Chapter 10. Uplifting Experience
Radio Check nearly dropped the vent in the room of the mainframe, stopping the swing of the metal by the tips of his fingers and pulled it shut just as he saw the officer walk by the window. Her shadow stopped and he knew she was coming back to look.
She saw it.
*Damn. Maybe she didn’t know what she saw.* It was more of a prayer than plan. This annoyed him, so far, everything went to plan, except for a loose hinge.
He crawled back to the service hatch at the elevator shaft, as he opened the man-sized grate, he could hear the verbal commands that squad leaders were given to the men while they were holding the elevator door. They still did not know where he was, this was in the plus column for the mission. One officer, wounded in the crossfire when he dropped the firecrackers as a distraction, this went in the minus column. Getting officers hurt was not according to plan, most uniforms were honest and honorable. They were not his targets.
*Stinger grenades not counting.* The thought moved through his mind as he moved over to the positive pressure side of the system and opened the hatch. The inflated fabric balloon had done its job and now was time to retire it.
Pulling a boot-knife, he sliced the material and stuffed it in his backpack, restoring the airflow to the lower levels and data center to prevent overheated electronics, possibly causing a reloading of the operating system.
Closing the service hatch, he slipped back into the air return and made his way to the elevator shaft, fully opening the service entrance, he listened again. The elevator was empty, someone held the door open, talking with another. Stepping gingerly on the steel supports that anchored the box of the elevator car. He squatted down and became part of the machine.
“C’mon, Russ. You are doing okay, just in the car.”
He could hear the woman’s voice clearly.
“I’m so sorry I shot you. Really.”
Friends? Partners? It made him smile. Either way, if the shot officer was a good enough man, they would become closer friends.
Radio Service laughed inwardly, the only outside appearance of his humor was a smile nearly hidden under his long beard. He was a cupid in a twisted sense of the phrase.
The difficult part now accomplished. The mission plan held an option if he chose and had the time, he could stop at basement level-1 and create even greater havoc for the police, but he had nothing against the good officers of the SWAT team. The elevator slowed and came to a stop on the main floor. More swat team stepped into the lift. Listening to them talk, they knew he was no longer in the bathroom.
Yeah, time to leave. Operating in the heart of their operation now was a game of chance. Thus far, there was nothing left to chance. Other than the officer shot by his partner, all went according to plan. The Swat level was only an option if time and events looked positive. He was disinclined to damage anything there anyway. The special loads for the firearms will wait for another day.
Stepping off the elevator car as it began its descent to the dispatch level, he hung on to the service ladder in the shaft.
Four floors of a ladder climb ahead of him.
Well, three and a half, he would enter into the return vent on the top floor and access the human resources office.
Second floor, detectives level. He should try to figure out something to do there. But— it was not in the plans, the team already had control of computer files, so he kept climbing.
Third floor. An option to enter, Commanders, Vice-chief’s office general admin. Nearly all of it on computer. Access was already granted. He would spend far more time looking for tiny bits of information that did not pay them back in benefits.
Cost versus benefit at this point. The cost was too much time versus the risk of capture.
Fourth floor. Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Doctor General of EMS. Files that were still on paper. Physical access to the stand-alone system that belonged only to the administration and the round table of officers of their particular departments.
White lithium grease on hinges, a careful opening of the vent covering, he stepped back into the world of steel tunnels. This one was smaller by about a third. He could not sit straight up, but he could recline comfortably if he chose to.
A first look. A secretary type office. File cabinets, locked with a simple combination padlock, the type that had a keyhole in back.
Worth a look. He tagged the inside of the plenum with a yellow flashing LED light and moved on.
Sliding his thin camera down the vent, he looked at another office. The Chief of Police worked here. A massive desk, sumptuous decor. Pictures on the wall. Books everywhere. A long table on the far side of the room. But a dead-end.
He looked another few meters down. There was another corner. He looked at the Chief’s office again. Nope. There was no room or vestibule to call for a vent.
He army-crawled to the corner and then to the downward bend, he slipped his snake-eye through the vent. There, a computer. He could see network cables leading along the floor under the desk. But it was not a city issued piece of hardware.
He pondered a moment, this was a top-of-the-line recent computer. This was the Chief’s personal computer.
Twisting the camera around, there were small fabric-covered speaker cabinets at four points at the ceiling where the wall met the ceiling.
No, not speakers.
*Oh, quite sly, Chief, quite sly.* Radio Check smiled without humor.
Pulling out his tablet, he opened up a sniffer program and let it run for a few minutes. He was ahead on the timetable so he could spare the minutes.
Before the uniforms began a floor by floor sweep, he would still be gone and they would have layers of cordons around the block to look for him.
This group never just sealed a block. They sealed a block three times normally. One might slip through a single line of cops, but the Croix Bay police? It was a minimum of three levels. They had their fair share of fugitives running from other law enforcement. No-one slipped past them, they always got their man. CBPD officers were well-trained, motivated and intelligent, bordering on brilliant.
Well, except for tonight. Around the building they would have all the available patrols. This is right where he wanted them. Running around in the basement, playing war with shadows while he was in the Chief’s personal entertainment system.
Maybe. He was watching the sniffer.
There! A spike in broadcast. A handshake. Data transmitted back and forth.
He sent a corrupted packet, knocking the wifi connection off. The item logging into the computer would fail and need to retry.
And it did. Two times, three times. He used a machines patience against itself.
Then he had a break. The complete log in sequence from the cameras. While the camera cycled for yet another attempt to log into the computer, he logged in using the camera’s MAC and identifier.
Although he was in the air duct, he now had control of the computer as if he was sitting at the keyboard.
Intercepting the camera signal, he successfully logged it into his tablet and download the images it had stored. One picture per minute. High resolution. Radio Check nodded, not an unreasonable setup, except for the outdated operating system. A bit of poking around, he found the password file.
The password file was not even encrypted. He downloaded it and sent it on to the radio service, packed up and crawled back to the HR office. Scanning around, a motion sensor was on the wall covering the room.
“Radio service radio check, hardware check.”
“Go ahead. You are on Vee-Oh-Eye-Pee with an IP address.”
“Sending you images. Do you have this under control?”
“Radio check. Copy sensor, it routes through to dispatch. Outer Limits. You are clear.”
It was the most talkative that radio service had been in a long time. Radio Service often said he hated the sound of his own voice, proving it often being terse over the open air, but this was downright talkative for the remote operator.
He would have to tell Radio Service that he nearly talked Radio Check’s ear off in these few seconds.