Mr. Dark 4

By: Lauren Landish

"I look forward to it," Sophie replied. "But on to business. Your target is five floors down. How're you planning on getting access?"

"Elevator shaft," I replied, pulling up a building schematic on the small tablet I had with me. I knew Sophie could see what I saw on her computer, which was hot-linked to my tablet. It allowed her to also send me data updates as well if she wanted to. "Just making my way down the stairs would be too big a chance of triggering some sort of alarm or getting caught by a patrol. And that whole rappel over the side and slide down a rope act may work in the movies, but I don't put a lot of faith in it myself. Nor do I plan on trying to cut holes in reinforced glass."

I went over to the elevator shaft, which hulked out of the top of the building. It's one of the classic challenges of an elevator system, namely, where do you put the motors and the cable? The easiest is to have them both stick out the top of your building in a miniature room. The bigger the building, and the bigger the elevator, the bigger a room you need. I found the elevator I wanted, which according to the schematics was marked as an executive elevator. I wanted that one because I didn't need anyone suddenly interrupting me while I was trying to work.

The cable descender I used is another one of the toys that I have come to enjoy about my new crusade against crime in the city. Made of a special type of braided nylon and Kevlar blend, it could support a full one thousand pounds while being flexible enough and small enough to wind onto a reel roughly the size of my hand. Really, more space was taken up by the ascender and descender mechanisms than by the filament itself. I used a carabiner to lock it onto the overhead beam of the shaft, then made my descent. It was easier than you'd think, I just had to hang and let my harness support me. Pretty soon I was five floors down, right where I wanted to be. Looking down the shaft, I double checked that I was still safe before jimmying the doors open.

It was strange, really. The place I was breaking into was one of the main computer centers for the Confederation, so security should have been tighter than Fort Knox. Instead, they went with hiding through deception, and made it no more noticeable than any other mainframe center in the city, just another one of thousands. If anything, I had expected that the elevator shaft doors themselves should have been rigged with an alarm. Instead, I was soon making my way down the corridor to the mainframe room, where I quickly picked the lock and went inside.

I had to expect that I'd tripped something by that point, so I didn't have a lot of time. Instead of trying to go databank by databank, I pulled out my little secret weapon, the cracker computer that I used for this sort of work. Not much bigger than an old Sony Walkman, it was packed with enough power and an adaptable AI that I could hack my way into almost any system within seconds. But I just needed data, so I slipped my cracker computer into the data port on the nearest mainframe and let it go to work.

The cracker program was able to get to the level of reading file folder names quickly, and then flash copied them to a custom made three terabyte USB flash stick. In less than a minute, it beeped, indicating that the job was done. I tapped in one more little program, uploading a file that buried itself quickly into a backup server. Easily traced, but that was what I wanted. I wanted the owners of the databases to know who had been there.

I made my way out to the elevator just as the radio in my ear buzzed again. "Hey, my systems are saying that you're going to get company," Sophie said. She had tied into the building's security system through their armed guard company, which was a private corporation with an office off-site, but not too great of a cyber security setup. "How far are you from extraction?"

"Twenty feet from the elevator, and then the roof," I replied. "You're going to drop off in the elevator shaft again. Too much metal and stuff in the way."

"All right. They're taking the freight elevator up, so you should have time. Maybe thirty seconds."

I hummed my understanding and got back to the elevator, where the doors had been left shimmed open. I clicked into my filament and carefully swung into the shaft. The scariest part was when I tapped the shim holding the shaft doors open with my foot, and the thin piece of wood went tumbling down the shaft. It was a long, long time before I heard it hit something below, hopefully shattering into a dozen pieces. Either way, I hadn't touched the wood with bare hands, only gloved.

Hitting the retract button on my belt, the powerful coiled springs whisked me up the shaft, stopping with my head six inches below the metal beam I had anchored to. I could hear the deafening roar of the freight elevator in the shaft next to me, and the rapidly approaching lights on top of the car. They had picked the right elevator, the rapid freight car would get them up faster than anything else. They just hadn't anticipated me.

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