Sorry about the late posting. But do to the weather knocking out my internet last night, I was unable to submit a posting. Anyhow, on to business. Today’s posting is a sample chapter of my current project ‘Experiment 26‘, a modern sci-fi and corporate espionage story. Hope you like it.
Chapter One: Infiltration
A night like all others, the streets of Baltimore were active as its citizens enjoyed the vibrant nightlife. The sounds of street performers and loud music and traffic filled the air of the Inner Harbor. People from all backgrounds flooded the harbor for entertainment and thrills with no worry or concern about the world around them.
A lone man walked along the illuminated walkway, uncaring of the world around him. While others frolicked and lost themselves to their environment, he was meticulously thinking about his next assignment. Lost in his thoughts, he walked to his destination without interruption. The inviting light of the Inner Harbor grew darker with each passing step, the only light guiding his way were the few streetlights along the path. After a half hour of travel, he soon approached his destination; Cherub Pharmaceutical.
He soon pulled out a cellphone from his pocket. Beaten and worn, it had been abused and thrown around. He didn’t give it much thought, he was going to throw it away after the assignment was over with anyway. Dialing the only number listed, he waited to receive an answer. On the other end, he heard a familiar voice.
“What is it Aiden?” The voice on the other end sounded anxious, yet annoyed. Aiden responded to the voice’s query. “Jason. I am at the target location, preparing for entry.”
In a parked car a few blocks away, a young man was diligently working on his laptop. “I know, I can see you through the security camera. Look above and to your right.” Aiden looked up and saw the mentioned camera, its lens shined in the streetlight’s light. He soon walked around the length of the building, approaching an alleyway as Jason continued to talk. “Do not worry about the cameras, I have them running off of loop footage of an hour ago. Looks like it is going to be another routine job ahead of us. Hey, how did the date with Kendra go?” Aiden approached a lone door, reaching into his pocket as he humored Jason.
“I don’t think she is the right woman for me. She is too… family oriented.” He told him. Truthfully, it was not that she was too family oriented, he just felt that she did not stimulate him intellectually.
“Aiden. I hate to break it to you, but a lot of women are ‘family oriented.’ One of these days, you are going to want to settle down with someone and start a family. We can’t do this kind of work forever. Our kind has a shelf life.” Aiden knew that this was the kind of career that could only last for so long, but he didn’t care. The money was good, it provided excitement to a boring life, and gave him an excuse to avoid the family get-togethers he dreaded. He soon found what he was looking for, the cracked keycard. Sliding it through the lock, a light flashed green allowing him access. “We will talk about this later. I am going in.”
He slunk through the door, scanning the room for potential problems. He was in the company’s storage room, connected to the loading bay. Filled with boxes and crates, he made his way through. Through his Bluetooth, he heard Jason’s voice. “There are three guards in the main lobby. One of them is walking around the lobby and the other one on foot just stepped into the men’s room. The third one is at the security cubicle, watching the Lakers game. Is it so much to ask for decent security nowadays?”
“How much are these guys getting paid?” Aiden inquired, creeping through the doorway to reach a flower box for cover. The lilacs would block part of his view, but he could work with it. He entered the main lobby, its size is only matched by its modern elegance. In the center of the lobby, a staircase drew Aiden’s attention for a moment. However, it was only good for reaching the first three stories.
He watched the guards, looking for an opportunity. On the other end of his Bluetooth, he heard the sounds of a keyboard clicking and soon heard Jason’s voice. “See the guy watching the Lakers game? Name is Larry Kelbitz, he is currently being paid twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents an hour and he isn’t even the head of security.”
Using the flower boxes and standing advertisements around him, Aiden crept to lone guard as he walked his patrol. Reaching his arms around him, he put the guard in a chokehold. Letting off a faint gurgling sound, the guard struggled trying to get free. After a moment’s notice, the guard fell unconscious. Dragging him out sight, he focused on the next guard. Creeping past the security cubicle, he overheard the guard. “You call that defense? C’mon!” Aiden shook his head as he moved to the restroom. Moving through the doorway, he creeped into one of the empty stalls and waited. After a brief moment, he heard a flushing sound. The guard walked out and began to walk to the door. Aiden walked behind him, and let out a remark.
“You forgot to wash your hands.” The guard turned around to see a fist moving in his direction. The force of the impact sent him back against the wooden door, the guard slumping down to the bathroom tile. Aiden dragged him to the bathroom stall and closed the door behind him. From his earpiece, he heard Jason laughing.
“You forgot to wash your hands? I didn’t take you for someone to use one liners Aiden.”
“I had to get his attention somehow.”
“Easy Bruce Campbell, there is still one more guard in the security cubicle.”
He moved onto the final guard, an easy target for him. Moving closer to the cubicle, it was clear to see that the guard was involved with the game on screen. Approaching the doorway, he reached for the knob only to hear it begin to turn. Ducking behind the corner, Aiden waited for Larry to come out of the cubicle. Looking around, Larry muttered something to himself. “I can’t believe that Nick Young did not make that shot…Where did the other guys go?” At that moment, Aiden grappled Larry in a chokehold similar to the one he used on the first guard. Larry was resisting more to Aiden’s technique, digging his fingernails into Aiden’s arms. But the guard’s attempts were to no avail. He fell unconscious in Aiden’s arms, his legs went limp. Aiden dragged him into the security cubicle and stashed the guard under the desk.
Closing the cubicle door behind him, Aiden contacted Jason again. “There is no way these guys are worth the money they are being paid.”
“So what is the score of the game so far? I can’t see from this angle” Jason joked as he continued his work.
“The Bulls are ahead by twenty points.” Aiden remarked as he progressed towards the stairways.
“Son of a bitch…”
“So I can assume that you have money riding on this game?” Aiden remarked, looking towards the staircase.
“Yeah, I made a twenty dollar bet with Miguel that the Lakers would win. Anyway, you need to get to the twenty-fourth story to Petridis’ office. We need the data from his computer, then it is an easy seven million in each of our pockets.”
As Jason scoured the building through the camera’s view, he found the remaining guards and noticed something peculiar. “From the looks of it, there are five guards left scattered throughout the building and they are packing what seems to be standard Sig Sauer P220s.”
“Doesn’t it seem that they are paying us a little much for infiltrating a corporate headquarters? We usually do these kinds of jobs for only three to four million and we’re usually hacking server rooms, not private terminals.” The staircase was abandoned, it did not look like that many people used it. He preferred it that way, there was less of a chance of running into a guard. Making his way up the stairs, Aiden’s footprints echoed with each step.
“Do you care enough to ask? If someone is willing to pay us several million dollars to steal a corporate head’s private emails, I am not complaining.” Jason answered, focusing on his laptop. Searching through thousands of lines of code, he looked for security flaws with precision only stopping to take a sip of his drink.
Story after story, he made his way upward to the twenty-fourth story. Going through the doorway, he scanned the area for potential threats. The room was bare; on one end was the secretary’s desk, while on the other was Petridis’ office. A relatively large office, the walls were see-through glass allowing Petridis to keep an eye on his secretary. Walking through the doorway, a mahogany desk sat against the wall with several bookcases lining the room. Looking out the window, Aiden gazed upon the greater expanse of Baltimore. The city was illuminated as far as he could see. He had seen this kind of sight before, but he found comfort in it. The view was interrupted by Jason’s voice.
“I know the view is great Aiden, but we have a job to do.”
Aiden sighed as he walked to Petridis’ desk, wondering if he would had this kind of view if he stuck to a traditional career path. Probably not.
Moving around to the other side of the desk, Aiden began his work. Inserting an usb drive into the system unit, he let Jason’s programs get to work. A series of programs that utilized multiple viruses, it was their main tool of their trade. It always took a minimum of four minutes for Jason to hack into a system, giving Aiden sometime to search for anything useful. There was always something additional that they could use; contact information, passwords, account information. It did not make a difference. If it could prove useful, they would take it.
Looking through Petridis’ desk, there seemed to be nothing useful. Last quarter’s earnings reports, a novel or two from the top selling list, and a bottle of expensive scotch. It’s a shame he preferred vodka, a drink would have been nice while he waited. Feeling through the lowest drawer, he found something peculiar. The bottom of the drawer wobbled slightly as he ran his hand towards the back. Pushing on the back of the drawer, he revealed a hidden compartment protected by an electronic keypad. He called Jason.
“Jason, do you know how to crack a Sentius keypad?” He asked him as he lifted the small safe out of the drawer and sat it on the desk.
“Yeah. The Sentius keypads often have an override sequence that will reset them. Press and hold both the enter and cancel button, then enter the sequence ‘two-three-seven-seven-zero-one-four’.”
Aiden followed Jason’s instructions and began to reset the keypad. It soon let of a faint chirping sound and the lock opened. Compelled by curiosity, Aiden removed the snug panel to reveal a folder, bound tight by a red string. On the cover, the only words on it were ‘Classified’. As he began to open it, Jason phoned in.
“The data extraction is almost finished. Did you find anything interesting?
“Petridis had managed to hide away some documents in a hidden compartment in his desk. They are all about an ‘Experiment 26’. Does any of the data suggest anything about what it might be?”
Jason performed a search for the mysterious Experiment 26, looking through thousands of files. However, the search would bear zero results. He cocked his eyebrow in intrigue before giving Aiden a response. It had always excited him, when he or Aiden uncovered something that is not catalogued on a database or a server. It usually meant that it was an ‘off the books’ project and could potentially net the two an additional million dollars.
“Nothing. What you have uncovered is completely off the records. Chances are it is an illegal project. What does it say?”
Laying out the papers on the desk, Aiden skimmed through the documents looking for what experiment 26 could be. It appeared to be financial documents, and maintenance reports. Analyzing the financial paperwork first, Aiden was aghast. “Apparently, Cherub has spent over about twenty billion dollars for this project under the guise of several different projects over the past ten years.”
Jason choked on his drink, nearly spilling some on his laptop. “Twenty billion dollars?!? What in the hell are they developing, a cure for cancer?”
“I don’t know, maybe the expenditures can give us an idea…” Aiden began to look diligently through the financial reports, searching for anything that could give them a clue of what Cherub was working on. Skimming through the list, most of the items were blacked out. What few expenditures remained were mostly employee wages, however one stood out; an expenditure for elevator repair costing twenty-five thousand. There was a lone report attached to financial documents, detailing technical errors in the northern elevator.
“Jason, there is a report mentioning maintenance on the northern elevator.” As he said this, he began to put the documents back into its once bound folder and hid them in his jacket.
Immediately, Jason pulled up a detailed floor plan of Cherub and looked for the mentioned elevator. “From what I can tell, there is one single elevator on the northern side of the building. You can access it on the twenty-third story. Fair warning, there is a guard walking around that area.”
“How far are you on the data extraction?” Aiden asked, taking one last view out of the window.
“It’s is finished. Grab the usb drive and make your way down to the twenty-third story. Whatever this ‘Experiment 26’ is, it has peaked my curiosity.”
After he grabbed the usb drive and placed the safe back in the drawer, Aiden made his way down to the twenty-third story, his mind racing with what could be so valuable. Moving from cubicle to cubicle, he soon saw the lone guard. From the looks of it, this one was the only guard that took his job seriously. Physically lean, he patrolled the room diligently. A grapple would probably not work as well on him like the other guards. Sneaking up on the guard, Aiden planned his assault. He soon planted his foot on the back of the guard’s knee, sending him to the ground. The guard struggled, trying to reach for his radio to call for help. Aiden struck the guard across his right temple, ending the struggle. Looking at the unconscious guard, he glanced down at his waist to see the guard’s handgun. Unlatching it from the holster, he slid the handgun into his jacket.
Watching Aiden through the cameras, Jason felt compelled to ask. “You are taking the guard’s handgun?”
“Better safe than sorry. Besides, we don’t know what to expect from this. Does the floor plans say anything about any sublevels?”
Jason looked through the floor plans for anything that could be of use. “There is one sublevel below the ground floor, but is a generator room. You can access it through the elevator or the staircase.”
“I just used the staircase, there is no door or downward stairway leading to a generator room.”
“They must have sealed it off. That makes all of this even more suspicious.”
Walking into the elevator, Aiden made a remark. “Elevator it is then.” Searching the panel, there was no button to reach the generator room. He put his hand to his head in frustration, leaning against the panel. He soon noticed that the panel was loose. Running his hand along the panel, he found a small latch, hidden on the right side. Picking the latch, he opened the panel to find a lone button. Aiden pressed it, beginning his decent to the unknown.
As he traveled downward, Aiden made contact with Jason. “Jason, I am heading down to the sublevel. Keep an eye out for any potential access point that could help me out down here.”
“I am going through Cherub’s system and there is nothing about any sublevel. It might be on a completely different set-up. I hate to say, you are going in blind.”
“Shit… I will keep you posted.” Aiden ended his call, contemplating what awaits on the sublevel. The elevator came to a slow halt, reaching its destination. The doorway opened revealing the generator room. On each side, several generators were humming in unison. At the far end of the room, two large steel doors awaited.
Walking to the doorway, Jason phoned in. “What do you see down there?”
Panning the room, he counts the generators. “It looks like they have four generators running. What could they be running off of four generators?”
“Those can’t all be dedicated to the floors above you. What on earth could they be running down here?”
“I have no idea. There is a doorway ahead of me, the answer to that could be behind it.” The doorway had a keycard system, preventing entry. Reaching into his back pocket, Aiden pulled out a toolkit. He began to work on disassembling the keypad, whistling a tune as he proceeded. It was more advanced than what he was use to, but he continued to work on it. After five minutes, he opened the lock gaining entry to the doorway.
He opened the steel doors, as the bright light blinded him. After adjusting his eyes, he gazed upon the sight before him. An elongated hallway with extensive laboratories on each side, it made him wonder what Cherub was developing. Several photos depicting what he believed was human physiology covered the back walls. Walking through the empty hall, Aiden’s footsteps echoed with each step.
“What did you find?” Jason asked inquisitively.
“Jason, you are not going to believe this. There are laboratories down here…” Looking around, Aiden spotted a door at the end of the hall marked ‘Warning. Bio hazardous Materials Ahead.’.
“What could they be working on? Biological Weapons for the government?”
“I don’t know.” He sighed, approaching the marked doorway. “Aiden, this is becoming dangerous for us. We got what we need, now get out of there.”
“We have come too far now. Besides, didn’t you say that this peaked your curiosity?”
Jason rubbed his tired eyes before responding. He hated it when Aiden used his own words against him. “Yes, I did say that. But that was before we stumbled onto a bioweapons lab!”
“We don’t know that it is biological weapons.” Aiden stated, his hand resting on the door’s handle. Jason reacted to his statement.
“What else could Cherub spend twenty billion dollars on?!?”
“There is only one way to find out.” Aiden stated, opening the marked door. Anything could had lied behind those doors, but he didn’t care. His mind was overwhelmed with curiosity as he walked through the doorway. Before him, laid a large circular room with equipment around the rim. Apart from the sounds of some of the machines, the room was silent. In the center of the room was something Aiden could not even conceive. He stood before it in shock, unsure of what he had found.
Aiden was at a loss of words. “Holy shit…”
“Aiden, what is it? Aiden, come in! Damn it, what is Cherub working on?!?”
He paused before answering Jason. “They have a child in a stasis chamber.”