Thursday, June 27, 2013

The First Mission, part two

We last left Mikayla going to join her team for her first-ever mission. How will the mission go? Will she and her team be caught by the Brotherhood? We'll find out (at least partially) today! Miss part one? Check it out here!
The rest of the team was already assembled at the exit when she reached it. The two men nodded to her as she approached, and the woman smiled at her. Mikayla nodded back, and they set off. A Shadowcopter carried them most of the way, its invisibility shields running the whole time, and they traveled the last mile on foot. Evening was beginning to fall by the time they reached the Brotherhood headquarters, for which Mikayla was glad. Even though security was higher at night, the lengthening shadows would make it much harder for her team to be spotted as they approached the building.

They circled around to the east side of the building, where the shadows were deepest, and crept towards the door. Two guards stood outside, and Mikayla knew that security cameras were watching the area. “VAAJams on,” Blade whispered. Everyone obeyed. He pointed to the building. “Raven, get going.”

The female Shadow Agent nodded, her face now serious. She slid off into the shadows and Mikayla lost track of her. Only five minutes later, first one guard, then the other slumped to the ground. Raven appeared by the door and beckoned.

In single file, the rest of the team crept up to join her. Raven already had a guard’s hand pressed to the lockscreen by the door, which slid silently open. Blade slipped inside first. Hawk entered after him, then came Mikayla, and finally Raven. The doors slid shut behind them and locked with a click. Mikayla forced herself not to shudder. We got in. Surely it’ll be easier to get back out, unless we’re discovered.

Blade set off down the brightly-lit halls. The others followed close behind, moving silently and swiftly. On this uppermost level, the halls were mostly deserted, and they were able to traverse all the way to the emergency stairs without seeing another soul.

Blade pushed the door open and beckoned for the others to enter. They did so, and he followed, releasing the door. Once it had swung shut, he whispered, “No more cameras until we get to the second underground level. Correct, Night?”

Mikayla jumped and then nodded. “Yes. The first underground level is just sleeping quarters for the ordinary people. Brotherhood leaders and their families are housed on the second underground level.” She suspected the others had already heard that information, but saying it out loud reassured her. Unless someone was taking the emergency steps, they’d have nothing to worry about for two levels.

No one commented on her information with anything more than a nod. They set off down the concrete stairs, continuing to move cautiously and quietly until the stairs stopped at the fourth underground level. Blade gave his orders in a whisper. “Hawk, Raven, from here on, take turns scouting ahead. All three of you keep your weapons ready and set to low power, just enough to knock out anyone who finds us.”

Mikayla nodded. She pulled her pistol from its holster and slid the power switch to the lowest setting. She gripped it tightly, trying to keep her hands from shaking, as Blade opened the door and Hawk stepped out. A moment later, the rest of them followed.

This level was much busier than the uppermost level had been, though Mikayla knew it was much less busier than it could’ve been had they come at a different time of day. They crept through the well-lit hallways far slower than they had before, always waiting for Hawk or Raven to give them the signal before turning a corner, always listening and searching the halls for guards. Several times they had to wait for what seemed like an eternity before a passing guard would move on or a guard stationed by a door or hallway would look away for a moment. Mikayla gave thanks that at least their route had been carefully mapped out to avoid halls where guards were permanently stationed.

The number of guards increased the nearer they came to the central stairs, making their progress slower than ever. At last, however, they reached the open area surrounding the column that enclosed the stairs. A guard marched back and forth outside the door, a pistol held ready.

Blade touched Hawk’s shoulder. The Shadow Agent nodded and took a step forward at the same moment the guard turned and saw them. The guard shouted and brought up his pistol at the same moment as Hawk took aim. Mikayla heard two soft, electric zings. Then the guard fell back, stunned. Hawk went down as well, clutching his leg. He was back on his feet in a moment, however. “I’m fine. Let’s go.”

Blade nodded and crossed into the open. “Move fast. More guards will be here any moment. Hawk, Raven, cover us if any more show up. Don’t give them a chance to shoot. Night, help me.”

All three obeyed immediately. Raven and Hawk each drew a second pistol and swiftly made their way to the column. Raven took up a position on its right side; Hawk circled to the left, limping slightly. Mikayla helped Blade drag the unconscious guard to the door. Blade ripped off the man’s glove and pressed it to the lockscreen there. It turned red and beeped. “Access denied.”

Another zing came from Raven’s side. Mikayla glanced over and made out the form of another unconscious guard in the hallway. Blade let out a growl. “I’m going to have to hack this.” Mikayla nodded unsurely and watched as Blade set to work, first with another remote, then with a screwdriver and a variety of other odd-looking tools she’d never seen. Every so often, another zing would come from one side of the column or the other, followed by the sound of a guard slumping to the ground. Mikayla grasped her pistol tighter, wondering if she’d be able to shoot as accurately under pressure as the Shadow Agents did.
At last, Blade let out a satisfied grunt. The door to the central staircase swung open and he replaced the cover on the lockscreen. “There. Raven, Hawk, come on.”

One last zing came from Hawk’s direction before both he and Raven rejoined Blade and Mikayla. Raven set off down the stairs first, and the others followed. Blade pushed the door shut behind them. “That’ll hold them for a while. It won’t open from that side until they get a techie to undo my work.”

Mikayla nodded nervously. Raven beckoned from several steps down, and they set off once again. They met no one on the steps and so reached the lowest level in under a minute. Blade held up a hand and looked to Mikayla.

It took her a moment to figure out what he wanted. Security. Right. “No guard patrols, but guards are stationed in rooms throughout the level in case they’re needed. Lockscreens, passcode bolts, or both on most doors. A network of laser beams a half foot off the ground in the hallways. I think they’d be easier to avoid if you stay close to the walls.”

Blade nodded at her. “We split up now. Raven, Night, retrieve the schematic. Hawk and I will rescue the prisoner. We meet outside at twenty-one-hundred hours. That gives us a little over an hour.” He paused, apparently waiting to see if anyone else would speak. No one did. “All right. Let’s go.”
He pushed the door open, glanced around, and stepped out.

The others joined him at once. Raven and Mikayla turned to the left, while Hawk and Blade broke off to the right. At the edge of a hallway, Raven paused. Mikayla stopped as well, scanning the hall. She could just make out the reddish spiderweb of lasers projected over the floor.

Raven moved to the wall and continued on, high-stepping over the beams. Mikayla followed, struggling to avoid the lasers a bit more than the older woman did. She knew that beyond this point, they were within the vault. Doors on either side led to planning rooms, briefing rooms, and, most importantly, information rooms. Each section of rooms had access to a different part of the information stored in the walls, a security precaution to make that information harder to steal. For the schematics, she and Raven would have to go all the way to the outer edge of the vault, get the information, and return.

Both Mikayla and Raven moved as fast as they dared. Mikayla felt exposed under the bright lights and clumsy in comparison with Raven’s graceful gait. Every noise set her nerves more on edge, and she had to force her hands to not hold the pistol any tighter for fear of crushing the grip. Voices came from two of the doors they passed, and Mikayla half-expected guards to dash out and start firing. Not even one guard appeared, however, and as they drew near the room they were looking for, Mikayla felt confidence begin to push back her fear.

Then, she tripped.

Immediately, alarms began to blare. A computerized voice echoed through the halls. “Intruders detected. Lockdown initiated. Intruders detected. Lockdown initiated.”

Raven’s hand grabbed Mikayla’s shoulder and jerked her upright. “Run!”

Mikayla wasted no time in obeying. She dashed forward towards their goal, quickly outstripping Raven now that there was no point in avoiding the lasers. She skidded to a stop, however, when she heard a zing behind them and Raven’s voice crying out in pain. She whirled around just as another supercharged bolt zoomed past her and saw three guards dashing towards them. She raised her pistol, aimed as fast as she could, and fired off three shots in quick succession. The first two missed, but a guard crumbled to the ground with a third.

There was another zing, this one much closer, and another guard fell. Mikayla glanced at Raven to see her crouched on the ground, holding a pistol. The Shadow Agent waved a hand. “Go. Get what we came for. I’ll hold them off.”

Mikayla aimed at the final guard, shot, and just barely missed. He stumbled, but didn’t fall. “You mean leave you?” The all-too-clear memory of what happened the last time she left someone behind began to crawl out of the hole she’d pushed it in. I haven’t seen her since . . .

“Night. Go.” Raven brought down the third guard with a well-aimed shot. “That’s an order.”

Mikayla reluctantly turned and took off down the hall, though every instinct told her to stay with Raven. She couldn’t disobey a direct order. She kept her pistol at the ready, and was quite glad of it when she turned a corner and nearly ran into a guard. She fired instinctively, and at that range, she couldn’t miss. He went down in a heap, and she charged on.

She finally reached her destination. A lockscreen and a passcode bolt guarded the door. Mikayla’s mind raced. How to open it? How had Raven been planning to open it. She shook her head. Raven probably had been given some kind of tools to open it, or else some other special instructions she hadn’t been able to pass on.

An idea occurred to her. Father told me the override code for one of the doors when he brought me down here. Maybe it’s the same for all of them. But what was it? She struggled to remember, but years of trying to forget had made the memory reluctant to come into the light.

Footsteps pounded closer through the hallways. Mikayla turned around and raised her pistol, ready to shoot if anyone appeared. Come on. It was an unusual word. I didn’t think it was real at first. What was it?

A guard appeared from another hallway. Mikayla aimed, willing her hands not to shake, and pulled the trigger. He fell to the ground with a thud. Come on. Dina- deena- dýnami! That’s it!

She turned around and jabbed her finger at the emergency override button on the passcode bolt console. An electric voice emanated from the device. “Please state emergency override code.”

As clearly as she could, Mikayla spoke the word. “Dýnami.”

  “Override code accepted.”

The door slid open. Mikayla breathed a sigh of relief and stepped inside, then froze as she saw the man leaning against the far wall inside. She started to take a step back, but the door slid shut behind her. Trapped. Oh no.


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