Thursday 4th May, 2051
Finally, after a trip around a country under the jackboot of oppression, the Lazarus Team and Tillie Jones rendezvous with their team-mate Pitbull and a small group of around a dozen hardened British Resistance fighters in a badly-lit parking garage in an office district only a few miles from their target. Tonight, if all goes well, they will bring down a well-funded plan to create a world of computer-controlled slaves for the megacorps.
The “White Mice” may be in old and worn civilian clothes, and comprise a mix of young street-toughs leavened by a couple of older and calmer types from the old British Marines and Paratroop Regiment, but they’re well armed with stolen weaponry including a SAM launcher and a pair of E-warfare kits in two nondescript vans. They will provide a diversion, and back-up firepower, while the team and Tillie infiltrate the massive British Bio facility.
At the same time, a crew of hackers from Mutate & Survive will try to subvert internal security via the Net, opening locked doors, turning off cameras and hopefully rendering automatic defenses useless.
If things don’t go well, the team and their allies can expect to be surrounded and overwhelmed by responding State forces.
This is where it all comes to a head.
Mac finishes tucking his suitcase in his carryall, ensuring nothing will break if he has to ditch the entire bit in a hurry. He checks and re-checks his pistol loadout, hoping he won’t have to use it on anyone. He runs over the plan in his head, tracing it’s edges like a worn out paperback until it becomes familiar, reassuring. “Our best bet, if this information holds out, is to punch in at exactly two hours before midnight. There’s a shift change then, so that should give us a few minutes of disorganization – more if their replacements spend time monkeying around. Best case, we get an extra eighteen minutes, which could make all the difference in everyone making it out alive.”
Able claps Mac on the shoulder. “Sounds good. I’ll climb the wall then.” He continues rolling up the cord ladder he’s been working on into a tight pouch, ready to be dropped to the groundlings when it’s time.
Tillie, already stripped down to her form-fitting Stealth suit, slings her sniper rifle across her back and claps Mac on the back, then winks at Pacoy. “Then we better get rolling in about fifteen minutes. Last checks, everyone!” She yells to the waiting Mice. “Here. we’re in this van here.” She adds to the team, gesturing at a white hover-van marked with the emblem of an office cleaning firm.
Pitbull lights another cigarette with the still-lit butt of his last one before running another check of his recently acquired Gauss rifle. “Alright. What job could use me? Infiltration aid or fire support?”
Mac flips his notepad open and sketches an eerily accurate depiction of the floor plan. He marks two locations – the foyer in the office tower, and a second inside the loading bay area. “At my best guess, the security offices are located here. The one in the bay’ll have a fair few armored bangtails, so we’ll need to keep that in mind.” He looks over at Pitbull. “Personally? Once this goes horribly wrong, I’d rather you were with us to help us punch out.”
Able nods. “We’ll need plenty of fire support once we get inside. I expect to see at least one of their new soldiers in there, and I don’t relish engaging them without you.”
“Getting out is going to be a lot trickier than getting in,” Pacoy agrees.
Tillie laughs, “Yep, you’re coming up that flimsy ladder with us, Tex! Hey, know anything about demo?” She tosses a package, about the size of two beer cans strapped together, at Pitbull. “Here, catch!” She hands another off to Pacoy while velcroing the third to her own suit. “Plastique, re-sequenced to not touch off any sniffers and with an enzyme-based fuse. Put it where it’ll do most good.”
Pacoy gives the package a quick look-over, “Yes, I can do something with this,” He mutters absently as he stores the plastique.
“Just what I was hopin’ you’d say, Mac. Sure, fire support is fun, but I’ve spent too much time away from you dudes. And Abe, damn straight! Let’s see one of ’em bitch-ass clones take on a real killer.” Pitbull grates, as he tests the sight of his rifle. “Gah! The Reaper was so good, but it’s made me spoil’d. Actually sighting offa this’ll be- whut?” He grates before catching the demo-charge like a baseball. “Thanks, Tillie. This’ll clean these Quislin’s out faster than a beef’n’bean burrito with extra guacamole.”
Mac cringes. “Can we not throw around high explosives? I’m feeling on edge as it is.”
Tillie grins. “It’s safe until you thumb the fuse. You could burn it in a fire, like a lump of coal, until then.”
“Yeah, these go off by electric means, not fire. Why, we used to burn some of these on a fire to keep us warm out in Mexico when the nights got too fuckin’ cold for us to just stick our hands ‘tween our legs to keep them from goin’ numb.” Pitbull grates as he latches it on his belt.
Mac hunkers down in his trenchcoat, moodily flipping his collar up and stealing a cigarette from Pitbull. He comms silently to his closest friends, “That broad is two planks shy of a rocking horse.” He laughs around the cigarette. “Pitbull, I have no desire to hear any more stories about you sticking your hand between your legs.”
“Was that before or after you drank water from the puddle in a hoof-print?” Pacoy grins and winks, remembering an old movie line about Texans.
The grizzled veteran in charge of the Mice raises his fist, calls “Mount up” and gets into one of four vans the resistance fighters are using. They begin to move in a small convoy, heading for their start positions a couple of blocks from the facility. Tillie gets into your own van. “Time to go, gentlemen. We need to be in position and ready to go at ten exactly.”
“I didn’ get dysen- disen- dysson- err amoeba caused diarrhea from it if that’s what you mean, Pac.” Pitbull growls as he lights Mac cigarette with a lighter he produced from his trenchcoat. “Y’know Mac, I never knew ya smoked.”
Mac looks at Pitbull and grins, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth as a blows a slightly lopsided smoke ring. “Have you ever been to Tears in Rain? It’s practically required. Besides, it’s not like I’m worried for my lungs or anything, right Pacoy?”
“A’ight! Saddle up! Bring jerky and ammo!” Pitbull yells in a hammed up Old Western accent.
“Well, there is still the whole maintenance issues with smoke and tar, but that can be taken care of at any repair-check, I suppose!” Pacoy teases.
Able sits at the back of the van, ready to hop out the moment they get near to the site.
“I ran outta my Fuego Burro’s anyway. You’re smoking seaweed with nic’ in it. Does the job, but it ain’t the same, in my opinion. Damn Brit cigs.” Pitbull growls though a hard drag off of his.
The team head off into the Nottingham night – the overcast sky light a purplish-orange from underneath by the millions of city lights. Traffic is light, since most civilian traffic is under curfew, and soon the team arrives in the street behind the warehouse building. Parking the van across the street, next to a six floor office block for rent, Tillie checks her pocket computer. “Fifteen minutes to zero hour. Anything we’ve missed or need to do before then, gents? If not, I suggest we wait for the M&S boys to start doing their stuff, then hit that wall fast as we can.”
“A’ight. Imma take a leak, guys. I’ll be back in no time at all.” Pitbull growls as he jumps out through the back door.
Able pulls on his face mask. “Don’t leave the grenades until later; they’ll be best used with the element of surprise, before they get their gas masks on.”
Mac rolls his eyes. “Damn Texan plumbing must be faulty. We’re on a mission, and he didn’t think to empty out beforehand?” He shoves one of his pistols in each pocket, then slings his carryall over his shoulder. “Hope this ladder holds up.”
Able shrugs. “I’m just surprised he didn’t wait until we were all the way up the wall.”
Tillie puts on her own mask, checks the seal, then triggers her Stealth Suit’s active camouflage – although it doesn’t look much good trying to blend into the interior of the van. She silently watches the timer wind down until “Five…four…three…two…one…”
Pacoy suits up, checks all of his seals and pockets and throws a thumbs up to group.
Able likewise activates his own active camo and begins activating the gecko pads on his gloved hands.
Pitbull zips his fly back up, and racks, loads and swings his rifle into a ready position before taking a drag off of his cigarette in one fluid motion.
Mac spits out the cigarette and stamps it out. “I’m going to go up after Able, in the event Pitbull isn’t quite done yet.”
Every light in four city blocks goes out at once, including those in the BBI complex – although the emergency generators there kick on seconds later, the lights are now much dimmer and reddish. Tillie leaps out of the van, leaving her door slightly open, and races to take up a position in the shade of the complex’s high wall, her sniper rifle moving in metronome curves. Somewhere inside, a siren bleeps four times, then falls silent. In the office tower beyond, something gives forth a shower of sparks lighting a room high on the tower’s upper floors.
Mac hustles over to the wall, then nods to Able. “Up you go, pal.”
Pitbull follows close behind Able, training his sights on any direction that may have unexpected hostiles.
Able runs towards the wall at a flat-out sprint, then jumps; his gecko padded palms stick straight to the wall’s smooth face, and the soles of his boots stick on as they touch down. Able begins climbing up the wall at a rapid pace, covering twenty yards in only a matter of seconds. As he hits the top, he takes a quick look around, his nightshades bringing the dark world into a comforting green light.
Atop the sixty foot smooth wall, Able can clearly see down about twenty feet into a large and sunken garden set into the roof. Rare tropical plants scent the air and moths flit among the blooms – helpfully exposing two cameras with infra-red lights in each corner of the garden. He takes note of the camera positions as he tosses the rope ladder down to his compatriots. As he secures the ladder to the wall, he begins surveying the interior of the garden for ways in and out, looking especially for areas that the cameras do not cover.
Mac grabs the ladder and scrambles skywards the moment it is secured, moving out of the way once at the top of the ladder, making room for the next person up.
There seems to only be one way out of the garden – a double glass door leading onto a glassed-in viewing area in the far wall. There are doors at each end of the “patio”, and some breakfast-style tables and chairs dotted around the tiled area.
Pitbull scrambles up the rope ladder with relative ease and pulls himself to the top with the grace afforded by his soldier training.
Tillie ascends quietly and slips onto the wall next to Able, then signals and drops down behind a massive rhododendron bush in the corner edge of the garden, away from the cameras.
Mac looks around. “How do we break in from here? Do we mask the cameras, or just sneak underneath them like in the old spy thrillers?” He looks at Tillie, then shrugs. “Ladies first, I suppose.” He drops down after her.
Pacoy scrambles up the ladder, the brief mental image of Mac and himself both getting tangled up and looking foolish fills his mind when he stumbles for a step, but in seconds he is over the wall.
“Hey, Abe? Where’s a good insertion point? My camo is not so advanced, y’know?” Pitbull grates into his comms.
A message appears in everyone’s HUD. Target comms isolated for now. M3RL1N
With the team up the ladder, Able takes a moment to toss it down the wall into the garden, right by Tillie’s hiding spot. Then, he begins heading for one of the two cameras – and as he does so, he feels himself slipping into a new persona for what he hopes to be the last time.
Pitbull tosses his cigarette over his shoulder and drops down behind Mac.
Able creeps over to the camera, examines it for a moment, then gingery pushes a wire slightly out of its socket – enough to throw off the feed, but register in the system as a typical error for this type of camera. With that over with, he drops down into the garden proper.
Pacoy sneaks his way over to his designated camera, just barely catching a fumbled tool as he climbed up and rewired a loop into the video feed.
Mac looks over at Pitbull, gesturing emphatically as he sends him a HUD message – “Did you at least put that out before you threw it? You could start a fire, and then our van will burn!”
Pitbull furrows his brows at Mac as he HUD’s him back. “No. But the paper on those things snuff themselves out after a while anyway. They only stay lit if you constantly smoke them.”
Tillie ghosts forward, a blur of night and dark green against the foliage, to the glass doors. She tries them, finds them locked, and waves Pacoy over.
Able steps up behind Mac and Pitbull. “The garden’s secure. Time to head inwards.” He turns to Tillie. “Have the hackers managed to get a floor plan yet?”
Tillie whispers, “No, but they’re still trying. This place has good security protocols, it’s tough going. In the mean time, keep vocalizations down – there may be snooper mikes to pick up conversations from disaffected employees…”
Mac shakes his head, looking at the glass doors blocking their progress forward.
Pitbull weighs the option of beating it in with the butt of his rifle, clearly torn between expediency and subtlety.
A new HUD message appears: all secure entries now reset to code 637516
Mac considers for a moment, then digs around in his bag, pulling something out and sticking it in an internal pockets. He wipes his gloves, then steps up to the door and punches in the door code, texting to Tillie as he does, “You lot be interested in any tech transmissions from this place once we’re out? I might be able to help with that.”
Tillie nods and beams at Mac.
Able slips his electronic lockpick back in his jacket. “Well, I guess that simplifies things.” He begins examining the door for alarms; no use spoofing the cameras if security sees a door open into an empty garden.
Mac pulls a small number of miniature devices from his pocket, showing them to Tillie. “You point at a PC, we’ll fit it with a keylogger and an emissions nanobug – capture anything they’re up to. They may overlook it for some time, particularly if we make some dramatic noise elsewhere.” He stifles his gag reflex as he realizes the code he punched in. “Oh, that hacker’s got a bigger ego than the White Lion. That’s just so old school I can’t help but like it.”
Able deftly disables the alarm. He flashes a thumbs-up sign to the others, then draws his pistol before nodding to the door.
Mac nods, stowing the bugs and pulling his own revolver, thinking to himself, In case of emergency, break glass… He nods to Able, ready to follow his lead.
Pitbull rolls his neck and trains his rifle into the dark as he creeps in behind the team.
Once through the door, the team can see that the exit on the right is labeled “Staff Canteen” while the one on the left is simply labeled “+4”.
Tillie, in the lead, signals to the door on the left. She halts before it and waits, pointing to the lock.
Mac follows behind Tillie, doing his best to keep his mind from drifting towards the Morrigan. “Must be security level required, I’d wager.”
Able disables the contact alarm on this door; it’s a cinch since it’s the same design as on the exterior door.
Tillie punches in the code, and the door swooshes open, to reveal a broad landing. In the center of the area sits a massive hulking metal crab shape!
Mac lurches forward like a car making a perfect transition off the line – he weaves right to distract the bot, unfurls his datajack cable with his other hand, spins and slams the cable into the back of the bot’s dome. He slams his eyes shut and shivers as he forces his will over the robot, stopping after a second to open his eyes and nodding to the group, slowly probing the robot for any schematics he can find before powering it down.
Mac grins as he unplugs from the robot, distributing a mental schematic of the floorplans to the group, and an animated, gift wrapped file to Pacoy, unfolding into the internal schematics of the robot when opened. “Think we’ve won the treasure hunt, boys.”
Able steps to the side of the robot as he sweeps the rest of the area for threats.
“Why, I do believe they call you Father Christmas on this side of the pond, Mac” Pacoy grins.
Pitbull smiles and pats Mac on the back. “You’ve done good, Hasselhoffe. You’ve done good.” He HUD texts Mac.
Tillie, having quickly looked at the schematics for the landing they are on, turns and draws a snub-nosed flechette pistol, then fires up into a camera above the door the team just came through, blowing it apart with one hyper-velocity dart. “Bugger, we’re busted. At least all the security stuff is on this plan, and they’ll have to take time to open doors we can just slide through. Let’s find the target areas, get in and get out!”
Mac grins to himself, before looking at the camera with displeasure. “Damn, I thought that would have gone better. Lets get going, guys!”
Able hooks the floorplan into his HUD’s mapping software. “Time for speed, then. Mac, find us the targets.”
Pitbull lights another cigarette as he awaits the direction for running to be made clear. “Well, at least I can talk now…”
The floorplans show four floors above ground and three below. The ones below ground are marked Alpha, Beta and Epsilon. Epsilon is a huge cavernous room. Alpha and Beta appear to hold various lab areas. One area on Beta is marked “Restricted Access, Class A” and is described as “Bio-engineering”
Mac scans through the floorplan, looking for the best locations for the target. “Well, looks like we need to get to Beta. That’s where I’d stick my illegal Bio-engineering research if I had any.”
Pitbull nods sagely as though he knew the first thing about what people would do with bio-engineering.
Tillie, after reviewing the plans, talks frantically into her comms. A moment later a message comes on the HUD: Cameras neutralized. M3RL1N
At the same time, you hear dimly and distantly the sound of small arms fire. Tillie grabs Able’s elbow “Sounds like the Mice finally have some action. We’ve kicked the ants nest.”
Mac looks to Able. “You want to take the elevator shaft? Probably less staunchly defended. There is a security station on each floor, by the landing. It’s a reinforced internal bunker with a small unit of security forces at each. We’ve got more of these crab-bots on each floor, as well as blast-proof doors securing the restricted area and laser fences in some corridors. Cameras – yeah, everywhere. Not that that information’s much use anymore, aside from masking our movements if they get them back.” He sends an annoyed message back at the source of M3RLIN’s messages, “Couldn’t have done the cameras that little bit sooner?”
Able moves up to the elevator shaft, then begins trying to figure a way to open it without calling the elevator.
After a moment, Able springs a release that opens up the shaft. He unfurls the ladder down into the abyss, where it plunks onto the elevator car three floors down.
Mac nods, before sending, “Let’s get going before they send someone to investigate. You want me to go down first?”
“Mac, maybe you should set your new ‘pet’ to go haywire in a few minutes, maybe help with a distraction,” Pacoy points out.
Able nods. “Settle down once you’re on the car. I’ll head down last.” He looks down at the shaft, trying to see if there’s enough room for a person to squeeze between the car and the wall of the shaft.
Mac jacks into the robot and issues a quick set of commands to send it at the security station on this floor in full Pitbull mode, ensuring to give it only his friends friendly tags before descending to the elevator with only some minor trepidation.
The Bot rumbles off in the direction of the canteen, and from there into the offices and other rooms on this floor.
As Able watches Mac punch into the robot, he gets an idea. “Hey, have the robot push the call button in a few minutes, hopefully after we’re all out of the shaft.”
Unfortunately, the robot goes away before his idea gets fully expressed. “…or not.”
Tillie scrambles down the ladder and puts the side of her head to the hatch on the elevator car’s roof – her ‘elven’ ear picking up even muffled sounds and amplifying them. She points, then holds up three fingers and mimics talking with her hand.
Mac looks up from the top of the elevator car, sending up a frown with a message, “Sorry, still getting used to that ability – it’s a bit maddening trying to interface with those things.”
Pitbull slings his rifle over his shoulder as he slides down the makeshift ladder.
“That’s how we felt about you at first,” Pacoy jokes as he sets down from the climb, “But you get used to it after a while.”
Tillie gestures again, miming her opening the hatch and someone throwing a grenade down. She points at Able, then hard left below her showing the direction of the toss.
Able grabs the ladder before climbing down the shaft, gecko gloves sticking to the side.
As he lands upon the car, he pulls out his gas grenade, then steadies himself. He nods to Tillie, who is still by the hatch.
Tillie yanks open the hatch, and the voices below suddenly rise in surprise to be audible to all – one male and two female.
Able tosses his grenade down through the hatch, its timer cooked off to a bare second left.
Tillie slams the hatch closed again, counts to thirty, then re-opens it. Below are revealed the blue-overalled forms of three cleaners, slumped around their cleaning cart. Two petite women of possibly Indian extraction and a tall, fat man with a balding head.
Mac grimaces. “I don’t feel right about that. It was necessary, but..”
Tillie shrugs “We couldn’t spare the time to tie them up.”
Able shrugs. “They’ll probably live until the explosives go up.”
“I was considering cutting their Achilles tendons, but considering they’re not security detail, I won’t make their lives suck much more than getting knocked out in an elevator.” Pitbull grates as he looks in frowning.
“A quick tie-down with their own belts wouldn’t hurt, though’” Pacoy advises, “Can the Texan hog-tie this lot?”
Mac frowns. “Lets at least get them into the elevator. It’ll keep them mostly safe from what goes down, and it should slow down any reinforcements that come this way.”
“Do bulls fuck Gnoxes?” Pitbull grates looking back at Pacoy with a grin.
Tillie drops down into the car and swoops up the card on a lanyard around the tall guy’s neck. She holds it up in triumph. “This deactivated the elevator’s gas system.”
Mac sighs as he drops down as well. “That’s good. So they’ll be extra safe in here, then.” He begins dragging the bodies as gently as he can manage. “Make sure they can run if they need to get out. I know us, I know how messy this could end up, and I don’t want the deaths of three civilians on my conscious.”
Let’s get moving then – there’s the stairs" Tillie points. “Going down?”
Able nods. “Set it for floor Epsilon. We’ll exit through the roof into Floor Beta.”