The hab blocks were built close to one another, military grade, reinforced. Each one a simulated environment providing relative safety along with optimal temperature and air composition for its inhabitants. The poor bastards, have no idea what life is really like, in the creases of civilization. In the airspace between sector A1 and A3 Mikal and his brother Reinr vaulted upwards wearing heavily modified RMVs. The repair maintenance vessels were normally used to build and connect new habs, it wasn’t legal to modify them but nobody arbitrated the dead space between units. Nobody until today.
Mikal hauled himself over an exhaust venting pure CO2 out from A3. He stooped to catch his breath, while the suit did most of the work he had still just climbed damn near one hundred feet in a minute.
*Reinr, get your ass up here. Don’t mess with them*
They communicated via telepathic link. Another customization that Reinr was all too proud of, especially if he had one too many at one of the seedy trading posts. “New business is all around us” he would say.
*They’re messing with us man. I’m just making sure they understand this is our home.*
*Those are sanctioned arbitrators, they’ve probably tagged us already. We need to get these suits to Lex for scrubbing and obfuscation ASAP.*
*Don’t ‘ASAP’ me Mikal, we ain’t military you’ll always be my kid brother. Also, I sent Lex a message already. He sent a cruiser to meet us.*
*You could of started with that, asshole.*
The RMV was silent when moving if the user wanted it be. Mikal didn’t see the roundhouse kick coming until it was too late.
*Kid brother, or not. Nobody calls me an asshole.*
*Jelia, Reia, Kondi pretty sure their general consensus was, that you’re an asshole and I’m better looking. My bald spot is smaller you see, size does matter*
They grappled at the edge of A3 causing some poor tech weeks of repair requests. Crunching pipes at the rolled and denting that which ought not to be dented. The suits were close to seven hundred pounds each. Servo motors in the joints acted as ‘super-tendons’ responding to the users urges in nano seconds.
“Stop! This is your last warning, we will submit your signatures for lethal force request.” The four man squad of arbitrators was slowly ascending the walls beneath them. Forced to take the ladders and service routes rather than jump and climb it would be a few minutes before they were anything more than an annoyance.
*Mikal* Reinr said holding back the punch he was about to throw. *I think we should stop, they’re going to ‘submit lethal force requests’* His laugh caused feedback in their internal mics.
*Where is Lex meeting us?*
*Always keeping your head in the game.*
Reinr held a broken piece of the piping over the edge, tracking the criss-crossing motions of the arbitrators far below. He dropped the piece and looked over the edge.
*Aww the arbi’ saw it coming.*
*Dude, focus. Lex is meeting us. Where?*
*The corner of E6 and D6. He’s going to be a minute, we might as well have fun.*
Mikal was already vaulting over the massive O2 tanks towards D line. Yeah they were only arbitrators but they probably had resources on call to assist.
*When I was doing that sabotage job with Minx she mentioned Sanctioners raiding her camp.*
*Mikal, she doesn’t like you, stop bringing her up.*
*I’m serious, she said they called MkIV sanctioners in on them*
*I’d love to have a go at a MkIV, you know our tech is better.* Reinr was catching up, ever competitive.
*MkIV man! They fought the rebellion with those. Each has enough firepower to penetrate a hab.*
Reinr somersaulted ahead of him and spread his arms out like a sky diver plummeting down the dead space between B3 and C3.
*They’d have to catch us first.*
Mikal dived down after him. He was right. They were at home here in the deadspace, no sanctioner or arbitrator could navigate these spaces as well as they could. The downtrodden, the idealists, the criminals of the habs made their life here. No laws restricted bio-mods and everything was legal if nobody was looking. They landed hard on the surface, it was hard to believe the surface was ever alive. Covered in cabling and electrical panels several centuries before their time people lived on it some say they even had an environment regulated by the Earth itself. They ran beneath C3. No arbitrators in sight.
*See, no need to worry.* Reinr joked.
*Worry is what has kept our species alive.*
As if to punctuate Mikal’s anxieties a large service port opened in the bottom of C3 and a MkIV Sanctioner hopped out. Its gargantuan frame cracked the surface where it landed. Heavy plate armor readjusted and the mini cannon on its right arm began humming the tune of an early grave. It hunkered down beneath C3 like a dog under the table, ready to pounce if somebody dropped a scrap of food.
*Shit, shit, shit.* Reinr began ascending the deadspace between D3 and C3.
*My thoughts exactly, I’ve never even seen one.* Mikal pulled up the screen captures he took as they ran by. *looks like it could crush us in one glove.*
*The rebellion came to the deadspace because they have trouble maneuvering here. As long as we keep changing elevations we’re good.*
They reached the top of D3 and took a right turn sprinting for D6.
*Lex, this is Reinr. We’ve got an ETA of 1 minute. Well I do, Mikal will be a few seconds late as always.*
*Shut it! Lex, we’ve got a MkIV on our tail is that cruiser of yours armed by chance?*
*You guys brought a MkIV to me, a fucking MkIV! They fought the rebellion with those they have enough firepower to-*
*We know!* the brothers interjected together.
*Look I know it raises the risk factor.*
*Mikal, the risk factor? You know they operate in squads, you’re dead. I’m not waiting. If you guys aren’t at the extraction point when I arrive you best keep running*
*Anyone ever tell you that you’ve got a knack for motivational speaking Lex? Its like I’m running faster just to punch you in the jaw sooner rather than later. We’ll fucking be there.*
A bright beam of mini gun fire ricocheted and traced a pattern in the floor leading up to them.
“Jump!” Mikal screamed. As they cleared the gap between D4 and D5. *We’re almost there.*
*Okay, I could take one MkIV, but two? Nah, I’m ready to be anxious and run away. If I don’t survive tell Kondi I loved her and tell Reia she’s a cu-* Reinr cried out in pain and hit the floor leaving a groove in the metal where his heavy RMV gouged up the metal.
*Reinr! Get up.* Mikal turned to help, the right side of Reinr’s RMV was a fiery mess as he crawled forward.
*Ejecting.. Don’t let me die here* The back plate of the wrecked RMV popped open and Reinr’s bald head peered around the edge. Wearing only his rebreather and the dark grey pilot’s fatigues he ran towards his brother.
Mikal picked him up like a child with the suit, careful not to squeeze the life out of him he pushed his suit to the limit.
*Lex, Reinr’s RMV ate shit. I’m on D6 where are you?*
A realease valve burst open as a third MkIV rocketed out of it guns ablaze. “You can run, but we’re onto your little enclave out here in the deadspace, it won’t be long before you’re bloodstains and wreckage just like your grandparents puny rebellion. The Sanctioners have approved lethal force Mikalin and Reinrilov Horst. We won’t rest until you feel our wrath!”
*Want to run any faster?*
Mikal tightened his grip on his brother. Reinr gasped. *Okay.. Fu.. you’re breaking me*
Lex’s voice came over the telepathic link. *ETA 4 seconds, jump the hatch is open.*
Mikal didn’t pause for a moment and launched them out into the deadspace. A staccato blast from the MkIV’s fun followed suit.
The sleek black cruiser slowed down beneath them as Lex tried to line up with their descent. Makil’s RMV hit the metal decking of the Cruiser, it gave way leaving massive foot prints in it.
*Drinks are on you.* Reinr stammered. *Pretty sure you just crushed at least three ribs and my femur.*
The cruiser top shut tight and Lex hit all the boosters sending it careening almost too fast to control away from the MkIVs in pursuit.
*Lex.* Mikal said. *Send a warning out to everyone on the telepath network. They know we’re descendants of the rebellion and it won’t be long until they know everything else.*