The midnight breeze was crisp. The night was clear, illuminating the sweeping view in front of him. This was good – precision was required for what he was about to do.
James Haven activated the comn-link on his left wrist. “Sam, you ready?”
Static crackled in his ear before an answer came, “Let’s see. Suit, check. Gun, check. Seems all good here, see you on the other side.”
“Do you really think you’ll need that gun? There isn’t even anyone in the building.”
“You never know.”
James switched off the device and began the countdown. Sixty seconds. He grabbed the cable set near his feet. After a swift click it set into place around his ankle.
He checked his wrist watch; nearly there. He touched the center of his gravsuit. The neon blue lights switched on as electricity coursed through its veins.
He drew in a deep breath. This part always made him nervous, no matter how many times he’d done it before. He closed his eyes and took a step off the ledge. His foot hit the side of the building as if he were walking on solid ground. He took his other foot off and followed suit. The gravsuit quickly readjusted to support his upper body.
James checked the timer. Thirty seconds. He took off down the left pane of the building. Sixty-four, sixty-three, sixty-two. He counted as each floor passed from under him. James checked the clock again. Eight seconds.
Finally he reached the sixtieth floor. He took a miniature laser cutter from the hip pocket of his suit and attached it to glass. On the highest speed it took less than two seconds to cut out a section of glass big enough for James to slip through.
He pushed the glass circle in and jumped in. His eyes went blurry and his head felt light. James felt his head smash into the ground as his body tumbled over him.
The clock went off, signaling the end of the sixty seconds he had allotted himself. James shook his head, trying to steady himself. He stood, and brought the communicator to his mouth.
“I’m in. You?”
“Same. What’d you make it in under?” Asked Sam, his partner in crime.
James thought for a moment. “A little under five seconds.”
A chuckle came through, “Not bad. I made it above seven.”
It was James’ turn to chuckle. “Show off.”
“I’m reaching the office now. How close are you?” Sam replied.
James looked around him, realizing he hadn’t moved since he landed. “I’m on my way.” He started making his way down the office hallways. He needed to get there quickly, an office was waiting to be broken into.
James switched off both the comn-link and the gravsuit, darkening the room around him. The building was currently owned by Maximillian Looush, the famed creator of the Blackbriar Grid on which the city currently ran on.
The grid controlled every method of transportation, moderating speed, distance, and energy consumption. The only exception to the Grid was flight, which was so pointless nowadays it was more of a luxury that only the bigwigs used to show off how rich they are.
Their mark was Looush’s office where he kept a rather rare artifact that was given to him by another rich CEO. If Sam’s source was correct, it should be an Old World artifact, something worth a lot on the black market, and even more to the right museum curator.
James arrived at the office to find Sam already inside, sitting behind the main desk. His face was illuminated by the screen of the computer. He was typing furiously at the keyboard.
“It’s good to see you’ve made yourself comfortable.” James said as he strode into the lavishly furnished office without a care in the world.
They were open about what they were doing because Mr. Looush never bothered hiring human guards. He preferred everything to be automated when possible, which meant that everything could be hacked.
“Just downloading another piece of code. “ Sam replied without looking up from the screen.
James hadn’t known Sam for very long, in fact they’d only started working as a team for the past six months.
“What’s all that for anyways? That’s the fifth one you’ve grabbed this month.” James said.
“It’ll come in handy, trust me.” Sam said.
There were many times James wasn’t sure he could trust Sam, but they made a decent enough team to not get caught so far. That was good enough for James. Perhaps Sam was just another thief working a second job. Either way it was probably none of James’ business.
“Come on, we don’t have much time before the backup system kicks in.” While James was feeling confident they would get in and out with plenty of time to spare, he didn’t want to waste time with pointless tasks.
Sam pulled the thumb drive from the machine. The room darkened as the computer screen dimmed. Sam stood up from the chair and pushed in the center of his chest. The core of his gravsuit put forth a beam of light.
“What are we looking for again?”
“I believe it’s a book… or newspaper. I’m not sure.”
James rolled his eyes, “I thought you said your guy was good.”
“He is. He’s just never seen the thing for himself.” Said Sam.
“Lovely,” James went to the other end of the room and started looking.
“Did the blueprints show a safe? Or some sort of storage unit?”
“Not that I saw,” was James’ reply as he felt the walls for a hollow inside. “He probably had it built once most of the building was put together.” He knocked against the wall again, the sound echoed within. “Sam.” He called.
Sam sprinted over and knocked against the wall. He heard the same thing. He started running his hand against the wall. “There should be a panel around here somewhere…”
James tapped a button on his gravsuit. His right forearm lit up and he opened his hand, releasing a pulse of white-blue energy. It poured through the wall, quickly revealed the electrical organs of the room. He quickly traced a path to the panel. Sam opened it and the wall slid down.
Before them was a room made of white cubes. In the center was a display case that housed their mark. Sitting in a glass case was an old, weathered book. James couldn’t get close enough to see the title, but from what he could tell, it would fetch them a pretty penny.
His heart skipped a beat and he felt himself smile. The discovery of the prize never ceased to get his blood pumping. It was why he did what he did. The rush was like nothing he could experience elsewhere. That and the money was good.
Sam tried to take a step forward into the room, but James put his hand out to stop him. “Something’s not right here.” He said. He leaned towards the room, focusing closely on the glass case.
“It’s got a laser field around it.” He said with a sigh.
“What? How do you know?” Sam asked.
“There’s a shimmer around the glass. If we so much as reached for the book an alarm would go off.”
“But we disabled everything. Why is this one still active?”
James looked towards the ceiling. “It must be powered by a separate station, one we didn’t account for.”
“Perfect. How do we get in?”
James sent another pulse throughout the room. He followed the tubes protruding from the lasers.
“We’ll have to go up one floor.” He turned back to Sam. “The field is being powered by a station above us.”
“I guess Looush does have some brains. Having the vault’s security powered by another station isn’t a half bad idea.” Sam said.
“Come on, we have work to do.”
James led the way back to the window he had entered through. They both activated their gravsuits and climbed out through the glass. With their feet securely fastened to the side of the building, they made their way up a floor. It was business as usual entering the building a second time.
They moved quickly once inside. While security was disabled, it was only a matter of time before someone monitoring the system discovered something wasn’t quite right.
They entered the room above Looush’s office and begin to search for the security station powering the laser grid. Several sat in the room before them, but there was a good chance all but one were decoys.
“Any idea how we figure out which one we pull the plug on?” James asked as he paced through the room.
“Couldn’t we just shut them all off? Leave no room for errors?” Sam looked around the room. If they could shut everything off at once, then they wouldn’t have to worry about triggering any alarms.
“How do you expect us to do that?” James asked with a tone of annoyance. “We’re only two people. We’d never be able to shut them all down before we got trapped in here.” He figured James would know something like that since he seemed so computer savvy.
“I don’t suppose we could just leave and come back another time could we?” Sam asked, already expecting the answer.
James didn’t even bother responding and instead kept looking through the room. Sam considered just leaving James here, but that would no doubt prove pointless later. Sam ran the USB drive he used earlier between his fingers. There was a chance they could get out of here and still get what they came for.
“Alright, I’ve got an idea.” He pushed passed James and walked towards one of the computers.
“Hey, what are you doing?” James asked reaching for Sam.
“You’ll see in a minute.” He knelt down near a station and plugged the USB drive in. He typed a few commands and suddenly the room went dark. Everything was shut off.
“What… just happened?” James looked all around him. Everything was dark.
“No time to explain, let’s just grab the thing and get out of here.” Sam said heading for the door.
“Right…” James followed him out.
Grabbing the book was easy after the lasers were deactivated. The book was untitled as far as the pair could find, but there was no doubt some curator who knew what the book was, and would pay quite a bit to get it.
They quickly made their way back out the entrances they created for themselves and headed back to the top of the complex.
Sam was sitting with the book in his lap by the time James had arrived. “You wanna explain yourself?” He asked.
Sam barely looked up from the book. He was carefully flipping through the pages, curious about what made it so special.
“Sam.” James called.
Sam finally looked up.
“You’ve been acting really weird over the past month. Well, especially weird. Every time we hit a place you’re always diggin’ through their computer files. How did that USB code shut down all of those security stations?”
“It’s a kill switch.”
James blinked, speechless. “What?” was all he got out.
“These pieces of code that I’ve been collecting over the past few months. They’re part of a kill switch for the Grid. It’s able to take control of it, and I can shut down any part of the city I need to.”
“But why would you need something like that?” James asked, taking a step back from Sam.
“Well it saved our asses today didn’t it?”
“Yeah, sure, but there are ways around that kind of thing without using a code that could take out the entire city.” James didn’t know what to think. Something so dangerous… “How did you know how to put it together?”
“Friends in high places is all you need to know.”
“Need to know? What’s going on here, Sam?”
Sam stood and took out the gun he’d been carrying all along. James stared it at, unable to breath. He couldn’t believe this was really happening. “You’re kidding me right?” He smiled shyly, trying to laugh it off as some kind of sick joke.
“I need you to walk to the edge of the building.”
“You didn’t think I’d let you leave here knowing what I’ve been working on did you?” He took a step towards James. “Sure, I could have just left you there in that security room, but you’re very good at what you do Mr. Haven. I know you’d find me eventually. So this is what it comes to.”
“You don’t need to do this.” James’ heel teetered over the side of the building.
“Unfortunately I do, I better do it fast as I seem to be monologuing. Apologies, Mr. Haven.”
There was a quick flash of light.
Then there was nothing.