Chapter LX: Attachment
I looked at the Metalhead Studios building, thinking back to Mitnick's email.
Next hub is in the Metalhead Studios building. Reckon it's a drug operation, the guys inside are packing, so be careful not to get caught. Keycard to the front door is in your mailbox. The computer you need to access is in the back office, but the door is electronically locked. You'll have to crack the password on the security room computer to unlock it. Password for net security is 'bang your head'. I'll be in touch.
The interior was a warehouse, stacked with unmarked crates. Judging by the hooded men wandering around, semi-automatics strapped to their belts, this was no mail-order distribution centre.
I shadowed one man down the corridor towards security, filled with contempt at the fact the man was headbanging his way along, loud music pumping from the small buds in his ears. The man was so oblivious to his surroundings that I could have tapdanced up to him before snapping his neck and he'd still be none the wiser. As it was, I waited until he cleared the door, and slipped inside.
Inside the security room, I found the computer that controlled the office door lock. The password was simple to crack, although why they had chosen 'codpiece' was beyond even my understanding. Getting the OK and the flashing parser, I left the room, and headed back towards the office.
The second guard was more alert than the first, looking around carefully as he lit a cigarette, smoke blowing from his nose as he tapped the lighter against his belt. There was no simple away around him. The way he was looking around, this side of the room as well-lit as it was, I'd be seen without trouble. 'Guess I have to fall back to vile Tremere trickery', I said airily, gesturing with my right hand. The man looked puzzled for a second, before entering a trance, his head lolling forward slightly. I used the opportunity to sneak behind him, and then up the stairs to the office. Inside the room was a computer and a large electronic safe. I sat down at the computer, looking at the screen.
I chose Net Security, and entered the password 'bang your head'. Once I entered the schrecknet command, a message flashed up from Mitnick.
OK kid, I see you. Wave to the camera!
I turned, looking at the camera in the corner of the room.
Alright, that's done. One to go.
Curious, I accessed the safe control.
'Not so secure when you leave the password written on a piece of paper by the computer', I muttered.
Password: turbo lover...Password accepted. Safe unlocked.
Inside was a single CD, with no label. Perhaps it was foresight, or perhaps it was petty larceny. Either way, I absent-mindedly placed the CD in my jacket, and closed the safe, hearing the electronic lock click back into place. Sneaking back out of the building was a simple matter, even with the second guard awake. He walked sluggishly, yawning loudly, his previous attention gone. I left Metalhead Studios, and jumped into the taxi.
'Back downtown thanks.'
'You're lucky I'm not charging a fare.' The taxi pulled out onto the street and through the tunnel back to the city.
When I returned to the haven, Heather was awake, sitting up in the bed, reading a book on thaumaturgy I'd left lying around.
'Not exactly light reading babe', I commented, throwing my jacket onto the benchtop.
'Oh, master! You're back!' Heather dropped the book, pulling the covers away as she stood up hurriedly.
'Heather, Heather, I've told you. I am not 'master'. I have a name, use it.'
'Uh...alright'. Heather's brow wrinkled, although I could not tell whether it was in confusion or distaste. I sighed as I opened the fridge, pulling out a bloodpack. I punctured the bag with my teeth, sucking loudly and deeply. I gave a moan of ecstasy when I finished it, dropping the empty bag into the bin. I'd needed that. I felt vibrant, invincible. Heather watched as I closed my eyes.
'Are you staying now? We could just sit in, talk...'
'Sorry. I've got more business to attend to. Promise me you'll stay here, alright? It's not safe at night.'
'I know, you said. I won't disobey you ma-'
Heather stopped at my frown.
I smiled, trying to ease the tension. I walked over to the computer, ruffling her hair as I passed.
I hate to drop this on you, but the last hub is in Chinatown. Place called Kamikaze Zen. I know it's Japanese, don't ask. Anyway, the place is a Kuei Jin front, so it's going to be well protected. Barabus managed to get hold of a keycard when he was leaving the Fu Syndicate, so I've left it in your mailbox. You'll need to get past the security doors, I'm sure there'll be a passcode somewhere. I couldn't get hold of it, sorry. To get past the second security door, you need to access the power supply via a computer in one of the offices. I've written a virus that will disable the power, which will open the second security door. Once you've enabled schrecknet, steal the money from the vault. This needs to look like a robbery, we can't let LaCroix or the Kuei Jin know what we're doing. This one's going to be tough, chief. If you get caught, it's your ass.
'Shit', I muttered. Chinatown was the last place I wanted to be right now.
'What is it?' Heather looked up from the book she'd returned to, her eyes concerned.
'Nothing you need to worry about.' I exited the email, then sat on the bed next to her. She moved in close, and after a moment's hesitation, I put my arm around her.
'Don't you ever think of returning to your real life? The college is probably wondering where you are.'
'This...you...are my life now', she murmured, closing her eyes, sinking into my arm, her head resting against my chest. 'You saved me, gave yourself to me. You feel like a part of me. I've never felt like this, never was so sure of anything. I want to be with you, help you...I know I don't understand everything that's going on, but I know it's dangerous. I don't want to leave you alone in it. I can't do much, but I'll do what I can.' She drifted off again, her breathing regularising. I stared into space, unseeing. I should send her away. I needed to. And yet, I could not. Perhaps it was that loneliness that stopped me. Maybe it was having someone I knew wasn't playing games, someone that didn't have an ulterior motive. I was getting attached, that much was obvious. I was responsible for her, felt the need to look after her. Depressing as it was, she was one of the only friends I had left.
Morosely, I stood, putting Heather back under the covers. I picked up the jacket from the benchtop, sticking it on, checking my weapons. If I was heading back into enemy territory, I wanted to be prepared. I opened the door, looking at Heather for a moment.
'Sleep well, kid.'
I closed the door, and walked slowly down the stairs.