Drick took a few moments to study the panel that was set next to the airlock. It was a simple keypad for an alpha-numeric code, linked to personal identity by a scanner for biological recognition. The scanner was above the pad. It looked like a simple light emitter. Drick had seen many like it, they used a mixture of body shape and visual characteristics, scanning via visible and infrared spectrum, to check blood flow and other body functions. Clever versions of the scanner could also detect small changes in electromagnetic frequencies that measured an individual on that spectrum. All lifeforms have a distinct electrical makeup and that was harder to mask or emulate. The scanner on this door would be trivial to fool.
Bypassing the keypad was easy. The virus that was already in the low-level security subnet could be targeted to deactivate the lock. The scanner was a different matter. It was a simple device but its pattern recognition and matching functions were complex enough to need higher levels of processing capabilities. That meant an active security system would be controlling it, which would need access to secure records. That would involve the central system and the ship’s higher artificial intelligence systems. Circumnavigating the system would not be so easy. The program that Drick had implanted in the system was sophisticated but it would need time to infiltrate across all the levels of the vessel’s security.
Drick briefly contemplated attaching a direct line to the scanners system interface. There would be an access hatch, under the main emitter. If they were to patch directly into the system they could upload an override to loop the scanner into getting a positive identification. This would also enable Drick to check on the status of the stealth program and corruption virus that were already in the system. The disadvantage would be the time it would take to carefully take apart the scanner without triggering a warning or a maintenance report. A fault would lock the door as fast as a failed scan.
Drick bit a lip and came to a decision. They turned and tapped Marsh gently on the arm, he seemed transfixed by the wall displays and jerked slightly at the touch. Then touching helmets with Marsh, Drick activated the comms. “We need to get through the door but I don’t have the time or luxury to defeat the scanner.”
“Then what do you suggest?” Marsh replied. “We could blast the doors maybe?”
“We could but that would do more damage to this side of the ship than to that section. These things are intended to survive breakup and possible orbital reentry. We don’t have that much explosive. Also I don’t want to casually kill anyone who might be on the other side of the airlock or announce our presence so violently.”
“Then what do you suggest?”
“I think I can bypass the keypad with ease. That would just activate a scan. For which we will need an original member of the crew or passengers who had access to the bridge.” Drick looked into Marsh’s eyes through the twin visors. Drick noticed how gaunt their features looked, his and theirs. There was also a slight hollow look to Drick’s own eyes as they reflected, semi-transparent, in the smooth curve of the visor. There was a look of puzzlement on Marsh’s face. Then realisation.
“You mean me?”
“Yes.” Drick smiled slightly. “They did a very good job of making you a copy of the original Marsh. I am betting that it is good enough to override the security systems on this ship, maybe even good enough to fool every ship’s system. In fact I think that is likely to be one of their main objectives in making you.” Drick studied the puzzled expression. “I’ll tell you later,” they said. “You will need to take your helmet and gloves off. There is no other choice, the armour on these suits is good enough to block the scan.”
Drick busied themselves with the panel as Marsh undid the helmet seals and removed the gloves from the suit he wore. It was the work of a few minutes to pry the front from the panel and insert a small robotic lockpick. Drick watched as it carefully attached itself to several of the panel’s components, cautiously examining before it merged its own fine contacts with several different sections of the electronics board. A few seconds after it had linked up the panel flashed green as the robotic lockpick overrode the system and gave the correct electrical response for a successful password.
Marsh stood in front of the panel. Drick could see that his heart rate and blood pressure were elevated. He was breathing slightly faster, but not excessively so. Natural nervousness. It wasn’t outside of a low cardio workout and nothing that would upset the scanner.
The only indication that Marsh was being scanned was a thin blue-green line that quickly went up his body horizontally and then across him vertically. There was a long pause and then the light went out on the scanner.
Marsh and Drick both jumped slightly when there was a loud bang. It was a lock release from the large airlock. Then smoothly, now almost soundlessly, the doors opened with just the faintest hiss of air.