Dec. 23rd, 2011

I waltzed through the corridors of _Golden_Empire_, tricked out in Space Marine regalia and loaded for bear. Giant, steel-plated, atomic-fire-breathing bear. It wasn't a big deal if anybody saw me. According to McMillan's plan, we wanted people to see me. And what were they going to do, detain me?

People gaped as I tromped down the softly-lit, comfortably-carpeted halls. "Excuse me, ma'am," I said, tipping my beret. "Space Marine coming through. Beg your pardon. One side, please. Have a nice day." Passengers and crew automatically moved aside. I had a blaster rifle and they didn't, but even worse: I was polite.

My teammates called in to wish me luck. "Don't die," Grabsy said encouragingly.

"Thanks, pal," I replied.

"When you kill 'em," said Lopez, "Don't just kill 'em for the money. Kill 'em because they're goddamn space marines."

"And because of the money," I appended.

"Yes," said Lopez firmly.

"Knock 'em dead," said Kima.

"Okay," I replied. "I may have to shoot a few too."

I pushed the button for the tube down to 'R' deck. Near the tube station was a bartending kiosk. An attractive bartender in a silver bikini took me in with wide eyes. "Is there some kind of emergency?" she asked.

"Yes," I replied, "in my pants." I waggled my eyebrows.

One of the bartender's eyebrows rose a fraction. "As a line," she informed me, "that doesn't really work."

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm a little distracted. I might die in the next sixty seconds."

"Oh," she said. She squinted at me suspiciously. "Are you sure you're a real Space Marine?"

The tube arrived; I got in. "Watch the news tomorrow and find out," I suggested. The door closed.

Approximately a million years later, the door opened again, and I stepped out onto 'R' deck. There was, for the moment, nobody in sight.

"Initiating Operation Scary Diversion," said McMillan's voice. A second later klaxons started sounding, and alarm lights flashed. THERE IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL EMERGENCY, said a robotic voice. REMAIN IN YOUR ROOMS AND STAY CALM.

"Yeah," I muttered, cocking the blaster rifle. "Stay where you are, and roll over."

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