Thursday, March 30, 2006

Episode 22

Now for the human factor.
Jean has a potent sleep agent
called AP600. Inhalant only.
Puts men out for at least 6 hours.
The question is how to get it in ...

In the square, under the cover of dark trees, Yuki took out the vaporizer. It was a bulky object, about the size of a rocket launcher, but with electronics designed to turn considerable pools of water into steam.

Yuki knew it was meant for escapes He had been brought up and made for handling weaponry. This being so, it had only three chargers. He aimed carefully.

The pulse that was released from the vibrating nose cone of the vaporizer swept across the square and engulfed a good part of Internal. Pipes below the surface blew, releasing steam, taps in the building popped off like champagne corks, a handyman's mopping bucket was rendered a white shadow from all the wet smog spewing out of it. A lot of liquid was vaporized in an instant.

And, most importantly, so did the coffee.

From their precarious perch, Ceri heard six guards collapse. Taylor gave a little bounce and hit the window sill.

"All of them down," he said, and calmly cut a sizeable hole in the glass.

The two of them were about to get in, when Alec's scream in their earpieces made them freeze in shock.

"Cameras are still working!"


Ross wiped his brow, then found his hand was just brushing his helmet.

"It's not that easy -" he started.

"Shut up and do whatever it takes to get in there." Sabriye snapped.

Alec's hyperventilating at the other end, Ross thought. He stared at the crisscross of red beams thrumming below the air vent

"No way i want to try -"

"What -" Alec said, slightly shaky, "- are our options?"

Ross grimaced. "Two. One, i use mirrors to deflect the beams. Highly risky, and the only mirrors i have is Sabriye's makeup kit."

Sabriye twisted his leg in the shaft.

"Ouch! That hurt! Sorry, Sabriye rubs mud instead of - oww!"

"Get to the point," Alec sighed. "This wasn't something we foresaw."

"Second option, blow a hole through the shaft. " Ross said, leg still smarting.

"Do it - and fast!"

"B-but i don't have any directional charges! If i place a bomb here we'll just trigger off the beams anyway!"

"From underneath?" Sabriye asked.

"I don -" Ross started, then stopped. "A bomb below the vent would have more space to release energy. The shaft shouldn't be covered with debris, and there'd be less chance the beams get hit ..."

"So what's the problem?" Alec asked.

"No knives." Ross said. "I need the grappling hook for the - what the hel -"

Sabriye had grabbed his butt and Ross squirmed to get out of the way, yelping.

"Idiot." Sabriye said, finally managing to get the screwdriver out from his back pocket.


It was now exactly fifteen minutes into the operation. Jean disarmed the Alcott alarm, walked to the front of the store and stuck a small plastic box to the bottom of the fire hydrant. She turned, made her way back to the alley and leapt through a small hole she had made in one of the windows.

The Alcott people were surprisingly stupid. They had alarms, yes, but the wires traveled to an outside grid that connected to City Hall. In the event of a break-in a police squad would be over in less than 3 minutes. Unfortunately, in the event of a smart burglar, the entire system could be told to shut down from outside.

Another dumb idea was the way the windows were fashioned. Not bulletproof, even though the truce couldn't possible last for generations, and the fourth floor had huge pane windows nearly from floor to ceiling. There were sensors, of course, if the windows broke, but not at the service area at back. Jean cut a hole and waited for her time.

She was now in, bag by her side.

Piles of clothes and silent marionettes met her as she entered. It was dark, with only some of the lamps in the square shining in, casting a gloomy orange glow over the merchandise.

Jean made a survey first. Chong Fen had been in as part of the preparations, but his descriptions had lacked details.

He never could tell me what was going on inside him - what to say outside?

Jean shook her head. What kind of ninja got distracted this far in a mission? She walked silently among the shelves, noting cameras that were recording her every move, but had no way of transmitting the recorded images.

She made her way to the fourth floor, stopping only to stick a tape on top of the recording machine in the security room, third floor. The ornaments and jewellery on the fourth floor were exquisite and beautiful, but Jean took nothing. Her family was rich enough on its own.

She walked over to the fourth window from the end and stuck a small electronic bug to the top of the frame. Just in case, Alec had said, the first escape 'plan' failed. Alec seemed pretty sure that it would, so much so that Jean suspected the first plan was just a ploy.

Leave the thinking to the strategist, Jean told herself. She had painting to do downstairs.

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  • Monday, March 13, 2006

    Episode 21

    We need to nullify two equations of their
    security. Man and machine. Ross will
    disable machine. The mainframe is on the
    6th floor.

    Night was absolute. The moon was a sickly crescent in the sky, the city under a dark blanket. Very few lights were turned on - no doubt they feared the White Sun's first move would be to bomb intelligence centres.

    Two figures darted from shadow to shadow. Almost ten second intervals, until the alley behind Alcott's.


    "Sssh! You little moron -"

    "You stepped on my foot. Who asked you -"

    "Shut up!"

    Ross and Sabriye were working together. There was no helping it, Alec said, both their skills brought them those roles. Ross made a dirty joke at Sabriye's expense. To her consternation, Ceri looked on without any reaction.

    We didn't click at the ball?!

    Back to the present. She had stepped on Ross's foot, but she wasn't going to admit it. They stole into INTERNAL's service area, and Ross lifted the vent he had loosened earlier.

    "Ladies first." he said, gesturing at the vertical shaft inside.

    Sabriye strapped on her climbing kit and shot him a look that usually curdled milk. "So you can stare at my butt throughout the entire climb? No. Way."

    Ross shrugged and crawled in. "If i fart on you sometime in there, don't fall."

    Sabriye gritted her teeth, forcing herself to remember this was a mission they couldn't just joke off.

    She got in after Ross, who was already a few feet up and climbing.


    Two zip lines thudded into the top of INTERNAL, sinking into the concrete. The lines were tugged as the owners tested them. Secure.

    Ceri and Taylor activated the small rotors of their stealth suits, bringing them up like some warped yoyo against the side of the building. Higher and higher they bounced, leaving the cover of structures below them and getting knocked about in the wind.

    Ceri was detached, as usual, thoughts on the mission like he was watching himself through a movie screen. Don't get caught up in issues, he told himself.

    But as he clambered up, struggling against the drafts, he though back to that night at the ball. He had been caught up in reality, letting his thoughts flow into his words. Sabriye shared hers with him. That was a freedom he hadn't experienced in a long time.

    "Bird patrol." Taylor snapped sharply.

    Both of them stopped moving and pressed themselves against the face of the building. A flock of pigeons flew past, not noticing them due to the light illusion deployed by their suits. It wasn't going to last long - the suits had limited mana reserves.

    The flock flew on. The boys continued the climb, now more wary for surveillance flocks scouting the city. Ceri, in particular, forgot all about his problems as they reached the top floor.

    Taylor snuck a peek through the windoes. "Five guards," he said, shaking his head. "Not yet."

    "Hold on." Alec said, crackling through their earpieces. "Ross should be arriving at the 6th floor anytime now."

    Ceri looked at Taylor and shrugged. Well, he attempeted a shrug - the wind made it hard to do anything other than hang on.

    Quietly, silently, they waited.


    "You there yet?" the voice crackled in Ross's ear.

    "Not yet." he panted, placing the next magnetic handhold.

    "What?!" Alec yelled, "Ceri and Taylor are at the top now, completely exposed to drones!"

    Ross rolled his eyes. "It'll take me like thirty seconds to get there. What can go wrong? You might as well kill off the human factor right now."

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