The dimly lit corridor smelled of exhaust and engine lubricant. The trio of Nijayias guards were thankful they were coming to the end of their patrol. Suddenly one heard a thump from behind him. He turned around just in time to see the Phylydion fist an instant before it impacted off of his neck. Paralyzed, he fell to the ground as the other two whipped around, drawing their sidearms. They didn't see him. Suddenly Cicion dropped between them, bringing up both of his elbows into their heads and checking to see if any other guards were nearby. None were. Cicion locked the trio of guards in one of the deep engine access crawlways and then took a few moments to size up the situation. His ship had approached the outer core of Nijayias space, and he had come upon a bunker station which looked like it had seen plenty of action. His ship had attached to the hull, undetected. He had then sent a sensor scrambling signal to the station's sensor array while he cut through the hull and entered the engineering section. He had hidden just as the guards came down the hall. He had also remarked about the shabbiness of the guards. Their uniforms were custom-tailored and their hair was not at all neat. #Maybe these goons work for the crime syndicate that the bartender told me about,# he thought. #I have to get to the control center to access the main terminal and send all the information I can find to my ship's computer.# He walked down the corridor until he reached a computer station and keyed up the station's layout. Three decks up and aways across to the bridge. Then he saw that there was an airduck that lead directly to the bridge from the engineering section. He walked over to the spot, grabbed the pipe above him and swung himself up. He drew his dagger and carefully sliced a hole in the ceiling. Climbing up into the duct, he made his way slowly to the command center. Peering through the grate, he saw several people at consoles around the room. There was rust and grit everywhere. #No time to lose,# he thought, #They'll detect me soon.# He pulled the grate away and dropped silently into the room behind an unused terminal. Looking over, he saw that there were only a few people in the room. He raised up, drawing his dagger. One saw him immediately and drew his weapon, firing several shots at him. #Must be the syndicate's "troops",# he thought, as he danced out of the paths of the shots to disarm and knock out his opponent, #A real Nijayias soldier would have better aim than THAT.# He dove forward and flipped towards the next one, kicking him in the chest with both legs. The final crewer stood up and dropped her weapon. "All right, I give. I've seen what happens when someone tries to fight you. What do you want here?"
"Information." Cicion proceeded over to the main terminal. Thinking he wasn't looking, the officer went to press a red button on her console. It was split in half with Cicion's knife in it before she could reach it. He retrieved the weapon, and hers, which he disarmed, before proceeding to the main terminal. He quickly found the data logs and uplinked them to his ship computer. He then deleted the station's memory and, with the press of a few keys, shut down its automated weapons.
Back in his ship, Cicion reviewed the data logs from the past month. The station had been taken over by these thugs about a month ago by a surprise attack. Apparently the same had happened to all others on the border at about the same time. But the REALLY strange thing was, he saw, frowning, that all of these stations had been taken over by ships coming from INSIDE the border. Inside this border was going into the core of the empire. Something big was going on in there. He pondered this as his patrol and attack craft sped along.