap in a wall, she smiled to herself.
Of course, he used only the latest in safe technology - a trapdoor in the floor, directly under where she stood, the slight rise in the thin carpet a dead give-away. The location was ideal. Whoever tried to take the cube would stand directly in front of a plate-glass window. Probably not bullet-proof either.
She knelt and used a TG-93 tool to pry up the carpet edge, exposing the trigger mechanism. Her fingers flew over the keypad, entering the code she’d hacked from the director’s home personal computer. The safe popped open, an alarm blaring in the hallway outside and reverberating through the building.
Her one minute countdown just shrank.
Notion reached in and grabbed the cube, her mind exploding with wonder, knowledge, and insight.
A new star had appeared the previous minute, the knowledge secret to even the best earthbound astronomer with the most powerful telescope. She could see its exact location in a star chart.
Her mouth fell open as the cube shifted to reveal an intricate plot to takeover the world’s largest publicly traded company, insiders feeding information to a Russian mobster. The CIA would be very interested in that.
Reluctantly, Notion laid the cube in her backpack and cradled it in bubble wrap. The swirling ideas fled in a whirlpool of emptiness.
Voices startled her out of the black of space, shoving her back to reality.
Where was she? What was she supposed to be doing next?
Notion shook her head, and her memory rushed back.
Her minute was up.
Notion looked outside, and her heart fell. Snipers already had her in their sights, the red dot on her chest sending her heart rate to the sky. This wasn’t the plan.
A police bullhorn echoed up to her.
“We have you in our sights! Freeze or we shoot!” the man bellowed bad action movies lines in accented English.
How did he know she was an American? Had they caught her on video, despite the loop she’d inserted into the camera feeds?
Notion ducked to the side of the window and released her wrist-bound grappling hook into the ceiling tiles, yanking herself up and into the ceiling as the stairwell door slammed. She punched out the flooring section of the next floor up, lifting herself through and replacing the flooring segment behind her. Good thing their insider had prepared her escape route as she’d asked.
Sprinting to the elevator shaft, Notion inserted her magnetic spring between the doors and popped them open. She slid through like a wraith and slammed the doors shut behind her. Gunfire erupted through the floor below.
Extending her arm, she shot the grappling hook toward the roof and once again felt herself speeding upward. From her belt, Notion removed a small cylinder, affixing it to the roof hatch and hooking herself into its base. The hatch ticked once, twice, three times, then exploded outward, throwing her onto the roof with a roll as she disconnected the cylinder in one fluid motion.
Without a sound, Notion activated her backpack’s propulsion, rocketing up and out of sight to the waiting CIA Hover-Raider over 3,000 feet above. The shouts below grew distant and Notion scanned the sky for where the new star would appear in her great-grandchild’s lifetime.