In which darkness falls; Sam falls over; nobody likes Bob and doors present more of an obstacle than normal.
Level Six, Administration Wing
“Hey, Sam, you get lost again?”
“Some of us have lived here for less than a month, Fen. Couldn’t someone at least spruce this place up a bit? It’s so grey! The corridors all look the same,” Samuel complained as he stumbled at last into the rooms Aerfen shared with her Uncle. She looked so smug sitting in one of the big comfy chairs furnishing the living room, and he had to laugh as she put her feet up on the coffee table and yawned.
“I could have died waiting. Aren’t you supposed to be fast after all that exercise?” She continued to tease him while pretending to inspect her nails for dirt, “You spend so much time in that gym, and yet then you just go and stuff yourself every night. No wonder you’re always late.”
“Me? Stuff myself? The rest of us barely get a mouthful when you arrive first. Come on, see if you can catch me, fatty!” Samuel taunted her from the door, and before she could even shout her displeasure he was back in the corridor and running, pounding along the smooth concrete. It wasn’t long before he could hear Aerfen’s footfalls behind him, and closing. He’d have to work harder at the gym.
He and Aerfen had become good friends over the last four weeks that he had been living at the facility. She had shown him where the fun was to be had; driving on the test track, stealing from the lab, sneaking through the armoury and one time they had even spied on some sort of secret meeting between an agent in black and Bob, the chief caretaker. Not that the latter had been all that exciting. Bob was a boring man who relied on protocol and routine. Nobody liked him much, but he was necessary for the smooth running of Facility One.
He skidded into a sharp left turn, entering a block of offices. Contrary to Aerfen’s opinion he actually knew (at least this level) quite well, and he wound his way through the rooms of desks, empty of people at this time in the evening. He could hear her panting away behind him somewhere, and he kept a low profile and slowed to a creep to stay ahead. Then, as he ducked behind a bookcase, all the lights went out.
For a moment there was silence, then the emergency lights flickered on and he heard Aerfen call out.
“Sam? Did you do that?”
“No, I thought it was you. What’s going on?”
“I- I think it could be an emergency drill. I’m not sure though, they don’t normally cut the power,” Aerfen called back. There was a slight trill to her voice. Doubt, and a hint of fear.
She had lived at the facility on and off for over five years, and yet she was uncertain. It didn’t do much for Samuel’s nerves. They both stood up, and moved towards each other’s shadowy figures. One together, they started making slow progress towards the nearest door, impeded in the low light by chairs and desks. They had nearly made it to the corridor again when a loud klaxon began to sound, startling Samuel, who fell over a poorly placed chair, landing heavily and causing the chair to roll into the doorway.
They could be sure it really was an emergency drill now, or even a real emergency. The loud alarm continued to sound, but to compound matters the doors began to shut and lock themselves automatically. Full lock-down. This was not a drill.
“What do we do?” Sam asked Aerfen hurriedly. He was trying not to panic. She must have experience this before. She’d know what to expect. One glance told him this was not the case. He gulped, “So much for a fun evening then.”
Level One, Control Point F, One hour earlier
“Agent coming through.”
The blank faced man in black faced the guards at the control point, holding out his pass. One rolled his eyes. These stony-eyed agents were always coming and going. Never a please or a thank you, and they gave him the creeps. Expressionless drones, he thought, though he knew most of them could probably kill him in any way he could imagine, and many more that he could, or would, not.
The guard walked forwards past the barrier and checked the pass. One Agent Riedel requesting entry. He handed it to his duty partner, who scanned it. An error tone sounded, but he scanned it again and this time it went through, raising the barrier and allowing the man through.
What neither of them noticed, for neither was looking, was the small chip that detached itself from the pass and landed with an unheard chink on the console after the first attempt at scanning. Small spines extended, gripping on and anchoring it in place, for all the world invisible, unless looked for. Nobody noticed that the earpiece in the silent man’s emitted a brief keening signal, alerting him of the successful deployment of the intricate circuitry.
He passed through the last checkpoint, and onwards into Facility One without a backwards glance and headed for the lifts to the lower levels.
Level Eight, Control Centre
“Where are we on the power situation?” Bartholomew asked urgently, pacing up and down in front of the security station.
“We have emergency power in the hospital, armoury and some of the accommodation areas, but not much else. We’re redirecting a lot to keep Control alive, Sir,” a technician replied, clutching a tablet computer and reading off the situation report.
“At least tell me the lock down worked?”
“Yes Sir, we successfully closed down the facility,” a number of quiet beeps emitted from the technician’s tablet, causing him to frown and pause, “Though there are a few anomalies. The system didn’t flag them at first, but it’s registering a few blips. We have a few ordinary doors not sealed, but that’s normal, but there are two blast doors that aren’t registered as being all the way down.”
Bartholomew looked puzzled, and peered at the graphic himself. True enough, two doors, on levels four and three were unsealed. He jolted in to action.
“Redirect any men we have on those two floors to guard any vulnerable assets. That includes mainframe access, medium security vaults and accommodation. How long until we can get the other doors open to access the breached area ourselves?”
“ETA about forty-five minutes. Lock down is designed to be irreversible for that long to prevent any attacker bypassing the safeguards.”
“Surely we have a way to speed it up?”
The technician looked worried and bit his lip before answering:
“I can do that sir, but it requires doing a hard reboot of almost the entire network. We’d be without any eyes and ears support until it comes back online. The only thing we’d have left is the door sensors and the new movement detection on level nine.”
“Well have that ready to go if things go bad. We don’t know how serious this is yet. Now, will someone get me the Director?” Bartholomew raised his voice, calling for his friend and superior.
“Right behind you, Barty,” The Director had entered a few minutes before, and had waited until he was aware of the situation before making himself known, “I’m afraid we have three people unaccounted for. My niece, Samuel Trevithick and Mr Bob. We do, however, have a newcomer. One Agent Riedel checked in about an hour ago, and yet we have no records of him before today,” his calm voice made him seem in control, but Bartholomew knew when his old friend was worried. He turned to the technician.
“Find them. All of them.”