Sunday, 18 July 2010

This is Foolproof

Marco adjusted his goggles. They were now a little less comfortable than before, but it was part of his routine. It was the same before every job; he would check all external volumes were off (not that he ever turned them on); adjust his goggles; check the volume again on (count them off) all four devices; huff into his cupped hands (whether it was cold or not) and then press his palms briefly together in prayer (though none was said).

“You quite done?”

“No sense cursing things ‘fore we’re even begun,” Marco muttered under his breath, casting a dirty glance at Brant.

He didn’t usually take contract work, didn’t like to see how far bonds formed of nothing more than money would stretch before they broke. Anyone who believed in honour among thieves was a fool. Treachery was a dirty word, and one to be wary of. The money was good though, for what was basically a babysitter’s job.

“Superstitious bollocks if y’ask me.”

Brant snarled at his partner, “We didn’t ask you though. Did we?”

“You never do.”

“Look, Mr. Marco here does good work. That’s how come the boss has him with us. Though we’ve never needed help before, the boss doesn’t make bad plans. Foolproof he calls them. That’s how come even you can’t balls them up.”

“Hey-“

Marco smirked at the smaller man’s discomfort. He hadn’t even been told his name, Brant had only introduced himself.

“Hey nothing, it’s the truth. Now are we going in or are we just waiting till dawn and security arrives?”

It was only two corridors later they came to Marco’s drop off point. The other two waited while he hacked the access box, then when the compound security data started scrolling across his goggles he grinned.

“The access keys your boss got were good. I’m in their sys now. You run along an’ I’ll let you know if they know. You know?”

“Ain’t never needed a mommy before.”

“Shut it. The boss ain’t screwed up yet, but if he says we take insurance, we take insurance.”

It was a big compound, it would still take the two goons a half hour to get in and out safely, and Marco had never been the patient kind. Not even ten minutes gone and he was looking around the sys. Cautiously, of course. There wasn’t a great deal of security anyway, he could probably have hacked the system easily enough without the keys, but their mysterious boss (he had dealt entirely with Brant) liked to be thorough, minimise risk. Hence employing Marco.

Now did that really ring right? Was the risk of introducing an independent contractor less than the risk of his boys triggering some alarm he didn’t know about? That didn’t seem such a foolproof plan.

Before he could dwell on that too much he noticed his file pull-up was running sticky; like something was enjoying a little time in his goggles’ processor space, something that shouldn’t be. He looked, and it took him far too long to see that something was there. Something that hadn’t been there before he’d hooked into the compound.

It was fascinating, it was building a process in his goggles, the initial insertion, the seed must have been tiny to have gone unnoticed by his firewall, musta rode in on something else, or several something elses. Look at enough different parts of the sys that no one person was supposed to access and the seed reached critical mass and germinated. It was growing fast. Behind the obvious, easy security and the real security hidden behind that was something oh so much subtler.

This was what Brant (or ‘the boss’) had him here for. A ghost of a system, that wasn’t really anything but rumour.

Marco went to tab his mic open to warn the other two. Then he stopped himself. He ripped his goggles off. Whatever the intrusion was, it was growing fast and he had no idea how much time that gave him before it did what it did. He had no idea what that was, he just knew he didn’t want to be in the saddle when it happened.

So ‘the boss’ had never hired someone else before? And the one time he did was the one time something happened? From the floor beside him his goggle set whined and sparked, and then the lenses flashed and blew out in tiny glass slithers.

“Shitting shit!”

If that had still been on his head, if he’d still been looking through those lenses... His ePad suddenly vibrated and he pulled the display out. Just before his goggles committed suicide there had been a sudden spike in wireless comms, and the level was still high. They definitely knew he was here.

Him, but not Brant.

Oh, the plan had been foolproof alright... only he was supposed to be the fool.

Time to prove them wrong.



(author's commentary)

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