Chapter 12 Up on the roof
Pushing open the vent, the popping sound it made seemed louder. There were no more reports of flashbangs going off. Sirens were still audible, if not more so now that he was so close to the roof. Swinging out, he looked down. A square of light shown on one of the elevator cars, on the main floor.
They had guessed. But it was not the same car he had been on top of. The flashlights they were using were all pointed down. They were looking with care and were missing nothing. The next one they would open and look down with those lights, they would find footprints.
His method of travel would be discovered. It was time to leave.
They would not observe any disturbance in the air-return vent there. That was early enough in the assault before he modified his plan of attack. It would be a while before they followed the trail.
If they ever looked at the vent he opened. A few days and the dust of operations would conceal the recent openings. Being part of a service, the HVAC techs would open and clean the plenums often. Twice a year, perhaps more, to keep the plenums from loading up with dust and posing a hazard to the data center and dispatch.
It had been quite clean. So the evidence was that the massive cooling system had just been serviced, top to bottom.
Any traces he might have left would be narrowed down to recent activity.
No matter, he had finished. Anything he had taken in with him he had brought out. Except for the grenades and slugs.
Still, they would think that was only a matter of time before he ran out of corners to hide.
There were no corners he would hide in. He was just a phantom. Each and everyone that exited the building would have his or her body scanned, patted down, picture ID checked and verified by a fingerprint scan in the department database.
*So much fun.* He thought.
Climbing quietly, the straggly beard was itching him mercilessly. He would be taking care of that issue directly.
The second elevator moved to the main floor. No cable for traction here, it was a hydraulic-type elevator, so the tenants used the spare space for running cable from the different locations as needed. Each group of cables were zip-tied to a larger group.
Right up to the cables connected to a junction box— and each connection was clearly marked, this made Radio Check smile, perfect.
Unscrewing the box cover plate, he gained access to the internals of each connection. Live energy was passing through the system for transmission. The odds were in his favor that he would not receive an electrical shock, but he took no chances, keeping his leather gloves on, he bypassed the connections, a quick desoldiering and placing a new connection, resoldiered the connection to the new screw on connector.
Repeating it five more times, a minute on each connection and he packed up his tools.
Stepping to the roof access door from the junction boxes, he looked up and saw the magnetic sensor for the door opening. The lead in wire had long been broken and never repaired, rendering the system non-functional. Still, he scanned around for a hidden sensor. Using his flex mini-camera, discovering and equally cheap sensor in the frame, Radio Check disabled in seconds, then he opened the door and stepped through into the night air.
“Five by five. Outer limits.”
“ETA twenty minutes, they were just ordered.”
Radio check laughed. Radio service would have held any requests until the call for radio check.
Sighing happily, he jammed the door shut with a cornstarch plastic wedge that would rapidly decompose in the presence of moisture. There was an onshore breeze with a high moisture content. The wedge would become little more than mush in a half-hour.
To help the disintegration along, he poured a few drops of water on the four wedges. The police could batter the door down, but they would waste their time.
He was almost gone. Going over to the package he opened it up, spreading a lightweight sheet and cords along the roof. He would be cutting it close, there was not much clearance with the antenna on one side. Getting hung up with the antenna would be a disaster. But the wind was steady at a ten-mile-per-hour on shore breeze with gusts to about twelve.
He could take off almost standing still with the size of the sail. Donning his rigging, he lifted the ducted fan out of the shipping container— itself a light Kevlar cloth made from an out-of-service parachute.
Stepping back, he inspected everything with a skilled eye. Nodding, the whiskers were about to drive him to distraction.
Pulling off his gloves, he dropped them into the transport package and with fingernails, he began to pull at his eyebrows until they came loose. Working down under the skin, he worked his fingers along the latex and plastic cheekbones and lifted the skin away from his own, pulling the artificial facial-hair with it. Carefully and quickly, down the nose, he peeled the latex flesh to the tip and, finally, free of the built up face that had no resemblance to his own. Pulling off the wig he dropped it into the delivery package with the double-barreled rifle, deerskin jacket and calico shirt.
He pulled on a black sweatshirt. His fringed pants pulled away without his shoes coming off. Off came the outer skin of sueded polyester covering his shoes.
He was now a clean-shaven, short-haired man with lean, handsome looks and wide ebony-dark eyes from his Italian heritage. His left forearm sported a tattoo, the mark of the tenth mountain division.
Donning his helmet, he tucked the plug into a shoulder pocket.
Dropping his backpack into the transport package, he pulled all the straps tight and lifted it up, sliding his arms through the holes provided for him, they looked like disembodied sleeves of a shirt, but sewn to the package.
Lifting the electric ducted-fan on his back with all the cords attached, he plugged into the jack on the handle.
“Air service radio check.”
“You are clear, ETA ten-minutes.”
“Permission to launch.”
“Permission granted. At your convenience.”
Testing the speed control, the electric ducted-fan spun up. Contra-rotating blades gave thrust with but a whisper of noise.
An extra-wide parawing, he took several fast steps. A no easy feat as he was carrying over a hundred-pounds of gear, but the wing caught the wind and filled, he could feel the lift before he even hit the throttle.
Radio Check grinned. Steady wind, if he did this right, an altitude of five-hundred meters would be perfect, but he would not sit still for that, he would be putting horizontal distance between the noise and sirens below.
He could hear an amplified voice challenging him to come out and surrender. There was no way out, they had the block secured three layers deep. Surrender now with his hands up and…
Radio check hit the throttle and gained altitude. Nothing left behind except for what he wanted to leave. The ducted fan was quiet and inaudible from the roof to the ground five stories below.
Into the darkness he glided, the moon was not yet up. No one would have seen anything of interest if they had looked straight up and directly at him. He was a black-on-black gliding shape that vanished into the night sky.
“Eagle is flying.”
“Copy, your next stop, The Twilight Zone.”