I’ve broken out of more high-security prisons than anybody else alive today—not that our average federation citizen even knows many of the places I’ve been locked up in. Why? Because I like to steal things. Also, it’s really the only profession I know. It also beats wasting your life rotting in a six-by-eight cell sucking down biofeed through a straw for the rest of your life, and in the time it takes federal security to grab my arse, at least I get to stretch my legs, eat some real food, and plan my next job.
Well, here we are again, back in a federal shuttle heading to the next piece-of-crap hellhole of a high-security federation establishment in, goddamn, I haven’t a clue what sector of space. It wouldn’t be so bad, I guess, but you don’t get to travel conscious; instead, you travel in Dreamtime federation rehabilitation stasis, and you get brain fed all the federation indoctrination-is-family bull. Well, except for me. For some reason the part of the brain that 99.9 percent of the human species have, I don’t, so all I get is a few weeks of garbled, indistinguishable white noise, and, boy, what a headache.
So, you may ask, why do I get the pleasure of being the federation’s most-wanted pain in the arse? Well, it’s not easy, but I’m actually kind of good at it. Let’s just say it comes naturally to me. However, I guess that on this occasion, it’s because I stole a new prototype, a kind of technology that I felt the federation had no right to have exclusive access to.
The problem with having such a high moral standpoint in regard to such things is that you get chased around the galaxy by the feds or whatever bounty-hunting group feels they have what it takes to bring you in. I guess this time someone has done the job well—maybe a little too well. In fact, I would say they’ve set some kind of record by getting me so fast, but at least I got to eat some real tasty food.
As I get to say, here we are again. It seems I’ve been saying that almost my whole life, and it’s not such a bad life: I have a penthouse, I own expensive cars, and I even have my own hangar, but what really bugs me is this goddamn white-noise-passing-through-my-neural-cortex garbage.
It’s not the best experience, but at least I arrive at my new accommodations, fresh and just busting to get the chance to break out and run free again for the next few weeks. This time, however, something feels different, and when I say “different,” I mean the security guards are not your usual federal goons, and the shuttle is not your usual federal shuttle. In fact, I’ve never seen a craft like it. Even the usual blah, blah, blah going-away-for-the-rest-of-your-life bull crap is on a whole new level of overdramatic life-sentence speech from the so-called high judge.
“As the defendant has not and will not relent on the whereabouts of the stolen prototype, and as the defendant has refused to defend himself in any way or give any information to mitigate the severity of his transgression, I have no other course of action but to find the defendant guilty. I hereby sentence you to be incarcerated in the highest federal detention facility for the rest of your life. There will be no parole. Life means life. Take the prisoner away.”
“Well, it looks like we’re here.”
Lights buzz to life as the federation rehabilitation dream feed ends and is replaced by a small holographic welcome image of a space station slowly spinning in a sea of darkness.
“Prisoner M2950, you have arrived at the federation’s highest-graded prison within known space. Your crime has been deemed severe enough that you be brought to this facility. Your sentence will end upon your death. No one has ever escaped from this facility, and no one has ever left this facility alive. We hope that you work hard and adjust well to your new home. Welcome to Facility Zero.”
The shuttle door opens with a hiss as lights blink on one at a time with an audible buzz. The line of lights illuminates an otherwise darkened corridor, the walls indistinct, almost as if there are no walls except for where the light seems to end suddenly and endless darkness begins. The last light blinks on, illuminating a man in his late forties standing at the end of this short corridor, watching. He smiles warmly.
“Welcome to Facility Zero. My name is Alistair Brookes. I’m the architect of this place, and I’ll be your guide.”