Alex tucked his pod-broadcaster into his pants and stepped out of the dark hallway. The corridor looked more or less empty, but that would change soon enough. His pod had assured him that his target, Charley McAlistar, was only a few feet away and headed that way. Trying to look busy while still watching passers-by out the corner of his eye, Alex looked for the tell-tale red hair and green eyes that would signify Charley.
Soon enough, the target approached, and Alex feigned surprise when he saw Charley come up from behind. "You!" Alex gasped. "You're Mr. McAlistar, right?"
"Do I know you?" Charley asked.
"No," Alex replied, "but I recognize you're face. I saw you on the news talking about that new ship you built. . .the Arctic-"
"ARTIC," Charlie corrected him.
"The artificial. . ."
"ARTificial Intelligence Crewman," Charley supplied. "it's the first-ever artificial intelligence capable of piloting a ship on its own, just as soon as its appropriately tested and approved by the government."
"Do you think we could step away somewhere private and discuss your invention of ARTIC some more?" Alex offered.
"I'm afraid I'm busy right now, and don't have any more time to talk to press," Charley drawled. "If you'd like to look at some of my past recorded interviews, though, they're available online."
"I'm not a member of press," Alex assured him. "And I've already seen a lot of your interviews. I'm a science student, and I was hoping to speak with you one-on-one."
"I'm afraid that I'm busy," Charley repeated.
For a moment, panic bloomed in Alex's stomach, and he looked both ways before his hand clenched on his pod. A moment later, he swung it through the air, and the electronic device connected with Charley's head. The man immediately passed out and fell to the ground.
Again, Alex looked both ways to see if anyone had seen. When the corridor remained empty, Alex grabbed Charley by the feet and pulled him into a back hallway. There, in the darkness, Alex pulled yet another handy device from his pocket: the cellular scanner his bosses had provided him with in anticipation of this assignment.
Placing the scanner inside Charley's mouth, where his cells were loosest and Alex could get the richest sample, he waited a moment until a green light flashed. Then, Alex placed the scanner into his own pod, and activated the automatic holograph field. A moment later, the illusion appeared around him, making him look identical to his victim.
Fearing that he'd be discovered any moment, Alex quickly stripped, then removed Charley's clothes. Once he was dressed in his victim's own garments, Alex set his own clothes in a pile on Charley's naked chest. He panted with fear; the attack wasn't supposed to go this way. He was supposed to knock Charley out in a private room so that he' have time.
Oh, well. At least he'd almost completed his task. Straightening again, Alex only had one more mission to accomplish: destroying the evidence. He leveled his gun at Charley, and a moment later, the scientist and the clothing were gone, dissolved.
With a sadistic smile, Alex spun into the hallway and checked the watch he'd stolen from his victim. Charley hadn't lied when he'd said he was running late; Alex only had about half an hour to report to the ship.